Welcome to the Hijabi Cricket Association (HCA)
It’s a lovely morning. The sun has just risen and casts a warm hue along the road that I am driving on. The roads are empty and this is how I like them. I drive with pleasure and in a few minutes I reach the ground. If you have been reading this blog (and that’s probably a highly boring exercise) you know I play cricket on weekends. Warm-ups, fielding drills, catches – and finally we come to the nets. I fall on the pitch in my follow-through once (sort of like Steven Finn of England) and I sit for a moment to take a break (unlike Steven Finn, who goes through his over). I sit by two young girls, sixth graders, who play a mean game of cricket. They are talking amongst themselves: “Try swimming, it’s really good for fitness,” one says to the other. Since I’m sitting with them, I feel obliged to respond. “Yeah, you should. Swimming is sexy, man,” I blurt out.
The two 11 year-olds look at me quizzically. “Umm, it really is,” I say uncomfortably, and then I think I shouldn’t explain more. This conversation can only get more explicit. And for someone who covers up on the cricket pitch, I should really know better than to tell these young ladies that swimming’s main selling point is the fact that it is sexy. Sigh. No wonder I don’t swim unless the pool is ‘females only’.
Okay, so let’s get back to the cricket pitch instead of the swimming pool. Yeah, so I wear the following outfit when I play. First I wear one of those stick-to-your-body microfiber shirts. Then I wear a full-sleeved, long, sporty shirt, which ends right above my knees, (but is not overly baggy, is neither tight) and a matching pair of track pants. Then I wear (on top of all that) a hideous gray thing. I don’t know what it’s called — it is very light (is it called a pinafore?) and is supremely ugly and almost as long as my shirt. Then, I cover my hair with a sort of bandana, and wait I’m not done yet: I wear a scarf that is put in place with the help of a pin. Socks, shoes, and I’m outta there.
Believe me, this outfit is about as unsexy as you can get on a cricket pitch. But I’m comfortable with it, since Hijab is a very significant part of me, and I wouldn’t want to give it up for anything – not even cricket. And sometimes the scarf tends to become loose (doesn’t come off, just gets loose) when I’m on my follow-through, but I think that’s mostly because I do a bit of a shoddy job with tying up the scarf.
Once a girl came up to me and said, “Why do you wear that?” looking at my pinafore, wondering why I wear that unsightly baggy thing on top of my (not-so-ugly) shirt. “Oh that? It’s an abayah, kind of,” I explain. Since the girl is a Muslim, she knows about ‘purdah’ and there is no need to explain further. And hijab has never held me back, ever. I’m still just as gregarious, outspoken and as much of go-getter as I always was. Probably just as much of a pain in the .. ahem .. derriere as well, as when I didn’t cover up.