This is indeed a late post but the days leading up to Eid and after have been crazy! Apologies.
Also, this post will mainly be focusing on something that happened to me 2 days before Eid. Something that really shocked me. Something I can’t forget easily.
Day 28: It started, as it does every year. The BIG question: When’s Eid? And my phone buzzes with messages about predictions and reports from people who know people who know more people who have heard from Saudi Arabia. But still, no one is ever sure till the moon is sighted. But that didn’t stop mum. She got out massive bowls of drumsticks and lamb chop to marinate. I remember coming down to bowls and bowls of animal parts defrosting in a red pool of diluted blood.
Then mum started on me and sent me off to the shops to buy spring roll sheets to make a load of spring rolls in advance for Eid. So after 1.5 hours I left the final store and was on my way home, with the sun high in the sky, both hands occupied with bags and my shades on, something happened.
I was already in the mostly empty car park and I could hear this woman walking in the opposite direction to me, roughly 5 metres away, talking out loud. At first I didn’t take any notice. Innocently thinking ‘She must be having a bad day. That’s all.‘ I tentatively looked at her and we made eye contact. She continued talking but she had a strong accent and was far away so I couldn’t hear her properly. I then turned away and continued to walk ahead till she said “..and you read the Koran…” That’s when I stopped walking and faced her. She looked directly as me again but she didn’t stop walking. She looked angry and dangerous so instead of just being afraid, I was angry. But I very calmly asked:
Me: Are you talking to me?
** The rest of what the lady said is broken because she was walking away and talking **
Woman: [Stops walking. Stamps her feet, points at me and waves her body.] Yeah I’m talking to you! You and your people…bombing…your people…bloody…go back to your country!
I. Was. Gob. Smacked. She had yelled the last part, “go back to your country“. So to make sure I was heard I yelled back.
Me: What did you say?
Woman: Go back to your country!…nnnnn…nnnnnn
** I’m not taking the mick. That’s how she sounded as she moved further away **
Me: You can’t say that to me!
Me: You can’t say that to me!!!
And she disappeared. I was rooted to the spot. I was in shock. Trying to process what had just happened. But I didn’t stay long. I dragged my feet, one in front of the other, and walked away. I did look to the side once to see if anyone had bared witness to this. I did see a car that was being parked with a Muslim couple inside, looking at me.
As one naturally does, I kept replaying the whole thing over and over again. Thinking of what happened, if I heard right, did she really snarl when she spoke, did I respond properly, was my response even a response etc. At first I was really angry, so angry I thought I would throw the samosa pads into the street. But the I settled into being upset. Upset that she’s ignorant. Upset that she saw a Muslim woman and directed her anger at her. Upset that she clearly only has corrupt media to turn to for information. Upset that she felt it appropriate to insult someone randomly on the street.
Thinking about it, in my mind, I don’t see how it could have happened anyway else. When I spoke back I wasn’t aggressive. And when I was verbally abused I didn’t lose the plot and retaliate. Because I realised, as she was muttering venom at me, that you don’t add fuel to the fire; she was angry and may have been ready to get physical. My wanting to get her to stop and talk to me calmly about what she’s thinking and why she felt it ok to say what she said was not going to happen. (a) She was walking away from me whilst yelling so she probably wanted to say her piece and leave stylishly (b) I could barely understand her because of her strong accent and poor English so having a serious or intellectual debate was highly unlikely
I wanted to get her to come back. To tell me clearly who she thinks I am and where on earth she’s getting her sources from. But I quickly realised, it’s not worth it. If I had been more aggressive it would not have done me any justice. Or as she put it, ‘my people’ any justice.
Only later could I laugh about what she said. She told ME to go back to my country. But she is foreign herself. I, on the other hand, was born and bred here. I’m not going to say what race she’s from. But another thing that made me laugh was how she was walking in an area that is very multi-cultural and so has a lot of Asians. So it’s just interesting how she was walking close to and probably into/pass more Asian stores with more Asian-Muslims. I wondered what would happen when she crossed other poor souls *awkward laugh*
I’m sharing this story because I want people to realise that it is our duty to educate people about what is real and what is Media. To not believe everything shown on TV may seem like common sense, but with groups like EDL and UKIP its not really surprising how little people use their own mind and speak to the actual individuals they consider vermin. We all need to talk to our neighbours more. Our peers more. Our colleagues more. Because you don’t know where hatred and ignorance can lurk.
But not to worry all! I went home and made lots of spring rolls to take my mind off it all. And of course the Eid texts came flooding in at 6pm on Sunday to declare that Monday was Eid. It was a very long but fun day. As usual, people came over to my place to celebrate and the day whizzed by with food, tea, kids, pictures and washing up.