You may call life funny; you may say it’s somewhat strange. For me it has always been unpredictable – cursed or blessed by fallible plans and unforeseen happenings. April 15 was no different. Awaken to the forgotten sounds of birds chirping, and the radiating beams of sunlight peeping through my window shades, I smiled and thought “finally, another beautiful day. “
As a business student I’d become indoctrinated to my monotonous routine, oblivious to the likes of public holidays. Furthermore, as a Grenadian, I’d developed an allergy to anything less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Strolling along the quiet, sun kissed street of Boylston, as I made my way to school that morning, the stillness and uncanny tranquility of the usual downtown hustle, provided a peace and serenity recently absent. Certain of a great day I tweeted, “Another day, another opportunity to live the dream! Stay blessed all!”
My certainty turned to horror with one phone call. I remember it clearly. She asked, “Nisha where are you? Are you close to the marathon?” Immediately I knew what would follow would not be pleasing. “There were two bombs,” she said. “Are you safe?” As I grappled to answer her question and understand what was uttered, the joy of my morning faded into memory. It was 3:14 pm.
Monday 15 was decision day for us at HULT. For five days, MBA students had been locked into a business simulation, competing in teams to dominate the microcomputer market. It was the sole reason we had school; it was the sole reason why countless students, who had made a social habit of attending other marathons and walks, in the city, were not present at the annual Marathon. Like wildflowers, news of the tragedy and thoughts of what ifs began spreading. There were calls to check on loved ones and students, who had not been seen. As computers changed from simulation screenshots to live feeds of Boylston, the expected celebrations of a simulation now completed were drowned by a deafening silence, and the occasional question: “What the… just happened?”
For my colleagues from the east, sounds of bombs in backyards were the norm, nothing to be alarmed about. But for me, for this post-revolution girl, from an island where the worst we experience is an occasional ‘planass’, this was not natural, not even close. As the sounds of sirens echoed outside my school; as I looked upon the blood stained street and listened to the piercing screams of the anguished, in the video that now played on repeat, I felt lost, disconnected. I had seen fear before. I’d been in car crashes, gone under the knife, and had many life threatening experiences. I knew fear, but not this fear. This was uncharted territory – the kind that you never expect and could never explain. I was scared.
As reports of other bombs being found in the city poured in, the threat against our own safety became very real. Students questioned what to do – should they attempt to leave the school or should they relegate themselves to becoming hostages of the situation. By 5:40 pm, the decision was no longer our own. “Dear Students, Police have learned of a possible incident on Monsignor O’Brien Highway… we recommend staying in the building at this time.” Monsignor O’Brien Highway is the roadway outside our school. Suddenly what seemed like a horror by association had somehow turned into a nightmare of participation. As I stared through the large glass windows to the police activity, and overhead choppers in clear sight, all I could ask was why. Why did I ever leave Grenada? A year ago I’d been so frustrated with the economic stagnancy of the country that I figured it was time to return to school. As I stood there, economics was suddenly irrelevant. Attendance at Harvard Conferences – $35; opportunity to pitch to Google’s application department – free; peace of mind and tranquility – PRICELESS!
By 7:00 pm, the warning had lifted and we were free to go home. Though the bar at my school provided free finger foods to all to, appetites ceased to exist. There was somberness. As we learned of the deaths, especially that of the eight-year-old boy, ambivalent feelings of anger and sorrow erupted abound.
Unwilling to succumb to the dark of night, I finally mastered the courage to leave my school. As I walked, my typical route, there were no headphones in my ear, no sounds of Soca dictating my momentum. Instead there was paranoia. Every corner was a potential cemetery; every passerby, a potential threat. As I sat in my train, its uncustomary empty seats appeared ghastly. Looking upon the lone guy in my cart, I couldn’t help but ponder whether he might have been the one. Who knows, maybe he pondered the same, looking at me. It was clear our reality had been altered. Things would never be the same. We expect this in New York, but of Boston – No!
It is hard to find logic behind the heinous crimes of ignorant fools. I no longer try. What I do try to do is find the message in the action. I can join the choir and sing about how precious life is; about how grateful we should be. I shall not. We all know this. Instead, I will lend my voice to the opera and sing a different song, one not often heard – a song of unbridled quality of life.
As Caribbean nationals we are all so privileged to have access to the rarest of gifts – peace of mind. We are fortunate to exist in a pocket, devoid of such random, inhumane acts of violence; in a region where courtesy and faith still exist. Yet we are ungrateful. We spend countless minutes crying down our countries; crying down our people; crying down our system. If nothing else is taken from this senseless act of hate, take this: be thankful for the luxuries that money cannot buy. Appreciate the value of your homeland; appreciate the beauty of carefree life. Though we strive to move forward as a region, let us never forget our roots. May we never lose sight of our true competitive advantage – the humanity of our own.