Syeda Turns 18
by Dave Potter
This story is a (very loose) sequel to Bo_Emp’s ‘Picnic in Purdah’ in the respect that Syeda is the daughter of Yasmin and Sayed in that tale. It was written as a tribute to Bo.
20th July 2025
The voice of the muezzin calling for the Fajr prayer woke Syeda as it did every morning. Sleepily, she climbed out of bed, put on her prayer robe and prostrated herself towards Mecca. Usually she found praying a deep and powerful experience but today was different. Today was her birthday and she was too excited to think of anything else.
For today was not any birthday but her 18th, that special day when the child becomes an adult. She knew that her family had great celebrations planned and, even though she would not get what she really wanted, she was still excited. There would be presents, a party and, as usual, aunties, uncles, cousins and everyone else. It would be fun and since this would most likely be the last time she would celebrate her birthday at home due to her now being of marriageable age, she wanted to make the most of it.
After prayers, she went into the shower. Her bedroom was windowless so that no prying eyes could view her as is correct, and her father had installed an en suite shower immediately prior to her entering puberty so that she could wash in private before preparing herself for the outside world. For Syeda’s family is one that firmly believes in purdah and, even in the house among family, it was very rare that a woman was seen unveiled. Indeed, ironically, the only time that she ever saw an unveiled woman or was seen in such a state herself, was when she went to play cricket with her local female cricket club. Strangely, in this way, she knew her teammates better than she knew her own family but then again, since they were all so close, then her teammates were like a second family to her.
After showering thoroughly and drying herself, she put on her underwear which consisted of the usual bra and panties and then her elbow length indoor gloves and knee-length stockings. Then she put on a shalwar kameez in plain white before dropping a plain abayah over the ensemble, wrapping a scarf around her head and then fastening a one-layer niqaab over the top. Now every inch of her body was covered save for a small letterbox around her eyes and, equally importantly, her enticing female curves were hidden by the loose material. Dressed in this way, she was deemed fit to leave her room.
Outside her family were waiting. They clapped her and wished her happy birthday verbally, although without any singing due to that being un-Islamic. Then her mother served them all breakfast and when they were eating said, “Darling, now that you are eighteen, you will be able to decide things for yourself, but I am afraid that, for this one day, your parents are still in charge and when you have eaten all you like, I need you to return to your room and take off those silly Arab clothes.”
This was a long-standing joke between them. Her mum, Yasmin, observes purdah just as strictly as Syeda, but she favours a more traditional Pakistani style, wearing the Pak-chador in the house and a burqa when travelling. Syeda, on the other hand, like many younger people, prefers the more Arabian styles that the Saudis and Emiratis wear and has to be pushed into wearing anything but black. However, this time she laughs. “Whatever you say darling mother,” she replies.
“I think that you will like the new outfit that we have bought you for this special day,” chipped in her dad, Sayed. “It is most appropriate for today’s festivities and I need you to put it on as quickly as possible because we will be going out soon and will not be returning until evening.”
Inside, her heart sank. She loved her family dearly and knew that they meant well and wanted to make her happy, but if they had planned something for all day, then that meant she would not be doing the thing that she loved most: cricket.
Cricket had been her dad’s gift to her since he was an avid fan and she had grown up listening to him talking about games and watching matches with him on the TV where the great players of Pakistan like Umar Gul and Younis Khan would spin and bat their team to victory even against their greatest rivals, India. Who could forget that day when, aged only ten, she sat on her dad’s knee and watched Pakistan destroy India in the Champion’s Trophy Final in faraway London? And after watching games, they would go to the park and play themselves, her often taking the bails off with some awesome spin bowling.
Of course, all of that changed when she reached puberty and entered purdah. It was now no longer deemed appropriate to watch athletic and tempting young men on the television and she could only venture into the park heavily veiled which made any cricketing impossible. But the girl’s school that she attended, although very conservative, ran its own female cricket club where purdah-observing girls could practice and play inside the gym where it could be guaranteed that no men would see them. Therefore, several times a week she would be allowed to go down after her studies and play with the girls wearing only her cricket gear and a headscarf. It was what she lived for and there was a practice today, with several girls hinting that they had a celebration planned for her, but now she would not be able to go. Furthermore, she mused, her mood getting darker with the second, when she was married, then the cricket would doubtless cease altogether for few pious husbands are as open-minded as her father with regards to women playing games, even if it is strictly sex-segregated.
She finished her breakfast and returned to her bedroom. Her new outfit had been laid out in bags on the bed and it was clear from the size of them that it was a strict one which meant that they would be heading out into public.
She started by removing all her clothes and putting on the underwear. She found the new brasserie easily enough – a beautiful and expensive-looking item in dark green – but could not find any pants. Then she noticed the adult nappies in a bag on the floor by the bed and groaned. Nappies meant that they would be out somewhere where it was not possible to access a toilet easily and so such a precaution was necessary but she hated wearing them. As she pulled them up around her middle, she realised that this meant a long drive in a hot car and also, they would be outside – maybe the seaside or the mountains – which meant that getting a TV or radio signal would be impossible. That was important because the Pakistani women’s team were playing in the semi-final of their world cup today against Australia and she had really wanted to watch it or listen to it. But no. Oh, how she hated birthdays!
Over the nappy came a thick pair of rubber pants, extra security against any accidents. Then she put on the standard underwear for outdoors: a full lycra catsuit, also in green like the bra. Standing up, she realised that she must look ridiculous. Her hips were rather wide as it was and with the nappy and rubber pants underneath, she had a real duck’s bottom now.
Now only her head, hands and feet were uncovered and so next came an open-face balaclava, elbow-length gloves and knee-length stockings. Strangely, these were all in green too. “What’s with the green?” she muttered to herself, before opening the next bag.
That contained the shalwar kameez, beautifully-embroidered and also in green. After that, socks and mittens suitable for outdoor use. Then came one of the rare non-green outfits: her gag. But this was no normal ball gag but instead a heavy-duty inflatable panel gag with a drinking tube through the middle. She fastened it securely and then pumped it until her cheeks bulged before detaching the pump.
Then came a new green coat and Pak-chador, still with the green theme and the niqaab which came in two layers, one with a slit and the second covering her eyes. She flipped both down and her world gained a green haze.
Then came the final item and she knew from the bulk what it was: a thick travelling burqa. She undid the bag and unfolded it. It was a beautiful garment in forest green with fine pleats at the back and beautiful white embroidery at the front and on the skullcap. The grille was also in white and much larger than her other burqas but then she realised why for this burqa had an extra layer which flipped down over the grille and was also decorated with fine embroidery. It was a blinding burqa! Although used to restricted sight, she’d never worn anything like this before. With a little excitement and trepidation, she fastened the skullcap on and then let it cascade all around her. She squeezed her mittened hands through the tiny slits and then flipped back the blinding veil. Then, fit to greet the world, she walked out into the living room.
Her family were waiting, her mum in her usual white peephole burqa that she always wore when travelling. “You look marvellous, darling!” her dad exclaimed. Her mum said nothing but Syeda expected no different. Underneath her coverings, she would be as firmly gagged as her daughter.
With great ceremony, her dad flipped down her blinding veil and then buttoned shut the arm slits so that she could not flip the veil back up and then she was led out into the car. She squeezed into the back and then, a minute later, felt her mother squeeze in beside her. The door banged shut and soon afterwards she heard the car start and felt the vehicle rumble and start to move. She closed her unseeing eyes and settled back. This was going to be a long drive…
The car stopped and started in the city streets and Syeda started to doze as she always did when travelling in the car. However, before they could have even left the city, she felt the car stop, the door open and a hand on her shoulder. She was to get out! But where were they? An uncle’s house perhaps but then why or the preparations? Obediently, she manoeuvred herself out and let the unknown hand on her shoulder guide her, thankful at having been spared the long drive. She felt the ground under her was paved and then, they came to some steps which they started to ascend. Climbing steps in such heavy purdah gear was hard work and she had to stop on two occasions to gain her breath but then eventually they reached the top and she was guided into a seat.
Then she was left in darkness.
But after several minutes, the light returned. Her blinding veil was flipped up and when she saw the scene before her she gave a silent gasp.
She was in the stadium! Yes, in the actual National Stadium in Karachi where the Pakistan team played, high up in one of the private boxes. And below her was a crowd of thousands of people. Her father unbuttoned her slits and handed her a notepad.
Is this really…? she wrote
“Yes, it is. Today, for your eighteenth birthday my darling, I have paid for us all to watch a game live. Did you not wonder why the green outfit? Well, you have to show your support for the national side, don’t you?”
But you said that it was inappropriate for pious women because we see tempting men.
“And that is correct, but today you will be watching women, not men. This is the semi-final of the World Cup!”
Syeda felt like she had died and gone to heaven!
The game was brilliant. It was hot in the stadium and under all those thick layers, the sweat streamed off her, causing her to suck up one pint of cool iced water after another, but she did not care one jot. Pakistan scored 231, a low total and probably not enough. But the Australians, usually so strong, stalled in the face of some aggressive bowling. Nonetheless, with five overs to go, they were 195-3 and so the hot favourites. But then came Nashra Sandhu, the star Pakistani bowler, taking an incredible 6 wickets for only 22. With three balls spare, the final Australian lobbed a high ball over to silly point and the whole ground erupted.
Thank you! Thank you so much! This is the best birthday present ever! she wrote on her pad as she noiselessly cheered under her stifling layers.
Her dad smiled and then got up, flipping back her blinding veil and guiding her down the stairs. However, when they got to the bottom, quite unexpectedly, her veil was flipped back up again and she found herself still in the stadium and, unbelievably, facing none other than her heroine, the great Nashra Sandhu.
“Happy eighteenth birthday, Syeda! When we heard that you were coming here, we thought it would be wrong if we didn’t treat you. The girls in your club have told us how good a spin bowler you are so, would you like to hang out with me for the evening?”
At those words, Syeda almost fainted and the effects of drinking several pints of water during the game caused a fountain down below. But she didn’t care. Her… and Nashra Sandhu!
I would love to but as you can see, I follow strict purdah. I may not unveil outside of home.
“That is no problem. Would you believe that I am the same? My husband gives me special permission to unveil for games as it is for my country but other than that, I am always veiled and observe voice awrah also!”
So it was that some twenty minutes later, another burqa-clad figure joined them, Syeda’s blinding veil was flipped down and they were led out to a car. Then there was another short journey before she was led out into a strange house and, when her veil was flipped back, found herself in the coolest room ever, all the walls crammed with cricketing memorabilia.
A maid came and removed Nashra’s burqa as well as her own and brought them mango juice which they both sucked through their gags. Then they talked using electronic typepads, for hours and hours about cricket – great matches of the past, the chances for Paskistan in the coming final and much more.
At the end, Nashra typed I’m so glad we have met Syeda. I really like your company and it is great to find a sister so passionate about cricket.
I feel the same although this meeting is also tinged with sadness.
Why is that, sister?
Because now I am eighteen I must marry and I fear that cricket will become a thing of the past. I love to play and dream of representing my country as you do but it will be impossible to find a pious observant husband who allows me to continue playing.
That is true, it is very difficult, but maybe, with prayer, you will find the right man. Inshallah.
Then came a knock on the door and Syeda retrieved her burqa, put it on and then flipped down her blinding veil and retracted her hands into the garment. The door opened and footsteps came in. A strange voice said, “Wife, please come with me for a moment. Apologies to our guest.”
Syeda heard Nashra get up and leave and the door close behind her. Then she waited in dark silence, heating up quickly again under her burqa until she was streaming with perspiration, emptying her bladder for the fourth time that day and feeling the pee embarrassingly swish around inside her nappy and rubber pants.
Then, after an age, the knock came again and footsteps entered. She heard Nashra sit down opposite her again and then a male voice. To her surprise though, this voice was familiar: it was her father’s!
“Syeda, as you know, I have been searching for a suitable husband for you and today I have found a good candidate. Now I know that this might sound like a strange place to mention it, but I need to ask you, would you ever consider becoming a second wife?”
Puzzled as to why her father was here and why he was asking such intimate questions in front of a complete stranger, Syeda didn’t answer for a moment. Then, she slowly nodded her head.
“Excellent, then I feel I may have found your match. Yusef, please.”
“Syeda!” It was the voice of Nashra’s husband. But what did he want…? “Sister, my wife tells me that you are as passionate about cricket as she is and that you too get along famously. She also says that you seek a pious husband who will ensure that you live in strict purdah but that you also wish to continue playing cricket. Is this true?”
Slowly realising what was happening, the intense heat inside her burqa grew all the more and she nodded fervently. This was too good to be true, surely…
“Syeda bint Sayed, will you marry me and become my second wife? If you say yes, I promise that, not only can you play cricket, but you will get a trial for the national side.”
In ecstasy, Syeda nodded her whole body before the heat and sheer excitement of it all caused her to faint clean away.
Copyright © 2017, Dave Potter
Written 30th July, 2017