Faces in the Mirror

As the numbers continue to rise, there are moving stories of heroism as well. Two siblings 7 and 9 pulled their 7 month old sister out of the rubble and walked towards the nearest town for help because everyone in their town was dead. After walking on foot for hours they convinced some authorities to come back to rescue their sister in the rubble. Sunday, eight days after the earthquake, the authorties pulled out their sister, alive.

When the Tsunami hit… one of my colleagues was in Thailand scuba diving. He said he felt some sudden pressure but nothing more. When him and his group came to the surface the boat was gone. Miles out, they had no idea which way was shore. So they swam and swam until they reached an island. Out of 20 people they began with only 6 made it to the island. To hear about the before and after from someone who was there, made me see everything differently.

With this earthquake.. the tears remain so close to the surface.. I’ve been watching the news, the links, the videos… I got this way after 9/11, the Tsunami… I don’t know why…. but I think the problem is the images. One of my friends once said that when you’re driving and you see an accident, avert your eyes because you may see something that will scar into your head for the rest of your life. I think that’s what’s happened. I can’t get the images out of my head. Anytime I have some quiet time to think, they come to me and I see them and I can feel their pain… I’ve been in Michigan, I’ve felt the cold… but not as I tried to sleep through the night… I’ve lost my home in a hurricane… but I didn’t have to live in a tent for months or years … and wonder if starvation would kill me…. I have a husband, brothers, parents.. the thought of losing any I feel like I’d die myself, but there are people who’ve lost everyone…. not just family, but entire generations…

The hardest part is there will be no closure. Tragedy is tragedy. No way to look reflectively and make “peace” and move on. Maybe I will carry this sadness for years to come, maybe all my life… But you have to handle pain productively… The important thing is to donate, ask others to donate, write about them occasionally to make sure they stay remembered, and to make my life meaningful for the sake of the people who will never have the chance.

I will write about other things, and think of other things, but they will always be with me in my heart and my thoughts, and always a part of my prayers. I will not forget them and to the extent that I can, I will do my part.

14 thoughts on “Faces in the Mirror”

  1. I think there is also a different effect that comes from watching the news. We just can’t make sense of the images we see because they are not told like stories. In context, and over time, things make a bit more sense. But I also remember the types of people in Pakistan who were affected – like the poor but very pure types, close to the land, very self-sufficient in their lives and chores. I also remember I wrote a poem for myself about how I wouldn’t forget those people – the Sriki sheepherder, the lady in the hospital who was crying, or things like that. I think its just so different when you experience it in real life. I just think Pakistan at some point has to reevaluate why it takes so long to do things b/c “we’re poor” can’t be an excuse for the ineffeciency forever.


  2. You are obviously a sensitive soul, full of compassion and not desensitized by the constant barrage of horrific and tragic images. One would have to have a heart of stone not to feel for those in such pain, who have suffered such loss. It’s part of being human, certainly one of the best characteristics of our species–the empathy that we have for one another.


  3. The problem is that most of us have a short attention span. Only when it happens to us to do we “get it”. The tsunami killed 200,000 people, yet when Katrina hit most folks were rivoted to the news and forgot all about the orphans and homeless in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Then the earthquake hits Pakistan and those people who still have nothing in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast are moved into the background.I saw a man get run over by a car in Africa on his way to the market. It was horrible and I was standing right next to him. I tried to comfort his wife, but I knew and she knew her life would change forever that day. We can never forget the tragedy that stalks us everyday. We just don’t see it until it happens.


  4. Ash, its true, it’s not like Tsunami victims have all picked up and are back to “normal”, or the Katrina victims, or the victims of Dar Fur, or Rwanda… or Bam… I guess if you stop and think about it for way too long about every single person suffering unspeakable traged, you will lose your mind… maybe its human nature to focus on one at a time, although it leaves people forgotten, maybe its a flawed aspect of human nature.


  5. I guess that’s why Red Cross has an international fund. But for the scale of earthquake I think that it received less attention initially than Katrina. Also, it had urgency to it, like getting people out of the rubble, but a slow response. Katrina is still important but the urgent aspect seems to be (mostly) over. I think its partially people are spread thin with all these disasters and its hard to answer the question of what an individual’s responsibility is. I’ve learned we can’t consume ourselve with grief, we have to take care of our lives, and thereby would have more to spare for others, even its just a percentage of what we have. Thats the biggest way going to Andalucia, Spain changed my life. Life is relaxed, peaceful there, if not slow, more so than here. I felt the weight of the world lifted and my body rejuvenated. Also in the past the Moors really did use their wealth but what remains is the intelligence of their spending. But you can imagine with all that wealth they spent on palaces, they still were aware of charity.


  6. Yeah, I went to college there. I lived in the dorms, and a girl on my floor was named Aisha, and she was from Pakistan, also. I didn’t think about it until you mentioned Michigan. Don’t suppose we knew each other way back when?


  7. No that wasn’t me. I was there in 2002 for just under a year in Lansing, MI. MSU was right by me but I’d already graduated by then. I’m actually a native Floridian thus couldn’t get used to the michigan cold! 🙂 Regarding the name Aisha, though I love it dearly, it is a very very very common name.


  8. lol..that’s okay! it was just too coincidental 🙂 lansing is a nice area–i visited there a few times, and i have a friend in the phd math program there. i miss michigan ALOT–but am resigned to living in the south because of economic conditions. hope you’re having a great day!


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