40th Day

I just finished baking a batch of brownies when I realized, I don’t have anyone particularly worthy to receive them at the moment. So i let the brownies just lie there, cooling itself. The top crystalizing beautifully as the crushed pecans and walnuts gathered moisture from the eggs.

I never really eat the stuff I cook. I somehow always become full during the process. The only times I cook is upon impulse. Whenever a colleague pisses me off, I end up trying a new recipe.

What’s worse is whenever my incompetent boss yells at me, I go home and I start doing excessive cleaning, which I seldom complete until past midnight. And causes me to be late and decide not to go to work the following day. Only giving more fuel for my boss’ to despise me.

I’m sure Aunt Maggie and Gramps were waiting for a slice of my brownies, but they weren’t going to have any. No sir. Especially, not after they shared their degrading opinions of my decision to cover up. I’m not gonna call them bigots just yet, I’ll stay calm and wait till they’ve gathered enough decency to know what they did was wrong and try to respect other people’s choices.

I decided to cover up. Like Moslem women do. Only revealing my face and my hands to the world. I work for a call centre company, which doesn’t really require looks. Heck, I can come to work without showering and answer calls from 9 to 5 without anyone complaining. Well, except that incompetent boss I mentioned earlier. Who’s sole purpose in life is to find other people’s mishaps. So, it seems.

I was inspired by a picture of a Moslem women in The Sartorialist. She looked so sharp wearing her black abaya and the contrasting orange scarf she used to cover her hair. A pair of pearl earrings dangled beautifully as if they were trying to compete with her exuberant smile. Then on, I began blog walking, and found out that the real hijab was not a form of male coercion towards female Muslims. The women choose to cover up to achieve God’s approval. So how are they different from nuns who do the same thing? Nuns cover up and they are respected as holy beings. Muslim women cover up and we assume they’re being coerced to? Talk about dual standards, America.

Of course, I’m an American. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon. My late father was a well-known carpenter and my late mother designed and sold silkscreen fabrics. My two immediate links to the world, who died climbing the Himalayas when I was twelve. Exactly then, I denied God’s existence. I knew that was the highest form of hatred one can have for a god. I hated him for not letting my parents live.

The night I saw that photo on The Sartorialist, I went to Target and bought several pashminas. They were cheap, only 12 bucks for a pack of three. Silk Pashmina made in Turkey, said the label. I could care less, if it was real silk or not. The color coordination of the 3pack was very convenient though. Silver, dusty pink and black.

I remember walking home so excited that night. And immediately logged into YouTube for hijab tutorials when I was finally in my room.

I forgot about the inners. The fabric underneath the hijab so it wouldn’t slip off your hair. Thank goodness someone posted a video on cutting up old t-shirts for inners. In an instant, I had 3 or five inners PLUS a bundle of rags for cleaning whenever my boss pisses me of again.

I repeat, I’m not a Muslim. I just wanted to know what it is like being covered. Not having to worry about people checking out my boobs. I have D cups, and boys find it hard looking for my eyes due to such distraction. But wearing a hijab distracts them even more, I found out. Especially the needle-brained boys. Some even called me a “sand-ni***r” me? Someone as white as an albino? A “ni***r” I would’ve slapped his mouth if I didn’t remember I was representing a religion that wasn’t even mine with that outfit. So I simply walked up to him and gave me a piece of my mind without raising my voice. Telling him I wasn’t even a Muslim, that I was as American as his mother and that covering up for me was just a matter of style preference.

I soon realized that I no longer have to worry about my jiggly thighs or muffin tops over my jeans. I now buy my tunics and abayas from a nearby Pakistani home business. They mainly sell saris and Hindi ceremonial stuff but their Muslim relatives drop off their products too. I told them I’m not a Muslim, but after wearing hijab for almost one month, I feel ‘naked’ when I go out not covering myself. Ms. Singh simply smiled, a knowing smile and said nothing. I blushed. As pink as the pashmina I was wearing that day.

Aunt Maggie and Gramps, did disapprove at first before finally giving in. She said, “Beats having you cut up yourself like you used to. At least this destructive behavior of yours doesn’t involve bloodshed.” “So, any Moslem suitors under 70 come to propose for you yet?” Gramps chuckled after making his remark. “Not yet, but I’m quite sure Ms. Singh’s brother-in-law is looking for a third wife.” Gramps pretended to hold his 81 year old chest as if he was having a heart attack. We laughed and they were allowed to have some of my famous chocolate chip cookies.

********

It was my 40th day of covering. I wanted to treat myself to some ice cream for having come this far. I stopped by a used book store and found a copy of A. Yusuf Ali’s Holy Qur’an. The shopkeeper kept throwing suspicious glances over his gold-rimmed eyeglasses and kept inching towards me pretending to arrange books. I decided to purchase the copy and left him with his prejudice.

The ice cream shop was just about to open, but already a long line of customers were waiting. Just before me were two Muslim women. Casual light cottony clothing yet covered and still elegant. They were Middle-Eastern and they probably thought I was Bosnian or something due to my Caucasian features. They politely said their Salam when I stood behind them, I simply nodded back, not knowing how to reply correctly yet. Was it “wassalama” or “walaikumsalam”, rather than making a fool of myself, a smile was a way better option.

The shop was opening. I could hear the buzz. A summer buzz, filled with children’s squeals, beach balls and bicycle bells. I was feeling a lot more cheerful lately. Perhaps it was because of the abaya. Perhaps it was the feeling of having more control of my body and how I ‘protected’ and ‘respected’ myself. I remembered the book I bought. In it must be an explanation about the veil. So I took it out and began to read from the front. “In The Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” my heart sank to this. I was confused but happy.

All of a sudden, I felt a sharp sting in my temple, then everything went black.

Minutes later, I could see again. I saw my body drenched in blood. Next to me, the two Muslim women’s bodies were covered in blood too. We were all shot precisely in the head by a sniper down the street from a window on the fifth floor. He was aiming for just the two, who he knew always had ice creams on bright sunny days like this. I just happened to be there and dressed like them.

“Come.” I heard a voice.
It was the lady in front of me, showing me the way.

7 thoughts on “40th Day

  1. mademoiselle says:

    I am a teenage moslem. Been wearing hijab since forever and have been having doubts and actually thinking of opening it this last year or two. My friends even encourage me to open it and “live life while I’m young”
    This piece inspires me, thank you :’)
    I hope to keep on being inspired and not give up to what this world has to offer so soon.
    Again, thank you.

      1. mademoiselle says:

        I have never saw hijab from this point of view. Very enlightening. This makes me feel precious.
        Thanks again :)I have never saw hijab from this point of view. Very enlightening. This makes me feel precious.
        Thanks again :)

  2. this is beautiful. :,)
    I nearly cried reading this, being a moslem and not covering myself. ehm. but i’m getting there.
    I’ve found your blog through series of random search starting with “Fiksimini”. and immediately fall in love!

    salam kenal dari Sidoarjo.. :)

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