Back when I was a kid in primary school, I used to get a lot of shit from teachers and other students for having a ‘mat salleh’ mum.
The things people used to say to my sisters and I included name-calling (‘bohsia‘), with nosy ustazahs asking me if my mum prayed at home, and why didn’t we wear tudungs (hijabs). We got stared at a lot and were basically labelled ‘bad kids’ or at the very least, ‘naughty’, because we were doomed by having a white mother who was a ‘kaffir‘ as one kid in my class felt the need to inform me when I was around 8 or 9.
I remember one of my religious teachers pointing out that this one student, let’s say her name was Siti for the sake of preserving her privacy/anonymity, was a shining example and we should all follow in her footsteps. To be fair, during this particular incident I wasn’t being singled out by the ustazah in any way, but she was making a point to me and my group of little rascal friends that we should all aspire to be like this tudung-wearing, holy and solehah young Siti, who always got good marks in the religious studies class and was so polite and demure.
“Kan bagus kalau kamu semua boleh ikut teladan Siti ni?” the ustazah would say.
Well, fast forward 5 or 6 years and lo and behold, a teenaged Siti had a child out of wedlock. Hah! Right. Let’s all follow her example, be ignorant about sex, have lots of it with a useless mat rempit boyfriend, and have a bastard child at the age of fourteen. I personally have nothing against children being born to young, unmarried parents – what is the big effing deal?? as long as the child is loved, cared for and provided for, who gives a flying fuck what society thinks – but I would love to find that teacher and rub that fact in her face. I was waaay less experienced in that area compared to the previously-pure Siti, yet I was still looked at as a bad egg, or just a potential one, anyway, which was seen as being just as bad.
Seriously, compared to these so-called holy and ‘good’ girls, I was the real saint! I didn’t have boyfriends in high school, I didn’t go necking with them in the park, and I certainly didn’t give blowjobs and have frantic adolescent sex like these girls were doing – and getting away with it by virtue of looking the part of the innocent!
I used to feel like an outcast at school because I wasn’t Malay enough, and didn’t wear a tudung (not that I ever WANTED to!). The other tudung-wearing girls in my class had this air of superiority about them, no doubt drummed into them by their parents and the ustazahs, just because they had some cloth covering their hair. (Note: not ALL of them were like that; in fact, one of my best friends wore one and was never a holier-than-thou kind like the others).
Well, the funny thing is, now that we’re all grown up, some of these girls have cast the tudung off to shake their manes in the breeze – as well as wearing revealing, cleavage-baring clothes. Hooray for them! I’m glad they’re wearing what they want, and not something people tell them they should (except maybe the fashion magazines).
But seeing their transformations, I can’t say I feel 100% goodwill towards them, after the hell they put me through for being myself from the time I was a kid. Being teased for having an ‘infidel’ mother, being called a slut at the age of eleven when I was so far from it, I haven’t completely gotten over the unfairness and hypocrisy of it all.
Still, at least I know I was always true to myself.