A sister offers a poetic rendition of the constant barrage of questions and scrutiny one faces as a Muslim living in the West.
You smile. But it’s a little too hard and a takes a little too long.
A window somewhere shuts tightly.
It’s strange because I breathe the same air you breathe, walk the same earth you walk, see the same world you see – and yet in your eyes I feel like a strange creature – an alien.
You see me through your eyes, never through mine. And so you see nothing at all. Only what you want to see.
You ask WHY?
Why do live like this? dress like this? pray like this? WHY? Why must you insist to look different and live differently? Why can’t you just be like Us?
Because I can’t and I won’t.
The same right you have to stare at me – I have to stare back. The same right you have to judge me and ask me a thousand ‘WHYs’- I too have.
Why don’t you just let me be? Why do you stare, then turn away? Question but never ask? Listen but never hear? Why your judgment, your fear, your hate, your disdain? Why your pity with all its cluelessness attached?
You walk away, and so do I.
But then I turn back and so do you.
You smile. But it’s not so hard and not so long.
You ask my name. I ask yours.
You ask and ask and ask.
But not WHY – you ask WHO.
WHO are you?
A window somewhere suddenly opens and a new breeze is let in.