Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Covering Up

When I was about 18 years old, I entered Matriculation, right after SPM. My college was in Melaka, and was, reportedly, the strictest matrciculation college at the time. And so it was a ruling (not sure if this was true for other matrix colleges) that all muslim girls must wear the tudung.

And so, upon leaving, I decided that I would just go on wearing the tudung, since it was convenient. about a year passed and I began to regret my decision. I felt that I wasn't ready. People seem to expect things of you when you cover up. You're supposed to be demure, not supposed to be in certain places, so many socially imposed rules and regulations, that I felt trapped within myself.

I made a decision (after consulting my mother, and asking for her consent) to take it off. It's not something that I am proud of today. I know many people on campus who looked down on what I did. They didn't have to say anything, I knew from the looks they gave me that they disapproved, but I didn't care (well a small part of me did, of course). All that was important was that I felt comfortable with myself.

I had my fun (within limits, of course), got married, and then about 3 years into my marriage, I felt that perhaps it was time for me to cover myself back up. I consulted my mother, my mother-in-law, and of course, my husband before making the decision. And in October 2010, I decided to go through with it.

Looking back, I have no regrets. Yes, I'm not proud of 'uncovering' myself, so to speak. But I don't regret the decision.

There are still times today that I feel as if life would be easier if the head covering wasn't there. I look back on how easy it was back then, just slip into something presentable, make sure my hair looks alright, or else tie it up and I was all done and ready to go out.

Nowadays, it's a chore to make sure my outfit matches with my headscarf, that it covers all the appropriate parts of my body, that no one will look at me and start whispering about how "pakai tudung tapi.....".

People are just so much more judgemental when it comes to girls who cover up. In a way it's good, because it makes them (us) be more careful about what we put on, but seriously, the pressure sometimes drives me crazy. Yes, I get offended when people start talking about people who wear the hijab, yes I get angry.

We are trying. Maybe we don;t do it perfectly, but who IS perfect? We're all human beings. We all have that desire to look good. If not to other people, then maybe just ourselves. Some people say, "pedulikan apa orang kata. Do you do it for other people or do you do it for God?"

Well, to these naysayers, I say, I pray that one day you'll also be able to reach the level that you expect us so-called "hijabsters" to reach. I pray that when you decide to do something good for yourselves, naysayers like yourselves won't come into the picture and start bringing you down just because you don't do it perfectly. I pray that no one will expose all of your faults just because they don't think you're doing it right instead of advising or telling you nicely. I hope you'll never get to the point where someone makes you doubt your faith just because they expect you to be perfect and you're just, simply put, not. I hope no one will judge you for being only human.

Nobody is perfect. Nobody.

What ifs.

It's been so long since I've written anything. You have no idea how many times I've opened up the compose page and started writing, get a couple of paragraphs in only to point my mouse on the exit button without finishing.

It's a little disturbing to me, given that I used to be able to compose in a heartbeat and still end up with a semi-decent post. I think I've lost the ability, and maybe even the passion somewhere along the way.

So many things have happened in the last couple of years.

I got a beautiful baby girl (duh), got an amazing job, quit for my studies (and still regretting it everyday), and I still have yet to get anywhere with my thesis. The original reason I quit was to get further than I would otherwise, but looking at how slow my progress is, I might have to be content with finishing what I started and thinking about the next step later. I know this is really vague, but I think those who know me personally will know what I'm talking about.

It's so hard. I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of so many things. What I want, what I love about my life, what I should be doing, what I would be if I had or hadn't done some things.


Such a dirty word for someone like me.

I wouldn't trade my life for anything, and yet I still wonder what if.

So many people are convinced that I will make something out of what I have and pull myself and my family up.

I wish I had their confidence.