Though I’ve always been proud of my identity and its visibility, there’s no denying how scary it can be. Two years ago, terror overtook Muslim communities after the horrific shooting in North Carolina. Last year, an attacker repeatedly struck two Muslim women who were simply pushing their children in strollers on the streets of New York City. This summer, a 17 year old Muslim girl was assaulted and killed after leaving her mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.
I imagine I would feel light. Because if I was white, I would be granted the right to be an individual. A daughter, intent on making my parents proud. A big sister, both cheerleader and annoyance to my three younger siblings. A writer, always getting started on her pieces too late. A Harvard student and Government concentrator, thinking about law school.
(Okay, so maybe not that last one. But you get my point.)
This past Saturday, Mogadishu was wracked with a massive truck bomb that detonated in the district of Hodan. The bomb killed more than 300 people, and injured over 500 others. That’s far more than the death toll of attacks in Boston, Fort Hood, San Bernandino, Quebec, Paris, London, Manchester, and Barcelona combined. Even now, scores remain missing. The bomb caused a hotel to collapse, demolished nearby buildings, and crushed vehicles that were parked on the street. It was followed by the sirens of ambulances, international pleas for help, and a death toll that kept on rising. It was met with several perfunctory news articles, a smattering of tweets, and a hailstorm of images that were difficult to look at.
When I think of Pakistan, the noise rises up too, all at once. I remember the rhythm of easy, rounded vowels hanging in lucid sunlight, as chai was poured and platters full of food were passed around. I remember the clamoring of rickshaws and shopkeepers in the bustling streets of Lahore. I remember the full houses of my aunts and uncles, the chaos of a seemingly never ending stream of family members. I remember my churiyan [bangles], purple and gold and jangling on my wrists.