Bombs at a Marathon

Disclaimer: this is a raw unedited pouring of my emotions. May not be my best work. But it comes from the heart. I am scared. Something has forever been changed. I want to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon. I had decided yesterday to start training for next year. I won’t give up the idea, in fact I will run to prove we are strong. This won’t break our spirit. Boston is a great city that sparked our freedom more than 200 years ago. We will overcome.

I am here. I sit at my desk, and watch while chaos consumes my city.

My city is tainted today; touched by an evil we’ve only seen from afar, and may be could not quite relate to before. We can now. Nurses and Doctors were shocked by wounds they had no experience with, no familiarity- wartime wounds. My fear may be irrational, but it’s real. Chaos. Maiming. Death.

People come to raise money, or support a good cause. They bring their children and loved ones to watch the race, enjoy the weather. People raise money for cancer, MS, other worthy causes. Then they die. Their children die. They lose their legs. They lose their eyes.

Boston Marathon 2010 Finish line 2010

It’s driving me crazy. People around me are just saying “whatever”. They are saying it’s worse elsewhere in the world. They are saying it was worse in Sri Lanka, when bombs were going off at all odd places and times with no specific target, but the most casualties. It’s true.

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to go through the fear, the uncertainty. I’ve been through several bombing incidents. I remember falling off my bed when the bomb went off in Kandy, I remember windows shattering when a bomb went off near Police Park, and I remember holding the table to steady myself through the boom of the bomb at the Police Station in Kollupitiya. I remember casualties upwards of 20 people. I remember images of body parts scattered about the street. I remember being afraid to get on a bus, or take the train. Not knowing when or where.

I remember these stories not being in the world news.

So people didn’t die here like in Sri Lankan bombs. If the fatalities are just two or three, that is ok? When is it ok for anyone to die? Why is it so easy for us to brush off the tragedy of others? Just because America has a bigger voice in the media, people will resent them for their tragedy? Will you read that last sentence again and tell me if that makes sense to you?

 And this isn’t Sri Lanka. This is Boston. This is my city. I feel safe here, I take the train, take the bus; I walk around without an ounce of fear, at any time of the day or night. And in a single moment Boston and bomb-ridden Colombo merged into one. Irrational Fear.

Bag check at North Station, Boston

I had my bags checked entering the train station, police, army, National Guard, FBI everywhere, with their machine guns, standing vigilant. Random searches authorized. Public service announcements about being aware “See something, say something.”

I have to remind myself. You’re not back in war-torn Sri Lanka.

Friends keep talking, keep living, telling me what seems like the most unimportant information (which just a few hours ago I was eager to hear) as if I have time to think about what colour she painted her nails or what they’re cooking for dinner. Are people so unfeeling? Are Sri Lankans so jaded? Is it so easy to brush off someone else’s tragedy off our shoulders?

 I’m not saying that bad things don’t happen in the rest of the world. People in other countries, always think “serves them right” when something happens in America. (I used to be the same.) Well I’m here, and seeing and hearing about people dying is no different here than in Colombo, or the Middle East.

This is my tragedy, I am an American. Just like the bombs in Sri Lanka were, because I am Sri Lankan.

I left the office. People on the street. Walking, talking on phones. “I’m ok” they all say. “I’m fine.” But are we? Are we ok? The Boston Marathon is such a monumental part of our city. Patriot’s day is such a monumental part of our identity. The identity of the Bostonian, the identity of the Commonwealth.  It’s “the Greatest Day” in the Boston calendar, it marks the beginning of spring, the beginning of spring Break for school kids. A day of welcoming people from all parts of the world, for some friendly competition. A day of jubilation.

Nervous laughter. People walking fast. Looking over their shoulders. I walk fast eager to be in the safety of my home. High alert. Someone pulls a large duffel out of his trunk. I stare; openly, suspiciously. Twitter amuck with accusations, pictures. People pointing fingers. Waiting to find out whom to blame, who to antagonize.

I’m sure the world news carried the story of the Boston bombings, alongside the story of the car bomb in Iraq. The problem is, no matter who people choose to blame for the problems in the world the innocent children and people who died here aren’t responsible for the car bomb in the middle east, just as the people who died in the middle east aren’t responsible for the bombings here in my city. Who is responsible doesn’t make any difference to the people who died, the people who lost limbs, and the people who lost loved ones.

It seems to me the only thing people are successful at is HATE.

What a terrible morning to wake up as a human being.

My identities Eastern and Western are no different this morning; touched by Evil on all sides.

American Tragedy

This is a letter from an associate in my company who came all the way from Italy to run yesterday:

Dear All,

I want thank you all for the great support I received before, during and after the marathon.
I had a challenge to beat my personal best on the distance and I promised to donate additional $500 in case of success.
Yesterday, due to cramps, I had to slow down after the 15th Miles, so It took me 30 minutes more then expected to arrive at Mile 26. I could not make the last 0.2
Due to my delay, it happened I was right in between the 2 explosions, my dream of running Boston suddenly changed into a nightmare.
My first reaction is a great frustration and anger. I made my $500 donation anyway in memory of the victim. Yesterday it was not about sport or performance, it was about being human or cowards.
I have also decided I will be running 2014 Boston Marathon, no matter what! I owe this to Boston, I owe this to Dana Farber and to myself.
We cannot let it go. I attended Dana Farber pasta dinner, this year we raised more then 4.6 Milion Dollar to finance basic cancer research thanks to runners fundraisers.
What if we let fear take over? I will not! I hope other Boston and Worldwide associates will accept the challange.

All the best

Umberto

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One thought on “Bombs at a Marathon

  1. Wherever it happens, it is a tradegy. Especially when those terrorists target innocent civilians. But I can understand why rest of the world is not shedding too many tears when this happens on US soil, they must be feeling that US is brining all this upon themselves due to their policy of interference in other countries.

    I am interested to know how they will handle this investigation and any more future problems while “preserving” civil rights (since they are so interested in ensuring SL do the same).

    My view is simple, show no mercy for terrorists. If anyone is using terror to disrupt peaceful civiliam life, come down hard on them. Any others who sympathize for the terrorist cause (even perhaps if they are not directly involved) is no better than the terrorists themselves.

    My thoughts and prayers are will everyone effected by this tradegy.

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