This story took place in real life, and the protagonist is a lady I personally know and verily respect. I shall skip (and might devise) some details to keep anonymity, and would then allude to the purpose of starting at that writing lane.
The events begin happening one summer day by the seashore of white sands in the northern folds of our country. Two Hijabi friends decide that reserve should rule over waterworks by deliberately taking a swim in their full Islamic attire. Although this was a public coastline, the area around that time of the day was in fact quite deserted, a thing which further encouraged our heroines towards the warm blue.
Now, let it be known that both of our sisters here were actually not very good swimmers, and once they were neck deep inside, the slender and delicately weighted they both were, the eddies below, literally and swiftly, began sweeping them off their feet, and the youthful waves abreast started to push through them ruthlessly. This is not a typical predicament; with their clothes on, it was even harder to escape the unyielding dynamic clutches of the suddenly terrifying blue.
I for one have ventured through this flavor of hell once, or maybe twice. In a matter of seconds, you realize that your helplessness has entered a new realm; a place where your mind reverts back to its most basic function; fully concentrating on breath catching and tip-toe equilibrium. Metaphorically speaking, you become the equal of a fish thrust on the shore.
And so our sisters enter their battle all alone. By some subtle divine design, they were made to remember that they have a vantage feat, the ladies they were, and that was their female voices – a thing which immediately employed itself into full blown shrieks! A sturdy rescuer, far away on the shore, especially trained, I guess, to pick up such desperate tones, cocked their ear and turned their head towards the catastrophe, and started at it with all their might, to the immense, grasping-at-straws pleasure of our ladies.
The guy jumped in and in stretched moments was by their side.
Now to my point. As I mentioned, our Hijabi friends are ranked high on that scale of reserve; a conundrum had to present itself in this wild situation: how will this ‘foreigner’, this stranger, clad in muscle, ensconcing them inside his devious friendship with the water, even bring them back to shore? Their knees have practically given away, and they are afraid they’ll simply have to be carried – oh, full, horrifying, physical contact!
In respect to our savior, there was no time to waste on discussing such a superficial concern, for he was trained to save lives and on that his intent was fixed. With dexterous arms he reached for my friend; to his astonishment, her whole body inadvertently flinched away from him! According to the structure of her existence, this won’t do; and before her mind could even finish considering it, her body reacted perfectly in line with the subject of its contention. Again, the water whirling below, knees that are air, white faces of fear, waves that drag more into the depth: her body was then reminded by her mind that this is a necessity.
But, in the sudden scheme of things, before she could give in to the muscular trained shoulder of our hero, she asked him to, simply, wait. Wait! Yes, she told him to just wait a minute. The sea might have then smiled at the human struggle for consistency; hearers might snicker back accusations of carelessness. But to my amazingly modest friend, there was something else the matter.
“Wait. Wait until I fix my Hijab..”
In the course of seconds, she had decided that although she was going to be scooped up like the frightened child she was, it would only be allowed, still, in her full Hijab, tightened well around her frail self, well sealing her feminine hair, covering everything that such a bedraggling disaster might have endeavored to show. I keep trying to put myself in the man’s position; how perplexed must he have been! You are practically drowning here, and all you could think of is your Hijab, he might have thought. Curse your Hijab! It is the reason you couldn’t even save yourself, he could have professed.
But no, according to the narration, the guy actually gave her the few seconds her wholeness of heart needed, and then advanced to hold them both and trudge back safely to steadier ground.
A simple two-syllable laugh was uttered by myself upon hearing this story; a laugh of admiration, not of pity. For me, they are the actions that skip our thought that are us in our purest element. Hardship would strip you down of all the mental checks you’re so used to doing, and then it would bring you bare before the judgment of your soul: this is you. And my friend was this: modest. She was actually, and practically modest. She never contested it, or boasted it, or had to demonstrate it to anyone. She was satisfied with only being that way, in front of herself, her Creator, and that stunned man.
Of course, and like usual finesses women tend to crown their troubles with, she, sweetly enough, had agreed with her friend to delay the crying. Yeah. Because once on shore, tears plunged through their ducts, however well were they dammed by conservative practicality: we should head home, dry ourselves, warm up, and then cry our hearts out.
And that’s what they both of them did that night in the safe confines of their chamber. They wept. Because that’s just how mercy is, you know.