Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What She Wears

Today in the US, it’s the sixth anniversary of my generation’s Pearl Harbor. Every year, we revisit how it happened, conspiracies abound, and politicians and voters contemplate the significance of the event and the reaction to it. And many of us, myself included, remember our personal experience of that day - each of us with our own story of where we were then and how we sought our nearest and dearest.

This year, though, I’m also thinking about this recent article about a Muslim woman in New Jersey and the unwelcome reception she faced while wearing a hijab there. It’s true that the head covering is not commonly seen in New Jersey, and I am honest enough to admit I would probably notice a group of women wearing hijabs there.

But I’ve also learned that all things are relative. In Singapore, I’ve been granted a chance to attach nothing of “notice” to a hijab. Why? Because it is so common in my everyday life here, where a much higher percentage of the population is Muslim. The friendly cashier at the grocery store wears a hijab. So do the sweet librarians at our local branch. So do the women who make the wonderful nasi lemak at Changi Village and the family that runs my favorite lunchtime stall. So do many of the clerks at Ikea, their hijabs displaying the store’s iconic yellow and blue.

And of course so do scores of other women as they simply go about their daily life, running businesses and tending to their children, the same as other Singaporeans - and other Americans - are doing every day.

No comments: