A Different Path

By Vicky Biggs

 

Hot, shaking, throat like a parched desert
I stand in the shade of the mosque to wait
For school to begin, the foreign sun harsh on my skin.
I glance up and see masks of hate.
Staring into my face.

Someone, please come and tell me your name
Someone, teach me to pin this cloth piece
I’m trying to wear. It keeps slipping off my hair
Someone smile, at least.

First came the sneers and the angry looks,
Then hard words, each one a poison dart:
“What are you doing here? Filthy kafir!”
Tearing the skin of my heart.

I came wanting to learn, but had no chance,
My only lessons were in how to avoid
Punches, and to follow shrewd hunches
So I knew when a kick was forthcoming.

I have coughed up my own blood,
Spent my nights racked in fear,
Dreading the next day, wanting to run away,
All because I am a “kafir”.

There was a girl in my class, a true Muslimah,
The only one who really knew how to see,
The only one who went to pray, five times per day
The only one who really knew me.

She defended me, prayed for me, taught me Qur’an,
And through all her kind words and deeds,
I came to see what Islam could be,
In the hands of one who REALLY believes.

Two years later, back home in England,
I walk into college and find someone new 
A girl about to cry, staring up at the sky,
Are people bullied here, too?

That girl was a Muslimah in hijab,
She looked alien, so people attacked,
It doesn’t take long to tell bullies they’re wrong,
And to straighten up their ignorant facts.

When someone is in need of your help,
You don’t bother about what religion they follow,
Christian or Jew, you know what to do 
And that’s to get rid of their sorrow.

Fear and ignorance are terrible things,
That’s why they’ve got to go,
Working together, we can make things better,
Here is what I now know:

The challenge isn’t to be a good Muslim,
A good Hindu, a good Buddhist, a good Sikh,
The best person you can be, this is the key,
To ending all wars in a week!

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