Alisha Takes the Veil

by Michelle

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Version for “Tales of the Veils” website.
Not for reproduction on other websites or in any other publishing format.

This story contains mild descriptions of sexual activity. It also makes references to various Islamic and Christian cultures and traditions.
Please do not read if you feel you will be offended by any of this.

This page contains Chapter 1 of this tale and is linked onto the chapter that follows. If you wish to jump however, to a different chapter, please use one of the links below:

ball Chapter 2
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ball Chapter 4
ball Chapter 5
ball Chapter 6
ball Chapter 7
ball Chapter 8
ball Chapter 9
ball Chapter 10
ball Chapter 11
ball Chapter 12
ball Chapter 13
ball Chapter 14
ball Chapter 15

Chapter 1 – A Veil in Time Saves …

Unemployed and having been looking for a job for several months, twenty three year old Alisha is delighted to have been offered an interview as an office administrator. She chooses her best top and skirt, applies her makeup to try to look professional but attractive, pulls on her best coat then heads out to walk to the company offering the position. With her current financial position, taking a taxi is not an option, but it is only a mile or so away near the centre of Birmingham, England and so in the fine late spring weather is easily reachable on foot. However as she walks through some of the back streets she is beginning to wonder if this was such a wise move. She is very glad to find the place, which appears to be an old warehouse.

“Khan’s Import/Export Agency. This is it.” she gives a relieved sigh.

She rings the bell and a voice on the intercom tells her to enter and wait in the reception area. The electric lock operates with a loud buzz so she pulls the door open and enters. She stands in the middle of the shabby room looking at the various things on the walls. Some electrical goods, all sorts of Eastern clothing, bedding, jewellery and even some foodstuffs, mostly herbs and spices.

‘Obviously Mr Khan doesn’t like to specialise to much.’ she grins to herself.

She looks around a bit more and is caught by surprise when another door opens. An Asian gentleman, perhaps thirty years old and wearing a casual jacket, shirt and tie greets her.

“Hello, I’m Mr Khan. Won’t you come through please.”

Alisha follows him through to an internal office, again somewhat shabby, and sits on the proffered seat. He takes his own seat behind the desk. She then realises this room actually has some heating and is a lot warmer than the reception.

“Alright if I remove my coat ?” she asks.

“Of course.”

She stands up, removes the coat, places it round the back of the chair and sits down again. “Oh my.” he gulps.

She looks from side to side but his look shows it is her that has elicited this response. “I take it you are not a Muslim then.” he almost splutters.

“Uh … no. It didn’t say I had to be in the advert.”

“Well no. In fact it’s not actually allowed to place an advert saying that for most positions. But your name …”

“Alisha Rasheed ?”

“Yes. It appeared to be a Muslim name.”

“It does ?”

“Yes. Alisha means honest and truthful. And Rasheed means wise. Both definitely qualities I am after.”

“Oh.”

“But you’re not quite what I was expecting.”

“Sorry. Rasheed is from my grandfather. He was from Pakistan I think. And I was named after his mother … my great-grandmother that is. My mother just thought it was a nice name. But my grandfather was actually a Christian I’m afraid. I think that’s why he left after Partition. And all the rest of my family are … well … the same as me.”

“I think the word you may be trying to avoid using is white.”

“Well I suppose so. I was trying to be polite.”

“It’s alright. I do appreciate that.”

“Anyway I thought this was for an office job.”

“Indeed it is.”

“So why do you need a girl of your own religion ? I assume you are one yourself.”

“Oh you can be assured I do pray fairly often. Well reasonably so anyway. Though to listen to my mother I’m the most sinful son on this planet.”

Alisha can’t resist a giggle at his comment. Her own mother has occasionally used similar words to describe her. But at least it lightens the sombre air in the room.

“So why then ?”

“Sorry. I don’t understand ?”

“So why do you need a Muslim girl ?”

“Well I don’t actually need one as such. I would just prefer a girl who … uh … how shall I put this.”

“It’s alright. Please be frank.”

“Alright. I’ll try. Uh …” he carries on stuttering. “Well your attire is a little distracting shall we say.”

“You mean these.” she points to her open top and short skirt.

He nods.

“They’re my best ones. I don’t understand what the problem is ?”

“Well let’s say you are a highly attractive young lady and I have some difficulty not staring at you dressed like that. I know I shouldn’t but men of my country … our nature is … well … I’m sure you understand.”

“Oh.” is all Alisha can respond with at first. “But the job agencies always tell us to go to interviews dressed like this, otherwise we’ve lost the position even before we open our mouths.”

“You mean you are actually told to display your undergarments ?”

She blushes and looks down at her chest, then her thighs. Parts of both her bra and knickers are probably quite visible to her interviewer.

“Well perhaps not quite this much. But it’s hard to get a job nowadays so one has to really try. I’m sure you understand.”

“Hmm. I think I understand I should use a different job agency.”

“They’re all like this, trust me.”

“Oh. That is very disappointing.”

“I see. So I assume I’ve failed this interview ?”

“Well let’s say I would have difficulties …”

“Having seen my underwear ?”

“Well … it perhaps makes things difficult.”

“What if I put my coat back on ? I would dress more appropriately if I worked here.”

“I suppose that might help. But you would still wear skirts that I would imagine in my mind being … well …”

“Like this ?”

He nods.

“So you find female bodies distracting ? Isn’t that what you said ?”

“They are our creator’s finest creation. They are intended to be distracting.”

Alisha can’t resist another giggle at this.

“So that’s why your women wear all of those funny clothes ?”

“Their attire protects their modesty. I actually think that’s quite a good thing.”

“Oh … I see. I didn’t mean to … uh … could you excuse me for a minute ?”

“If there’s a good reason.”

“There is.”

She wraps her coat around her shoulders to avoid her interviewer catching sight of anything else as she gets up, then does so and heads for the door.

“Don’t go away.” she laughs.

“I won’t. That is the only door out.”

“Oh right. Well just sit there then please.”

He raises an eyebrow at her manner but decides to play along. She does appear to have quite an exuberant personality even if her sense of decorum in dress is totally lacking.

It is several minutes later before there is a knock on the door.

“Come in.” he shouts out.

The door opens and Alisha walks in. But the sight before him has been transformed.

“I hope you don’t mind me borrowing this from your display. Look I really need a job and although I’ve made a right pig of this interview so far, you’ve actually made it sound like this job isn’t just for an office floozy.”

“Floozy ?”

“Don’t bother. You really don’t want to know.”

“Perhaps I don’t.”

“Anyway. Would it be possible for us to start the interview again as though we’ve just met.”

“Uh.”

“Please. Please. I beg you. Give me another chance. Please.”

“Uh … right.” he stutters. “Okay … Please, take a seat.”

She does so and sits up straight with her legs pressed together and the palms of her hands on her thighs. He asks her various questions which she answers well. An hour later he comes to the end of his questioning.

“So Miss Rasheed. I gather you are not a Muslim but you appear to be wearing the hijab.”

She leans forward and whispers “Is that was this is called ?”

He nods.

She sits back and answers in her normal voice again.

“Well yes. I thought it might help in an interview with a company obviously run by a devout Muslim man.”

“Indeed it would. But what about when you are working here ?” he asks, then corrects himself, “I mean if you were to be offered the chance to work here.”

Alisha grins at his slip. She has obviously impressed him with her office skills.

“Well,” she begins, “I would dress modestly.”

“But not in the jilbab I presume ?”

“I thought you called this hijab ?” she whispers again.

“Jilbab is the name of the over-garment you are wearing. This one comes with the khimar headscarf included. Hijab is a collective name for all the garments required to meet the religious requirement to cover everything but the hands and face. And in fact also for the way those garments are worn.”

“I don’t understand.”

“The manner in which Muslim women walk quietly, avert their eyes and guard themselves from onlookers.”

“Oh I see.” she whispers back, then takes a big gulp of air. She knows what she wants to say but isn’t sure how to say it politely.

“Well … this dress isn’t anything like I’ve always imagined clothing from there to be like. I’ve only seen those black shroud things.”

“Ah … the chador. Yes, they don’t do wonders for the image of our religion, do they?”

Alisha isn’t sure what to say, remembering some of the shapeless black garments she is referring to were amongst the display outside.

“But this is really nice and soft.”

He nods.

“And this khimar hood thing only covers my hair.”

“Well most of it.” he grins.

“Ah sorry. There wasn’t a mirror. Is that a problem ?”

“A woman’s hair is regarded as extremely … uh … uh … would you mind if I say ?”

Not sure of what he is about to say she nods.

“Erotic.”

“Oh ! Right !” she fiddles with the built in head covering of the jilbab until she thinks all her hair is covered. “Is that better ?”

“Much. But don’t worry, even the most devout Muslimah never manages to keep every strand hidden.”

“Muslimah ?”

“A Muslim sister.”

“Thanks. Anyway … well … uh … ” she thinks how to phrase her next comment carefully. “Would you mind if I ask a direct question ?”

“Not at all.”

“Might it help qualify me for the job more if I promised to wear this type of clothing whilst working here ? As a sort of company uniform.”

He smiles. There might be other girls out there more used to wearing Islamic attire but none he has interviewed so far have anything remotely near the office skills of the interviewee sitting in front of him.

“I think it might help. Not that I’m promising anything but would you accept a position with such a condition ?”

“Well … uh … yes.” she realises she isn’t really in a position to negotiate after all, she is unemployed and needs a job. “But on one condition. Well two actually.”

“And these are ?”

“Well first you would have to supply the clothing. I assume that won’t be a problem as you appear to sell quite a lot of it.”

“I am sure you can have the choice of our range.” he smiles, “And your second condition is ?”

“Well. Please don’t take this the wrong way. But you don’t appear to be in the best part of town shall we say.”

“That is true.”

“So I’d rather come to work in something more normal for round here and change as soon as I arrive, then change back when I leave. Is that okay ?”

“I think that would be alright for whoever I choose to hire.”

“Okay.” she smiles, “Well thank you for the interview. I suppose I’d better go and change and cross my fingers in the hope that you decide to contact me again once you’ve interviewed everybody else.”

“There’s no need for that.” he smiles.

‘Shit !’ she thinks to herself, ‘I’ve still blown it.’

He continues “As you are already dressed for the position, you may as well start now.”

“I may ?” she smiles widely, “Are you sure ?”

“I think provided you can keep to these conditions you yourself have suggested, this should be a most successful working relationship.”

“Wow.” she whistles, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

“Come. I will show you our business and what you need to do.”

He shows her round the premises. She follows him round, still getting used to walking in the jilbab. She notices it seems to sit on the ground at the front and back but assumes that this is done deliberately to hide her feet. She thus tries to avoid lifting the skirt too high with her hands but unfortunately this makes any step up or down quite treacherous and eventually she does trip. Mr Khan catches her before she falls over.

“Sorry.” she splutters, “It’s a bit awkward.”

“It’s my fault. I’m sorry.” he tries to put her back on her feet without seeming to have been touching her within five minutes of offering her the job. “The bottom hem hasn’t been sewn yet. Each Muslimah sews it to her own height.”

“Oh. Right. So how long should it be ?”

“That is her choice of course.”

“Provided it’s modest.” she adds.

He smiles at this, glad she is learning. “Indeed.”

“Uh, there is one problem.” she points out hesitatingly, “I can’t sew.”

“How long would you like it to be. I will get my mother to adjust it for you.”

“Thanks.” She looks down at the skirt and pulls the front up until it is just clear of the ground at the front. “Is that too high ?”

“Not at all. Most wear it higher. You are trying to hide the ankles, not the feet.”

“Oh. How would you prefer me to have it ?”

“I think you look most elegant like that.”

“Thanks.” she grins again, “Can you mark it there then please ?”

He produces a couple of safety pins from somewhere and does just that, then asks “And the back ?”

She looks over her shoulder. The material drapes on the floor for about six inches like a small wedding dress train. “It’s kinda cute. Is it okay to leave it like that ?”

“I should think so. It also ensures your ankles aren’t seen if you bend over to reach something.”

“Of course.” she laughs, “We wouldn’t want that now, would we ?”

He carries on showing her the building.

“Uh … doesn’t anybody else work here ?”

“Not permanently. Deliveries arrive and the driver unloads them here. You take the orders during the day and some of my relatives and I arrange the orders overnight for collection the next morning. There are some cleaners and so on who appear as well but generally it’s pretty empty during the hours you will be here.”

“So I won’t actually see anybody else then ?”

“Probably not. Is that a problem ?”

“No … uh well I’d just realised there could be the same problem as me wanting to change before I go home.”

“You mean people seeing you in hijab ? Surely I am already.”

“Well more girls my age I suppose. I am just a tiny bit worried about that.”

“That is alright. You have never worn such attire before. Perhaps after some time you will find it easier.”

“Perhaps.” she replies meekly, sure she will never be used to wearing such clothing.

He shows her the office she will work in. A small telephone system and a computer dominate her desk. As does a rather obvious layer of dust and dirt.

“Do you mind if I clean it up a bit ?” she asks.

“I was hoping you might say that.” he laughs, “And you can even charge me overtime for that.”

“Ah.” she suddenly realises, “We haven’t discussed money yet, have we ?”

“I suppose we haven’t ?”

“How much does the position pay ?”

“What do you believe you are worth ?”

She pauses in thought.

“A true worth.” he remarks.

She suggests a figure, an optimistic but not ridiculous amount as she assumes he will make a much lower counter-offer.

“Do you believe you are worth this amount ?”

“Well.” she lowers her face, it being roughly double what others have paid her before, “Perhaps not. How about two-thirds of that ?”

He makes a thoughtful face but says nothing.

“Okay.” she speaks again, “Half that until I’ve proven I can do the job, then two-thirds.”

“I’ve a counter offer. As you have agreed to wear this clothing I assume you must really want this job.”

She nods but says nothing, assuming he is going to make an even lower offer. Her suggestion of wearing this attire may have given away how desperate she is for a job.

Any job !

“How about I pay you the full amount and over the coming months you prove to me that I haven’t made a mistake.”

Her eyes almost pop out. No employer has really even trusted her before, let alone offered her a decent salary.

“Uh … so if I run the office well whilst wearing this you’ll pay me that much ?”

“That’s right.”

“Wow.” she has to stop herself reaching out and hugging him, “I promise you won’t regret it.”

“I hope not.”

They walk back through to his office.

She speaks again “Do you mind if I ask a question ?”

“Of course not ?”

“Am I wearing this …uh … jilbab wasn’t it, correctly ?”

“Well you need to pull the zip up a little higher or wear something with a high neck underneath. At the moment the lower part of your throat is visible.”

She pulls the zip up as high as it will go, covering the start of the hood.

“I assume it’ll start to get hotter in here now ?”

“One of the things a Muslimah suffers in silence I’m afraid.”

“Right.”

“I also think you should take shorter strides. You tend to stretch the bottom hem a bit and your step is quite noisy. You never actually hear most Muslim women walking.”

The hem has already been restricting her stride to about half her usual amount but she walks across the room taking deliberately shorter and softer strides thereby ensuring the hem is never pulled tight. On reaching the other side she turns and smiles back.

“How did I do ?”

“Wonderful. I just wish my niece would walk so elegantly.”

“Your niece ? Does she work with you ? You said your relatives help out.”

“She is only nine. I think it will be some time before she does.”

“Oh. Do you mind if I ask another question ?”

“Of course not. Though you may have to mind me not answering it.”

She laughs at his evasive reply. “Are you married ? I mean is there a Mrs Khan I might be meeting here ?”

“Well there are lots of women you would call Mrs Khans, though in Pakistan they in fact keep their own name. And even a man’s name can change with the generations. However my mother, my brother’s wife, several aunts and my grandmother qualify for what you are thinking of but the position of my wife is still vacant. I am just so busy.”

“Sorry. I wasn’t trying to be nosey.”

“That is alright. As my secretary you will need to know who might be phoning me privately and how you should address them.”

“Thanks.”

“And here is a key for you to keep. You will need to get in and out when I am not here.”

“Oh … thanks.”

She is utterly amazed that he is trusting her with a key to the office on her first day.

She spends the rest of the day at her desk, answering the phone, transferring many of them to Mr Khan but dealing with some herself. When not on the phone she tries to learn the twists and turns of her new employer’s filing system on the computer.

‘How he ever knows what’s he’s got is beyond me.’ she laughs to herself as she begins to sort out the mess into a new spreadsheet.

At the end of the day, she prints out the first pass at the spreadsheet for him and leaves it on his desk, then goes into the toilet, removes the white jilbab, puts on her coat and goes to leave.

“Ah, where shall I leave this ?” she thinks before remembering she borrowed it from the haphazard display in the reception. She leaves thinking she has done alright on her first day.

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ball Chapter 2...

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