The Pinnacle

The Pinnacle

by Dave Potter

Exclusively for the ‘Tales of the Veils’ website

1: Dave

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Jenny Bailey, the sexiest, hottest, fittest, most divinely beautiful girl ever to have strolled through the concrete precincts of Trentham Road High.

Light poured in through the large plate-glass windows and illuminated the countless shades in her soft curly hair. As the portly science master droned on, holding a test-tube up between his podgy fingers, Theo’s eyes were nowhere save on that exquisite blonde mane that cascaded down from her crown to her shoulders; shoulders that were supported by a chest which was in turn connected to a midrift and both of which were covered by the thin white cotton of the Trentham Road High School’s uniform summer blouse, with a blue waistcoat over the top which betrayed the outlines of her budding breasts And then below that blouse came the skirt; not long and not short, made from the charcoal grey material and pleated so that it billowed out and embraced the entire seat of the wooden stool upon which she was perched. And then finally, peeping out from under that skirt, came those legs; long, smooth and perfect in every way: the most beautiful pair of legs in all creation.

Dave Watkins sweated from the heat of the summer sun refracted through those vast, utilitarian panes and from the tenseness, the frustration of the occasion. Oh how lucky he was to have been timetabled to share Combined Science under the tutelage of the omnitedious Mr. Booth, with Jenny Bailey, the sexiest, hottest, fittest, most divinely beautiful girl ever to have strolled through the concrete precincts of Trentham Road High.

He opened his eyes and smiled. That had been, why… how many years ago exactly? He screwed up his brow as he thought. He must have been about fifteen at the time and now he was only five years off thirty. Ten years! Jesus! A whole decade! How come the time had passed so quickly? Ten bloody years! Yes, he’d have to check out what she was up to these days, if only to see if she was still as beautiful as he remembered her to be. Probably married with kids now… or worse still, a single parent or living with her ‘partner’. Deep down, like many village boys, Dave was a bit of a traditionalist. He had an ideal of women, both physical and moral. Jenny Bailey had always fitted the physical ideal, he just hoped, no, prayed, that she wouldn’t disappoint him with the moral.

He typed her name into the computer and waited. Ever since he’d joined Facebook a couple of hours before, he’d been checking out figures from his past, prodding them to let them know that even the biggest technophobe of them all had finally succumbed and befriending them. He’d discovered albums full of photos, reams of comments which filled in all the gaps from the years he’d spent away from his home village up in the Yorkshire Dales. Jenny would definitely be on Facebook, no doubt, she was always very sociable and had a mobile even when they were in their infancy.

But when he typed in the name, she didn’t appear. True, there were plenty of Jenny Baileys, but they all lived in Oregon, New South Wales or Essex. None were his Jenny Bailey. Judging by their photographs, none even came close.

Puzzled he stopped and thought for a moment. Surprising, Jenny not on Facebook. Hmm… I know, Kate Richards. Yes, Jenny and Kate were totally inseparable back at school, now was she on there? He typed in the name and sure enough, there she was, plump and curly-haired as always but now with a kid in tow. He put in a friend request and almost immediately it was accepted. A quick chat followed and after a few messages he casually asked about Jenny. He did not expect the reply that he got.

She’s gone weird, calls herself a different name these days and cut herself off from everyone.

What?

I’ll explain…

And explain she did, firstly via chat and then over a drink in the pub a week later. Jenny and Kate were no longer close, no longer in contact even because it turned out that just over a year before, Jenny had undergone a religious conversion.

“I never realised that she was religious,” Dave had commented.

“She never was, that’s just it! But overnight she found God, or Allah or whatever they call Him and that was it, starts wearing a headscarf and calls herself Malikah!”

“What? She’s become a Muslim!”

“Yeah, that’s it. Weird as hell. I mean, aren’t they the ones that are oppressive and all that when it comes to women and yet there she is becoming one. Personally I can’t see why any woman would do that.”

“Most do it because they’re marrying a Muslim. She’s probably got a Pakistani boyfriend.”

“That’s what I thought at first, particularly since she’s living in Bradford now, but no, apparently no man involved and she’s single. In fact, her last boyfriend she gave up when she converted.”

“Jenny is single?!”

“Yeah, she’s single alright. Weird if you ask me, very weird.”

That night Dave sat in his chair thinking about Jenny Bailey. His mind was transported back to that beautiful girl, long golden tresses, clad in the uniform of Trentham Road High with her short navy skirt and white shirt. How could a woman that beautiful be single? And how could she have converted to a religion that forces her to cover that beauty up? It was weird, weird indeed and Dave was obsessed with finding out more.

‘I should go and see her,’ he thought, but then stopped himself. Why? What excuse had he to do that? He knew her, yes, but that was all. The thing is, one of the reasons why he so liked her was that she was the only beautiful girl at school who’d bothered to be friendly with all the geeky guys like him. All the others were so aware of being beautiful that they were arrogant and looked down on nobodies like him. Yet Jenny, even though she’d been totally aware of how hot she was, had still spared a moment for him, chatted in class, smiled when he walked past, cared a little. As well as her beauty he’d liked that; it showed a moral consciousness far above the other girls. ‘Morals. Maybe that was why she’d become a Muslim?’ he thought to himself. Maybe, like him, she looked at the world sometimes and despaired for it. Yet becoming a Muslim, wasn’t that a bit extreme, even counterproductive. I mean, come on, they were best known for blowing people up, beating their women and being stuck in a very immoral Middle Ages where the death penalty was the norm for serious crimes and lopping hands off without anaesthetic sufficed for the rest. Morality? Maybe not.

But still the idea of a Muslim Jenny Bailey haunted him and so he decided to do some digging. Kate had said that, like him, she was now a teacher in Bradford. Surely he could find something out about her. He googled her name on Linked In and the like but nothing came up. Then he had an idea; hadn’t Kate said that she was now calling herself ‘Malikah’? He typed in ‘Malikah Bailey’ and, hey presto, result! Springfields Primary School, Malikah Bailey, Year 6 class teacher. Springfields! Well, wasn’t that a coincidence? They were in the same pyramid as his school; surely he would be bumping into her at some point, particularly since he was going to be teaching a Year 7 form in the New Year and several of his new students would be coming from Springfields.

2: Malikah

“Hello, is that Miss Malikah Bailey?”

“Yes, speaking.”

“Ah, hello. This is Dave Watkins from Skipton Lane High. I’m ringing up because several of your current pupils will be joining my form next year and I wanted to find out a bit more about them so that they might settle in better. In particular I was looking at the file of Jasvinder Singh and she seems to be a girl with immense promise.”

“Oh yes, she is, Jas is a lovely girl and I think she’ll do well. But please, you said that your name was Dave Watkins and your accent is local. Do I know you?”

“I doubt it, Miss Bailey. I would have remembered going to school with a girl named Malikah…”

“My name wasn’t always Malikah, I used to be known as Jenny.”

“Jenny… Jenny Bailey, yes, there was a Jenny Bailey in my class. Were you at Trentham Road High?”

“Yeah, Form E. That’s me! I don’t believe it, how are you Dave?”

“I’m fine, excellent, Je… I mean… Malikah.”

“Good, yeah, very good. Listen, how many years has it been, must be ten or so?”

“Ten it is I think, a whole decade. Listen, tell you what, since I want to have a chat about these students and we haven’t met up for a whole decade and you’re only just round the corner, what say you to a coffee after work…?”

“A coffee, well… I don’t know… I shouldn’t…”

“Why ever not? It’ll be great to catch up and if today’s a problem then another time, no problem, I’m free most evenings.”

“Well, it’s just that there’ve been a lot of changes and I’m not meant to meet up with non-mahram men and…”

“Non-what men? Jenny… I mean, Malikah, it’s me, Dave? I don’t know what ‘non-mahram’ is but I’m sure I’m not one of them. I’m safe, the same old Dave who used to share those long tedious Science classes with you.”

“Well…”

“Well?”

“Ok, just this once. Since we’ll be having a professional relationship anyway, it’s best if I explain to you.”

“Explain what?”

“I’ll tell you this evening. I look forward to it Dave.”

“Me too.”

That afternoon Dave was on tenterhooks as he taught 11B all about ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. As they discussed Dickens’ beauty Lucie Manette, he thought constantly of his own muse Jenny Bailey. Jenny Bailey, his first love… Well, no, not really. At the time he’d been far too young to know what love is and she, well, she’d hardly noticed him. Looking back, he could hardly blame her. After all, he’d been pretty geeky in those days and cringingly immature and well… hardly what you would call handsome. Not that he’d been particularly ugly of course, except that, well, maybe he had been ugly after all… or just plain, or perhaps he had been ok but the immaturity and geekiness had got in the way and formed an impregnable barrier against the fairer sex. How can a man judge on such matters as male beauty? Well, how can a straight man judge at any rate?

But she, now she had possessed beauty. A devilish, glamourous, innocent, simple beauty that transcends all ages. A teenage beauty. His first love? No, that was absurd, feasible only in the realm of dreams. But a first lust perhaps…?

Ok so, Miss Bailey had not been his first love, but she did deserve some sort of title. What honour could be bestowed upon her heavenly shoulders? He scanned his class as he thought. Yes! That was it! He knew now: Jenny Bailey was ‘The Pinnacle’. She beat those perfect film stars such as Olivia Hussey whom he’d fallen in love with after watching ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and Liv Tyler who cavorted with Alicia Silverstone in the ‘Crazy’ video, because she was real, and she beat all the other real girls because she was perfect. Yes, that was it, she was real and there was not a flaw on her; her hair, her face, legs, feet, arms, breasts, all were without fault.

And he knew her!

And he was going to meet her!

He sat back and grinned. He grinned a grin as wide as the Yorkshire Dales.

And why did he grin you may ask? Why? Is it not obvious!?

Here he was, a grown man, an intelligent man, an independent man, a man who could say ‘Boo!’ to any goose. Here he was, a respected teacher in one of the best high schools in Bradford and yet fantasising over the teenage figure of Jenny Bailey! By Christ, half of his students were older! And it was the very same Jenny Bailey, (albeit over a decade older), who was due to meet him for coffee in but a few weeks time! The Jenny Bailey who regarded him as a friend and whom he regarded also as a friend, and yet it was not the renewal of an old friendship that he was looking forward to, but more the fact that the girl who was coming for coffee with him was the Pinnacle, the one girl above all the other girls on earth whom he would like to get into the pants of most of all. He had been reduced to the metal level of a crush-struck fifteen year-old once again by naught but a brief phone call! And how absurd was that?

And by Christ, what would she think if she knew? What would she feel if she found out that this man, her friend, had spent over a decade tossing off in the bathroom over the mental image of her with her mid-nineties perm, clad in the white, blue and charcoal grey uniform of Trentham Road High School?

But of course, it wasn’t just him now, was it? No, not at all. Why, were they not all at it? Steve Buxton, what was it that he’d once said? Dave’s brow furrowed once again. Yes! Yes, that was it! In the pub one evening after several pints of Carling, had he not come out with the line, ‘You know Dave, I love Stacey and all, I really do, and I’d never be unfaithful to her with anyone like, except… well, if Jenny Bailey came along right now and offered it, just one night like, well, you couldn’t refuse that now, could you?’ And had he not nodded sagely in agreement, knowing full well that Steve truly did love Stacey then, and indeed, still does now that they are married and she has little Jake dangling on her knee, and yet still inside, underneath that happiest of marriages, Steve Buxton, husband of Stacey and father of Jake, would still, yes, even to this day, sacrifice it all for just one night with Jenny Bailey.

And why? Why do such a tremendous and terrible thing you ask? Because she was, is the Pinnacle, that’s why! A man could not aim higher. Every time that he returned home and they all met up in the pub and started talking about the old days, who was the first person that they brought up and asked after even though half of them had hardly ever spoken to her? Did she realise that for every man that she had ever lain with, there must have been over ten others shut up in some dark place, hands in a holy place, worshipping an image of her in a manner most profane and yet most intimate?

It was a disgusting thought and yet at the same time it was an intriguing one. What power such beauty holds! What incalculable, enormous, indomitable strength did it give to the possessor! Did she realise that her face had been the reason behind the ejaculation of enough semen to populate Macedonia? Hundreds of babies would never be born because of her! Did she know that? Of course she did, of course she realised. She was not stupid after all. She must know that any man, every man save perhaps her father, that she had ever talked to face-to-face since reaching the age of fourteen had been thinking solely ‘I want to shag that!’ and nothing else. Her personality, ideas, foibles, deeds both good and bad, religious convictions, political opinions, tastes in literature and art and views on the recent form of Bradford City Football Club all counted for naught beside that great and overwhelming feeling of lust that wells up inside all men. ‘I want to shag that!’ Did it disgust her and shame her like it did him, or did she desire it, seek it, revel in it?

What was it like to be beautiful?

But when he got the street café where they’d arranged to meet, Dave had an almighty shock. For the only woman there, nursing a frappe with a straw was a Pakistani lady dressed in a black with a light green headscarf. However, fastened over that headscarf and over her face itself, was a black veil leaving only a narrow slit for the eyes. Obviously Jenny was not here yet.

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Fastened over that headscarf and over her face itself, was a black veil leaving only a narrow slit for the eyes

Dave sat at another table and when the waitress came ordered a latte. However, when he spoke the veiled lady looked up and gestured to him. He looked at her a little confused and then noticed: the skin around those eyes that could just about be seen in the slit in her veil was white. It was Jenny!

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The skin around those eyes that could just about be seen in the slit in her veil was white

He went over and sat with her. “Malikah, is that you? I didn’t recognise you!”

“I warned you that things had changed,” replied the veiled woman. It was Jenny’s voice.

“But all this, the veil, the name change, why?”

“That’s why I wanted to meet you, to explain. You were always a nice guy at school and since our schools are in the same pyramid we may well be meeting professionally in the future. I wanted to make sure that you didn’t get the wrong idea.”

“The wrong idea about what? About me, Malikah, not Jenny. About the veil. The thing is, I’m not even meant to be meeting with you; according to Islam casual meeting with non-mahram men – that’s men who are not my husband, father or son – is not allowed, particularly since I am unmarried and, judging by your fingers, neither are you. We can’t do this again but I’ve made an exception for today to explain.

“Ok then Malikah, explain to me because I’m very curious and I promise, I’ll try not to judge.”

“Well, it happened like this. Almost three years ago, just as I was finishing uni, I went through a bit of a life crisis. It wasn’t bought on by anything sudden, it was just a build-up of things over time but basically my boyfriend left me. Well, what with having my finals and everything to deal with I was just stressed out and so I broke down a bit. To fix myself, I started seeing a counsellor and exploring why I was so upset. We talked things through at great length and I began to realise that I had a real problem with relationships. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find a man, quite the opposite, but instead that I found them too easily and they were all after only one thing. Dave, I hope that I don’t sound arrogant in saying this, but I know I’m beautiful, hot or fit, or whatever the word you guys use this week, I know it, and so men have always flocked to me and I’ve always enjoyed that. But the problem is all of them only see my outside, by face, body, hair, whatever and things are great until the novelty has worn off and then when they start to know me it’s like they’re not interested. Nobody cares about me or likes me for who I am, only for what I look like. I’m bright, funny, caring and friendly yet no one ever sees that, instead they just see this gorgeous blonde who they fantasise about taking to bed but never about spending their life with.”

At this point, Dave felt a little embarrassed but he said nothing. After all, Malikah was now answering the very question that he’d posed to him himself only that afternoon.

“Anyway, after finding the root of my problems, I decided to do something about it. I cut my hair short and stopped wearing make-up and fashionable clothes but instead of feeling better I just felt that I was letting myself go. Anyway, at that point I encountered Islam. It was accidental really, I booked myself on a short course on the religion because I got myself a job at Springfields which, as you know, is about seventy per cent Asian so I thought that it might be best to find out about the culture of the kids I’d be teaching and the parents that I’d be seeing. Up until then, the little I’d thought about Islam had all been negative, particularly about how they treat women and that, but going on the course I learnt that the veil – or niqaabi – is worn to preserve the modesty of the woman, not to oppress her. Pious musilmahs – that means Muslim women – wear the headscarf and the veil so that people don’t see their beauty and so judge them for who they are inside. This sounded exactly like what I was after so I bought a headscarf and wore it a few times and then read more. I loved how Islam is a complete way of life which we females can live totally away from strange men who judge us by our appearance. I converted – or reverted as the correct term is – and began to live Islamically. You know what Dave, I’ve never been religious at all, but I loved it, the routine, the morals. I don’t want to be seen as some sex object but instead judged as who I am. I wore the headscarf straightaway but then soon moved onto the niqaabi. I love being covered, no one leers at me or ogles me. I am hidden and safe, like a pearl in its shell. I want to wear the veil full-time, 24/7 but it’s not possible at work and my family don’t like it so I just wear the headscarf with them.”

“How have they and all your friends coped with this? I know you’re not close with Kate these days; she said you cut her off.”

“She said that did she? Do you know what, nothing has hurt me more than breaking off my friendship with Kate, but there was no choice. She just wouldn’t accept me becoming a Muslim at all, said that I’d been brainwashed because I was vulnerable. Started making racist comments about Pakis and Arabs and stuff, (her husband’s in the BNP so you can see where she gets it from). I cut her off, yes, but only because she offered me an ultimatum: Islam or Kate. Well, Islam won. As for the others, no one else was quite so hardline as that, but I’ve lost all my old friends, they just shun me or don’t return calls rather than outright rejection. Female friends that is, male friends are haram now so yes, I cut them off. And my family, they accept it because they love me, but they don’t like it.”

“But you’ve made new Muslim friends, right?”

“No, not really. I’ve tried, I really have, and there’s no shortage of them round here, but they’re all Pakistani and whilst they like the fact that I’ve reverted, their mindset is as much culturally as religious and so I’ll never be fully accepted. That’s the only problem with it all; it’s a bit lonely.”

“Oh come on, you must have a boyfriend? I mean, the common stereotype is that you Muslims get hitched as soon as possible and then start producing babies!”

“Ha! Ha! Very funny! No, don’t even go there with boyfriends. After I reverted I had no end of suitors all eager to have a bit of this hot white chick who’s accepted the deen, but they were mostly Pakistanis who wanted me as a second wife or some baby machine who obeys them all the time and lives piously whilst they go off drinking and whoring. No, not for me. All that stopped though when I started to wear the veil. No one looks at me now, literally. I couldn’t get men so I even applied on some Islamic dating sites but they all wanted me to unveil straightaway. No way Jose! So, now I’m all lobely and single!”

Dave drained his coffee and looked across at the veiled figure opposite him. To think that Jenny Bailey couldn’t get a man! Unbelievable! The most perfect woman in all creation and no one wanted her because she wouldn’t jump into bed at the first attempt. Yes, he could understand now what it must feel like to be beautiful: absolutely awful for a good and moral girl like Jenny… or Malikah.”

“So why the name change then?”

“Everyone still knew Jenny Bailey and still judged her as she was. So, I needed a new name. I tried to get the Arabic version of Jennifer but apparently it’s a Pagan name which means ‘white fairy’ – hardly the image that I was aiming for! However, it is derived from Guinevere who was a great queen and so I chose Malikah – the Arabic for ‘queen’.”

“It’s a nice name and I like the way you thought it out rather than just going for what sounds pretty. In fact, I like a lot of how you think. For some time now I’ve been concerned about moral standards slipping and this seems to ring true with what you’ve been saying. I hate how girls – and boys – today are sleeping with each other just for fun, being irresponsible with teenage pregnancies, wearing revealing clothes and getting tattoos and such. However, I must admit that I have ogled you in the past, it was impossible not to, and one reason that I wished to meet today was that I wanted to see your beauty again, but it was not the only reason; I also always liked how you were the only beautiful girl at school who made time for geeky lads like me, you were kind and caring and I liked that moral fibre. Before we met I hoped and prayed that you were not so immoral as many girls are these days and whilst I must admit that the veil was a shock and some of what you are saying is strange, I also like a lot of it and would like to learn more.”

“Well, for starters, as well as revealing clothes, tattoos are haram in Islam and yes, I know that you ogled me at school, it was obvious. However, your words also suggest to me an honesty that is rare. No other person – male or female – has been so accepting and I appreciate that, I really do. However, how can I be sure that these words are not just an attempt to chat me up?”

“Because you yourself said that this was the last time that we could meet like this. I do wish to learn more about Islam and your life and I have many more questions but if you don’t feel comfortable with meeting a non-mahram male in public, then may I suggest we just send emails and that way there is no opportunity for any immorality.”

“Dave, you are right and whilst that may not be acceptable to all scholars, it is enough for me as I would love links with a figure from my old life as Jenny and I would also love to teach you more about my new life as Malikah. It’s a deal!”

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“It’s a deal!”

3: Dave and Malikah

And so Dave and Malikah began an email friendship. Every evening, after returning from school, he would eagerly fire up his computer and see what she had sent him. They talked of Islam, of school and of the past and Dave was sure, judging by the comments that she had made in the café, that she was glad of the human interaction.

He was also interested in a lot of what she had to say. He read the stuff on Islam and liked the vision that it portrayed, traditional yet warm and loving. He became especially interested in women who had decided to veil like Malikah and lived a life of purdah where they were totally separated from the world, always veiled and silent when men were around. He talked to her about it and she admitted that how life was at the moment did not please her. I really want to live in proper purdah she typed, with veils that cover my eyes, not venturing out of the house except with my husband. But I know that this can only ever be a dream; even if I found a husband who shared my views, here in our society it is not possible. Full eyeveils scare people and I need to work to survive. Still, at least a girl can dream.

As well as conversing with Malikah, Dave also did his own rooting around on the internet. He discovered a website called ‘Tales of the Veils’ which was full of stories about women who lived in extreme purdah, often gagged to ensure their silence and outdoors veiled so heavily that they had to be guided everywhere by their husbands. Dave knew that most of these stories existed purely in the realm of fantasy but at night he still dreamt of being able to lead his heavily-veiled wife around.

And in those fantasies, that veiled wife was always Malikah Bailey.

Then, about two months after their meeting in the café, Dave made a big decision.

With a fluttering heart – for he knew that this could go so wrong – he knocked firmly on the door of 21 Masterston Street. After a moment the door opened and he was confronted by the veiled figure of Malikah Bailey.

“May I come in?” he asked.

She nodded and showed him through to the kitchen.

“I thought I told you that we can’t meet!” she exclaimed. “This really is a breach of trust!”

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“I thought I told you that we can’t meet!”

“I know but I had to see you in person for this,” replied Dave. “Following our conversations, I want to take a big step. I want to revert to Islam too!”

“Really? That’s great! But what has this to do with me?”

“Malikah, I would never have started on this journey without you and so I want you there. I want you to be my witness as I say my shahadah.”

“Dave, it will be an honour,” she replied, her eyes smiling.

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“Dave, it will be an honour.”

“Then I do not think it wrong that you accompany me to the mosque now. I have an appointment with the imam and he says that, under the circumstances, normal etiquette may be waived.”

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“Dave, you’re a good man.”

Malikah stepped over to the sink and stared out of the window, silent as if thinking deeply. “It probably is wrong but I shall accept the imam’s word,” she said at last. Besides, more than that, I know that I can trust you Dave, you’re a good man.”

As they rode to the neighbourhood mosque, Malikah sat by his side in the car, Dave felt almost overwhelmed by emotions. Here he was about to make the biggest leap of his life, a leap that would horrify his friends and family if they knew about it, and by his side was his dream woman, silent and chaste. What would the future hold after his reversion? Would he one day travel like this with a veiled and purdah-observing wife of his own? With love based on more than just her looks, he glanced across at his travelling companion. To his surprise, she was staring at him intently.

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She was staring at him intently

As soon as their eyes met, she looked away, eyes staring straight ahead, as if she’d revealed something that she shouldn’t have done.

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As soon as their eyes met, she looked away

Not a single word was spoken until they were inside the mosque.

4: Dave and Jenny

Dave had been a Muslim for six months. He’d not changed his name because David – or Daoud – was an Islamic prophet anyway. He was still single and still teaching at Skipton Lane High School. Something was missing from his life.

Malikah was still single. She’d tried a few more men off Islamic dating sites but had had no more luck than before. Most thought that she wouldn’t unveil because she was fat and ugly. If only they’d known! She too was still teaching at Springfields Primary School. She’d told her parents about the veil and they’d freaked. They were still in contact but that was it. They always made comments about it when they saw her even after she’d taken it off. Something was missing from her life too.

More importantly though, ever since he’d taken his shahada, Dave and Malikah had not spoken or emailed each other. An invisible line had been crossed in the car that day. Both sides were miserable with the standoff.

The 22nd July was Malikah’s birthday. Dave knew that because she’d told him when they were still in contact. He knew that he had to do something, but had to be very careful as to what. Then he had an idea.

On the morning of her birthday there was a knock on the door of 21 Masterston Street. Malikah went to it and opened up. No one was there, but on the step was a box. Puzzled, she picked it up and took it inside. She opened it up on the kitchen table and found inside some black cloth and an envelope. She opened the envelope and inside was an Islamic card. Inside it read:

My dear Malikah,

Salaam aleikum! It’s been a while. Last time we were together I noticed that your hands were exposed. Knowing that a pious musilmah should wear gloves, I knew what to buy you for your birthday.

Many Happy Returns!

Dave

Inside were several pairs of stretchy opera length gloves in black fabric. She picked up the top pair and opened the packet. They were plain save for an embroidered flower on the back of each one. Malikah fitted them and then held them up to see. They were beautiful and Dave was right, a niqaabi should wear gloves.

She sat down and thought. Yes, the gloves were nice and she would always be gloved in public from now on, but they were also a sign. She had to do something.

That evening it was Dave’s door that was being knocked upon. He went to it and found the shrouded figure of Malikah waiting on his doorstep. Surprised, but pleasantly so, he asked her if she’d come in. Silently, she nodded and made her way through to his sitting room where she sat on the settee.

“We need to sort this out,” she said.

“Sort what out?”

“You know what. Us.”

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“You know what. Us.”

They sat in silence. Neither daring to speak. Then Dave, being the man in a traditional Islamic context, broke it.

“We cannot carry on like this. It is one way or the other.”

She looked up at him and nodded.

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She looked up at him

“So, what is it to be. Malikah, I love you and I always have. I loved you when you were Jenny and part of that was because of your looks, I won’t deny it. But now I have come to love you more, in a different way. I have not seen your face for an entire decade and yet I still love you. But, can you love me?”

Malikah looked away and the silence filled the room again. Then slowly but with certainty, she replied.

“Yes.”

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Malikah looked away

“Masha Allah!” Then, getting down on one knee, Dave asked, “Malikah Bailey, will you marry me?”

And turning back to him, her beautiful eyes meeting his, she replied, “Yes.”

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“Yes.”

Their wedding was three months later. In accordance with Islamic tradition, they decided to neither speak nor see each other but the daily emails returned. Malikah spoke of her long-held feelings for Dave and how she hoped she could enter a much stricter state of purdah, particularly with regards to giving up work as she hated having to unveil everyday. Dave for his part told her that as his wife, he would allow her to become as strict as she liked so long as she granted him one little favour, and that being that in private he always call her ‘Jenny’. I’ve never really got used to Malikah in one way and I think this is best. The public you which the world sees – or doesn’t to be more exact – is and will always be Malikah, my queen. But in private I’d like my white fairy, who is perhaps neither modest nor silent but reveals all to her beloved.

Couched in such terms, neither Malikah nor Jenny could refuse.

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Malikah wore a western wedding dress in white to symbolise her purity but covered by a thick veil

Their wedding was held in two parts. There was a private ceremony in the mosque which just they attended with the imam as a witness and then a more public one in a hotel so that the families would be satisfied. For the occasion Malikah wore a western wedding dress in white to symbolise her purity but covered by a thick veil. No one complained or made any comments; after all, if a bride isn’t allowed to veil her face, then who is?

After the ceremony there was the reception and at the end the party gathered to see the happy couple off on their honeymoon. Before leaving, Dave stood up and announced, “Friends, we are leaving now but my good wife here does not know where. Thank you to her parents for helping with the cost of the flight and thank you to mine for helping with the wedding. I shan’t tell you precisely where we shall spend our first married days but put it like this, if you receive a postcard with pyramids and a sphinx on the front, then you’ll know who it’s from!”

At this Malikah clapped her gloved hands and hugged her husband warmly. “I never knew!” she exclaimed, “and I’ve always dreamt of seeing the pyramids.”

“And Egypt is an Islamic country too,” he reminded her.

They went to the hotel room and she changed from her wedding dress into her standard niqaabi with abayah and then they left for the airport. Once on the plane Malikah turned to Dave and started to speak, but he put his finger to his lips and said, “I think that as you said you wished to become a true purdah-living musilmah, you should start to practice now. I expect silence on this plane and also some stricter clothing since everyone here can see your beautiful eyes. Go to the toilet and put these on. There is a veil which covers your eyes and a khimar which will hide your hands. Should you need to communicate with me, there’s also a notepad and pencil.

Malikah giggle and left her seat to enter the toilet. In the cramped surroundings she unfolded the garments. The niqaabi was only one layer thick and went over the top of her current veil. It did not really limit her sight much, merely added a blur to everything. The khimar was like a cloak reaching to her waist which sealed the veils in and covered her hands. Once back in her seat, Dave asked, “Do your new clothes feel ok?”

She nodded and he smiled.

At the airport she removed the full veil for passport identification but then replaced it as Dave collected the baggage and then walked out with his wife to find a taxi to their hotel. For their first night Dave had booked them into the Sheraton, one of the city’s finest hotels. They booked in and then took the lift up to their suite. Once inside, almost mad with longing for one another, Jenny started tearing off her clothes and then those of her husband. As the layers disappeared, Dave saw his fantasy girl from school appear before his eyes, although now fully a woman, even more beautiful than he remembered. Wrapping their arms around each other, they collapsed on the bed and entered into paradise.

The next morning they awoke in each others arms and after another trip to that other realm, Dave announced that they should go and have a look around and ordered his beautiful wife to take a shower. This she did, happily recalling their lovemaking sessions as the warm water splashed over her naked body before then towelling herself dry, ready to re-enter the world.

Jenny stepped out of the shower, her towel still wrapped around her body, to find her husband stood by the side of the bed, upon which there was a carefully-folded pile of black cloth. To her surprise, instead of his usual Western attire, he was wearing a white Arabic thobe and sandals.

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Jenny stepped out of the shower, her towel still wrapped around her body

“What’s the meaning…?” she started to ask but he shushed her and then said, “My dear wife, I have a surprise for you, a very large one. You thought that today was the first day of our honeymoon and, since we are in Egypt, we would be going out to do some sightseeing, maybe the Pyramids or the National Museum. But you were wrong, for we are not on our honeymoon at all. Instead, today is not the first day of a holiday for us, but instead of a whole new life. When you first met up with me again in Bradford after all those years, you told me that you wished to live as a true and pious musilmah who is always modest, silent and veiled, but that you feared it could never be possible and you would always have to make concessions to the Western society that we live in.

Well, you were right about that; back home concessions would have to be necessary so as to keep ourselves safe and to please our friends and relatives. However, as the saying goes, (even if it is based on a misunderstanding of our faith), ‘If the mountain won’t come to Muhammed, then Muhammed must go to the mountain’ and so ever since you agreed to marry me, I’ve been organising a way for us to be able to live as you dream and I have found the answer. Last week I resigned from my job at the high school and I have gained employment here teaching English to Egyptians. The boss is a very pious man and when I explained to him that I was a revert and that my wife was a full-time niqaabi, he was most impressed and offered me the post immediately. Jenny, we are not returning home as you thought, or even going on a sightseeing trip but instead, when you are ready, I shall lead you out of this hotel to a taxi which will take us to our new home, a flat that my new boss arranged in a traditional part of the city. What do you think of that?”

Jenny was stunned, flabbergasted, extremely happy and proud of her new caring husband but also a little concerned. “It is marvellous, Dave, it really is, but what… I mean, my mum and dad and our friends… what will they say when they find out…?”

“They all know already, I told them and they are all happy, although for different reasons than you are I suspect. You know how none of them like your conversion and wearing of the veil and following of a strict purdah lifestyle. Well, they hope it is just a fad and that after experiencing it for real in a Muslim country, you will gladly return to your old life and name in England. Who knows, maybe they are right too, although I suspect not; I somehow think that you will like your new life so much that you will never want to return, but whatever you decide, you are my wife and I shall support you.”

Jenny ran up to Dave and hugged him warmly. “Dave, I love you so much!” she exclaimed.

“I have work which should keep us but my boss has also offered you a teaching post as well. It is less money but it is teaching girls in a religious school near to our flat. All the staff are veiled so you need never uncover for work, although if you feel that even that compromises your purdah life too much, I am sure that we will be able to cope on one wage only. However, before we start our new life, you need to get yourself prepared for it, for your old clothes were not suitable. Please, dry yourself my love and put on your underwear and then I’ll explain the rest.”

Jenny quickly towelled herself dry and then put on her bra and panties. Then she returned to the bed where Dave was holding the first items of her new wardrobe. “I got this outfit from my boss whose wife is a strict musilmah. I’ve had seven sets made, one for each day of the week, but when you need more clothes, you can meet her and discuss where to buy them. Now, first of all, these stockings and stretchy gloves and then this hood.” All the items in question were made out of black opaque cotton and they covered her extremities, the stockings being more like leggings which covered the feet whilst the gloves reached halfway to her elbows. But it was the hood which most caught Jenny’s curiosity for she’d never worn a hood before. Like with her headscarf, she had to bunch her hair up in a ponytail before putting it on.

As she fitted it over her head, Dave watched the face of the beautiful woman that he loved disappear. Although he had not taken to his adopted religion as seriously as his wife had done, and whilst he would have loved to gaze at her visage for hours more, Dave already knew that he liked this. He wouldn’t be gazing at her, but at least he knew well what she looked like. Now no one else would be gazing at her as he had once done in the Science class at Trentham Road High School, their minds filled with lust for this exquisitely beautiful creature. As the Islamic proverb said, a woman is a “precious jewel” not to be viewed by all and sundry. She is far too precious then to be viewed and exhibited to any lecherous man. Her beauty and charms are reserved for the only person that truly appreciates and loves her – her husband.

And no one could view Jenny now for the hood which she now wore had only three openings: one for each eye and one at the mouth. And the eye openings, circles a couple of centimetres in diameter, were covered by a gauze so that even that little bit of the face which could be seen was invisible at great distance and indistinct close up. Only the lips were on full display, two pursed, pink petals waiting for a kiss.

“Why must I wear this hood?” she asked when it was fitted and her view of the world blurred somewhat.

“My boss explained it,” said Dave. “Apparently, such hoods are worn by all pious and modest women in Cairo. In case your veils ever blow up or get torn off by some attacker, they are an extra layer of protection. In the district where you shall be living, women never fully unveil, even to each other and the hoods are an easy way of always keeping that last layer on. Now, your beautiful face is protected from the world, and your hands and feet also, but not your body, the shape of which is driving me wild with desire. Put these on to stop such a terrible cause of fitna!”

Jenny giggled at her husband’s words and took the garments. Again in opaque black cotton, the first was a pair of baggy, Turkish-style trousers whilst the second item was a similar baggy shirt. Both were devoid of any ornamentation and embroidery and once on, they hid her lithe figure completely. The items were secured in place by elasticated cuffs at the ankles and wrists and a drawstring around the neck which Dave tied shut. The trousers were elasticated around the waist but the shirt overlapped them, hiding the thin waist of Jenny. Snap fasteners made sure that the trousers were then attached to the shirt so that it could not be lifted easily to reveal her breasts. Now Jenny was completely covered except for her mouth which was pursed ready for a kiss.

“Now my dear wife, I appreciate that this next item may come as a shock to you, but again this is something which I have been assured that all the pious women wear in Cairo. However, if it is a problem…”

Jenny took her gloved hand and put a finger to her husband’s mouth. “Considering that only my mouth is free to the world now and that both my lips and the sound of my voice are tempting you this very minute, I am guessing that the next item is a gag. I too have read a great deal on how really pious women live and I have long fantasised about being gagged in public. Thank you for letting me realise those fantasies!”

Touched by her words when he had expected her to baulk at the gag when produced, Dave gave in to his desires and kissed his new wife deeply on her waiting lips, before withdrawing and replacing his tongue with a hard rubber ball on a strap which he then fastened behind her head.

Then came the obligatory abayah, but unlike the one that she’d worn in England, this one had no ornamentation at all and was of the butterfly design which made lifting her arms, if not difficult, then noticeable. The material was thick but satin-like in finish giving it a shiny appearance.

This was then complimented by her niqaabi which was of three layers, none with an eye slit, fastened around the head by an elasticated band. With all three down Jenny was virtually blind and so she immediately flipped the top two up, but Dave flipped them back down again. “Not yet,” he warned, “they need to be down for the next item to fit on.”

That next item was a knee-length khimar, also of satin-like but thick material. Dave positioned it correctly on the head of his now-blind wife and then threaded two of the veils through the face opening, flipping them up when done so that Jenny could see again, albeit, somewhat blurred. He then did up with fastening at her chin, sealing the third layer in. From now on, she would always have her eyes covered by at least two layers.

Taking her gloved hand, Dave guided Jenny to the bed and told her to lift her hands. She did so and the khimar slid down. Then Dave produced a pair of satin gloves – or to be more exact, mittens since they only had a separate pouch for the thumb, which he then fitted onto her hands over the abayah and then, to her shock, he guided her hands around her back, got out some black chords and, using loops on the mittens themselves, tied the two mittens together with only a chord of around 10cm between them. “Pious muslimahs only show their hands when necessary. This measure will ensure that your hands are always hidden in public underneath your khimar, but when it is removed indoors, you will have some use of them.”

She nodded, understanding. She still couldn’t believe it. This was what she had dreamt about ever since she’d first heard of modesty and purdah and now she was being given an opportunity to live it 24/7!

And there was more too, for whilst she’d been examining her newly-restrained hands, her husband had been fitting boots onto her feet. These only had small heels but like the hands, were linked together by a chord. She’d read that many pious musilmahs restricted their stride so as to appear more modest.

“And now you are ready!” announced Dave, helping his wife to stand once again and then flipping down her veils so that she was blinded again. “Shall we go?”

Underneath all her layers, Jenny nodded, and then, relying totally on her husband for her safety and well-being, tentatively and unsteadily minced her way into her new life.

Unseen by her, that same husband, one hand on his wife’s back to steady her, used his other hand to give an imaginary high five to the fifteen year-old Dave Watkins sat in the Science class at Trentham Road High School, busy ogling the gorgeous, perfect, unattainable Jenny Bailey. ‘Dreams can come true,’ he told his younger self silently, ‘although never in the way in which you’d expect,’ he thought while glancing at the black form beside him. To others she appeared as nothing but a pinnacle of black cloth. To herself she was a pinnacle of modesty. To him and him only she was the pinnacle of desire.

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Underneath all her layers, Jenny nodded, and then, relying totally on her husband for her safety and well-being, tentatively and unsteadily minced her way into her new life.

 

Copyright © 2015 Dave Potter

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