Miss Aida
It was almost a normal day. I walked down the path towards uni, admired the red ivy glistening in the sun, took in the beautiful sight of Ormond in winter, with the leaves in hues of reds and golds welcoming me down the path, waved at Greg who was waiting for me at the gate, and continued to set off to uni. Almost normal.

Said hi to Greg. Walked in companiable silence for awhile before proceeding on to chatter about various random subjects as we tend to discuss on our way to lectures. For some reason or other, Greg asked me if Nik ever had what he termed as 'burkha envy'. Confused, I asked him what he meant. He clarified, asking if Nik ever got jealous of me for not having to wear the headscarf.

FYI, Nik is one of my best friends who recently donned the headscarf. She chose to do that of her own free will. Now, it is no small surprise that non-Muslims would be less likely to understand that concept, and as Greg's question illustrated, thoughts about women with the headscarf seemed to indicate that the person would be a different kind of person. He didn't seem to think any less or more of her, although I know people who might, but he did seem to think that she would envy those who supposedly had the freedom of not wearing the headscarf.

His question got me thinking but I had no qualms about answering. I've known the answer to that all along. My answer was that it was more likely to be the opposite. I envied Nik for having the strength to don the headscarf. I sincerely do. I envied her because of her reasons for putting on the scarf were not subject to culture or upbringing, it was purely because her heart had been opened to it, and because of her love for God. No more than that. I doubt many people wouldn't be able to understand that. A love for being Muslim, and Islam as their religion.

I have friends who love God so, so much that they constantly strive to be the best in their lives. I've seen a friend cry because she didn't think she was being a good Muslim, despite her constant work towards improving the lives of Muslim students and students through her involvement in several clubs and societies. I've seen the peace on the face of people who truly believe, and their faith is reflected in their eyes and their actions. I see all that, and it reinforces my faith.

I may not wear the headscarf, but I envy those who do, for I believe they have the strength to do what I cannot. By putting on the headscarf, women are subjected to so much more prejudices, not just overseas, but within my home country as well, Malaysia. There are a hundred and one misconceptions about the headscarf as a whole, but as a Muslim, I seek to uphold the truth. And despite not wearing the headscarf myself, I am not ashamed of admitting my religion, and constantly seek to educate my non-Muslim friends here about Islam.

It's the least I can do.
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