- A Hijab of My Own
Every Friday, I wrestle with it— my kinky hair, the need to make it slick like Arab girls’. Hijab never glides over puffs and twists. To enter their mosque, I must pin the ends below my chin, pretend the silk doesn’t snag, and my ears don’t burn, skin rubbed red. In their mosque, women sit behind a lace curtain, drape hijab over their heads and chests. These women are from everywhere except here. An Arab asks where my parents were born. I must be from somewhere too. Maybe Somalia. No, America, I reply. She can’t understand. She asks my name. I say I-sha, never I-e-sha. I am what is easy for them. I-sha...the Prophet’s wife...Masha’allah I-sha. They bless my name, kiss me on each cheek, offer Salaams. I itch to push back the fabric, wrap it like Badu, cloth spiraled around black hair spreading up and out— my hijab’s natural cushion. [End Page 1124]
Aisha Sharif received her MFA from Indiana University, and she now teaches English at Whitfield School in St. Louis, Missouri.