Trinidad & Tobago - Biology
I noticed something this afternoon. Walking across the elementary school
yard to the Elm Street entrance, on a flagpole to the south side of the
yard, there were two flags: one was the Star - Spangled Banner and the
other was probably that of the District of Columbia. They were flying at
full mast. I hung my head and walked slowly to Carver Hall, avoiding the
ubiquitous broken glass. I was beginning to forget, which was
inappropriate, for it was too soon.
The alarm rang angrily, blinking 5:00
am. I pulled the covers over my head and swore through my morning
breath. The air conditioning was on freeze as was the floor. I hid in
the shower, letting the heavy, warm spray wash the sleep and cold from
my body. Turning off the head, I stepped out and went to the washbasin
to brush my teeth. I looked up to see myself foaming at the mouth,
scoffed and spat.
Tuesday’s roadmen were out early,
fixing a street that seemed always in need of a fix. It was 8:03 am.
Stepping lively, I shrugged off what the shower and “extra nap” had not.
I was going to be late. Elm and 4th Streets brought no new surprises.
Four Mondays—and the days between them—had passed since I came to Howard
University. The robust ebony crows and little brown sparrows, the
squirrels hiding nuts, the broken glass that told of drink and violence,
they were all now familiar background noises. When the asphalt of 4th
Street began to crest, I glanced at my watch again. The hands told nine
minutes past. Knowing that I was definitely going to be late for my
quiz, I swore through my teeth and crossed the street.
About three hours later, class was
ended five minutes early with a comment that would start a rumbling
murmur of soon to be answered questions. The teaching assistant had
announced that classes might be suspended for the rest of the day due to
a Pentagon bombing. On my way to the Blackburn Center, I joked
tastelessly enough about avoiding ticking boxes, hoarding food and
starting an angry looting mob. From this point, things would begin to
There, on the televisions outside the
cafeteria, I watched the buildings with wounds inflicted upon them by
three planes and the blood of the innocents; watched as two of these
buildings became unzipped, collapsing like puppets whose strings were
cut; watched as hands with open fingers covered open mouths. I listened
as a fourth plane was reported hijacked; listened as people tried to
analyze and intellectualize the “theatric flair” of terrorism; listened
to their paranoia and apocalyptic deisms. As I stood there watching and
listening and tolerating, a line was beginning to form for 11:30 am
lunch. Shaking my head, I put my hand on the railing, climbed the stairs
and left. I had had enough.
4th and Elm Streets looked no
different, but seemed a lot longer and resonated with the dead silence
of the background noise. Not the flightful birds, nor the industrious
squirrels, nor the ghetto glass, but this day, this morning, these hours
would come to define my freshman experience. But would it? In my room, I
sit on my bed with the television volume on mute, not wanting to hear
television news anchorman Tom Brocaw pronounce another ‘r’. Would it? I
again ask myself. I grow numb to the fact that it may not. The washed
sky outside my window holds nothing except an American flag, which sags
in the wind.
I enter my room and close the door. The blinds are up, and I can still
see the two flags flying in the school yard next door. I had been having
normal days. My world had not been shattered. Evanescence, what a sad