"E" was born in America, this is her country. She has never faced an evil
like that. E never knew how much violence could hurt. I hugged her and we
cried together for this unexplainable human tragedy. My neighbors didn't hear
about the tragedy till late at night, they had been celebrating all day with
their happy songs. Life and death, hand in hand, dwelled in my neighborhood.
New York, New York: the city of my dreams. You have accepted most of us with
open arms. You have created a nest for us where we could have a face and a
voice, and you gave us freedom to dream. I walked up and down your streets for
21 years, looking at your stores and decorating myself with your beauty. I
learned so much from you. You're my beautiful home, you were a place that showed
the world that peace was possible among all the nations.
The phones started ringing. People wanted to know about the tragedy first
hand. Calls were coming from all over the world. People were sad, frightened,
discouraged, and mostly shocked. One hundred emails poured into my computer,
people wanted to help but didn't know how.
We were all glued in front of the
television panicking and waiting to hear who has survived and how many are
New York, New York. Artists and a few of us writers gathered on the previous Sunday
morning at a nice inexpensive cafe to discuss our work and our dreams. We
mostly were broke, but always had enough cash for a bagel and coffee. That
kept us going for most of the day. But our fiery discussions, our hopes about
changing the world were more important. There, by the Hudson River, we dreamt
that we could make a difference as the sun reflected from the shiny glass
windows of your beautiful twin sisters. Only two months ago I climbed the
Windows of the World and had dinner there, watching the city like a decorated
beauty under the sky. How proud I was to stand up at the Towers thinking,
"Oh My God, I do live in the most beautiful city in the world."
For twenty-one years of learning English, learning to make it in life,
helping our families abroad, trying to become part of this city that has been
part of us like no city in the world. A city that gave us freedom not to
change, to remain ourselves, to share our cultural differences and plant love
as our main token of friendship.
Someone called me and said, "People are angry, please be careful!"
"But why?" I responded " I have done nothing wrong." Then I remembered I
have an accent. I come from somewhere else. I am an Albanian and I am a
Last night I went to teach my English Language class where most of my
students are from the Middle East. They were sad and had a hard time talking
about the tragedy.
"A" said, " Most of us are hardworking people and now everyone will judge us
even though we are not guilty," he cried. "P" wouldn't raise her head from the
desk. She was afraid, she was so afraid that she remained silent all
throughout the class.
"Z," who works as a barber while he is going to school to get educated, said,
"My customer was an American and as I was cutting his hair, we both heard
the news on the radio. Our eyes met on the mirror. I lowered my eyes in
shame, even though I didn't know why I was feeling ashamed. I was only doing
my job. Yet I felt ashamed. He left without saying a word."
"Z" continued and
he too had terror in his eyes. What is his life going to be like in the
I went to my car and removed my prayer of protection in Arabic. I thought if
some angry person will see it, he could break my car. I hid my prayer of
protection because a seed of fear was placed in my heart. What a shame!
New York, New York: not all of us with accent; Muslims, or Black or others
who were born in some other countries and had run away from their place of
violence or terrorists. Not all our children think to hurt other people like
a group of angry evil men have done to hurt you. Have mercy on us for we too
are your children. Let us come close and be part of this mourning. We have
not caused any damage due to our cultural or religious beliefs. Nor have we
hurt you because of our dreams. We are not people with the broken hopes like
those others who dwell in anger and use everything even the name of God to
Let us share your pain with you and let us weep with you because
you are part of us and you are our hope and our home. It is you who taught us how to create love even
where there was none. It is you that spread hope and helped us all
become the best we could become. New York, New York, we are one.
I saw people covered with dust, some with burns, some covered with blood. The
panic, fear, the sight of death in their eyes spread terror in all our
New York, New York, will we ever be the same? Will we trust again?
I am praying for you on my knees. And I know that any act
of evil will not break you. I know that God's love will prevail.
May you find strength to overcome this disaster. May you rise again toward
the sun and greet the world with your beauty and strength. May peace always
adorn your heart and may you heal your sorrow.
We are here trying to help you recover.
New York New York: we too are your children and will always be for better or
for worse. May all the hearts of those who have suffered a great loss find
peace and heal in God's love and mercy.
May there be peace on Earth. And may your wounds heal soon.
New York, New York: may you always stand tall and always be our harbor of HOPE.
by Shqipe Malushi