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"They killed my husband"

Published Sep 11, 2011 06:20am

David and Cindy Barkway - Source: The Toronto Star

David Barkway’s remains were never recovered. The site of former World Trade Centre in New York became his entombment where he died in the North Tower on September 11, 2001.

David and I worked on the trading floor of BMO Nesbitt Burns. David was one of the traders on the fixed income derivatives desk where I served as a data analyst. For more than a year, I sat across from David with a row of computer monitors between us.

I joined Nesbitt Burns in 1995. There were four traders on the desk of which three were oddly named David. With a shy smile and a polite demeanour, David Barkway was unlike any other trader on the then Canada’s largest trading floor. Whereas most traders were self-centered egotists, David, on the other hand, was the humble, caring, gentleman type with thoughtful brown eyes partially obscured by his glasses.

On the fateful morning of September 11, 2001, David went for a meeting with a bond trading firm, Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices were located between the 101 and 105 floors in the North Tower. Cantor Fitzgerald’s employees got stuck in the building after the plane struck at a lower floor. The firm lost 658 employees on September 11.

David’s wife, Cindy, accompanied him on the three-day trip to New York. She was five-months pregnant with their second child, David Junior, who never got to meet his father.

I met David for the first time on the trading floor. He walked over from his side of the desk and asked me what I knew about derivatives. I had no prior training in finance let alone Futures and Options. I was however proficient in analysing databases, which put me on the trading floor.

Over the next few months I struggled to find my own way on the floor where hundreds of men, and some women, were busy generating wealth by trading millions of dollars in stocks, bonds, currency swaps and the like. Everyone seemed to be an expert in the art of making money. Everyone appeared to be a futurist.

The trading floor was an intimidating place. David was, however, the friendly face around; always willing to help, always willing to teach. He would very proudly demonstrate his expertise with the HP Finance Calculator, which could do complex financial calculations in a jiffy. Whereas others hid their trade secrets, he would openly share his strategies on the floor.

In October 2001, a few weeks after 9/11, my wife and I relocated to New York where she started her new job with an investment firm. We had been to New York many times in the past. But this was our first trip to the City after the tragedy had struck.

As we stepped out of the airplane into the terminal we were shocked to see soldiers with guns drawn staring at every passenger that was coming off the planes. The airport resembled a crime scene with literally hundreds of police officers and other law enforcement agents keeping a close watch on anything that moved.

We took a cab from LaGuardia Airport to midtown Manhattan. As we drove over the Triboro Bridge, our eyes were fixed on downtown Manhattan. We had visited the Twin Towers numerous times in the past. It was heart wrenching to see the towers missing from the Manhattan skyline.

New York lost almost 3,000 civilians on 9/11 in an attack orchestrated mostly by Saudis. However, its fallout had to be borne by all Muslims, especially Pakistanis. Our cab driver appeared to be from the sub-continent. I asked him where he was from. He replied Bangladesh. I told the driver that I was from Pakistan. He turned around, smiled, and confessed that he was also from Pakistan and that he did not disclose his origin as a precaution.

I asked the cab driver if he was scared to be in New York. He admitted to some fear but then asked me what would have happened to a minority group in Pakistan had it been found responsible for killing 3,000 Pakistanis. “Not a single Muslim has been killed in New York in the weeks after 9/11. You cannot expect the same civility in Pakistan under similar circumstances,” he observed.*

We found the City in mourning. Fewer than 300 intact bodies were recovered from the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers. The loved ones of the thousands whose remains remained buried in the rubble refused to let go of hope. Weeks later, the family members were still posting notices about the missing in the hope that someone reading the sign may know of their missing friend or relative. The Grand Central train station had become a makeshift memorial with numerous isles of notice-boards with pictures of those who had not returned since the morning of September 11.

Flowers, wreaths, and candles adorned every fire station in Manhattan and its neighbouring boroughs. Almost 350 firefighters and paramedics and 37 police officers also perished as they rushed to rescue those trapped in the burning towers.

Most of those who died on 9/11 in New York, however, were those who worked in the Twin Towers. They came from all over the world. Twenty-six Canadians also died that day. Another 114 countries lost their citizens in the attack. Included among the dead were Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and others. No fewer than 3,000 children lost a parent on 9/11.

Cindy with sons Jamie and David Jr. - Source: The Toronto Star

Back in Canada, Cindy Barkway is building a life with her two sons, Jamie and David Jr. As a single mother, she strives to raise her sons without their father.  She is not alone in wondering what drove the 9/11 hijackers to murder innocent men and women.

“They killed my husband for no good reason,” Cindy recently told a newspaper.

This year on September 11, 2011, I plan to sit down with my two sons to honour the memory of those who died in New York ten years ago and all other victims of senselessviolence who have lost their lives since 9/11.

* The American military-industrial complex acted recklessly after 9/11 and is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of equally blameless civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. However, after September 11 the American people remained largely civil and restrained towards Muslim Americans. In the year after 9/11, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported 1,714 hate crimes against Muslims throughout the United States. Again, an overwhelming majority of the incidents were that of harassment and not physical violence.

Murtaza Haider, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean of research and graduate programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.  He can be reached by email at murtaza.haider@ryerson.ca

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.