I realized that I had to give up my favorite thing to do and that, I didn’t want.

Another world is possible!  In our house, to be able to read Qur’an was as important as to be able to read and write, since the first verse is “Read”. Every summer vacation, me and my sister used to go to a mosque or a course regularly, at least for a month. Again in one summer, I was going to a boarding course on my own. I was 15 then, even though I knew how to read Qur’an, I was expected to memorize and strengthen my religious opinions with new information in order to spend my summer efficiently.  That summer, just as expected, without considering that I had other choices, in the name of fulfilling what has to be done, and with some psychological and emotional effects of some circumstances, I had decided to cover my hair. I remember having been glad with the feeling of some sort of achievement; I made myself promises and the first of them would be fulfilling my religious duties as a young Muslim woman. But I started questioning that decision within 24 hours. I realized that I had to give up my favorite thing to do and that, I didn’t want. Just realizing that made me ask the question: “Why do I have to cover my hair?” And once I’ve asked that question, no answer could satisfy me. On the other hand I was struggling to keep my promises, I even tried to prove the accuracy of the religious information that I had been for years to the people who said they are not Muslims, and to myself.  I discovered myself, my real emotions and thoughts by thinking, reading, and by seeing other worlds and actually understanding them. This process took 2-2.5 year and I’d finally realized that I wanted to open my hair for sure. Unfortunately, we weren’t an easily communicating family and instead of talking face to face, I wrote a letter to my mother. As expected, things got complicated at home. Then, I wanted to share it with my sister who has been studying in another city because I thought she could understand and support me. Although she didn’t oppose, her response wasn’t as I expected. She told me to wait until the university entrance exam in order not to be confused; and after exam, I should decide by making research. But my hair being covered was disturbing me. When I get into the bus, men were free to wear whatever they wanted and behave however they wanted to. Just because I was a woman, I was the one who had to be careful and that was nonsense. And for hundreds of times, the pressure that I was feeling on my throat caused me to get off the bus and walk home. I was feeling that I was someone else at school, somebody else at home and at course. Slowly I was moving away from the life that I want to live, from my ideas and mostly from myself. I was feeling threatened because I felt that I’d lost my identity. The urge to be myself and live as myself got very powerful and the first signals of the explosion started to show up. One day, in 2015 June, with my sister’s and my father’s gazes upon me, I threw myself on the street. The warmth of the sun was on my skin. The wind was blowing through my hair. After a long time, I was feeling like myself. Even on that day, I was thinking that young women like me, were fighting the same battle, that they were resisting to realize themselves and that I was not alone. I wanted to take the first step by sharing my story here, supporting the ones who want to realize themselves and make my dream come true through this platform. In 3.5 years, I’ve dealt with less pressure than I was expecting and scared of. Yes, I am still dealing with many difficulties because this is not my only struggle. But this process has taught me that nobody can stand against me if I’m determined and willing enough. I’ve even seen that they have to keep up with me. Naturally, there are times we fall but we are not alone and we will not walk alone. I hope one day, every individual could be able to decide for themselves freely without any pressure and manipulation. And one last thing, never give up on yourselves.

(Image: Hülya Özdemir)

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