What I talk about when I talk about —
I guess, what I’m trying to get at here on this train as I slowly type is that it is Ramadan and I am slowly realising that I am losing my grip on my sanity.
The devils have been locked up,yes?
Satan is no longer here, yes?
Then, why am I still going crazy?
When these things happened before,when these things happened,if I looked in the mirror and saw someone else; if I looked at my mother and saw a stranger; as those minutes and hours passed; and I was grasping at straws, I would tell myself it was the devil and I couldn’t tell people because you’re not supposed to talk about it.
It’s supposed to go away.
But it happens again.
It happens again.
And I am terrified.
I would get so angry at the absurdness of it all, why was everyone complying with this? I didn’t understand.
I was so lucky that I didn’t fall into it for longer periods of times. I wanted to peel my skin off because something in my skin was wrong,there were bugs skittering beneath the surface of my flesh,they were moving under my skin, my hands wouldn’t stop shaking for almost an hour that afternoon and I told myself it was because I hadn’t eaten and maybe you know it is true, maybe I hadn’t eaten but I couldn’t remember for sure anymore.
I have sent messages I don’t remember;I half remember,you’ve talked to me in those periods maybe. I look at the past conversations and I don’t remember typing them out.
But I feel oddly relieved too that I can still maintain some semblance of normalcy. I also feel so angry, that there’s no visible sign. Maybe it never happened, maybe I made it all up in my head. You just want attention, I tell myself. You just want someone to pity. You just want —
It’s Ramadan and my mind is clearer and foggier. I don’t have anyone I can talk about this to. I’ve never talked to anybody about these periods because every time it passed I was so sure I had made it up. I couldn’t find any evidence it had happened other than the utter terror I would feel. I would only find tear tracks on my face.
But then it happens.
Then it happens again
And I am still trying to pretend it has not.
“…it’s always the muslim. Whenever there’s a shooting, it’s the muslim. If it’s someone white, they’re mentally ill. Why don’t we call them Christian terrorists? Why are muslims always the terrorists?” my father is gesturing wildly over the dinner table.
“Then in the end, the shooter was also gay so that’s why he was shooting at that gay club. It’s nothing to do with Islam so why should I apologise for it?”
I’m trying to keep quiet and eat my rice slowly so it’ll occupy my mouth. I’m trying not to argue,the whole conversation has so far revolved around how the West has demonised Islam and it’s his favourite talking point. But it’s the gay part that gets me, that this whole conversation has been about shifting blame around;reassigning fault; pointing fingers. But we aren’t talking about the victims, the people who matter the most in this.
He continues on about how they found out the shooter was gay, my mother says it’s the West’s fault again for making people gay. She’s convinced about the moral decay they’ve set in with their decadent and homosexual lifestyles.
My brother, across the table, says, “Islam is just this big bogeyman to them and we can’t blame Americans for being scared. I cakap je, they have so many shootings and they don’t want to blame themselves, so they want to blame something they don’t know and don’t understand. If I were them, I also scared.”
“Then they should learn about Islam, read the Quran and — “, my father is leaning back in his chair, he’s done with his food.
I say something then but I don’t remember anymore what it is. My father looks incredulous and my mother,sensing that we’re going to start arguing, tells us to stop and eat our dinner.
I swallow my food, the usual fare of rice and lauk semalam, and think about the girl’s photo I saw today. I think about the fact she was 20 and died, terrified in a place she had might have imagined she would be safe and protected for at least a night.
I think about how unfamiliar people and places can be in the space of seconds.