In A Different Shade…
“On your white canvas… Colour me wise… Colour me strong!”
Participants have recently been enjoying the Jaipur Literature Festival in the western Indian province of Rajasthan. The audience were trying to guess which participant had a chance to steal the show…
Sitting near a table, an Australian travel-writer was talking to some Indian journalists on the sidelines of the event. All of a sudden, a lanky girl, along with another lady, joined them. The Australian writer introduced the 20-year-old girl to the journalists, saying: “She is Manal Younus… a poet… and one of 350 speakers of this Festival.” A journalist, present there, asked Manal about her topic of writing. “Islam,” she calmly replied, with dignity.
Manal, a resident of Adelaide, is originally from Eritrea, the northeast African country on the coast of the Red Sea. The dictatorial ruler of the country has prompted many, including Manal’s family, to leave Eritrea, a former colony of Italy. Manal told the Indian journalists that she had arrived in Australia at the age of four. So, it was not possible for her to remember what had happened with her family in Eritrea. However, that event still inspires her a lot… to write and to speak as well! It also helps her realise that it is important to stand in front of others with poise and courage!
Since her adolescence period, Manal has realised that the environment of the Whites was different from her’s. While trying to find the reasons behind the difference, she realised that her migration, skin colour, religion, language, etc. played an important role in forming her identity! Manal has forgotten when she learned that she would have to live with Islam… that is her identity and pride in this diverse world!
Sometimes, religion also becomes the cause of concern. That is why Manal started writing poems! Her verses help her understand the reality, and also the pain of religion. Instead of publishing them, she recites the verses in different parts of the globe. According to Manal, she tries to judge the quality and appeal of her creations with her performance, first. She believes that her presentation helps exchange her emotions with others, apart from searching the meaning of Islam, her identity and also the meaning of her faith.
Manal, who believes that language and stories are the very fabric of our existence, not only speaks about problems related to the skin colour, but also about division of people on the basis of religion. Does she get confused about her religious identity while doing so? The Adelaide-based freelance storyteller stressed: “Yes… sometimes. Actually, everything in this world creates confusion. However, my faith helps me move ahead.”
Manal has admitted that the believers in Islam have many wrong conceptions! She is trying to help them rectify those. Her main aim is to change her own and the Islam’s identity, slowly. That is why she does not cover her head with a hijab (a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women), but uses a scarf. Manal is not ready to give up her faith, identify, and love. She wants to communicate with others so that they understand her belief, faith…
Manal is of the opinion that it is important for both the believers and non-believers in Islam to develop the power of discretion. Often, she feels herself different from others, while sitting inside her room at Adelaide. As she does not like this difference, Manal occasionally visits different parts of the world with her verses. She informs the Global Community about her struggle, and also about her love! Only love can bring people closer to one another!
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