I walked into the mall, feeling the eyes as they followed me. Not one pair. Not two. There must have been about a million. I passed each stall and people fell silent and just stared openly at me.
You see, I can very conveniently wear a dress that is long and flowing. I can pick out a floral scarf and wrap it beautifully making my outfit complete and nice. I love to be covered and trendy, there’s always a level of pride each time I step out all covered and nice, especially when I get lots of likes on the social media. I feel like I am making impact in my own little way.
But I am always faced with a lot of challenges, you see. At times, I get ‘Ma shaa Allah’ complements that make me feel cool with myself, at other times, I am told how ‘Hot’ or ‘Sexy’ I look. I would rather have anyone strike me on the face than be called ‘Sexy Alhaja.’ But that’s hardly the case right now.
I was fine with it. I have always been fine with people staring, as long as I get what I want from the mall or I get the movie ticket, I was fine with them staring. As long as they didn’t pass rash comments or try to start a conversation, I was fine with them staring.
There is this funny feeling one gets when in trouble. On days when you have been on your best behavior, you seem to be seeing people, talking to them so freely, so naturally; on a not-so-good day you see them but they don’t really see you, you talk but they aren’t really listening. You get scared because when you get in trouble you can’t open your mouth and tell them what it is cause you don’t know what is on their minds. You don’t know if you can depend on them for anything, at least not this one. But in any case, trouble means you are on your own.
This very day, I was in trouble.
It’s not like I got pregnant at the age of fifteen. I mean, I am nearly twenty-five. And I am not pregnant. But somehow when I walk into public places alone or with friends who look and dress just like me, I get so much attention that I wish all these people could follow me on Instagram or retweet my last message and direct their attentions there.
So on this day, I sat in the lobby waiting for my friends to arrive when this elderly man walked towards me and said, “Hello. Pardon my intrusion but will you die if you take this thing off? You are making yourself an available target for religious violence, my child.”
The moment I opened my mouth to respond was when I realized I had landed myself in some trouble……. to be continue…….
By Na’ima Mohammed (IG @nimah_andre)