The first time I felt time stop was when I saw my younger brother's face grow unfamiliar as his mind tried to process Islamophobia. A single drop in his consciousness of what had long since flooded mine felt like I had stepped barefoot on a rusty nail.
The second time was last week, looking at a dead body for the first time. Murdered. An eye collapsed. Patches of maggots. The body so swollen, seemingly about to explode. His shirt a few feet away in a brown bag, passersby reflexively scrunching their noses. What's that smell? Now I know.
The third time was when a staccato of swipes and taps fell silent. "BREAKING NEWS-", followed by an image of a young girl in hijab. A deep breath. A slow swipe. "-17-YEAR-OLD MUSLIM GIRL ASSAULTED AND KILLED AFTER LEAVING MOSQUE". Like I was sprinting across a neverending floor covered in rusty nails, seeking relief, finding none.
The third time was yesterday. With closed eyes, I felt the soft, clean carpet below, smiling at the happy symphony of "Eid Mubaraks" and laughter, smelling the sun hit food in a new way after a month of fasting. Suddenly I feel my face mirror what I had seen on my brother's years ago. A terrifying thought - am I going to exit our mosque alive?
What's that feeling? Now I know.