Unbelievable Ignorance | Teen Ink

Unbelievable Ignorance

December 18, 2008
By Aneeka Atwal, Glendale, CA

It was a normal sunny day at school for a seventh grader named Rishi. Rishi was a thirteen year old boy born into a Sikh family. He wore a turban on his head which was part of his Sikh religion. As the deafening bell rang Rishi sighed with relief that school was finally over.

Many didn’t understand what his turban was for. Sikh people wear turbans as a sign of commitment. They believe in living a life of equality and are dedicated to serving all people. Sikhs stand out with their turbans, which portray their fearlessness in displaying their beliefs. To me, anyone who isn’t afraid to be different is emotionally stronger than those who try to fit in.

Rishi has been wearing a turban since he was eight years old. Before that he wrapped his hair in a tight bun, which he covered with a cloth. When Rishi was growing up, kids would call him names and ask questions about his look. Rishi did not know how to respond to these statements. At an older age Rishi noticed that he was different. Slowly he became quieter and angrier with his life. As the weeks went by Rishi struggled to fit in and hoped his parents would accept him without his turban. Sharing his idea with his parents was a bad idea. They looked at him differently, accused him of taking drugs, and watched his every move from the time he got home to the time he left for school the next day.

Yesterday, Rishi was walking across the street after school to pick up his little sister, Sonia from her first grade class. While walking home with his little sister he saw a group of guys from his English class. He reluctantly chose to walk on the same side of the street that the boys were on. He heard the boy’s voices getting louder, “Look it’s the terrorist!” Rishi grabbed Sonia and walked so fast that her tiny legs couldn’t catch up with him. She tripped and fell and the boys behind them laughed hysterically. Before Rishi could move, the boys began to throw rocks at him and his sister. Sonia got hit in the head and instantly started crying. Her head was split open and Rishi was in shock.

His first instinct was to call his mother. Still angry with him, she did not answer his phone call; she refused to speak to him. Rishi called 911 before the situation could get any worse, the boys scattered in every direction. Rishi’s parents both came within five minutes. They hugged him for the first time in about three years. The family rushed off to the hospital to get Sonia checked up. Later that day Sonia returned home after getting stitches. The family reported the racial attack but there was no proof or evidence to support what had happened. Sadly, all the principal gave the boys was a “warning.”

The next day at school, Rishi’s anger was gone. He now just felt sorry for the ignorance the boy’s had displayed. It was a sunny day and Rishi realized he was surrounded by people who didn’t know anything about the Sikh religion, or in that case any religion that wasn’t there own. After that day Rishi explained to almost every person he knew what his religion taught and why he wore a turban. He realized that fitting in is boring and being different is a gift. How can others accept him, if he can’t accept himself?

He explained to his parents the hardships he had been through and the reasons why he wanted to cut his hair. He also explained to them how he learnt to accept himself and was happier than he had ever been. As for the group of boys, they later got expelled from the school district for taking part in illegal activities.

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