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Teacher, Where Are The Towers?


L Sailaja

It was a beautiful day-the dewdrops looked like a sea of pearls spreading their radiance over the vast expanse of the school lawn; colorful butterflies were chasing one another among rows of roses and marigolds; children were scurrying to their classrooms, talking and laughing-it was a wonderful feeling to experience the beauty of nature and the harmony of life.

It was 9:30 AM. The kindergarten class was in progress. There was a lot of activity all around. Sitting in a corner, Ajay was busy coloring the leaves of a big tree that looked like the one near the school gate. Tanya's eyes widened in surprise and she let out a squeal of delight when she saw the huge African elephant in the picture book.

Rishi was reciting numbers and scribbling them down in his notebook. For a moment, I wanted to be a kid once again, unmindful of the surroundings and having nothing to worry about-just a perfect world of happiness! I was interrupted in my reverie when Varun clutched my hand and said excitedly, "Teacher, come and see the towers!" Varun led me to his desk where I saw two towers standing on a piece of cardboard. The towers looked impressive with colorful little black, blue, green, red, yellow, and white blocks embedded neatly into the tall frames.

"They are beautiful," I told Varun whose face was beaming with joy. All of a sudden, a gush of wind swept through the window near the desk on which the towers stood. "Oh no! They fell!" screamed Varun and started weeping, pointing to the heap of blocks on the cardboard. Varun's smiles turned into tears in a few seconds. I held Varun's hand and told him, "Don't worry, you can build them again", but he was in no mood to listen. And just then, Ajay looked at me and asked, "Teacher, where are the towers?"

For a moment, I felt a blank space in my mind. I didn't have an answer to a simple question! Before I could regain my composure, the bell rang and the kids scampered back to their desks to pack their bags.

I stood like a statue in the center of the class, looking at the scattered pieces of the 'towers' that were the pride and pleasure of a child. Images of September 11 were running across my mind that was trapped between hope and hopelessness. The collapsing World Trade Center Towers-two picture-perfect, technological marvels being reduced to a rubble of chaos and twisted metal fragments that wiped out the dreams of thousands of innocent people who were looking forward to start the day on a bright note-and the fortunate few who had only prayers for those who perished in the catastrophe.

No one can ever express the fear, pain, and helplessness of the unfortunate people, and the indifference and hard-heartedness of the people who hijacked the planes that crashed into the towers. Collectively, the towers were the powerhouse of knowledge, talent, and creativity. They were the embodiment of intellect and inspiration. It is hard to imagine that the staggering towers, which were the result of dedicated efforts of human enterprise, would themselves be remembered as 'Ground Zero.' For the families of the victims of September 11, it would always remain as the day they were parted from their loved ones forever, and also as the day when courage and hope towered above cowardice and despair.

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