Hi, I am writing this letter as I am drowning in my thoughts.
I am 17. When I was 14, I was forced to wear a hijab right after I graduated from middle school. My dad talked to me and said if I don’t wear a hijab, he will leave the house. I had been under pressure since I was a kid. Whenever I buy a new outfit with short arms, they used to say, “You’re not going to wear it a few years later anyway.” This was exhausting me mentally. In the end, I couldn’t bear the pressure and covered myself. At first, it was like a nightmare to me. I was sent to Imam Hatip1 high school. Even though I told them I wasn’t happy, they didn’t care. I tried to like wearing a hijab with my friends’ help around me, they were also covered, but this was nothing but to trick myself. Every time I said, “I don’t want to wear it anymore,” they told me about religion and death. They said life is short, even tomorrow is not guaranteed, but they never thought that I could spend my whole life unhappy.
Three years have passed. I have changed in time. I don’t want to go out. The government is applying some restrictions because of the coronavirus. While my peers go out in the hours of leave, I don’t because I know I have to wear that thing. I have done much research about religion, its orders, and prohibitions. Then, I decided to be a deist. If God loves me, why would he want to burn me in the afterlife because of my hair? But I am not sure about the reaction of my family if I ever say it out loud. I look like I am fasting, but I am not. They keep forcing me to pray or read Qur’an. I feel so bad now. It’s like I have no difference from a prisoner whose freedom is taken away. Every minute I think, is torture to me. Maybe my youth will be just gone because I have to be asocial in my best times. The passing time will never come back. Still, I never lost my hope, and I never will. I don’t know who is reading this or what he/she is going through. Maybe a man is under pressure or judged by his beliefs, or a woman going through the same things as me. Be sure, one day, we will all make it together.
 Imam Hatip schools are educational institutes in Turkey where people are trained for religious professions such as imams.
(Image: Remedios Varo)