“Perspectives on 9/11” by J M Hannah, Sydney, Australia

September 11 October 26, 2011 03:02

topic: 9/11 medium: TEXT

as submitted for the “9/11” Open Call

Was 2am on September 12th, local time. First time up for my six-month old. It was rainy in Sydney, that night, I remember. I took my baby boy to the living room to feed him. I didn’t turn on the TV. This night I didn’t do that. Had I, I would have seen it all happening live.

Instead, back in bed at 7am, I sensed my husband hovering over me. He’d been up a while, was dressed for work and ready to leave. He came to say goodbye to me, as he always did.

“There’s been some kind of attack overnight, in America. Plane crashes, skyscrapers collapsing, thousands dead.”

“Wha..?” I managed, groggy from disturbed sleep.

“The whole country’s in shut-down. Terrorists of some kind.”

I was ripped out of my sleep now. But he had to leave for work in the city.

I jumped out of bed, ran to the TV and turned it on. The coverage was the same on every channel.

As I watched the replayed footage of planes steering into towers – towers I’d visited years earlier – adrenalin pulsed through me. I felt a disbelieving misery.

I sensed that here was a profound shift. Or, was it simply, that a bankrupt way of thinking had come to colonise the US; therefore with trickle-through effect, would roost in the rest of the Western world. I remember worrying, would this now become our “normal”? Why had I had children?

I had to go to the supermarket. Was I imagining it, but was everyone walking around in some kind of post-traumatic, at-a-distance, shock? Driving home, a young Muslim sounded his horn at a brother in another car. They saluted fists.

I don’t just remember that day, I remember that week. I felt drained and exhausted by the catastrophe. The adrenalin didn’t drop for days. It was like the night, and the aftermath day, my father had a heart attack and died in his sleep. Adrenalin surged then and stayed high for twenty-four hours. My reaction to 9/11 was similar, even more afflicted; I did not feel myself “come down” again for days.

I burst into tears, spontaneously, daily. I remember, later in that week, standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes, overwhelmed by the barbarity. I shook and shook my head; unable to comprehend. Then I shook my head to scatter the thoughts away; I needed a break from thinking, imagining, crying. That weekend, not having been near a church in an age, I wanted to go, but fretted I would embarrass myself by emoting too much. I stayed away.

Still today when a jet flies over, arriving at, or leaving, Sydney Airport, I sometimes catch myself staring agape at its potential menace. Is it about to veer towards Sydney’s Manhattan-esque skyline? Is a fanatic on board, grinning, imagining paradise, festering to blow himself up; taking his fellow passengers and all beneath, with him?

It did; it does – the day – matters.

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