Remembering Boston

Boston is one of my favourite cities in the world – I have many happy memories wandering about her streets, bunking in at a friend’s dorm… Which is why I was stunned when the blasts occured.  A friend is there with her family, and I know that her husband and her are athletes, so I immediately checked her FB page.  Thankfully, though they wanted to, they weren’t able to go watch the marathon because her hubby had classes that morning.

As the news unfolded, and Boston started to mourn the deceased and grieve for the seriously injured, the question hanging was “who?” and “why?”.

I was studying in the state between Boston and New York when Sept 11th happened, and I recall the shock, followed by the deep sadness that the country plunged into.

Unlike Sept 11th, where a terrorist group swiftly claimed “responsibility”, this time, there was silence on the global “chatter” detectors.  It was as if the usual terrorists themselves were stumped.

The next day, images surfaced.  It was hard to see who these people were, but they looked as American as Americans came.  Much has been said about the baseball caps, the backpacks, and the boys who had been in the US for years.

Suddenly, the fatal shooting of an MIT campus police officer had the security forces hot on the heels of the perpetrators. A FB friend who had studied in Boston, living blocks away from where the 200 rounds of firearms were exchanged, monitored and posted reddit feeds with the latest news.  I tracked those posts. I wondered if they would catch the younger brother alive, before he did more damage, or would he blow himself up, and together with him, remove all the answers to the questions that would forever haunt Boston, if not the rest of the world.

I found myself staying up on Saturday night, toggling between BBC, CNN online, as well as the reddit feed. It was also slightly surreal since my hubby was in New Haven when it happened, and would be flying back in a few days via New York City.  He didn’t feel unsafe, though there were searches in Connecticut for vehicles that were suspected to be used by the brothers at one point.

On Sunday morning, reddit, BBC and CNN corroborated that the younger boy had been found. In a boat. Wounded, but alive.

A friend posted on FB, about how she felt somewhat sorry for these two young men too, and how she felt a disconnect with how the media portrayed the event.  That elicited some strong views from her FB community. I jumped in to share as below,. Figured I’d post these thoughts on the blog as well, as a record to self.

Qn on everyone’s mind is how they became radicalised and by whom. And if nothing, this whole episode should gear efforts towards weeding out the source, the masterminds or origins of influence, so that this can never happen again. Demonising the brothers will not help.

There is room for repentance and redemption. There needs to be justice and punishment but no need to cast first stones.

Some article links also threw new perspectives on the “why” of it all, and resonated with how I felt as I looked at that prone figure in the boat, bleeding and possibly starving too.

However the details turn out, this is certainly a tragic story about America far more than it is a tale about the exotic elsewhere… an intuitive scenario—in which an older brother who had struggled with the promise and disillusion of American life and turned to extremist Islam for comfort, dominated and seduced a younger brother not born or made for violence—seemed plausible. But all of our experience suggests that it is not “fundamentalism” alone but an aching tension between modernity and a false picture of a purer fundamentalist past that makes terrorists.

RT @samferrara 3 hours ago: “I try to remember that someone’s reality was lying in a boat, wounded, hounded by an alphabet soup of law enforcement organizations, wondering if I killed my brother by running him over, or if the police killed him, and thinking about my long, bleak, hopeless future. Someone has to live that.
@scottcmiller: “Him not killing himself or going out with a bang is what really made me believe this is just a Kid that got pushed and influenced by the wrong people but deep down did not have a stone cold heart. What he did was monstrous, but I can’t help but feel he already regrets what he did. I don’t know it’s a feeling I almost can’t put into words.”

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