Our 2020 was a year when racism reigned supreme from the higher to the lower group of people. This was an engaging topic.
Then came pandemic, the same thing happened. The group who were facing poverty were not given the same help as the rich.
I clearly recall an incident when we lived in New Delhi. I was five years old,I had two friends their name was Piki and Meera.
One day they came running to let me and my younger sister know; their older cousin was visiting them. Naturally I was excited, it was something new to me. I never saw any cousin of mine and often wondered if I have any.
I asked Mom she consoled me, ‘yes Ranu you have cousins too, they live far away.’
I kind of understood.
Suddenly I remembered I must see the cousin of Piki, and Meera. I ran to see the cousin. She was older than us, with a fair complexion, had a very friendly expression when she saw me and my sister.
This is how Piki introduced us, (era na mucholman in Bengali), ‘they are Muslims.’ I was too young to realize, somehow we were different, my facial expression changed, my face was red. I felt perhaps me being a Muslim was not good.’
The cousin was aware I was embarrassed. She was very angry. She said to her cousin, ( ‘bellick in Bengali) foolish, shameless, I do not want you to treat your friends this way.’
Though I was happy Piki’s cousin scolded her, the thought of they’re Muslims echoed in my mind for a while.
We had a lot of friends in the neighbourhood, some spoke Hindi, some Bengali. Their difference in language or religion never bothered me.
I remember we picked up some of the lingos of our friends, one of them was Myrie, it meant by God, or I promise.
One day I was having a serious argument with my brother and I said out loud, ‘Myrie bolchi,’ I promise.
Mom was somewhere close by, her immediate response was, ‘Ranu don’t speak like a Hindu.’
Then the partition of India was in full swing. One Sunday morning our neighbours said, ‘ You have to leave right now, they are killing Muslims.’
From New Delhi we arrived in Rawalpindi. Here I took admission in a Convent school. In this city they spoke Punjabi, though I understood a bit, I didn’t try to speak their language, I spoke Urdu.
Once again I saw the face of discrimination. Our Urdu teacher gave us homework which I completed but my cousin did not. The teacher was in a bad mood, she called my cousin and told him to sit, I guess she was in a sitting position, he was standing therefore her hand couldn’t reach his face. She slapped him hard, my cousin was sweating and his hair was oily, the combination infuriated her more, because the sweat and the oil covered her hand. She was in a rage, she yelled, ‘ghalis bungali moon may bhi tel laghata hai.'( filthy Bengali you put oil in your face too.)’
In this city we were Muslims as everyone else, but the difference was we were Bengalis. It did not matter we spoke fluent Urdu and had no accent. We were not from their neck of the woods therefore we can’t be friends.
Many moons passed I happened magically to be a resident of Gander, Newfie land. They have their own lifestyle, they speak English with a different accent. Here racism was at its peak, our language, religion, even our skin didn’t match theirs. I started feeling the pinch of racism. I did my own thing, i.e teaching. My husband practiced Medicine.
Now I’m living In the capital of the province. Since I stay away from politics, I’m fine.
Last and not the least is the 2020 US election, it has the taste of everything, right, wrong, truth, false. Historians will have a treat writing about it. They cannot make it spicier. It’s already too spicy to stomach it.