Modelling credit:Shahanaaz Dudekula
Picture Credits:Mehanaaz Dudekula
The veil has always fascinated me…
The mystery and the aura of the person behind the veil ,arouses my curiosity no end and my overactive imagination visualizes awesome beauties behind every veil.
The veil has always been a part and parcel of a woman’s attire cutting across geographical, cultural and international borders since times immemorial.
The veil is intimately interwoven into the life and lifestyle of women in Islamic culture acquiring intense religious and patriarchal connotations.
I have been born and brought up in an entirely secular atmosphere being a child of Defence services in the Indian context.
I have had minimum exposure to Islamic culture and have never been an insider to experience the life behind a veil.
In the year 2014, at a late stage in my life I decided to pursue Masters in Education and to experience the carefree life of a college student once again.
For the lack of any other option I stepped into a Muslim Minority Institution of Education with great trepidation.
For the first time in my life I was an insider to a behind the scenes culture. I could now put my opinions to test. The opinions which I held of a repressive class of women, women with no will of their own, women who were slaves to the men in their families, women who had no dreams , women who were voiceless, submissive, invisible , utility and reproductive machines and had no identity of their own.
During the next few months, every prejudiced opinion of mine was going to be blown into pieces. Every day in the college was a revelation for me. Every woman I met and encountered in my classroom was a heroine not in looks but in deeds. Each one of the women had a story behind the veil and my awe grew for them in leaps and bounds to full fledged respect affection and intense pride.
There were women traveling to Mahabunagar from Hyderabad covering more than 200 kms per day and reaching the college on time. There was a woman who was a single parent, attended the college with her six year old daughter along with her mom too, there was a heavily pregnant woman who came un unescorted to the college, and many of the women came from joint families who completed all the housework ,cooked ,sent the kids to school and still attended the classes with undiminished enthusiasm. The ever smiling ever cheerful face of a classmate physically challenged ,who brought so much cheer to the classroom will remain embedded in my memory. Another young woman going through a turbulent phase in her marriage, who had gone against all odds to pursue her dream , managed to complete the course with top honours.
It was then I realised veil or no veil…an indomitable spirit is what is required…
The undying spirit of the woman behind the veil is more important …
My salutes to the awesome women who dared to dream…
who dared to break sterotypes inspite of being behind the veil…
A veil is after all only a physical barrier….
A barrier which stands no chance….
For a woman with a passion…
To achieve her goals.