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She learned about Sikh politics and the Air-India investigation mostly from the news media, after two suspects were arrested in October, 2000. She said the Air-India attack assumed much more importance to her after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.
"It was amazingly fast, the response to an act of terrorism, and the media was saying this was the first act of terrorism in North America. It was like they completely discredited the Air-India disaster as an act of terrorism," she noted.
She was also bothered by the Canadian government's response to Sept. 11, which was in sharp contrast to what the federal government did after the Air-India attack, the deadliest crime in Canadian history. "9/11 didn't even happen in Canada, and the Canadian government was so much more responsive than they were in 1985," she said. "That made me bitter to see."
But she said her family, despite its history, is not consumed by bitterness or sorrow. "We function just like any other family," she said. They are not afraid to fly, and fly together on the same plane; they even use Air-India if the flight is convenient.
Still, Nisha admits she worries when her parents are on a plane without her. "It's a bit of a reflex action, a knot in the stomach until they land."
And there is another aspect of living in the shadow of such a disaster. "We treasure our time together," Nisha said. "When we argue, we try our best to make up right away."
Although the Thampi family does not spend much time talking about the Air-India disaster, they do not shy from the subject.
"We never tried to hide it. It is with us every day. But what is most important to us is to realize what happened and carry on with this life, without being vindictive," Mr. Thampi said.
"There has been a lot of unfairness in the way things happened. The [attack] was unfair and the follow-up ..... everything was flawed," he said. But he and his wife prefer not to focus on finding fault.
"I want to teach the children the right thing," he said. He wants his children "to appreciate what is good in everybody."