Yes, Sri Lanka is multicultural, it’s diverse, undoubtedly it’s what makes it so unique and beautiful.
To me of course multicultural defines something more personal, it defines me, it defines my family.
The reason I don’t seem to ‘fit in’ to any existing stereotype of a Muslim or a girl, for that matter, is because of the culture I grew up in. It wasn’t anything bad, if anything I think my parents did a really good job. I was taught to be open, to be honest, and concentrate on the true values of life. Growing up with two brothers, I was a tomboy, I still am. I grew up with Pokemon, game boys, climbing trees, riding bikes, sandals, bruises, cuts, sleepovers at my grandmother’s, endless imagination and of course the good old Cartoon Network. Unfortunately this means as much as I love shoes, I get bored with girl talk. I don’t apologise for having more in common with boys, I love my brothers and wouldn’t trade one moment of ‘geeking out’ on comics, pokemon, manga, anime and our usual tv shows and movies. Frankly I find it strange when people expect me to be different from who I am. Most of these tomboy traits gave me so much in common with my Husband, thus proving that Allah (swt) understands us all, and makes someone for everyone!
My family consists of Buddhists, Atheists, Catholics, Christians, Hindus, and of course, me, a Muslim. We speak two languages interchangeably, come from different countries and consist of beautiful colours. We go to temples, kovils, churches and I go to mosque. Some of us, drink, some of us (like me), don’t. Some of us don’t eat meat, some of us do. It’s the way we are. Honestly I don’t particularly enjoy being present at some of the events but I do anyway, just like my mother doesn’t particular like shopping specially for halal meat, but does anyway. We accommodate each other, sure we bicker, disagree, argue and fight, but at the end of the day, we ‘accommodate’ each other.
If we as a family unit can coexist then can’t everyone? The only thing we need is the basic understanding that we are all the same, beneath all those layers of traits, personalities, and beliefs, we are all the same. If we can for one moment stop looking for differences, and concentrate on the similarities then maybe we can make this work.
My parents never said I have to be anything in particular, they let me find my way, they let me choose. My mother, Alhamdulillah, was so open with us. She thought us so many things and I personally believe she built maturity in us. She made sure that we were able to think for ourselves, be independent, mature and free. This culture she instilled within us isn’t for everyone. I get it, but to make me feel bad for coming from something (in my words, wonderful), isn’t fair. My mother made sure we never saw a difference of colour, race, origin, or religion. We didn’t care, we had good friends and bad friends, that was it. We didn’t need to see anything else. Now all of a sudden I’m forced to see it, and forced to make a distinction of it no matter how I refuse.
Something I learnt while studying was that there is no ‘right’ culture. It’s simply culture. Everyone is different, every family is different. That’s how it is. I refuse to apologise for this. I come from a very diverse family, and yes they are different, but I refuse to ever apologise for it.
Our blood might not be ‘right’ but our level of humanity is.
If I am not appropriate for any existing stereotype, I shall simply make my own. I shall make my own culture. Honestly I no longer want to try to be part of anyone’s anything, I’m done forcing myself in to things. I will be me, the me Allah (swt) moulded me to be, if that’s not good enough then that’s just too bad. My covenant is with Allah, I shall change only for him, no one else. Why? Because I have people who love and adore me for exactly what I am. Could I ever ask for anything else?