|Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali
Thursday, July 07, 2005 When the terrorist attacks on New York occured, I'd only ever been to that city once. And even though I had been to visit with friends in Battery Park, a stone's throw from where the World Trade Centre used to be, the fact was that as saddened as I was by the tragedy, it never felt real to me. It seemed almost fantastic, and the indellible images on TV some terrible, terrible fictions dreamed up by Hollywood.
The events that took place today in London are an entirely different matter. To begin with, the horror was on a much more human scale, more fathomable and comprehensible--more up-close and real, if you will; and thus in a perversely paradoxical way, more tragic. (And though I say it was more fathomable, do not misunderstand: I mean strictly in the sense of a tragic event occuring. I do not pretend to understand how human beings could do what those who carried out today's attacks did.)
More directly, however, today's events strike close to me as I was a university student in London. I rode the underground train lines and used the tube stations (some daily) that were the staging grounds of today's attacks; I may have even ridden one of the trains that was targeted. People I knew could very conceivably be among the hundreds injured, or even the dozens killed (thankfully everyone I know now in London is safe).
My years in London were life-changing ones, and I shall always carry them with me. And though it's been years since my last visit, I still carry, and will always carry the city with me as well, everything good and bad about it, the charter'd streets I wandered through, the parks and squares I strolled about, the bookshops I browsed, the pubs I drank and conversed and kissed in.
What does this mean in terms of what happened today? I'm not so sure, just yet. What I do know is that an old friend, whose delights and charms I had the privilege of knowing so well, is tonight hurting something awful. And for that I am sad, and angry, and fearful.
These are not unique feelings. And they certainly can't compete with the feelings of someone who lives in London, and experienced today's happenings, or the feelings of people in others places that have known what London now knows as well.
But I have these feelings. And I have to write about them. As Seldo--thankfully alive--says, "The world already knows, alas, the shape of these attacks, and the feelings they engender. I'm not writing for you, I'm writing for me." posted by Jonathan | 5:43 PM 0 comments