I clearly remember that day even now. America was in shock. I went down from my apartment to see how people were dealing with the shock. The streets were almost empty. People who went out seemed numb with disbelief. Where I lived I could sometimes hear planes but I could not hear even the noise from a single plane. The government had grounded all civilian planes. To ground a plane means to prohibit or prevent it from flying. The streets were eerily quiet. The adverb “eerily” means in a strange and scary way. There was a surreal atmosphere across the US on September 11 and the following days. The word “surreal” means very strange, unreal, and like a dream.
Little did I know at the time that I would be back in the US on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The expression “little did I know” used this way means I did not know or could not have guessed something would happen. Seeing President Joe Biden and ordinary Americans on the TV news commemorating (remembering and showing respect for) 9/11 brought back sad memories of the day terrorists attacked the US. My brother-in-law drove me around Indianapolis last Saturday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. We saw people collecting donations for the families of those who died on 9/11. I donated too.
二○○一年九月十一日，我還在美國居住，當日我開電視看新聞。我眼所見的，令我難以置信，整個人驚呆（numb）了。阿蓋達的恐怖份子用上兩架騎劫的客機，分別撞向曼克頓世貿中心的兩棟大樓。客機最終令兩棟摩天大樓摧毁，夷為平地（flattened）。若你的身體是numb，意即你的身體麻木了，失去了知覺；但若某事令你numb with disbelief，意即你震驚得發愣，已經沒有感覺或不懂好好思考了。Flatten（或raze）在這裏解作完全摧毁一棟大廈。威力強大的風暴可將建築物夷為平地（flatten）。
即使事隔多年，現在我仍很清楚記得那一天。全美國大為震驚，我從我住的單位下樓到街上，看看人們怎樣應對這個巨大的衝擊。街道差不多是空的，那些外出的人看來都驚呆（numb）了，面露難以置信的神情。我在我住的地方有時會聽到飛機飛過之聲，但當天我連一架飛機飛過的聲音也聽不見。政府停飛了（grounded）所有的民航客機。To ground a plane意即禁止或阻止一架飛機起飛。街道是詭異地（eerily）寧靜。副詞 eerily是指怪異恐怖的。九月十一日和打後一段日子，整個美國都籠罩着超現實的（surreal）氛圍。Surreal意即離奇、荒誕、如在夢中般不現實的。
當時我壓根兒也沒有想過（little did I know），我會在九一一恐怖襲擊二十周年的當兒，重返美國。習語“little did I know”在這裏是指我對某事一無所知，又或猜也猜不到某事會發生。在新聞報道上看着總統祖‧拜登與一般的美國平民紀念（commemorating）九一一，勾起了我恐怖份子襲擊美國的憂傷回憶。上星期六，即九一一二十周年當天，我的姐夫載我於印第安納波利斯遊逛，我們看見有人在為九一一死者的家庭募捐，我也有捐獻。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧