I came into the world on a noisy summer’s day in Queens, New York on June 13th, 1997. My parents used to live with my uncle during that time in a tiny apartment with my cousins and my 2 older brothers. My parents are originally from Bangladesh but they moved to Saudi Arabia after they got married. I lived in Saudi Arabia until I was about 9 years old and for me it was the best time ever because I had all the halal food I wanted, we used to go to Makkah and Madinah very often and it was just generally a good time to live there. My family then decided to move to Toronto, Canada because my dad was having troubles with his job. So we arrived in Toronto Pearson International Airport during a nice spring day with only a couple of carry ons to start fresh. Living in Toronto after having lived in a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia is probably the definition of different. Everything was different. I had to read the ingredients on candy to see if I could eat it, there weren’t that many muslims around and it just seemed kind of hopeless in the beginning. Me and my family lived in a small apartment with one bathroom for the 2 and a half years we lived there. As the months went along, it got better. I went to a small elementary school that turned out to have a lot of muslims and I even started experimenting with the Hijab. The Hijab was on a whole different level to me. I used to only wear it to the mosque or sometimes when it was cold out but took it off when it got hot. I got over it, though and by the time I was 11, I was officially a Hijabi. That was also the year that my parents decided to take a vacation to Florida where my sister lived. We stayed at her house during Ramadan and it was really fun, but Florida and Toronto are also very different from each other. My parents decided to stay a little longer and enrolled me in middle school. Honestly, I was terrified. I was just a kid who decided to cover up all parts of her body except for my face and hands while all the other kids wore shorts and t-shirts. The school had over a thousand kids and I got lost pretty much every day I went there. But I also managed to get through that and even found one other Hijabi in the school. I thought we had maybe settled down but it turns out my parents had some business they had to take care of in Bangladesh and me being only 11 had to go with them. So I said bye to everyone, enrolled myself in virtual school and boarded a plane to my parent’s homeland. I’ve only ever been to Bangladesh a couple of times as a child so I didn’t remember much of it. Everyone kept commenting on how different I’ve become with my Hijab. The first couple of months were good. We stayed with my uncle for a while but then just decided to rent our own place. I did my schoolwork as hard as I could with incredibly slow internet but I had patience. We spent a whole year and a half in Bangladesh. That year wasn’t particularly that great for me because I was alone and my parents were constantly worrying about their issues. I caught all kinds of viruses and sicknesses but thanks to Allah, I’m still here. I got through it all. Well me and my family didn’t really have a lot of money back then so we struggled a lot especially in Bangladesh, and we left my brothers in Canada and they were just teenagers and didn’t have jobs either so they also barely came through. I caught dengue the last month I was there and typhoid the first month I was there. Alhamdulillah I’m alive and well right now. I don’t think my patience has ever been tested as much as it was in Bangladesh and I am actually glad I got to see all the things I saw there and go through all of it because it taught me so much. It taught me to keep faith, never give up, ALWAYS think of others especially those who have less than you and to never judge.
After that year full of hardships, my parents decided it would be best to come back to Florida so they bought a house. I was beyond excited because this would be the first actual house we would live in. So we packed our bags, and boarded the plane back to the free country. I saw my brothers again, we had a house and I was very glad. Life went back to normal. I was enrolled into a middle school, but it turned out I was the only Hijabi. That didn’t really faze me, though. I made lots of friends and learned to deal with all the silly questions people asked about my Hijab. And then came high school. By now I should be an expert in keeping my head held high since I’ve worn the Hijab for a while but being a teenager comes with being self conscious. My fear of being judged was at an all time high. Even though nothing super bad has ever happened, I felt bad every time someone made a comment on my Hijab. It made me uncomfortable even though my high school actually had a lot of Hijabis in it. Time went on and I slowly realized that it didn’t really matter. I was starting to see how much the Hijab actually meant to me and that nothing anybody ever said would change that. I try to be the best Muslim I can be and I make it a goal not to judge anyone based on anything they do or have done. So it made me really happy one day when I met a girl and had a lovely conversation with her and at the end she said, “I’m glad I met you.” and I asked why. And she replied, “because I’ve met some other Hijabis once and they were very mean to me but you’ve changed my whole perspective now.” I went back to Saudi Arabia last year for the first time in 7 years. I was beyond excited. We were going back because my brother was getting married. I traveled with my brothers because my parents were in Bangladesh. I would also be seeing them after almost 5 months. They sometimes go on business trips for some months and I miss them a lot. I had the most amazing month in Saudi Arabia. My brother got married in front of the Kaaba in Makkah on a Friday. I got to meet my niece for the first time ever since my brother lives there. It was really sad when we had to come back, but life goes on. I decided to do online school for 10th and 11th grade because I wanted to get ahead with my classes and it would give me more time to spend practicing my faith and spending time with family. That brings us to now. I’m going to be a senior in high school in the fall and I am absolutely terrified. But thats ok because I’m not the only one going through such big changes. I plan on going to college in Florida next year and majoring in either early childhood education or biology so I can one day become an elementary school teacher or Pediatrician, Inshallah. As you can see, both careers pertain to children. I love kids. I also plan on expanding the non-profit organization called Sobhan Initiative me and my brother created 2 years ago. Inshallah, one day we can help a lot of people in the world and bring education, good nutrition, and better healthcare. Over the course of my 17 years, I’ve managed to learn about 4 new languages and can speak 5 languages fluently. I always try to broaden my horizons and never limit myself. The future looks bright and will keep getting better by Allah’s will, Inshallah.Comment