As a general rule, I know that everything in my life will be a challenge except for school. I understood everything the teachers explained on the first lesson when it came to education. But in real life, I always have to struggle and try an enterprise more than once to see it succeed. While I see all these tryouts as tests of my faith, one instance where I was deeply saddened was the event leading to me sticking to wearing hijab.
I had graduated from college with an accounting degree. Looking for a job proved itself a real challenge in that field. Alhamdullilah my prayers were answered after almost a year of job hunting. I had a great interview but my foreign status threatened my resume to be tossed out the pile. That American born manager took a chance on me because her foreign husband told her that as an immigrant, finding a job is tough. Being a foreigner deters employers because we are expensive to maintain; lawyers’ fees to keep us legal in the USA are enormous for hiring companies.
So I started working in Corporate America and felt proud and happy because my one year Optional Pratical Training (OPT)-working permit- filed at school with my F1 student visa status was about to expire but since my employer had filed a H1B petition-non-immigrant visa to work freely- for me, I didn’t have to worry about losing my grown up job I loved sooo much!
Boy that I was wrong. Six months after my work petitioned for me, my official legal work status hadn’t cleared up with immigration and my bosses called me into their offices because they had their hands tied with immigration rules.
Somber faces and all, they asked me to have a seat and close the door behind me. This was a clue that something was amiss. Boss #2 who is much older and a father of two girls said, Papatia*,“we have to let you go if we don’t receive your approval letter from immigration in the next two weeks.”
He pursed his lips after these words and stared deeply into in my eyes. I could see the sadness in his eyes. He always loved me as an employee and I always saw him as a father figure because he’s so easy to talk to and work with.
My heart sank in my chest. I fought the tears prickling and burning my eyes as I clenched my fists. After all this hard work, after all–driving 161 miles a day between work, school, dorms, and home–I endured in school to get there, after all the struggle I faced in the first months of training, all the sleepless nights I endured to master Excel, my beloved prized desk job was going to slip away just like that from my fingers.
My dreams were shattered. I was simply crushed and nervously tapped my feet on the carpeted floor to make sense of this and think quickly.
“I…I…I can work for free until my letter comes,” I stammered, trying not to sound too desperate.
(Even though I loved working at the pharmacy undergrad and was sort of guaranteed a job there anytime I wanted by my former bosses, I felt like that option would make me feel like a failure. A corporate America reject. The same failure feeling I had felt every day for almost a year after graduating, upon arriving at the pharmacy to work when my coworkers would ask if I had found a job in accounting yet.)
“We can’t approve that,” another boss said and she deeply sighed at my desperate proposal.
I knew that if I left they would replace me because there was work to do.
And that was it, my days at Corporate America were numbered and my good paying job along with it. I started incessantly checking the immigration website with my receipt number. Nothing promising there. There was no update like the three months before when I checked the website. I started imploring Allah more to help me. I started asking around for duas in my favor. I also asked around for great wazifas for a miracle to happen to me. Back then I didn’t know that we don’t make deals with Allah because he doesn’t need anything from us. But I asked Allah that if He made my H1B letter come before the deadline I faced at work, I would wear hijab until I die. That was a serious decision. I had worn hijab on and off and while I made this promise, I prayed to myself that I didn’t let Allah down because I couldn’t see what the future had in store for me.
In a space of one week, I had sleepless nights. All I did was pray, pray, and pray. You’ll be surprised the amounts of duas and prayers I dug up for this job mission to stay put. I did all these while being present every minute online to check my case status. But while I was panicking like a nutcase, in the back of my head, I had faith that it would all come to focus at the last minute.
If there is one thing I know for a fact about myself is that, I often face hardship but right at the last minute, I mean literally right at the last, something happens and the balance shifts. I always come out victorious alhamdullilah. It happened when I applied numerous times for a visa to come study in the USA and the embassy had closed down due to a civil war. It happened when I thought I was going to get kicked out of school and sent back to Africa because something in my sponsor financials wasn’t adding up. It happened when I applied for the dog gone job I was now fighting for. It happened countless times before. And I knew it HAD to happen for this instance. I just knew.
My life has always been like an action movie with a lot of adrenaline rush and it’s no surprise the stories I pen are crazy. And at the very last minute, it happened like I foresaw it. I checked the website and it said, my case was approved and that my letter of approval was mailed. I printed the screen shot and run to my bosses as I jumped in glee. Then I run to HR to let them know, I could still be working for the company.
Then shaytan whispered in my ears that I made a deal to wear hijab my whole life when maybe my letter was on its way already. That maybe I was inpatient as usual. I ignored these voices and wore my head cap the next day to work. The corporate office was curious. People whispered and wondered. My boss inquired, I told her the pact I made and that I intend to keep my promise. She didn’t press further and let me be but she was vocal about the fact I would flake at one point on hijab. I didn’t. The next week that followed I started wearing proper hijab. In less than two weeks, people forgot about my head covering and focused on the next gossip. I was old news and I was grateful the attention was away from me. I still have a job alhamdullilah and my Rabb came through for me like HE always does. My tears of joy that day I was out of this job worry misery, I can still see them.
Almost five years since I made that pact with Allah, I’m still wearing hijab. Insha’Allah I’ll never take it off.