Acid attacks

I am terrified. They come at us from cars, on motorbikes or run up to you. You’re just driving, a passenger or a pedestrian. They throw a liquid at you and then you burn. 

There is nothing you can do. No defence you can learn. No potion you can carry. Nowhere you can hide. 

Carry a bottle of water I read. But a bottle is not enough to wash away the chemicals and in many cases will only make it worse. We are defenceless. We are helpless. 

This is happening here. In ends. Our home. Places we can’t avoid. And there is nothing we can do about it. Defenceless. Helpless. 

Yesterday I sat at the back of a cab on my way home from the station and made sure my window was shut. My throats was chocking in the heat but I could not bare to risk opening my window. Whatsapp buzzing with news of a new attack. 4 in the last 48 hours in areas, 5-15 minutes walk away from home. 

As I walked to the train station this afternoon, I watched every man with a bottle of water with suspicion, keeping my ears peeled for approaching cars and bikes. 

We have endured spitting. We have enduring beatings. We have endured the death of our elders coming home from prayer and our children going to pray. We have endured unborn children being lost in attacks. We have endured women being pushed into train tracks. 

How much more are we to endure? 

Home

Home is not where you were born. Home is where all your attempts to escape cease – Naguib Mahfouz

I was born in London – in fact not very far from where I live now. I am a ‘proper’ London-er by all lists and calculations. Everything outside the M25 is “up north”, I ignore all acts of friendliness in the streets and can’t stand people who don’t know how to use an escalator. London is my home.

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But I have so many conflated thoughts about it. This is my home. I have no other home. But when people ask where are you from? I instinctively know they mean why aren’t you white? But I play their game. London. No, where are you really from? Yes I was right. I have a pre-prepared answer now, “well I was born in London and lived here all my life but my parents were born in Bangladesh.”

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It is this other-ing, not just by that comments but in so many ways, like filling in forms – I will always be British something else* – my kids will always be British something else and their kids after them will be British something else, that makes me realise even though this is my home, I will never feel quite at home. I will always feel like I’m squatting.

Maybe I will be able to go a whole week without feeling it. But then something will pop up on the news, someone will say an off-the-cuff comment and I will be reminded.

*something else because what they call us changes over time.

I wonder if I will ever be allowed to feel at home. Probably not in my lifetime. But I wonder how many generations of children immigrant families have before this goes away.

Being visibly Muslim

I wrote about the stares and the fear on my personal Facebook. As I waited for the next train home a man walked towards me, giving me a glance that send shivers down my spine. My brother saw it too – my 16 year old baby brother. Without even saying anything he stood in front of me, protecting me from the tracks – just in case. Just in case this was another person filled with so much hate that they could push a women into the oncoming trains, or rip the headscarf off her head, shout vile abuse or spit at her.

He walked by, I was safe – that time. And I wanted to cry. Because I felt so exposed and so paranoid. I wanted to sob because my little brother felt it too. And I wanted to howl because I knew it was so much worse in other places – Paris and outside the multicultural bricks of London – and if I was struggling here, how on earth were my sisters getting on there?

The response I got felt like a punch to my gut. White friends from university – who I hadn’t spoken to in 2 years – telling me I’m the same as Donald Trump and all the facists. How I was spreading hate and I did not deserve to be in this community.

I don’t feel safe. Not in being visibly Muslim, not in expressing my feelings and not in finding solidarity.

This post was written in response to the daily prompt Safety First

Living in the city 

A few days ago we got lucky with some X Factor tickets! It was for the 6 chair challenge – boys and groups category (my fav). I don’t really watch X Factor anymore, and haven’t been for a few years. It’s just the same old same old and the winners usually do way worse than the runner ups – the winner’s curse. But these are free tickets and I wasn’t going to let those go! We were so excited to be there and the vibe was awesome. The actual performances were pretty disappointing – the boys especially. And there was a few controversies but I won’t spoil it for anyone (if anyone still watches). It was a fun evening out.

Yet it significantly overrun so we realised the trains would only take us so far. Thankfully they did take us back into East London so it was only a short bus journey back.

That reminded me of how thankful I am to be living in London. Sure they call New York the city that never sleeps. And sure London does get rather tired – the tube stops running just past midnight (and those plans of night lines look like they’re not happening) and streets go mighty quite. But buses run all night, street lights shine bright and cars still zoom by. It certainly makes me appreciate living in a busy city.

Do you prefer living in a busy city, suburbs or further out? 

Chocking heat! ☀️

Pretty accurate. From @TechnicallyRon

Unless you’ve been asleep for 2 days – and to be honest, if you’ve managed that please tell me your secret because I can barely sleep – you would have noticed the heat wave we’ve been experiencing here (here being London, but I think the midlands were also very hot). How’s the weather where you are?

It’s a pretty British thing I think to wait all year for the sun to come out – buying an entire new wardrobe of sunny attire – only for what is usually less than 5 days of actual sun! And what’s even more British is how as soon as the sun does make an appearance, we do nothing but complain about it. My Facebook is full of rants, all I heard at work were people complaining over the sound of the table fans we each had locked to our faces, and even chalkboards outside of pubs had “it’s finally hot enough to complain about how hot it is”.

It’s hilarious how unprepared we are for this kind of weather – roads melted and the trains were a mess. Despite all their upgrades I was not feeling any benefits to the aircon. Thankfully I missed rush hour – I can only imagine the sweaty horrors.  Continue reading

Calling Londoners: Free food and epic vibes 

If you’re around London in the evening I recommend you pop down to the Ramadan Tent in Malet Street (nearest train stations: Russel Sq, Euston or Euston Sq).

This is an awesome initiative that provides hot, fresh food and water to anyone who comes along so the community can break their fast together. Muslims and people of other faiths and none, and people from all walks of life (students, parents, the homeless) are welcome to share a meal and get to know each other. And the best thing – it’s completely free!

I’ve been a few times this year and each time I’ve been blown away by the warm atmosphere and loving feels. Families bring along children and the whole tent is just buzzing. I’ve been able to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while and make new ones. So you can come along alone or with people – either way you’re bound to have a great time.

And the food is scrummy too! So far we’ve been treated with rice and chicken curry, mince pasta and lahmacun (Turkish pizza). Vegetarian options are provided and there’s dessert!

So heartwarming to see initiatives like this blooming at times where we’re told to fear and hate each other.

Eat together and not separately, for the blessing is associated with the company. – Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)

Check out their website for more details. The London tent opens from 8.45 – 10 PM on Monday – Saturday. Most cities have similar initiatives so try finding yours. There is a place to pray in congregation for Magrib and on Saturday they also pray Taraweeh together. The project will continue throughout Ramadan.