Speech and Silence
Sitting among a circle of friends, I am suddenly attacked: why am i not more involved in politics, why don't i go to all those panels on the bombings of afghanistan, why am i not more critical of non muslims, what is wrong with me
and in the brightly lit room, my mind suddenly fades, the samosas on the table nearby begin to spin as if they're a chorus dance in a bollywood film and i search my mind for a clever response, but no thoughts open.
Later in bed that night, tracing patterns in the ceiling, I think of my muslimness, my jadedness with politics, and the noise of religion, how loud and jarring one's identity can feel, how bitter it can taste in moments of crises -- others pointing fingers -- you muslim woman without headscarf but with headscarf -- enemy, foreign freak
everyone everywhere pointing fingers
America's mythic melting pot suddenly a chaos of unmixible tastes. And then there are others, muslim like me, adding to the burden. Criticizing my silence and openness, my quiet love for islam, for muslims, and the words of the quran. Isn't love a kind of politics, a way to live, a way to experience one's religion? Isn't silence a kind of language waiting for the right time to find its way into speech? Why was I so bothered by their questions? Why did they send me spinning into larger questions? Weren't they saying a good muslim would be more political, a caring muslim would get involved, any god damn good individual would speak up -- do something?
Their words made me want to cut out and show them that part of me that can never belong to just one religion. That part of my muslimness wide enough to swim in the company of other religions: hindu, sikh, christian, jew. That part of me that's not political, that doesn't know how to give a damn about politics. That part of me that's tired and collapsed with the towers in new york -- the most sacred self of me -- the wider side of me that extends beyond the curve of my hips, that is eight years old but wiser than the rest of me, that lives for the twenty-fifth hour of the day.
I want to die sometimes in the arms of forty different religions, speaking forty different languages. I want to die severed from my name, my history, my womb -- some place off the coast of a nameless sea -- where the fog burns every myth of identity to the core.