911 is what you call when you're really in trouble.911 is what you dial when you need help real fast.911 means- your life is at stake. I hit the sack a little before 11 the night of September 10, 2001.The next day was a work day so I wanted to be up in time to do my program,get ready,and get to the job by 9. I was still in Iowa at the time,living off campus in an apartment with two other cooks from the kitchen. At about 1 am or so Virat came in and started making a racket.That woke me up.I was annoyed but fell back to sleep in a little while.About an hour or two later I awakened again.Abruptly. Gasping for breath.I didn't know what was going on but thought maybe I was having some kind of asthma or allergy attack.I'd never had asthma but I'm a lifetime allergy sufferer.And my first year in Iowa I was out at work for two full weeks as a result of it.I was never so sick in my life.That had started on September 13,1994. So maybe 'history'was repeating itself? Anyway,I fell back asleep.But after what seemed about a half hour I woke up again-gasping desperately for breath.I felt as if I would asphixiate and was gulping at the air frantically.There were also sharp pains in my chest.That really alarmed me. Even though I'd never had any symptoms of heart problems, my father had died of a heart attack years before.And I guess that fear has haunted me ,vaguely,for most of my life.So I was thinking about that again.And the story he told me of how he'd WALKED to the hospital one day and told them 'I think I'm having a heart attack'.He'd waited.Thought it would go away.It didn't.Was I doing the same thing now? I fell back asleep.But again in about a half hour the same thing happened.In a semi-conscious state I woke up gasping desperately for air.The pain was still in my chest.Maybe a little sharper.Incredibly, I just lay there. I don't know why.Maybe I just didn't want to get out of bed.It was dark. And I was tired and half asleep.Maybe I was hoping it would go away.Or maybe it was my allergies again.That's all.I thought maybe it'll be all right by morning.I fell asleep again and the same thing happened two ot three more times.It was awful.Finally daylight did come.What a relief.I had gotten maybe a half hour of sleep.Or so it seemed. I got up and did my meditation.I felt ok .There was no pain in my body but naturally I was wiped out.On the way to work I kept wondering WHAT had happened.I wasn't sick.But what WAS all that? Maybe I'd find out- figure it out later in the day? I might add at this point that every night for a good portion of my life I get pre-sentiments or premonitions.In my dreams.Of what's going to happen the next day.This occurs on a daily basis and has for some time.Even years ago-when it didn't seem to be happening every night it still occurred ,from time to time.But for the most part as I drove to work I was thinking this has to do with my physical health.But I still couldn't figure it.Anyway,I got to the job on time,punched the clock and said 'Good morning' to Marie. 'Well it is morning-but I don't know how good it is' she said.I walked to the changing room to put on my uniform and wondered what was wrong.She had a disturbed look on her face.When I came back out I looked around the cook's aisle and when I saw her walked over to ask her what I was supposed to be doing that morning on the job. But first I figured I'd ask her-'You all right Marie?' She looked at me and said'Yeah I'm ok- but didn't you hear the news?''No,what happened?' I thought maybe somebody got fired.'Terrorists crashed a plane into the World Trade Center this morning.It's on fire and they don't know if it will stay up' 'WHAT?' What did you just say?' I said incredulous and shocked.She repeated what she had just said:'Terrorists crashed a plane into the World Trade Center,it's on fire and it might fall down'A few minutes later I think, we got the news that one of the towers had collapsed Now I was really in shock,as I tried to take it in.I felt defeated and very sad.I had been hoping they wouldn't fall down.Now the whole kitchen was in chaos.Everybody was running around,calling home and generally distraught.And I did like everybody else.After a little while,I guess I started to work and as I walked toward the soup urn thinking about what I had just been told it began to dawn on me what the whole previous night had been about.Even though I was a thousand miles from home,literally a thousand miles away,somehow my heart was still back there,connected to that place,those events and those PEOPLE.And somehow it seemed to me,I was being told about it.A little bit in advance.All that pain in my heart.All those people crying out for help. Me gasping for breath,all those people breathing their last.That's what the whole previuos night had been about.Those were the feelings I'd picked up on.In that mysterious way I was connected to it all.But we were all connected to THAT.But what did it really mean for all of us? Maybe I'd been given some kind of sneak preview.For whatever reason.But I really didn't know at the moment what it was.It seemed about then that Shannon,the baker's assistant came running into the cook's aisle area shouting'the president's declared war!'That annoyed me and alarmed me.'The president can't declare war' I thought.But I guess that's when we learned about the Pentagon.There was no tv in the kitchen,thank God, but the bakery had a radio so that's where all our news was coming from.I went in there and listened for a few minutes.But to no avail.Spoke with Bev.Needless to say everybody was in deep shock by now.But we had to get the lunch out.And we did.On time.There wasn't much conversation at our table during lunch.We just didn't feel like talking much.Although the dining hall didn't seem overly subdued it was quieter then usual.After lunch,we cooked the supper as usual.But all I could think about was what had happened that morning.I just wanted,like everybody else, to get the job done and get home. When I got back to the house Suresh was there and the tv was on.Since it was his day off he'd driven Virat to work at the Raj,and heard about the attacks on his car radio driving back to the house.When he got home he turned on the tube, and had been watching for most of the day.I came in the door a little after 3.There was a grave look on his face.It was then that I first saw those pictures.To say that we looked on in horror is putting it mildly.There are instances in 'the course of human events 'when words fail.This was one of those times.We watched for about an hour trying to get some information.But mostly they just seemed to play it over and over again.Finally we turned it off disguted and sick at heart.By this time it was late afternoon and time to do program.That's what I did and afterwards we ate supper and watched the news.The next day was a work day.I fell asleep uncertain and mournful that night,as we all did. I was a New York kind of guy and the Trade Center meant something to me in a personal way.Years ago I had worked in a cafe on the east side of Manhattan and we had delivered food down there several times.I'd been in those buildings on those occasions and any number of other times.I'd been to the observatory on the top floor.I knew that when the elevators reached the lobby they made a chiming bell like sound.Thousands and thousands of people worked there.But the offices were surprisingly small.And the elevators were incredibly fast. They were immense structures but weren't massive and imposing in the way the Empire State Building was.And I really didn't even care for the design- too dull for me and the fact that there were two of them.I wasn't particularly a fan of that either.Still,I knew what it was like underneath the Trade Center.All the shops,restaurants,thousands and thousands of people coming up from and going down to the PATH trains. On those oh-so- very long escalators.It was,another one of those cities within the Big City that I loved so much.There had been concerts at night there.A flamenco group from Spain who were one of the greatest groups I'd ever seen anywhere.And a Balinese gamelan group who had a spectacular performance with torches and a giant dragon costume-similar to the kind you see on Chinese New Year. It was a great setting facing New York harbor in that piazza.And then there was the subway station at Chambers Street.That's where you got off if you were taking the A,the AA or the CC train.And that's where I got off with my sweetheart and kissed her goodbye before she left to take the PATH train to Jersey.I was in college then and living in Brooklyn.Sometimes we'd go to the Promenade.And even though it was way over on the west side of Manhattan we could see the scaffolding for the new World Trade Center.It was going to be the tallest building in the world.All that was just a memory now.All that was gone. To say that the sense of loss was a profound one is putting it mildly.In a way it was like when my Dad had died.It was something so awful,so unbelievable,that you thought it must be a nightmare.It couldn't be true. But it was true.Still I kept thinking that like when my father died,I would wake up and find that it had all been just a bad dream.But it wasn't just a bad dream,and the next morning I awoke to find that the World Trade Center had been destroyed as those horrific images on the tube reminded us over and over again. We worked through the week as best we could watching the news. Saturday night there was going to be a broadcast of an interview done with Bin Laden back in 1997 in Afghanistan. We didn't want to miss it. At this point I'd like to recount the story of another dream I'd had.The morning of July 22,to be exact.
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