The bus was empty so I decided to sit on the lower deck, at the front, there was only one other passenger on the bus who sat in front of me, a few minutes went by and I noticed that she kept turning back and looking at me. Every time I smiled, she would quickly look away, as funny as it seems she was not very good at disguising it. I didn’t mind the starting it was normal I know some people do it out of curiosity, because they feel sorry for me and others do it out of ignorance, but whatever the reason it didn’t bother me. The glances kept exchanging back and forth throughout the entire journey.
Until we came to a stop where she picked up her bag and stoop up, to my surprise she turned facing towards me and slipped a folded note into my hands and got off the bus. Shivers went down my spine, I was scared at the thought of opening it, not knowing what to expect, what if it was childish Islamophobic comment or chewing gum folded inside or even worse a death threat. I didn’t know what to do so I convinced myself to open it I told myself if it had something bad written on it than I should just ignore it, because everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that their opinion does not define who I am. (I’m a drama queen I know. Most people would have just opened it already).
When I opened the note I was surprised by what it had inside it. It was a message which read ” Beauty is like a book it cannot be judged by its cover you look beautiful in your Hijab, don’t let society define you. Joslyn.” This was the most heart warming message I have ever read in my life.
The rest of the week went by as normal I saw her on this bus a few time after that were we exchanged glances, but this time when I smiled she smiled back. On Friday she came and sat next to me said “I’M SORRY” I was confused, about why she was apologising, so I asked her why and what she was sorry for. “I’m sorry for being ignorant, and thinking all Muslims are terrorists , and judging you based on your religion, and they way you dress, and thinking you are less than me. I’m sorry for the media and how it portrays Muslims in a negative way”. I wish the media would show us all the kind-hearted Muslims like yourselves. I know a lot of people are frustrated because of recent events, but a small minority of people are to blame. I if there is anything I have learnt is that, don’t blindly follow what the media says. There are so many good people in this world like you.
At this point I was even more confused because I didn’t know her, but she spoke to me as if she knew me. She must have sensed what I was thinking, as she went on to say, “I know what you’re thinking and I promise I not a weirdo that is stalking you or anything like that. I am June’s daughter Joslyn.
NOTE: June is an elderly women whom I often see on the bus. I have known her for about 3 years now. She is the sweetest person I have ever met, she is full of wisdom, stories and laughter. There is never a dull moment when she is around. She also bakes the most delicious treats, now that is just a bonus.
“My mum always talks about this sweet, eccentric girl that she meets on the bus that is full of life, who has so much positivity and love to share with the people. She talks about how you always greet her Good Morning with a massive smile on your face and ask how she is and how her day was. She always looks forward to seeing and talking to you.”
“When my mum first told me you were a Muslim I was a little taken back because my mum is a devoted Catholic Christian who isn’t very fond of Muslims, so it was strange when I heard her say nice things about you. You changed her views and opinions towards Muslim and I know that is not something easy to do especially when the person is stubborn, but I do not know how you did it, but you did. I now understand why my mum adores you. I have observed you for the past week and I have noticed how friendly and approachable you are. Most people on the bus know you by name and vise versa. It amazes me how you interact with people not many people talk to one another these days especially to strangers, but there something different about you.”
We came to my stop so I stood up as I stood up she stood up too and gave me a hug and said, “Thank You for changing our views about Islam and Muslims.”
Truth be told I should be the one thanking her she has restored my faith in humanity. Maybe humanity does still exist, maybe there is still hope for us after all. Needless to say we need more people like this in the world.
Reflecting back on the incident it made me think, what if I wasn’t a Muslim and never met a Muslim and everything I knew about Islam and Muslims was based on what I saw on TV, and what the media told me. I can still hold people responsible for having such view. It made me consider, how it was up to me to show the world what Islam really is through my good actions. I know one person cannot make much of a difference, but if we all did our bit the world would be a better place.