Today (30th July 2012) A.P.J. Abdul
Kalam, the former president of India, visited the St. Ann's
College for Women in Hyderabad. Girls were ecstatic, elated and
budding with excitement, even just to have a glimpse of this
remarkable personality. But today my respect for my country and
it's leaders have lowered a bit, "A BIT" I say.
I woke up with much difficulty this morning because I had woken up
for Suhoor (pre-fast meal) just two hours back. But the excitement
made me jump out of my bed and rush to the college for the former
President's visit arrangements at the college. I was one of the
volunteers in the programme and was going to coordinate the
Tension, joy and extreme frenzy were
the mixed emotions going on through me. I reached the college and
practiced the session a few times.
Just as me and my friend were
exchanging gags and chatter, one of my teacher comes to me and
whispers "Uzma, you might like the idea of removing your scarf".
I was confused.
I asked her, "Why, ma'am?".
She replied, "Security reasons."
An unknown feeling pulled me in.
Maybe she recognised that look on my face and she just went.
And then some other teachers came up
to convince me into removing my scarf. I apologetically refused
each time someone came and asked me to do it.
I was slowly sinking in. When
persuaded intensely, I became rigid. Refused, debated my way out
of their requests to "cooperate" with the security conditions.
Some of the teachers said, "We had
already informed the students about the security conditions. The
conditions were, they said, NO BURQAS AND SCARVES ALLOWED.
As the teachers discarded me and my friend from volunteering (and
replaced us with other girls), and asked us to sit back amidst the
audience, a feeling of extreme pain hit me like a bolt. The image
of a secular India blurred in the cloud of my tears. A thousand
questions arose, a hundred protests, but I pressed them into
You must be thinking now, why would a mere request to remove a
scarf hurt someone so much? And why would I show so much of
rigidity in keeping it on my head. Here's how.
I, before this day, considered myself as a proud and free citizen
of a democratic, socialist, secular and a liberal India. Today my
pride has weakened a bit, a little disturbed and shaky.
I question, why would the former President of a
secular country, include in his security conditions, the need to
remove a harmless piece of cloth, an identity, from a woman?
Burqa and scarf were briefly being
mentioned as if they were AK47s and Grenades.
Why? Why would an innocent scarf on a
girl's head, be considered as AGAINST somebody's security? I would
take this day, as an insult.
At the end of the day, all I know is, many of the girls of my
college were deprived of meeting their country's former President
because they chose Burqa over his security.
My friend and I were deprived of
being a volunteer because we were wearing a scarf.
Isn't this enough to hurt the
sentiments of a religion?
All I wanted was, to be allowed to
PRACTICE MY RELIGION FREELY AND PROUDLY. Why isn't my commitment
to my religion being RESPECTED in my own country?
Today they asked me to compromise
with my Hijab for a mere function, tomorrow these people will ask
me to compromise with it for someone else's "SECURITY".
My scarf isn't a switch that I turn
it on and off according to people's convenience. My identity, my
Hijab isn't for the people. It is for myself, for my Lord.
Well, if India boasts to be a secular state, then it's time,
people of India start acting secular. Because this isn't secular
enough for me.
I never mean to hurt anybody's feelings through this article. It
is just plain me, asking plain questions for plain answers. Thank
As received by Uzam Tahreem via e-mail. Image used is for
illustration purpose only. Not actual