Professor Jay Polish
May 31, 2018
I think growing up it wasn’t about being ashamed of my culture or religion, it was more about dealing with the differences of my culture and the culture I am surrounded with. When it’s Christmas, everyone’s always asking me what I’m going to be doing with my family, and I always reply with “Nothing special why?”, almost every reply would be “What! It’s Christmas. Why aren’t you doing anything?”, and I’ll reply with “Christmas isn’t a holiday I celebrate. I was fine with those responses. Of course, I trust and believe in the faith I carry with me every day and have no problem correcting others if something is misunderstood but it wasn’t just the holidays. It was also with going to parties or having guy friends, or ordering a different kind of bacon egg and cheese for breakfast and just asking for halal turkey bacon or just having an egg and cheese on a roll. I was more different than others and I would say more restricted than others and so was Kamala.
When receiving Ms. Marvel in class a couple weeks ago, already starting with the cover and noticing the Arabic on Kamala’s bracelet on her wrist, I was intrigued and interested to learn about her. Already on the first couple of pages, I had noticed something that happens to me practically every day. Kamala was staring at a piece of bacon and my assumptions about her being a Muslim were confirmed when Bruno had said, “Either eat the bacon or stick to your principles”. Seeing as though she was also with someone wearing a hijab, the percentage on my Muslim theory was very high. I laughed after Bruno had told Kamala her choices. Sounds like something all my friends tell me. It’s true. Bacon smells great. I smell it almost every time my friends get something that has bacon in it. I can’t help it. When something smells good, am I supposed to not smell that? I can’t force my nose to block the smell of bacon for the rest of my life. I live in a world where Islam isn’t the only religion and halal isn’t the only kind of food there is. I could relate to Kamala and it wasn’t only that.
If you’re ready for the story of my life summed up in a paragraph here goes. When Kamala was at the dinner table and had asked her father to go to the waterfront party, it was hilarious to see her father immediately reply with “With boys?” Ask me how many times I’ve heard that line! I say this to my parents all the time. “We don’t live in a world with only one gender.” Of course they know that but it still doesn’t stop them from asking. Our religion had strict rules on the association between boys and girls and it’s inevitable to not hear that general response most of the time. Kamala’s response was exactly what every girl in her position would say “Come on Abu! (“Dad”; I call my own father that too) I’m sixteen! I promise I won’t do anything stupid! Don’t you trust me?”. And once again, her father’s response was something that was a common thing I heard while growing up. Abu had replied with an alternative instead of going to a party. Abu’s rejection to Kamala asking to go to the party upset her and when she was in her room she had questioned everything about her out of anger. This was the scene that caught my attention. There have been many times where I have said, “Why am I stuck with the weird holidays?”, or “Everybody else gets to be normal. Why can’t I?” Seeing all my friends being able to do majority of the things I weren’t allowed to do became harder to be around them with the way my culture and the kinds of rules I had to follow in my life. I was different and always the one being restricted to do things they could do. This scene spoke out to me so much because this literally is an exact representation of my childhood growing up. Although my childhood came with lessons that were meant to be learned I didn’t look at these scenes as something sad I was very understanding towards it. People are different and we all grow up different and believe in different things. It was something I had to understand and then base my decisions off that understanding. Reading the struggle Kamala was in when she did sneak out and go to the party and Zoe’s first response was “I thought you were locked up!” Boy was that relatable. Everyone was always surprised whenever they had seen me past 9 pm. Everyone could stay out late but me. Kamala’s family weren’t identical to her friends family and it was something I had to learn growing up and so does Kamala.
I guess I should explain what I felt everytime Kamala was frustrated about herself and her family and the life she was living. It was like reading about myself even if they were a Pakistani family and I am Bengali. Their beliefs and rules are similar to mind and Kamala was living the same childhood I was. It was frustrating of course when seeing others do things I couldn’t but one thing I made sure I never did was hate the person I was or my life. I grew up and learned to love being different. If I can’t eat bacon, so what? I have turkey bacon and plenty of other halal meat choices to choose from that satisfy my taste buds and I am happy with that. Whenever someone had ordered something with pork in it at any gathering I was at, I took my past first aggravating feelings and turned them into something I could benefit from. That pork and me about to starve dilemma turned into me ordering food for myself and no one else could have it. Haha in your face! When Kamala had her “dream” conversation with the superhero’s she looked up to, she was getting a reality check. She needed to understand being different is never anything to be ashamed of. She wanted to become someone else and that wasn’t right. Other people like Zoe who uses insults as comedy were never her true friends. It’s people like Bruno who don’t judge and care about her parents finding out she snuck out and she would soon be in trouble. He didn’t want that for Kamala. At the end of the comic she realized everyone loved her for herself and her journey as Ms. Marvel had helped her realize that even though wishing to be someone else is never something you should truly want. Kamala had learn to be the best possible version of herself and so have I. No one else’s thoughts or look should phase you or define you. You learn to define yourself and that is what matters.