Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Love Story - Project 2,996

Last year I participated in Project 2,996. This is a web-based tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. I was assigned to write about James Berger, who worked at the World Trade Center for Aon Corporation. It was an honor to have the opportunity to pay tribute to such a brave man. Although the loss of such a loving human being is a great tragedy, his story was so touching that I found it to be very inspirational.

This year’s tribute has left me with quite a different feeling. I haven’t felt this way since the attacks happened six years ago. Intense anger and an overwhelming sense of sadness has shaken me while composing this story.

My choice for the 2007 tribute was Nurul Huq Miah. I chose him because I wanted to honor an immigrant who represents everything that America stands for. In the end I wound up with a lot more than I bargained for.

As I began my research I started to notice that online guest books dedicated to him made references to Shakila Miah and used the feminine pronoun, “her”, as a description. I was a bit confused. Was this is a reference to someone else or were the people making these comments just mistaken because of their unfamiliarity with foreign names?

I didn’t like the answer. It turns out that Shakila Miah was his wife who was also killed in the September 11th attacks. This is how I learned about a beautiful love story and its tragic ending.

The couple were both immigrants from Bangladesh and it is a custom for many Bengalis to be wed in arranged marriages. However, the Miahs were a “love match”. This means that they met outside of parental supervision and fell in love on their own. Naturally when the girl’s parents found out that their daughter was dating someone they were apprehensive and frowned upon the relationship.

In order to communicate with his girlfriend Nurul would leave messages on her answering machine with a deer caller device that is used by hunters. This was his secret signal to her and you could imagine the delight of the young woman whenever she heard it.

The persistence of their love convinced Shakila’s parents to arrange a meeting with the suitor. You have to keep in mind that in Bangladesh society there are many stigmas attached to such courtships. It could be an unbearable embarrassment if the parents are perceived to have lost control over their children in such a manner and many Bengalis would argue that such relationships have corrupted traditional values. So Shakila’s parents showed a very open mind by setting up this meeting.

In an interview with Newsday her father remarked on the overwhelmingly positive impression that Nurul made on his family, “He captured all of our hearts with his behavior. Everybody liked him”. The parents were happy to give their approval and the couple had a traditional Bengali Muslim ceremony attended by hundreds of friends and family.

That’s right, they were Muslim! For all their talk of holy war Al Qaeda has no compunction about killing innocent Muslims. In Afghanistan and Iraq the terrorist group kills more Muslims than “infidels”. The holy war against America is a sham.

It was the United States that intervened in the Suez Crisis to stop Britain and France from seizing Egyptian land illegally. It was the U.S. that helped Saudi Arabia develop its oil reserves without exploitation while European nations plundered Middle Eastern oil. It was the U.S. that helped Muslims in Afghanistan against the atheist Communists. It was the U.S. that bombed the Serbian Christians in order to stop their genocide against the Kosovo Muslims. It was the U.S. that helped two conservative Muslim countries against the aggression of Saddam Hussein’s secular regime. And it was Al Qaeda that killed innocent Muslim Americans like Nurul and Shakila Miah.

After Shakila found employment at the World Trade Center her father suggested that she should look for a better job because Shakila only had a temporary position at Marsh & McLennan. Since she worked only four floors above Nurul there was nothing in the world that could make her leave his side. Every day they went to lunch together and every day they went home together. The couple was never separated. They lived together and died together. In the year and a half that they were married they shared the deepest love that most people will never know throughout their entire lives.

Shakila liked to sing songs like this one written by Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.


Cathy said...

Well done. Thank you for remembering Nurul and Shakila Miah.

Always On Watch said...

What to say? So sad--lives cut short, with all that love and not a lifetime to experience it.

Americans need to get angry. Instead, too many have put 9/11 behind them. I can't do that. That day changed my life and the world.

Beautiful post, FN.

Freedomnow said...


Every year I will remember James Berger and the Miahs. Next year I will add someone else to the list.

Hi Cathy,

Its nice to see a new face and fellow 2,996er. Thanks for visiting.

nanc said...

this is a beautiful post, fern.


Freedomnow said...

Everybody's avatars has gas masks these days. You humans have strange customs.

Thanks for the kind words Nanc.

nanc said...

o.t. - they're for the beamish in '08 campaign...

Karen said...

Lovely tribute. I participated last year, too. I did a tribute to a Muslim immigrant from the Phillipines who was a waiter at The Top of the World restaurant in the World Trade Bldg. He was a good man.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Debbie said...

Another great memorial to a life taken way too early. I've tried to read many of the memorials, as I did last year. I know you are like me, we don't remember only on September 11, but every day of the year.

Right Truth

Freedomnow said...


No rational person ever really forgets something like this. They just ignore it and loath to be reminded of it.

Hey Karen,

Another Muslim victim of 9/11. Does Al Qaeda care?

The only sense of justice that they know is the sharp blow of American firepower. Otherwise they are completely unaccountable.

WomanHonorThyself said...


Brad Marston said...

Just a quick visit to say hello. I have missed reading your stuff this summer and am so glad to be back.

Freedomnow said...

Well its good to have you back. I like your stance on political issues so its good to see you around.

Good luck with your volunteering for McCain. The man is not my first choice, but I wouldnt be dissappointed if he became President of the United States either.


WomanHonorThyself said...

jus stoppin in to say howdy~!:)

Freedomnow said...

Hello young lady.

...and a big HOWDY to you too partner!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, FN. Touching, too. I remember those days of early love. It is so beautiful. What a tragedy that this couple lost their lives so early!

No, al Qaeda doesn't care, not one bit.

Anonymous said...

PS - Thanks for putting me into your blog links. I appreciate your kindness.

Frasypoo said...

That is so sad but so beautiful.It brought tears to my eyes.I am from India and I know what it feels like to go through opposition and all that and then to die in such a manner..The beautiful part is that they died together.
Still they did not have to die like this
Great post

Freedomnow said...

Hey Minder,

I put you up on my links right away because I am like that!!! Thanks for your comments.

The Miahs' story is beautiful and tragic. I look at their picture and I know that I would enjoy the company of these people, without a doubt.

When such beauty is destroyed by such ugliness it makes me so angry. But that is the way of the world. We do what we can to make it a better place.

The Miahs did more than their share. I hope that I can do mine.

Freedomnow said...


You must have a unique perspective on this story. Was that because your marriage faced similar obstacles?

Incognito said...

Beautiful tribute... brought tears to my eyes!

Frasypoo said...

Hi Freedom now
I am sorry I saw your question just today but Growing up it was always taboo to have boyfriends especially of a differant religion.I grew up Baptist but had a Hindu boyfriend for a while and always knew that we would never be able to marry,I also call it my rebellious years!But I met my husband on the internet and he had been married before and had two kids whereas I was never married and was a pastors daughter so it was a bit of a problem because of that.But since we were meant to be ,we got married.He is as white as they come(Bubba) and I am highly adaptable...thats where our differances are smoothened out!I may do a post on that one day.
A lot of my friends had boyfriends but ended up marrying people their parents chose for them and some still regret it.But they chose a parents name and honor over their own happiness.

I have changed blogs
This is my new URL

Freedomnow said...

It was only one day. I dont call the customer service desk after only one day. Maybe after one day and three hours...

ummm... oh, it was one day and three hours?

OK, how about one day and four hours?...

Anyways, thanks for the added perspective. That is great!

I'll drop by your new house...

Anonymous said...

You are doing a good job.

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Freedomnow said...

Thanks Eugene

On-My-Mind I cant argue with your wisdom!!!!!!!!!!


American Crusader said...

Fantastic Tribute.
It's often forgotten that the majority of those killed by Islamic terrorism are Muslims.
This is why I get upset over the silence of the Muslim community when it comes to religious fanaticism.

Yehudi01 said...

Great story, FN. It shows a different side of the war..that muslims are indeed victims too. I have to admit, though. This song that she's singing is killing my ears as I write this. Keep up the good work and I'll drop by often to read the latest news in your corner of the world...shalom!

Freedomnow said...

The singing is very non-western and foreign to our ears, however its mournfulness is so appropriate for this post. If you listen to it subjectively you will find that its actually very beautiful, but you have to tune out the unusual aspects of this style of singing. The cinematography is also very artistic. Its not polished, but the minimalist quality is perfect.

Thanks for dropping by Yehudi.

It’s also nice to see you again AC!

Muslims are the biggest victims of Islamist terrorism so it’s in their best interests to organize against this scourge.

beakerkin said...

When you get a chance I need the 411 on Laguna Nigel. I am being sent there for three weeks.

Sadly I am also the captain and will have to drive in the CA highway mess.

Freedomnow said...

Hey Beak,

Let me give you an advanced welcome to southern California.

I've never been to Laguna Nigel, but its not far from here.

What is it that you need to know? If you want to come down to San Diego I can show you around, no problem.

beakerkin said...

I will be around in late November to early December. I will be interviewing out of the Los Angeles facility. I will be at the service Center in Laguna Niguel for the last week. I wanted to take my car but Kansas Cty to LA in two days is very tight.

Freedomnow said...

Please be on your best behavior. Dont embarrass me!

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Freeeeeeeeedom~!..*waves frantically*

Freedomnow said...

Hey Angel,

Thanks for dropping by. Would you like a cup of tea or something to drink?