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Veiled

January 5, 2009

She was asleep on the bus, her chubby toddler legs spread wide, revealing a pair of white cotton panties beneath her miniskirt. Her silvery shoes rested on her mother’s lap as she burrowed her head into her father’s shirt.

My glance trailed across the rest of her little family, sitting across the bus aisle from me as we rode back from Disney World. Despite the Florida heat, the father was wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt and long pants. Mom was covered head-to-toe in a black burka, with only her dark eyes peeking out. She spoke quietly to her husband in Arabic. An expensive-looking pair of dark-indigo blue jeans peeked out beneath the hem of her robe.

I thought about how hot she must have been all day, walking around the theme park in the sun in all those layers without even a hint of breeze to cool her.

She cradled her infant son in her arms and fiddled with a fold at the top of her burka. Without the reference of nose or chin, it looked like she was touching her shoulder, until her son began rooting, and I realized she was breastfeeding him.

I looked from daughter to mother. The daughter: about age four, in modern, adorable clothing, with her skirt hiked up around her waist. The mother: covered, silent, invisible.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2009 4:35 pm

    I don’t know if I would have had the courage to speak to her…funny how something so simple–starting up a conversation with a fellow mom–can seem complicated when we find ourselves looking at someone whose outward appearance seems strange to us.

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