Hiji: One that wears and embraces the hijab.
The question that I’ve heard one too many times: “Why are you wearing that?”
Putting on the hijab was solely my choice, but it didn’t stop people from thinking that I was being forced by an almighty man who will behead me if I don’t (yes – I did hear that before).
When I was around 11 years old, I got lice, along with 90% of my class. I remember my mother doing just about everything to get rid of them, but they kept coming back. They were everywhere. My mother, tired and exhausted, suggested I cut my hair. My long jet black curly hair. My identity. Naturally I said no, but of course, I was 11.
Next thing I knew, I was in the tub getting my hair chopped while tears were rolling down my face. I was devastated and did not want to leave my house to face the world with really short hair. That led to my first experience with the hijab. I had asked my mom if I could get one of those things on her head. She gave me a hijab and that’s that.
After a couple of months, my hair grew enough to look okay. So I took it off. As the years gone by, I put on the hijab when I felt like it, and took it off when I didn’t. When I went out at night doing God knows what, I wore my little dress with my hair in a bun – no hijab.
When I was around 22-23, I finally decided that I wanted to wear the hijab for the purpose of religion and modesty. I felt like I was abusing the concept of the headscarf and was internally forced to make a decision to keep it or to no longer wear it. I had made my decision; I became a hiji.
This decision was not easy. I live in a pretty diverse city, but there are no hijis in my workplace or my entourage. Sometimes, I feel not understood. It’s as simple as: “Let’s all go to the club for my birthday party!” No. I will not go.
I wasn’t long before I felt and realized the side eyes when I walked outside. The look of anger when a terrorist attack happened. The way people thought I needed to explain myself for another person’s actions. I cannot dictate how people should look at others, but I can try to remain above it and stay strong.
After all, being a hiji is my lifestyle, and I should protect it.