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Late as always, I drove to work on that September morning in 2001, praying while driving as was our little morning tradition.
I ended with “Father, and please show us today as much mercy as possible.” A bit baffled, I looked at our five-year old sitting in his car seat at the back and said: “Mommy prayed a strange prayer this morning, don’t you think?”
Normally I would pray for our safety and for our family and people suffering etc. but that morning those words came out of my mouth as if it wasn’t me uttering them. I found it strange, but quickly forgot about it as the morning’s nursery school drop off and work activities chucked it into the background.
Just after four o’clock that afternoon, I was packing away my things to go home while listening to the hourly news on the radio. Just as I was about to switch the radio off, the news reader interrupted himself with breaking news from the US. I listened without believing, and quickly called my male colleague – the only one who was still left – to come and listen if I heard wrong. His shocked face confirmed that I didn’t.
That night my husband and I lay on our bed and watched the TV coverage until the next morning. The scenes of planes flying into buildings, people running away from the ashes, people jumping from the top floors, political commentators speculating and news presenters bringing the newest information, played over and over on the screen and by morning it was still difficult believing what had happened.
That was the day our world had changed forever. Nothing that we would do afterwards stayed untouched. Air travelling had become a nightmare with new security rules being implemented and a new war raged on the TV news every night. For us it was something to observe when we took the time, but for the people of Afghanistan and the US, UK and the rest who eventually got closely involved, it was much closer and cost a lot more.
And as I am writing this, twenty years later, the world is still reeling. Because in the middle of another life changing event – a pandemic starting a year or so ago and leaving us to deal with so much illness and death caused by a virus which doesn’t discriminate – we also have to get to grips with the latest in the saga of 9/11. The US (and the rest) had abruptly withdrawn from Afghanistan, leaving the country and its fragile people in the Taliban’s hands again – and even ‘arming’ them with all the equipment left behind after the withdrawal.
As a wife, mother, sister, daughter and ex-military employee, I can’t help wondering what the point of the last twenty years’ struggle after 9/11 was? Had all the husbands, wives, sons and daughters on all sides just died for nothing? We even lost a South African friend and his two children (then teens) at the hands of the Taliban in their house in Kabul. The boy was in that very same nursery school class where I dropped our son off that still-innocent September morning…
© 2021 Fielies De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, and now mechanic-in-the-making, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂