It was very late at night but we were all still in the office in Singapore. It is the kind of things start-up companies do. Several months before that, I have invested a majority of my hard-earned savings into this software company and we were gearing up for our second round of funding; very likely from California.
The whole floor was eeriely quiet and occasional pounding from the keyboards were welcoming. Then, someone from the next door office walked over with a frantic look on his face, " 2 airplanes just flew into World Trade Center in New York City".
"Really?" was my immediate response, thinking it must be some dumb pilots flying their private planes. But wait a minute, 2? Did he say 2? Perhaps it was a flying practice of some sort. In NYC? what kind of country has such weak air space control and regulation.
Someone on the other side of the office said : " let's go to the conference room, there is a TV in there."
I looked up and this American has turned almost white, he held his hand out towards me and said " you have to come look, it is probably a terrorist attack."
A terrorist attack? What is that? I did a paper on that in high school and they happened in Europe and middle eastern countries. The closest I have come to hearing one was when I had to attend a meeting in Cairo and 10 hours before I landed, 14 tourists were killed in front of the hotel I stayed in. When I arrived, it was so completely clean up it felt like they had an oil spill and I learned nothing from that incident.
When I walked into the common conference room, it was already filled with people from different start-up companies. I could barely see what was on the screen and when I did, to say I was in a state of shock is an understatement. For what seem like a very long time, we watched in horror the news and footage of what we now painfully sum up as the 911 events.
It now feels like I was awakened that day, like I was asleep in a dream land for a very long time and had a rude awakening. My world has changed forever, yes, even from 10,000 miles away. The series of events that followed seem rather blurry. I remember making phone calls to a board member stationed in NYC, a couple of friends in NYC. I couldn't get a hold of them till a few days later. One of them worked in the WTC and escaped slaughter because he had a hang over and was late for work. I remember not sleeping much that night and watched CNN for the most part. I remember not knowing what to think for a good month or so. After all, it appeared to be an American problem but why did it hit me in my gut?
The days to come presented its answers. It was not an American tragedy but a global one. In targeting the World Trade Centre, the terrorists were targeting the world. All of my investment eventually went to flames with the economic downturn that followed. It is very hard to lose money especially when it is accumulated with hard work over the years, but when I think of all the people who perished that day, my money problem is like a hermit crab's complaint in a tsunami. The fact is, I am alive and they are not. Sept 11 2001 changed my worldview. I no longer see the world as divided into continents or eastern vs western beliefs or 1st, 2nd and 3rd worlds. It is simply divided into those who pursue freedom and those who destroy those who pursue freedom. The people who were murdered on this day 10 years ago, were ordinary people, showing up for work and their families' lives were forever shaken for no wrong they did. Today, we already know why, we already know who and how all these happened. We have all done a lot to prevent more terrorist attacks since that day. But we must never forget, for the sake of our children, that dreadful day. Because if we do, we will doze off into another sleep and learn this lesson all over again.And the 3000+ lives that were terminated that day, died in vain.
( Bride of Rove is a melodic writer and has a riveting account of her memory of Sept 11 2001)