I’m a young South African Muslim woman in my last year at the University of Cape Town. I’m studying. It was there that I met Hasani, a South African Indian Muslim. The first time I saw him, I was standing in the hallway, waiting for my friend, Mandisa. He was with a friend, an African guy and as they approached, our eyes met. We stared at each other for several minutes and then, he glanced away and continued down the corridor.
“What are you smiling about?” Mandisa asked me.
“I just saw a tall and very good-looking Indian guy. I wonder if he’s dating anyone.”
“Even if he isn’t, you can forget it. You know how the Indians treat us because we’re black.”
“The guy he was with was black.”
“So? That doesn’t mean that he would date a Muslim.”
“He could be Muslim too.”
“Even if he is, he will probably date a Muslim Indian woman. Forget about him, Anele. There’re plenty of nice looking and decent black Muslim men here on campus.”
I didn’t say anything and we headed for our respective classes. It’s true what she said, though. As Black Muslims we have experienced a lot of racism from members of the Indian Muslim community. Some of them don’t even greet us although in Islam, they should because it doesn’t matter what race you are.
I probably shouldn’t even entertain the idea of dating a guy outside of my race even if we are both South African and Muslims, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the Indian guy, though and I hoped that I would see him again. I got my wish. I saw him every week and we exchanged hellos. Sometimes he was with a friend and other times he was alone. I found myself wishing that we would say more than hello to each other.
I had just finished my last class for the day and was getting my things from my locker when I sensed that someone staring at me. I turned around and my heart skipped a beat when I saw that it was him.
He leaning against the wall with one hand in his pocket, smiling at me. “Hello,” he said.
“Hello,” I replied.
“And I’m Anele. Um. Are you Muslim?”
What a relief. “Sorry, but I had to ask.”
“No problem. A group of friends and I are heading over to Eastern Food Bazaar, would you like to join us?”
His invitation to join him and his friends was so unexpected that for a few minutes, I didn’t know what to say. “Yes, I would like to.”
“Good. It’s a 10 minute walk from here. The group is waiting for us in front of the Sarah Baartman Hall.”
As we walked down the corridor, I called my mother on my cell to let her know that I was going out with a group of friends. She was fine with that and after I ended the call, I turned off my cell and slipped it into my bag. Hasani and I chatted as we walked. I found out that he was studying Forensic Medicine because he wanted to be a Criminologist. “Why criminology?” I wondered.
“I’ve always wanted to understand the nature and causes of crime in society.”
“What are some of the things you would be doing as a criminologist?” I was fascinated and impressed now.
“I would be researching when and how crimes occur, using recorded data to establish patterns, predicting when crimes are likely to happen or when societies are likely to experience an increase or decrease in crime, studying societal factors that contribute to crime to mention a few.”
“It sounds like it would be a very interesting career.”
“It is. What about you? What are you studying?”
“Social Development. I’m interested in working with children.”
“Will you tell me more about it when we’re at the restaurant?” he asked as we went up the steps of Sarah Baartman Hall.
“Yes, I will,” I promised before we joined the group.