Please note that the below post is just a collection of thoughts and is not intended to harm anybody’s sentiments. The post is not a comment or a judgement on any religion or religious practice. And is neither arguing about women’s choice with respect to their attire.
I for one belong to a progressive family. Even after marriage there is no compulsion on me to wear a mangalsutra or apply sindoor, or wear traditional Indian attire. For me progression is freedom of choice. I believe that women should be allowed to make their own choices and things should not be imposed upon them. So when I look at the parda system or the burqa system, I think that they are instruments to trap the feminine. I have always wanted to find out whether the women following these systems feel the same way. But I never got the opportunity to ask this question to anybody.
One day I was having a conversation with a new friend of mine here in Prague. And how it usually happens that one thing leads to another, our conversation started from weather in Prague to indians staying here to shopping for winters to switzerland to religion.
As I had developed a good camaraderie with this friend , I thought I shall ask her ‘the question.’ So, very hesitantly I asked,”I wanted to ask you something. I hope you will not mind.”.She smiled and said, “No, not at all. Go ahead.” I was still very reluctant but I gathered up courage and asked her,”Don’t you guys feel trapped, because you have to wear a burqa all the time ?” I was all set to see anger on her face. But she just smiled and said,”No, I am used to it. But why do you think like this?”
Her calm composure gave me encouragement, so I continued, now in a more relaxed manner,”No offence to the religion, but I asked this just keeping in consideration basic human nature.” She was amused by my response and asked,”How so?”
I answered,”We all like being praised, specially the ladies. We like it when people notice us, they praise our clothes. Our new look, our new accessories, our haircut etc etc. Basically we like it when people notice us. We like to flaunt our newly acquired shopping. But for you guys everything is same.”
She gave me a knowing smile and then she started answering my queries. She said.”We don’t wear burqa all the time. When we are with family and friends we don’t wear a burqa. In our family we wear it in presence of people we don’t know properly. It’s for our protection only.”
I was rather confused with her answer. Seeing the confusion on my face she said,” Let me ask you a question” I nodded and waited attentively for her question. “If you see a stranger checking you out or ogling at you, how will you feel? If a stranger compliments you for your clothes or your looks what will you think?” I replied,” I will feel offended of course. I am not a thing of pleasure or somebody’s property.” “Exactly my point”, she said. “this is why we wear a burqa in presence of strangers. We seek praise and appreciation regarding our looks and attires from the people whom we know. Because, we know that they won’t eye us wrongly. If a stranger is complimenting me, he is actually checking me out and I would not like it.”
I was not expecting this at all. I was actually surprised, not at the response but at my ignorance. So giving her my ‘you got me’ smile, I said,” I had never thought it this way. Thank you for giving me a new perspective.”
This conversation made me realise that our opinions or judgements should not be clogged by our ignorance. One must always gather information before forming such staunch opinions.