(Disclaimer – all the characters in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to anyone real is just a coincidence)
Tequeela Riyajal rushed into the makeshift office extremely angry.
“Hey, what happened Ma’am?” asked the new intern Sue, a bit concerned.
“How dare he!!” – she shouted.
Sue was perplexed – “Who dared. what?” as her contorted face was unable to comprehend this new crisis.
“That man, India’s Foreign Minister! He thinks he can brush me aside? Bloody idiot! I will show him what I can do!”, Tequeela gestured hysterically with her finger as if trying to make a point to an imaginary person.
Raj came rushing him, almost sliding… at the sudden excitement. You see since the lovely Congress-person was in DC, not much excitement was happening. And suddenly everything was lit up as soon as she had walked in!
Looking at what was happening, he lunged to get a bottle of cool water from the fridge and thrust it at Tequeela, while Sue looked at him quizzically. He gestured re-assuringly with the intention of explaining what’s wrong later.
Tequeela had a sip and then in her renewed anger threw the bottle as the water splashed all over the floor. Then looked up, boxed into the air as she let out a loud unintentional fart! The sudden ‘change of air’ made her even more angry and she rushed out.
The fallout to be sorted out, Sue and Raj pulled out the breathing masks from their pockets and started working on getting things back in order. The ‘Farting Tequeela’ had a life of her own, every new intern was told in hush-hush whispers. She added her own flavor, even if putrid, to the otherwise drab air around. No amount of warnings could prepare Sue for what actually happened.
Raj took Sue outside to the nextdoor Starbucks to explain the root of the crisis.
“So Tequeela had come over as a student from India – one city on the Western coast,” Raj started as he sipped the Green Tea with infusion of pomegranate and mango while Sue had her regular Cappuccino – “kinda like where we are on the US coast”. Sue nodded.
“She was bullied in her school for her strange ways,” Raj continued “and when she moved to US, she knew she would do something some day to beat the shit out of those people in her school, undergrad college and neighbors”.
Sue was looking into her cup and thinking while listening to this story.
“Recently, the Indian Parliament repealed a law, which Tequeela’s donors don’t like, and now they have passed a law, which has made them even more angry!” Raj said with a smirking smile, where you show solidarity to your leader even when you know he or she is, well, screwed up in the head!
“So what the fuck does that have to do with our city and country? And who are these donors? Are they even Americans?” Sue burst out almost shouting but doing well to keep her voice down as Raj gestured her to lower it further.
“You are asking too many questions, Sue,” grinned Raj, “when have the donors ever really been about Americans or our politicians done anything for us Americans?”
“This is about money and power, cupcake. One feeds and earns the other!” Raj said with a deep sagely wisdom filled voice.
“Yeah,” Sue said softly unconcerned about the wisely Raj’s sagacity, “why is she mad at that Indian Foreign Minister?”
“Oh that?!” Raj remarked as Sue raised her hands in exasperation “YES THAT!” she said aloud, scarcely believing Raj had forgotten the whole drama.
“Well, he refused to meet Tequeela, when she forced herself into a group she wasn’t part of just to give him a piece of her mind.” Raj explained.
“A piece of her mind?!!! But why? He is like India’s Secretary of State and you cannot push him around as a Congress-person, just because you have a score to settle from your childhood!” Sue was just bewildered.
Then she lowered her voice and bent over to Raj and said “She is behaving almost like she’s been slighted in her unrequited love affair.”
And they both burst out laughing!
“You do have some imagination, kid,” said Raj laughing, almost choking on his green tea.
Two days later, as sun was out in the otherwise rainy town, Tequeela came again. Smiling this time.
Sue put her hand in her pocket to check her breathing mask. Yup, it was tucked in there alright.
She had read up on the issues and laws that Raj had discussed about and felt a bit more educated. She had never thought that she would have to read about some other country’s laws to handle the tantrums of a Congress-person in her own district.
“Fascists are all over the world these days, Sue.. and we need to fight them everywhere. Oh my gosh! Every where!!” Tequeela said with the feeling of self importance. When power comes, your estimate of your own worth and reach just goes up many notches, irrespective of the reality. You see a different mirror and you imagine a different omnipotent you in that mirror.
“I read up on the provision 370, Ma’a….” Sue started. “Article.. its Article 370,” Tequeela butted in.
“Yup Article.. oops sorry!” Sue corrected herself. “That Article allowed the local law-makers to deny the LGBTQ rights to local residents that were given in India. Also, the right to own property to women…” Sue laid out emphatically. She was a lesbian and one of the strong reason to work for Tequeela was because she was the strongest advocate for LGBTQ rights in the state. And, Sue did realize that if it was tough for her here in the United States, other parts of the world could be a whole lot tougher for others like her.
It wasn’t an issue of activism for her but one of life and death if she was in a wrong place. And, she did realize on reading, that Kashmir with Article 370 in force, was one of those places. It was a hell for LGBTQs. Why wouldn’t they apply the freedom that the Indian courts offered? And, why was ANYONE who professed to work for LGBTQs in this place shove the LGBTQs in another place into hell-fire? So, why were we even backing the villains here? Sue just couldn’t get the whole messed up situation here!
“You don’t get it, do you kid?,” Tequeela looked at her in thinly concealed threatening way and sternly said. “Do you know whom we are talking about? He is the Trump of India! A fascist, majoritarian devil!” as her tone increased.
“Ma’am, but you do get elected only when you get a majority vote in a democracy, right?” Sue protested in a low tone.
“Vote yes, but he is majoritarian.. MAJORITARIAN!” steadily raising her voice as she failed to sense her obvious fascist tendency squeaking out of her demeanor. Something that Sue sensed but didn’t want to push further. Internally though, she was devastated in a big way. “Is she for REAL? Is Tequeela after all really for the LGBTQs?” she wondered…
“…..or is she doing her bidder’s duty, where her voice for LGBTQ is just another political stunt?” she questioned herself.
Sue probably knew the answer but sometimes you still ask the question to yourself hardly believing that world is far more diabolical that it seems.
She excused herself and went off to meet with some school kids for distributing flyers in the neighborhood.
Next morning Raj walked in purposefully and told Sue “We need to start working with the Council members to pass a resolution against India.”
Sue spit out – “WHAT?! Against who? Why?” an avalanche of questions on the most absurd thing she had heard.
“Yes, we will pass a resolution against India, and ask it to roll back its law” blurted Raj on rote from her memory.
“And who is this WE?”
“Obviously the 27th district of the great state of Jefferson!” said Raj.
“SAY WHA?!!!” Sue shouted in a rapper’s lingo. “We, ONE district, in One State of United States, will ask the Indian Parliament to roll back a law that was passed in both of their houses?!!” Sue laid it out straight! “Am I even getting that right?!”
“Yes, pretty much.” Raj grinned. “But hey those are our marching orders, kid”
“And the law we want to roll back is the asylum law for people who are already in there AFTER they had to run for their lives from the neighboring theocratic countries?” she stated emphatically.
“Yeah, but they cannot just discriminate against Muslims!” said Raj.
“These people are ALREADY there, Raj. Already there and law is for those who were there until 2014!…this ain’t a philosophical or open-ended pie in the sky that you are trying to make it out to be”
And she continued – “Muslims have come illegally to India, just like Mexicans come illegally to US. Not because they are persecuted in their home country, but for BETTER income or life. The Christians, the Hindus, Sikhs have come because they were killed, victims of genocides seeking asylum and with no place to go!
…..Are you telling me Raj, that an illegal Mexican in the US who came for better livelihood and income is EQUAL to a Jew from Iran who came seeking asylum in the US and reached somehow knowing fully well that he will be killed back in Iran?!”
“Are you even fucking serious?!!!”
“An asylum seeker who did not get the asylum due to inadequate policies is the same as an illegal immigrant who came ONLY for money?“
Sue was on a roll! Raj butted in though..
“But some Muslim denominations are also persecuted in those theocratic states! What about them?” Raj asked.
“But DID THEY COME?!” Sue asked sharply.
“What?” Raj murmured taken aback.
“DID THOSE PERSECUTED MINORITIES COME in the illegal Muslim group until 2014?” clarified Sue.
And, it hit Raj like a 10 ton rock!
“Those who came until 2014, Raj, were there illegally for the EXACT same reasons as the Mexicans come to US for! NONE of the Muslims who crossed over until 2014, for which this law IS, were the so-called persecuted minorities!”
“So, Raj, lets get one thing straight here – there is no persecuted minority in the group getting asylum under the law!!! “
“Do you even see how you are just throwing irrelevant shiny objects called ‘persecuted minorities” which have no relevance in the context of the situation?!” Sue raised her voice one more time.
“What do you mean?” Raj scarcely believing that this intern was just shredding his argument so easily.
Sue then clarified:
The Citizenship Amendment Act of India is for people who came until 2014. Right? So until then, did any persecuted Muslims come in or were those Muslims majority Sunnis from those Sunni majority countries?! Were they India’s illegal Mexicans or like the Jews or Christians from Iran? If the Muslims who came to India were just like the illegal Mexicans, then how can you EVER treat them the same way as the Jews from Iran?
How can you even compare an illegal immigrant with an asylum seeker. And, that too with an argument of an imagined “persecuted Muslim” who never came in that period!
Tell me, how many of those Muslims from Bangladesh or Pakistan in India until 2014 are Ahmadis? Or Shias?
As Sue laid it out to him, Raj was simply looking with a complete sense of disbelief.
“Dunno”, he could say
“Then FIND OUT their number first, before you parade that ‘persecuted minority’ that you think you are fighting for. For all you know, NO persecuted Muslim ever came in the groups of Muslims who crossed over from Bangladesh or Pakistan until 2014!”
Raj had the habit of avoiding situations where he was left speechless by randomly laughing and trivializing the situation.
“That fart really got you hard kid!” he started laughing at his own half-joke.
“No dude.. but I can NOT believe that we, in our great state of Jefferson, are passing resolutions on laws passed by another country’s Parliament, simply because the Secretary of State of that country refused to meet one of our Congress-persons and she is mad at him! What is our council? Some kind of personal harem that she hired to keep her happy?!”
“What? Wait?! You are getting out of line, Sue!” Raj cautioned sternly.
“No I am not! I pay my tax as does my family NOT to sponsor representatives who will pass stupid resolutions just to piss off other countries for laws that were passed by THEIR Parliaments and over which we have no jurisdiction! This whole thing, Raj, is a really bad and juvenile Pissing match! And, guess what? This woman cannot even piss that far off her skirt!!!”
Sue was completely exasperated and left.
She had taken some time off for her term tests. So she met Raj after a week.
“Hey Sue, we passed the resolution! Yay!” Raj gestured half-heartedly.
“Great,” Sue smirked, “I feel great that our district finally has the fucking balls to piss off one of the most important trading partners of our country!!! Isn’t that EXACTLY what we send these lawmakers to Congress for? Disgusting is not even the right word! And, then they wonder why the American people hate the US Congress so much!!”
“And, Raj, I am leaving. I might as well bag groceries at Walmart than do this shit. More job satisfaction, dude!” Sue said as she walked off.
A year passed – Sue was walking down the food court of the mall when she bumped into Raj. She smiled as he looked at her with a deep sense of worry on his face.
“All ok dude? The farting Tequeela keeping you all aired up?” and Sue couldn’t help laughing out at the thought!
“Well, she went to Antarctica this summer….”
“And…?” Sue inquired.
“Dunno how, but the Penguins there pissed her off!” Raj rolled his eyes as he slowly said that.
“Hey pass a resolution against Antarctica, dude. That should teach those crazy bitches some lesson!” she advised.
Raj looked at Sue in disbelief “But what will that do? Resolution against Penguins? How is that even relevant?!”
“EXACTLY, cupcake!!” Sue shouted and walked off laughing her head off!