|Newspaper financial ashes - Remsphoto|
It was somewhat unsettling to have to bend down, and stop for just a few seconds in the midst of the bustle. To accept this sign, one vertical swipe and one horizontal one that I have never, ever received before - it is a bit unsettling. This sign of mortality, this badge of identity in a once-persecuted community, touches me and shakes me up way down to the back of my spine.
I know my religion is the majority religion - but I also live in a place where this tradition of marking myself is rarely seen - certainly not by white males. It is the yearly ritual of the "superstitious", of ethnic minorities who are already branded by the color of their skin. And I rode on the train and people looked at me odd - as if I exploded on my head. And then I recalled that I am a tall, white, curly-haired male with soot etchings on my head. And then I recalled that I couldn't help but stare at the markings on other passengers just a few minutes earlier.
And it's all unsettling.
As it should be. I'm used to unsettling things happening to me that are out of my control. I'm used to winging it - and a bit too used to worrying about money and work. But I needed someone or something to touch - physically - my soul. And unnerve it, just so that I may feel that I still have one.
And I do.
And that, remarkably, is very settling.