Mahmood practiced writing his new name.
Moody. Moody. Moody.
When the entire page was filled, he set the pen down, sat back and looked at his handy work.
He absently stroked his smooth naked chin. After shaving, he had marveled at how pale that skin was. He’d forgotten that he had a cleft in his chin.
“You’re acting like a victim.” Fatima’s voice made him jump. How long had she been standing there watching him?
“What I’m trying to do,” he stated slowly, giving maximum effort to affecting his new accent, “is erase every sign that I am different. If I am like them, they will have no cause to hate me. I look too foreign. And listen to my accent. Half the time they don’t understand anything that I am saying. It’s no wonder they blame me.”
“But you weren’t even there.”
Moody turned the paper over and started writing again. This time, Michael, Michael, Michael. After a couple of lines he turned smiling at his sister. “You know,” his pronunciation was improving, he could tell, “I think that Michael is an even better name than Moody. More recognizable. More American.”
Fatima shook her head. “You’re just baiting them. You know that, right? They’ll never leave you alone now.”
He watched her mouth when she spoke, correlating each movement with the sounds produced. She was ten years his junior and had been here since she was six. She had no accent at all. Her voice was very American.
“No one respects a sell out.”
“What is a sell out?
She rolled her eyes and placed a hand on one narrow hip. He decided that when he got his next paycheck, he would take her to buy a nice pair of jeans and somehow convince her to stop wearing the damned scarf.
“A sell out is a person who doesn’t respect himself enough to stand up for what he is, or what he believes in.”
He considered this for a moment. “Ah, but one can change himself and his beliefs.”