I was chatting yesterday to this black dude from Los Angeles on my Facebook. He had read a few of my comments from various notes around the place and actually liked them quite alot. He read my blog and liked a couple of entries, especially the ones on 'Awareness'.
We were exchanging messages as he didn't have a gay profile and was still very much closeted. He was talking to me from his straight profile. He intended to stay that way because his father is an extremely homophobic person and he was pretty darn sure that if he ever came out, he is going to be disowned. He was a little older than me, 25 years old. I kind of felt sorry for him but it wasn't my place to say anything.
It was around the ninth message exchange, when he asked me where I am from. I told him that I am from Pakistan, as stated on the blog and my Facebook profile. He asked me if I was pulling his leg or something. I laughed at his disbelief. When I told him the same thing again, he was really surprised. He had presumed that I was from somewhere in the States, having grown up in a Pakistani Muslim household. Not true! I'm completely Desi, or as close to being Desi is possible for me. I have stayed in Pakistan and been bought up here entirely. Yes, my command over English language is good - but it is by no means 'great', there are much better writers out there. I can only thank my parents, teachers and various authors to develop my interest in the English Language.
After learning that little fact about me, there was silence from him for quite some time. It came as a little surprising to me but I tried to shake it off thinking that he probably went offline or something. A few minutes later I got another message from him asking if I had a bomb on myself.
Lord, I can't begin tell you how much that comment pissed me off. Why do people just simply assume as terrorists? The entire time I had spent exchanging messages with him and this is what he thinks of me. Some crazy terrorist! I really wanted to tell him off but then you don't answer ignorance with anger. I tried explaining to him that not all Pakistani or even not all Muslims are like that. Islam is a very peaceful religion and it definitely doesn't promote terrorism. People who call themselves terrorist do not belong to any religion because NO religion propagates killing of the innocent. Being a terrorist is not a profession. There have been so many brilliant people amongst us. Doctors, engineers, craftsmen, musicians, artists, lawyers and what not. Name any profession and we had at least one shining star. There could be more; Alot more, if given the proper resources. Pakistan has ALOT of talent which just needs polishing, but that is a completely different topic altogether. So I explained my point of view to him. He told me that he is really scared of bomb and would hate to die in one - God Forbid.
I told him not to worry and just pray to God for the safety of his loved ones and himself - because that is all he could do. Nobody knows when they are going to die, so the best thing to do is to just pray for a long happy life. He sent me a message with a single smiley in response. A few hours later, he had deleted his profile. I wish I had taken his email address or something. But I don't think it would be off any use. Some people just refuse to see what's right in front of them.
The incident from yesterday brought back an unpleasant but slightly funny memory from the summer of 2009, when I was in America. I used to go out for walks in the evening. Lots of nice empty roads in the suburbs to walk on without worrying about dogs coming after you. Plus the weather was so amazing that I really didn't want to be cooped up in the house. As I would go around walking, there would be this one kid. He was probably in his late teens. He used to work as a gardener in that neighborhood. Sometimes when I would pass, he would smile at me and I would return it. Never ignore a smile unless it's coming from a creepy stranger who is giving you a weird look. We never really stopped to talk. One day he was sitting on the sidewalk taking a break and I happened to be just passing by. "Hey!", he shouted seeing me.
"Hey back at you!", I replied. Is that how you reply?, I thought. "Man", I added at the last moment.
"You walk around here alot! Didn't you see around before the summer! Did you move here recently?", he asked me.
"Oh, no! I'm just visiting my aunt!" I told him.
"That's cool! I can't quite place you're accent! Where are you from?" he asked.
"That's probably because I'm from Pakistan!", I told him with a smile. It's nice to give a smile every once now and then in a casual non-serious conversation. Mentioning the P-word was all that needed to make him shit in his bermudas. He literally went wide-eyed.
"Nice!", he replied. "Talk to you later. Gotta work!"
I guessed what set him off. It wasn't like I was standing there with a jacket made of dynamite, but from the expression on his face one could guess I had an entire houseful of them. He could have taken me down easily. He was definitely more muscled than me and a few inches taller. The rest of the summer when I would walk by, no response from him. Sometimes if I smiled, I would get one in return. I silently hoped that I could go back again this summer and scare him again. But I spend a much better summer with Nathan right here. Also the slight crush I had developed on him ended immediately. Phoof!
I seriously don't understand why are Muslims presumed as such a taboo. Give yourself the chance to get to know us better, we actually quite an educated and civilized bunch. It's wrong to presume things. Give us a chance and you guys will seriously be making really awesome friends. Besides the obvious point that your assumptions are wrong, they are also quite hurtful to us. We love our religion, just like you guys love yours. So what is in us that makes you people so scared of us?