In Secondary 3, I attended a religious camp where a guest ustazah spoke about the aurah. It was during this talk when the ustazah made a specific reference to the Quran about a woman covering up that I made the decision to don the tudung.
However, I felt conflicted. On one hand, I felt a sense of pride that I was moving one step forward in the direction I felt would bring me closer to Allah s.w.t. On the other, I wasn’t prepared for the reactions I would get from people. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I knew that I shouldn’t be afraid because I was doing it for Allah s.w.t. but, that was something easier said than done.
It started off with the extended family members, who Alhamdulillah, saw it as a pleasant surprise. And that too started the ball rolling in getting a few of the female relatives to cover up. 🙂
Then, came the school friends. In school, I was always the tomboyish kid who spoke a lot of nonsense so… I thought it would be a battle trying to marry that personality and the image of me in a headscarf together. I avoided going out with my classmates if it meant I had to wear “outside clothes”. I would find any reason to stick to my JC skirt and a school shirt when we went out. The only time my friends saw me in the headscarf was long after school ended, when we had to return to school to get our A-levels results. It was at that time, that I realised my fears were unfounded. Of course, it took them quite a while to recognise me and there was a sliiight awkward moment but once we got past that, it seemed like that headscarf wasn’t on my head at all. It was funny; while we were settling down and awaiting for our principal to give her speech, all I could feel was a sense of shame. First, for being scared of doing something that was right. Second, for underestimating my friends.
And then, the strangers. One particular incident that struck me was the YOG in 2010. A year before, I had gone for the auditions. I hadn’t made the transition to wearing the hijab yet. I had made a few acquaintances then. One of them was a Muslim girl. When she saw me with my headscarf, she said. “Oh dah taubat eh?” (translation: Oh, you’ve repented?) It felt like a slap to my face. Ironically, the non-Muslims were so much more accommodating. I learnt that day that birds of the same feather don’t always flock together.