Rant of a Rabid Dog
November 20th, 2015
Rant of a Rabid Dog
It’s cold. A typical New England day. Routine. Wake up. Get ready for work. Get the kids ready for school. Pack lunches. Admonish the kids for not putting their jackets on. Urge them to get into the car. “We will be late” I yell. This has become a mantra that I repeat to myself. Mantra of my days. Monday to Friday. Children are laughing. They are carefree. This is their norm. This is their life. They are safe, well cared for, loved.
9 am, I open the Internet browser and look at the news. Flashy large letter titles are boring into my brain as if they are trying to extract the last piece of the small town life that I’ve built for myself. “Trump calls for database on Muslims… Ben Carson compares Refugees to Rabid Dogs… Ben and Cruz suggest a religious test….” I weep inside wanting to escape this reality. I am a fucking rabid dog. I am inferior.
I was born into this world cursed with a religion that was adopted by my ancestors some five hundred years before I was even a speck of thought in this Universe. I do not know Jesus Christ like others do. I know comradery, working class, respect for the elders, Eid and good food. I know games I played with my cousins at these gatherings, small money gifts I received from my uncles. I know long summer days when I stayed out with my friends, safe and happy.
When I turned eleven, slow whispers of my identity started to enter my consciousness. “Your name is wrong! Eid is wrong! Your religion is wrong! You are different! Leave this city!” I was told. “You are not wanted here! “
Bombs thrown in the backyard of my grandfather's house. My mother taking us inside. Another summer day, different, change was obvious and hard. Day filled with anxiousness and my own identity crisis. Truth was sitting in my stomach like a rock, heavy and unmovable. But no one paid attention to the little girl who wondered what happened to the life she had before. Where did it go? How could it be that the time has shifted so much to take away everything she once knew?
Packing our possessions in two suitcases, our family, the four of us loaded on the bus that will take us God knows where. We are thrown in the town that was on a cusp of three conflicts, between the Serbs (Bosnian – Orthodox people), Croats (Bosnian – Catholic people) and the Bosniaks (Bosnian-Muslim people). Refugees, living in an old, cold gymnasium, on mattresses, with forty other refugees sharing our misfortune. No food, no bread. I faint for the first time in my twelve-year-old life. I do not know why. Malnourishment? My mother is battered, worried. Sleepless nights. My father sent to serve in Bosnian army, to defend this little town from the two enemies, bombing us. A sniper takes down a woman crossing the bridge in front of my eyes.
One day, seemingly peaceful my parents and my aunt and uncle are having, as it is tradition in Bosnia, an afternoon coffee, in the refuge of an apartment of a good natured woman who took my aunts family in. Grenade explodes outside and the shell fragments kill my aunt, wound my father, my mother, their friend. Screams and panic! Us children huddled together dazed and confused. Tragedy, horror! I almost die trying to get help from a woman living in the apartment upstairs. Bomb explodes outside. Woman pulls me in and the shrapnels cover the floor where I stood. Seconds away from death. It was not my time.
I wake up from my daze, staring at the computer with the news flashing in front of me. I am a rabid dog, an inferior creature that does not deserve happiness and the life in my small New England town. My children are unfortunate to be born into our family. They are loved, but will they be labeled one day, wearing perhaps a green star on their sleeve; sleep in concentration camps, wondering what shifted in the universe to take away their childhood?
This is America I tell myself, the land where on the Ellis Island a proclamation stands:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
I cannot be a rabid dog here. Could I? I am safe. My children born here are safe. I must fight for my new life. Those who want to take it away from me do not know the determination of an eleven-year-old girl whose identity was stolen. I am me! I am you, you fools! You do not know when the tragedy can strike and you may be at my front door asking me to take pity on your soul and take you in, protect you. My Muslim born body may refuse to take you in, as revenge, as punishment, but my soul is free. It is free of the constraints of nations and religions. It is universal. It belongs to the world. My soul will take you in and be kind because my soul can never be a refugee in the tight bonds of the humanity it was born in. One humanity. One life for all.