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07/07

I remember a particular summer many years ago, when my Dad was still alive.

The sunlight on the grass, and the hood of our little white car, and my tall father all in white getting out. I'm sitting on the stone steps leading up to the balcony and watching and knowing that something is wrong but not being able to put a name to it yet.

Later the wrong has a name, snake, but in the interim it's just a flash of brown in the grass. My father about to step on it because he doesn't see it. Someone's scream stops him. Not mine, my grandmother's perhaps.

The air around us still as glass. The snake sliding harmlessly away.
The feeling I don't have a name for, about how differently things could have been had the scream come a split-second later. How close we walked to danger.

Another tale, another moment, a snapshot of a war.
Not a memory because I didn't see it, but nonetheless as vivid in my mind.

It's Sarajevo. The 1990s. People are queing for bread, and two neighbours meet, exchange words, courtesies. One says to the other: "Oh don't worry, I'm going to be queing anyway. I'll just pick up bread for you too. You go home and have a rest, you can queue for me next time". A brushing of hands. A bag handed over. Smiles exchanged in the doorway, perhaps.

The man queing. Sunlight on cobblestones and the bomb that exploded which nobody foresaw and killed all the people in that queue, just like that. His wife, [my friend's grandmother] watching it all from the window.

Those are some of the things I thought of today.

Countless incidents, accidents of fate. The woman who ran for the bus and missed it only to see its top half explode a minute later. The people stuck in the train behind the train which blew up.

How suddenly the fabric of the world changes. The accidents that lead us to or from danger. The strings of coincidences which determine whether we live or die.


I was on a bus to Kings Cross this morning. The bombs had gone off by then although I didn't know. Just the rushing of fire trucks and police cars and sirens and roads blocked off. I just figured it was a bad traffic accident and with a string of curses [for transport in London does suck plenty, and it's not unusual to have disruptions] turned around and set back trying to work out how to get to my work. I only started to get clued in when I got a text message inquiring over my welfare, when my sister rang to see if I was still alive.

I got into the office at 11, having walked most of the way, which was a brave but wasted effort because we all had to close down the service at noon and evacuate at 1. The nerves had hit me by then, along with the enormity of what had happened. So I did the British Yugoslav thing and had a cup of tea and a cigarette while I let things sink in.

It was still early when people were confused and the exploding trains were put down to *power surges* which is bullshit because power surges don't happen five minutes apart on lots of different locations and then by synchronicity blow up buses too.

This is the reason why I use the underground as rarely as possible. Because I can't stand the idea of being in the tunnels, so far below the light and air. Trapped there, whizzing in cans of steel. Scary enough even when nothing is wrong.

I was shaken with the knowledge of what happened to people there. Not many casualties, not right away, but it's just as bad to be injured to discover limbs blown off. Bad too to have carriages filled with the stinging smoke, to not be able to breathe, to be smashing tube windows to get oxygen. Bad to have to walk along the tube tracks, through the tunnels and see bodies and not know if they're alive and when you'll make it back to the surface and air.

I know what smoke tastes like. I remember fire, being in fires. Not being able to breathe. How it stings the eyes and the throat. I wouldn't have liked to be in those trains, in the tunnels. I'm alive, but it could have been me, because it was people just like me. Regular people, going to work, that's all.

And the lines between us are blurred. I know the taste of smoke, though i didn't taste it today. I know the feeling of fear, though today I wasn't scared for myself. And my heart goes out to everyone who experienced the stress firsthand today, not to mention those that got injured, or died.

It's a miracle that there wasn't a greater loss of life. But it doesn't make injuries less devastating, it doesn't make what happened less traumatic or shocking.
It doesn't take away the fact that people are going to have to use the trains tomorrow, descend into the same underground to get to work, again.
Of course we will. We get on with it. People are resilient and Brits don't seem given to hysteria.

I must say, I'm proud of Britain and Londoners today. The emergency services reacted promptly, they were on the site in five minutes, everything was well organised and the victims were given good care.

I am proud of everyone who was obviously stressed and shaken but not hysterical. Who stayed as collected as possible in the circumstances, who will doubtless carry on stoutly in the days to come.

I am proud of all the people who have emphasised the importance of Muslim culture and people, how they are a part of this community and our country and defused any tensions. [That wouldn't have happeend in Belgrade, there would have been vigilante reprisals before the blink of an eye].

Everyone I know seems to be OK. I am grateful for that, and many other mercies.

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
67threnody
Jul. 8th, 2005 12:26 am (UTC)
Damn, Nina....

beautiful.

I'm so glad you're safe. Scared for what could have been.
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
I've been blessing the full complement of my limbs ever since... :)
(Deleted comment)
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, it wasn't dissimilar.
Let's hope that's the end of it...for both countries :)
lillfive5
Jul. 8th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC)
I thought of you all day. I'm extremely glad to see your writing and that you are safe.

rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)

I'm all right. Thursday I was all shook up but now it's all faded, and everyone else seems to be carrying on as normal.
mzwyndi
Jul. 8th, 2005 12:39 am (UTC)
*hug*

You truly live a charmed life.

***hug***

You've been on my mind all day.
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the nice thoughts :)

Hehehehe, I am indeed lucky. I dread to think of what would ever happen if my Guardian Angel took early retirment.
feath
Jul. 8th, 2005 12:42 am (UTC)
I am very glad you missed your usual train!!
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:05 pm (UTC)
Me too.
Self's lack of punctuality is now celebrated as a survival skill :D
concordantnexus
Jul. 8th, 2005 01:12 am (UTC)
{hugs}

Sweetie, you're amazing! :)
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)

Although I wasn't really in much danger, so I'm less amazing than the people who made it out of the tunnels alive. :)
guihong
Jul. 8th, 2005 02:22 am (UTC)
Leave it to you to write a hauntingly beautiful piece on what happened.

You came to mind often today, and I'm so grateful you are here.

Take extra care of yourself. Go gently.

gui
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the nice thoughts. :)
ultraruby
Jul. 8th, 2005 07:08 am (UTC)
I was thinking about you today. xx
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:07 pm (UTC)
I *heart* you Ultraruby and your new kitten is supercute.
land_girl
Jul. 8th, 2005 08:14 am (UTC)
Wonderful post.

xx
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)

x
dubaiyan
Jul. 8th, 2005 09:08 am (UTC)
*attack of tube phobia*
not buses, funnily enough.

Glad you're OK. V.v. proud of the emergency personnel on the scene. My friends are mostly accounted for, waiting on one or two. Some of them were all "It takes a terrorist attack for you to ring us" :)
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
Re: *attack of tube phobia*
Hehehe :)
It was lovely to hear your voice - thank you for ringing and caring.
I'm sorry if I sounded like an idiot I was still in my *fazed and shaky* stage. :)

I'm very proud of the emergency action too - it was so well organised, they all coped marvellously I think.
dubaiyan
Jul. 10th, 2005 09:28 am (UTC)
see, being late to work
...can be good [/understatement].

Hee you sounded fine, I just wanted to hear your voice [dithered about whether it was retarded to call everyone but decided that it would be worth it for peace of mind]

Have fun in Belgrade - jetsetter!
smallblakflower
Jul. 8th, 2005 03:31 pm (UTC)
I want to reply in a way which expresses how moved and impressed i was by your eloquence and insightful considerations, i don't feel like i can articulate it well enough.

I'm so relieved to hear that you and yours are ok.
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
We're fine, not scared or anything... things just seem strangely surreal.

x
876454332
Jul. 8th, 2005 04:19 pm (UTC)
sorry if my text inquiring over your welfare was a little vague and left you confused, i just assumed you'd know what i was talking about!

i was just relieved to hear you were safe and sound :)
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:10 pm (UTC)
Hehehehhe.
Thanks Shell :)

By the time I got your text I was all clued in, so that was fine and even the mobile networks seemed to have recovered enough by then for me to SMS back.

twistedserious
Jul. 8th, 2005 05:10 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're safe.
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
Me too.

x
meepettemu
Jul. 8th, 2005 05:30 pm (UTC)
I love you sweetheart, and I'm sorry too if my text had you worried!

x

(yes, Lynne goes mushy at times).
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:12 pm (UTC)
Hahahha :)
Your text was the one that first alerted me to the possibility of something untoward, but I wasn't overly worried. More just shaken later, with the chaos of everything.

I love you lots too.

x
squaddie67
Jul. 8th, 2005 06:08 pm (UTC)
You truly rock
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:12 pm (UTC)
you're pretty cool y'self sir
Thank you

x
kc724
Jul. 8th, 2005 07:06 pm (UTC)
First off, I feel like a fool because I didn't understand any of this until I remembered that you were from the UK...

I'm glad that you're alright and hopefully so is everyone else you know. A lost of any life is always tragic and when you couple it through cowardly acts it makes it only that much worse.

I remember almost four years ago when NYC was attacked. In case you didn't know I lived in NYC ever since I moved there when I was two or three. Anyway at the time I was in college a god deal north of the city so I didn't get to witness anything first hand, however my both of my parents worked in the city. Luckily nothing happened with either of them but for a moment when the phones were down as well as every channel on TV except for one was off the air, things were a little hairy.

I won't even try to understand what the UK is going through right now. Sometimes, instead of telling them everything is ok, everthing is alright, I find that it's easier to share some of your own misfortune with others to let them know that they're not alone; that I too, have lost and grieved.

Fear is natural, but the kind of fear that those who were caught in the blast is probably much more intense than a rollercoaster ride or a scary movie. My own personal fear is heights. I can't stand it and in my former life I must have been the cat that was stuck up a tree or something. And then I went to Iraq and really understood fear. The first time I took fire was actually the morning I touchedown in Iraq. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the explosions. It sure is different when you peek up and see someone trying to shoot you, to kill you, than being stuck up a tree. Of course everyone takes it differently and on a side note, I've come to the point where explosions don't even phase me anymore; is that a good or bad thing???

A loss of life is never good. I feel compassion for everyone who dies whether it's a friend or foe. The part that disturbs me isn't so much as their death but rather it's aftermath. I lost a good friend named Ed while down in Iraq. I mourned his loss and got over it, however, I was always reminded of it because I noticed that he didn't come in Wednesday and Saturdays for our meeting or maybe there was an empty seat at the chow hall.

But with that behind us, I got a question for you now: What do you think is going to happen now? Will the UK back out like Spain or does this cause people to sympthize with Tony Blair's policy to stay the road in Iraq?
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 07:59 pm (UTC)
I'm on a horrible dial up so I can't answer as much in detail as i'd like, but thank you for the things you said above.


But with that behind us, I got a question for you now: What do you think is going to happen now? Will the UK back out like Spain or does this cause people to sympthize with Tony Blair's policy to stay the road in Iraq?


I doubt it.
Life in the UK wasn't really disrupted on a big scale, the next day people jsut carried on like almost normal. The emergency services reacted well and promptly and there was no mass melodrama/hysteria or anything like that. In some ways it all seems almost surreal, like a dream.

On another note, TB's policy on Iraq and involvement therein didn't change when he had millions of his own people staging mass protests on the streets [stubborn and obstinate he is] so it's unlikely to change over this. On the other hand mass opinion is still widely divided on what people want done about Iraq, so when a new governement comes we will see what will happen...
(Deleted comment)
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:00 pm (UTC)
Love you too muchly.
x
(Anonymous)
Jul. 9th, 2005 03:36 am (UTC)
thinking of you
no, this is not anonymous, I just have no idea how to do anything with a livejournal other than occasionally check it to see what's on your mind.

anyhow, you've been on my mind since I woke up yesterday morning to the reports of what had happened. I'm glad that you are safe and that those in your immediate circle are as well.

sending gentle thoughts your way,

amanda/amethyst
rainsinger
Jul. 9th, 2005 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: thinking of you
Thank you Am.
x

*smiles and waves at you*

(Anonymous)
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:39 pm (UTC)
provides access
Thank you for developing this website. The stories here are worth reading many times over in order to refresh us time and time again to do good and positive things and inspire or influence others to do the same.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 17th, 2011 07:29 am (UTC)
painter 11
Excellent article and easy to understand explanation. How do I go about getting permission to post part of the article in my upcoming news letter? Giving proper credit to you the author and link to the site would not be a problem.
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )

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