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Soulstar Universal

Drama


4  

Soulstar Universal

Drama


I Am 35

I Am 35

7 mins 24K 7 mins 24K

At times, life’s catastrophes can mould us in ways we may not be able to come to terms with. I always keep worrying about Telly in that regard. I do not want her to go through what I went. Never. In that way I am proud of my evolution. The bitterness that life threw at me has not made me selfish or negative. It has taught me to be more compassionate and that is my biggest achievement.

Today I would be joining back on duty as an air traffic controller after a sabbatical of ten years. My name is Amelia Jones. I was the officer in-charge with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers and, this is my story.


I am 35, and that is only my biological age. Up until now I have lived my life as if it was a process, a journey sort of, but not anymore. Being a hard - core believer of the fact that if I am enjoying every bit of the process so to say, the outcome will be obviously good, it is slightly surprising to me that I feel this way now. To a certain extent I haven’t even yet been able to let go of my initial ideology completely, but largely it doesn’t exist anymore. And this realization dawned upon me after Telly's birth as I spent more and more time raising her.

Telly, my three-year-old daughter.


At 8.20 am that dreadful morning I recorded a normal radio transmission at the Dallas airport control tower when AA-79 took off and suggested the pilot to contact the next controller at Washington center 110.0 as per routine.

I had met Danish that morning. Danish, my then-boyfriend, now husband. At times we used to meet for breakfast in the morning and then hail for our respective duties. He too worked with FAA and that gave us some benefit unlike some of our friends who had to take out time from their busy schedules for meeting each other.


Ours wasn’t love at first sight or something. Quite honestly when I first saw him what I had thought was just that he was different. Very. In his looks. Like… nothing that I would have expected to capture my attention and it hadn’t even.

It took us many years to really feel something more than friendship for each other. But I remember that all along when I was working with him as a colleague, I had a strange feeling of protectiveness towards him. And, even today I cannot reason why I had this feeling.

I remember I wouldn’t like anyone talking bad about him or gossiping about him to me. I would just find some way out of any conversation that involved back-bitching about Danish.

Interestingly, two years before I had left my job, a girl named Katherine had joined our team and she did not like Danish much. To my surprise, one day I found myself asking Susan, yet another of my group member if Danish was aware of her ways and she told me that Danish could handle such things. I didn’t delve much after that as we were only colleagues then.


So, after having our favorite breakfast, boiled eggs, toast – butter – jam and a nice creamy coffee, we both headed to work.

The weather was so good that I remember having asked Danish to take me out on a date after work that day. As usual he had happily agreed. It had been sometime that we had gone out for a long ride and the idea of getting to spend some time out of work was slowly dawning upon me. Eventually we were to start living together if everything remained the same. At least that is what I had thought… And for that, it was important to get to know each other…

I headed back to the control tower in anticipation of the evening and started off my day.


The trajectory of the flight was being constantly tracked by my fellow senior controllers. At 8.36 am the flight reached a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet and the pilot was indicated to turn the flight right by 10 degrees for traffic concerns.

A usual monitoring continued when, at 34 minutes into the flight, the controllers felt concerning that the flight had started going off-course. They immediately started to gain contact by checking in through the radio. Two mins later their concern turned alarming as the flight had vanished from the tracking radar.

Completely unaware that aboard that Boeing air plane were 5 hijackers in addition to the 59 passengers and the cockpit crew, what unfolded next took me by trauma which I have been sort of dealing with during my ten-year sabbatical.

Efforts to track the plane yielded to be futile and just after 9 a.m. the control tower received a call from the American Airlines that pulled a rug from beneath our feet.

We were told that two of the American planes had crashed into the twin towers rendering lower Manhattan in utter chaos risking the lives of thousands of American citizens. In light of this phone call it became imperative that AA-79 be located sooner than the later.

At 9.32, a mysterious radar return was recognized and my team realized that if it indeed was our flight AA-79, then, it had turned towards Washington DC. As I monitored its location, I realized that the flight was 12 miles west, east bound, heading straight for the Pentagon.

The chief officer immediately informed the officials at White House and an evacuation was initiated. But then, we hardly had any time… and, I was petrified.

Just then I noted that the flight had turned away and felt a sense of relief that maybe some patrolling was sent to protect our capital and there was still some hope. But in the next moment, the plane took a 360 degree turn and moved back crashing straight into its target, the Pentagon.

What seemed like a normal, sunny day, turned out to be catastrophic not only for me but millions of American citizens. I was shattered beyond imagination having witnessed the flight operations unfold right in front of my eyes. It was utter devastation and no one can ever be prepared for such kind of a tragedy.


I remember struggling to gather myself at work and I was so glad that Danish did not have a day off and that he was around when the news spread like wildfire. I remember, he came over to me and it was then that I realized how much I needed someone to be around. Someone more than just an office colleague…

A month later I resigned from my position as the traffic controller, not being able to focus, as, the trauma replayed in my mind. I was quick to realize that maybe witnessing those events had impacted me more than what I had earlier envisaged and that it would be inappropriate to continue further.

For almost seven years after that I used to have nightmares of that day and the attacks and the news flashes, but what comforted me was my family.

Yes, six months after the incidence I and Danish got married and have been so happily for a good ten years now.


In these years that have passed I have realized how important it is to have a healthy, loving family and beautiful bonds of friendships and relationships around myself. These bonds have helped me heal from the shock.

Most importantly, my daughter Telly, I feel, is the source of hope in my life. She, to me, is the one person who symbolizes that even after having witnessed the most horrific tragedy, I and the nation as a whole can still stand up and continue living a happy, fulfilled life even when there are going to be challenges from the disturbing past.

That there is still lots of positivity around and that not all is lost!

 


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