Hijabi Without a Face...On the eve of the French presidential election

Saturday 9 April 202201:55 pm

Ghorba ghosts prepared by R22 April Guest Editor Massoud Hayyoun

I used to be anxious about taking my hijab off before reaching the school where I work. The sweaty palms and shaky hands, the accelerated heartbeat, the checking if anybody I knew was around to see me wearing a hijab and removing it, hiding as if I were committing a crime. All of that is gone. It’s been a few months now, and it’s incredible how one can easily adjust to an uncomfortable situation. I’ve become an expert in hiding the most visible part of my identity. It’s even easier in winter! All I have to wear is a beanie with a scarf around my neck and the deal is done! Assimilation 101.

I used to be anxious about taking my hijab off before reaching the school where I work. The sweaty palms and shaky hands, the accelerated heartbeat, the checking if anybody I knew was around to see me wearing a hijab and removing it, hiding as if I were committing a crime

The torturous pain, however, is strong as ever and keeps getting stronger, splitting myself into two different entities. There is me in my entirety, and there is this little-big part of me I have to leave behind, to lock in my heart, when I go to school to be the teacher I’ve always wanted to be.

Despite the pain, I still do my job and teach children. But at the end of the day when I go to sleep, I can’t help but wonder if I’m really the teacher I’ve always wanted to be. Before I sleep, I close my eyes and allow myself to drift away towards an imaginary world so close, yet so far. And I see a teacher in a classroom, a Muslim woman wearing the hijab and interacting with her students.

I’ve become an expert in hiding the most visible part of my identity. It’s even easier in winter! All I have to wear is a beanie with a scarf around my neck and the deal is done! Assimilation 101

I try my best to draw a face to this teacher, to draw my own face. I want to see myself in that position, even if just for a second. But reality seems to crawl even into this imaginary world I’ve created, to prevent me from dreaming, from hoping that one day I will no longer be forced to leave a piece of my identity behind closed doors.

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