Thangachi’s Corner: In Remembrance

CTYA’s Blog has started a new Feature every other Wednesday called “Thangachi’s Corner”. “Thangachi’s Corner” is a comfortable space to discuss relatable topics and issues relevant to the Canadian Tamil youth of today. For more information about this feature or to suggest a topic, feel free to e-mail us at!

Written By: Keerthana Raveendran


I was in fifth grade French class when the first plane hit.

At the time, precisely twelve years ago, I was entirely oblivious to what was happening at our southern neighbour. I remember sitting in groups of five, chatting away after the morning announcements as our teacher gathered her things, fascinatedly looking at the limited edition Harry Potter collectibles she’d strewn across our desks at a time when the series was gaining corporate popularity.

The details of the lesson escape me to this day, but I remember vividly when the principal’s voice echoed through the PA system minutes later, interrupting us. Her voice was grave. She had an important announcement, was going to give us a minute to quieten down and prepare ourselves before speaking again.

I remember as we waited with bated breath during that one minute, and then, when the broadcast hit, the stunned silence within my classroom. I remember feeling remorse at the statistics she’d guesstimated, but still, at the tender age of nine, I could not quite comprehend the extent of the damage that had been done.

It wasn’t until years later than I came across the footage that had been played all over the country while I’d been in school. I was researching the incident for a school project and found myself encountering the many perspectives of the story that had unfolded that day. Older now, I came to understand the magnitude of the tragedy.

The number of people who had been trapped in the upper floors of the towers, unable to escape; who felt terror upon feeling the ground beneath them shudder upon impact; for whom realization must have slowly seeped in that it was impossible to descend and escape the building with flames and plane wreckage as their obstacle below—many of them had made the heart wrenching decision to throw themselves over the edge of the building rather than to await a suffering demise at the hands of the destruction.

Those innocents who sat in the planes—they expected no more than a pleasant flight, believing that their only obstacles would be the popping in their ears with altitude and perhaps a mild case of airsickness. They must have been aware of their situation well in advance, powerless to change their circumstances, left only to haphazardly swipe their credit cards through the slot of the airplane phones across from their seats, call their loved ones, and say goodbye.

Those many firefighters, who risked their lives to climb the attacked buildings in an attempt to salvage lives, only to find themselves engulfed in flames. The horror of those outside the buildings, who witnessed not only one, but two planes hit. And the people at home, the husbands, wives and children who picked up the telephone, called and called and called, hoping to reach their families.

I remember being nine years old and witnessing our school flag at half-mast in a gesture of respect and mourning to commemorate those who had suffered during the events of 9/11.

It is now twelve years later. Our flags no longer rest at half-mast in remembrance. Families who had once lost loved ones have begun to heal. The towers that once collapsed are now being rebuilt.

Tragedy is as constant in our lives as change, but with all tragedies—9/11, the World Wars; and even those in our own Tamil heritage, Black July, the Sencholai massacre—time serves to heal. Before September the eleventh became the day the United States was attacked, it signified birthdays, proposals and anniversaries around the world. For some, it was the day a coveted job was earned. For others, it was the day of reunion with loved ones after a long journey. Misfortune can reach our doorstep any day, but we are capable of changing how we view it.

And so, while I might still think back from time to time on those who suffered that morning I played with Harry Potter cards in French class, I’m still quite certain that September the eleventh will hold many miracles around the world for years to come.


About the Author:

Keerthana Raveendran, known by her flock as Thangachi, is an aspiring author with an eye for the eccentricities of the Tamil Canadian culture. As an unemployed student with a mountain load of student debt, she is currently broke, so you will probably be able to relate to her. As a writer, she has a special kind of wit that is present on the page and absent during the awkward conversations you tend have with her in person. Thangachi is currently a Masters student studying English at York University.


Read More by Keerthana! 

“The Art of Tamil Cuisine”

“The Proverbial Culture Pie”

“High Risk, High Reward”

“They Call it Maanam”
“Who are they anyway?”
“Remembering our Literature”
“Society and Expectations”
“To my Tamil Friends”


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