The above sentence is what I hear every time when I’m in a gathering so I decided to sit down, and talk to you about why I wear it, the story behind the hijab on my head and maybe hope, that next time, you learn to appreciate the beauty that I am and accept my choice.
It was 2018 when I decided to wear it but not the first time that I read about it. Ever since I was 12 years old, I had began surfing through my dada’s personal library secretly because I don’t know for what reason, I didn’t want anyone knowing I was interested in religious stuff. So then, my little legs would take me to my purple colored school bag which my Aapa brought from Kolkata and I would hide the book between books so that I can read them during lunch time as I was never interested in discussions about actors. So while my friends discussed Sharukh khan, I read paragraphs about hijab and why was it necessary.
The first stint I had with hijab wasn’t in 2018, it was in 2014, when I first decided to wear hijab and it wasn’t one like what you get today. It was a proper hijab with multi color, majorly navy blue and I had to just put in my little face and voila it was done! But the little me knew, I had to get permission, so one day, I knocked on my senior in-charge’s door and handed her the paper on which I had scribbled my issue. One look up and down, an explanation and I was granted the permission. From the next day, I started to wear it and the PTA came, where I was told that I couldn’t wear it cause of whatever reasons. I don’t actually remember how I felt that day, but I do remember that the sudden realization of being the other, of being different, of the islamophobic nature had kicked in. I knew that day, that I’d be treated differently for the rest of my life.
4 years later, I had my University Debating and Literary Club ( UDLC ) forum and I was running in campus, looking for a specific friend. Finally getting in front of her dormitory, I shouted her name,
“Lubna, jaldi aao! “ ( Lubna come fast!)
I handed her the the little stole that I had managed to get in the market. Looking at me quizzically, she raised her eyebrows,
“ Hijab “ I told her , panting
She smiled as she tried to tie it around my head
“ This is small very small! We will go shopping once you come back”
“ Will work” I shouted as I ran .
It’s been 4 years to that day, and now as I stand before the mirror, keeping hijab pin successfully between my lips, my fingers putting layers on my head, soothing it at the same time, I smile. It’s been a long journey since I first started to wear it and I’d not say that it was an easy one. Because as a hijabi in India, we have our own struggles.
Being a girl, on top of it, Muslim and cherry on the top? A visible one. There are days when you get stared down head to toe, people whispering, your family suggesting you to not do it while traveling , spend 15 minutes convincing 5 security guards that a charger is just a charger etc. These have become so common that we are used to it now. Which is so wrong in itself but it is how it is.
I understand everything, you don’t like it to wear it, don’t wear it. No one is forcing you to wear it. But the recent Karnataka High court order banning hijab in the state in educational institutions makes me angry as I fail to understand , how can someone else decide what we wear? How can a bunch of non Muslims who have not read one page of Quran decide what is essential in my religion and what is not. Who gives them the power? And the question is not if it is essential, the point is, I want to wear it period. What’s the fuss and cry over it?
I see many liberals making this a case of “men vs women” when it’s not, it’s the Indian majority against one community , it’s an attempt to dehumanize Muslims.
Then again it brings me to another realization, the justice system is being saffronised and I don’t know if using “ being” would be the right choice because it has already chosen to color itself in saffron by looking away from the Muslim community.
The case will go on to the Supreme Court, but to be honest , I don’t have any hope and I’d suggest my others sisters the same. We will fight, we will wear our hijab till our very last breath, Insha’Allah, but we should assure ourselves that no help , no justice would be rendered to us by the courts, because it has not failed us once or twice, but every time and most importantly, a court that couldn’t protect itself or the constitution from the terrorist , a court that joins hands with the anti country elements can’t protect the minority’s interest that looks up to it with tear glazed eyes.
But Mayusi Kufr hai, so we will hold onto hope, hope of getting justice but we should be ready for what’s to come. I know we all are numb, disappointed maybe hurt too but now, we need to think ahead, and ask for courage and sabr.
For many people hijab is just a cloth that people tie around their heads, but to me, hijab is an emotion. The feeling that I get when my fingers run over my hijab symbolizes the sudden rush of content that I got when I first decided to wear it, the sudden prick of the hijab pin in my scalp sometimes symbolizes the struggles that I go through every day for wearing it and the color symbolizes the beauty that Allah has created in me. And when I look in the mirror, the hijab all in all stands for liberation, for all the battles that I’ve won and continue to win against oppression, patriarchy and most of all shaytaan.
So, I won’t let a group of terrorists or a court decide what I can wear and what I cannot. I refuse to give it into the hands of any living creature and I refuse to believe in any judgement that anyone has to pass on this, because for me the judgement has already been passed.
Hijab is not just a cloth , it’s an emotion that I refuse to give up.