The Refuge of Riding
BY MAHSHID HADI
When I was a little girl in Iran, my parents bought me a bike, and I learned to ride it in our backyard. I fell so many times, and I got back up so many times. Finally I could confidently call out, “Let go, Dad, I can do it.” From there, I wanted to ride forever. I felt so free.
Then I turned nine. I was forced to wear the hijab, a long blouse, and loose pants, and to make sure all my skin was covered up. I attended my Jashn-e taklif ceremony, which marks the end of childhood and beginning of adulthood. I was considered a woman now.
Where I grew up, in the city of Esfahan, it is illegal for women to ride bikes. Fearing for my safety, my dad took my bike away from me. That childhood sense of freedom was now just a haze of memory. And I would spend the next decade trying to find it again.