This is something about which I have always wanted to write. Something that contributes so much to my identity and me as a person, yet, from the cover, it’s just a scarf. Just a piece of cloth.
I don’t remember the exact day, but I do remember the time when I started wearing it for the first time. It was when I was in 7th, most of my classmates had started wearing a scarf and I chose to wear one because I wanted to be among them, fitting in sort of a thing. Since my family was not exactly orthodox, there was never a push or an encouragement from that side. Gradually after some time, this piece of cloth on my head started becoming a part of me and my modesty. I started feeling uncomfortable about showing my hair anymore. Back in my childhood, I was a stage performer. So this piece of cloth was incorporated in my stage attires, partially first with a little covering of my hair, then turning into a complete cover. There was so much resistance even from family first because apparently I was taking it ‘overboard’. But the little me stood my ground, because this was something that obviously tied me to my God. Something that made me feel good about myself.
Then it became an integral part of my dressing. I knew I could never go out without my scarf. Nor remove it for the sake of anythng. It just became a part of my life. What I didnt know about was, how this little piece of cloth on my head affected and bond in a much more deeper level. Till then, it was an external element. Something about how I chose my appearance.
Then came a phase in my life, in college, where inspite of being surrounded by Muslims, there was a constant struugle when it came to my religion, within myself. Everything was blank and I felt numb, I didn’t feel any emotion even when I prayed, that at times I would skip it, because of the guilt of doing injustice to it by not showing even an ounce of commitment or sincerity to it. Just darkness and everything felt so empty. I felt no guidance, no encouragement, nothing that told me to do more. Everyday I would wake up and just find myself doing everything mechanically, getting ready, going to college, coming back. But in those days, when I looked in the mirror, to put on my scarf, everyday, I would see a girl staring back at me, still holding on to that little piece of cloth on her head that she could never let go. And I had an epiphany. I remembered how I had fought to embrace it. How it became a part of my life. And that little piece of cloth that I wrapped daily on my head, was a flicker of hope. A hope that made my heart beat again. A hope that told me all was not lost. A hope that told me that I had miles to go.
You see, that little piece of cloth, held me together, unknowingly, when I was breaking down. That little piece of cloth, reminded me to realise who I was and who I want to be. That little piece of cloth, made me work to be myself again.
I am tired of those sympathetic looks I get, about how I am, being forced to cover my hair. And I have a hard time explaining the fact that it was infact the opposite, wherein I faced a lot of resistance to wear my hijab in the beginning from family. I am tired of explaining how this scarf is my choice, and just is a part of what I BELIEVE. My choice. My belief. And my religion. It is nothing of your concern.
I cannot even comprehend the pain that my Muslim sisters undergo, struggling with wearing hijab in the West. But I know I felt really bad when I was asked if I carried a bomb in my bag, by the security lady who judged me by my hijab, which is the identity of my religion when she let all my other friends pass without a fuss. What she failed to understand was, it was MY identity, my identity as a person.
You choose to tie your hair this or that way. You choose what to wear and what not to, and you have reasons for it.
And just like that, I choose to wear my hijab. And I have my own reasons.
Reasons of how it was this little piece of cloth, that held me together when I was breaking apart, struggling to find a ground.
It is never just a piece of cloth.
It is a part of my life.
A part of my heart.