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I am an Indian Muslim woman

January 26, 2018,

This Republic Day I want to share something I wrote last year and is very close to my heart:

I am an Indian Muslim woman.

No matter where I go, in my blood runs its ancient soul, on my tongue dances its lilt, on my brown skin clings its heady fragrance, in my heart lies a vacant space that always yearns for home.
Home which doesn't want me anymore.

I am an Indian Muslim Woman.

Questioned for something that is a part of me. Demonized and rendered voiceless. Bullied and threatened by newly minted patriots and nationalists who now decide who deserves to live and who doesn't.

I am an Indian Muslim Woman.

These days I fear my men looking too Muslim. I fear their beards might invoke the wrath of someone who believes we are alien to this land we were born in.
I fear the skull caps will make someone want to bash their heads in and someone I know will encounter the fate of Junaid and Akhlaq and Pehlu and the other men whose lives were worth less than cattle- real and imaginary.

I am an Indian Muslim Woman.

I mourn the friends that never were. I mourn their silence as my people get lynched and burnt. I mourn the love lost which now looks like was never really there in the first place.

I am an Indian. I am a Muslim. I am a woman. I am all this and more. My identities intersect. They twist and turn around my thin fingers and knobby knees. They are as tightly weaved into my DNA as the threads in my scarf.
This is who I am. And I find no contradiction in it.

Let me tell you one last thing, if I haven't said it enough.

I am an Indian Muslim Woman. And I am here to stay.

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