Alisha Earns Her Veil
© “Michelle” 2005, 2006
Chapter 19 – Two To Veil
Back in her house Rana searches Nasreen’s book collection kept there for the book mentioned, an easy matter as only one has a Japanese girl wearing a kimono on the cover. She quickly flicks to the end and reads the last chapter. Sure enough it does mention Shibari though not in a manner to make it totally unsuitable for minors.
“Well they didn’t have books like this when I was young.” she remarks to herself, “Mind you the books they did have weren’t worth reading.”
She finishes off the book, it ending happily ever after though with a rather graphic description of childbirth.
“Hmm, just as well Zinah hasn’t seen or heard about this or she might change her opinion of her favourite great-granddaughter.” she grins to herself.
A quick search on the Internet and Rana is primed up with ideas for the coming days. She especially notes the placement of knots in strategically stimulating places underneath normal clothing for wearing all day, driving the woman wild with desire long before she has reached the bedroom.
“I think we’d better buy Karima a kimono.” she laughs to herself, “There’s enough here to keep Hussain busy untying her for weeks. Assuming he wants to untie her of course !”
Meanwhile after four days of eating, sleeping and generally living in her new outfit, Rana slipping a baby’s potty into place when needed, Alisha is eventually released to allow Javed to takes her and Rana to the office. Though of course as Javed is there, Alisha has to wear the super-burqa again, albeit with just a couple of layers of clothing underneath this time to facilitate motion on a level somewhat faster than that of a small mollusc. As they will be planning for how to run the office while she is away, the gag is removed as soon as they arrive but the dense veiling remains firmly in place.
“We are expanding anyway,” Alisha points out whilst typing away like mad, “so we might have needed some sort of clerk to post things and so on eventually anyway.”
“But a clerk won’t be able to do invoices, will she ?”
“So we need two people really ?”
“Hmm … possibly. One just until I get back though.”
“If you take Zinah too literally you won’t be coming back.”
“It was agreed I have to get pregnant first.”
“True. Any suggestions then ?”
“Well … I know Yolanda has been thinking of quitting at the estate agent and doing temping. I’ll see if a nine month contract here will entice her.”
“Nine months ?” Rana queries.
“Six weeks now, six months while I’m away then another six weeks while Javed and I are away visiting relatives.”
“Oh, of course. And the clerk ?”
“Do you have any relatives who’ve just left school perhaps ?”
“Hmm. Not really. But there’s my friend Yasmin. Her daughter Farah is that age. I’ll ask her.”
Come the weekend, Lydia arrives to work on the wedding dress but finds her daughter’s new attire too much of a distraction. By the end of the day, the duvets are decorated in hundreds of fabric roses, dangling ribbons and huge bows, with a lace curtain folded double reducing her daughter’s vision to just the minimum needed to manoeuvre her bulky form around the house without doing too much damage. Finally a quick late afternoon trip to the local market provides a load of cheap nightgowns and quilted dressing gowns which she enthusiastically fits to her daughter before sewing the bottom shut.
“There, that should keep you nice and warm.”
“I assume Zinah has asked you to see how far you can go before I object.” Alisha’s voice appears from somewhere out of the soft mountainous pile in the middle of the room.
“On the contrary, my daughter. I’m expecting you to behave well and not to object at all just as any good Victorian daughter would do.”
“Well the corset underneath this lot isn’t Islamic, is it ?”
“I suppose it isn’t.”
“And I’ve never actually seen any Eastern clothing made of quilted duvets either.”
“I suppose not. So Rana has invented something new then ?”
“It’s been done by fashion students before. Only they usually stop at the skirt, not cover the model completely.”
“That’s me, a real trend-setter.” Alisha giggles.
“Victorian or Islamic, how does she go to work now ?” Rana asks.
“Does she need to ?”
“Well not yet I suppose. But we have a couple of new employees starting in two weeks.”
“That’s alright. She can stay like this until then, then.”
“Oh.” Rana grins. “What’s she going to do ?”
“Housework of course.”
“Yes. Cleaning definitely. Perhaps the ironing as well.”
“But not cooking ?”
“Would you trust her to do that even without this lot on ?”
“Not really.” Rana grins, “She can do her prayers then.”
And so with her hands still trapped inside, Alisha begins a gruelling two weeks of hot and hard housework, hot and hard prayer and hot and hard tossing and turning as she tries to get to sleep.
Monday two weeks later, Alisha is again sitting in the office with Yolanda and Farah present. Yolanda has arrived in a long sleeved top, long skirt and leather boots, whilst Farah wears a fairly standard black jilbab and hijab. Both seem equally surprised at Alisha’s attire, Rana only allowing her to see Javed now in the super-burqa.
To work with them, Alisha has a string inside her attire which pulls aside the curtains of the super-burqa to reveal her face, still mostly veiled in full niqab, inside. But if Javed appears she has been instructed to let go of the string and she will disappear completely again.
“Why do you need this ?” Yolanda asks.
“I’m engaged to the boss so he’s not really allowed to see me until the wedding. This is the best compromise we could come up with to let me come in here to train you two up.”
“Uh … oh.” neither realises some form of burqa has been her standard office attire long before the hiring of other staff was even considered. Nor that her house attire for the last two weeks has been even more gruelling to wear.
Alisha remembers it was her great relief finding out there were no other female staff in the company to see her in hijab, yet here she is hiring a friend and another girl she has never met whilst wearing a burqa. She shows them how the order system works, how to create invoices and most importantly where to leave the despatch notes for the evening staff to pack.
“So don’t we ever talk to them person to person ?” Farah asks.
“I’ve never even seen them.” Alisha laughs.
“You must be the only person in the world with a full time job in purdah.”
“I suppose I might be.”
Later on Rana takes Alisha home.
“What’s purdah ?” Yolanda asks Farah as soon as they leave.
“Well there’s lots of stuff but basically it means she has to be completely hidden from all men apart from her husband, father and brothers.”
“You mean that gear she’s wearing ?”
“Do all you Muslims have to dress like that when you’re engaged ?”
“I hope not !” Farah laughs, “Otherwise you can count me out of getting married.”
“But you will cover your face ?”
“No way.” one Muslimah intends to lead a purely hijab veiled lifestyle.
“Oh. I see … uh …”
Farah explains the difference in the types of veiling using the display in the entrance.
“So why do some Muslim women cover their face and some don’t ?”
“Well that’s a long debate that’s been going on for centuries but it all depends on how you personally interpret a few sentences.”
“Oh. So you … ?”
“I believe covering my head and averting my gaze from a man is adequate provided he does the same.”
“I see. So how about Alisha ?”
“She seems to regard her face as so private it has to be hidden from all men so that they cannot see it even before they look away.”
They chat a little more on the subject. Yolanda gradually understanding a little more.
“Mind you,” Farah laughs, “my mother put a new twist on it to me. A Muslimah must cover her private parts so if you regard the mouth as a sexual organ you must cover it otherwise don’t bother.”
“You mean …”
“What I believe you call a ‘blow job’.”
“Uh … yeah. You … uh …”
“Know about such things ?”
“So you ?”
“Have no intention of doing so even after I’m married.”
“I see. You … uh …”
“No I haven’t had sex yet if that’s what you mean. I’m still a virgin.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”
“That’s alright. It was me who brought sex into the discussion after all.” Farah laughs.
“So what’s it like wearing that scarf … uh hijab … all the time ?”
“Oh it’s fine. Here, try one on.” Farah offers one of the samples up to Yolanda’s head who nods for her to fit it.
“It feels okay.”
“Some people stare at it but it’s common enough now for most to ignore.”
“Oh … sorry.”
“No. I didn’t mean you. I mean more like that stare you gave Alisha.”
“Ah. I did rather go open-mouthed, didn’t I ?”
“So did I.” Farah grins, “So did I.”
“I’d never seen anything like that.”
“Neither have I. I just hope my mother doesn’t see it and gets ideas.”
“Well at least I don’t have that problem. Mind you, Alisha used to be just like me.”
“Oh I’m sure she still is. The veil doesn’t change who you are, it just hides it a bit.”
“I see … I think. So what are you hiding ?” Yolanda giggles.
“Me … I’m a right sex-bomb under this lot.”
“You are ?”
“Not really. I was just joking. Mind you if your friend Alisha hadn’t hooked herself the boss I might have been having to drop him a few hints about what lies inside.”
“I suppose you could have.”
“So how long have you known Alisha ?”
“About three years. We studied together.”
“Was she always religious ?”
“Not really. Though there were stories she once thought of becoming a nun but I don’t think they’d have had her.”
“Why not ?”
“Well … she … you know.”
“Slept with a man ?”
“Lots I think.”
“Is that a problem for Muslim men ? Do you think the boss knows ?”
“It is for some. But it’s not really our business, is it ?”
“I suppose not. So will she always dress like that in here ?”
“Only until she gets married. After that I expect she’ll wear something a little simpler. Some places even have a video camera on the entrance so the girls can see who’s coming and if they need to veil at all or not.”
“Sounds sensible. So what do you think it’s like to wear that stuff she’s wearing.”
“One word – hot !”
“I thought so. Do you fancy a quick drink ?”
“I … uh …”
“I meant a coffee at that new place round the corner. It’s only five o’clock. We’re not all alcoholics you know.” Yolanda laughs.
“Of course. I’m sorry I misunderstood. Yes, I’d love one.”
The two pack up and leave.
“Uh … Yolanda ?” Farah remarks outside the door, “You’ve forgotten something.”
“I have ?” Yolanda fumbles in her handbag looking for keys and suchlike.
“Oh yes. Did you tie it on ?”
“Come here, I’ll take it off for you.”
“Thanks … no, hang on. Let me see how many people stare at me.”
“I wouldn’t think many will. Now if you had worn a short skirt of course they might it odd.”
“Alisha made it a condition of hiring me that I wore long skirts or jeans.”
“Oh. She didn’t mention that to me.”
“I think she assumed she wouldn’t need to.”
“What if I thrust my chest out a bit like this ? Would more stare then ?”
“You look silly.” Farah giggles, “They’d stare even without the hijab.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Come on then, let’s just count who stares at me like this then.”
The two head for the coffee bar at what looks like the start of a good friendship.
Two days later, Alisha is showing them both how to monitor stock and re-order when as arranged Javed knocks from inside his office door, waits a few seconds then appears by which time his fiancée is completely covered again.
“I’m out of the office for the rest of the day. I’m sure you ladies will manage without me.”
“We will.” two of his three employees respond, Alisha being expected to remain silent as well now.
“Bye mother.” he then remarks as he leaves.
As soon as he leaves they get back to work.
“Uh … can’t you unveil properly now ?” Yolanda remarks as Alisha’s curtains re-open.
“I suppose I can. Rana ?”
She nods her assent and Alisha pulls off the super-burqa and then pulls up the front of the burqa she is wearing today over her head as well to form a hijab. Yolanda starts to giggle.
“Something funny ?” Alisha asks.
“Sorry. It’s just I haven’t seen your face properly for months.”
“I suppose you haven’t. Is it like you remember it ?”
“Well … you are a bit pale.”
“Yeah I know. I need to get on the sun-bed more often.”
Rana’s eyes look up at this but she says nothing.
“Actually I was expecting to see lines on your face from the mesh.”
“I’d have to stand still facing for hours to do that. And it would be spots surely.”
“Yes, I suppose it would.”
“So what’s it like being able to take it off.”
“A relief of course.”
“What did you expect ?”
“Well we heard you chose to dress like this.”
“But how did I end up dressing so uncomfortably ?”
Yolanda nods slowly.
“It just sort of evolved I suppose. Sometimes it’s okay, other times you just want to rip it all off.”
“But your fiancé won’t let you ?”
“Oh no, it’s not his doing. Quite the opposite in fact. I think he thinks I overdo it as well.”
“So why ?”
“I just feel I should. Just like Farah feels she should wear hijab so I want to wear full niqab when there’s a man around.”
“But her scarf is a bit more practical. I even tried it on the other day and forgot about it.”
“Well I seem to manage but mine certainly makes sure you never forget about it.”
“What’s it like peering through that mesh ?”
“You get used to it.”
“Doesn’t it give you a headache ?”
“Sometimes. Especially if the headband is too loose.”
“Loose ?” Yolanda queries, “I though too tight would be worse.”
“Well too tight is of course. But if it’s too loose your vision moves up and down like the waves and you soon feel sea-sick.”
Yolanda puts her spaced out fingers over her face and moves them up and down to confirm this. Farah has to put both hands over her face to hide her mirth.
“Why not try it for real ?” Alisha offers Yolanda with a sly grin to Farah.
“Uh … I’ll pass thanks. So what other problems are there ?”
“Having a pee of course !” Farah interjects with a laugh.
“Too right.” Alisha nods, “I sometimes have to wait all day.”
“Or not ?” Yolanda hints.
“Uh … once … or twice.” Alisha replies softly.
“Great. Anything worse than that ?”
“Well … you really must not use an escalator.”
“Oh my !” Yolanda imagines her friend being dragged blinded and screaming by her shroud into the machinery in a horrible bloodied mess.
“So you have to use the lift.” Alisha continues, “If there isn’t one you’re stuck.”
“You mean you actually go out shopping like this ?”
“Sometimes. But only with somebody with me.”
“Do you get strange looks ?”
“Like the one you gave me the other day ?”
“Oh … sorry.” Yolanda gulps and lowers her face a bit.
“It seems I see more than you think I do.”
“Uh … yeah. So what’s it like out in the street ?”
“Awkward. You can’t see everything of course. And you mostly just hear your breathing. Everything else is just background noise.”
“Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. So how do people react ?”
“Well lots stare. A few make comments, some bad but a few good.”
“Yes. They give me an Islamic greeting to show they approve.”
“So do you reply ?”
“Oh no. My voice is awrah. I just nod and continue on my way.”
“The things a woman must hide. We all hide our body, arms and legs, hair and so on as Farah does. Then you have to decide what else to cover or hide. Mouth, nose, eyes, hands, feet and so on. But if you wish you can even hide your voice.”
“Oh. I bet my father would approve.”
“Nope. You can unveil and talk as much as you like in front of close biological male relatives.”
“How close ?”
“Any you wouldn’t be allowed to marry. The rest are called non-mahrem so you need to cover yourself.”
“Hmm. You’re not saying much Farah.”
“Oh I’m just listening. It’s interesting to hear a sister’s different take on things.”
“Muslim women all regard themselves as sisters.”
“Just like nuns do.” Alisha adds.
“Oh … yeah.” Yolanda nods, “So do you hide your voice Farah ?”
“Well I wouldn’t talk to strangers in the street. But I expect you would try to avoid that as well.”
“Depends on how good looking he is.” Yolanda laughs.
“Hmm.” Farah smiles, “Anyway when I do talk to somebody I don’t know I do so softly and gaze downwards a bit.”
“Doesn’t that put you at a disadvantage ? It seems you are deferring to the other person straight away.”
“I suppose it is. But when you’re from a minority group you learn to do that naturally anyway.”
“Oh … right. So are there any good points to wearing a burqa then ?”
“Well it’s useful for dusting the desk.” Alisha laughs as she demonstrates.
“Right.” Yolanda remarks sarcastically.
“And it’s great for my waistline.”
“I can’t even see your waistline.”
“True. But trust me it’s a lot smaller. Eating is something that takes planning now. You can’t just snack on things all day.”
“Surely you can pass something up under it ?”
“Yes. But it usually gets a bit stuck on the mesh and you have to look at it for the rest of the day. After doing that the first time you tend to stick to the burqa diet.”
“Ah. So let’s see it then.”
“See what ?”
“Your waist of course.”
Alisha is a little surprised and looks across at Rana. She pauses but then heads to the door, locks it and then nods. Alisha pulls off her burqa properly then removes her layers of loose clothing one by one.
“You wear all this ?”
“What’s it like ?”
“Hot of course.”
Meanwhile Farah looks on in amazement. Until a few moments ago she thought her own jilbab was overly warm office wear. She gives a shiver at the thought of how warm Alisha must be most of the time.
Eventually Alisha stands there in a thin jalabiya and gives a real shiver.
“Well I’m not taking this off.” she remarks but squeezes her waist in tightly with her hands.
“Uh … wow !” Yolanda gasps, “The diet works then ?”
“Well that … and a bit of help from this.” Alisha suddenly decides the jalabiya is going.
“Ohmygawd ! You’re wearing a corset under all that lot. You look fabulous.”
“And I can see why she’s hidden away so much.” Farah laughs, “Men have fought wars over waists like that !”
“But nobody ever sees her waist.” Yolanda replies.
“Well you just have.” Alisha remarks.
“Well yes. But surely you don’t dress like this underneath for us ?”
“Nope.” Alisha replies most truthfully, “But just imagine what Javed will think on our wedding night.”
“Oh … right. Yeah. He’ll be amazed.”
“I holding out for awestruck !” Alisha laughs.
“So why do you need to wear this corset now then ?” Farah asks a few moments later.
Yolanda answers for Alisha “It takes months to get a waist like that. Years even. I assume you have to wear it all the time.”
“Yep.” Alisha confirms.
“What, even in bed ?” Farah asks.
“That’s right. Everywhere but in the bath.”
“Oh.” is all Farah can reply, she beginning to have some doubts on the complete sanity of her new employer.
Alisha spends the next two weeks training the new girls up.
“So how are they ?” her constant chaperone asks as she drives Alisha home. Surprisingly neither girl has so far asked why Rana sits in the corner all day. It would appear Alisha’s veiling has indeed made one person invisible to all.
“Hard.” Alisha sighs.
“Will they do ?”
“They’ll have to. Javed will just have to keep an eye out that everything gets done.”
“Well he is the boss after all.”
“Yeah. Just make sure he only keeps an eye on their work, not their other assets.”
“Oh … I hadn’t noticed.”
“Yes you have. I can see you almost sizing them both up for niqab.”
“Now would I do such a thing ?”
“With me away and nobody else to dress … yes !”