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Colour Palette

BY SUMOU SHAWESH

When I was younger,

The world was made up of the primaries.

Red, yellow and blue.

When I was in the 2nd grade,

One of my best friends at the time,

Came up to me with sceptical eyes and asked,

“Are you Muslim?”

I nodded my head, my heart was palpitating beat after beat,

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.

Begging,

Oh pretty, pretty, please,

That she wouldn’t look at me the way

The kids on the monkey bars do,

When my mom would come to pick me up after school.

She didn’t talk to me the next day, and we haven’t talked since.

I felt red.

When I was in the 3rd grade,

A group of girls in my class were hanging by

The fire pole, going down one by one pretending to be like Rapunzel.

I slowly approached them,

My braid swinging side to side,

My fingers intertwined.

Twiddling my thumbs.

And asked if I could have a try.

Mockingly, they asked me if my hair was even real.

Trying to seal some non-existing deal of friendship,

I told them that it was, just like my momma’s.

With eyes as cold as ice,

They tell me that the only reason my mom wore that stupid scarf on her head

was because of the birds’ nest that laid under it,

And I melt.

I felt blue.

Colours flash before my eyes,

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

As I grew older,

Red and blue, were no longer from my past anymore,

But they were the only colors the cones in my eyes could detect.

They would reflect, reflect, reflect back and forth,

Colliding together like an intergalactic pure violet supernova.

I couldn’t hide behind and describe feelings as colours with only one syllable anymore.

I couldn’t.

I couldn’t block out comments like:

“Terrorist”

“Go back to your country”

“Sand bag”

They say times have changed,

Yet terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims receive on average 357 percent more media coverage than those committed by any other group.

They say times have changed.

When I was 13, just in the last few weeks,

Somewhere in New Zealand, a shooter walks into a mosque, a religious place of worship for muslims.

A 71-year old man from Afghanistan,

Reaches out his hand to greet him,

Not knowing that that would be the last time

His frail fingers felt.

“Hello brother” he says.

The shooter then pulls out his gun, it’s two against one,

And in a flash there’s a splotch of red,

The man falls down dead,

His hand still grasping out, now for the air he could no longer breathe.

Another man falls.

Over 50 dead and it’s not the first time.

They say times have changed.

LOAD AND FIRE.

Breaking News: Mosque shooting in Quebec City.

6 dead, 19 injured.

LOAD AND FIRE.

Breaking News: Mosque shooting in Norway.

77 dead.

They say times have changed.

Colours flash before my eyes,

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

Collide.

They say times have changed,

Yet sometimes, I wish I could go back to the days of the primaries.

Sharing culturally diverse stories to educate, inspire, and empower others.

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