Ten years ago at this time I was living in Pakistan with my mom, younger sister, and brother, and we were alone because a month earlier my dad and older sister had gone to Malaysia for business.
On the night of September 11 I was at home, watching TV with my family, when suddenly all the TV channels began announcing the breaking news of an airplane crashing into the Twin Towers in New York. We were shocked. For long hours we sat in front of the TV, watching what was happening and feeling sorry for the people of New York.
Everywhere in Pakistan people were talking about the news. Everyone was saying the U.S. will attack Pakistan because of what happened to New York and how it was a terrorist attack by Pakistan.
Everyone was afraid and was expecting war would start in a couple of days and the offices and shops would close, and no one would be able to leave their homes. People were trying to buy enough food to feed their families for one month.
We were alone, missing my dad, and he was worrying about us and was not able to come to Pakistan. Then he called and asked us to prepare ourselves to leave for Malaysia. In a few days, we were able to get the visas and book our tickets.
I remember Mom and me packing. We gave our household items to relatives there because we could not take these things with us. It all felt bad. We both were crying too much because we had made a home in Pakistan all these years and now in one or two days we were packing everything and giving it away.
The day came for our flight to Malaysia. When we arrived at Islamabad International Airport, the TVs were announcing that all flights were about to be suspended for some time in Pakistan. Maybe it was our luck or God’s will, but our flight was not canceled. We made the last flight out of Pakistan for a couple of weeks.
When the plane took off from the airport, I saw my mom’s tears; they were tears of happiness. She was calm now as she prayed for a safe trip and to see my dad and sister soon.
Early morning the next day we arrived in Malaysia. My dad couldn’t believe it when he saw us at the airport. We all were too happy that our family was together.
In Malaysia we continued to follow the news of the September 11 attack and the war against terrorism. We did not have any idea of what would happen. Until now, I still do not know what will be the end of this war, what will happen to the world, and to all of the countries.
Photo: Martin Zelhoff