Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Testament to Inequity

Approximately 650 Cantor Fitzgerald employees died on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 was used as a missile and was fired into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  American 11 struck the North Tower at 8:46:40 AM Eastern time, a few floors below Cantor Fitzgerald's offices, which were located on Floor 101 through 105.  

Alok Agarwal, just thirty-seven years young, had emigrated to the United States from India in 1997.  Mr. Agarwal was a computer technician and when he first came to America, neither his wife, Shakali, nor his young son, Ankush, came with him.  Shafali followed a few months later - after he was settled and had started to earn an income.  Ankush, however, was not able to join his parents.  He was beset by health problems - such as a chronic fever and cough.  He remained behind in India, living with relatives.  

Mr. Agarwal was the sole breadwinner in his household, which meant that when Shafali made her annual trek home to India to see Ankush, he was not able to take time off from his position as a Senior Programmer Analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald to join her.  He lamented to his wife just how hard it was on him during their time apart.  He missed her.  Roughly three weeks prior to Tuesday, September 11, 2001, he dropped Shafali off at the airport for what turned out to be the final time.  He never saw his wife - or his young son - again. 

Shafali Agarwal returned to the United States on September 17, 2001 She returned to the United States on Monday, September 17, 2001 in the hopes of finding her husband.  She remained in the United States for almost four months.  She returned to India without him in January 2002.  

Alok Agarwal was his wife's tie to the United States, both emotionally and legally.  She did not work in the United States and after his death, her dependent visa was no longer valid.  She and her son, Ankush, ultimately received short-term visitor's visas but when they expired on November 20, 2012 so did their stay in the United States. .. 

...not quite the ending that Alok Agarwal had envisioned to his American dream.  

A testament, perhaps, to the inherent inequity of life.   

As if the Agarwal family had not already learned that lesson.  

-AK 


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