Monday, September 11, 2006


As September 11 gives way to September 12, 2006 and official 9/11 commemorations come to an end, I too mark another milestone in my life, I turned one year older.

I am one of thousands of people in the world who were and will be born on a day now so infamous that one has to make sure they assume the right demeanor and adjust their tone before uttering it or anything connected to it, lest listeners misconstrue you to be reveling in the loss of that day.

In fact, I have no problem with my birthday being eclipsed by all the solemn attributes to the 3 000 innocent people who lost their lives to terrorism on that fateful day in 2001 and those so killed in similar tragedies before and after that day. It is the least I can do to honour them.

The last time I had a full-fledged birthday party was in 2000. Then came September 11, 2001, a sunny Tuesday in Harare. I was running around preparing for my journey to Texas, USA.

Every now and I again I stopped to field calls from family and friends who wished me a happy birthday. Around 3 pm, Zimbabwean time, I fielded a different call. A colleague asked if I was near a television. I wasn’t. I was driving.

“Go home immediately and watch TV,” he said in an eerily quiet voice.

I rushed home and switched on the TV just before the first tower collapsed. The calls I made and received after that had nothing to do with my birthday. They were all about what was happening in the US, who was doing it, why, how would it end and whether I was going to be able to travel to the US.

I have no doubt my story was repeated a thousand times around the world in one form or another.

After that day, it never felt necessary for me to party. Well meant congratulations and presents have been treasurable enough, thank you.

Today became a measured exception though. Colleagues at work threw me a small do in the office. Two delicious cakes, some non-alcoholic wine and appropriate presents from special friends. It was befitting the day.

In the end, when others worry about whether they will get all excited and drunk and ruin their special day, I prayed that the day ends without some devilish commemoration from, you know who!


No comments: