Tag Archives: neil shastri


So many things to say about September 11th. I’m not going to say most of them.

I woke up this morning and went about my day as if it was any other day. Get the kids ready. Get them to school. We dropped of Jaanu first. And when I got back in the car, I turned to Anaiya, and asked her if she knew what day it was.

Since she was born, we’ve always found a moment to remember what happened on September 11, 2001. As she’s gained vocabulary, we’ve focused on saying how much we “miss” Neil Kaka, and “goodnight” to him. As she’s gained agency, we’ve worked through how we can celebrate him.

Because that’s what we do for people we love but lose; we make sure they’re never fully lost by remembering them. We carry something they did forward for them into eternity.

On the way from Jaanu’s school to Anaiya’s school I asked her if she knew what today was. When I reminded her it was September 11th she got quiet. When I told her about Neil, well, she took things to the next level.

Oh yeah. She remembered.

She asked for my hand, and when I passed it back to her while continuing to drive, she caressed it and fell silent. When I looked in the rear view, I saw her face. Her eyes. Overflow up with tears. And that’s when I started recording. First, please, find someone who cries for you before you cry for yourself. I had no space or time today. For so many reasons upon reasons. But all I had to do was share a short story and my daughter cried for me (and as you’ll hear, invited me into that release).

My kids are not a piece of my heart; they are not an extension of my heart; they are my heart, evolved. They are my heart, and then some. This is that evidence. What I love though, is how she embraces the spirit. HIS spirit.

One thing I’ve kept alive for Neil was his desire to do for others; he always talked about how his birthday should be about celebrating others, not having a party for himself. I try to do that (as hard as the world makes it, and as simple as I think it is, as hard as it is to be allowed to pursue it).

When we start talking about Neil Kaka and giving to the homeless well, Anaiya’s reaction is priceless in that second video. I caught these moments after the fact; as they caught me a little off guard.

But nothing caught me more off-guard more than getting a call at 3:02pm ET from Anaiya whole she was at school. I had to pause a work call (Mari Labuschagne Parker as my witness!) to pick this up.

Why was Anaiya calling me at 3pm?She was calling me because today was 9/11. And she knew I was sad.

And she made darned sure her whole school and all her teachers knew she was going to call me.

She wanted to tell me she loved me and that she wasn’t going to be happy today because she knew I was sad today.

Well, what the hell folks.

When I picked her up later in the day she gave me the grandest of hugs. The biggest of smiles. Which is when I told her; that I will have sad thoughts and feelings in the future, but it will be impossible for me to be sad with her love and attention around me. She smiled. And that’s when I cupped her chin in my right hand and pulled her gaze to mine, and said it again.”

I may have sad thoughts again in the future, Anaiya, but I want you to know, that with you in my life, I am incapable of being sad.”I don’t think she got it. But I hope those are the kind of words that click at some point in the future. Because she carried me today. Like she’s carried me so many days.

And #iamgrateful#iamthankful for feeling carried on such a heavy and heavily weighted day.

That’s what feels right to me today, about pain and hurt. You can’t hide it. Lose it. Erase it. All you can do is offset it. Cover it. Overwhelm it with love.

I love you, buhboo.

Your ability to feel people’s pain, and to make them feel loved, is a superpower that would confuse and disorient the best of the DC and Marvel universes.

The celestials have nothing on you.

I love you.

Thank you.

Leave a comment

Filed under #iamgrateful #iamthankful

My $.02 | When Nothing Makes Sense


Not everything makes sense. September 11th does not make sense. I will never be able to make it make sense. Hopefully, that isn’t the case for many things in your life. I want to have answers. But sometimes, I simply won’t. And that hurts.

You have a Neil Kaka. You had another. He was one of my best friends. For me, he is what doesn’t make sense about September 11th.

There are moments in time that one remembers vividly. This will happen to you. Elated moments. Ecstatic moments. Completely new moments. And tragic moments. The elated, ecstatic, and new moments move too quickly. It’s life on Fast Forward. But the tragic moments, that’s when the world slows down. That’s when seconds feel like minutes, and minutes feel like hours. You process just as much. But you process things in between moments of numb. And so even though I remember September 11th as vividly as any other day in my life, it still doesn’t make any sense.

I remember hearing the planes hit the tower. I remember seeing debris after the second collision. I remember watching clouds of debris race from the West side of the island to the East (where I was) enveloping and swallowing everyone and everything along the way. I remember connecting with everyone and believing in my heart-of-hearts that everyone I knew was ok. And then I remember making the walk to midtown and trying to make sense of it all. I couldn’t.

The rest is a history that remains present always. Everyone wasn’t ok. Your Neil Kaka wasn’t ok. He went into work early. Nothing was ok.

When you grow older, we’ll talk about this. Like my parents talk about the partition. Or like India’s state of emergency in the mid-70’s. We’ll talk about this. And I’ll be devastated every time I tell you about it. Every new bit of information I share. Wanting to balance your innocence with your right to knowledge. And I’ll be devastated because for all I am supposed to do for you in this world, it will never be more apparent that there are some things I can never protect you from. Nonsense. Hate. Anger. Irrationality. Civic irresponsibility. The loss of innocence.

All of the things that don’t and won’t make sense. But don’t and never disappear.

So I’ll tell you this story. I’ll tell it to you honestly. With my arms around you. Most likely with tears in my eyes. So you feel the power of the moment but not the weight of the experience. We’ll talk about what happens after. How when someone leaves it’s your responsibility to figure out what part of them stays. With you. Forever. And maybe on that day you’ll carry Daddy’s tradition of carrying Neil Kaka’s tradition of always giving to the homeless along with you. You’ll see that every time Daddy sees a homeless person the street he reaches into his pocket for some change to pass back. And you’ll realize that Daddy’s just a conduit for Neil Kaka.

Just like you have the power to be a conduit for all of the people you love. Always and forever. Because — just because when nothing makes sense, you do your best to make sense of something. However little. So the world gets back to being a little right again.

I’ll tell you this story one day, munchkin. And if nothing else, I’m guessing Daddy will make a little more sense to you after we’re done.


1 Comment

Filed under #TMLFYI..., My $.02