It's difficult to explain why amongst so many acts of racist aggression and staggering hostility that we have all borne witness to lately, this one made me come undone. Is it the desecration of the prayer bell, that is a sound of great comfort, peace and transcendence?
Is it because this is the same bell sound that our friends rang with love at my wedding? Is it that our brother in the video continues his ritual seamlessly, so composed and self-possessed, refusing to recoil or shrink away from this shameful bullying?
Is it because once again, this hostility was displayed by a neighbour, and I too have felt deeply unsettled in my own home because of neighbours' racist behaviours?
Because so many of us work so hard to make our homes a sanctuary we can retreat to, away from an often alienating and harsh world, but are reminded that this, too, cannot be ours?
Or is it because it comes on the back of so many other incidents that have made me and every other Indian person I know more nervous on public transport or walking down the street?
If I had to put my finger on one reason, though, I think it would be this - I can see her face in the video. I can see the unmasked hatred, the mocking expression, the contempt, the disgust, the spite, the vindictiveness.
In her face, I see how she planned this, how all this anger has been festering in her, how she got her prop ready and took time out of her day to disrupt this family's sacred practice, and let them know just how much she detests them and their practices.
In her face, I see all the "apuneneh"s and "keling-kia"s that children screamed in our faces, all the impatient Chinese shop owners who "tsk" at us, who bark "what you want?" at us, I see every time my friends and I have been made to feel like pests
I see the woman who spat at me and my lover on a train, I see the source of the shame I know we have all felt about the intimate, beautiful things our families, cultures and lands have given us
- our coconut oil, our pottu, our incense, our kuzhambus (or curries, to you), the way our tongues rolls, our dark skin, the dance numbers in our films, our deities, our bells.
In her face, I see the root of why so many Tamil folks in Singapore distance themselves from anything that could attract taunting and derision from their Chinese peers, including each other. Because what won't be give, so that someone never looks at us that way?
Too much. Enough to lead to an existential loneliness later in life, a yearning that cannot be fulfilled.
Racial contempt taints everything. I know because I know that the sounds of gongs, cymbals and drums that accompany lion dance - sounds of familiarity I have always relished,
even when they awaken me too early on a Sunday morning - will now always remind me of this woman, and her face full of hatred.
What solidarity means, is for Chinese people - perhaps other neighbours, friends of Livanesh/his family, but best of all, friends/family of this woman - to reach out to Livanesh, ask him what he and his family need, and offer to speak to this woman and her family.
To then support this woman in acknowledging the harm of her actions, and hold herself accountable to putting things right. To explore with her what factors in her environment allowed her to believe she could act in such a manner, and commit to transforming those conditions.
Livanesh's family deserves to live and practice their faith in peace, and live as equals among their neighbours. They deserve to receive an unconditional apology and amends - whatever that looks like to them - for the disrespect and bullying they've been subject to.
And Chinese people who consider themselves anti-racist - this is an invitation to step up and take responsibility for trying to make this happen.
We - especially Chinese people, but in fact all of us - might feel release in making this woman out to be a monster, setting ourselves apart from her. But the much more difficult, scary and transformative work, is in recognising her ordinariness.
In recognising that these monstrosities lurk everywhere, within all of us to some extent, and we need each other to exorcise them.

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More from @Kokilaparvathi

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Worker lives matter. Poor lives matter. Immigrant lives matter. If we believe this, how will we protect them?
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