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COLUMN

Reflections Of Life And Death

Akshay Patil

This is not a passionate call to arms. This is not a levelheaded plea for peace. Sometimes situations leave us lost, without words, without a place to begin. Sometimes there is nowhere to go.

On the night of Tuesday, September 11, I finally got around to installing my new TV tuner into my computer. For days, the package had sat on my desk as my inherent laziness concerning taking apart my computer overwhelmed the desire to use the card. Suddenly I became motivated, and the tuner worked soon after. From that point on, my roommate and I were riveted to the images of bursting windows, falling bodies, collapsing buildings, crying victims. We spent the night staring at my computer monitor in mental shock.

I can close my eyes and replay in my mind the video of the second airplane smashing into tower two. I can still see the body free-falling, its rapid descent measured by the multitude of windows rapidly passing behind it. It all overloads. The magnitude is just too great for me to grasp it.

One of the first memories I have is from a visit to India I made at the age of 5 or 6. It was during monsoon season, an incessant torrential downpour of rain that attacks India every summer. We were in our car and had just come to a stoplight when I looked out the window and saw a boy standing on the center divider, drenched and clutching a plastic bag.

Before the light turned green and we drove off, my grandfather opened his window and dropped some money into the boy’s bag. I remember wondering about what the boy was doing out in the rain, not realizing that he had nowhere else to go. I wondered why he had a plastic bag, not realizing that it was all that he had. I remember not being able to place that glazed, almost detached look in his eyes.

His face is forever burnt into my memory; I can still conjure up his image. Like the people on those planes and in those buildings, he was guilty of nothing. They were only the victims of life’s cruelty. I only hope that last week’s victims were able to live a life full of love and joy.

All of us are extremely lucky to live the lives we do. I feel sorry for all those who through no fault of their own are not as fortunate. I take this as all the more reason to live my life to the fullest; to do otherwise would be rejecting the greatest gift one could possibly be given.

I will never understand life. I don’t know if anyone ever will, or can. I don’t know why things happen. I only know that they do.

What happened last week was horrible and unimaginable. Maybe someday I’ll be able to grasp the situation and see things more clearly, but at the present I can’t. All I can do is resign myself to the fact that it happened, and continue to live my life, grateful that I am alive and able to.

Once on my way home from MIT, I found myself on an empty shuttle to Logan Airport. As I sat alone in the middle of the bus, my eyes traveled across the deserted seats before settling on the window in front of me. There I saw the floating image of my face staring out at me, my black shirt invisible against the inky night outside. As I swayed with the gentle rocking of the bus, the sight of my head amidst darkness was eerily comforting. I exist. The world is full of many things, and I am one of them.