Welcome to My Life

19

Welcome to a day in the life of. This is my life, and this is how it changed.

30th February 2008

It’s 8am. Snap. I’ve overslept. Again. Not surprising, as I’d switched my laptop off at 3 am. I rush to get ready but sigh as I see my reflection in the mirror. I cake on some makeup and spray on a cloud of perfume. Still dissatisfied with my image, I place a green headband in my long flowing hair and rush out the door, stomach rumbling. As I power-walk to school, I dread what the day may bring…

First lesson. English. I’m late. Again. I look around and see all the seats have been taken, so I drag one from another table and sit at my own. As the day drags on, I sit in my lessons in silence, so my lips stick together and a knot forms in my throat; and yet I cannot concentrate on the work. The most dreaded part of my day arrives. Lunch. I grab a sandwich and juice and slowly walk down the middle of the canteen. It feels like everyone is so much happier than me. I sit at a table on my own, tears welling up as I chew tuna and cucumber on brown bread. I suddenly feel incredibly sick, unable to finish my lunch. I rush to the toilets and lock myself in a cubicle. I breathe. I sigh. What has happened to my life? How will I cope?!

I struggle through the rest of the school day and finally arrive home. Safe? No. After greeting my parents much too joyfully than I feel, I run upstairs – and it happens again as soon as I switch my laptop on. The taunting and the teasing has to stop. But I don’t know how or what to do. I just want it to stop. I feel so helpless, and weak. Whenever I think of simply shutting down the laptop, a sneering voice inside me whispers, “WIMP! Fight back!” While in this vulnerable state, I try to repel the comments and the “jokes.” I check my email and get caught up in my friend’s problems of self-harm, which scare me even more. The “ding” of msn, and the “pop” of facebook echo through my mind and I feel trapped.

My mother calls me for dinner and I look out the window. “The world is ugly. Ugly. I hate it. I hate me,” I think to myself. At the dinner table, I am shivering  from the cyber-bullying I encountered. I am used to the shivering though. It is a daily element of my life. I plaster a smile on my face through dinner, and the same internet antics happen throughout the night. I finally drop off to sleep, but wake up startled a couple of times with horrific dreams. I’m trapped in a cage of worry, fear – and pain. Intense pain which makes me cry and cry and cry until I fall asleep again…

It’s 8am. Snap. I’ve overslept. Again.

Welcome to my life.

30th February 2009

Beep, beep. My eyes open. “Bismillah.” I turn my alarm off, throw the duvet back and rub the sleep out of my eyes. It is 5:45 am. After washing, I pray my beloved Fajr prayer. The light is switched off and I feel at peace with myself and the world. After Fajr, I pick up my English translation of the Qur’an and read all the amazing stories my Lord has given me. I then recite the Arabic text and the gentle humming of my own voice soothes my mind. I get ready for school in my own time and read some Shakespeare in preparation for my English lesson today.

After breakfast, I pick up my black headscarf (to match my uniform) and head to my mirror. I drape it over my tied-back hair, and wrap the chiffon material around my head before securing it with a slide at the side. I slip on a black cardigan on top of my white blouse and wear my tie before grabbing my blazer and placing my bag over my shoulder. I look at myself in the mirror. I smile. Covered – yet I feel beautiful – I feel safe – safe that I will be judged by who I am – this is who I am. I grin and head to school.

On the way, I look up at the sky. It’s blue today. I smile even more – no clouds, for what seems like the first time of the year. (Yes, I live in Britain.) I think of all the other people around the world who gaze up to that sky, and smile, or laugh, or cry. It’s the same sky. It’s what unites us across the globe – and the Creator of the sky – Allah. Thank Allah. For all His mercies! This thought lingers with me during the walk to school.

First lesson. English. I’m on time as usual and find my group of friends and greet them. I concentrate on my lessons while having a good laugh with my mates. My hijab protects me from any glaring eyes and  I feel so confident in everything I do, and keep the remembrance of Allah in my heart throughout the day, clutching my prayer beads and completing a full round whenever I get the chance. It’s finally lunch time and after grabbing some food, I sit with my wonderful friends and happily converse with them, (today we were discussing the politics of the Palestine/Israel situation and if there is anything we can do), but not for too log. When I see I have fifteen minutes left of my lunchbreak, a couple of friends and I walk to an empty classroom and perform our Dhuhr prayers. It feels so great to kneel down on my prayer mat at school. I feel totally at peace and protected as I walk down the busy hallway to my next lesson.

When the school day ends, I walk home, continuing the same contemplations of this morning. Smiling all the way, I arrive home and greet my beloved parents. After getting changed out of my school uniform, I pray Asr prayer and the same feeling overcomes my heart – peace.

I start and finish my homework within an hour and spend the evening playing with my lovely little sister before briefly checking my mail and going down to dinner. Before I go downstairs, I look out my window. “This world is beautiful. Thank you Allah! For letting me experience this beauty. But please let me see the beauty of paradise. Please forgive me and accept my deeds,” I pray, “There is much to come, after. But I still have many blessings in this world.”

After dinner, I pray Maghrib and then do some revision for an upcoming exam. Finally it is time for Isha prayer, which I pray before getting ready to go to sleep. I rest my eyes and gradually drop off with a smile on my face and dhikr moist on my lips.

Beep, beep. My eyes open. “Bismillah.” It’s 5:45am. Again.

Welcome to my life. Alhamdulillah.

There are many significant changes between these two lifestyles of mine. Each a year apart. Hijab is the element between these two years. Hijab is the change which transformed the laziness, insecurity, low self-esteem, wrong company, weak faith, lack of knowledge and pain – into something else, something bright, beautiful and peaceful.

It didn’t only change the way I dress and act, it changed my chracter and my outlook on life and everything. It changed who I am; and I am so glad it did.

Your life can always change. It’s never too late, sisters and brothers.

You are not alone, ever. Allah is always there with you. So stay strong. And smile!