• Ou Ming
  • Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    the inside job


    picture taken by Daniel Lobo/Daquella Manera

    On 9/11, a year before I came to live here for good, it just so happened I was visiting London as a tourist. At the moment of the attack, in typical tourist fashion, I was visiting the British Museum. It was my second attempt to visit the museum, my first attempt some months earlier was cut short due to a fire alarm. That day, I arrived there early in order to make most of the day before meeting with Al. in the City. With 6 hrs ahead I preferred to have some coffee and read the newspaper first (yes, I know, great museum-goer). The minute I finished my coffee, the phone rang, the World Trade Centre was hit (my mind went blank there, I am ashamed to say I had no idea where or what the WTC was – only when I heard Twin Towers, images came up); City was being evacuated; she was coming to meet me in Holborn (there goes the chance to see the British Museum again).

    And so we did. We went to one of these fancy pubs with a friend of hers, others would join us later, everyone was rather confused, word still went around that Palestinians did it. I found the time opportune to start talking about how the Israeli state was treating them like dogs, Al. remained conspicuously quiet while I went on with my speech and rather reasonably so since her friend was half-Israeli. But I didn’t know.

    I don’t remember how that day finished but I do remember spending the following one glued to the TV set at this small basement flat in Brackenbury village. I always thought of it as cosy, the view out of its French doors melancholic. But I felt alone. A bit scared to what the future might be like for this other beloved person and me. A few days later with our personal situation still unresolved, we crossed the Tunnel over to France. I got harassed on the motorway for no apparent reason. Or so we thought at first. I wasn’t going slow, I was not driving in the fast lane either. Some hours later it dawned on us: our car was British. That was a good enough explanation.

    Late at night, at that small French fishing village, unable to sleep I turned the TV on. News of the attack was running there, too but in such a different way. On French TV, 9/11 was a serious attack, with live coverage and all. In Britain, however, it was felt like the end of the civilised world as we knew it. I went back to bed kind of relieved, my head had grown cooler. Thoughts of how things were going to be with the person sleeping next to me started to worry me but I fell fast asleep. The following day we visited the D-day beaches and were off to Paris.

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