My Burqa Doesn’t Make Me Different

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Editor's note: This post is a part of #BHL, a campaign by BBC Media Action and Youth Ki Awaaz to redefine and own the label of what a 'bigda hua ladka or ladki' really is. If you believe in making your own choices and smashing this stereotype, share your story.

It was Saturday and we had to submit the assignment on Monday. I didn’t have enough photographs for the submission. The fear of poor marks again led me to travel and find some good clicks. So, I found myself in a Community Centre in one of the posh localities of Delhi. I avoid public places because I feel uncomfortable. I used to think that sometimes my attire becomes a hurdle in interaction.

There were many glass windows in the restaurants and outlets. But almost all of them have used covers in the window blocking the view of the inside. Probably, it was done to block the view of the poor pedestrians who beg at the same market. I found a good spot for my photograph inside a coffeehouse. I had to click the picture from the inside the CCD. I was hesitant to move in due to my Burqa. I had been conscious of not being at a place where people are uneasy with my Burqa. I hate when people stare at me as if I am something weird. It irks me.

When I came to the college I had chose to wear a Burqa. It was not imposed by my parents. My family did support my decision. It was my personal choice. But, I had been more conscious. To me, Burqa came as a liability. I had chosen to “endure” it. I avoided events and public places because I thought it made me different. I had to stand apart from the crowd. But, it was my misconception. When I went inside the coffeehouse I had the similar feeling of anxiety. I was the girl alone wearing a Burqa. I wasn’t allowed to photograph the people in the coffeehouse. So, I had to finish my coffee before resuming the work.

At length I started practising with my camera while drinking coffee. Adjacent my table there was a girl and a boy who were talking with each other. They looked what the generation would call today as “modern” in outlook. While I was taking some snapshots, the girl on the adjacent table looked at me and smiled. I thought it was a mocking. But, the girl asked for my visiting card and asked if I was a photographer. I told her that I was learning photography but I would soon be a photographer. What I considered as a mocking smile turned out as a compliment for the passion I was taming. I thought what made the modern girl to talk to me, is having something which she lacks.

The small event was significant for me. It’s not that the word is a prejudicial to me. It is more about our choice and co-existent. As long as you are good and true to yourself, people would come forward to respect you. You can’t stand apart just because you are different in outlook. The world is there to listen to you. You only need to go out and speak out. In a cosmopolitan atmosphere like India, individual choice is respected by most of us. Even if someone finds it awkward it doesn’t matter. You have the choice to ignore. Though you look different or dress different doesn’t make you stand apart or make you annoying.

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.

Similar Posts

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below