“Rand, you pronounce it like friend without the R” says Derek.
Prior to this, I had only met her once when I had interviewed her for the Targum during Israel Apartheid Week my sophomore year. At the time I tried contributing and getting my foot into whatever media outlet Rutgers had to offer, between maybe lending to a caricatured representation of South Asians in Tiger Suits on RU-tv, or becoming one of Targum’s innocuous sheep to write random words for something that might be on the front page.
They never told you, it just happened to be that you picked one of the more interesting stories. I saw the Israel Apartheid Week event in their calendar and thought, “Well, this should be interesting. I feel solidarity with the Palestinian people, always, but I have never really liked hanging out or seeing Muslim people.” I had a bad taste in my mouth from Sunday School for most Muslim people, not because of 9/11 or some unveil the veil nonsense, but because fundamentalist ideals run through more people than you can imagine. It takes smart young men and can push their sexuality and identity further and further into themselves, while masking it with the most hateful, insidious parts that make them misogynistic, xenophobic, and overall just shitty people. It’s not the Quran, it’s not the submission of one’s body to god, it’s the assholes that want to bring skewed ideas of home and implant it into the minds of young children here.
So, I was not enthused by the Article, but thought it to be a challenge. I got to Brower Steps and was immediately greeted by Rand, charmingly enthusiastic and brimming with exuberance, I immediately felt comfortable. After our interview, she became etched onto my mind forever. I could sense queerness in her, but I could sense Islam as well. I wondered where the two had made the connect and I wondered if we’d talk again.
About two years later, I realize that all of my friends (most made after that day) are mutual friends with Rand. Soon, I came to know this girl as one of the only people who had memorized the non-singles from “From Under The Cork Tree”. Soon, I came to know this girl as one of the only people who I knew I could scream my heart out with in punk reveries because dissonance ran through our perceived Muslim blood. I knew I could write with her, and that our creativity lined up on the same path. Our extroversion explodes when around each other and big goofy smiles can be seen going from ear to ear on both of our faces. There is more than just cognitive dissonance in Islam and middle school pop punk that connects Rand and I, and it is that which I define as home. The bridge between material and spiritual identities seem perfectly in tune when Rand comes to mind.