Why do I not forget, they ask year after year, revealing that they do not forget either. They know, though, that my remembrance is bloody — tangible and plausible. Theirs is salt on wounds.
People need homes; gods do not. People killed bothers me; a place of worship does not. Not unless it is meant to trample on others. Then it becomes about people. That worries me.
It worries me that to become popular they live in denial or choose to forget. Intolerance, the buzzword, is not about today. It was there yesterday too, and unless you weren't born then or old enough for it to register, you lie each time you talk about how it was never that bad.
Hate is not of degree. Hate is real, whether it kills or not. Hate comes in subtle forms too. Perhaps it is not hate. I hope it is not.
Was at dinner with an acquaintance. A warm relationship we've shared. She used to be in the service sector and I her client. We continued to keep in touch. So, as the starters were served, she asked about the person who replaced her and whether he kept me updated regularly. I said he did and was prompt with feedback.
"I guess it's because you are also a Muslim..." she said.
Surprised, I told her, "We got along better, so how does this matter?"
"No, I just thought this Muslim-Muslim thing makes it easier." And then she intoned his full name aloud, something I do not know and there was no need for, a full name that probably made his yuppie modern name less secular and fit into her idea of what he should be.
This was a month ago. I still cannot believe this conversation took place.
Met a woman through a friend. Her clothes were bohemian, and from what I gathered she lived on her own terms. We were having an interesting conversation and I do not know when the Muslim word came in. I don't do Muslim things, not because not doing them makes a point, but because that is the way I am.
But this person, who I had met minutes ago, who knew nothing about me, said, "Oh, so you don't believe in this Shia-Sunni nonsense?"
"I don't, and many don't," I just about managed.
My friend said nothing. She watched and smiled.
It was awkward. If I had offered a rebuttal, I would be accused of being touchy or, heaven knows, even A Muslim After All.
Would it not look ridiculous if I had responded with, "So, do you believe in this Brahmin-Shudra thing? Untouchability? Dalits?"
I did not say it not only because it would look stupid, if not vicious, but because it does not matter. I do not recall ever asking anybody anything about their beliefs or lack of it, in a social or personal setting. I say this with confidence because I think it would be a cheap and vulgar thing to do.
Does that stop many people from doing so? They look perfectly normal at parties, clubs, restaurants, cinema halls, shopping malls. Yet, they carry set images that they use as flashcards when they meet you. "Oh, hello. What do you think about jihad?"
And you want to shout out loud, but that would only be an answer for them. Yes, you shout, so you must believe in jihad.
Ironically, both of them work in a Muslim country, a country where they party, wear what they want, eat what they want, drink what they want. The least that place ought to have taught them would be to dust the cobwebs gathered in their minds.
There's dust everywhere. Today, the one-day wonders of social concern a commemorating it as December 6 Black Day. The darkness is in souls, but it isn't black.
It wasn't black in 1992.
It was orange. Flames. Burnt homes, bodies singed.
It was blue. Tarpaulin sheets. Lost homes in twilight.
It was white. Smoke from fires. Cloth over bodies. The tears were white too.