Discomfort Of Home

Only recently have I begun to feel that what I say or what I think does not matter

Written by Aamena Ahmad | Updated: July 3, 2017 2:00 am
muslims in india, india lynching, india hindutva agenda, faridabad lynching, hindu muslim issue, india news ‘As a Muslim growing up in a predominantly non-Muslim neighbourhood and city, I always stuck out like a sore thumb, my beliefs and practices looked upon with curiosity, fascination or disdain, by those who fitted in better in the social milieu of my generation.’

A few days before Eid, Junaid, was on his way back from Eid shopping when a group of men lynched him on the train. These men were enraged by his brother and friends’ refusal to vacate their seats for them. How dare they do so, despite being Muslim? This incident took place on the outskirts of Delhi, not far from Gurgaon, the city I call home.

On the last night of this Ramzan, I had pakoda for iftar for the first time in Geneva — a regular item on the menu back home. I smiled, thinking how my father would react to pakoda coming out of an oven and not the boiling oil of the frying pan.

I spent this Ramzan, like the last one, in Switzerland. On many evenings, I would break my fast alone in my room with dates and a glass of water, too lazy to prepare the elaborate iftar I was accustomed to back home. I would miss home, my parents, relatives and family friends. My first Ramzan in Geneva was a series of nostalgic episodes of love, laughter, and Roohafza with a dash of lemon. This Ramzan, the nostalgia was not as gripping, its call not as deep. As I tried to make sense of why this was happening, I realised that a part of me had begun preparing itself for a life away from home, away from India.

Quite paradoxically, I have been pursuing a Masters in development studies in Geneva with plans of going back to India, understanding where the country is going wrong with the development agenda and what it could do differently. Minutes away from my institute is the United Nations’ office, towards which citizens from all over the world turn for protection and assistance.

The condition of Muslims in India has perhaps not yet attained, in the eyes of the present government, the gravity and severity required to move the state into action. In situations like these, there is always the option of drawing international attention. Given the more urgent crises of war, genocide, extreme poverty and hunger across the world, I am sceptical if the cries of Muslims in India will be heard in time.

It is not surprising that the desire to be back home has been misplaced. Over the past few months, I have woken up to WhatsApp messages and Facebook alerts of communal rioting and mob lynching of Muslims. I have shared them with friends, shed a tear, shouted and cried in anger, and sat paralysed, imagining myself and my family members as the victims. Ramzan, the month of spiritual cleansing, has been soiled with multiple incidents of hate and anger.

As a Muslim growing up in a predominantly non-Muslim neighbourhood and city, I always stuck out like a sore thumb, my beliefs and practices looked upon with curiosity, fascination or disdain, by those who fitted in better in the social milieu of my generation. However, I never felt that I did not belong where I lived. After years of awkward navigations through discussions on religion, politics, terrorism, the headscarf and women’s equality, I had learnt to carve a space for myself in most situations. It is only recently that I have begun to feel that what I say or what I think does not matter. All that matters is that I cover my head, or that I have a name that sounds “Muslim”, or that I celebrate Eid, much like 16-year-old Junaid.

I remember now the morning of Eid last week. I woke up scurrying to call my parents to wish them “Eid Mubarak”, before the quiet of my room and the city outside would snatch away the sense of comfort that I had built — the comfort of believing that I am better off away from home, telling myself that I would rather live outside my country and miss it terribly, than live there and fear for my life and dignity. Today, this comfort of familiarity is already beginning to melt away. Standing on my balcony, I would watch street vendors with their thelas, preparing to head home, and hear my father say “Aaj pakode aur chai ka mausam ho raha hai”.

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  1. N
    No Time for Bullshit
    Jul 9, 2017 at 1:44 am
    This is an amazing article. All the men in the comments trying to demean the article, and victimise the majority, you are all so pathetic. But to be honest, I feel so sorry for you men. You are so insecure and disgusting, and can only put out empty threats on the internet. I'm really really sorry for you. :(
    Reply
    1. R
      Reallynow
      Jul 4, 2017 at 3:15 am
      You go girl!
      Reply
      1. L
        lafanga
        Jul 4, 2017 at 1:12 am
        Miss Aamena. Read all the comments by Hindus here. You are a woman and Muslim and neither of them are safe in India. You will either get lynched or raped or lynched and raped. Stay as far away from India as you can for your dear life.
        Reply
        1. M
          Mahesh Joshi
          Jul 4, 2017 at 12:37 am
          a piece of advice to the author. be away from social media for a month. turn off the news channels. meet people on the street. come back after a month and then comment.
          Reply
          1. R
            Ravi Bharat
            Jul 3, 2017 at 11:56 pm
            Very touching! Did you feel the same when Hindus were massacred in West Bengal or when Telengana gave 12 reservation to muslims not because they are backward but just because that govt wanted votes. Did you forward and cry when the poor policeman was lynched in Kashmir by 1000s of protestors? I detest all killing and hence any lynching is wrong. But look at you, you only weep for muslims...Thats the hypocrisy that the world does not want. You dont forward or cry when 1/2 a million pandits were killed, raped and ethnically cleansed from the valley but will say "Not in my name" for Junaid! Say it for Junaid but so too say it for all those others...You will not do that because for you only "Muslims" matter! Thats your hypocrisy. Remember India has always been secular not because of the cons ution but because of the people. Europe could not even keep 5 million Jews and committed a genocide, India on the other hand has been secular for millennia...Learn from that!
            Reply
            1. R
              Reallynow
              Jul 4, 2017 at 2:46 am
              Really now? You really think that the point of the article is to say no lives matter except Muslims? Try practicing summary writing, you'll be amazed at what you learn.
              Reply
            2. M
              mast kalandar
              Jul 3, 2017 at 11:48 pm
              AmenaAhmed - Have you heard of the following names ??? 1) Vishwanath, Feb 19, 2015 2) Prashant Pujari, Oct 9, 2015 3) Kuttappa, Nov 10, 2015 4) Raja Kannadabane, Nov 11, 2015 5) Harish Banatwala, Nov 13, 2015 6) Raja Mysur, March 13, 2016 7) Yogesh Goudar, June 16, 2016 8) Praveen Poojary, Aug 14, 2016 9) Rudresh, Oct 16, 2016 10) Kartik Raj, Oct 26, 2016 11) Magali Ravi, Nov 5, 2016 12) Kithaganahalli Vasu, Mar 14, 2017 The above are the names of 12 HINDUS among many more who were LYNCHED in broad Day Light, and a couple of their bodies were gruesomely mutilated by RADICAL ISLAMIC GROUPS as well as MARXISTS who work in tandem with them. NOT A TEAR WAS SHED NOR MOBS CONDUCTED "NOT IN MY NAME" PROTESTS!!! With 80 HINDU population, if Hindus get slaughtered by ISLAMIC RADICALS does it from any stretch of imagination depict that MUSLIMS are the ones who are being suppressed or victimised just becoz of one stray incidence of a guy getting killed over a fight for seats in a train ???
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              1. R
                Reallynow
                Jul 4, 2017 at 3:26 am
                Dear Mast Kalandar, Remind your trolling self who copy pastes comments, that this was not a stray incidence.
                Reply
              2. S
                Sivakumar
                Jul 3, 2017 at 11:44 pm
                #AK Dev, you rightly said. When the Indias Hindu will understand the evil design of Islamist? , God save my country, Jai Hind
                Reply
                1. R
                  Reallynow
                  Jul 4, 2017 at 4:38 am
                  Dear God, Please deliver us from evil, oh and also from the foolish camaraderie of the likes of Sivakumar and AK Dev. Jai Hind!
                  Reply
                2. K
                  kg
                  Jul 3, 2017 at 11:32 pm
                  Author, have you ever thought that your hijab is as offensive to the people of Switzerland and to their culture, as a lady in swimsuit walking in the city of Mecca would be to you (that is the real irony) and to your fellow Muslims? Your Hijab is anti thesis of what western culture and values stand today, but you wear it with elan in their country, mocking them.Are you people really that fool that you can not see or feel what you are doing to others, but you keep playing victim card all the time?
                  Reply
                  1. Y
                    yoginath
                    Jul 3, 2017 at 11:59 pm
                    really!!, what about your dhoti and saree which expose everythign of a ladies, and people like you look at her with lustfull of eyes.
                    Reply
                    1. R
                      Ravi Bharat
                      Jul 4, 2017 at 12:08 am
                      Its people like you who are a problem in the world! All of Europe is banning the Hijab because it is an anti-thesis to their values. They didnt ban the saree basically because it is not a discriminatory dress like the Hijab! Get your facts right before you talk. Anyhow seeing your comment, we already know how you think!
                      1. K
                        kg
                        Jul 4, 2017 at 12:48 am
                        Hindus do not wear Saree in European countries at workplaces or universities, not in Islamic countries, not in Jepan or any other country.You will se Hindu women in Saree only in Hindu temples, on festive occasions or special social gatherings, inside their home, but not in workplaces.Also Saree is NOT a symbol of oppression.
                        1. K
                          kg
                          Jul 4, 2017 at 12:53 am
                          Oh, I missed the main point in your reply, "exposes everything of a ladies", WHO ARE YOU TO DECIDE WHAT PART OF "A LADIES" SHOULD BE "EXPOSED" OR NOT "EXPOSED"? WHO ARE YOU? Or who are those camel herders who wrote your "holy book"?DO YOU EVEN REALIZE HOW SAD YOU PEOPLE SOUND?
                        2. R
                          Reallynow
                          Jul 4, 2017 at 2:48 am
                          Your sorry life doesn't get to decide what is liberating and what is not for Muslim women or others. Also, your sorry life doesn't get to decide about western culture and values. And for that, the world is a better place.
                          Reply
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