You F*&#ing Arab

Got yelled at by a random person today. “You F*&#ing Arab” – His words chased after me as I kept running further and further away. I was on a run at the beach. The perfect day to get my legs back after taking a 4 month break.

The runner’s path sits right alongside the biker’s trail here in Redondo. I saw him, up ahead, walking my way so I veered into the bike lane to get past him. But he broke too, and entered the bike lane. I looked up and he was coming right at me. No, he was coming right for me. His eyes were dead-locked towards me and he kept veering more and more into my path. As we came within an arm’s stretch he just started yelling: “Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea”. I felt the saliva from his screams land on my arm as I brushed past him. Sweat was beading off his face. I outmaneuvered him but he kept yelling, “F*&# you Arab”.

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Echos of us

You walked up with a friend
I was already there
leaning up against the bar
On impulse I bought your drinks
It didn’t matter
you would have stayed anyway
The conversation was great
We talked about things that didn’t matter
like bartenders, waitresses and cheesy guys at bars
and about things that did matter
like happiness and being right there in that very moment
I wanted to say something about your smile
how it could make someone very happy
We laughed, I remember
I touched your arm and at one point you put your hand on my shoulder to adjust your outfit
I pretended I didn’t notice
Eventually you walked away
fading into the crowd only leaving a trace of that smile
I smiled back
We both knew we would meet again

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Chapter 1

Reena darted out as soon as Dr. Swanson announced that class was over. Her fellow classmates sleepily gathered their belongings and swayed only slowly towards the exit doors. Reena, however, was on a mission. A few hours of Biology review awaited her in the Library. Although she always aced her exams she still panicked every time a quiz was announced. Her parents never applied any unreasonable pressure on her, and frankly were downright surprised at how she turned out. They wondered where she got it from: the drive to succeed, the despair when she did fail, and then the ambition to try harder the next time around. She made sacrifices of her own accord – giving up spending time with cousins so that she could solve some bizarre algebraic equation that no one expected her to. Her parents worried for a while, wondering if her obsession was healthy, afraid that she wouldn’t become the well-rounded female they wanted her to be, but nothing they did altered her course. She attended the family events as expected, practiced the obligatory dances for family weddings, learned just when to stop the tea from boiling, even perfected the art of pleating a sari pallu, and still kept up with her school studies. Eventually they gave up and finally just accepted her for who she was.

Her fellow classmates loitered around the building lobby catching up on the latest relationship gossip and making plans for the weekend, but for Reena, they were all only getting in the way. She maneuvered her way through the crowd, blasted open the doors of Beecher Hall and entered into the brisk open air of the courtyard. Without missing a step, she bolted towards Regenstein Library.

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Best Kirtan Service Ever

Okay, I know you aren’t supposed to have a favorite Kirtan service at a Gurudwara – they are all supposed to be special in their own ways, but still, today’s service impacted me in a unique way.

First off, it was my first time inside a Gurudwara since the August 5th shooting at Oak Creek Gurudwara in Wisconsin. (Actually, it was my first time back in a Gurudwara in over 4 months). I’m not sure why it took me so long to attend. Part of me has longed for the solace of the sangat and the sweet melody of the kirtan all week. Yet, part of me needed to come to terms with the despair that I was still feeling.

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Are we at war?

Back when wars used to mean something
People fought for causes
We were governed by our morals
We took up arms to protect others
Gave up our lives so that others could be free
So that others could worship in any way they saw fit
So that others could be our equals
Walk the earth with their heads held high, with respect

When did it come to this?
Now we fight for ourselves
We are governed by our hatred
We fight for revenge
To punish others
Because they worship differently than us
Something about the color of their skin
Or the way they tie their hair
Something as little as that
And we start a war with the world

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