As I polish, decorate, cook and garnish, the task of readying my Muslim home in California for Eid seems no less than a desperate struggle for creating a semblance of stability, a belaboured celebration of faith and family in a world turning more and more hostile. Before switching on the garden lights, before the embroidered linens, jasmines and the usual holiday aromas of cardamom and saffron to prepare the house for Eid festivities, I must first try to lift the cloud hanging over us in the days following the noxious display of hatred and racial-ethnic supremacy in Charlottesville, the onslaught of Islamophobic and racist attacks across the US in recent months, and the White House’s rhetoric that continues to validate violent racism explicitly or by default. Nervously looking at my phone while grocery shopping today, on the eve of Eid al-Adha, I am reminded of the eve of Ramzan a couple of months ago, when I saw the news of the fatal attacks on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon — my Portland, where my son goes to college, where my brother and I went to college. In the time between the two Eids, in the midst of rising racism, I have often recalled this tragedy. On May 26, the Friday evening that marked the beginning of Ramzan, a man identified as Jeremy Christian publically intimidated a teenage girl in a hijab and her friend on the MAX Light Rail, using vile language and going off on a rant against immigrants and Muslims; when he made a sudden move towards his victims, he was blocked by a few passengers. He ended up stabbing three of the men who confronted him. As a fellow Reed graduate, I am proud of Taliesin Namkai-Meche’s moral courage. As a fellow American, and dare I say patriot, I hold him in the highest esteem for defending the life and dignity ofhate-victims, especially in these bleak times when minorities are being brutally targeted by individuals and institutions I was sick to my stomach as the details of the incident unfolded. I sat quietly in the car, then texted my son who was on campus in Portland, at Reed College, for a summer fellowship. He was shopping for Ramzan and had just heard the terrible news. We calmed each other by talking about which cereals we had bought and the exact time of the pre-dawn sehri meal — 3:37am for Portland, later by an hour in San Diego. We agreed to call each other on FaceTime in the morning. At sehri, as I fed the family, there was comfort in sharing the grogginess of the small hours, passing each other marmalade, fried bread and omelette under dimmed lights, which made the thought of my teenager a thousand miles away all the more unsettling, despite seeing him on my phone screen. I thought of the long summer day of fasting ahead of him in the aftermath of the hate-killings. By the next day, many of the details of the stabbings had been confirmed: of the three men who stood up to Christian, Micah Fletcher, 21, the youngest stabbing victim, had fortunately survived but Ricky Best, a 53 year-old father of four, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, had been killed. Devastating as it was to hear of the trauma and loss of the three courageous men, I found myself in deep grief over the death of Namkai-Meche whose college photo was widely circulated — he was a recent graduate of Reed College, an Econ major. Here was a young man from a community that has been dear to me for decades, not only for the people I have known, loved and admired but the shared values that make them who they are. My own life as a student flashed before me — here in this city, I was once a Muslim student who chose to wear the headscarf every now and then, who experienced otherness in the culture but felt welcomed by this community. I understand Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival we are celebrating today, to be a reminder to work towards cultivating a spirit of sacrifice for the right cause. Sad as it is, we live in times when such sacrifices are constantly needed. As a fellow Reed graduate, I am proud of Taliesin Namkai-Meche’s moral courage, as a fellow American, and dare I say — patriot — I hold Namkai-Meche in the highest esteem for defending the life and dignity of hate-victims, especially in these bleak times when silencing and bullying are becoming the norm, when minorities are being brutally targeted by individuals and institutions. Namkai-Meche’s genuine compassion is reflected in his last words: “Tell everyone on this train I love them” — words to revive one’s faith in humanity. The writer is the author of Kohl and Chalk and Baker of Tarifa, recipient of the San Diego Book Award and the Nazim Hikmet Prize. Her work has been translated into Spanish and Urdu. She has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence. She Tweets at @ShadabZeest and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, September 6th 2017.