by Monty Majeed
Who am I? It is a universally inevitable question. The answer is believed to be the ‘purpose’ of life itself. You are a huge bunch of labels, your identities that show where you ‘belong’ and what you ‘believe’ in. This essay may be a personal rant, but it is also a humble request. It talks about this struggle of choosing…
…Identities! We all have separate identities of belonging to separate nations, religions, political ideals, streams of knowledge, genders, language and everything. For instance, I am an Indian, a Malayali, a Muslim, and a woman. Before, clarifying my personal choice I’d like to share my distaste with the choice of identities per se. The society itself seems to survive purely on these differences, and without these demarcations it would find it almost impossible to function.
Who creates these groups? On what basis are they justified? Why do we have a tendency to stick to ‘people of our own kind’? How do we choose these ‘kinds’ we want to join? Is it only because we like company and we choose these comfort zones that we identify with? So, we form these groups.
We as humans have a mixed load of groups we identify with, and therefore there is no singular identity we can name. I am an Indian, a Malayali, a Muslim and a woman. I believe we have the right to choose these labels. We have the right to prioritize. We can choose our groups.
The idea to put this down came from a question a classmate threw at me: Are you a Muslim? I still can’t answer this honestly, but my convenient answer then was, ‘Yes.’ Soon after this, I received many invitations to join political and non-political groups with Islamic ideologies, all with an aim to ‘strengthen’ the Muslim community. I have a crisis with faith and didn’t want the whole world to know about this. I chose to stay away.
However, many ‘concerned’ Muslim acquaintances wanted to show me the path of truth and enlightenment. I had to choose, was I ‘in’ or ‘out’. I couldn’t be ‘in between’ anymore. I couldn’t choose the safest path… there wasn’t any, but, I didn’t make any choice. I was mostly ‘out’, but still kept in touch with them.
I called them my friends, for they are individuals, and that is why I identify with them, not their group. But, they victimized me to many scornful remarks because I chose to stay ‘out’. They commented on my personal choices, started directing me around, taking that right only because I am a Muslim. They crossed all the lines I had drawn for them and had started drawing their own lines, based on their whims and fancies. Now, it was time for them to: STOP! SHUT UP!
All these years, I think I knew how to balance my identities. I was able to prioritize according to situations. But, why should I convince them now, those who aren’t even significant for me? Is it a crime to want the freedom to make my own decisions? Is it a crime to have my own terms for my life? NO! Definitely not!
I too am an individual, with my share of flesh, blood, bones, thoughts, feelings, emotions, head and heart in full capability to make a choice that’s best for me. So why should they, you or anyone choose and decide for me? I will not let anyone invade into my privacy. I have all the right to decide where I ‘belong’ and what I ‘believe’ in.
So, all I ask for is ‘TOLERANCE’. Live and let live!
The writer has currently finished her Masters in Economics. She is a trained singer, who loves to write and blog at ‘catharsis‘. Born and brought up in Kerala, she loves to travel and secretly wishes to see the world on her own.