The Memory

by Joseph Ikhenoba


A young man remembers the 9/11 attack that led to the death of his dad. The memory still haunts him.

Since the day of his death, which was more than 20 years ago, I had not had any strong emotions. It was almost as if my feelings were gray, or perhaps it was because I was a young child of four. My thinking was also warm at that time. But lately, today included, my thoughts have been a cloudy fog as I stood at his grave. He died in the 9/11 terrorist attack. I remembered that fateful day vividly. It was the morning of September 11, 2001. I was preparing to go to school when I had a stomach pain. I vomited twice before mother took me to Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital. She was also preparing to go to work. She works as a secretary. She pulled a call across to her boss about my health. The boss permitted her and told her to resume after meeting with the doctors. Dad on the other hand had gone to office. He worked as an electrical engineer in the same Pentagon building. But his office was in the 15th floor. Mother's office was in the 18th floor.

There were many children who came to the hospital that the doctors and nurses had little time to relax. I lied on a bed in a doctor's office. He examined my eyes and chest.

"He's suffering from diarrhoea." He told my mom.

Then, he wrote some drugs prescriptions and gave the paper to mom. Mom went to the pharmacy to get the drugs. Thereafter, we boarded a bus to her work place. She could have left me at home, but, our maid went to visit her sick dad. My thoughts were on the gifts dad promised me for birthday. I had planned to remind him at work. While the bus moved, the driver switched on the radio. He tuned to one of the stations. Suddenly, the voice over the radio reported that there were terrorism attacks on the World Trade Centre. Mom and other passengers began to panic. Immediately, she called dad. His phone rang endlessly but he couldn't pick. Rivulet of sweat drenched on her face, with blinking eyes, wriggling mouth and thumping heart. All through the ride, the ambience remained tense as people called their loved ones.

Mom held me on her right hand. Many people had gathered at the scene. Smoke and tears were the description of the atmosphere. Mother began to cry as she called dad's phone. Three planes had been hijacked my some Al-Qaeda terrorists and had forced their ways into the buildings. Arrays of plum smoke rose above the air. Few minutes later, the Fire Fighters, police men, medics, emergency workers and volunteers arrived with their rescue equipment. Some of the victims were rushed to hospital. Mom rushed to a police officer and lamented about dad. The man told her to calm as everything would be put in place. She just couldn't fathom the right words. Everything was happening fast. The haunting shouts and agonies of burnt victims was just unimaginable. Ghosts of smoke continued drifting across the sky. I began to pray for dad and other victims.

"Would I never see him again?" I thought nervously.

The air around me was becoming so unbreathable and dark. My eyes were becoming seared and swollen as warm tears dripped from them. My tongue and lungs also felt the taste of the smoke. I coughed intermittently looking for fresh breathe of air. The grieving noise, buzzing phones and blaring sirens almost defeaned my ears. We waited a whole day, hoping dad would come out alive. Never the less, the only things were his burnt body, smouldering metals and wooden items. It was the first time I ever felt so aggrieved as a child. I would never relate with him again. It broke my heart. It's so painful to lose the ones we loved. One feels frustrated, depressed and hopeless. It's like been alone in a cold world. Everything comes to a halt.

As I stood before his grave, the thoughts of revenge filled my head. However, I soon realized Aurelius, the Roman Emperor's words " The best revenge is not to be like your enemy."

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