Why should I cover my head?

“In our house you’ll have to use a veil in front of elders.”

“A veiled head is a mark of respect.”

“Oh look at how audacious that girl is! No veil!”

“Haven’t your parents taught you the importance of veil?”

“Look at her walking around without a veil inspite of being married. What a characterless woman!”

If you are thinking what’s with all the veiled head remarks? I can only say welcome to conservative India folks. 

Well I’m sure you’d have heard atleast one of these lines once in your lifetime; either being told to you or a friend. If not, well you must have been extremely lucky! Infact, even if your own family never burdened you with such decrees; chances are someone would have made a snide remark about your so called ‘bad modern upbringing’. 

So a question I choose to ask today is why should we cover our heads? Or, let me rephrase, shouldn’t it be entirely a woman’s choice whether to cover her head or not? Yes, it should unquestionably be so. 

It should be our decision and not a diktat that this society bulldozes us with. Whether it is respect or culture, it should be a woman’s own choice. Even if it’s our religion that says we need to cover our heads, it should only be left to us to weigh the pros and cons to decide as we deem fit. And whatever it is that we cherry-pick should neither be judged nor frowned upon by others.

I have heard stories of women being forced to cover their heads with the unfastened end of their sarees while cooking. Imagine standing in front of the stove, cooking, sweating but unable to remove that cloak of slavery from above! I have seen women suffer in extremely unbearable hot weather and suffocate under a veil. Why? Well reasons vary from her being with in-laws to the age-old rigmarole of respect! 

Yes, the orthodox mentality of our society doesn’t believe in giving women even the slightest of momentary respites. Sad.

But have you ever thought why the draconian rules of respect and modesty are thrust upon women alone? Don’t men have to show respect? Don’t they have to be modest? While it’s alright for a man to move around in shorts, a woman clad in saree or slawar kameez is considered ill-mannered sans the veil! Seriously where’s the logic in that?

I don’t know who linked respect with a woman’s veiled head. But that person surely didn’t have an inkling of the meaning of respect. If I’m forced to cover my head then neither will I have respect for the person who made me do so nor the people in front of whom I’m paraded with a veiled head. 

It’s simple; a woman’s head is not anybody else’s to cover and whom she respects is nobody else’s business. So no archaic dogmas, or over bearing in-laws or relatives or spineless men can make her do either of the things the society passes of as diktats. 

I don’t cover my head, not unless I feel the need to. And I don’t think you should too unless you want to! It should always be choice over compulsion!