The New Sun Newspaper

Today We Pray There Will Be
Peace on Earth

Today you are wounded, you are bleeding and your children still covered with ashes are weeping over the ruins while looking for their lost beloved.

Today we are mourning for you and all the souls that perished in this catastrophic tragedy of inhuman act of evil.

Today we are speechless, finding no words to comfort you in your sorrow even though we too are your children, and we do not know how to make you feel better.

Today we pray that there will be peace on earth.

It was early Tuesday morning and my hands were covered with dough. I was making a spinach pie for my friends whom I had promised at the College where I am teaching. My Brazilian neighbors were singing, they were celebrating something and their happy voices followed by their guitars echoed into my kitchen. It was a happy moment until my phone rang. It was "E" calling from the city: "Do you know what's going on?" she said.

What is going on?" I asked because in our lives always something is going on, we live and work in New York, we are on twenty four-seven.
"World Trade Center just collapsed" she said. "It was attacked by terrorists. There is no more World Trace Center."
"Sure," I said. "Sure there is no more World Trade Center," I answered joking. Never would I have thought something like that could have happened. "E" started to cry and asked me to pick her up at the ferry. I washed my hands, put the pie in to bake and jumped in the car and went to pick her up. Then I saw the flames and the smoke reaching the sky.
My heart stopped. "Oh, my God!" I cried. "Oh My God, thousands of people must have died."

The police closed all the roads to the ferry. I circled for two hours and had no access at all. E walked for miles and burned in the sun and finally by the afternoon arrived at my home completely broken, frightened and shaken.

"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 dead.

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 Muslim.

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 future?

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 hurt others.

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 hearts. 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