Remember how I mentioned I was lucky enough to be contributing to this month's edition of the Griffith Review? Well it is out today! (I am pretty sure...not sure if you can get it in bookshops yet), but here is a sneak preview of my piece, I hope you like it!
Pick up the Griffith Review at good bookstores near you :) In fact, you can buy it (print or digital) on the Griffith Review Website tomorrow!!
ACCEPTING THAT YOUR twenty-one-year-old-Muslim-daughter is going to work on remote oil and gas rigs is not easy. I am fortunate to have parents who understand (although perhaps not always share) my interest in adventure and not being ordinary. Their view is simple: as long the rules of Islam are followed and there is a coherent and beneficial reason for me doing the things I chose, they will support me.
My parents say they weren’t sure what to expect when they immigrated to Australia almost twenty years ago, fleeing the oppressive political regime in Sudan. They may not have had a concrete idea of where it would lead, but I certainly inherited from them the gene that makes us willing to seize opportunity and embark on adventures. That may explain how they found themselves with a daughter who boxes, designs racing cars, and while visiting family in Sudan last year, got wrapped up in the attempt to overthrow the same oppressive government that forced them to leave.
They came to Australia looking for a new beginning, now they are parents of a female, Muslim rig hand.
As part of my faith, I wear the hijab (headscarf), and have been doing so since I was ten, as a personal choice. It is truly something that has become a part of my identity, and I like to be quite flamboyant and creative with colours and styles. My head covering on the rig is a little less obvious and obtrusive though, mostly because it is convenient to combine with the hardhat and a little cooler. In true Australian fashion however, religion is one topic that is fastidiously avoided, and people don’t always realise the significance of the head covering. It does make for some interesting conversations.
‘So when's that tea cosy come off?’
I turned around to my colleague and chuckled to myself.
‘Nah, it doesn't come off, I was born with it aye!’
His jaw dropped slightly and he looked at me in confusion. ‘Wha-a-?’
I laughed out loud. ’Nah mate! It's a religious thing. We call it a hijab, I guess this is the
abbreviated hard-hat friendly version...’
‘Oh yeah righto’...
He nodded uncertainly, shrugged and went back to his meal.
When I retold that story to my family at home, my father couldn't get enough of it.
‘Let's call you tea cosy now!’