From ages 0-16, I had not done much other than sitting about idly, watching lots and lots of cartoons (which I undoubtedly still do) and ‘borderline’ studying to pass with decent grades. In between, things would happen which now I wouldn’t consider stressful but at that time, it seemed like the end of the world. Regardless, life was as chill as one could imagine.
Then, oh but then, something wonderful and terrible happened. I stepped in that stage of life where you had to decide what you wanted to do when you ‘grow’ up and who you wanted to become as a person. That was the wonderful bit until I learned about the amount of effort and work you had to put in to even scratch the surface of your goals.
Now for the terrible bit. I learned a bit more extensively about things like racism, sexism, sexual abuse, harassment, poverty, refugees, war and Islamophobia (here’s the thing, a lot of bigots seem to believe Islamophobia is a name for critics of Islam which only shows how ignorant one can be. Islamophobia is a tad bit more than that. It’s when one physically or verbally ABUSES another based on their ‘Islamic’ appearance without actually trying to learn about what Islam really means. E.g. The taxi driver that got shot at and The Time I Got A Taste Of Islamophobia. Most Muslims don’t give a damn about illiterate criticisms)
Anyways, me being the anxious person that I am, often times I become hella paranoid. Every single day, the words hate crime and harassment/abuse will cross my mind. Then, I will think about how selfish we are only worrying about our safety when there are people crossing seas to escape the danger on land.
I know there’s a lot of good people out there but I am one of those prevention is better than cure kinda person. So, I always try to stand as far away from rail tracks as possible and to avoid travelling through isolated places etc. In other words, I am hypervigilant.
But life goes on and I have to wake up and dress up and go on about my day. If a day is really good, I will forget about all the horrors out there and anxiety will leave me alone for a good while. If it’s really bad, I will let go of the anxiety or at least try to because I refuse to live in fear.
The other day, I went to oxford street with a friend of mine during Black Friday sale. Oxford Street is in central London where people go for shopping, incase you didn’t know. I have never been shopping during Black Friday and my father repeatedly told my mother to stop me from going out that day. He didn’t know that I was actually going. I guess paranoia runs in the family.
He still doesn’t know it. Even if he did, he would be fine. We all gotta let go of paranoia eventually. My Mother as always, was okay with me making my own decisions. Even when she is visibly unsure and worried, I can always rationalise with her. When you are brown, leaving the house for a minute is a life event!
But that’s not why I am mentioning this story. When we were browsing and roaming around in Oxford Street, she mentioned to me that her friend who was going to join us later on, told her that her parents are worried about her going to central London due to recent threats by ISIS and she is a Muslim like me.
We ended up talking about how our parents were actually mentioning the same things to us. They are worried about hate crimes and everything else which is understandable. Although, that friend is not Muslim, she is brown and bigots for some reason doesn’t get that all brown people aren’t Muslim.
I always say that if someone one day decides to stab me or something, I cannot stop it from happening. Most likely because I won’t even see it coming in the first place. Even if I did, I am like the weakest person to ever walk on this planet. So, I don’t see how I could win a fight against an assailant. But that’s not the point. The point is that I personally, as a Muslim, believe that my life and death is completely out of my control. I can only pray for safety and believe in the best. Sure we have to be careful to a certain extent but we can’t live in fear.
Besides, no matter who you are or what you believe in, living at the moment hence life itself is the best way to defy bigots, ISIS and every other villain.