The Unfinished Musilmah
Oh, God! I was excited! For the first time in my life, I went on vacation! We were there: Akay, Pit, Chantalle, Chan for short and I Liselotte, Lise for short. We came from Cologne-Chorweiler and are in the 2nd generation ‘Hartz4er’ and we had passed our Abitur examinations. Studying for the high school diploma was not necessarily typical for kids from our area. But we four had one thing welded together: we wanted to get out of this cycle of poverty, joblessness, hopelessness and endless boredom. Akay was a German with Turkish parents and the rest of us were native Germans. We called ourselves Kanaken that only means human, but because the Nazi pigs insulted foreigners so and we like to be human – instead of Nazi pigs. And now we’re in Ercan, in northern Cyprus. Öktem, one of Akay’s many cousins, picked us up and brought us to Magosa. To his parents’ house. There were three guest rooms they had set up for rent. For a ridiculous price by German standards and as we four had always worked alongside school time, we were able to afford a cheap holiday. The house was beautiful and we were warmly welcomed by Akay`s relatives. After a few days, I had the impression that Akay was related to all Magosa citizens. At least no evening went by without us being invited by someone. We had fallen in love with these people who were so totally different. Open, modest and polite people, with a big heart. Traditionally Chan and I always stayed with the women. During our common school time, Akay had taught us some Turkish and so we could talk a little with them. Akay`s grandmother, in particular, was so impressed by us that every day she asked us to visit her and we were very happy to do so. Holidays I always thought about swimming and relaxing on the beach, but we weren’t interested in that at all. Chan inquired the women if it would not get too hot for them in all the clothes and beneath the headscarf. Grandma laughed and said: ” Why don’t you try it out for yourself? I’m betting it’s good for you to no longer be naked.” Everyone laughed and I was embarrassed and confused. Out of consideration for Akay`s family, Chan and I had bought some summer dresses especially, which we thought to be very decent. And Grandma told me we were naked. Grandma’s daughter Fatma and her granddaughter Selma invited us into a room and gave us ‘decent’ clothes. With a lot of silly giggling, they turned us into good Muslimahs. With the Hidschāb we were completely overtaxed so that they had to help us. They began with a smaller cloth that covered our hair and eyebrows completely. Then the actual Hidschāb came along. It covered our head and shoulders up to our elbows. The only things you could see of us were a small facial triangle and our hands. It was weird to be wrapped in so much fabric. You could perhaps describe it as being wrapped protectively. Not uncomfortable at all, just a little unfamiliar. As Grandma saw us, she started to weep and we plunged into her arms deeply moved by her tears. And then she said, “Come on, I need to show you beautiful girls to our men.” Chan and I were looking at each other frightened. “But Grandma, it is not necessary!” I said. She grabbed my hand and led me to a man-high mirror. Well, child! What do you see?” she asked me. I wanted to answer defiantly and say “Well, me”. But there wasn’t a Lise, there was a pretty Muslimah. I stuttered: “a… A Muslimah?” Chan stood by me in silence, looked at herself and nodded. Then we went to the men. “Look how beautiful our princesses are!” Grandma shouted and it took a few – but for me eternal – seconds before they understood what was supposed. The men cheered us on and loudly expressed their delight. I turned bright red and was so embarrassed that I could not help but press my face so deep against my chest that only the tips of our noses were sticking out under the hijab. Öktem the cousin told me, “Lise, show me your face, please!” I shook my head. I don’t know what happened to me. I’ve never had any trouble to show the men my face, but I thought that I would look him in the eye and he would look me in the eye was strangely wrong. Grandma said: “So the fun is over! Get out of here, girls.” Thankfully, we went back. I then threw Öktem a glance and got stuck. He had a crush on me and I didn’t feel any better. I tore myself away from his face by force. But all the men had noticed it and they immediately began to raise the poor Öktem. Among the women, Grandma took me to her place and whispered: “Dear, how do you know how beautiful you look in decent clothes? You broke Öktem’s heart! I’m so proud of you!” I took her hand, kissed it and briefly pressed it against my forehead. That’s how you return your respect.
“Grandma, I’m scared! Please hold me tight,” I begged her and she held me tightly and securely in her arms. I was thinking, ” What’s the matter with me? I’m behaving like a little innocent girl. Okay, I was still a virgin, but just not to end up in a Hartz4 career, not for lack of opportunities. I’ve never been happier than I am here. Selma said, ” If you like, I’ll practice with you a little how to dress the Hidschāb properly.” On this afternoon something very new joined us with her, we were like sisters. So we spent the whole day with her and learned how good Muslimah dresses and behaves. We also helped with the housework. Then was Ramadan, to which we joined and we prayed with her and read the Koran. Eventually, I noticed that I hadn’t spent a single lira yet and I asked Selma where to shop here. My Turkish had become better and better in the last few weeks, but after a while, she understood what I meant. I thought so! But she understood that I wanted to buy my trousseau and get married soon. ” You have to wait till the end of Ramadan, but we already can buy it,” she said. Then she approached Grandma, she nodded and Selma handed us a heavy cloak and showed us how to put it on. Underneath it, our contours disappeared completely. In the mirror, we saw identical cones with a small facial triangle. Now I was to learn what was meant here by a rendezvous with lovers. Öktem, Akay and Pit were waiting to join us. Sure, we had seen them in passing while we were doing our domestic duties. But it was different here. Well, they were our escort. They were obligated to keep us safe and return us home undamaged. I had given up wondering about anything for a long time. As a good Muslimah, I lived here and enjoyed it more and more. It was all very well. And so we silently pursued our protectors three steps behind them. Selma behind Akay, Chan behind Pit and I Lucky followed Öktem. We met women who were dressed similarly to us and who followed their husbands. But as we approached the center of the village, a few more unaccompanied women dressed in western costumes came towards us. Imagining showing myself so naked and without male company made me idiotically disgusted. Then we stepped into a big bright store. A little boy told us to follow him. He led us behind a curtain. We were sitting on chairs. Concealed behind the curtain I heard Öktem arguing with the merchant. It was a normal sales talk here and it took some time. A girl brought us cold lemonade. Then an elderly woman, maybe the owner’s mother, asked me to come with her. I was stripped and measured behind another curtain. The woman shouted my body masse through the curtain. When she was done, I tried to get myself dressed. But the old woman told me to wait. Again I heard the loud and demanding voice of Öktem. The woman said to me: “You have a very strong protector. Lucky you.” Eternity felt later, the girl came to us with a mountain full of white cloth on her arms and they clothed me with it. It was a normal Islamic correct woman’s clothing, only white and draped with many embroideries and pearls. The woman presented me with a white silk scarf with two tears of embroidery. I never saw such a thing before, she called it Ruband. She put the cloth over my face so that the tears lay on my eyes and the girl fixed it behind me. Through the tiny holes of the embroidery, it was not easy to look. When I wanted to look to the right or the left, I had to turn my head. I quickly realized that the most pleasant thing was to hold my head down slightly and to fix on something that was not more than three steps away from me. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a snow-white perfectly shaped cone without face and contours. Fascination and anxiety fought for the upper hand in my mind, yet before one of them won, the women began to change me. Then I joined my friends again and was listening with them on the palaver between the shop owner and Öktem. Meanwhile, the girl came in and brought each of us a colorful Ruband. Mine was pink with a slit over the eyes, covered with a wafer-thin white cloth. It all seemed to be bathed in fog, but the view was otherwise good. The silk mittens were in the same color. Now, in my cone, there could have been anybody, including a Martian. The anonymization was finished. Next week’s my trip home, what do you think I’m wearing?