You’ll never be accepted, dear daughter. Your name, the name we were so proud of; the name we bestowed on you because we wanted you to be gentle, merciful and a beautiful soul, your name will always betray you. It’ll rise up against you every time you utter it. We named you Rahma because you were a mercy to us; we named you Rahma because we wanted you to be a Rahma to everyone around you in name and character, but your name, though you can never have another, is not suited to this world. People will mispronounce it, but you won’t mind, but when they say it, sneering, nose turned up at the foreignness of it, you will mind. It’ll hurt you. It will cut you deeply because you’ll be abnormal and abhorrent. That peaceful name we gave you? You may come to loathe it. It makes you too different.
Even if you change that beautiful name, you’ll never be accepted, always irregular. Your skin is just too different. It’s light, but it’s not light enough. That tan on your face and body, it didn’t come from a bottle or from a week in Benidorm and it won’t fade in the winter leaving you pasty and white. You’ll always be that golden colour; it I’ll never wash off. You’ll sit in rooms filled with people and always stand out, never able to blend in. Always be alien. You’ll walk into places and turn heads, because you look different, and always will. To me, you’re beautiful, you’ll always be beautiful, but I won’t always be around to tell you this.
I won’t be around when you realise that your mild and gentle nature won’t help you in a hostile world: a world desperate to rid itself of you. I look at you sleeping and realise that right now, everyone thinks you’re cute. That little smile and mild manner melts hearts every where it goes. But you’ll grow up. And those who once cooed over your mannerisms and adorable phrases will hate and vilify you. They’ll stamp on that gentle nature and leave you broken and bereft, wondering what you did wrong. You’ll take their jobs with your brown face so they’ll hate you and want you gone. Back to where you came from.
At the moment, you dislike boisterousness and lack confidence in groups. You retreat to the corner of a playroom quietly when someone shoves you. Your meekness will be an enemy to you, my love. Your retreat will only make you weaker. Now I realise, I need to raise you to be stronger, to be fearless, to be ferocious, if you are to survive. You’ll have to fight for the right to access the same jobs, the same education, the same life as your lighter skinned counterparts. Your alien name will have to compete against more acceptable names, less foreign, less alien, less unconventional than yours. I’ll have to raise you to fight and keep on fighting, because that’s ultimately going to be your life. You’ll never be accepted, not really. People may pretend, but deep down, they’d rather John got the job, after all, his name, his skin, his clothing is all more acceptable than yours. It always will be.
We could move. We could leave and try to raise you somewhere else, where we think you might be accepted. But what then? Leaving one displaced life for another? Running from our own? No. As I write this, tears running down my cheeks, I realise something: we brought you into a world that will never accept you, so we have to equip you to survive it. Because survive you must, my love, there is no other choice. You’ll fall, but you’ll learn to get back up, I promise. You’ll be trodden on, but you’ll dust yourself off. You’ll be vilified, but you’ll smile in the face of hatred. You’ll be proud, you’ll be strong and you’ll be fierce. You didn’t choose this, I know. But you will need to fight. I’m sorry, but you will need to fight.