Written by: Nita Singh
As with many, September 11, 2001 will live in my memory forever. Even though it has been 18 years, my memory is as clear as if it happened yesterday.
My faith in God was always strong, but that experience brought me even closer to Him because I felt his love and protection. God kept me calm during the turmoil of that horrific day and guided me home safely to my family.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the weather was great. It wasn't too hot or too cold. I decided to wear my light gray pencil skirt suit with white blouse and 3 inch black heel pumps. As I left my house, my uncle Bheem, who was visiting from Guyana, was watching the news on TV. He said goodbye to me. I had no idea that the first plane had already crashed into the World Trade Center. I headed to work, blissfully unaware of what was ahead.
The A train came quickly. Listening to my music, I wasn't really paying attention until I realized that we were not moving. Eventually, the train started moving. At the next stop, a passenger boarded the train told all that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. It never occurred to me that it could be an act of terrorism.
Finally, we reached Fulton Street. I exited the subway and headed toward my office, which was located at 140 Broadway. Seeing people on Broadway looking upwards, I did the same. Only then did I notice that both World Trade Center Towers were on fire. A woman on the street told me a plane accidentally crashed into the Twin Towers. Despite hearing that, I continued to walk towards my office. Always thinking positively, I thought that FDNY would simply put out the fire.
As I approached 140 Broadway, I saw my supervisor, Antonietta. She explained that our building was not letting anyone in, so she suggested getting the staff together and heading home. Just then, I heard what sounded like the loudest thunder clap ever. Antonietta yelled to me, “The building is coming down. It looks like it's going to fall on us. Run!”
I froze for a moment. Everything seemed so surreal. How could this happen? In America? The greatest country? I started to run but I didn't get far. In all the confusion, someone knocked me down. Thinking I wouldn't have enough time to get away, I crawled behind a large planter. Two women fell on top of me. People were screaming. I thought I was going to die. I started praying. I asked God to take my life quickly so I wouldn’t experience any pain. As I prayed, I began to feel an eerie calmness. I believe God was calming and comforting me. Then, I heard a massive explosion. Everything went dark.
Dust and debris flew in the air. I wondered if I was dead. I wondered if this was heaven. Then, I felt the weight of other people on me and I realized I was alive. As those two women moved, they thanked me for praying and keeping them calm. Because I couldn’t see well, another person helped me move and wash my face. I never learned her name. She was an ambassador of God.
After connecting with, and then losing sight of two work colleagues, I began to cry. I was alone and had no plan. Eventually, I started walking East. When I reached the South Street Seaport, I met some people from Guyana and Trinidad. Together, we walked towards the Brooklyn Bridge. As we crossed the bridge, the second Tower fell.
Once over the bridge, I saw a pay phone. Many people were waiting to use it. I joined the line. After one hour, I finally had a chance to call my parents. Worried and afraid, they asked me why I hadn’t called sooner.
A woman in the group – Jennifer – offered to have her boyfriend drive home everyone with whom were were walking. We had to walk further in Brooklyn so he could pick us up. I had burn marks on my feet because debris fell on them, but I kept walking, still wearing the same shoes. Eventually, Jennifer’s boyfriend, Raj, picked us all up and drove us all home.
When I got home, I cried because I was safe. I cried because many people died. I cried because the entire country was crying.
When I tell others I am blessed, this is one of the reasons why I feel that way. I made it home.
Photo by: Adam Schreibman