There was a constant hustle and bustle of the visitors coming in and out celebrating an auspicious day in our calendar. After all, this is what it’s all about; meeting each other on the basis of love and acceptance for each other. I can’t help but sit here and peel away at the layers of that and wonder if that ‘true love and acceptance’ has truly permeated in their hearts.
Mums living room was a spectacle of simultaneous events taking place but for me it was yet another brief moment in time and space which I’d like to admit I was accustom too. However, that would be me being economical with the truth. What I am accustom to are the feelings I’m experiencing but that’s never become any easier to understand. However, I have become better at dealing with them. What bugs me is that I shouldn’t have to be dealing with that.
The rooms aroma was densely filled with a collage of perfumes, aftershaves and that distinct scent of expensive oud saved only fo special occasions. The nostalgic scent of Arab Bakhoor (insence) burnt elsewhere in the house drifting throughout.
The shimmering of jewels, sequence, Swarovski crystals intricately sewn onto handmade garments flowed in the room like everyone was sat in water; everyone’s movements so beautifully elegant, they almost looked angelic.
There was noise everywhere. Conversations about a wedding coming up and what colour scheme they were going to don this time, talk of politics; chitter chatter about Brexit and the concerns of the unknown, conversations about religion and in particular talk about the concern of what’s happening in the world even through no one was brave enough to mention that many of us contributes to the wrong happening.
There was lots of laughter and jokes and effort into entertaining each other with stories of our lives and the hum drum of daily life. The children playing, arguing, pulling each others hairbands and slyly trying to take each others toys. Babies constantly being startled when people erupt in laughter and making them cry. Mothers part taking in that too but at the same time lulling their precious gifts.
Food was almost falling off the dining room table; enough to feed everyone twice over the next day. The clatter of dishes and cutlery felt like a live orchestra. There was no set time to eat and neither was there any etiquette today to sit at the grand marble dining table. Today you helped yourself whenever you wanted and how much you wanted. Everytime a dish was finished, another two promptly arrived with each new visitor.
There was me: The Ajnabi (اجنبی)
‘Wholly different in nature; foreign; adverse; inconsistent; incongruous; — followed by from or sometimes by to; one excluded from certain privileges; one alienated or estranged’.
Isn’t it amazing how you can be in room full of an entire clan of your people, yet you feel like an absolute stranger. A part of a jigsaw that doesn’t fit. That one piece which no one really knows where it belongs and thus, you put it aside in case one day you find its purpose. It’s these days where you remind me of my difference without knowing it. The thing with this is that I don’t notice that difference in me as much day to day. In many ways it’s like putting a person of ‘colour’ right in the middle of a huge group of white people. All of a sudden that individual notices his own colour as different; advertently making him feel inferior and a deliberate act of making him question his self worth.
When you choose, and it is a choice, not to accept me as a whole person, than the ‘love’ you have for for me is nothing less than the diet fizzy drinks you consume. Diet drinks are sugar-free, artificially sweetened with virtually no calories. That’s the love I feel from you; one which is not as sweet, one which I feel is artificial and with little taste. Yet I accept this from you because of the love I have for you. Yet you make me feel unwelcome for something that I have no choice over. And ironically it is that very ‘thing’ which has built the very drive that allows me to continue to love you. Being gay allows me to continue loving you.
What else continues is my tolerance of your limited understanding of me. I do not hold it against you lest hatred and malice consumes my heart; such spiritual diseases which are deeply complex to alleviate. I don’t need that burden too. I don’t hate you. I don’t even dislike you. But I am disappointed in you. I am disappointed that you choose not to extend or reciprocate the same love I give you without condition.
Thankfully by the end of the day my focus doesn’t end with you. It was completed by those people of substance who gathered around me and love me for me. They see me. It is you during days like this that salvage my heart from a sadness what no one should have to experience. You remind me that I am a good person. You remind me that my difference is my greatest strength. You remind me that what you view ‘special’ about me comes from my difference. You remind me that I am human and I belong. You remind me that my difference was never different in the first place.
Ultimately, you remind me that even though I feel like an ajnabi. That doesn’t mean I am ajnabi to the world and to those who choose to love me without any conditions.
Today, like every Eid, I just sit here looking…