In the past few years, I’ve had a gripping fear
of speaking my mind and raising my voice
These questioning looks, they catch my breath
as I make my way through these alleyways
I’m sitting in a class about CPR
there’s a photo on the screen of a bomb blast now
bleeding men, broken limbs.
Bleeding men with broken limbs, wearing Islamic skullcaps.
I look around,
I’m the only Muslim in the room.
I wish I could disappear
but no one noticed a thing.
I see myself in the bleeding men,
but the terrorist, he’s wearing a skullcap too.
This fear, it’s a new age thing.
Young Muslims like me,
we walk with an insane guilt
over the despicable actions
of people sharing our names.
They have no religion,
no loyalties to prove,
They’re cold blooded murderers
with nothing to lose.
And yet, here we are at the centre stage
feeling blamed, disgraced
for what we ourselves condemn
with our blood and soul.
I know that I’ve been labelled
as a terrosist, antinational
or oppressed woman
even before I walk into a room,
and I must now prove to you
why you should treat me like a person too.
I have a lump in my throat, tears ready to pour
My brothers and sisters, they’re bleeding to death
And my heart, it bleeds through these words.
“Prove your loyalty to the country”, they said
“Prove to me
that you’re Indian first, and Muslim second.
Prove to me,
That you won’t kill me and my brothers
While I butcher you and your sisters.
Prove to me,
That you’re Indian enough
‘Vande mataram’ shout it from the mountaintops
‘Jai Shriram’ scream it in the marketplace
Lower your voice
silence your prayers,
I don’t want to hear no Allahu akbars”.
The more I am pushed,
my people punished,
the higher I hold my head
the firmer I wear my hijab
the stronger my voice will rise.
I want you to know
I am Muslim and proud
I am Indian and proud
It is possible to be both of that.
And that’s all the proof you’ll ever need.
Yes, we’re regressing,
yes my heart aches.
But such is our world
let’s hold our hands and breathe.
And maybe, just maybe
we’ll be reminded again
that we’re humans first,
And all else second.