If I asked you to define yourself, would you know how to respond? We like to think we are all complex individuals who can’t be reduced to descriptors, but often there are moments when we are forced to identify with something – to label ourselves Somali, black, queer, working class, Muslim or gender nonconforming. Everything on that list applies to me. It may be that none of them apply to you, but does that matter?
To all the American daughters of South Asian immigrants: Have you ever felt that you just can’t be a Good Girl? Your parents and South Asian community have likely tried drilling in you that Good Girls follow the path of academic excellence, a well-paying job (doctor, lawyer, or engineer), marriage to a well-paid Desi man (preferably a doctor), and then a happy house with kids. Obedience to parents, no dating (at least not while a student), and virginity until marriage are absolutes.
It was the beginning of what has been called the Great Male Renunciation, which would see men abandon the wearing of jewellery, bright colours and ostentatious fabrics in favour of a dark, more sober, and homogeneous look. Men's clothing no longer operated so clearly as a signifier of social class, but while these boundaries were being blurred, the differences between the sexes became more pronounced.
I wear it now merely as a symbol, but it is not sacred. It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t define me. I wear it with whatever I wish; strappy tops, skinny jeans, heels, or I don’t wear it if I don’t wish. And this is exactly the position I’ll keep until the next No Hijab Day, when there will be more support, and this issue of forced Hijab will be highlighted again, Inshallah.
Bollywood’s period dramas have a history of misrepresenting the past. From Mughal-e-Azam (1960), where the story of Salim’s rebellion is wrongly attributed to love, to Bajirao Mastani (2015) portraying Balaji Bajirao as a Marathi superman, Bollywood cannot seem to get the history right in historical fiction. The trailer and posters of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro indicate that this tradition will be perpetuated.