Lately, I’ve been wearing a head scarf (diklo) more often than not. Perhaps it marks me as old fashioned – and I guess in some ways I am. I was raised by grandparents who wore a head covering whenever they left their house or whenever we had visitors. The only exception was bibi Lemija, who always wore braids, but never wore a head covering much to the chagrin of her father. I have waist length rather unruly hair and wearing a scarf keeps it confined.

I find myself in a bit of a strange place though. I would love to have the strength to wear a head covering every day, but I don’t. When I wear it on my college campus, I get asked if I’m Muslim or I get informed that the way I am wearing the scarf is not the correct way to wear a hijab. Otherwise, I get asked if it’s a tichel and whether I’m Jewish.

It’s not a religious covering at all for me though and I find that isn’t always an easy thing to convey. I do wear it when preparing food or washing dishes or other žužarel (cleaning) activities. I’m wearing one right now, just because there is something very comforting about it.

Sometimes, I feel as though it ties me to my relatives more strongly. I can imagine them covering as I do. Only, I have been afraid to admit what I am. Many people here in the US don’t really know that Romani cover their heads and don’t expect my head scarf to mean something other than religious affiliation and it takes time for them to wrap their heads around it.

I don’t know. Maybe one day I’ll be as comfortable wearing it out and about as I am in my home and neighbourhood.

The photo is one of my aunts (Albina) as a young girl with her aunt Brecja.