Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Perfect Strangers - Part Six

Faith. You know. That thing we do. There is no iconography in Islam but the girl looked at Jesus too many times. Blue eyes. Wavy blond frocks. On a cross. Half naked. Hurt. Bleeding. Head down. To the side. On her bestfriend’s necklace. He comes back in her adulthood one too many times. Everywhere. Even when mummy said “we’re Muslim. No pork. No setting foot in church. No Ave Maria even if you sing it for fun little one. We’re Muslim”.

When she grows up, the girl understands her comfort with churches and cathedrals. All déjà vu. Her body remembers. But for now she was to be a Muslim girl. It was mummy who’ll tell her what Muslim is. So mummy had to go find out what Muslim is.

Meanwhile little girl kept alive. Driven by nothing by the life that runs through her veins. So one day, mummy said, “you can’t talk to boys”. But mummy, my best friends are boys. I don’t like girls. So when little Olaf asked her to race him in the school-yard, she looked down and walked away. Her temper. More silent. More rage. Ate her up inside. Mummy said, “only girls at your birthday party”. But mummy, they wear dresses.

Still. She only invited girls in her classroom and she looked down, hurt, when little Olaf or Michael passed by, uninvited. Never knew what to say to them.

Day by day, little girl grew a frown on her cute little face. With a pout too. I don’t like you mummy, she said one day. So the next day, daddy came and asked the girls to sit down. He was holding a big piece of paper in his hands, with pictures and black words. The girl learns it’s called a newspaper. Daddy carried one of those all the time.

He starts reading: “sometimes girls make mistakes with boys and he touches them in their body parts. Sometimes bad girl friends encourage good girls to know bad boys who do bad things to them. This happened to a young girl in Morocco where the country is hot by climate. One day she went to school and…. “

Daddy kept talking and the girl got nothing. But mad. At boys. Who are bad. Bad boys. All boys. But daddy …

Sports day came. She was the finalist up against the best runner in school. She was nervous. Little Olaf was on the benches looking down, then up, then down at his friend who won’t talk to him anymore because he’s a boy. Up. Down. Unsure.

On your marks. Get set. Go!! She runs. runs. runs. The field is too big. The other girl is too fast. Oh no! She’s losing. Suddenly: “Go! Go! Go! You can do it I know you can Go Go Go!!” – came the voice of her friend Olaf who was jumping like crazy on the benches yelling in her direction. She turned. Looked at him. But daddy said ….

Girl won no race. She floats between her beginning and her end looking to the side-lines at all the Olafs in her life, a forbidden iconography. Boys everywhere like Jesus in a Catholic school but little girl is a perfect stranger in there. Ain’t no tragedy in this.

. . ." A moral sense should be developed not through sanction, but gradually, gently, exactingly, understandingly, and at a deep level" (Tariq Ramadan)


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