Today I Have Been Born Again
by Manuel Delgado Montilla
Today I have been born again, but a part of me has died with those who died on 3/11 in Madrid. I consider myself a lucky man; only 9 minutes are the border between life and death. Sometimes I wonder why I was chosen to live, while many others were to die. My body may remain in one piece, but something inside of me is broken.
That day started as many other days do. I get up very early (6am) to attend some boring classes at my university, Politécnica de Madrid. A light breakfast, and I’m ready for a journey that last an hour and a half. It’s the price those who live in the outskirt must pay to study or work in Madrid. The weather is cold, cloudy (I wish I was sleeping). Sometimes it’s not that bad; I spent the journey reading an interesting book. I always see the same faces. After eight years, everything is extremely familiar to me. A faint sound interrupts my readings: Santa Eugenia station. I look down at my book again. Time goes by very fast when you read, and the journey seems brief. Another sound: Atocha station.
Lots of people leave their seats to exit. The train is overcrowded. Some days it’s hard to take a breath. I stare at them - workers, students. An African worker says hello to his Spanish pal who has gotten into the train a few seconds before. I look down to my book again. The journey goes on. After a subway ride, I reach the faculty. I say good morning to my pals. I have to print some important documents before my classes. Suddenly, my cell rings: my mother is crying. She is not able to articulate a word. My world is broken.
My mother says my father is all right, though he has seen everything. Everything? What does she mean? My face turns white. A friend of mine tells me a bomb has exploded in Atocha station, there’s a lot of confusion out there and no one knows more than we all do.
Someone arranges a TV to watch the news in the faculty’s hall. I see a lot of people with their cells. Everybody wants to know if their loved ones are safe. I turn to the TV and I think I’m dying: the train is destroyed. I listen carefully to the news. It says it is the 7:05 train. It’s the train my father usually takes. My heart is pounding, though my mother just told me he was fine.
It’s noon now and I decide to go home. I’m in no mood to resume my classes. I manage to call my father. It’s not that easy; the cell network is collapsed by hundreds of desperate calls. He’s fine, he didn’t take the 7:05 train, but his has also exploded. He was able to run, and saved his life. It’s 3:30 pm and I tell him I’m going to his office. He agrees and tells me we’re going home together.
I decided to avoid mass transport, so I have to walk. I’ve never seen Madrid that way. People are silent. Ambulances are rushing past me. Death and sorrow are flowing in the air. Now I see Atocha station with my own eyes: I see the volunteers taking some rest after never-ending hours of horror. At last, I meet my father. He gives me a strong hug. He has suffered because for some hours in the morning he didn’t know anything about me. Now we’re happy. We need a rest.
My father cannot take the train again. He finds it very hard. His memories are still strong, and will take time to vanish. Like many others, he goes by car until the nightmare disappears. They say life goes on, and they may be right, I’m very sure about that. But I’m not sure if that life really exists. I think we must go on, but not with the life we had. That life died that cloudy Thursday.
Manuel Delgado Montilla is an engineering student at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. He lives in Alcalá de Henares, 20 miles NE from Madrid. 41 people from Alcalá died, and many other were injured on 3/11. We don’t know how he found Pipe Up! but he says his “only aim is to share my feelings with other people, and to send a message of hope to those who suffer and need peace all over the world.”