Alisha Earns Her Veil
© “Michelle” 2005
Chapter 15 – The Veiling of Karima
Although really tempted to hang on to her daughter for a longer time, the need to get back to her work forces Lydia to return Alisha back to Rana’s house early on Tuesday evening whereupon everybody has another enjoyable group session of packaging a smiling Alisha up for bed.
However the smile disappears the next morning when Nasreen appears rather early.
“I’m back at school now so you’ll have to wait until tonight for me to let you out.”
“What ? Why ?” she exclaims from under her night shroud.
“Grandmother has to take me to school so we haven’t got the time to get you up anymore.”
“We’re off now. Bye !”
“Oooh.” Alisha head flops back the little she had managed to raise it.
Rana reappears a little later having dropped the girl off at school.
“Can’t you let me out now ?” Alisha asks.
“Afraid not. Madame has given me specific instructions not to. But I can give you as much milk as you want.”
“Hmm. What if I really, really need a pee ?”
“You would let me out then surely ?”
“Her majesty did say not to.”
“So she’d rather I gently marinate in here until she gets home ?”
“I believe several of her dolls suffer similar deprivations.””
“That girl is beginning to worry me !”
“Yeah. You do wonder if she’s really a man underneath, don’t you ?” Rana laughs, “So are you really desperate ?”
“For Javed ? Of course !”
“I meant the bathroom … as you well know.”
“I assume you don’t want any milk then ?”
“No thanks. I bursting as it is.”
“You’ll be glad to know a present came for you in the post then.” Rana remarks.
“What present ?”
“A female urinal.”
“What’s a female urinal ?”
“It’s a sort of large plastic bottle with a rubber snout you push between your legs to get a tight seal.”
“Sounds really comfortable … like on a par with half a dozen burqas !”
“Now when did comfort come into consideration ?”
“When indeed ?”
“Now provided you pee properly and don’t let it dribble out it should all go into the bottle.”
“And if I don’t ?”
“Your get wet underwear of course.”
“If we fit it to you each night and then tie your legs tightly together to stop it moving, you shouldn’t have all this problem trying to avoid wetting yourself. Shall I try fitting it now ?”
“Too late.” Alisha groans as an attempt to gently relieve the pressure in her bladder by as little as possible to balance her levels of discomfort inside and out misfires and the slight trickle turns into a major torrent.
Rana grins and heads downstairs for a cup of tea but afterwards takes pity and returns, unties Alisha and bathes her. But then she puts her straight back to bed before Nasreen comes home.
“Thanks.” Alisha gives a weak smile.
“All part of the service.” she laughs, “Wouldn’t want my granddaughter and new daughter-in-law falling out, would I ?”
With Nasreen now not getting home until after four in the afternoon and having to go to bed much earlier, the available window of time for Alisha to be out of bed is diminished considerably, and on days Nasreen undertakes after-school activities becomes almost non-existent. Almost every evening Alisha tries to tell her that she is stopping this but each time the girl’s infectious enthusiasm for putting her ‘Alisha doll’ to bed melts her resolve and she eventually ends up resigning herself to another twenty hours or more enforced motionlessness.
Though the offer from Rana of another illicit rendezvous with Javed at sometime in the future if she carries on entertaining her granddaughter does more than a little to help sway her decision.
“I hope you don’t discuss this with your friends ?”
“Great, what does she think ?”
“She thinks her older sister should be doing the same thing.”
“Doesn’t her sister have to go to school ?”
“No. She’s finished school.”
“Doesn’t she work then ?”
“No. She’s supposed to go to university next month but my friend thinks she should stay at home and be her doll.”
“So what does her sister think ?”
“She thinks her little sister is a little horror.” Nasreen giggles.
“Right. And their mother ?”
“She agrees with my friend. She thinks it’s a waste of time for her daughter to go to university and that she will attract a far better husband if she’s ready for the wedding like you are.”
“So your friend would keep her as a doll until she finds a husband ?”
“Yeah. Good plan, isn’t it ?”
“How’s she going to find a husband lying in bed ?”
“My friend offered to try to find her one on the Internet.”
“Hmm. I assume your friend likes wearing burqas as well ?”
“No silly. She’s English. Her name’s Kylie.”
“Oh.” Alisha’s thoughts that it might be some sort of Asian tradition to bind their daughters up like this goes out of the window.
Though she does find the thought that there might be another girl nearby bound up in a similar manner quite erotic. Before the end of the night she is fantasising about most of Nasreen’s class keeping probably imaginary elder sisters as living dolls, together with sleepovers where they compare their dolls and all sorts of other rather humiliating scenarios.
Back in the real world, Alisha’s work on her laptop has to mostly move to the weekends now and be fitted in around her mother’s visits, though it does give time for Rana and Lydia to deal with her dress without her being in the way. Constant checks on her waist, bust and other measurements are transferred to the tailor’s dummy so she trusts the dress is going to fit her despite never having been tried on it’s target wearer.
Come the weekend, and having got Karima to veil fully once, Rana loses little time in having her current and future daughter-in-law dress and veil in an identical manner, especially when she goes out on shopping trips with Lydia, something they find they really enjoy together when both dressed in elegant shalwar kameez.
For Alisha the matching outfits chosen for the younger generation of adults are far less restrictive than those she has become used to but for Karima it is a real culture shock, especially when she finds eating and drinking in public has suddenly become out of bounds to her just as Alisha had discovered previously. Even the first true half-niqab outfit Alisha wore has Karima less than happy about things despite her daughter’s enthusiastic response to her mother’s new attire.
“But mummy, you look wonderful.”
“I don’t feel wonderful. My hands and arms are half wrapped up inside this thing and I feel like I’ve been stuffed into a sack.”
“No mummy. That was the burqa. This is more like a cloak.”
“Why doesn’t grandmother get me more veils to wear with you ?”
“Because I told her you were too young to wear them.”
“But mummy, I wore the burqa.”
“I know. And you were too young for it. You looked silly.”
“No I didn’t. I looked grown up like you.”
“Exactly. I looked utterly stupid in a burqa as well. And not much better now !”
“Oooh.” Nasreen despairs of her mother ever growing to like veiling properly, “When I grow up I’m going to wear a veil all the time like Alisha does.”
“When you grow up you’re going to have a very sore bottom if you carry on like this.” an increasingly unhappy Karima counters.
But of course what grandmother doesn’t listen far more to what a favourite granddaughter wants than what a daughter-in-law says. Karima quickly finds herself little choice but to be the unwilling niqabi on what soon become regular Saturday and Sunday jaunts. From feeling as beautiful as could be wearing her bridal attire only a few Sundays ago, Karima now hates the look she is forced to adopt on weekends by the family matriarch even though Alisha appears to be more than comfortable with it.
“How can you be happy wearing this stuff ?” she whispers to Alisha when out of earshot of her mother-in-law.
“Oh, it’s not so bad.”
“But it’s not our nice Pakistani clothing. And surely you’d prefer your own style of clothing as well ? A nice top and jeans say ?”
“No. I’ve done that and never really felt feminine in it.”
“How about one of those floaty gypsy skirts then ? Everybody seems to be wearing them.”
“Well … if I was still after a man then I suppose I would. But now I’ve got Javed I feel hiding myself away like this is the right thing to do.”
“But he doesn’t insist you dress like this, does he ?”
“No. Of course not. I want to dress like this for him though.”
“Oh.” Karima sighs, obviously not finding the support she is after from her future sister-in-law.
“Think of it this way, it’s better than the burqa you so obviously hated.”
“You mean I can actually see ahead of me even if I can’t touch it properly.”
“Something like that. And it’s not so hot in this outfit.”
“It’s a lot cooler in a shalwar kameez like they’re wearing though. This isn’t fair.”
“They’re older so it’s assumed men won’t stare at them.”
“There’s nothing in Islam about having to cover one’s face. This is all made up to oppress us.”
“I don’t think Rana is oppressing us. She just wants to keep us modest and stop others desiring our bodies.”
“At this rate I won’t desire my body.”
“Don’t be silly. You’re really beautiful.” Alisha tries to assure Karima.
“Then why can’t I show anybody it ?”
“You can. Hussain. It will be months before anybody sees mine properly.”
“Apart from Nasreen.”
“Oops, yeah. Sorry about that. She’s sort of taken over, hasn’t she ?”
“That’s alright. I just wish she’d be satisfied dressing you up. I’m sure it’s her who’s put Rana up to having us dress the same.”
“I’ll try talking to her.” Alisha suggests, “What if she and I dress the same like we do with the prayer robes ?”
“Well anything is better than this !” Karima almost snaps as she trips over the hem of her face veil and yanks her nose quite painfully once more. Rana having set the face veil to reach all the way to the ground.
Tensions build up inside Karima and eventually she learns a harsh lesson when after making an explosive outburst against having to dress up like this, her husband insists she apologise, not because he wants his wife veiled but because his mother is head of the family and all women are expected to obey her. Rana accepts the apology but has Karima and Alisha standing statuesque outside on the patio in between serving light refreshments as best they can whilst gagged and wearing really restrictive heavy burqas until the early hours while Rana, Nasreen, Javed, Hussain and a specially invited Lydia and Richard enjoy one of the last warm evenings of summer.
“I’m really sorry about last night.” Karima whispers to Alisha the next day.
“Don’t be silly. If we totted up all my bad behaviour to my parents we’d be stuck there for a month.”
However that evening Karima is horrified to find out from Hussain that Rana is insisting she spends a week on her knees in prayer at the mosque to solve her temper problems.
“But I’ve got my work to do.”
“I know my wife. But I have no choice. I’ll phone your work and say you’ve had to take a week’s holiday suddenly because Nasreen is ill. Or something like that.”
“So we lose a week away on holiday this year ?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Please do it … for me ?”
“Okay.” Karima bows to the inevitable and spends almost every waking hour of an uncomfortable week on the floor of the mosque with Alisha who as usual gets roped in whenever there is a strict veil to be worn.
“Why do you prostrate yourself for the Du’a ?” Karima asks, “I’ve noticed you doing it before but was dealing with Nasreen at the time and you know how she copies everything.”
“I don’t know really. I think I first I didn’t realise you weren’t supposed to after you place your hands up to your face so I’ve just carried on. Since then I’ve found out lots of other women do it. I feel isolated and secure from all the troubles of the world like that. Why not give it a try ?”
“Oh.” Karima, “I suppose I could.”
And although holding the position for long periods of time is quite strenuous, she does begin to understand Alisha’s preference for cutting herself off from the world when in prayer.
Though for all this time the main theme of her personal prayers is for her mother-in-law to let her return to her previous way of life as soon as possible !
Unfortunately once the week is over she finds out this is not to be the case. Rana has asked Hussain to book all her next year’s holidays from work in a continuous run starting after the New Year break. Apparently a week veiled and mostly on her knees was just a taster for the main event of six weeks.
“I can’t do this. I really need a proper holiday.”
“She says she’ll let you know if you can cancel this booking later on this year.”
“And to persuade her to do that … ?”
“I think you know, don’t you ?”
“The veil ?”
Hussain nods. “It’s not of my choosing but for some reason she obviously wants you dressing as strictly at home as Alisha does. At least she realises you can’t do so at work.”
“Why does she want this ? It’s not usual to dress like this at home.”
“Perhaps she is worried Alisha might want to stop dressing in this manner even before her wedding.”
“Why is your brother’s fiancée’s dress suddenly our problem.”
“I don’t know. But please.”
“Great.” Karima grudgingly resigns herself to life at home in niqab, not able even to risk being unveiled outside of their bedroom in case Rana either walks in or Nasreen accidentally mentions something to her grandmother.
Though on seeing her mother’s new style of attire is now worn seven days a week, Nasreen demands to join in. Soon Hussain finds his meals being served on a low table with him sitting on a cushion on the floor. Flanked by two kneeling niqabi, he feeds them as he feels with the one fork, they having to remove one side of their veiling to take the bite then replace it straight afterwards. For Karima this is rather humiliating but Nasreen seems to really enjoy it and she and her father form a closer bond than has ever existed before.
As indeed she does a little more with her mother as well, prayer times becoming much more organised events rather then the previous ad hoc arrangements with Rana insisting that her daughter-in-law and grandchild be properly dressed for the occasion each and every time. Unfortunately for Karima, her daughter’s view on ‘properly dressed’ has prevailed and Rana has added full face veils and burqa style eye mesh to the previously open faced prayer robes.
“This isn’t right !” Karima exclaims, “We’re supposed to have our faces showing in prayer.”
“Are you sure ?” Hussain asks.
“Well I’ve always been told that.”
“Oh. What happens if you don’t ?”
“Your prayers are more difficult to be heard so you need to make more of them.”
“There’s your answer then.” he laughs. “Rana obviously believes the same thing.”
Although not included in these prayer sessions, they have an unexpected but immediate impact upon Alisha as well. With dinner time and prayer times now extended considerably, the first evening where Nasreen stays late at school results in Alisha not being attended to at all. Only the new urinal stops a very uncomfortable situation developing.