Families of 9/11 Indian victims still to recover
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Last Updated: Monday, September 12, 2011, 00:53
  
New York: It is said that time is the best healer, but not for the Indian families in the US whose kith and kin lost their lives on that fateful September day 10 years ago, when the city faced its worst terror attack.

New Jersey resident Arjan Mirpuri's 30-year old son Rajesh was among the 3,000 people who died on 9/11 when two airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers.

"My son did not even work at the World Trade Centre. He had gone there that day to attend a trade show. Before that day, Rajesh had never gone to the WTC. 9/11 became the most unfortunate day of our lives," Mirpuri said.

It has been 10 long years since but the pain and sadness in Mirpuri's voice and expression is still palpable.

"Whatever happened on 9/11 was wrong. It should never have happened. We still feel miserable and upset about the tragic events of the day," he says.

Mirpuri will organise a religious ceremony, now an annual fixture, on 9/11 in memory of his son.

"We have tried to move on in life. We have to accept God's will but nothing can compensate the loss of losing a son in such a manner."

The world may come together to remember the victims of the crash every year on 9/11 but for the Mirpuris, the anniversaries hold little meaning.

"It may be 10, 15 or 20 years but we have to live with the loss everyday single day of our lives. Our son has gone forever. We pray that no parent has to go through such a loss."

Mirpuri says he does not want to get into the political debate of what the countries and governments should do to tackle terrorism. Every country, be it the US or India, is trying to control terrorism but innocent people are killed everyday around the world.

"We can only pray that the perpetrators of such acts realise what they are doing and stop taking the lives of innocent people.

The world should live in peace and harmony," he said.

Surgeon John Mathai, who lost his younger brother Joseph, says 10 years may seem a long time to many but for him the years have not dulled the pain of the "unfortunate" event.

"The loss of my brother is a loss that will never be replaced. Ten years have gone by but there has hardly ever been a day where I have not thought of him and the wonderful time we spent in New York," Mathai said.

A leading technologist, Joseph had decided to attend a meeting at the World Trade Centre at the last minute.

When he last spoke to his wife Teresa, he had told her that there was smoke inside the tower and was waiting for instructions to get out.

John feels his brother must have escaped from the building as "there were no burns, only injuries. So I'm supposing they managed to get down somehow." But it still was too late.

"The attacks were an unfortunate event in human history and my brother was one of the unfortunate victims," said John.

John recalls that he had visited the 'Windows on the World' restaurant on the 106th floor of the north tower with his brother where they enjoyed their sushi meals.

"I have not eaten sushi since his death," John says. Attorney Umang Shastri, who lost his cousin Neil, says a foundation that the family has set up in memory of Neil has served as a "distraction" that helps in not thinking about his tragic death. Neil, 25 had worked for an internet company and had married his childhood sweetheart three months before the 9/11 attacks. He had spoken to his wife as the towers collapsed.

"At that point, he didn't say he wasn't going to make it," Umang says in an interview to India-West.

The family set up the Neil G Shastri Foundation for Education 10 years ago and has donated almost USD 95,000 to several organisations.

It has supported a school in Bihar and created a scholarship which offers funds to students attending Rutgers University, Neil's alma mater.

"Early on, the fundraiser was very helpful. It was a distraction that required us to put our energy into something other than thinking about Neil's death," he said.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, September 11, 2011, 16:09


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