All winter I had this thought in my mind: What if I slipped on the ice and broke a bone/was knocked unconscious and couldn’t communicate with anyone? Now clearly I wasn’t that worried, because I never let it stop me from going places on frosty days. I guess in a lot of ways I put myself in danger every time I leave my house. Even if I don’t leave, something could happen.
I spend a lot of time on the Moscow Metro. It is my favorite thing about Moscow and it represents freedom to me. I don’t know what I would do without it. I will often take the longer route from Tushinskaya just so I can get a seat and read. I’ve read a couple books solely on metro rides. I look at people’s shoes and wonder what are in all those avosk plastic bags. I play “are they foreigners” and try pick up random Russian phrases.
Sometimes I look down the long corridor inside the metro cars and wondered what would I do if the train crashed. I think that I have developed the habit of never riding in the first car because I secretly think that it might run into something someday. I envision hearing a loud sound and seeing everything come crashing toward me, like in a disaster movie. Would it be better to jump up and hold on to the handlebars lining the sides or run to the back through the middle of the car so the seats don’t crash into me and would I be selfless enough to pull a babushka out of the way or would I try to hide behind drunken men?
When it is crowded, you don’t look at the people around you. You hold tightly onto your bags and try to keep balance and listen for your stop.
The closest I came to crying today was about 10 minutes after I heard the news. I was in a basement art room during first block, so I didn’t know anything until another teacher told me right before second block that I should announce it to the class. I rushed to CNN and BBC and read what news was available at 10am, two hours after the bombs went off. I suddenly felt a wave of mixed emotion and helplessness and my eyes filled with tears, but I had a room full of seventh graders and class needed to go on. I told them what I knew had happened on the metro and we watched a news clip online. I also told them about when I was in 7th grade and a Chinese embassy in Belgrade was bombed and school was canceled for a week in Beijing as a precaution against protesters. They were still chatty, but I kept calm and the class was fine. Some kids wanted to call their parents, but I don’t think the majority felt affected just then. I wonder if the implications of this will hit them at all, but they’re young.
As the day went on I thought about all the other incidents like this I’ve witnessed. I used to feel quite scared when a place where I had been became unsafe… Bali after a bombing, the whole US on 9/11, China during SARS, coups in Manila, the kidnapping in Mindoro. I realized, again, that nowhere is truly safe.
The day after 9/11, my dad made us go to school (it happened about 8:30pm Manila time and I was in 10th grade). At first I objected, wanting to stay home as a sign of mourning and watch CNN all day. Later my dad told us that to stay home would have been to let the terrorists win and that we went to school to show we would not let that happen. I can’t not take the metro. The goal of terrorism is to scare people into submission, to change they way they live, and make decisions based on fear. I won’t live like that. I always try to make good decisions and have a back-up plan, but I won’t live in fear.
News outlets are speculating about security on subways around the world and of the political implications, especially with the immediate blame of Islamic extremists from Chechnya, but I’m turning the computer off now and going to bed. I want to only remember that something sad and tragic happened this morning and to mourn with those who mourn.