An Open Letter From Me To You: I Am Sorry, You Are A Racist


Dear Stranger,


I feel awful doing this to you. Every morning I wake up contemplating which face to wear, and every day, I disappoint you. I am the reason you are a racist and I am truly remorseful.

A few days ago, when I walked into the airport turban-clad, you ordered me to remove it in public for screening. When I refused, you barred me from boarding my flight. When this episode made news for its racist tang, I felt terrible. I should have donned a different face. I should not have been a Sikh that day, knowing I was to board a flight. I am, however, a little confused. I remember asking you to screen me in private, a request as inoffensive as any. We could have dealt with the situation like adults. But blame it on my face and the sudden surge in pride, I decided to wear my turban that day and got bullied. Now, I am sincerely proud and to be honest, I love wearing my Sikh face; the energy that pulsates within my body when I put on my turban, is unrivaled. But I am not my turban. I am a human being, made of flesh and bones and a turban. Recognize me, for I will put on this face again some other day. However, the incident caused YOU shame, and for that I am sorry.


I am sorry because you beat me to death two years ago. You did not appreciate my 20-year-old face from Arunachal Pradesh either. Did my appearance cause you immense emotional turmoil? Did I torment you when I found your comment distasteful? I apologize. You successfully stifled my voice when you squeezed the life out of me. I will probably never be able to wear that face again, but I can and I will put on similar faces; my features will disturb you and force you to unleash your racist demons, and for that I am sorry.


Remember the day my presence caused mayhem in Delhi Metro? I wore my Nigerian face and you called me ‘black’ and ‘nigger’. Did my heated exchange of words with a co-passenger distress you? I remember your face that day; locked in antagonism, you resented me and despised every breath I took. You watched my movements, mocked me, dragged and pushed me. You even asked me to leave your country. But again, I chose the wrong face and for that I am sorry.


But now, I wish to ask you – what is it that you loathe the most? What about me offends you? Why do you scoff at me? I don a new face every day. I wake up early and invest a suitable amount of my time, deciding the face that would mask my disposition, the face that you will approve of. And yet, I end up upsetting you. It is tiring, trying to please you. So I have chosen to strike off from my routine, the arduous task of wearing a new personality every day. I have wronged you enough and I do not wish to portray you as the antagonist anymore. Hereon, I will be a faceless lump walking next you. I will ensnare you in my aura and change your thinking. And for all the trouble, I am sorry.


Prerna Mittra

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The Viewspaper