What words can’t express

Time, Newsweek, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, The Economist — all filled with heart-wrenching photos and surreal accounts of the horrific events that took place 10 years ago,  and here I was, a writer, my pages blank.

Ten years after 9/11, I thought, how was it possible that I had no story to write, nothing to say, no feeling to articulate through words? Even now I’m slightly disappointed that there’s no post on my other blog serving as a tribute to the 9/11 victims, but since my mom helped me express through my other craft, dance, what I couldn’t express through words, I find myself finally updating this site after more than two years.

In remembrance of 9/11, my mom choreographed a dance for me to perform for an interfaith event honoring the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedies. It was a dance on world peace, choreographed to the Tamil song, “Shanthi Nilava Vendum,” or “Let There Be Peace Everywhere.” Having the lyrics in my mother tongue helped me bring out the emotions a lot more easily than I think I would have for a song in a different language. It was a plea for everlasting peace and spiritual power in a world filled with fear, terror and violence.

A sloka, or prayer, preceded the dance, asking for there to be peace everywhere: in the heavens, on earth, and in the great cosmos; peace on the waters, peace to bestow contentment; peace for all forms of life.

“Let peace come to us through actions done and yet to be done, let there be peace to the past as well as the future.”

The song was a call to action, for people to do their duty in being open hearted and teaching those things that build good character in a person. I want to expand on that to urge people to share with people of other cultures  information about your own— your customs, traditions, rituals and beliefs. What good is it to say you’re tolerant if you’re not active in sharing (I said sharing, not proselytizing) with others the richness of your own culture? That’s what breeds understanding among people and can lead to a society free of ignorance.

“With a pure heart let us give back to our society.”

When my mom and I were working on the dance, we first started off by including a depiction of the father of the nonviolence movement, Mahatma Gandhi, since his name is specifically mentioned in the Tamil song. Later, however, we decided to also illustrate scenes from the World Trade Center disasters, as it was more appropriate for the interfaith event, and would likely evoke more personal reactions from the audience.

It worked. And I felt truly honored to be able to perform for such an occasion.

May all those who have lost their lives in fighting violence around the world rest in peace always.


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