I am sometimes accused of stretching too far to find a South Asian angle on every story. But I didn't have to stretch too far to find a desi connection to Halloween, via an essay in Friday's New York Times op-ed section. A NYC friend, sharing the piece and a comment from another friend that "this brought me to tears", wrote: "I read the piece on my BB in the immigrant train (#7) and I, too, got tears in my eyes. Beautiful piece indeed!"
The essay is by Canadian writer Irshad Manji, who I just learned, is now in NYC (""Irshad Manji, the author of “The Trouble With Islam Today,” is the director of the Moral Courage Project at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.")
From "Home for Halloween":
Beginning in August 1972, thousands of Asian entrepreneurs fled the East African country of Uganda after its dictator, Idi Amin, declared us to be bloodsuckers, seized our property and gave us three months to leave or die.
My family and I had only Ugandan passports, so we couldn’t escape to Britain or India like many of our neighbors. We’d been in Africa for two generations; my father and his brothers owned a car dealership in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. We didn’t know where to go, but we knew we couldn’t stay: Amin viciously enforced his 90-day deadline.
By the final week of October, the nations that would otherwise accept Ugandan exiles had exceeded their quotas. My family heard that Sweden and Canada might make room for a few more, and so out of desperation my mother, my sisters and I flew to Montreal, with Dad to follow. We had no guarantee that Canada would admit us.
We also had no guarantee that we’d meet an extraordinary immigration agent. But on Halloween 1972, we did.
Read the rest of the essay here and please post your comments.
For many folks in India, Oct. 31 is a landmark date for something else altogether. On that day in 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated, setting off a wave of riots that killed thousands of Sikhs.