Thursday, September 11, 2008

This Day That Year

Where were you when Kennedy died is a game the previous generation liked to play. Ours might ask a different question.

On that day - that night, here - I was in my room here, in Hyderabad. I had returned home, temporarily as I thought but permanently as it turned out. There was no electricity. I was reading by the light of a candle. My year-and-some old son was somewhere, perhaps with is father in another room.

The atmosphere was fraught. There's no other word for it. Earlier that day, we realised that there was no saving the marriage. But he was here, where the parents were, and there was no way to say what needed to be said while keeping those who were not involved with the marriage out of it for the moment. And there was the kid. That was also, though I didn't know it then, the beginning of my father's downward spiral.

That night, I was reading The Blind Assassin. I remember this clearly, and I remember crying silently so no one would notice. I don't remember the passage and frankly, it doesn't matter.

This was my watershed and it had nothing to do with what was happening on the other side of the world. The phone rang and someone told us what had happened. Naturally, there was no way of watching it right then.

The next morning, unusually for us, we turned the TV on as soon as there was electricity. The destruction was spectacular and it so exactly expressed my sense of doom. This is what it looks like when the world comes crashing down around you. Now I knew.


Crazyfinger said...

Funny you wrote this post on this day...An hour ago we were walking down the stairs out the building into the parking lot...I looked at my phone clock and said, "You know...on this day I was flying." We all stared in front of us, abruptly in our own private thoughts.

P.S. First time commenting here.


Szerelem said...

I was studying for my board exams - and had just happened to switch on the news while taking a break. I don't even know what word I can use to describe what I felt - I saw one tower down and the plane fly into the second one. There was just shock, confusion, worry...

SUR NOTES said...

strange, there was a power cut at the exact time in bangalore as well.

my dad called, our land lord hollered the news out- and the power went off.

yes, yes, am working- sending in an hour. hold onto those finger nails.

kuffir said...

yes, the power was out.. something to do with the grid (so a major portion of the south was affected).. and there were rains and water on the streets. i, with friends, was celebrating something in a restaurant in the evening. didn't know about it till i came home. it was the 'spectacle' that kept me engaged most of the night. it was only the next day that the tragedy sank in- but should be more painful for you to remember.

dipali said...

Your post was heart-wrenching.
My younger daughter's marriage unravelled a few months later.
That evening my son had the TV on, and we couldn't quite believe what had happened. It was hard to imagine America as no longer invincible.

Smoke Screen said...

Poignant example of public and private memories blurring.

The only thing I remember is that I was in Bangalore and yes, there was no power there either. Talk about non-descript lives!