My name is Usman Farman and I graduated from Bentley with a
Finance degree last May. I am 21 years old, turning 22 in
October; I am Pakistani, and I am Muslim. Until September
10th 2001, I used to work at the World Trade Center in
building #7. I had friends and acquaintances who worked in
tower #1 right across from me. Some made it out, and some
are still unaccounted for. I survived this horrible event.
I'd like to share with you what I went through that awful
day, with the hopes that we can all stay strong together;
through this tragedy of yet untold proportions. As I found
out, regardless of who we are, and where we come from, we
only have each other.
I commute into the city every morning on the train from New
Jersey. Rather, I used to. I still can't believe what is
happening. That morning I woke up and crawled out of bed. I
was thinking about flaking out on the train and catching the
late one, I remember telling myself that I just had to get
to work on time. I ended up catching the 7:48 train, which
put me in Hoboken at 8:20 am. When I got there I thought
about getting something to eat, I decided against it and
took the PATH train to the World Trade Center. I arrived at
the World Trade at 8:40 in the morning. I walked into the
lobby of building 7 at 8:45, that's when the first plane
Had I taken the late train, or gotten a bite to eat, I would
have been 5 minutes late and walking over the crosswalk. Had
that happened, I would have been caught under a rain of fire
and debris, I wouldn't be here talking to you. I'd be dead.
I was in the lobby, and I heard the first explosion; it didn't
't register. They were doing construction outside and I
thought some scaffolding had fallen. I took the elevators up
to my office on the 27th floor. When I walked in, the whole
place was empty. There were no alarms, no sprinklers,
nothing. Our offices are, or rather, were on the south side
of building seven. We were close enough to the North and
South Towers, that I could literally throw a stone from my
window and hit the North tower with it.
My phone rang and I spoke with my mother and told her that I
was leaving, at that moment I saw an explosion rip out of
the second building. I called my friend in Boston, waking
her up and told her to tell everyone I'm okay, and that I
was leaving. I looked down one last time and saw the square
and fountain that I eat lunch in, was covered in smoldering
debris. Apparently, I was one of the last to leave my
building, when I was on the way up in the elevators; my
coworkers from the office were in the stairwells coming
down. When I evacuated, there was no panic. People were calm
and helping each other; a pregnant woman was being carried
down the stairwell.
I'll spare the more gruesome details of what I saw, those
are things that no one should ever have to see, and beyond
human decency to describe. Those are things which will haunt
me for the rest of my life, my heart goes out to everyone
who lost their lives that day, and those who survived with
the painful reminders of what once was. Acquaintances of
mine who made it out of the towers, only got out because
1000 people formed a human chain to find their way out of
the smoke. Everyone was a hero that day.
We were evacuated to the north side of building 7. Still
only 1 block from the towers. The security people told us to
go north and not to look back. 5 city blocks later I stopped
and turned around to watch. With a thousand people staring,
we saw in shock as the first tower collapsed. No one could
believe it was happening, it is still all too-surreal to
imagine. The next thing I remember is that a dark cloud of
glass and debris about 50 stories high came tumbling towards
us. I turned around and ran as fast as possible. I didn't
realize until yesterday that the reason I'm still feeling so
sore was that I fell down trying to get away. What happened
next is why I came here to give this speech.
I was on my back, facing this massive cloud that was
approaching, it must have been 600 feet off, everything was
already dark. I normally wear a pendant around my neck,
inscribed with an Arabic prayer for safety; similar to the
cross. A Hasidic Jewish man came up to me and held the
pendant in his hand, and looked at it. He read the Arabic
out loud for a second. What he said next, I will never
forget. With a deep Brooklyn accent he said "Brother, if you
don't mind, there is a cloud of glass coming at us, grab my
hand, lets get the hell out of here". He helped me stand up,
and we ran for what seemed like forever without looking
back. He was the last person I would ever have thought, who
would help me. If it weren't for him, I probably would have
been engulfed in shattered glass and debris.
I finally stopped about 20 blocks away, and looked in horror
as tower #2 came crashing down. Fear came over me as I
realized that some people were evacuated to the streets
below the towers. Like I said before, no one could have
thought those buildings could collapse. We turned around and
in shock and disbelief and began the trek to midtown. It
took me 3 hours to get to my sisters office at 3 avenue and
47th street. Some streets were completely deserted,
completely quiet, no cars, no nothing? just the distant wail
of sirens. I managed to call home and say I was okay, and
get in touch with coworkers and friends whom I feared were
We managed to get a ride to New Jersey. Looking back as I
crossed the George Washington Bridge, I could not see the
towers. It had really happened.
As the world continues to reel from this tragedy, people in
the streets are lashing out. Not far from my home, a
Pakistani woman was run over on purpose as she was crossing
the parking lot to put groceries in her car. Her only fault?
That she had her head covered and was wearing the
traditional clothing of my homeland. I am afraid for my
family's well being within our community. My older sister is
too scared to take the subway into work now. My 8-year-old
sister's school is under lock down and armed watch by police.
Violence only begets violence, and by lashing out at each
other in fear and hatred, we will become no better than the
faceless cowards who committed this atrocity. If it weren't
for that man who helped me get up, I would most likely be in
the hospital right now, if not dead. Help came from the
least expected place, and goes only to show, that we are all
in this together ? regardless of race, religion, or
ethnicity. Those are principles that this country was
Please take a moment to look at the people sitting around
you. Friends or strangers, in a time of crisis, you would
want the nearest person to help you if you needed it. My
help came from a man who I would never have thought would
normally even speak to me. Ask yourselves now how you can
help those people in New York and Washington. You can donate
blood, you can send clothing, food, and money. Funds have
been setup in the New York area to help the families of
fallen firefighters, policemen, and emergency personnel. The
one thing that won't help, is if we fight amongst ourselves,
because it is then that we are doing exactly what they want
us to do, and I know that nobody here wants to do that.
An old man was hungry. He said "God what can I do? And God told him to go to the middle of town, to make a huge fire, and put on a big boiling pot of water, and put some stones in it. THe man did not understand, but he went. As he stood in the middle of town, stirring the boiling water, with stones in it, a man walked up and said "What are you doing?", he never looked up, He was embarrassed , he just said "I am making stone soup. " The
man was also hungry, but only had some carrots. He said "Mister, can I add my carrots?" The Old man said, "sure" so they added the carrots, and both men stood there stirring the Stone soup.
A woman walked up, with several children, in torn clothes . They were cold and hungry. The woman said "what are you doing"? The men said, "we are making stone soup". The woman said " I have only these potatoes, can I add them?" The men said yes, and so she did.
As they continued to stir their soup, another man walked up. He said "what are you doing?" they all said "making stone soup". All I have are these onions, "may I had them". And the man added his onions.
A poor family arrived, and said "what are you doing?" They all said "making stone soup". I have only this peice of beef, "but may I add it"? They all answered yes, and so he did.
Now the old man cried, he knew what God had done. He took a few stones and some water, and fed many people some wonderful "stone soup".
My mom then told me, God may ask you to something you dont understand. But do it anyway. And always add what you have to others, and you will be rich, and will never go hungry. Thank you Mom.
Would you in America, help me make "stone soup?"
Love and prayers.....Gaylesnohio@aol.com