A Conversation with Self

Shari de Costa

“Why are you crying?”


“Because I am angry.”


“Why are you angry?”


“Because the world is unjust!”


“But the world has always been unjust. You know that. It is nothing new.”


“Yes I know that. Its just … its just that I have never seen it so clearly before. I mean when at first all this happened I was fine. I was saddened at the destruction of innocent lives, angry at those who caused it."


“So your reaction was the same as everybody else. I don’t see a problem here.”


“Yes but it was something that I had seen before. Maybe not to such a magnitude but it wasn’t something new.”


“And…?”


“And then when I was asked if I had experienced any hostility I was like, wait a minute here, should I be concerned for my safety? I didn’t even come from that part of the world. It was very alienating. Then the anger began to kick in. Why should I be scared? I hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact I had suffered under this type of terror for as long as I can remember and now people were going to turn around and accuse me of being a terrorist? I just couldn’t deal with that.”


“I understand the alienation but your fear was unreasonable was it not?”


“I guess so. It was especially bad in the following weeks. I remember riding the BART my nerves all on edge just waiting for some one to make a remark or pass a comment. I had my answer all prepared ‘How dare you judge me! You know nothing about me!’ It was a fear that came from a realization that at the drop of a hat I could become a colour, a region. My individuality did not matter because I was the ‘Other’."


“But these confrontations that you envisioned, they never came.”


“No they never came. Thank God I was in the Bay Area!”


“Why do you smile?”


“It’s just funny, now that I think about it. I mean while at first the very idea of having such a conversation freaked me out. But in my heart of hearts I guess I wanted to be confronted.”


“Why?”


“Because I wanted to be heard. My fear is gone but I’m still angry. When the ‘war’ was launched you heard talk like, ‘let’s rid the world of terrorism’ and ‘this is an attack on the civilized world’. It made me so mad to hear such lines. What exactly did they mean by civilized because terrorism has existed in my world for the last eighteen years. I didn’t see anyone launching a war for that."


“But that is because it doesn’t affect them. This did. At least now it will be harder for these groups to operate.”


“Forgive my pessimism but its like you said, if it doesn’t affect them they are not going to care. And it is the fact that they don’t care that kills me. I’m angry that I have memories of crowds gathering on the riverbanks because dead bodies were floating down. I’m angry that a huge bomb exploded two doors down from my middle school. I am angry that families of my friends were ripped apart. I am angry that this has to be part and parcel of my life because nobody cares.”


“You are being very selfish, your life isn’t a fraction as hard as the life of those living in rural areas.”


“That is very true. I have never had to leave my home and run into the jungle in the middle of the night because I feared for my life. But I am only qualified to talk about my own experience and I guess that is selfish.”


“After all this I guess we draw the same conclusion.”


“Yes. Although, for you it is resignation and for me it is hopelessness.


So run my Dreams: But what am I?
An Infant Crying in the night:
An Infant Crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.
(In Memoriam, Alfred Lord Tennyson).