current events, Islam, motherhood, muslim

The Boston bombers- They Lived Among Us

I woke up to the gurgles of my newborn this morning. He kicked his chubby legs and looked over at me with a smile that could melt the glaciers of Antarctica. I held him close to me, raindrops dripping against our windows, and then, I heard a vibration on the nightstand. My phone. A text. And there it was, the goings on over the course of a night I spent blissfully unaware now greeting me like a cold splash of water.  As I made my way downstairs, newborn nestled on my hip, one of my friends called, urging me to turn on the news. So I did. And I sat and I watched what unfolded, and I heard the reporter as she said these words:

They didn’t come here a month ago or a year ago. They lived among us. . .  That’s what’s so frightening. That this is the world we live in now. One in which we don’t know that there might be a terrorist right next door, right here, in our community. 
Yes, these two individuals lived among us. So did Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh, James Holmes and every evil person who has ever existed. This is the world we live in. Evil people and psychopaths do not live on a remote island off the coast of an imaginary land. They are someone’s neighbor, employee, relative. They have been from the beginning of time. Who knows how many child molesters, rapists, and abusers we pass by at the grocery store, who may live down the street from us. They don’t live in a hermit-camp for the evil. They live amongst us. It’s why we don’t let our kids roam the streets alone. It’s why we lock our doors at night. This isn’t the world we live in now, this is the world we’ve always lived in.

Today as I watched the armed officers, the tanks, and the terror of those caught in the midst, I wept. I wept for Martin, Lu Lingzi, Krystal, and the hundreds injured so many, too many, losing limbs and the life they once knew. I wept for the MIT officer. I wept for Salah Tarhoum, the teenager circled in red as suspect #1 on the front page of the news who is now afraid to leave his house. I wept for Dr. Abolaban assaulted for being Muslim, and for the Saudi Marathon Man who is now forgotten but who will never forget his twice-over victimization. I wept for Sunil, whose parents are beside themselves with worry for their missing son, and then had to fear the backlash and death-threats for their wrongly-suspected son.

And I wept for myself. I am an ordinary Pakistani-American-Muslim living in a lovely neighborhood with people whose politics lean quite conservative but who have welcomed us with open arms- will this change now? Will they see us now through the lens of suspicion? Will my sons grow up in a world where they will be feared or hated for the color of their skin or for their names, so unquestionably Muslim?

Waleed just tapped me on the shoulder, as I type this.  Elmo time? He implored. Elmo and cheerios? We will watch Elmo. We will eat cheerios. And we’ll cover the plants to keep them from drowning in the forecasted rain. We will make playdough sculptures, and lego towers– and I will pray. I will pray for the affected in Boston and I will also pray that the actions of a few do not lead to the hardening of hearts of many towards ordinary people, Muslims, who like me condemn these actions, and who live ordinary, peaceful, regular lives, who watch Breaking Bad, and debate over fantasy football picks, and coach their kid’s soccer teams. Who live normal, humdrum lives, in communities everywhere. My blog is normally about the small things in life that add up to make it the beautiful thing it is. But right now, I feel a great deal of darkness. Right now, as I hear the us versus them language, I put on a smile for my kids, I hope for the best from my fellow Americans, but beneath the surface, I am afraid.

13 thoughts on “The Boston bombers- They Lived Among Us”

  1. My son is in the Boston area under “shelter in place” and thank goodness he's safe, but I'm afraid too. I can't wait to go back to when we can think and blog about ordinary things, and I hope this isn't becoming our ordinary life…


  2. Julia, I had no idea you had family there— I'm glad to hear they are safe, will be checking on your blog for updates, pray they remain safe, and prayers for all affected.


  3. Although I've had many opportunities in the past, I don't think I've ever been this thoroughly disgusted and disappointed in not only the media, but all the internet vigilantes who took to Twitter and message boards, falsely accusing innocent people, (all of whom “coincidentally” are not white.)

    It's one thing to speculate amongst friends, to try to help the FBI and for one to send them information they believe might be valuable, but poor Sunil was tried and convicted via tweet within hours — and the people who were cold-hearted enough to leave hateful comments on his Facebook page — The Facebook page his family erected in the hopes of finding their missing loved one.

    I'm disgusted with the world right now. From journalists tossing the word “foreigner” around, to your average person using social media to spread false information … I'm looking forward to closing the laptop and turning off the TV this weekend to try to remember that there is goodness in the world.

    Just keep speaking up, condemning the xenophobia, even when it feels like a whisper. I guess that's all we can do?


  4. Peter and I were watching the news just now and constantly, it was some comment about the two suspects being from Chechnya or being Islamic (more so the latter). There is so much fear and hatred in the world already based on religion and ethnic background. Maybe the terroristic attack was religious in nature, but what, I said to Peter, if it wasnt? What if it had nothing whatsoever to do with religion? Why does it have to be the “Islamic terrorist” and not just “the terrorist”? No one called McVeigh a “Christian terrorist”. He was just a homegrown criminal. No one asked if his religious interpretations and beleifs played into his motivation (and, I bet no one even cared back then.)

    I dont know why these boys did what they did. I'm heartbroken for them and their families. I'm heartbroken that their backgrounds will play into the ignorance that already runs rampant and the fear of that which others dont understand.

    And I'm sorry that you are afraid. No one should fear their neighbor because of their language or skin color or religion. We do our best to raise Bobby and Maya to see the soul and not the package it comes in; one day, may we all be able to see each other that way.


  5. I hope and pray that people will remember violence will not help anyone in Boston. Only coming together as a country will we really ever defeat the kind of hate that feeds terrorism.

    Just remember what many have been sharing and stating all week: The good will always outnumber the bad. I will hope and pray for your family as well that you do not suffer any ill consequences from the actions of these clearly sick individuals.


  6. Susan, thank you for your comment, as always, thank you.

    Tracy, I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you. It's so painful to see the most vocal on TV and other media, but the truth is I'm hopeful that most people are like you and others who have commented and lent their support. It's sad how ugly acts can bring out so much ugliness in others.


  7. Michele, thank you thank you thank you for both your words of comfort and sharing your perspective and more importantly thank you for raising your children to choose to see people for who they are not what they are.

    Lora, welcome to the blog and thanks for your comment, yes, I believe, that there are more good people, like you, than otherwise, thanks again.


  8. you sent shivers down my spine, so well said! praying that this world holds onto love a little more than it seems to be and praying for your continued joy in your neighbourhood. xxxx


  9. Dear Aisha,
    Thank you for this post, which I encountered on FB and then shared with family and friends feeling the same despair and fear that kept those of us in Boston locked inside our homes yesterday. My children are in their 20's, but I yearned to have them nearby and be able to put my arms around them and hold them close, and safe. As a mother, I can't help but wonder what happened to these two men – barely men. Where was their family? How had they become so isolated and disconnected, ripe for the picking of some extremist group? You are right – they live amongst us, but do we see them? Do we acknowledge them? Do we try to engage them, or do we keep our distance, because somehow we determine that they are scary, not trustworthy, people we should stay away from….. so understandable, but exactly the kind of behavior that allows someone to become alienated and even hateful. I believe we have to start when are children are as young as yours, teaching them to be kind, to be inclusive, not to bully or taunt or shame – we parents are our children's first and foremost teachers. The family of little Martin Richard sound like a family that lived and breathed tolerance, acceptance and engagement. May they become our heros, as much for their example as for what they've lost. May we reach out to each other and dedicate ourselves to the kind of world the vast majority of us want, where we celebrate our diversity but work together for peace and opportunity for all.


  10. I think you have summed up what is going through the minds of most every Muslim in the world right now… We are not all criminals, and we don't like to be thought of as being so..

    Peace from Pakistan!!!


  11. My biggest worry:

    ” Will my sons grow up in a world where they will be feared or hated for the color of their skin or for their names, so unquestionably Muslim? “


  12. Thank you Jane for your comment it means a lot.

    Anon, thank you for your beautiful comment and reflections that show that you are viewing this as the complex and tragic situation that it is on all fronts, glad you were safe in Boston and thanks for sharing your tolerant and nuanced point of view.

    Qasim, thanks for your comment, I am glad that this post spoke to you and you could relate to it.

    Mystic, prayers your children and mine both, insh'Allah. Judging from the comments I've received though, I have faith in my fellow man.


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