Monday, 12 September 2011

Ten Years Ago Today...

...I was getting off the bus at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail bus stop, just after the traffic lights. My workplace was just a couple of minutes away by foot. That's the only detail I remember with clarity.

I'm not sure anymore whether it was the 11th or the 12th.

The front page of The Star looked different. It was spread out over two pages, and on it was the image of one of the burning New York World Trade Center towers.

I was still at my first job in IT. I was, at the time, based in the unfortunately named Plaza IBM.

I don't remember how many bomb threat alerts we received, but I'm sure there was at least one. I recall my colleagues streaming out of the building, some getting into their cars one day.

Did I stay behind on that occasion? I can't be certain. But I do remember the petulant voice on the other end of the line, chastising my department for not having someone on standby to take phone calls in case of emergencies - and I don't mean bomb threats.

The days afterwards just passed by. CNN kept replaying footage of the burning, then collapsing WTC Towers for days. The enormity of the event and its aftermath took a while to sink in. A very long while.

But the Islamic terrorism thing hit a lot closer to home with the Bali bombings in... 2002? And was I in a Jakarta food court, eating rice with beef in pepper sauce when the TV played footage of the incident, or was it some other date? Or was it all a dream?

I should've started blogging when the writing bug started twitching. I had lots to write about when I started travelling to Indonesia to work, but I can't accurately place names, addresses and events within the time frame anymore.

I remember seeing pictures of what appear to be Palestinians, cheering the collapse of the WTC. Many Arab governments, I was sure, could barely contain their glee. Iran didn't seem to bother.

Lessons were learnt, all right. Mostly the wrong ones. And it didn't take ten years to prove that bloodshed has done little to advance the misguided causes of everyone involved. But some still try. It's all so absurd.

The world will eventually tire of the fighting. Whomever will be chosen to lead will one day be ushering a war-weary generation into a peaceful but faraway age. This bunch with us right now won't cut it. And it'll be a long while before the fires burning right now will die.

...Ten years. Feels like last year. I've switched jobs twice since then. Plaza IBM is now Plaza VADS. I hardly hear about IBM these days; it's all Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple now.

Those days get hazier by the day, retreating into the far corners of my mind. I suppose it's because I didn't experience it first-hand: the explosions, the fires and smoke, the falling debris and the ensuing chaos.

It's just as well. There's no point in "remembering 9/11" anyway.

Not anymore.

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