The other day my sister suggested that she and I get haircuts. I wasn’t going to argue with that, because I knew I desperately needed one. It’s never a good sign when you become tangled by your own hair in bed. But I was still hesitant because I knew that the salon she was going to take us to, was one in which men freely walk around as if they own the place– one of them might actually own the place, though. So I brought up this concern to her, and I made sure that she knew that if I see men walking around, I will throw a fit. She said, she’ll take care of it.
So when we got there, I put my stuff down and she went to one of the ladies and told her: “We both cover, so can you please make sure no men walk through?” Wow, I thought, that was so civil. I should try that next time. (lol) So the lady walked to the end of the salon and closed the door to an adjacent Clothing Store. But I saw that it wasn’t fully closed so I got up from the couch and pulled it shut.
It was my turn first. I stood near the chair and began to take off my hijab and niqab. I sat down and she put the plastic apron thing on me. I then saw, from the reflection in the mirror, that the blinds were not properly shut. I knew it would be just enough to drive me insane so I asked her if I could adjust the blinds. She complied and I took my apron and fixed the blinds. I came back to my seat and sat down. My sister stood guard by the door with her arms crossed.
All right salon-lady, do your thing.
She quickly began cutting my hair. At first I was skeptical of her skills because of the speed at which she was cutting, but I thought, “It’s probably not a good idea for me to ask her where she got her Hair Styling Degree right now.” On one occasion, during this short cut, a man was about to walk into the salon with his wife. The salon attendees yelled to stop him. “Tell uncle not to come inside!” At the word “uncle” I began to move to try to cover myself. My hair-cutter stopped me. “Don’t worry, no one’s coming in” she said.
She finished up the cut and began blow-drying my hair. I felt like telling her to stop, that I was just going to cover it in the end. But I decided to just let her finish. At the end I stood up and put my hijab and niqab back on. I sat back down on the couch in the waiting area nearby.
The lady in the clothing store decided to open the door between her store and the salon. I hopped out of my seat and ran to it. She began to protest. “Why did you close the door? There no man in here. Am I man?”
I responded calmly. “…Because she and I cover.” And I gestured to my sister and myself.
She continued to protest, “Am I man?”
I jokingly responded, “I don’t know, are you?”
She smiled and winked and asked me to leave the door open. “There’re no men here,” she said.
I returned to my couch and checked my phone. Soon after, a woman with three kids began to make her way up the stairs to the salon. Her oldest son, about 7 years old, held the door open for her so that she could bring the stroller in. In the stroller was her youngest son, about 2 years old, and she also had a daughter who was about 6 years old.
The oldest son became increasingly amazed with the blinds in the salon and decided to start playing with them. My sister was still in the chair getting her haircut. So whenever he would adjust them, I would adjust them back, and he would take the hint. Then I sat in my chair and returned to checking my phone. I looked up and saw my sister trying to catch my attention. She was gesturing towards the blinds. The boys were playing with the blinds again, and one of them actually decided to sit between them, so that they were parted. I put my niqab on, got up and began to fix them, so he also got up from his place. He then sat down on the couch. I sat on a salon chair opposite him and leaned in so that I could talk to him.
“What’s your name?” I said. He answered and after making him repeat it twice, I gave up. The same thing happened with his sister. The names were just too exotic for my simple English-speaking tongue.
The older brother and sister were both sitting in front of me.
“Why do you wear that?” the boy asked.
Now, I had no idea that these people were already Muslim. So explaining niqab to (what I thought was) a nonMuslim child, was a new one for me. I figured this was going to be a very short conversation.
“Because…I’m a ninja.” (The good news is that I have taken Martial Arts classes before, so I was able to get away with this statement, but this is obviously not the default answer to give. (lol) Plus I made sure not to mention the color of my belt.)
“No you’re not!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Ninjas don’t dress like that.”
He continued “Can you get me one of those?” I knew he was referring to the niqab.
“I can’t, you’re not a ninja.”
His mom began to walk over, she was finished with her business. She grabbed the youngest boy who had gotten out of his stroller. She tried to put him back inside, so that they could get ready to leave. He was putting up quite a fight.
“Hey, it looks like your brother’s a ninja too” I commented.
The oldest boy jumped up to leave with his family as they began to make their way outside.
* * *
You know, some people have this strange belief that children fear the niqab. I would argue with that. Children of all ages have approached me and have not shown fear. No, it’s not that they fear the niqab. It’s the adults who have an issue with this particular form of obedience, who fear it and try to teach others to fear it, as well.