You Took Off Your Hijab: A love letter to my sister

This isn’t about your clothes, but you

You are brave and you are loved. I am your elder and I hold you and hold you when others should. You think beyond your years and question beyond your walls.

You are small. Wiry, black mass of hair you cut short in the Australian winter, glasses on your nose that frame defiant eyes. You have a schoolgirl drawl I admire more than the voice of preachers. You are insignificant and everything. You are powerful, new and you. I gave you a hug as an eighteen year old and I shake your hand as a woman. You are braver than I will ever need to be.

Shall I talk about your atheism? No, that is your story, your journey. It is for you to share and you to understand. As I turned to faith you turned away. You stripped your faith with your coverings and stood bare to question everything. Your strength was great despite your tears. Your path is yours. You walk it with a stride beyond your years.

Your mother demanded you covered again. She said things with an anger no mother should. But your voice had heat and your story flowed from your lungs and stood against modesty. You wrote your poetry and tales and pursued pride. This is your path. As I find strength in God you found strength in yourself. Both are just and fair and sound.

You asked me once how I prayed, as a Jew. I told you I asked for support and strength to face the darkness ahead. You told me you found that beautiful, for all the pain that your faith had caused you. In a world without God, you see freedom. We are different in our gazing out at the wideness of the world, but yet you speak kindly of mine. And I praise your kindness and empathy. That is greater than cloth or cosmology. You are kind. You are kind.

You aren’t alone. With or without a veil, you are you and you are loved. And you will always be my sister, in soul if not blood.

I wish you happiness.

24 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk

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