"The shorts weren’t an issue for me. It was what they revealed: hairy legs! God had made my mother hairless, so it was easy for her to take the moral high ground, which was that shaving legs was un-Islamic. Only white people did things like that.
‘The kids in gym class stare at me.’
But they wouldn’t ignore me and I couldn’t blame them either, because the ugly truth was that, when it came to hair, I was my father’s daughter.
Once, as a young man living in England, my father went swimming in the local pool. As he waded in, the thick, curly black hair that covered his entire body expanded and rose in the water, and the children in the pool screamed and ran out. They thought a bear had just fallen into the pool.
I inherited that hairy gene, and I didn’t need a swimming pool to be mistaken for something that belonged in a zoo. The hair on my legs was long, thick and black. I complained bitterly to my mother – it was her fault that this hairy gene afflicted me.
‘You had an arranged marriage. Why didn’t you ask the matchmaker to pull up Daddy’s trouser leg?’
‘Your father had a good job,’ replied my mother."