The Yambem family in Manipur, who lost their son Jupiter in the World Trade Centre attack, opened a centre in Imphal in his memory on Wednesday. The centre will work towards forging relations with Manipuris settled abroad.
Yambem Laba, Jupiter's elder brother and member of the Manipur Human Rights Commission, said a small function was organised to pray for his soul.
Jupiter's widow Nancy MacCardle Yambem and their son Santi performed his pheeroi (first death anniversary) in Imphal.
Manipur, Jupiter's native land, is very dear to Nancy and her son, fondly called Chinglai-Lakkpa (meaning, dragon tamer). "I want to bring Santi frequently to Manipur so that he can keep in touch with his father's roots," she said.
Jupiter was the banquet manager of the 'Windows on the World' restaurant located on the 103rd storey of the WTC. He helped others evacuate, but could not make it to the ground. Two of the restaurant employees who survived said they last saw Jupiter helping others to escape through a lift. Nancy and Jupiter's Manipuri friends in New York rushed from one hospital to another looking for him.
Finally, firefighters identified his body with the help of his cell phone. Jupiter was the first Indian to be confirmed dead in the September 11 attacks.
Nancy and Santi came to Manipur via Darjeeling where Jupiter did his schooling at North Point School. Jupiter's teacher's and friends helped Nancy scatter his ashes along the old hiking trail of Tiger Hill off Darjeeling.
"But the time has come to move on," his wife said. "Everybody's been there for me, but after a few months you're left to your own devices. I'm tired of the sad faces."
"The paperwork has slowed down," she lamented. It has been a year of dealing with bureaucracy and legal hassles, not to mention the grief. It took months just to reclaim her car, the one he'd driven to work.
Nancy has stopped working at the New York state office of mental health. She is still searching for a necklace her husband had worn since he was a baby. He never took it off, tying it into a knot even when he went swimming.
The necklace, she feels, must have been near where his body was found. Every month she makes calls to see whether it has been found in the rubble. Fortunately, she has his wedding ring, found on his body. It now dangles from her necklace.
Back to top
Tell us what you think of this report