Sunday, September 11, 2011
September 11th is always hard for me to talk about. I try not to think about it, not because I don't want to remember this day, but more for the negative accusations that have plagued the Muslim community since then. So many emotions. 
This year my husband and I were invited by a local church to help give the service along with the pastor. We were asked to share a narrative of a survivor, victim or serviceman from that day. As well as our reaction on that day. I chose a survivor (not necessarily someone that survived the towers) It was extremely emotional to say the least. I wanted to go ahead and share with you all what I read that day. 


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She was five years old and the apple of her dad’s eye. Before even starting kindergarten  her dad drove her to Harvard with the promise of big things. Her dad always wanted the best for his family, and always worked hard for it.
She looked up to him like all little girls do to their fathers. And in his big brown eyes and dark thick curly lashes she found comfort.

That morning she woke up early and remembers sitting by her dad as he finished up his morning prayers. She then sat in his lap squeezing his face in her little hands; promises of Chuckie cheese were made.
The usual hugs and kisses were given before her dad left for work that day. He took the subway from their home in Queens to his work downtown.

Her dad grew up in Bangladesh with a masters in physics he knew with it,  he would be able to afford a better life for him and his wife so he moved to the land of the free, where opportunity was at every corner.  He struggled to find work that met his criteria so like many immigrants new to this country he took any job he could to survive.

Her dad was a waiter at a prestigious restaurant. He knew he would eventually return to physics but for now the job paid well and he felt safe.

Her had just returned to work after having taken off the previous week in anticipation of the arrival of her younger sibling. He couldn’t wait for the baby to be born as the whole family waited in anticipation to find out the gender. Her dad wished for a boy as that would make their family complete. The baby didn’t make an appearance that week so he felt it better to go back to work. Before leaving for work that day he took his pager with him, but made sure to leave his cell phone behind with her mom, in case she went into labor.

That day her aunt picked her up from school not her mom like she usually did.
Her dad worked on the 107th floor of the north tower at Windows On The World restaurant. His worst fear was fire, the firemen say that he died of smoke inhalation long before the flames reached him. 
Her dad's name is Mohammad Chowdhury and he was one of many Muslims whose lives were so abruptly taken on that day.
His daughter's name is Fahina Chowdhury, she is 15 now and she is a survivor, along with her mother and her ten year old brother who was born on September 13th, 2001.


MY PERSONAL REACTION the day of the attacks:
I was at home when I received a frantic phone call from a friend who was shouting at me to turn on the TV. I didn’t have one to turn on! 
She told me that a plane flew into the twin towers! WHAT?! What do you mean a plane? The last thing she said before I hung up was “please, please tell me that it isn’t Muslims!”
I grabbed my son and ran to our apartment complex’s office, where I found people gathered around the TV screen. Just before I could ask what was happening, I watched in horror as a second plane hit the other tower. My stomach flipped and my heart leaped to my throat. What the heck was going on?!?! 
In the pit of my stomach I feared what my mind was already telling me, Muslims. How can this be, why was this happening? I walked out of the office before people could turn to me. I was afraid of what they would say. Afraid of their looks.
I called my husband and begged him to reassure me that this wasn’t done by Muslims, I remember praying please God don’t let this be Muslims.

I remember being afraid to leave my house for a whole week. Living in Texas, I was already made to feel like I wasn't accepted, things would surly only get worse.
I was working part time at the Gap at the time. When I finally returned to work the stares I received where piercing, as if I was a murderer!!!
No smile or pleasant interaction on my part was changing their minds. I was seen as the enemy.
For Muslims we were no longer seen as neighbors, doctors or teachers, we were seen as alien and fanatic.

America is my home. I was born in the great city of San Francisco. My parents came to this country to escape oppression. America is all that I know. And the only country I am free to be.
Suddenly I was being yelled at “go back to where you came from!”
For the first time in my life I felt like I didn’t belong. 
9/11 was like a double-edged sword, not only did my country get attacked but so did my faith. I felt like I couldn’t grieve like everyone else, I was too busy trying to defend my religion. Something that I now know I don’t have to do. I am a Muslim and I live in this community, among all of you. I am well aware that when I take my kids to school at (*******)  or walk into (local grocery store)  that I am always representing a faith that is often misrepresented. My parents have always taught me “treat others as you would like to be treated!” which in turn I teach my kids and not just with words but by action. 

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3 comments:

  1. The story sent shivers down my spine. *sigh*

    May Allah make things easy for us!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Have you read this? http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/07/my-take-muslims-should-stop-apologizing-about-911/

    My reaction to 9/11 is we cannot fight violence and hatred with violence and hatred. I'm so sorry for the discrimination you've suffered.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Meghan, Yes I did read that article. But that still doesn't take away the fact that all eyes are on me, waiting for something. And my people pleaser self feels the need to apologize. But not anymore, although I still fight the impulse to do so.
    Thanks for leaving a comment.

    ReplyDelete

Fashion, Faith, Food. Sarcasm too. Mama to 3. Currently living in Kuala Lumpur.

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