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One of my student films from UCI undergrad (like, eight years ago) is called Concern. It’s based on my first day of high school, a week before 9/11, when I revealed to my mom that I was going to wear a headscarf to school.

It was not easy for her to accept my decision, nor was it for me to grasp the complexities of her reaction. I later came to see that my choice to wear the headscarf, and the choices I made along the way, impacted her greatly. And that I’m as much a part of people’s experiences as they are a part of mine. It opened my mind to the idea that (surprise!) I’m not the only main character/protagonist in the story (and that life is not like a made-for-TV Disney movie wherein one person is the center of the universe). Mostly, I’m a side character or indiscernible background. And many times, in an ironic twist that can’t be manufactured, I’m the antagonist to my antagonist.

So much of my experience with (and now without) the headscarf has been an observation of what thoughts and emotions, what frames of understanding I stir in people around me. It makes me realize how I am in so many ways an illusion, how incidental so much of human experience is. Somewhere in the midst of these squashed (mis)communications, we make meaning.

I’m so grateful to Nazreena and her family for letting me film at their home years ago :) and for experiencing Sonia Keshishian’s performance. It still sits with me.

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