Alisha Earns Her Veil
© “Michelle” 2005
Chapter 14 – My First Burqa part II
“We’re going shopping for your dress today !” Nasreen shrieks as soon as Lydia walks through the door the next day.”
“Uh … thanks. Don’t I get to see my daughter first ? Or more importantly her waist ?”
“It will still be small when we get back.”
“It will be wet when we get back.” Rana remarks, “Come on Nasreen, let her out.”
“I see somebody is still in charge here.” Lydia laughs.
“Only over the bride to be.” Rana laughs, “But I must say Alisha is handling it very well. If she can put up with Nasreen a husband will seem dead easy afterwards.”
They open the stair cupboard door and Alisha is allowed out. Lydia leads her upstairs and closes the door.
“Come on then, let me see.”
Alisha is still trying to get life back into aching muscles but does remove her robe.
“Oooohhhhhhmmmmyyyygggaaaawwwwwddddddddddd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Lydia exclaims at the sight of her daughter’s waist.
“Good isn’t it ?” her daughter laughs.
“Is it painful ?”
“Of course it’s painful. It’s meant to be painful. It says so in my books on Victorian corsets.”
“Oh … right. I suppose we have to take it off to bathe you ?”
“But if you put it back on straight afterwards my waist seems not to gain anything.”
“Oh. So I get to tighten it this much ?”
“Be my guest.” her daughter grins.
Alisha’s corset is removed and she bathes just wearing the innermost jalabiya.
“I see you’re still being modest in the bath.”
“I have to. Nasreen usually charges in here and insists on bathing with me.”
“I see. Your future niece appears to have taken quite a liking to you, doesn’t she ?”
“She’s taken quite a liking for telling me what to do you mean.”
“Well when you’re only seven most people tell you what to do so I can see the attraction in that, can’t you ?”
“I suppose so.” Alisha grins.
Once her daughter is dried and dressed in a few more clean jalabiya, Lydia calls in the reinforcements and the corset tightening begins in earnest once more. With three of them it is much easier and the waist section is soon at it’s maximum tightness.
“There then.” Rana smiles.
“We haven’t finished yet.” Lydia replies.
“Haven’t we ?”
“No. Of course not. You can still tighten the sections above and below the waist. That creates what’s called the stem. You have to try to make that as long as possible.”
“Oh my. I didn’t realise that.” Rana gasps, “What a brilliant idea.”
Meanwhile Alisha gasps for an altogether different reason. The thought that this corset has further room for enhancing it’s crushing embrace around her torso is not good news!
“But doesn’t it crush her breasts ?” Karima asks, as ever by far the most practical of the married women present.
“Oh they just get thrust upwards.” Lydia laughs, “Victorian women probably had quite small breasts yet they always seem to have large bosoms bursting out of the tops of their ballgowns.”
“I see somebody has been reading some of my books on corseting.” Alisha whispers.
Fifteen minutes more effort and even the physical structure of the corset is beginning to change shape as they elongate the stem section beyond where it was designed to go. And also far beyond where Alisha’s waist was designed to go. Feeling ever so light-headed, she takes hold of every helping hand offered as she gingerly gets to her feet.
“Oh my !” Rana gasps at the sight before them.
Only Nasreen is denied a full view most men can only dream of seeing in the flesh during their lifetimes; that of a properly corseted woman. With waist to die for, or possibly of, and bosom thrust towards the sky, Alisha has been transformed from trainee Muslimah to sex kitten.
“Now let’s get you dressed to go out.” Rana remarks.
“Seems a shame to cover this up.” Alisha laughs.
“My dear, it’s not only the men you need to hide that from. I hear there are strange women who might take a fancy to you dressed like that.”
“And plenty more will want to rip her eyes out.” Lydia laughs.
“Thanks mother !”
“Just joking. So who’s coming ?”
“All of us of course. What should I wear ?”
“Who are you asking ? Me or Rana ?” Lydia asks.
“Uh … both.” Alisha makes the easiest choice.
“Well she could wear a shalwar.” Rana muses, “I will be and I expect Karima and Nasreen will be. She’s got to go out sometime without full niqab.”
“I would still prefer to cover my lower face though.” Alisha replies.
“Why not that outfit you called the nun’s habit ? I’m sure we could find something to veil your mouth with.”
“Nun’s habit ?” Lydia sounds confused, “This I must see.”
“It was the first veiled outfit I liked wearing at work.”
“Show me more.”
Rana looks at Karima. “Why don’t you two go and change and come round when you’re ready. We might have Alisha half dressed by then !”
Rana searches out the nun’s habit and Alisha is soon changed into it.
“Oh my.” Lydia grins, “Let’s get you to the convent now !”
“Sorry mummy. No babies allowed there.”
“You’re not …”
“No. Of course not. But I will be soon hopefully.”
“You mean you want children now ?”
“Yes mother.” Alisha realises she had better sound a little more grown up for the upcoming conversation.
“But you always said you hated the idea.”
“That’s not true. It affected my decision not to become a nun, didn’t it ?”
“Well yes. But that was before you went … uh …”
“Off the rails ?”
Lydia doesn’t reply.
Alisha waits a while and then makes it for her.
“It’s alright mother. I realise I was a dreadful daughter for years. I don’t know if you’re truly happy about me becoming a Muslim but I think we both agree marrying Javed and having children is a whole lot better than the other possibilities I’ve considered for my life.”
“Of course my daughter. And I really don’t mind you changing religion. I prefer to think of it as you having tried your father’s atheism for a while but then discovered we women have different needs.”
The two hug each other, Rana tactfully disappearing to find something to wear herself. She reappears five minutes later in an elegant shalwar kameez.
“So what am I wearing ?” Lydia asks, “You two are showing me up somewhat !”
“Ah.” Rana realises Lydia’s plain western top and skirt do look a trifle plain, “I don’t think I can help at the moment. My stuff is too large and Alisha’s too small for you.”
“What about all those loose clothes one sees Muslims wearing on television.”
“That’s mostly Arabian wear mother. Rana and Javed are Pakistani. It’s totally different.”
“But you wear burqas ?”
“Well yes, but the type I like are from Afghanistan or North West Pakistan mostly. Though I do sometimes wear jilbabs and abayas from Arabian countries I suppose.”
“I see. So have you one of these burqas ?”
“Oh boy do we have burqas.” Alisha grins, “Khan’s Import/Export Agency is aiming to become the largest supplier of them in Europe thanks to little ole me. Javed has been recruiting women all across Afghanistan to make them for us.”
“Why there ?”
“Women were banned from working under the Taleban and there are lots of widows because of the war. But one thing they were allowed to learn was how to make burqas of course so we’re hoping to use those skills. We send them bolts of material and they are told we are after quality, not quantity, so to spend a lot of time with the embroidery and so on. So far every one is different” Alisha explains proudly.
“And she’d love to wear them all !” Rana adds with a laugh.
“Something like that.” Alisha grins, “Rana has been photographing me wearing them and I’ve been adding them to the new company website I’ve set up.”
“So you’re a model now ?” Lydia grins.
“Well yes. But somehow I don’t think I’ll be competing with Kate Moss though.” Alisha laughs.
“Can I see ?”
“Of course. Over here.”
Alisha logs onto the laptop and soon has a cameo of just some of her burqas on the screen.”
“You just click on the one you want to order. If it’s unique it then disappears from this view and another one is inserted instead.”
“Oh my word.” Lydia gasps, “You’ve worn all of these ? I only recognise a few of them.”
“There’s three more pages of these mother. And these are just some of the ones we sell. But my favourite one isn’t on here as we don’t sell it yet.”
“They seem to mostly be in blue.”
“Yes. That’s the favourite colour in Afghanistan.”
“Right then. Do you have four of those ?”
“Yes. Me, you, Rana and Karima.”
Rana’s mouth opens and closes without a word coming out.
“Oh mother.” Alisha giggles, “Are you going to be unpopular or what !”
“I don’t see why we should all miss out on the fun you’re having.”
“Right. We’ll have to drive to the office to get a box of them.”
An hour later, Alisha having been carefully shuffled into the office without Javed seeing her, two enthusiastic and two reluctant burqa models are standing in a line.
“So what do I wear mummy ?”
“What’s wrong with what you’ve got on ?” Karima replies from under her blue shroud.
“But I want to look like you.”
“Oh Nasreen, don’t be silly. These are far too big and they don’t do child burqas.”
“Why not ?”
“Because you don’t have to wear one until you’re older.”
“Javed !” Rana shouts out.
A few moments later her son walks into the room where they are changing.
“Oh … my … word.” he gasps. “I never thought I’d see my mother in a burqa.”
“Hello son. We’re just doing this for your future mother-in-law. Don’t get used to it !”
“Oh no. You must. It’s wonderful.”
“Don’t push it son. Just get in the car and drive us to Tariq’s place.”
“Why there ?”
“We need a mother of the bride outfit for Lydia.”
“I thought she would go to one of the department stores.”
“She wants a lengha. In pink.”
“Oh I see.” he replies, then laughs, “Is she going native like her daughter ?”
Alisha opens her mouth to reply but stops, remembering her promise to Rana that after the recent treats, contact between her and her fiancé will now be kept to a minimum and currently he won’t know which of the four figures is her.
“I have not gone native as you put it.” an anonymous looking blue figure with the voice of his future mother-in-law answers for herself, “I’ve just realised how beautiful some of your clothing can be.”
“But not the burqa.” Karima whispers to Rana only to receive a hissing reply to be quiet.
“Sorry.” Javed lowers his face, “I was only joking.”
“I realise. Now will you please drive us to this place.”
“Of course. I’d be delighted. I am sure your daughter will have difficulty matching your beauty even on her wedding day.”
“No need to over do it.” Lydia laughs.
Javed’s car is soon full of four identically clad blue figures, three adults and a child in the rear and himself and his mother in the front.
“Well Alisha has to be one of you two.” he looks round, “And as I assume Nasreen is on Karima’s lap my fiancée is presumably there.” he points to the far corner of the car.
“Just drive son.” Rana interjects.
Javed is left outside while the others browse the items on display at the showroom. As no men are present, Rana pulls up the front of her burqa to assist her vision and make it more comfortable. All but Alisha quickly follow suit.
Two attentive female assistants help where required and keep an eye out for men entering the shop.
“You seem to sell everything here.” Lydia remarks, “Even western style wedding dresses.”
“No, no, no, no.” the assistant remarks, her English not being very good.
“But isn’t that a wedding dress ?”
“No. Wedding gown red and gold. Nightgown for wedding night.”
“It is ? Wow !” Alisha and Lydia whistle as one.
“They certainly know how to dress for bed, don’t they !” Lydia adds, “But can you actually sleep in it ? You’d get caught up in all that material.”
“Who gets to sleep on their wedding night anyway ?” Alisha laughs.
“Well there is that I suppose.” Lydia grins back.
But the assistant simply pulls the decorative ribbon on the front for the robe section to fall away and reveal a strapless gown underneath that it should just about be possible to sleep in.
“That’s wonderful.” Alisha remarks, then jokes “All it needs now is a veil.”
“Course.” the assistant replies, “New bride wear veil to bed for husband to tie up with.”
Alisha has become used to Rana’s comments in this direction but Lydia is quite surprised.
“You mean Muslim men tie their wives up in bed ?”
“Of course mother. It stops us moving around in our sleep, getting caught up in all this material then waking our beloved husbands up when we struggle to get free.” Alisha giggles.
“Uh … oh. Oh my.” Lydia splutters at the unexpected explanation given. “So should I buy this for your trousseau ?”
Rana overhears this and comes over.
“The groom has to buy her wedding night outfit. Javed has an account here so simply charge it to him if that’s the one you want.”
“I’d better think about it.” Alisha realises Javed has already spent a fortune on her.
“Well if she doesn’t decide to have it soon, perhaps I should !” Lydia remarks.
“Oh mummy. Of course you must have it. Father will just love to see you in that for your wedding anniversary tomorrow.”
“You remembered that ?”
“I looked it up. So what about this negligee set ?”
“I was just joking. I’m far too old to wear that.”
“You’re only as old as you feel. We all looked the same age coming in here after all … well four out of five of us anyway.”
“But it’s expensive.”
“Not that much. It’s in washable polyester, not silk.”
“Hmm. You know, my daughter, I think you might be tempting me.”
All get to work changing Lydia into the negligee set. Alisha then finds a bridal veil with blusher to place on her mother’s head.
“I thought this was supposed to be done to you.” Lydia laughs as the veiling is pulled over her face. After not having her face covered for a day under twenty four years she has already done it with two separate outfits this day and still hasn’t even begun to choose her mother of the bride outfit.
“True.” her daughter replies, “But at least this way father gets to practice on you before he does it to me in public.”
Alisha then adds some denser veiling over her mother’s mouth and nose to form a sort of yashmak.
“Still trying to shut me up I see.”
“No silly. But if this doesn’t get father drooling all over you, nothing will.”
Lydia looks in a mirror and has to agree her daughter is possibly right.
“You really don’t think I’m too old for this, do you ?”
“Oh don’t be silly. It’s for bed, not a trip to a restaurant.”
“And you can always put the burqa on over it to go there as well.” Rana laughs.
“Hmm. Okay, I’ll take it.”
“So Lydia, let’s get your lengha chosen and measured up as well then.” Rana remarks.
“Alright. One question.”
“Am I allowed to wear a veil at the wedding ?”
“Why not ? You’ve got one on now after all.”
“Well yes. But there I’m neither the bride nor a Muslim.”
“Who’s checking ?” Rana laughs, “If you want to wear it, then do so.”
“And as it is in fact your daughter who wants all Muslimahs and her attendants to come veiled, it seems only right the mother of the bride should be veiled as well ! In fact I’d be surprised if she hasn’t made it compulsory for every female by then.”
“Oh, don’t be silly.” Alisha rejoins the conversation.
After a lengthy material selection and measuring session for Lydia’s mother of the bride lengha, the custom made outfit is ordered and the bill paid. Lydia expects to change but finds her burqa is simply thrown over her head, nightgown, veil and all and they prepare to leave.
“Oh where’s Nasreen gone now … Nasreen !” Karima shouts out.
“Over here mummy !”
They follow the voice.
“Nasreen. What are you doing ?”
“They do make child burqas ! This lady made this one fit me. Can I have it please ?”
“It only fits because you’re standing on a couple of books or something.” Rana realises her granddaughter has suddenly shot up a few inches in height.
“I can lift the front a bit.”
“Oh … if you must !” Karima despairs of her only offspring.
This time five burqa clad figures get in the car and Rana tells an even more surprised Javed to drive to Lydia’s house.
“Why there ?”
“Because her husband will be getting a surprise when he comes home later on today.”
“What sort of surprise ?”
“The type you won’t be getting on your wedding night unless you stop asking silly questions … now drive.”
Javed takes the hint but promptly drives off in an unexpected direction.
“Where are we going ?”
“To the local park. You don’t think I’m going to miss out on an opportunity of getting a picture of my mother wearing proper attire in public, do you ?”
“Oooh !” Rana expresses her displeasure, though a wave of giggles in the back of the car indicate a lack of support for her complaints.
Of course Nasreen insists on being photographed with everybody and almost has to be dragged away from the individual poses. Lydia even removes the burqa for a few as she for once upstages her daughter by picking a few flowers and playing the blushing bride to great effect, she now quite hopeful that a sex life that petered out many years ago could be about to get just the kick-start it needs. In fact her husband won’t be back until Sunday evening but if her daughter can survive being tied to a bed for twenty four hours then so can she !
In the end however Alisha decides to stay with her and her father is highly surprised to find a trainee nun kneeling in prayer on the hall floor when he arrives home. They hug for a long time, after which Alisha tells him to go and get a huge bouquet of flowers to go with the card and chocolates he has bought her mother. Meanwhile she prepares a meal as best as she can before leading him to the main dish of the day awaiting in his bedroom. She kneels outside in prayer once more and grins widely as the sounds emanating from the bedroom indicate that the veils and gown appear to be having the desired affect.
And to complete a good weekend for all, in his office on Monday, Javed hangs up in pride of place behind his desk the one picture of his mother he has always wanted : one where she can be seen to be incapable of nagging him !