Afghanistan Woman Becomes ChristianbySamuelx©
Ever since I could remember, I've always had a thing for black guys, and it's not an easy thing for an Arab woman to admit. The family in which I grew up is profoundly racist, although they would deny it to no end if queried on the subject. There isn't supposed to be any racism in Islam, that's the fairy tale being preached in every Masjid from Yemen to Lebanon, from Indonesia to Senegal, from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan. My name is Haifa, and I was born in the town of Ghazni, in central Afghanistan. My parents, Abdul and Fatima Uzhmakai moved to the province of Ontario, Canada, in 1999, exactly ten years after my birth. To say that we experienced culture shock in the City of Toronto, Ontario, would have been an understatement.
Life in Canada changed us, whether we liked it or not, though at first we resisted. Muslim immigrants have a hard time adjusting to life in Judeo-Christian countries with secular governments, where religion and public life are seen as completely separate things. In Afghanistan and pretty much everywhere else in the Middle East, with the possible exception of Lebanon, religion and government go hand in hand. My father especially had a hard time adjusting to our new lives. Trained as a physician in Afghanistan, he was dismayed that Canadian employers considered his medical training null and void. He went to Seneca College to study Nursing, and found work at the local hospital but he always felt like he was meant for so much more. Being unable to achieve his full potential in Canada embittered my father, and eventually drove him to an early grave. He died of a heart attack in November 2009, at the age of 56.
My father's death profoundly affected me, but for my mother it was the beginning of the end. Mom worked as a cashier at the local Loblaws supermarket, and my father was the primary breadwinner in our family. I was studying business administration at York University when baba died, and I had to take a part-time job as a security guard to make ends meet. I wasn't fortunate enough to get enough OSAP funding to live on campus, because the Canadian government thought my family had too much money. That's why I still lived at home. My father's death drove a wedge between my mother and I. You see, I've always been what you'd call rebellious, and my dad and I often clashed because of it. Since I came to Canada while still young, I had an easier time adapting to our new country. I made friends with my age mates at school, and I developed a passion for Hip Hop music and a fascination with everything African-American. There are a lot of Americans in the environs of Toronto, and I found the African-Americans radically different from the African immigrants I saw every day in Canada's biggest metropolis. For starters, African-Americans are louder, bolder and more in-your-face about everything. The Africans, especially the Muslim ones among them, seem to kowtow to us Arabs, mainly because of the Arab influence on Islam. African-Americans aren't the type to bow down to anyone, especially in the Age of Obama. Piss them off and they'll get in your face. This shocked a lot of people in Toronto, that's for sure. I can't tell you how much I admired them for it.
Like any visible minority living in Canada, I was used to "the phrase". What is the phrase? Anyone who isn't Caucasian and happens to be in Canada will get asked at least once a week "where are you from" usually by someone white. I absolutely hate the phrase, to tell you the truth. Okay, I get it. I wasn't born in the Confederation of Canada but I am a naturalized citizen of this great nation. That means that I'm as Canadian as any asshole of French or English descent, at least on paper. I salute the red and white flag and the old lady in England and all that jazz. A lot of my white friends don't get it when I tell them that I find it annoying to get asked about my origins. I think it's because it never happens to them. It's a very subtle way for white Canadians to remind us visible minorities that this is their land. I think it's the reason why that dickhead, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is closing the door on immigration. He's afraid that in the world of tomorrow, whites might not be the majority in Canada. Fuck him and the narrow-minded imbeciles who elected him.
Anyhow, I was dealing with a lot of stress these days. Studying business at York University while working as an overnight security guard on different sites wasn't easy. I was basically running on coffee, red bull and cigarettes, and it's not the healthiest diet in the world. I still found time to follow my passion, and that's Hip Hop. I was a proud member of the Hip Hop Society at school. Most of the members were black, but there were whites and Hispanics among them. I was the only Arab chick. When most people find out that I'm really into Hip Hop, they're surprised. As an Arab woman, I'm supposed to be totally religious, quiet and pious. I don't wear a hijab or conservative clothes. I like my skirts short, my shirts tight, and I often braid my long raven-colored hair. I'm five-foot-nine, curvy and sexy, with light bronze skin, and almond-shaped brown eyes. People say that I remind them of Salma Hayek, only younger and a bit lighter. I tell them that I don't look like Salma Hayek, she looks like me!
Anyhow, one day at school, my girlfriend Susan Thompson, a pretty Jamaican chick with bleached blonde hair, introduced me to her cousin Darwin Thompson. The gentleman in question was tall, easily six-foot-one or more, with broad shoulders, a muscular body, dark brown skin and wavy black hair. Darwin was born in the City of Chicago, Illinois, to Jamaican immigrant parents, and he came to study civil engineering at the University of Toronto. Like I said before, I've always found black guys sexy and I've dated a couple of them before, much to the chagrin of my Arab guy friends, but Darwin Thompson was in a category by himself when it came to sexiness. He could have been the twin of that black actor from that old show, The Famous Jett Jackson. When I shook his firm hand and looked into his eyes, I felt something. No, it wasn't my inner lust talking. I felt that Darwin and I might have a connection, and for once, my hunch would prove to be right.
Darwin Thompson joined the Hip Hop Club, and we became dance partners. Usually tall guys with big bodies aren't too quick on their feet but he proved to be the exception. The guy had really smooth moves. When I first met him, I thought he was a football player or something. He surprised me by sharing something quite unforeseen with me. In the past, he tried everything from ballet to ballroom dancing, he was that passionate about dancing. I looked at this tall, strongly built brother who looked like he should be an NFL lineman. He was indeed secure in his masculinity and comfortable enough with himself to be true to his passions. I liked that in a man. Of course, I teased him a bit about the ballet thing and we both laughed. He had a really nice smile, with pearly white teeth. When he asked me to grab a bite with him after our dance practice, I was all smiles myself.
As we grabbed lunch at a nice little Caribbean restaurant near campus, I got to know Darwin a bit better. He wore a small silver crucifix on a pendant around his neck, so I assumed correctly that he was a Christian. When I asked him about it, he told me that he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior and guide, but didn't go to church all that often. He didn't much care for church politics. I laughed, and told him that amazingly, I could relate. Darwin looked at me, nodded and pursued his exquisite lips, beckoning for me to explain. I told him that I was born in a Muslim family, but I don't consider myself Muslim these days. I still believe in God, but I don't like Muslim politics or tradition. I personally don't think God is a Christian, or a Jew, or even a Muslim for that matter. God is God, and organized religion is something altogether different. God is good and pure, it's religion that's evil and twisted. The world would be a better place if people simply believed in God and respected other people's right to disagree with them, as opposed to always trying to get others to join their team, sometimes by persuasion and sometimes by force, which is something Muslims are infamous for. Darwin laughed, and told me that he had an aunt named Lucinda back in Chicago who was a Jehovah's Witness and still went door to door, proselytizing. I grinned and told Darwin that his aunt and my mom ought to get together for dinner. My mom's a hardline proselytizer too, and she's dismayed at my agnostic tendencies.
Yeah, Darwin and I sat inside the restaurant for a good while, talking about anything from religion to politics, and movies and books. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was a Star Wars geek, and I proudly showed him the two novels I was reading, Star Wars : Darth Plagueis and Star Wars : Death Troopers, both of them prequels. Darwin grinned and showed me his signed copy of the novel Star Wars : The Rise of Darth Vader, another prequel. I smiled at Darwin and he smiled at me. Wow, we were just a couple of nerds underneath it all. I knew there was a reason that I liked this man, beyond the fact that he had a cute face, nice body and a great ass. He asked me to come check out a rare comic book auction with him in Mississauga that weekend, and I hastily agreed. We exchanged phone numbers and I added him on Facebook. That night, he called me and we ended up spending eighty six minutes on the phone, talking about anything and everything.
At the end of that conversation, I wished Darwin goodnight and told him I'd see him this weekend. Then I checked him out on Facebook because I'm nosy like that. His profile was neat, only about a dozen pictures of him with friends and family. Darwin playing basketball shirtless on the beach with his male cousins. Darwin walking through the park with a curvy young black woman, and they were holding hands. That picture got my attention, and I checked it out. It was dated 2010. Two years ago. Hmmm. Ex files. Got it. Darwin standing in front of a Christmas tree with his parents, a good-looking older black couple. They were all dressed in their Sunday best. So, he really is a good Christian. Hmmm. That might be a problem. I'm not Muslim anymore, but I've also had my fill of organized religion. As long as he doesn't try to get me to join his team, we'll be fine. I respect everyone's religious beliefs, and they've got to respect mine, or lack thereof. God has no religion and neither do I.
I was still creeping through Darwin's profile on Facebook when I received an email alert that someone had "liked" three of my pictures. My heart leapt when I realized that it was Darwin. I went to my profile, and realized that he liked a picture of me with my father and another guy. We were hanging out at Saint Laurent Mall in Ottawa, Ottawa, and I'd been dating a Lebanese Christian guy named Enoch Farouk. My dad, Enoch and I just had dinner at the food court, and we ran into my old friend Sheliza, who insisted on taking a picture of us. The three of us happened to be standing before the oversized Christmas display. I've always had a fascination with the Christmas holiday, not the religious side per se, but the commercial and familial side. People get so obsessed with buying gifts and pleasing their relatives. I find it funny. And of course I never turned down gifts when my Christian friends offered them to me. How funny that Darwin came across this picture. He wrote that my family and I looked good, and wished us a good day with the Grace of God. How very Bible-thumper of him. Hmmm.
I started to reply to him that I wasn't a Christian and would never be. Christianity, just like Islam, is another organized religion, and I'm through with organized religion. I believe in God and that's it. I was poised to scold Darwin online, but something stopped me. Is it fair of me to go off on him when he clearly was just trying to pay me a compliment? I thanked him and wished him a good night. The next time I saw Darwin, we went to the comic book auction together, and I was amazed that he spent three hundred dollars for the entire saga of X- Men : Days of Future Present, one of the rarest Marvel comic books out there. The beatific look on Darwin's face as he picked up the book told me all I needed to know about his love for comics. Afterwards, we grabbed a bite at Outback Steakhouse. I insisted on paying for both of us. The last time we ate together, I'd been running low and Darwin, ever the gentlemen, covered for me.
The more time I spent around Darwin, the more I liked him. It's not every day I meet a good-looking guy who can kill it on the basketball court AND the dance court, has a pleasantly metrosexual style without appearing sissified or 'questionable' and doesn't butcher the English language with every syllable. You'd be surprised how often I'd meet a good-looking guy, either black or brown, and he'd mess things up for himself with his diction, or lack thereof. I find intelligence sexy, guys, I'm just saying. For the most part, I dated guys who were black or brown. The few times that I dated men from Arab or Persian backgrounds, they were usually Christians from places like Lebanon or Egypt because Muslim men, although they like to party and sleep around, get MAD when they see a chick from their background doing the same thing. They're the world's biggest hypocrites, for real. That's why I don't date them.
How Darwin and I ended up dating is a funny story with its share of tragic moments, like any good story. I mean, we just started hanging out together and going to movies, restaurants and comic book shops together, and next thing I knew, it was rare for us to spend more than two days without seeing each other. We called and texted each other every day, and I found him a welcome addition to my life as well as a distraction from my troubles. Well, not a distraction per se, he meant more than that to me. A lot more. Just how much more, I didn't know, but I was starting to find out. I've often heard it said that it's when your life is in danger that you realize what matters most to you. I never really put much stock in that, figuring it to be an old wives tale, until it happened to me.
One night, I had a harrowing experience at work. I was guarding this Loblaws supermarket in the north end of Montreal, keeping an eye on the vault while some contractors did electrical work. That's when a big white guy with a switchblade came in, and robbed the short Asian chick who worked as the overnight cashier, forcing her to give him the contents of the cash register. Every security guard working in Ontario and Quebec gets the same training, along with the recommendation that we try not to be heroes when the shit hits the fan. I should have remembered that. Instead, I rushed down the stairs from the management office, and confronted the robber. Up close, I got a sense of how big he was. Easily over six feet, bearded, with brown hair, and icy blue eyes. He switched his knife from left hand to right hand, then back to left hand. He smiled wickedly, and then he spat, calling me a rent-a-cop. I snatched a heavy-looking stapler from the customer service desk and hurled it at his head as he charged me. The stapler hit his head, but only enraged him more. We struggled, and I kneed him in the groin, but not before he stuck his blade beneath my ribs.
When I opened my eyes, I was in a white room inside the Royal Victoria Hospital. The doctor, a pretty Hindu woman with long hair, told me that I was lucky to be alive. The robber's blade didn't sink too deep into my ribs, and didn't hit anything vital. A few centimeters deeper and I'd be a dead woman. I smiled and nodded, trying not to think about what had just happened. Yet all I could do was relive it. People came to visit me, which surprised me because I don't have that many friends. With the exception of Susan Thompson, and maybe a couple of other people. Susan came to visit me, flanked by her latest boyfriend, a tall, chubby white guy with blond hair whom she introduced as Todd something or other. Judging by the Star of David hanging around his neck, he was Jewish. Susan hugged me and squeezed my hand gently, and I noticed there were tears in her big brown eyes. I tried to smile reassuringly and told her that I'd be okay.
Katrina and Ashley, two girls I remembered from the Hip Hop Club also visited, and I was thankful for that, but I wondered where Darwin might be. He arrived an hour after Susan, and my heart sank at the sight of him. He looked worse than I felt, with his red eyes, sagging shoulders, and haggard expression. Wordlessly he came to me, and we embraced. I looked into Darwin's eyes and saw something there which simply stopped me. He was alternatively hugging me and holding my hand, kissing me and pacing restlessly, going on and on about what he'd do to the robber if he ever got his hands on him. I gave Darwin's big hand a gentle squeeze, and smiled at him. There was so much I wanted to say to him. I looked at my friends and Susan was the one who got the hint. She ushered the others out of the room.
Darwin and I looked at each other, and smiled. He told me how horrible the past day had been. He'd been calling my phone all morning since I didn't show up for class or for our morning coffee together. He called Susan, and since I put her on my list of emergency contacts at work, she'd been one of two people who got notified of what happened to me. Susan and Darwin were at the hospital an hour after I got there, bleeding and unconscious. Darwin wanted to stay by my side all night but Susan told him he had to go home, besides, at the time, hospital staff didn't want me to have visitors. Even the police were told to wait before they could come get my story, which they did shortly before my visitors came today. I embraced Darwin warmly and kissed him gently before he and the others left, since visiting hours were basically over. I lay there on my hospital bed, surrounded by flowers and cards brought to me by my friends. One person was conspicuous by her absence, my mother. As my primary emergency contact, she would have been the first person notified of what happened to me. So where was she? Didn't she know what had happened to me? Or could it be that she simply didn't care?
I called the security company I worked for, and demanded some answers. The lady working dispatch told me that yes, they did notify my mother. I called home, and my mother's frosty voice greeted me. I told her what had happened to me, and asked why she didn't come to the hospital. My heart sank as she told me in no uncertain terms why she considered me dead to her. She told me that she saw my Facebook profile, and saw what unclean lifestyle I was living. She saw that I was friends with a lot of kafirs and infidels, those people no true Muslim could befriend. Above all else, she saw the comments I had left on Darwin's picture, and my heart blazed with fury when my mother called him by the Arabic slur "abd", which is the equivalent of the N-word. I wasn't about to let my mother get away with such racism. I called her a pathetic excuse for a human being, and then I hung up.
When the nurse came to feed me, I cried for the first time since my whole ordeal began. The nurse was this older Nigerian woman named Francine, and she wore an even bigger crucifix than my dear Darwin. I smiled at that thought. I thought of Darwin as mine, and it was a most pleasant thought. When the nurse asked me if I was alright, my floodgates opened and all the things I'd been holding onto since talking to my mother came out. I came from a family, and indeed a country that was racist, sexist and intolerant, yet people from my background often accused others of being the intolerant ones. I told nurse Francine about my racist mother, my sexist father and my pathetic excuse for a family life. I was in the hospital and my own mother couldn't be bothered to visit me. As far as my mother was concerned, what happened to me was Allah's punishment because I led a very unclean life.