September 11, 2001
“Tristan, wake up! We’re shopping today! You forgot?” Mahala shook me awake and I looked at the clock. “But it’s only 7:00. Five more minutes?” Mahala laughed and pulled me up. She gave me a kiss and I sighed. We were shopping for Eid gifts and Mahala wanted to buy things early. My apartment at top floor was super clean because of Mahala and her organization skills. I went to the bathroom and got into the shower. Mahala went to the jade-green living room. Mahala excelled at designing, too.
When I finished showering, I got into a red polo with my denim jeans. I walked into the living room and into the dining room. The table had a bouquet of flowers in a vase right in the middle of the table. There were naan, fried eggs, aloo bhaji, and milk tea. I thanked Mahala with a kiss on the cheek and I sat down. I got a bit of all the food and a lot of tea. I was eating pretty slow and savoring each bite as much as I did on my first date with Mahala. I was in a good mood and I finished just about the same time as Mahala, give or take a few seconds. I washed my plate and my hands and walked to the coat rack. I grabbed my trench coat and put on some Timbs. I waited for Mahala to put on her hijab and her outfit on the couch and turned on the TV for then. On the news, the weatherman told us how nice it would be today. “The sky will be very blue and there will be no rain until next week.” Mahala came out of our room with leggings on along with a white drop shoulder sweater and her blue purse. She wore a black hijab and put on no makeup. It was so like her and I loved that about her. She didn’t care too much about how she looked, just if it followed the Islamic rules. At 7:45 we walked out of our apartment and into the elevator. We got to the first floor and we walked out.
When we got a taxi, five minutes had past and we told the driver to drive us to Westfield World Trade Center. I started talking to him about how driving as a taxi actually is. I felt bad for him because he got below minimum wage and he had a family to support. Mahala felt bad for him and she whispered to me, “Should we pay him extra?”
“Of course! He’s such a nice dude, but he still has to support his family with the money that he gets,” I whispered back, making sure to remember.
About fifteen minutes later, we got to the World Trade Center and we paid the man 25 dollars instead of 8. He asked us if we were sure and Mahala said, “Of course! Please, keep it!” The man thanked us a lot and left with a grin on his face and we left from the stop with a grin on our face. We started towards the building and we walked in. The familiar place was filled with people shopping for different. Mahala made a list of what we should buy for who. The list was long, but we had to buy everything on the list. We grabbed everything that we could find on the list that was here, like shoes and dresses. At the end of shopping here, our cart wasn’t very full. It was crazy! I would’ve thought there would’ve been more stuff that we would be able to buy here. We walked up to the cash register at about 8:35 and we put the items onto the conveyer belt and waited until the cashier was done. We spent about 50 dollars here and we only bought three things!
We walked out and we walked towards the World Trade Center. It was 8:45. All of a sudden, there was a loud crash above us. Oh, my God! The North Tower’s top floors looked like they just blew up! We started briskly walking and we ended up sprinting, dropping everything… People were panicking and I got split up from Mahala by panicking people. “Mahala! Where are you?” I yelled. Nothing except for more screams. There was a crack and, all of a sudden, part of the North Tower fell off towards us. I started running away from that, but then I heard someone yell, “Tristan!” It sounded exactly like Mahala and it was in the direction of the debris falling. I started trying to run through the crowd, but I didn’t make it in time. The rubble fell right in front of me and I heard even louder screams than before. I started searching through the rubble and I found a hijab. I threw asphalt and steel and much more stuff and I found Mahala. She was barely breathing and I pulled her out. I threw her above my shoulder and I ran away from the North Tower. I didn’t know which way I was going, I just knew that it was away.
When I thought I was far enough away, I put Mahala on the ground and checked her pulse. There was none. I tried CPR and checked her pulse again. Nothing, Again, I tried CPR, frantic and tears welling up in my eyes. I checked her pulse and there was still nothing. I started crying and I fell on top of Mahala’s cold, still body. I was sobbing so hard, I was hurting. She was the first person I ever loved and we married and now she’s gone! I couldn’t take it in. I kissed her unmoving, soot-filled mouth one more time and I broke down.
A man with a steely expression saw me and pulled me up. He saw Mahala and his expression softened. He picked her up and told me, “Come on, I’ll get you out of here. Don’t worry, I’ll take her, too.” I followed him, my sobbing getting even worse. He drove us to my sister’s house, where I told him to go. We were driving at 90 miles per hour at that point and so were most other people. I didn’t let go of Mahala that whole way through. I went into the elevator with Mahala and the man and pressed ’13’.
When we got up there, we went to our room number and I knocked in the rhythmic pattern, as always, just a whole lot slower. When Jenna opened the door, she instantly gasped. One, I was covered in soot, as was Mahala and the man. When Jenna saw Mahala, though, her eyes welled, too and I could see she was sad, too. I went into the bathroom and gave me and Mahala a shower for later, since cops wouldn’t come until this emergency was over. I turned on the water and undressed Mahala and put her inside the bath. When she looked clean, I was still crying. I drained the water and I turned on the water again. I gave Jenna Mahala’s cold body and I got in. I was still sobbing through the whole bath. I was heartbroken. I couldn’t handle it. I finished showering and got Mahala’s phone. It wasn’t crushed, surprisingly. Ironic. I called all of her contacts. I only said eight words to each of them.
“Mahala is dead. My wife Mahala is dead.” My whole day was just about that and crying. The man left at about 1 and Jenna was by me the whole time I called each of those people. She got me a sandwich and I was only able to take a bite. The person I thought was the most devastated was her dad, who instantly started crying, so I had to stay longer. Jenna took the phone from me and tried to calm him down, but it didn’t work. It was the worst day ever.