A couple of hours before the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon which left perhaps 4000 people dead, I was riding my commuter train home through the Japanese countryside.

I was packed into the carriage with hundreds of similarly tired and dishevelled workers and I felt acutely the weight of my routine. I repeated to myself like a mantra, “God, I’m bored, I want something to happen.”

Later at home, towelling myself, I stepped out of the shower to see an airliner loaded with people fly into the side of the World Trade Centre in new York.

My wife and I sat in the living room, a picture of perfect domesticity - she in pyjamas with a towel wrapped on her head after washing her hair, I with a frosty glass of beer - and watched the apocalyptic images coming out of the United States.

The people who were suffering and dying in New York were people like my wife and I, commuters and parents; people who were accustomed to watching evening tv with their partner with towels on their wet hair and perhaps drinking their own frosty beer.

There was a painful dissonance between our towelly domesticity and the horror on the tv.

Remembering that on the train home I had willed something to happen I felt an irrational rush of guilt: please, God, I didn’t mean this kind of happen, I just meant I wanted a new job or an agent to handle my writing.

At about three in the morning, slightly the worse for drink, I hit the sack.

Our three kids are currently sleeping in with my wife and I. One decided he was scared of the dark and since what one has they all must have, they have all decided they are afraid of the dark. My three-year-old daughter Angelique sprawled next to my futon thumb in mouth and clutching her comfort towel. She was the vision of a little angel on Earth - and, boy, that towel looked good that night.

I thought of all the people in the US who now would not be able to gaze like this on their sleeping children and I thought in here, in our small routines, in our comforts, in the love of a family, resides the sanctity and the specialness of human life.

I’ll take this boredom any day. After all, in the words of the song, Heaven is a place where nothing happens.

Christian Page

This story first appeared in ƒ-magazine

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