Asian Lite Marks Holy Month of Ramadan with a news series of Ramadan Musings with Masarat Daud
Yesterday, at a tube station, I met a woman who asked me if the C2C was an overground train. She wanted to get to West Ham and did not want to take the Underground. I assured her that the regular Tube trains are overground till West Ham. She thanked me profusely and apologised for being so adamant. I assured her that it was okay. She then went on to tell me that she was trapped in a very small elevator in New York a few years ago for at least five hours. That memory has turned into panic attacks when the train goes underground.
“I don’t think I am ready to face my fears as of now. So I just avoid the underground,” she added.
Her train arrived at that point and she left, after repeatedly asking me if I was sure that the train wouldn’t really go underground.
Sitting there, it made me think that in the crowds of people we brush past everyday, every other person carries an anxiety, grief or struggle within them, which is invisible to us. When I was new to the country and was beginning to get grips with the Underground, I had similar struggles. I remember trying to hide the anxiety I felt when a stuffy train, packed to the brim stopped for five minutes at a signal in the dark tunnel. Oddly enough, I was relieved to read later in a newspaper how a passenger had an anxiety attack in a similar scenario on the Piccadilly Line. In that moment, I felt that I had received a permission to be human; that it was okay for me to feel the way I did because many others shared this with me.
Despite the accusation of generalisation, I do believe that everyone hides a broken piece of themselves within, or are simply concealing their craters and cracks that run through them.
We hide our scars because we have created a culture of looking down upon emotional expression. Some of us are deeply uncomfortable in the presence of such expression that we fumble and don’t know what is the best way to react. The Koran tells us never to turn someone away in their time of need. Care and dignity are very important principles taught to us as part of Koranic teachings.
In our daily rat race, it never hurts to stop, take a moment and help someone out. Life still goes on the same way; nothing stops or passes us by in those moments. In times like these, we can all use a little kindness, compassion and dignity. Maybe then we can find the courage to show our craters to and still find deep respect for each other.
(Masarat Daud is many things. A girl’s education campaigner, a TED speaker, a TEDx curator, a recent SOAS MA graduate and a politically-incorrect humourist currently based in London)