My family was caught in the Boston terror attacks. I never thought I would ever be so involved with something so terrible. The last time something even close happened was 9/11. A family friend worked in the South Tower, on the 82nd floor, which got evacuated just before the plane hit. We were in Eritrea and had just had the most amazing day travelling around our new home. I was 10 and couldn’t really grasp the severity of what had happened. We had no running water so we had to use the bathroom of a hotel around the corner. My older brother and I passed a group of ex-pats staring in disbelief at a cloud of smoke on a television screen in the lobby. My Dad stopped; we kept walking. We didn’t know but we had just seen the first tower fall.
Later, after my father had got to grips with what had happened we went back to an empty house because nothing had arrived from Uganda yet. We slept on mats and ate all of our meals at that hotel and various restaurants nearby. Now that I’m older I can sort of understand what my dad was feeling as he muttered “Oh my god, oh my god” under his breath, listening to the news on the pre-historic silver radio he used to take with him everywhere. He paced up and down the hallway, each footstep echoing in the emptiness. The four of us sat with our mum as she tried to explain to us what had just happened. I can only imagine what they must have been thinking.
When something tragic happens, like the bombs in Boston, I feel as empty as our home in Eritrea. Everything in my mind went blank; my family were the sole occupants of my thoughts as I struggled to find out if they had survived.
My uncle was running the marathon so his family were spread out along the route to encourage him along. His nephew, my cousin, was 100 feet from the first explosion. My other cousins were dotted along the course, miles away from the blasts. Although I’ve never lived there, I feel a connection to the US. I’ve gone to Maine every summer since I was born and to think something so terrible happened so close to my friends and family is terrifying.
It’s interesting having to live this experience here. I spent every waking second juggling between Facebook chat with my cousin in Boston, Twitter for updates, and the BBC for minute-to-minute reports. It’s unbelievable to think how connected we all are nowadays. That, and writing this, have helped me come to grips with it all. I hope they catch the terrorists who committed these atrocious crimes.
Why do Americans seem to love celebrating death? What gives you the right, no matter what harm someone caused you? When Osama Bin Laden was killed it was like the Messiah had returned in America. And yet they claim to be “the driving force for peace and democracy”, along with all the other stuff you hear brainwashed youths regurgitate when they get interviewed. “We are just relieved” is what one girl said after the Boston suspect was apprehended. I was relieved, too. But I didn’t run through the streets of Norwich (Boston) chanting “USA USA USA!” at the ambulance carrying the barely-alive 19-year-old boy to hospital. How is that a sign of relief? It angers me that none of them realise that people like me, who live abroad, take the blame for all the noise they make. When the US invaded Iraq, my family received death-threats. And I am supposed to be a proud American. It’s almost funny.