Cross-cultural love can be a tricky thing. It can be a torrid, steamy, passion-filled extravaganza between two people whose ethnic and cultural differences strangely propel them to know each other in the most wildest and intimate of ways. They also can be quite frustrating, and in the end they can fail as simply and sadly as any other relationship.
So it is to my great lament that today, just days after we ended our freshman year together, I must report that things between my Muslim girlfriend and me just haven’t been the same since her family beat her to death two weeks ago in an “honor killing”.
Yes, Fatimah and I just haven’t been the same since then. I’ve tried taking her out to the movies and restaurants, even came over her college dorm room to make her some hummus-flavored Ramen noodles for her. But since two weeks ago when her father, uncle and older brother (all ultra-conservative Muslims from Pakistan) found out she was seeing me, a bi-racial American Catholic from the Bronx, they went into her dorm as she was preparing for finals to “talk some sense into her” (with a couple bricks, rocks, and an aluminum pipe). Ever since then I think our relationship has been headed for trouble.
I came over to make her dinner, and Fatima seemed so distant. She just lay there, sprawled out, pretty quiet, not very talkative as she usually is, with a blood-coated brick and pipe next to her head, and certainly not smelling too good, that’s for sure… Oh, man, how I just knew things were going sour for us then!
Oh, America, can there be a day when young lovers of different cultures and faiths can be accepted being together without some darn pesky honor killing getting in the way? I don’t know if things between Fatimah and me will ever be the same, but they’re not looking good right about now, that’s for sure.
Not only am I now left to patch things up between me and a post-honor-murdered girlfriend, but also go about asking her parents what I must have done to offend them so much. Was it something I said? Did? Didn’t do? Dear Mr. and Mrs. Akmal, if I did something to offend you to the point you felt it necessary to bludgeon your own daughter to death in her college dorm room, please let me know. Should I have converted to Islam before meeting Fatimah in chemistry class last semester? No wait, it was the Catholic faith’s molestation scandals, wasn’t it? My apologies for being raised in such a scandal-plagued religion, unlike yours, which as the world knows is completely without blemish.
All I know is that it’s certainly not any, let’s say “systemic” problem, or beliefs within Fatima’s family’s culture or religion that was the reason behind why she was honor-killed. It’s just something we in narrow-minded America can’t understand, I suppose.
I tried calling campus police when I discovered Fatimah’s battered corpse, but was told: “Sorry, Mr. Burke, but that’s just their culture. Good luck with your relationship!” by the dispatcher, who hung up after that. I’ve asked a few of my professors what I should do, and was told to respect other peoples’ differences. I guess when I’m a parent one day I’ll have to respect the differences of whomever my child brings home, too.
I just hope Fatimah and I can get over this whole honor-killing-misunderstanding-thing and back to normal soon. But things aren't looking or smellying too good currently. With it being now I hope a nice romantic Italian dinner out in the open should do the trick, with candles and a violinist coming around to play and try to revive her. Hopefully the restaurant will allow me to carry Fatima in and serve us despite Fatimah being in the throes of oozing, odiferous decomposition. I mean, hey, they didn’t make Febreze for nothing.
— Warmest Wishes of Tolerance,
Darren P. Burke,
Student, Columbia University,
New York, NY