Saturday, April 20, 2013

Finish Line

As salaam alaikum,

A year ago from Monday, I was sitting in front of my classmate and former roomie's apartment building, watching runners cross St. Paul Street on Beacon while sitting on her ottoman. She swiveled next to me in her office chair. We weren't running but at least I was dripping in sweat. At the heat of the day, it was 91 degrees, and after a few hours, the sun was just so the shadow of the building behind us receded and no longer sheltered us.

I looked at the white sitting on the median with their bare legs reflecting the sunlight and wondered if their skin hurt like mine did from the direct sun. It was April and already I was getting bronze. I broke out a spaghetti string blouse that now smelled like sweaty me and probably wasn't that cute.

But it was a great day! We got there early enough to see who would likely be the winners of the marathon, the finish line less than a mile away. We saw everyone who was in it for the run, probably people who'd run it every year. I shouted "Braseeoow!" every time I saw a runner from Brasil, hoping they'd hear me. And I cheered for several groups of runners as they made their way steadily, as I saw people slow to a walk, drink water.

But honestly, I don't remember it all. I remember it was a hot day and after a while we took the office chair and ottoman back into her apartment and went somewhere to eat. Five years living in Boston and I finally had a real day off to go to the marathon that several classmates ran every year.

Monday was my brother's birthday, tax day, Patriot's Day, Marathon Day. I had friends from Boston and not from Boston running the marathon. I planned to wake up from being post call to maybe glance at who won this year, as I did last year, and recall fondly that hot spring day foreshadowing a hot summer in the city that I lived in for five years.

Instead, I woke up to a text from my mother, asking me if I had heard about the marathon bombings.

It's different when you see such chaos at a familiar site.

It happened a block from where I used to get acupuncture, a place I've walked many a day and night and felt completely secure. The thing that got me about the image of the first explosion were the flags from all of the different countries that whipped in the wind after that with the backdrop of terrified screams. It made me cry the first time.

I would never, ever expect such a thing to happen during the marathon.

Fast forward these few days, lives changed, bodies mangled, the false accusations, the brown men framed, the hate crimes, the murdered MIT police officer outside of the window were a former classmate worked, the explosives out of the SUV, the city on lock down.

I don't know what to say.

And I really don't have anything more to say than what has already been said in other blogs. Scratch that. I have less to say.

I pray for everyone affected, and insha'Allah I'll pray some more. Not only my friends and virtual fam in residency in Boston, but for everyone. I came of age in Boston. I became a doctor in Boston. I had a lot of firsts in Boston and made family in Boston. I'm all the way on the other coast and had tucked it away as a past phase in my life but I find myself wanting to call it my city. It hurt my heart to see my city without the T running, with no one at Downtown Crossing, with no one in the financial district...

That terrorists are again Muslim feels to me like all the time criminals are again black. Condemn and distance is the way to go, I feel. These days I'm not feeling like too much of an apologist. All I can say is, the reality of these people, whatever crazy thing it is, is so distant from my reality, so distant from where I was last year on a hot spring's day, sun painfully bronzing my shoulders as the runners, swift, lean and agile, dripped sweat on Beacon as they ran to the finish line.


  1. For someone who once ran in a marathon, I am it could have been anywhere and at any time. I see our siblings share birthday dates...sad these bombers are linked to Islam once again and sadly I have to defend my choice of religion and explain to people that Islam is not like these terrorists have labelled it...That Allah is not a vicious God and not all muslims are terrorists.

    1. Admittedly, it's hard for me to defend anymore. People who want to believe that all Muslims are terrorists will likely carry on doing so because that's what they want to believe. Ignore the fact that there are nearly 2 billion of us on this planet and if that were true that we were all terrorists, I dare not finish the statement. I've found that reasonable people who are not ignorant (as in, people who actually have known Muslims) no longer need explanations or defenses from me. And that's what gives me solace. That hate crimes have escalated frustrates and saddens me and I'm afraid no matter how vociferously we defend ourselves, these acts of terrorism carried out by Muslims speak louder than any individuals or groups condemnation.