He Stayed to Help
Meena Jerath remembers exactly what her husband was wearing that day: a summer suit, with a blue striped shirt and a blue tie with a white design. She had picked it out as part of their morning ritual. He would rise first and start the tea and put her bagel in the toaster oven. Then, he would be running a little late, and she would follow him out to the car with his tea.
Prem Nath Jerath came to the United States from India in 1970. He and his wife married after a bit of encouragement from their parents. Both got M.B.A.'s. They had a son, Neel, in 1982. In their backyard in Edison, N.J., Mr. Jerath would barbecue for friends.
In the last few years, the number of visitors from India increased, and they would take them on tours to Niagara Falls, Florida, Washington. "On their vacations, we would have our vacations too," Mrs. Jerath said. As a structural engineer for the Port Authority, Mr. Jerath, 57, had great faith in the twin towers.
That might be why, Mrs. Jerath said, her husband apparently stayed behind to help an injured colleague. During the bombing in 1993, she said, he had walked a woman down 30 flights of stairs. "Sometimes we get angry" that he sacrificed his life, Mrs. Jerath said. "But I don't think I would have liked him to run away from that sick person."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 31, 2001.