By Fa Abdul | The Malaysian Insight
JEET was in primary school when his classmates began to bully him. The reason for the bullying – his turban.
Jeet’s classmates initially were very intrigued of his little bounced-up turban. But instead of asking questions, they made jokes about it, causing Jeet to feel embarrassed and alienated.
One day, Jeet was adamant in not attending school. He cried and pleaded not to be sent to school. Upon queries after queries, his mother finally found out about the bullying.
Upset and worried about her little boy, Jeet’s mother went to meet his class teacher. She thought it was the best way to solve the bullying taking place in her son’s class.
“Anak saya tiap-tiap hari menangis tak mau pergi sekolah sebab kawan-kawan dia buli di dalam kelas (My son cries every day, not wanting to go to school because he’s bullied by his classmates),” said Jeet’s mother to his class teacher.
“Biasa la tu. Budak-budak memang macam tu (That’s normal. Kids are like that),” the teacher replied.
SEE ALSO: Sikh Youth NZ host another turban day
Unsatisfied with the reply, Jeet’s mother requested the teacher to help keep an eye on her son, fearing for his well-being.
But the bullying never stopped.
Despite a few visits to the school and reporting the matter to the school administration, Jeet continued to be teased for having a funny-looking little bun on his head.
Frustrated with the school’s lack of empathy for her son, Jeet’s mother decided to take matters into her own hands.
On Jeet’s tenth birthday, she organised a party for him at their house and invited the whole class. She was all set to make the party one of the best parties the children have ever attended.
Her aim – to make the children see that Jeet is no different from any of them.
It was also an opportunity to explain to the children why Jeet has a little bun on his head.
But the party never took place.
You see, on Jeet’s birthday, his mother bought KFC for all his classmates, decorated the house with balloons and prepared some games to keep the children entertained.
Jeet, his mother and his sister, sat in their living room, anticipating the arrival of the guests. One hour became two hours and two hours became three – still no one came.
The next day, Jeet asked his classmates why no one showed up to his birthday party.
Their answer: “My parents did not allow me to go.”
“My mom said your house is haram.”
“My parents said a Muslim cannot eat in a non-Muslim’s house.”
“They all did not go so I didn’t feel like going either.”
Jeet’s mother was very angry when she heard about her son’s friends’ excuses. Being a person who grew up in a small Malay village in Ayer Itam, Penang, she could not fathom why the other parents had to make assumptions that a fellow non-Muslim Malaysian would not know how to prepare halal food when having Muslims in the guest list.
“I was very upset and frustrated, Fa. But most of all, I was disappointed. I was disappointed in the school and I was disappointed with the parents,” Jeet’s mother told me when we met.
“We send our children to school not only to learn Bahasa, English, Mathematics and Moral. We send them to school to expose our children to the different people and their cultures.
“School is supposed to be the first society our children are a part of while they grow up. Sadly, they fail miserably to play a role in assimilating our children.”
Jeet’s mother claims that while schools are very enthusiastic when it comes to educating the non-Muslim students about Muslims and their way of life, they do not bother doing the same for the non-Muslims.
“Teachers explain in school assemblies why Muslims fast during Ramadhan. They tell the other students to learn to respect the Muslims’ beliefs. But why do they not also teach the Muslims of the non-Muslim’s beliefs? Why are the children not taught about a Sikh boy who wears a turban or a Hindu girl who wears a dot on her forehead?” she asked.
I suppose every Malaysian, Muslims and non-Muslims, knows the answer to the questions asked by Jeet’s mother.
And as citizens of Malaysia who are well-known for our tolerance, we shall once again sweep the matter under the carpet and continue being a part of this wonderful melting pot, celebrating our differences while secretly not giving a shit about each other.
* Fa Abdul is a passionate storyteller and a resident agitator of the idiots in society. Well-known for her straight-talking sarcasm and occasional foul mouth, she juggles between her work as a writer, producer and director.
The article appeared at The Malaysian Insight, a Malaysia news portal, on 7 September 2017. See original story here.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
Mr Singh dons batik turban at KL fashion week (Asia Samachar, 27 Aug 2017)
Turbanned stranger shines in advertising industry (Asia Samachar, 4 Aug 2017)
Aussie father fights for five-year-old Sikh son to wear turban at Melbourne school (Asia Samachar, 25 July 2017)
Satinder Sartaaj first turbaned Sikh on Cannes Film Festival red carpet (Asia Samachar, 20 July 2017)
US Army fitting present for Guru Gobind Singh birthday (Asia Samachar, 6 Jan 2017)
Sikh Youth NZ host another turban day (Asia Samachar, 21 Dec 2016)
Malaysian circular clarifies on unshorn hair, kara for Sikh students (Asia Samachar, 15 June 2015)
[The fastest way to reach Asia Samachar is by sending us a Facebook message. For obituary announcements, click here]