The pounding on my door grew louder, more urgent but I couldn't move. My feet were glued to the floor and my eyes were glued to the TV. The words were in Japanese. The images were horrific. The facts were sketchy. The pounding continued, accompanied by shouts of my name.
Somehow I made it to the door. Somehow I opened it and saw my Canadian co-worker standing there. "Have you seen the news?" she asked.
"That's my country," came my stunned reply.
I never felt further away from home. I needed desperately to hear my Mom's voice. The lines were jam packed. The busy signal repeated itself over and over and over. I wouldn't get through for another four hours.
In a haze as I walked to work the next day, I stopped at a convenience store to buy a sandwich and a bottle of orange juice. The store clerk knew me. We often chatted in English, but that day, the eyes that looked at me as she patted my shoulder were full of things she didn't know how to say.
The cleaning man stopped me as I approached the door to the school. "I am sorry," he said.
As I stood before my last class of the day, a discussion class, we worked to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Hunched over that Japanese newspaper, I remember B-san, sleeves rolled up, glasses sliding down his nose, electronic translating dictionary in hand; helping me to understand.
As the students filed out, C-san lingered behind. She was a bright girl, but very shy about speaking up in front of everyone. She produced a piece of paper from her pocket, took a deep breath and read what she wrote. "It didn't just happen to America. It happened to the world."
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