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MyView: Student shares thoughts on events in Boston

May 06, 2013

By Lalita Nekkanti

I watched two airplanes crash into the World Trade Center through my school window. I was only 12 years old. I remember feeling sickened in the pit of my stomach when I smelled the burnt dead bodies being carried into downtown Jersey City, N.J. The same feeling returned on April 15. I was watching the Boston Marathon in honor of Patriots' Day and to support Dustin Bond, a fourth-year dental student at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. It was getting a bit chilly at Copley Square, so I left the finish line a few hours before the explosions began.

I was back in my apartment, a few blocks away from the marathon when my friend received a text from her older brother asking if she was safe and far away from the marathon explosions. Afterward, both our phones kept buzzing with calls and texts from all our loved ones. I popped open The New York Times website and couldn't believe my eyes. At the very same spot where I was standing a few hours before was now a scene of massive bloodshed and devastation. I was in shock and disbelief.

I started hearing the sirens ring throughout the entire city. As some got closer and closer to my apartment, marathon victims were being rushed into Tufts Medical Center. Soon afterward, this very same hospital I walked through every day, received a warning of a bomb threat. I was unbelievably scared. I lived right next to the Tufts hospital. I didn't know what to do except go to my friend's apartment, a few floors below and watch the news in silence and horror.

Later that night, long after all the threats subsided, I came back to my apartment and saw the Tufts emergency helicopter land on its pad. Because my apartment is located on the 20th floor, I got a clear look at the person being transported. He was a Boston Marathon runner with missing limbs. I called my dad back in New Jersey. My 12-year-old self returned as I cried into the phone. This was the same 12-year-old girl who ran to her father with tears streaming down her face because she finally knew he was safe and not at work in Manhattan. This was the same 12-year-old, now 23 years old, who cried not only because her friends in Boston were safe but also because she felt helpless with all this turmoil around her.

After a series unfortunate events, the situation improved greatly for Boston the same week. Experiencing the marathon tragedy and the following lockdown felt very apocalyptic. The entire week, the streets kept ringing with sirens. On the day of the marathon, the streets were covered with blood and on the day of the lockdown the streets were empty, resembling a ghost town or a scene straight from Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."

Now a week later, Boston is back to normal. But this historical Beantown will never forget this tragedy nor the people who were forced to lose more than just their limbs, but their very passion in life and life itself.

Ms. Nekkanti is a second-year dental student at the Tufts School of Dental Medicine in Boston. Details of dentists' experiences during the marathon can be found here.