Why a Book on Muslim Kids?
In one of the conversations with the #MotheringAMuslim author Nazia Erum, I thought, ‘Why is she touching such a disturbing topic?’ ‘Why is she gearing up to fan so much hatred for mediocre unassuming Muslims – who neither agree to the morphed versions of Islam, which many follow nor accept the hatred or discrimination, Muslims are silently inflicted upon.’
A part of me silently acknowledged the subtle and on your face biases for Muslims. But another part of me always wanted to reject it, jerk it off the shoulder assuming, or to say fooling myself, ‘No, this is just in my mind. It is not true. We, as a community have become hyper sensitive and touchy. I have so many good people around me, why to always think of bad ones. We need to rise above all and excel to prove all these apprehensions baseless’.
In short, I always brushed aside my apprehensions and preferred to walk with confidence, work with more zest, avoiding head on arguments about Muslims only, and consciously made efforts to be reasonable and impartial to happenings around me.
In another conversation with Nazia, I told her confidently my son never faced any bullying on the religious lines. Yes, bullying is something has been troubling me for him now. I am apprehensive to send him alone to the playground in my society. Last month only, I faced the issue of bullying (not on religious lines) head on. And it disturbed me at many levels.
When Nazia offered me to work on transcribing few interviews for this book. Still, I wasn’t very sure.
Without much giving it a thought, I just said, Yes, thinking that it will be just another work I have picked up for experience.
After doing the first interview, I was dumb stuck. I tried to buck up myself thinking, it will be just one of an incident. Few days down the line, on listening to those audio interviews, their long pauses, gasps, sadness in voices, hollow laughter over bullying incidents against their chirpy, happy and confident voices when they recalled days of their childhood – all made me so numb that I could not decide whether it is me keeping her eyes closed tightly or is it just about another world.
I had moved to South India, almost around the time when 2014 elections results were pouring in. My stay in South India was a honeymoon. My trips back to family in North India gave me a creepy feeling, but I preferred to just jerk it off thinking- it is actually difference of cultures.
I vividly remember my one Muslim friend settled in US, told me to come back to Gurgaon as soon as possible. She said, it is very Muslim-Muslim kinds to be in the city, where I was based. Her casual statement made me think that, ‘What is my identity? Where do I belong? What are my current priorities or should be in future to decide the place, where I settle down? Her emphasis on Muslim identity of the city made me think- Do I have to be careful of my identity/ image projection to society?
I resisted with my all might that we do not come back to North India last year. But destiny has its own role. My apprehensions and my partially acknowledged creepy feelings came back with full force when I realised it is no more the same North India, where I always lived, worked, and gave birth to my first born.
5 years back, my first child was born in pre-Modi era in Gurugram. City, my gynaecologist, my womb everything is same for my soon-to-be-born second child. Even then I feel, I am rearing my second child in a different environment.
I am more apprehensive than my first time. As I aforementioned, I am more apprehensive for my first born going alone in the playground without me or my husband. It’s a different protective instinct crept in me now to safeguard my elder one emotionally and physically even.
Now, my mind keeps throwing a lot of questions – how to make my child learn to keep his identity of being a Muslim under neutral wraps, how to make him learn the balance between the ways we normally live inside the house and changing dynamics of the world outside the house?
How do I tell him to face an invisible fear for him but much visible to me as a parent? Or I wait for something to happen to him and then I address it? Why I unnecessarily make him sensitive to something which has not happened with him till date?
Even after the launch of this book, I did not tell many people that I did this tiny part in this book. I was apprehensive of the tag, it might get attached to me. It might put me in some category in the minds of unknown people. It might affect my work prospects and jeopardise my daily life.
After going through a small bullying incident, all those interviews for the book and reading a lot on parenting, 2 bigger question arise – 1. Will my child trust me to share his experience? 2. Do I have the balance or capacity to handle my instincts as an individual first and parent later in this environment?
Problem can be solved only when it is first identified as a problem.