The Paris Review

Putting on the Veil: Boys Invade an All-Girls School

From the cover of Veil.

I wore the full-face veil for the first time on my wedding day. I was eighteen years old and I had never worn it before. In Pakistani Muslim tradition, this was the day of the ceremonial giving away of the bride, the day I was to say goodbye to my family (theatrically, and before an audience of a few hundred) and go off to be with my husband and his family. The fabric I had chosen over a year before for my wedding dress had been selected for hue and sheen—a fiery red-orange—and it was utterly opaque. I could see nothing. For navigation, I had the assistance of two younger cousins, unveiled and full of giggles. It was September in Karachi, I was pouring sweat and also blind.

The story of how I ended up fully veiled and a bride did not begin that day. The skein connecting it to incidents past could be reeled back to an event a few years earlier, one that had led me to begin wearing the half-veil or the head scarf. Fifteen then,

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