I had a good cry last night. I don’t even know why I was crying. Let me tell you what happened yesterday….
I went to work and came back home. As I was eating dinner at the table with my dad (mom and sister were warming up their food), my mother yelled at me for not putting the yogurt on the table. She had not told me to do so, nor had she told me to set the table or anything. She just started yelling at me that I should’ve put it on the table, that she shouldn’t have to tell me what to do and what not to do anymore, that I’m not two years old anymore, that I don’t do “anything” in the house. Completely uncalled for in my opinion. It’s not like she was irritated with me or anything. She just started yelling at me.
Later that evening, I was in my room watching a movie and my younger sister came in (age 13). I was slightly irritated because I wanted to finish my movie but I didn’t say anything and I tried to welcome her. She’s been complaining that I never let her sit in my room and I never talk to her. So, I’m trying to change that. So I put my movie down and listened to her story. Then I asked her if she had prayed Isha (it was 10:45 pm). She replied “Possssssibbllllyyy………….maybe……..” She claims that she said, “Possibllyyyy….not.” But that is most certainly not what I heard. But that is besides the point. I asked her if it was possible for a human to have possibly prayed. You either pray or you don’t. There is no in between. I said all of this in a calm voice, and not accusing at all. She replied that it was if you had amnesia or something. I asked her if she truly, in her heart, believed that this was true, that you could “possibly” pray. She replied that she did. After she argued with me for about 5 minutes, she finally stated that she was joking/being sarcastic when she said that. I told her if that was the case, then why did she argue with me for 5 minutes that it was possible for someone to have “possibly” prayed. She argued with me about that for 5 minutes more, claiming that everyone always picks on her and I should’ve known she was joking. I didn’t. I told that I cannot tell anymore when she is joking/being sarcastic/lying/actually telling the truth. She lies way too often for me to be able to decipher what she is doing. I told her that. She asked me to give her an example of when she lied. I told her how earlier this evening, Ammi said she saw my sister with her math book in her lap, watching TV (she was supposed to be doing math homework). My sister yelled at Ammi that she always throws “accusations” at her that are not true. Ammi yelled back at her if this was not the case, if she was or was not doing what she said. My sister tried to stomp away but Ammi kept yelling at her to answer her question and finally my sister said it was true. When I related this incident to my sister, she started yelling that Ammi always makes generalizations about her, that it was only true about 50% of the time. At that point she was steamrolling over everything I said and the time was 11:05 pm. 15 minutes of arguing with this child. I was so tired. So incredibly tired of her constant arguing, her complaints, her yelling, her lying, her. I started tearing up and I asked her to leave. She did. And that’s when I started crying. I don’t know if it was from arguing with her, or if it was my sadness for my younger sister, who spends her days watching TV and eating, never believing herself to be wrong, and having to argue at every SINGLE thing possible. Maybe I shouldn’t have picked that argument last night, but I was so fed up with her constant arguing. My vision I currently blurring as I write this.
I don’t even know how to approach her anymore.
I love the way Kamla Bhasin explains the issue of domestic violence in India. A lot of the cause of this issue is in the culture of India, the language, the religion. The Hindi word for husband is “pati,” which also happens to mean owner. Coincidence? I think not. There is the Hindu custom of the ‘Karwa Chauth’ which is “a ritual of fasting observed by married Hindu women seeking the longevity, well-being and prosperity of their husbands.” Now, I’m not trying to say that the reason there is domestic violence is because of the culture of India. But I do think that women and men are raised with this notion that women are below men. They are taught that this is the way of the world. And that is partly why men feel it is OK to beat their wives and women believe that they should remain silent.
I apologize for those who do not understand Hindi. But if you do, please watch. And I want to thank Aamir Khan for making this amazing show.
For a moment, I thought I could do anything and be anything. I thought the opportunities were limitless. And then I realized something. I’m a girl. On top of that, I’m Asian and the color of my skin is more important than my skills to many people. If that wasn’t enough, I’m a Muslim. And I proudly wear my hijab. Who would hire me? In the real world, appearances are very important and to some people, more important than passion for the job and skills.
For a moment there, I thought I could do anything.
Whenever I meet a new person, I try to figure them out. I listen to how they use their words, how they structure their sentences. I listen to what they say, what is important to them, what they find funny. I watch their body language, how they carry themselves, how they perceive other people or objects around them. I watch their faces, what kinds of expressions they use in different situations. And I’m not a very good judge of character/personality, but I’m working on it.
But people from another culture, another language, another country, they are so difficult to understand right away. And even after a month, when I think I’ve figured them out, they say or do something I completely don’t expect. Even though I understand the denotation of what they’re saying to me, I don’t get the connotation because I haven’t grown up in that culture. I can’t tell why they say something rather than something else. I can’t tell if they think something is genuinely funny or they’re just messing around with me. I can’t tell if they hold themselves the way they do just because that’s the way they are, or because they don’t like me. And that can get frustrating. Especially if you’re related by blood. Even though we look so physically similar, I still don’t know you.
A girl in a neon green jacket sits by herself on a bench, waiting to catch the next train home. It’s late, but not that late. She has her headphones in and they stand out against her black hijab. She is looking down at her phone, tapping random apps. She’s not really doing anything of importance but she doesn’t want to make eye contact with anyone, lest they try to speak to her. The weirdos who use public transport are not worth her time. She could live without the stares she gets everyday.
A man in a black coat comes to sit one seat down from her. He passes uncomfortably close to her and the girl pulls her body inward, away from him. She can feel him looking at her from her right side, but she continues to tap away at her phone, trying her best to look busy and focused.
The girl recognizes that the man is trying to greet her with the Islamic greeting, even though he doesn’t pronounce it quite right. But she doesn’t want to talk to him. So she ignores him and continues to tap away at her phone. 30 seconds pass in silence and the girl can feel his eyes on her.
*cough* “Salam walaikum.”
This time he pronounces it properly. The girl considers replying but decides against it. Then she feels bad for not replying as she is representing her religion in this train station and she wouldn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or give them reason to hate her religion. But she decides that he is a stranger and it would do him nor her any good by replying. But then she thinks she ought at least to inform him of the meaning of what he is saying, as perhaps he is considering to convert but he doesn’t know many Muslims. But then, she realizes that she really doesn’t want to chat or have small talk with a stranger, as that is what he probably–.
“Can you hear me?”
He says it so softly, she almost misses it. She’s taken too long. She didn’t want to talk to him anyway. She continues to tap away at her phone, glancing up every few seconds to check train arrivals.