I do not want to stifle my laughs.

If it helps you imagine, I have shoulder-length, dark brown, thick and puffy hair. I have hair that I started associating to freedom over time. I have hair that I dream of, with the salty sea water touching its ends. I have hair that I dream of, being blown by the wind coming through the car window.

Is that reading too much into just a strand of hair? Yes, you are right. But maybe it’s because of what I’m taught. Maybe I learnt it when I was told my hair was too important to be left for men to see, and I was encouraged to cover it after the last year of middle school, or when I was told to hide and throw away my hair collected on the comb at the Quran classes, or when I faced glares in the last year of high school because of not wearing a bonnet, or when people verbally harrassed me in dorm cafeteria in university when I left my neck uncovered during hot summer.

Maybe I give too much meaning to my hair, because I wanted to cry, not being able to apply to theatre schools I wanted so much to study in, because I couldn’t play every role. Maybe I give too much meaning to my hair, as I had to cover it every morning despite spending many nights full of thinking and questioning the religion.

Maybe I give too much meaning to it, because I was too afraid to support LGBTI community, thinking I could get a bad reaction to my hijab. Maybe I give too much meaning to it, because when I want equality and women’s rights, I get criticised by saying “You are a Muslim, it contradicts your religion”.

After all, you are still right. It’s not just the hair. I just wanted to explain myself by using it, and I wanted to show you that it is not as easy as you think. It’s easy to speak, then speak. Say “You should’ve held on, the shame is on you”. Say “You went to another city far from your family, so you lost your way. You ‘wanted’ to lose it, so don’t dramatize it”.

Yes, I want to lose it! I do not want to stifle my laughs. I do not want to keep thinking if my hijab gets ruined when I am cycling. I do not want to search for a women’s only gym. I do not want to have to cover my hair when I am so sick that I can’t even stand up. I do not want to have to wear a long cardigan when going to balcony.

I want to blow bubbles with my chewing gum. I want to wear necklaces and earrings in different colours. I want to wear a nail polish. That is why I stopped covering my hair, and left my already loose hijab. The process was easier than most of my sisters’. Although my father was supporting, I spent many nights without sleep. I got anxiety. I felt like a stranger to myself, fought myself and got sick of thinking every detail. However, yes, I became a bad girl.

Yes, that’s right. I am tired of being a decent girl.

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