Surviving Riyadh – a biography/memoir by Alma B. Apostol

page 60

Behind the covered-faces, the voices were familiar but not the faces. One day, a co-worker, a Saudi woman, invited me to her party at the apartment complex. I didn't bother to dress up, believing the Saudi women would be wearing their regular work outfits.
I arrived early. She opened the door. Gone was her black cloak and veil. I saw an unfamiliar face but heard a very familiar voice. She saw my expression.
She smiled. "We only wear our cloaks and veils when we are in public places or in the presence of males other than our relatives. Come in and have a seat."
"Thank you," I said. "Sorry for not recognizing you."
"Don't worry, I'm used to it."
One by one, the Saudi women arrived and removed their coverings. Light complexioned, beautiful, modern women emerged. They wore make-up and had painted lips, polished nails and beautiful long dresses. Some of them were young.
"Meet my friends," she said as she introduced me to them.
Some of their voices were familiar as I had heard them at work. It was a surprise and a pleasure to see the faces behind those veils. They were very excited and, like most young ladies, they talked about their dresses, displaying them, how they were chosen and so on. Some had sewn their own dresses and were very proud of it.
They made jokes and laughed at their funny comments. Gone were the inhibitions they displayed at work. It was such a delight for me to see these women who were so reserved at work changed.

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