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"We're Just Happy to Have This Behind Us"

In the wake of bin Laden's death, Afkham Salie of L'Aroma Cafe in West Newton reflects on the death of his sister, who was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

It could not have been a happier time for Rahma Salie and her husband Michael Theodoridis; the husband and wife were on their way to a wedding in Los Angeles and were just a few months away from becoming parents.

But the day they boarded American Airlines Flight 11 was Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

Now, with the news of Osama bin Laden's death, Rahma's family says they're "just happy to have it behind us."

"We are very grateful the U.S. government and forces were unrelenting and tenacious in finding (bin Laden) and putting this all behind us," Rahma's brother, Afkham Salie, told Patch earlier this morning. 

Afkham, a Newton resident, manages  in West Newton. The family hails from Sri Lanka and Afkham's parents, Ysuff and Haleema, also Newton residents, own the café.

Rahma, who was 28 at the time of her death, had lived with her parents in Newton for many years and moved to Boston to live with her husband. She was seven-months pregnant the day she boarded the plane.

Around 10:30 p.m. last night, Afkham sat down at his home to check his e-mail, which he found flooded with unexpected messages from friends reacting to the news of bin Laden's death. Hours later, Afkham wrestled with his own reaction.

“I guess to a certain degree, a sense of relief,” Afkham said of his feelings on bin Laden’s death.  

Afkham, whose family is Muslim, said the world is rid of an evil man who put a black eye on the Muslim faith.

“What an awful man. I feel the world is a much better place without him ... such a warped, warped man,” Afkham said. “[Islam is] all about good intention.” 

The killing of bin Laden also evoked recollections of his sister. Afkham said Rahma was usually busy but always made time to visit other family members living abroad.

“She was extraordinary,” Afkham said of his sister, a Wellesley College graduate. “She was like the glue in our family.”

Despite her untimely death, Afkham said he does not dwell on the tragedy and instead, he recalls the time he spent with her.

“I had 28 wonderful years with her and that’s how I look at it,” Afkham said.

While many are calling the death of bin Laden "justice" to those who were killed on 9/11, Afkham notes that there are still many people at large who were involved with the plot.

"It is a relief, but what happened is a lot larger than just (bin Laden)," Afkham says. "There are still people that need to be brought to justice." 

jeanie gruber May 02, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Afkham and his family's Cafe L'Aroma has become by favorite place for meeting in Newton. The family's gentleness, respectfulness and fine taste permeates the atmosphere, coffee and food. We are no doubt experiencing the beauty and grace of their family member through the spirit with which the family continues to function. Miss Jeanie

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