Protect yourself from people, even if they are your father.

Ever since I can remember, my sister and I were oppressed by my father because of our clothing. My parents always argued after we went shopping for clothes. My father was an oppressive person, and my mom was a liberating woman crushed under community pressure, just like mothers of many of us. We ended up going shopping for clothes with only our father due to these arguments. He was an extremely religious man but looked very modern from the outside. This fact put us under even more pressure. We always dressed up poorly and imprecise. He would insult us when we dressed up so we could not. After secondary school, I got into a good high school. My sister was already going to a good one.

My father called me over two days before high school started and told me I had to cover my head.

For some reason, I never thought I would have the same ending with my sister; I never expected that to happen. My sister was a lot older than me, so it seemed reasonable for her to cover. But when it was my turn, I had a hard time accepting it. My father took me to school on the first day. It was a top-rated school, and my classmates were posh, intelligent and hard-working students.

During the entrance, I wanted to take it off. Hijab was banned in schools anyway. My father did not let me. He made me wait until I get inside to prevent me from being seen uncovered in public. I took it off after entering the school. It was a rough day.

In the first month, I could not adapt to my friends or the environment. After a while, I started to show my true self and made some friends. They would not find me strange.

My friends did not know the only reason for covering was my father’s coerciveness. One of my liberal friends used to tell me to take it off now and then, and I would never get offended. She knew that I cover because of pressure. She would understand me, was very mature by heart and always told me not to listen to anyone, and this girl with the hijab was not me.

As one thing led to another, the school was over. My high school years were filled with memories of my father’s oppressive behaviour and insults. He started checking my clothes every time I go out.

I got into a decent department at a good university outside my hometown. I took off my veil then. My mom was very supportive and told me to do anything I want without any fear. My father did not know because I covered my head on holidays. It was like I had two different lives, and whenever I think about those years, it makes me sick.

In my senior year, my brother told my father that I was no longer covered, and he should stop forcing me to it. My father then kicked me out when he realised the truth. I stayed with my brother that summer. My mom used to visit us and leave my father all by himself. He had no chance but to confront me. I started to work, and I did not care what he thought, because he did not allow me to make my own decision like a civilised father. Now I live a happy life surrounded by friends I chose. I’m neither religious nor atheist.

My father changed as well, and we were left with wasted years and low self-esteem.

My advice to people reading this and hesitating to make a move is, do not spend your life for others, live how you want, not for anyone else. Do not make your life a stage for other people’s shows.

Trust yourself and your instincts. Protect yourself from people, even if they are your father.

With love.

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