Veiled PAGE



Sandra and Lizzy:

"Hey! Lizzy, why are you looking so thoughtfully?" Sandra asked worriedly.

"I'm worried about Jenny! Strange thoughts went through my mind as she stood there before us in her Muslim garb!" , said Lizzy.

"Me too! Only - have you ever really looked around how everything has changed? Now Sandra wanted to lament: In 1989 the wall and communism fell, and we were as old as Jenny is today. Can you still remember the attitude towards life and our dreams? We wanted an emancipated and self-determined life, and if someone had predicted a life with Hartz4, we would have laughed at him. We studied and dreamed of a professional career as a matter of course. What has happened to it? Let's hope that Jenny will get better someday. I think it's going to be pretty difficult for us to keep up with the changes the world still has in store for us." Sandra lamented in her usual teacher-like political liturgy.

"Oh, a message from Jenny!"

- Please clean the toilet! Bring my new boss tonight!-

"Always sweet, our little one! Come on, let's clean the toilet and maybe prepare something for dinner. We get high visitors.", Sandra laughed, and Lizzy agreed, now a bit more relaxed. "But first let's reap the fruits of our unemployment and have fun. Let's shake up the duvets a little" Sandra said and looked covetously at her friend.

"As you always know, what is good for me, dearest girlfriend!" And so they went to make sure of the usefulness of the bed sets.

In the evening

Selima taught me my new craft for the first time with patience and devotion. It was fascinating to see how a piece of cloth became a piece of clothing. In between, she let the work rest and then prayed. Since I had nothing better to do, I knelt beside her. She rewarded me with a warm smile.

"It was nice to see you kneeling to me during my prayer. If you want, I will teach you our prayers. It would be nice to pray with you."

"Do you always interrupt work to pray?" I asked her.

"Yes, we Muslims pray five times a day at fixed times," she said,

"I am there when you want? I can't learn enough," I said. I was curious about this foreign religion. Then we went back to work, and at the next break, she instructed me in the ritual ablutions and my first Arabic words I learned to praise Allah. Soon it was time to stop working for today and go home. Selima and I sat down in the living room to have tea with biscuits and to wait for Murad. It was relaxing to chat with Selima, but after about half an hour I got a bit impatient. Selima whispered to me:

"He deliberately keeps you waiting. He wants to know how patient you are. Don't do him the favour of becoming impatient, relax. Sometimes only stubbornness helps Turkish men. Get used to it if you want to continue working here."

Strange! I felt more and more comfortable in the role of the patiently waiting, submissive woman. I liked to wear this all-covering clothing and to walk three steps behind a man and look at his ass while I was doing it, made me fuzzy. God or better Allah! I was just sixteen years old at that time — a blank sheet of paper. And I was so happy that these people reached out to me so lovingly and helped me find my destiny in life. Finally, Murad had mercy and pleased us with his appearance.

"I hope Jenny, the time hasn't been too long for you, but I still had urgent calls to make," he said.

"But not yet! We passed the time with a little woman chat," I replied.

"Well, then let's go! It's not far. Please cover yourself, Selima!" Selima covered herself with a ruband, and then we stepped on the street, Selima with a tray in our gloved hands. While we followed the boss in the due distance, I looked at Selima. This piece of cloth in front of her face seemed to change everything for me. Suddenly a dear friend became a faceless woman.

"Does it bother you that I come with you or why do you look so surprised?

"No, this Ruband makes everything so mysterious. On the one hand, I have to tell myself that you are under it and on the other hand I find it good that you cover yourself. I'm probably a little overwhelmed with the situation. Forgive me for staring at you."

Our little procession, Murad ahead, approached my tenement house. Instead of letting me unlock, he rang my mother's bell.

"Yes, please! Who is there?" it sounded from the intercom.

"This is Murad Arslan! I want to discuss something with you, Mrs Wiesner." Murad said. The door opener hummed and we entered. While we went up the stairs to the second floor, we were curiously awaited by Sandra and Lizzy in the stairwell. We had to make a strange trio for them: A Turk with an utterly veiled woman and a half-veiled woman in his entourage came up the stairs.

"Welcome, come in, please," Sandra said, as always taking the plot.

"We already know each other, Mr Arslan, and I suppose the veiled lady in your company is your wife, right?"

"Yes, this is my wife, Selima."

"Hello, Selima! Is it all right for you if we talk among neighbours, Mr Arslan," she asked.

"Sure, my name is Murad, and your names are Sandra and Lizzy. Selima baked a cake as a little present." Sandra led our visit into the living room.

"Are there still strange men here or are they still expecting some?" Selima asked. Then she took off her veil. My mammies were amazed when a damn pretty German face smiled at them.

"So it is much more comfortable for me and certainly also more pleasant for you to look at," she asked.

"Yes, I converted, and I am a native German to answer your questioning looks." she laughed and my mammies laughed too, the ice between them was broken. Then the food was served, and I have to say that the girls had already achieved something neat. After the meal, Murad explained how he wanted to pay for my work. Not without the protest of my mammies:

"But it's so generous of you to train Jenny in a trade, and we've always got along so well," Lizzy said.

"I'm Jenny's boss, and the child doesn't work for me for nothing, I owe it to myself! Either you accept it, or we leave it at that!"

My Emanzen-Mammies did not know this tone yet from any man. They gave in meekly. And it also gave me a good feeling to have a man who spoke a plain language in our circle. I suspected how a real man could do a family well. Then we ate some of Selima's delicious cakes and drank tea. It was a charming and happy evening.