On wearing the veil

Saturday afternoon I saw a woman in a niqab get on the metro at the Boni Avenue station. My first thought was, it must be damn hot in that dress, and then the collective angst of the Western world over Islamic clothing came rushing in and I was promptly knocked into a catatonic state, a condition which lifted only when the rocking movement of the metro starting up again threatened to throw me off balance and onto some irritable stranger. Having recollected my composure I tried to thresh out a personal opinion on the matter, nevermind the fact that I may not exactly be entitled to one seeing as I am neither Muslim or a woman. And my take on it is that the veil is misunderstood by those who view it from a perspective that is so infatuated with individuality it is willing to pay with privacy as currency.

Modernity has gone GaGa over self-expression, self-definition, self-actualization, and a host of other similarly vain enterprises, all premised mostly on differentiating one's (physical) self from everybody else. On this altar to the self, the self is sacrificed" split right up the middle to bare the heart and all its dark secrets, photographed and uploaded and "liked" on Facebook, dissected and reassembled to form an ideal simulacrum, a unique simulacrum that screams look at me I, I am special. And everybody else looks on in admiration, agrees, and tries to create for themselves such an idol.

When everyone is obsessed with looking good, you can see then how the veil seems like a horror. How it makes women drab and shapeless. How Communist-ly homogeneous everyone ends up as. They say it is the ultimate hindrance to liberation, when what they actually mean by liberation is staking out a place for the self in the public eye.

But I say, how comfortingly anonymous it must be. I think that similar to how anonymity is allowed on the net, the same freedom should be accorded in real life. Even in the most public of places, it must feel reassuringly private behind the veil.

I was so engrossed in this chain of thought that I forgot to get off at Shaw Boulevard; I got off at Ortigas instead and walked back to Starmall to wait for my friend. To while away the time, I window-shopped at the different stalls in the food court. I made it all the way around before finally deciding to get Earth & Sky iced tea at the Deliciously Done, Food and Drinks store. Earth & Sky because of the high school nostalgia it inspires and Deliciously Done, Food and Drinks because of the implicit promise borne in their nomenclature name. I should have known that satisfaction would be unrealistic. The iced tea turned out to be Nestea, diluted with ice so much it must have been illegal. So much for nostalgia and a drink deliciously done. I contented myself with a stick of Phillip Morris 100s. Extra long for extra pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. that's the frailty with self-expression, sucking up for appreciation.