14 June 2016

The Mexican

My mother has concerns, you see. My mother’s concerns are the concern of us all.

No. That’s not right. I will try it again.

Our concern lies not with the object of my mother’s concerns, but rather with the fact that she has concerns, for that is where the troubles begin.

Oh, I’ve made a mess of this. Here:

On Sunday morning at 4:30 a.m. (a time I had hitherto believed to be entirely mythical, existing only in theory, due to the peculiar physics of old-fashioned clocks) my mother called me. On the telephone.

In my confusion, I inadvertently answered it.

“Don’t go outside, Nasreen!” my mother said.

I looked around for the time. “Ammi,” I said, “do you know what time it is? Why would I go outside?”

“There’s been a shooting!” my mother said.

“Here?” I approached my window from an angle unlikely to be foreseeable by any gunman. I peered out through the blinds. There was nothing out there but 4:30 a.m.

There’d been a shooting in Orlando in the night. My mother had concerns. It might be terrorism and so we ought all stay inside. For the time being, that is. Lie low until tempers cooled. Until people who look like us might venture outside again.

“No!” I said. “That is ridiculous!” It was ridiculous. “What are they going to do? Throw bacon at me?”

Where I live, most hate crimes against Muslims tend to be bacon-related.

My mother clicked her tongue. She had concerns, you see. Moments passed and she said, “If you must go out, don’t wear a dupatta. Pull your hair back. Wear blue jeans. That way, they’ll just think you’re a Mexican.”

Pretend to be Mexican? Had it really come to this, then?

I hung up the telephone. It was nearly time for Fajr. 

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