She came from a conservative Muslim family, did the namaaz twice a day and was never seen without a hijab. She wore it with a little bit of apprehension. Every time she stepped out, she would see little kids pointing in her direction and laughing. This was not the India she had grown up in. Back then, she could do what she pleased. But today, the narrative was a tad bit different. Getting a job had been a different kind of struggle altogether. But living in fear, was not an option. She would circle interesting job opportunities every morning as she munched on a plate of grilled sandwiches and a cup of chai. The requirements were disheartening. “Wanted, a Hindu candidate for the role of a sales executive at Gangadhar Stores”. She would sit back and think to herself: how would it feel to be on the other side?
She imagined having a privileged life, where opportunities would seek her out, instead of the other way around. Pulling onto the cheesy strings of the melt-in-your-mouth sandwich, she felt her eyes pop out of her sockets as she spotted something interesting. It was an ad for a marketing executive in an upcoming start up. The only downside was that… it was for a lingerie brand. She almost choked on the toasted bread as she read that. Why would they hire a hijab-wearing conservative Muslim girl? But instead of dropping it there, she decided to give it a shot.
The interviewer was a young girl who seemed to be uptight and smiled sparingly. Noticing that, she decided to smile a little more than usual.
“So, why do you want to apply here?”
“I have a knack for selling this and making people happy. And I think I will be a perfect fit.”
The interviewer didn’t look impressed. She scanned her hijab and whispered, “Perfect. Fit. Okay… so if you had to come up with an ad campaign for our brand, what would it be?”
Now, she was put in a spot. She wasn’t a copywriter…but she thought hard this time. She picked up a paper and drew three figures of women dressed in lingerie. One of them had a bindi on her head. The other wore a hijab. And the third wore a pendant with a cross on it. And she wrote,
“We are all the same from within. Stay warm, this winter.”
Back home, she smiled as she sipped on her cup of chai and devoured the sandwiches made by mom. She wasn’t sure if she would get the job. But she knew, she had won one heart that day. And that was enough.