I hadn’t finished middle school yet, and I was dreaming of unveiling in university.

How do the stories of most of us begin? A conservative family, an authoritarian father. Mine was a little more than this. We are living in a family apartment, with 4 nuclear families. What I wear, how I leave the house is criticized not only by my mother and father but also by my other relatives. Did I miss the bus as I came home, did I come half an hour late? It’s immediately asked my mother why I was late. These relatives of mine don’t have daughters, all of their children are male, so they get to stay out late. It’s hard for me to maintain my mental health among these crazy people. It’s going to be a little long, but I want to tell my veiling story as well.

As I became 12, I didn’t even have my period yet, I couldn’t bear my mother’s pressure anymore and I got in the hijab. Two friends of mine had also got in the hijab on the first day of school. This way, I wasn’t feeling lonely. No one in the classroom said a bad thing to me, no one looked at me weird. But one week later, I realized that I didn’t make this decision myself and went out unveiled. My father had a serious talk with me that day. I couldn’t defend myself. I got in the hijab so that I wouldn’t endure violence. I kept going to school, but I didn’t listen to the teacher. I didn’t do my homework. My teachers noticed this radical change since I used to be a hardworking student. Many teachers asked me if I needed help. They directed me to the school’s counseling teacher, but I didn’t go. Meanwhile, my parents were incredibly happy. They thought that I had accepted this situation. They did everything I wanted so that I wouldn’t unveil. I bought a lot of headscarves, but I didn’t wear them. I wanted to take language courses just because I wanted them to spend money; they sent me. In time, I got used to my looks, but I never accepted it. My family, who thought that I got over the veiling issue, asked me to start performing salat when I was 13. The first time I opposed, my father got angry with me, yelling “Are you an infidel?” I started performing salat because I was afraid. See? The problem was quickly solved. My sister who was 4 years older than me was the only person I could talk to, but she didn’t understand me. She chose this religion and the requirements of it, but it was hard for me to do this. Whatever I said was in vain. I talked to my mother. She sarcastically said, “Tell your father, you can unveil if he lets you to.” You know how my father solved problems; he would use violence, make you accept his request, and the problem was thereby solved. For this reason, I never talked to my father about this issue.

One day, unprovoked, my father said to me, “I would send your sister to another city for studying, but I can’t send you. Because you will unveil there.” I was 13, and I was so pessimistic that I had already accepted the “veiled me.” What my father said led me to think about this issue. Yes, I wouldn’t stay in this family apartment forever. I hadn’t finished middle school yet, and I was dreaming of unveiling in university. Even though the environment I was in and my looks which I could never make peace with sometimes led me to depression, many things made me ambitious about lessons and school.

I somehow managed to survive the harsh middle school years and got into a science high school that required high points. I underwent pressure I didn’t have from my middle school friends in high school, besides a science high school. I found the religious philosophizing wrong, I felt like I had to defend God’s existence just because I had a headscarf on my head. I was supposed to reject evolution without researching because that was what my religion asked me to. I was referred to as “bigot, the one who doesn’t use her head” among my friends. I didn’t care and continued to defend a religion I didn’t believe in. Until there was no one around me.

Now I started 11th grade. Now I say that I wish I hadn’t behaved this way; I wish I hadn’t defended things that I didn’t believe in. My sister went to another city for university. Now, I’m lonelier than before. But I made my decision. Now, I don’t have a say in my religious belief and my looks, and my family is not a family with which I can talk and come to an understanding. So, I’m going to be patient with these people for two more years and I’ll be able to find myself in university. I get happy when I think about “me” in two years.  It’s up to me to realize my dreams. Knowing this gives me strength. Enduring this torture for two more years probably sounds pathetic to you. But believe me, there is nothing more I can do. If Allah allows, I will write here the story of my victory in two years.

Translator: Leto

(Image: Marie Muravski)

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