Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Sound of Silence

I remember 9/11 quite well. I was on the bus home from school (it was the afternoon in France), and I remember the hush falling on the shocked teenagers, as the sound of the bus driver's radio grew louder, and the eery silence in which we traveled afterwards.

I remember putting on the news and watching the second plane crash.

I remember the chatter as well. The "Then They Shouldn't Have X"s and "They Brought It on Themselves Because Y"s. I even joined in. Although, as I wasn't quite 15 at the time, I'm pretty sure my own chatter was ridiculous.

I remember being quietened by two things. First, the next day, as I started blathering on the things I had heard, I remember my friend telling me "This is not the place or the time for ill-thought-through anti-Americanism". And of course she was right.
But then, the thing that stayed with me the most, was a letter sent by an American couple living in Paris to a newspaper I read. It said "Before you start blaming us for what has happened, give us some time to bury our dead." 

That shut me up for good.

So on Friday, when the news started pouring in, of attacks in my aunt's favourite restaurant, and in the stadium where my cousins were watching the game, in the very streets I know so well, I was first swallowed up by frantic messages to make sure everybody was safe. 

When things quietened down the next day, and people started chattering on Facebook though, I remembered.

And I realised anew, that when they attack the streets you roamed and the people you love, all you want is not the pithy Facebook status of political abrasiveness, nor the "religion is at fault" or the "well, Christians are just as bad".

No, all you want, and all you should get, if the world wasn't dancing on its head these days, is the sound of The Last Post and silence thereafter.

And thank you, everyone who prayed, and checked on us. It was all very precious to me.

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