We stand with Muslims - Short Story



By: Ashwini Selvakumaran

It was pitch black, dark. Darker than it had ever been. My mother hadn’t even bothered with the lights when she heard the words whispered from the radio, and fled to the living room to turn on the television.
Our small apartment was cramped enough, that there was no space to do anything, except examine each other. I would have never have called myself observant, but it seemed that for the past month, my eyes would never fail to catch my mother’s every angsty movement, ever since he had left. 
Every Skype call. Every promise of “I’ll be back soon.” Every “I love you,” that she murmured as her shoulders silently shook with fear, fear she wouldn’t let escape because she had to be strong for us.
Her children.
“Is it true?” Rizwan asked me his usually bright green eyes empty, like a sky erased of stars. A galaxy devoid of colour.
“Is it true sister?”
“Shh.” I quietly pulled my little brother into me, relishing the immediate warmth. We both peered into the living room, hesitating to go in. Hesitating to accept it. Hesitating to hear what we already knew.
My mother’s cry of disbelief confirmed it. I turned away wanting to shield Rizwan from this horrible reality. One that I prayed would never come true. 
One that I couldn’t believe was coming true.
We had been told we, “green card holders” didn't matter and shouldn't matter. My mother had warned him not to go, but nevertheless, he had gone. 
“Nothing will happen” He had kissed my forehead, flicking a stray piece of my hair to the side, “I swear it.”
I thought nothing could shatter us, nothing would shatter us. We had been laughed at, screamed at, picked at and pulled apart. I thought, there's no possible way things could get worse.
Evidently, I was wrong.
“Papa’s not coming back, is he sister?”
Rizwan looked at me, and I saw in the dim lighting, a reflection of a frail girl in his hollow eyes.
She looked like she hadn’t had a bath in years. Her confidence was scrubbed, like the residue from a bar of soap. Her energy was drained. Her smile was washed away. Her hope? It was lost.
It took me a moment to comprehend, the girl was me.
When I finally allowed myself to breathe, It felt like an eternity had passed. I shut my eyes.
“No, Rizwan.” I whispered finally releasing the dam threatening to break in me inside.
“He’s not.”
Written by Ashwini, in the perspective of one of the many families' affected by this ban.

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