Sunday, 1 March 2015

3 Apps To Change Your Life.

Throughout this digital era, I’m always terrified that I’ll forget how to physically write or hold a pen. I handwrite as much as possible, whether this is by making daily to-do lists or taking notes in a meeting. Having said that, there are some phone applications that I use on a daily basis that I want to recommend.

Wunderlist – This is an app that allows you to make to do lists. It has a nice interface and is simple to navigate. I also very much enjoy the satisfying sound it makes when you check a box on your to-do list and it disappears. Wunderlist allows you to sync your lists so you can access them from your desktop or tablet, and it is genuinely just a nice way of making lists. I tend to use it for shopping lists or for reminding myself of something that I need to do. There are lots of options available such as being able to attach files to items on the list and setting reminders.  

Evernote – This is a note-taking app which is where my blog posts are given life. I use Evernote to write down thoughts I have during the day that I think may eventually be worthy of being developed into a blog post. Sometimes I may be waiting in line and will remember or witness something that I want to later acknowledge. This app allows me to quickly note the thought down, and sync it to my laptop. It sits on the home screen of my phone and is certainly one of my most used. 

Pocket – This app is a bookmarking tool that will retain websites for you. I often see articles that I immediately want to read but have no time to do so. I add these to my ‘Pocket’ and can later access them either on my desktop or phone. You can even install a Chrome extension which will allow you to add to your pocket whilst browsing on your desktop. It’s very useful and I now use it as a means of saving things that I want to read again and again.

This is all for today. If you have any app recommendations, please leave them in the comments.

3 Misconceptions About Having Dyed Hair.

If you know me in person or follow me on any of my social media platforms, the first thing that you will notice is that I have brightly coloured hair. I am renowned for my ever-changing mane and sometimes faced with negativity because of this. There are a lot of misconceptions about having dyed hair and I wanted to eradicate these:

1. If you have bright hair, it means you are outgoing.
I understand why having bright hair makes it appear that one is a confident person, but there is a difference between feeling confident about oneself and being outgoing. Although I may be daring enough to opt for bright colours, it doesn’t change the fact that I am a very quiet person. I still have moments where I feel intimidated or shy. I still withdraw myself. I still get nervous and anxious; my hair colour has no effect on the way I interact with people.

2. Dyeing your hair damages it.
Adding unnatural chemicals to your hair isn’t going to be the best source of nourishment. However, it doesn’t mean that it will cause any damage. Using a box dye and subjecting your hair to several rounds of bleach are on two different sides of the spectrum. Whilst the latter is going to strip your hair of nutrients, the former isn’t going to harm it at all. My mother is the perfect example. She has been dyeing her hair (and is still doing so) for 20 years and alhamdulillah, she has the healthiest hair that I’ve ever seen. She doesn’t use special treatments or even look after it for that matter. Adding bleach to your hair is completely different; it requires a lot more maintenance because it’s actually removing the pigment. So if you avoid using any sort of bleach, your hair is going to be fine.

 3. You won’t get a job with bright hair.
I have been to several interviews with different hair colours and it has never been an issue. In fact, during the last interview for my current job, my hair was purple. It hasn’t caused any problems; it has just been a demonstration of my creativity.

Remember that bright hair is temporary; it can be dyed over at any given time. It doesn’t change anything about a person or their levels of confidence. I dye my hair because of the way it makes me feel. It gives me something to be excited about; it’s a quick way of modifying my appearance. It’s not causing any harm to anyone, so let me have it.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Thick Skin & An Elastic Heart.

I pick at the skin around my fingers, sometimes my scalp. I do this until my fingers bleed. The skin heals by the morning and the cycle is repeated.

I keep my nails painted to detract attention, but if you know me in person and you’ve ever looked at my hands, you’ll notice the torn skin, the healing wounds.

I’ve become so self-conscious that I avoid showing my hands as much as possible. I find myself picking during meetings, when I’m at my desk, at home, in the car. Anywhere that I am still.

I can’t stop.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

I Call The Shots.


The Vacant Presence.

I’m trying to be more present in my moments. 

I’m trying to pull my ligaments out of different time periods. 

I’m trying to coalesce my organs. 

I’m trying to unite my mind and tongue. 

I’m trying to remember what it was like to exist. 

I’m trying to be present in my own body.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Facts About Me.

I love reading random facts about people. It’s the quirky things that make us human and I find it fascinating. I thought I would compile my own list of things that you may not know about me.

  1. I still cut my sandwiches into four small squares like I did at primary school.
  2. I add cinnamon to my cappuccinos instead of chocolate.
  3. The last time I went on a plane was in 2005 and the insane turbulence was traumatic enough for me to never want to fly again.
  4. I don’t like when my food touches.
  5. I keep a spare set of socks beneath my pillow in case I get cold at night.
  6. I paint my nails every Sunday.
  7. If I know I’m not going out in the evening, I put on my PJs as soon as I get home from work.
  8. I can read Arabic but can’t understand it.
  9. I like to eat in silence.
  10. When people invite me to their house, the first question that I ask is whether they own any cats.
  11. I have the handwriting of an 8-year-old boy.
  12. I’m not a big jewellery wearer.
  13. If my life were made into a movie, I would ask for Rashida Jones to play me.
  14. I secretly dream of becoming a coffee barista.      

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Death of Someone We Did Not Know.

When a celebrity passes away, it dominates both the media and our timelines. Everybody wants to share their experience and influence of the deceased; they all want to feel like they were a part of something, they want to connect, to belong. I generally refrain from joining in with this pandemonium because I always believe that you don’t have to announce something for it to be real. The deceased have left their mark, but they’re no longer here to defend their own memory.

The death of celebrities is an odd thing, they are people that we did not know, and yet we cannot help to feel a sense of sadness upon hearing of their passing. It is a sign of the intrinsic emotion that connects us, the unity of feeling sadness for a stranger. One of the most prominent occasions of when I experienced the intensity of this was upon the death of Princess Diana. I was 7 years old at the time, and I remember watching the news coverage from morning until night. I watched them take the coffin on the television and it was my first real experience of death. After the burial, I realised just how bizarre the experience was. After this, the next real celebrity death was that of Michael Jackson.

His voice had filled our house since childhood and for me, his eccentricity was always intriguing. He was just a young man, trapped inside his own fame. Regardless of the accusations that were made against him, there was no solid evidence to prove him guilty, and nobody really knows what happened. Having said that, his death upset me, and I recently watched a documentary regarding his autopsy and it felt as if it was someone that I personally knew. We feel the pain of strangers, because we have an intrinsic connection to all humans.

Upon awakening, my father notified me that Robin Williams had died. It felt like another celebrity death caused by drugs, but I then heard the words ‘depression’ and ‘suicide’ and they caught my attention. For the rest of the day, I listened to people talk about depression with ignorance. But all I could think of in my head was that a man had killed himself, a man had been driven to death by his own mind. People die everyday and we have become immune to it. Hearing about death no longer breaks us, and it was only the mention of suicide that made the news, not the cause of his depression.

However for a brief period, his death foregrounded depression, and it felt like this could be an opportunity to bring awareness to it. It felt like this was the moment that people would realise the severity of mental illness and come to accept it. There was an opportunity of hope, and everyone suffering felt for the brevity of a moment, that their voices would be heard.


And then it passed.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The De-Hijabing Experience.

Before I begin with this post, I would like to clarify that this is my personal journey and I am in no way advocating that you should follow my lead. You can read my previous two posts about this before you proceed: I Cover Thee and Love Thy Neighbour.

Removing one’s hijab is perceived as a form of blasphemy within the Muslim community and yet it is becoming more common with each passing day. One only has to look around to identify what the driving force is. Religion is being moulded into a means of suffocating individuals and that is not what Islam is about. There are too many people critiquing and dictating, repressing others with rules and regulations that really have no premise in Islam. We’re constantly being told about the things that we shouldn’t be doing, shouldn’t be eating, shouldn’t be saying. But that’s where the problem lies. We don’t know what we should be doing. We’re so focused on the haram that we forget the halal. Not everything is forbidden in Islam, we are allowed to breathe and express ourselves; we are allowed to live.

Stop telling others what they can and can’t do; let them live.

Sometimes I would draft tweets or blog posts and then delete them because I felt that they would not be an appropriate thing for a Muslim to say. In real life situations, I often found myself holding back due to a fear of not appearing ‘modest’ enough. My outward appearance became controlled. My online persona was devoted and pure, even though I was not. Everything was guarded. People would send me messages explaining that I had inspired them to be better, that I had helped them. But beneath that cloth, I was miserable. I just didn’t let anyone see it because I was told not to share my pain with others.

There is only so much that the human body can endure. When I finally came to remove my hijab, it was as if this whole fa├žade was over, I was able to breathe again. I was allowed to be the person inside the shell again; I was allowed to be who I was. I regained my confidence, and this is why everything changed for me when I removed the hijab. I remembered who I was, who I wanted to be. I was no longer the girl trapped inside the cloth.

When I finally plucked up the courage to stop covering, I received three main reactions:

  1. You’re not thinking straight.
  2. It’s completely up to you, whatever you feel is right.”
  3. You’re an idiot. I no longer want to be friends with you.”
These statements were all from Muslims and it was actually disgraceful to see just how many people placed the weight of our friendship on the fact that I covered my hair. I think social media was one of the worst culprits of this; I received a lot of negativity from people that I did not even know. But social media itself has its own criteria and rules.  Everything is split into the category of ‘hijabi’ and ‘non-hijabi’ and anything that the former does is perceived as a million times worse because she is tarnishing the name of Islam. Ironically, the only people that will look twice at the ‘hijabi’ are fellow Muslims. Nobody else cares what a ‘hijabi’ is doing, and that speaks volumes. Everyone is the ‘haram police’ but nobody can see their own flesh burning from sin.

I have not lost my faith, I have just stopped pretending. I still dyed my hair whilst wearing the hijab, I still sinned. Nothing has changed but that I have realised that I don’t need to hide who I am anymore. I now do things out of choice rather than out of compulsion. Looking at myself in the mirror without the hijab made me feel as if I was looking at an old photograph of myself. It was almost as if I had taken a sip of nostalgia from a glass bottle and it was slowly seeping back into my system. Everything was back in focus; and there is nothing more empowering than feeling like yourself.

Your outward behaviour can speak magnitudes, but your commitment to God is within you, and there is no way that anybody else can measure that. We place too much focus on one’s level of piety instead of our own.

My openness is what’s going to be my voice when I’m no longer able to speak. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

How I Got Into Writing.


People always ask when I first started writing and how I was able to reach the stage of feeling comfortable enough to share my work with others. This is an overview of my writing journey and where it all began.

My fascination with words began at a very young age. My first real memory of this is being in Year 2 (second grade) at school and having weekly spelling tests. I was always infatuated with words, writing them, spelling them correctly, using them in sentences, moving them around to create new meanings. I was fixated by the possibility of them, by having the ability to use them to make anything happen. It was a way of playing God, of being in control and as a child, this was definitive.

My father always surrounded me with text and encouraged me to read.  I remember collecting Disney books and reading stories to myself in the dark. I often felt distant from people, so reading always gave me something to connect to. It gave me something to live for.

Although my handwriting was terrible, I enjoyed filling pages with fabricated events and creating my own space. I had something to call my own, I had a way to feel. My father then bought me a computer and I began to spend all of my time typing away stories. This is when I was the most content, when I was making things happen inside my own head, when my fingertips took control and wrote lines for me. Writing was a form of escapism. It was a means of connecting. Sometimes I would just sit and think about all of the stories that I could write and excite myself into a daydream. Sometimes I would pretend to sleep, just so I could dream up scenarios and exist elsewhere. In year 5, I showed my teacher a story that I had written. She was amazed and asked for it to be hung on the wall outside the school reception. I think that was the first recognition of my talent. That’s when it became real.

When I entered secondary school, I found myself being consumed by a story that I was writing. I committed myself to it entirely, creating characters, feeding them until they developed into a fragment of their own dreams. I wrote for hours, for days; writing was my way of existing. It was all that I ever wanted to do. The characters became extensions of my personality and this new world became my very own sanctuary. Education inevitably took over, causing me to stop writing the 1,804 page story that I had compiled.

At the age of 15, I went through a difficult period of my life, and without realising, I found myself writing thoughts into a notebook and turning them into poetry. I remember showing my writing to a friend and him saying that he could feel the entirety of sorrow through my words. I realised that I could use writing to heal myself; it became a form of therapy.

During this stage, I was keeping an MSN blog. Although the posts were brief, I sometimes wrote about my day or how I was feeling. I then migrated to MySpace which is where the real exploration began. I experimented with different types of writing and had strangers commenting, telling me that my writing was poetic and beautiful. I was surprised; I didn’t think anyone would read what I had to say. But I began to find my voice. When MySpace began to lose its appeal, I moved over to Blogger and started posting creative pieces. I dabbled in fashion, skincare but this; my own recollections began to overrule everything else. I wanted to write for the sake of my own self, to preserve who I was in a world that continued to change me.

When it came to the process of applying for university, the only thing that had always been a constant was writing. I made the decision to pursue this at university. A teacher read my poetry and told me that I was gifted. She pushed me to apply for writing courses. However during an interview for a Creative Writing course, the interviewer told me that my writing wasn’t good enough and that I should pursue something else. I was heartbroken and discouraged. I applied to study Journalism as a last resort, but decided during the interview that it wasn’t the type of writing that I wanted to partake in. I was able to transfer my choice to an English course which included creative writing elements.

By this stage, the only people reading my writing were complete strangers across the globe. I never spoke about my blog with anyone from my real life, and it was still very much a secret. I was posting regularly but I was still finding my way, still attempting to decipher the type of writing that I wanted to pursue. When I began my university course, we were asked to write a poem about our bedroom and share it with others. When it came to sharing, I can wholeheartedly say that it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

There are two types of writing; one that is like pouring your blood into words, and the other like shedding dead skin cells. For me, writing is the former, and my words are a fragment of me. I grow inside them, and so to critique my writing would be a critique of my emotions, of my thoughts, of myself. I spent years writing and not showing anyone, so when I passed my poem along to my peers, I was petrified.

When other people began to read their poems, I realised that nobody wrote like me, nobody carried the vein of darkness through their writing. This made me think that my work wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough. However my lecturer read the poem and sent it back with the words “can I publish?” She loved it and wanted to use it for the university newspaper. After that, several of my pieces were published in the university newspaper and it slowly began to make me realise that this was something that I could do. I didn’t know what I wanted a career in, all I knew was that I wanted to write, I needed to write. When I graduated, I decided to do a Masters in Creative Writing. I was accepted without an interview; they had read my work and decided that I was good enough. This is where things began to change.

I was surrounded by some of the most talented writers; their words blew my mind and left me entirely astounded. I was not good enough; I was not in the same league as these people but they inspired me to write differently, to think differently. I began to post more creative pieces on this blog as a means of exploring my creativity. My Masters introduced me to a whole new genre of writing and this is where I was introduced to Frederico Garcia Lorca. His writing wholeheartedly revolutionised my entire world. It was dark, painful and poetic. It was then that I truly realised that my writing did not need to conform, that my style was an individual trait and that it was okay to write the way that I did. After that, I began to search for other writers. I came across Pablo Neruda and Virginia Woolf; these writers demonstrated that it was perfectly acceptable to write out one’s rawest feelings. Finally, I delved into the world of Sylvia Plath and my world just hasn’t been the same. This period of my life was truly life-changing. It reaffirmed everything that I had ever known and I think I finally came to truly accept who I was, and what I wanted to do. This is when I began to believe in myself and my work.

I then went on to start my own proofreading company which further exposed me to work that I would have never looked at. I then began copywriting, I was being paid to write on behalf of companies and it demonstrated just how far I had come.

I’m good at writing, and I’ve never ever spoken those words or written them until having constructed this sentence. But I am good at it, and it has taken me a long time to accept that. I write for the sake of my own self, I write to free my mind, I write to breathe, to live, to exist, to preserve moments and thoughts. But words are words and regardless of what I write, there is something of me left in the spaces between them. 

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Red Notebook.

I picked up The Red Notebook by Paul Auster in a charity shop because the Literary Review said that it ‘bears testimony to Auster’s sense of the metaphysical elegance of life and art.’ This was enough for me. I bought the book and completed it within a few hours. I found myself wanting to go back to re-read passages; a sign that this was going to be a favourite. My version includes short essays and an interview with Paul Auster which I would wholeheartedly recommend reading.

Here are a few short extracts from the book:

“What is so startling to me, is that you don’t begin to understand your connection to others until you are alone. And the more intensely you are alone, the more deeply you plunge into a state of solitude, the more deeply you feel that connection. It isn’t possible for a person to isolate himself from other people. No matter how apart you might find yourself in a physical sense – whether you’ve been marooned on a desert island or locked up in solitary confinement – you discover that you are inhabited by others. Your language, your memories, even your sense of isolation – every thought in your head has been born from your connection with others.”

“For here we find a language of immediate contact, a syntax of abrupt, lighting shifts that still manages to maintain a sense, and in their brevity, the sparse presence of their words, we are given a rare and early example of isolated words able to span the enormous mental spaces that lie between them – as if intelligible links could be created by the brute force of each word or phrase, so densely changed that these tiny particles of language could somehow leap out of themselves and catch hold of the succeeding cliff-edge of thought.”

“Becoming a parent connects you to a world beyond yourself, to the continuum of generations, to the inevitability of your own death. You understand that you exist in time, and after that you can no longer look at yourself in the same way.”

“The greatest influence on my work has been fairy tales, the oral tradition of storytelling. The Brothers Grimm, the Thousand and One Nights – the kinds of stories you read out loud to children. These are bare-bones narratives, narratives largely devoid of details, yet enormous amounts of information are communicated in a very short space, with very few words. What fairy tales prove, I think, is that it’s the reader – or the listener – who actually tells the story to himself. The text is no more than a springboard for the imagination. ‘Once upon a time there was a girl who lived with her mother in a house at the edge of a large wood.’ You don’t know what the girl looks like; you don’t know what colour the house is, you know next to nothing. But the mind won’t allow these things to remain blank; it fills in the details itself, it creates images based on its own memories and experiences – which is why these stories resonate so deeply inside us. The listener becomes an active participant in the story.”

“There’s a way in which a writer can do too much, over-whelming the reader with so many details that he no longer has any air to breathe. Think of a typical passage in a novel. A character walks into a room. As a writer, how much of that room do you want to talk about? The possibilities are infinite. You can give the colour of the curtains, the wallpaper pattern, the objects on the coffee table, the reflection of the light in the mirror. But how much of this is really necessary? Is the novelist’s job simply to reproduce physical sensations for their own sake? When I write, the story must be sacrificed to it. All the elegant passages, all the curious details, all the so-called beautiful writing – if they are not truly relevant to what I am trying to say, then they have to go. It’s all in the voice. You’re telling a story after all, and your job is to make people want to go on listening to your tale. The slightest distraction or wandering leads to boredom, and if there’s one thing we all hate in books, it’s losing interest, feeling bored, not caring about the next sentence. In the end, you don’t only write the book you need to write, but you write the books you would like to read yourself.”

Saturday, 20 December 2014


“True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. 
One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.”
(Wendell Berry)

Friday, 5 December 2014

And In a Heartbeat, I Knew You.

Sometimes I look at the analytics of my blog and am astounded by diversity. There are people reading this from each end of the world. Reading my words, reading my thoughts. This. Here. Now. You’re sitting beneath the same sky but in a whole other continent. We’re separated by oceans but connected by words. This continues to bewilder me.

I want to learn more about you and your lives. I want to know what you do and who you aspire to be. This space should be interactive. Let us be united.

I came across this idea on another blog and thought it was wonderful. I have posted some questions which you can answer about yourself in the comments section. You can be as vague or as detailed as you like and you don’t have to answer them all.

Tell me who you are:
- What is your name?
- How old are you?
- Where do you live?
- What is your job?

What have you done this year that has made you proud?

Tell me what you dream about:
- What do you want to learn?
- What do you hope to achieve?
- Where do you want to go in life?

What is your definition of success?

Tell me what you think of this blog:
- How long have you been reading?
- What do you like and dislike?
- What do you want more or less of?
- Is there anything you want to ask?

What is one book everyone should read?


I look forward to reading and learning more about you.

Friday, 28 November 2014

10 Signs That You Are in a Toxic Relationship.

I recently watched a video about toxic relationships and how we are generally unaware that we are in one. I found my memories beginning to realign themselves with the points of this video which encouraged me to create a resource that could potentially help others.

Acceptance is always stated as the first step of dealing with problems. If any of these points resonate with you, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationships with the people in your lives.

If someone is:

1. Demanding all of your time. You should never be in a situation where you have to account for all of your time. If this person becomes angry because you have not replied to a text or responded to their phone call immediately, and you find yourself having to justify where you have been, there is a problem. You should also not be required to spend all of your conscious time with them.

2. Not allowing you to be your own person. Our hobbies and interests are what make us who we are. They cultivate us and eventually become a means of endurance. When these are taken away, we lose the entirety of who we are. If someone in your life is only allowing you to spend time doing things that they like, but preventing you from taking part in your own activities, something is wrong. Independence is what makes us stronger; having our own interests is what allows us to learn and grow as people. Giving up these things strip away layers of our flesh.

3. Constantly picking at things they don’t like about you. If someone is constantly pointing out things that they don’t like about you or telling you to change aspects of who you are, this is slowly going to seep into your head and mess with who you are. Think of it like your mind instructing your blood to stop circulating your body. Your blood will continue circulating because it is aware that this has only ever been its purpose, but it will eventually recognise the message from the mind and stop. Your body will slowly shut down and you won’t know who you are anymore. Remember that with persistence comes defeat. Relationships should be all about breeding positivity and whilst it is perfectly acceptable to joke about things, you should never be made to feel that you should change who you are. This is what destroys self-confidence.

4. Comparing you to others. If you are constantly being likened to others and told about the qualities that you are lacking, this is slowly going to make you feel worthless and eat away at your flesh. You are an individual with your own special qualities. A good person will always focus on your positive traits. They will never justify their actions by informing you that they just want you to be better, or that they are saying these things to help you, because malicious negativity is never permissible in any form.

5. Controlling who you speak to. If this person is preventing you from talking to people that they don’t like or forcing you to keep secrets from people, alarm bells should be going off inside your head. They should not be controlling who you can speak to or what you can tell people. If you are feeling restricted in any form, always question it. Always.

6. Requiring you to ask for permission to do things. If you feel like you must ask for permission before doing something, or even be told that you must ask, something is wrong. Remember that there is a difference between checking with a partner before making plans, and feeling like you can’t go out until you seek their permission. 

7. Being possessive. This one is probably the most common and whilst it is acceptable in smaller dosages, it should never feel suffocating. If someone believes that you belong to them, that all of your time and effort should be dedicated to them, this is unhealthy. They should not be requesting that you devote your entire life to them, they are not a deity.

8.
 
Not allowing you to say or do things. If they are applying certain restrictions to your way of living, for example by preventing you from watching a television show or from eating something, you should be concerned. If you are afraid of saying certain things in fear of angering them, or because you have been told that you should not, again it is not a good sign. Any form of feeling controlled should be a warning. 

9. 
Stopping you from dressing the way you want. On the subject of control, they should not make you feel as if you cannot wear something. There is a difference in commenting about your skirt being short and informing you that they don’t want you to wear something. You as a woman should feel entitled to wear what you want. You shouldn't have to change your entire wardrobe for someone.

10. Making you feel guilty to get you to do something. This is one of the strongest forms of emotional blackmail; it preys on human vulnerability. We genuinely want other people to be happy, so when we do something wrong, we recognise that it has upset them and make an attempt to stop. Manipulative people use this to get what they want; they will guilt-trip you to achieve their goals, and you will play into their hands because you want to please them.

Humans like comfortable and familiar situations, sometimes long enough for them to become trapped in their own predicament. It's easy to stay in these relationships, to live in denial, but it's important that you recognise the unhealthy aspects and never validate other people’s actions as a means of acceptance. 

When you are in a relationship or friendship, you feel as if you owe the other person something. As if it’s your duty to stay and withstand the struggles. But it’s not. They are not your responsibility and whilst they will try everything they can to emotionally blackmail you into staying, you need to get yourself out for the sake of your own sanity and being.

Remember that all friendships and relationships in your life should encourage you to be better.

I will briefly share some of my experiences in my next post, so please let me know if you liked this and want to read similar posts. I’m also considering writing more informative pieces so if there is something that you’d like to read about, comment below.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Magic, Madness, Heaven, Sin.


Most of my memories are repressed inside my veins; sometimes they come to the surface, affecting the functionality of my organs, coercing the mind to remember.

I think of cats strolling along hospital corridors in Pakistan, being terrified each time the doctor opened the door. I remember injections, the permanent headache, riding on the back of a motorbike at midnight through dim-lit streets and the calls of elderly gentlemen alone in the dark.

I remember climbing up steep steps, over stone walls into the seat of a hair stylist. I looked through her glass cabinet, the necklace from the Titanic sat inside a silver box. I remembered Leonardo, whether Rose could have saved him.

I remember the beaches, submersion into water until I forgot about existence. Thinking of Cat Stevens and his story of reasoning with God whilst being dragged by the current. It always made me go back, just in case.
                                                                                   
I remember being sat under a tree eating pizza from cardboard boxes and making plans for the glorious summer. Smiles of strangers in the library, the familiarity of humour, Fantasmas.

I remember the green apple tree, being told not to eat the berries (suspected poison). The ginger cat in glasses, librarian losing her spectacles. The fox with no teeth, the large wooden gate shielding me from it all.

I remember the attic, the scent of books, holding the green bear (the safety, the home). I remember the bushes, the nettles. I can still feel my skin stinging, flesh against nature, burned, grazed. The lines against my tissue; patterns, drawing out veins.

I remember the rules, god so many rules.

I remember the barber shop, watching my grandfather cut the hair of gentlemen with smiles and ardour. His friend, the man that gave me a pound each time he visited. His piercing green eyes. Is he in heaven? (I hope so).

I remember the Wendy house, drawing floral curtains, the sound of the door bell, and the crack in the window looking out into the washing line.

I remember taking bites out of the sponge headboard, tongue against my grandmother’s velvet curtains. A half-eaten headboard later. Hospital. Doctors.

I remember the pond, the dead goldfish. Throwing it back into the canal as a means of resuscitation.

I remember driving cars with our fingers, lines in carpets as roads. Bunk beds, hanging blankets from the top, our own little world.

The marble slope in the hospital; I slipped. Awaking, hearing the stories of unnamed babies belonging to organs inside glass jars. The whispers of Pakistani doctors in corridors.

Hearing pour que tu m'aimes encore each time we travelled, Celine Dion singing me back into my childhood.

Sometimes I stop and the memories amalgamate into one. The unity of dreams and reality. (
I don’t know what’s real). 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Blank Space.

(Source: here

I’ve mentioned this before but I have this thing about keyboards, some are allies of my fingertips making me feel like I can give my life to them. Others become contenders, starting a war with my fingertips. It’s been months since my laptop died, but I’m still distraught over not being able to use the keyboard. There was something about the keys that made each word easier to write, each sentiment heightened and magnified. I’m currently using a laptop with a stiff keyboard, it doesn’t really feel like I'm tapping the keys at all. My fingers are struggling to adjust to it, to build a relationship of trust.

I wanted to write for the sake of writing.

I’m currently working for the university where I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree, and it has been a surreal experience. Upon graduating in 2011, I took away bad memories and left behind a space that I no longer wanted to return to. I was always too afraid to go back, in fear of having to confront memories that I had confined to that space. I’m here again and almost 4 years have passed since the curation of those memories.

I recently bumped into a few of my old lecturers and speaking to them about my progress made me realise just how far I’ve come. I now work alongside the photographer that once took my picture for the creative writing magazine I contributed to when I attended the university.  Today, I dressed up in a graduation gown and he took my picture again. It was odd, dreamlike. It amazes me how providence bought me back to a place that I promised never to return to. The best part so far has been seeing my favourite lecturer. I’ve mentioned her in the past, but my old creative writing lecturer encouraged me to write, to share my work and I’m sitting here writing because she always believed in me.

I’m currently listening to Taylor Swift’s new album and it’s motivating me to keep writing. Sometimes I rely on music to write; finding the right rhythm to tap the keys extracts soul onto screen. Sometimes I listen to a song that just makes me feel something; it realigns my organs, making me feel connected to myself again. Sometimes there’s just music that sounds like you’ve heard it before in a dream. Something that stirs your thoughts; creates meaning.

This post has no coherence and I think that’s okay. I need to stop editing, I need to write and let the words take their route, live their lives. I need to keep going.

I came to a realisation about myself earlier this week. When I make a decision to dedicate myself to something, I’m an ‘all or nothing’ person. I don’t believe in taking small steps and I think that’s where I’ve been going wrong all of my life. I immerse myself in things entirely instead of slowly changing things. It's too intense, and it fails.

I’ve been dyeing my hair again recently. I feel like each hair colour makes me a different person, but it's almost an act of desperation to remind me of who I am. This week alone I’ve gone from blonde, to purple, to orange. Tomorrow I will go back to red, because it will make me feel like myself again.
I don't know what else to write. I'm always afraid of my readership and whether my words will get me into trouble.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Memoria.

       We stood, 

                 shoulder to shoulder, 

  regurgitating oxygen, 

                                   and then the whistles blew. 
 

     Replicas from the First World War,
       ‘The final sound they heard’
 

     And when the whistles blew, 
               the           wind              swept       over        us, 
  in fear,                                                     in recognition. 
 
     And we stood in silence, on the 
                                                        P
                                                        E
                                                        A
                                                        K
                                                       of our soles 
     remembering 
                          those 
                                 beneath                           
                                              us. 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Transcendence of Self.

We’re always growing, changing, learning, moving forward. In fact, if you think about the information that you intake on a daily basis, the things that you witness; you’re never truly the same as you were the day before. Your mind is always taking in its surroundings, adjusting, analysing, observing, realigning.

You’re not who you’ll be tomorrow. And for that reason, our memories of people are unreliable. Our eyes are not a valid resource. We are not trustworthy narrators of our own past. Everything evolves. Our experiences are suspended upon the moment of occurrence.

Memories do not transcend space and time; they aren’t tangible. Don’t fall into the trap.

You’re not who you were. 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Your Pixelated Footprint.

Like a person that is ever-growing, my writing is always deficient.

I constantly find myself going back, re-writing sections, heightening or subduing aspects of meaning, eliminating or adding; there is always something left to give. The consequence of perfection is that the most authentic portrait becomes lost. The unrefined account morphs into someone else. Sometimes the magnitude of changes masks the original and what’s left are words too seamless to reside beside one another.

But I often go back and wish that I had retained those most painful pieces, the unedited ramblings and raw frustration; the unfeigned loss and beauty, because they were real. They were the pieces that created wounds; piercing the organs into refuge. They were the words that split my soul.

Teaching is about sharing one’s unmasked truth; making the raw emotions known.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Watching Her.

I will refrain from editing or re-writing this because I am tired of trying to make sense of my own mind. This post will not be coherent or elegant. It is just going to be my thoughts on a page in the way that they seep out. I will probably delete these words soon, but all that matters is that I said them, that I wrote them; that they were read.

I stopped writing about depression because humanity is programmed to grow bored of listening to the same song. I didn’t want to subject people to my pain or acquire attention, but writing here is my final means of retaining sanity.

I don’t discuss my depression in person. On the rare occasions that I do, I generally have a way of making the situation/my feelings sound amusing. Talking about these things is not something that I’m used to, and because most people don’t know how to react, I try to save them from this by providing them with a reason to laugh. Without this, there’s just sadness. Most people don’t discuss depression, not the serious types of depression, not the kind that begins to chew away your flesh. There are often talks about one’s ‘experience’ with depression, but it always appears to be something that people recover from. It’s generally just a ‘bad time’ that someone went through. We’ve all heard about this, we’re familiar with this, but what about severe depression, what about the one that seeps into your soul?

Depression affects your thought process. You often find that your thoughts are no longer coherent. Your mind sometimes feels like it has been stuffed with cotton wool; it’s full but empty. Upon saying something, your mind becomes blank and you lose all awareness of the conversation. Sometimes it seems like your life has suddenly snapped back into focus and you’re not really sure how you reached your house. Sometimes you feel vacant. It’s difficult to think, to derive ideas, to be creative; sometimes there’s nothing inside.

Depression influences speech. It seems to slow down the process between the mind and the tongue. You may know what you want to say but find that your tongue just seems to have slowed down. You may struggle to construct a sentence, to speak coherently, to share or communicate a thought. Sometimes you may say the words back to front. You may have to pause for a moment, rearrange the words in your head, say something differently.

Concentration and focus are non-existent. You seem to zoom in and out of life, and sometimes you sit and fall inside your own head. Everything is overwhelming, even the sound of your own heart beating. Living, existing, it can become draining. Any sort of stress is magnified and makes you physically feel ill. Let’s not even discuss the permanent migraine that your head lives in.

Since coming off of anti-depressants very suddenly, my body is still attempting to adjust. The anxiety is back, it’s worse than it has ever been. I wake up in a panic and find that I cannot stay in bed for longer than 30 seconds without hyperventilating. If I don’t feel anxious, I feel sad, like my vivacity has been drained overnight. People read these things and then tell me that I look fine in person.

If I didn’t look “fine” in person, I would be suffocated with questions. I have to try my hardest to look normal, to push myself to try and appear happy. I don’t want sympathy, or people asking if I’m okay. So I pretend, and I try, because it’s the way that I’ve taught myself to get by. But if you do watch closely, you’ll be able to see those moments when I turn my head because my mood has dropped. Or analyse my speech and find that my facial expressions communicate my thoughts quicker than my mouth does. Or notice when I breathe heavily in an attempt to calm down my body. Or when I leave the room for a few minutes to gather myself. You’ll see when I begin organising or clearing things away to relax my mind. You’ll see when I suddenly put in my headphones when the room goes quiet in an attempt to silence my thoughts. You’ll look and see that I avoid eye contact because more than a glance at my eyes will give away my secret. Once you provide these things with a backdrop, they all start to make sense. Imagine how many people you look at on a daily basis, imagine all the warning signs they gave you.

Someone from the mental health team told me that the human body only has so much endurance. It can only deal and tolerate so much, until it has nothing left to give. They’ve said that this is what’s happened to me. I, my body, became tired of fighting through it alone. It eventually ran out of willpower because it’s not something that’s infinite.

My only driving force has been my motivation. It’s pushed me to power through everything. I’ve managed to achieve everything that I’ve wanted because of this. But I don’t have that anymore, I don’t have that motivation, and that’s why I’m struggling to move forward.

Again I’ve been battling insomnia, and I then sit and listen to people complain about being tired. I sit like a zombie, with my eyeballs too afraid to close, moving through the day like nothing is wrong. When I do sleep, I wake up in a state of panic. I’ve become very irritable, and my body now seems to work in slow motion. My body is disconnected from itself, none of my organs are communicating. I have no control anymore, and it’s almost as if I’m standing in the middle of the stage with an entire audience that are oblivious to what is about to happen.

They’re looking right at me. You’re all looking right at me. But how well can a person hide something?

You’ll never hear me complain about my depression in person. I’ll complain about a headache, or being annoyed about something. I’ll complain about being cold or hungry.  But the only mentions of my depression will be on here, and that’s because I tolerate it as much as I can. I’m still trying; my existence has to count for something. I’m grateful for everything that I have, but sometimes it would be nice not to have to fight my own head. It would be nice to wake up in the morning and not have to calm down my entire nervous system. It would be nice to openly discuss how I feel without thinking about worrying others. It would be nice not to worry about other people and how it will affect them. People often don’t understand how lucky they are.

If you read this, I’d like you to comment with ‘I’m grateful for my sanity,’ alongside your name and location. You don’t need an account to comment, but I’d like to see who has read and acknowledged this, and where in the world you are.

Apologies for any formatting issues, I am posting this straight from my phone.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

When The Warning Bells Ring.

 Hindsight is the greatest of resources, it is a means of learning, growing and recreating yourself. It is the friend that taps you on the shoulder in the midst of the night, reminding you of the promises that you made to yourself; your own shadow scaring you with its presence when you can no longer draw its silhouette.

I believe that we should draw on our own intuitions and listen to the whispers of our organs. Your body is intuitive, it will send you warning signs before you are even able to realise what they are.

When in a relationship, there should never be a tally system. You should not compare and keep count of each other’s generosities. Doing so can breed animosity, which is the driving force to resentment. When doing something for others, it must occur out of love and appreciation for the other person. Give for the sake of giving because your intention speaks louder than the act itself.

It says a lot about a person when they keep track of the things that they have done for you, especially if they are later used as ammunition in their own war. Relationships are not competitions; there is no need to contend. They are a union, and by seeking your own benefits above another’s, you are detracting unity. Generosity is everything, giving because you have the means to and not because you must.

This for me, is the greatest deal breaker.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Disadvantage of Intelligence.

From an early age, we are taught to learn, to study and absorb knowledge to secure its presence in the trace of our fingerprints. We are told to push ourselves, to strive; but in the midst of that, nobody teaches us about how to manage success, how to cope with achievement, about how to acquire and appreciate stillness. Nobody speaks about the misfortune that accompanies intelligence.

It can be controversial to claim intelligence; to label oneself as being ‘smart.’ But is aptitude not present in several forms? The word intelligence has the capacity to encompass everybody with its countless facets that will inevitably materialise in us all. Some fall under ‘educational intelligence,’ ‘emotional intelligence,’ ‘business intelligence,’ although intelligence itself is subjective.

But what happens when we finally achieve the things that we have been working towards? We fixate ourselves on the next dream, because we reside in a perpetual cycle of seeking. All that our bodies know is how to move, to acquire, to change, to grow, to progress, to always be more. Whilst this appears to be beneficial, it can act as the driving force to displeasure. Like a billionaire that is ruled by his own currency, we are stuck in a vortex of infinite capacity. We’re consumers of our own flesh, our own minds, our own needs, our own wants.

The most successful people are generally the ones that are trapped within the abyss, that are afflicted with mental illness and tragedy. We are never taught just how to appreciate stillness, to connect with our beings and satisfy ourselves on a more spiritual level. Our mind and bodies become disconnected, disorientated and when that happens, the only way to realign them is through the healing that follows calamity.

Intelligence is not glamorous; it is not everything that your mother taught you. When you finally grasp it within the palms of your hand, the weight of it seeps into your blood and lives inside your veins, pressuring you into the ground. Be successful, but do not allow your organs to forget their own existence. We were not bred to be satisfied; our flesh will turn on us eventually, but a moment of appreciation changes it all.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Realigning My Own Reality.

 As you can see, ‘Like Cherry Pie’ has undergone another transformation.

After a very draining few months, I’m finally starting to feel temporary fragments of my creativity seeping back into my body. It’s a nice feeling, something that I’ve certainly missed. I want to change this blog, to eradicate any negativity and place all of my focus and energy into channeling my creativity back into this space.

I’ll hopefully be writing regularly, but I want to change the things that I share. Having gone through my older posts, I was reminded of how much you and I both enjoyed the insights into my life, the pictures and experiences, and the motivational and informative pieces that I produced. I want to go back to using this blog as a platform of interaction, a reciprocal means of sharing experience once again.

So, I will begin with sharing some pictures that will realign everything. If you have been around from the start of this blog, you will remember these images well. They are now 5 years old, which ages this space further.


Comment below and let me know what kinds of posts you would like to see, and let us begin to look forward.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

How I Cope With Depression.

People often ask me how I cope with depression. I thought that this could perhaps act as a resource to others, so I am going to write this with the utmost honesty.

I have suffered with depression for as long as I can physically remember, and the only way that I know to get around it, is to forget. Now whilst this may lead some in the direction of substance abuse, my medium of therapy has been productivity. If my religion did not prohibit it, I know that I would have already exhausted those other avenues. However productivity and finding new things to do keep me excited for a little while, and during that period of time, I forget. I forget who I am, I forget my predicaments, I forget that my own soul is attacking me, I forget everything. It is the task and I, and nothing else in the world exists. This is why I am constantly starting new projects or seeking a constant source of entertainment. It occupies all of my seconds and leaves me with no time to think.

Idle time is the most detrimental; thinking opens up all doors to danger. I must seek things that will keep me occupied. I need to keep myself distracted, otherwise my mind remembers, and my world comes crashing down all over again. I discovered this at a young age, and so I began working on a story during my teenage years, just to give me something to do. The story was 1,804 pages long, and it was my only therapeutic outlet. I began my proofreading company during the summer between my undergraduate and postgraduate degree because the thought of having an entire few months with nothing to do absolutely terrified me. I needed to be working, writing, reading, doing anything. If I am bored, if my mind is not occupied, it begins to poison my body.

As I’ve gotten older, I have started treating it like a game. I must keep the brain occupied and if I feel it falling into my thoughts, I must quickly re-direct it. This is an exhausting battle, to consciously recognise your thoughts and continually re-direct them to something else, to prevent yourself from falling into your own body, to save yourself from your own mind. But it works, and whilst this may be making things bearable, it is also mentally and physically exhausting. I often suffer from headaches due to my attempt to shut out my own thoughts; to rid them from my body.

I need to feel that I have achieved something. I need to be productive and feel that I have done something. This works well most days, but then there are those destructive days where I struggle to function. Sometimes the depression takes over the limbs until they refuse to co-operate. I often describe it as a car that has been drained of petrol or an animal that has been left to disintegrate in the wilderness. My hands do not follow the commands of my brain, they do not move, they do not co-operate. These days are the worst, because nothing can distract me and so I fall deeper into the depression until it becomes so intense that it interferes with my safety. Fighting through these days is catastrophic, but I get there, and the only way through this is to submit to it. To completely surrender to depression and allow it to drain me of everything. After all, there is nowhere left to go from there. Everything rises eventually.

And whilst depression may be a bad thing, on good days, it ensures that I maximise my potential. I get a lot done, which balances out those not so good days. The mornings are generally the best times, because I am the most alert and motivated that I will be. The nights and evenings are the ones that break me, when I’m alone and there is nowhere left to hide. I have already written four blog posts prior to this one simply because I needed something to focus on, and my hands wanted to move across the keyboard to race my mind.

Achievements and productivity are the only things that help, the satisfaction of ticking things off a list is probably the best feeling that I can recall. It makes me feel that I have made things happen. It makes me feel in control, which is something that I lack with my depression, and therefore I attempt to retrieve in other aspects of my life. I need to control as much as I possibly can, to make me feel that I can make things happen, to live. I fight myself on an hourly basis, but the depression won’t vacate the body.

Whilst most people would say that being productive is great, the downside is that I can’t ‘chill out.’ I must be doing something at all times, otherwise there’s nothing to block my mind, nothing to stop the thoughts from travelling. I can’t sit and not having anything to do. There must always be an agenda, I can’t sleep past 6.30am and if I’m not doing something, I am thinking about things that I could be doing. For example, whilst eating breakfast, I immediately force myself to think about what I'll do next. If I am walking, I will look at a person and begin to think about who they could be. Or I'll look at the road, at the ground, identify the kind of person that worked on it. Anything. Not having something to do makes me nervous, free time is the worst. I used to attribute this to stress during university, but I’ve come to learn that I need to be challenged, otherwise I break, otherwise I die.

I dye my hair different colours regularly, because it gives me something to be excited about. It gives me something to do, to think about, it is another project. Depression is difficult, it really is, but I’m still alive and it often bewilders me how this is possible. I didn’t think I would make it, some days I don’t think I will, but I want to give everything I have before it’s my time to go. After all, won't my efforts have all just been wasted? 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

I Want To Be Lorelai Gilmore.

We are continually reminded of the simulation embracing our television screens.  The fictional characters, idealistic storylines and heightened emotions, all of which are vacant from our own world. However, our human instincts connect and locate meaning through the sentiments of these shows; we inevitably find that characters influence our lives, our personalities and who we are as people. We learn from their mistakes, their strengths, and we find something within them to hold on to.

My greatest inspiration has been Lorelai Gilmore, and I continue to advocate that every woman should be a product of her reverberation. I watched the Gilmore Girls religiously throughout my teenage years, and it is still one of the only things that is able to withdraw me from a bad mood.

Lorelai Gilmore is quite possibly one of the closest things that I have had to a role model. In fact, I still use her as a means of drawing strength. As a teenager, she taught me how to build a solid wall of defence, whilst simultaneously retaining determination and perseverance. She stood for what she believed in, with grace and ardour that blew the world away. She was quirky, sarcastic and confident, she found the means to make everything work, and through this, I gained a deeper understanding of how to overcome my own struggles. Lorelai always found a way, and this is still something that is prevalent in my own life, sometimes when there are no more options left, you must create your own.

Rory, the daughter is an avid reader and mentions an array of books in each episode. People have even compiled a list of each book that has ever been mentioned on the show and I have slowly been working my way through them. She has introduced me to some great works of literature from Milan Kundera to Edgar Allan Poe. Rory is also a journalist, and her love of writing magnified my own desire. I pursued it because she showed me who and what I could be.

There is so much that I have subconsciously taken from this show, I have grown alongside it, sought nourishment through its dialogue and found a whole new way of living. It provided an entire community, an education, a biblical premise on how one should exist. Everything from my sarcasm to my caffeine addiction stems from Lorelai Gilmore. This series has taught me strength.

To conclude, I wanted to share one of my favourite clips from the show:


Monday, 1 September 2014

10 Titles To Change Your Life.

I was nominated to list 10 books that have had an impact on me. It took me a while to narrow it down, but when I finally settled on some titles, I decided that I would also post the list here. So let’s commence:

1. Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire - (Mentioned in blog post This Week's Books).
2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - (Mentioned in blog post The Voice of a Poet). 
3. Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl - (Mentioned in blog post Man's Search For Meaning).
4. Isla Negra (The Bilingual Edition) by Pablo Neruda - (Mentioned in blog post The Voice of a Poet). 
5. And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos by John Berger - (Mentioned in blog post This Week's Books).
6. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.
7. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - (Mentioned in blog post 4 Books You Should Read).
8. My Life as a Traitor by Zarah Ghahramani - (Mentioned in blog post 4 Books You Should Read).
9. The Journals of Sylvia Plath.
10. The Hours by Michael Cunningham.

I have written about a majority of these titles in previous posts, so I will include links where necessary. Let me know what your top 10 titles are, it’s a great way to discover new books!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

20 Facts.

I participated in a 20 fact tag on Instagram, however due to the word limit, the facts were not as descriptive as I would have liked. I thought that I would post them here:

1. I have a worryingly good memory, and yet I have a birth mark on the back of my shoulder and I frequently forget whether it is on my right or left.
2. When I was younger, my mother told me that thunderstorms signified that God was angry. This appeared to instil fear within me and I still shiver every time I hear thunder.

3. I suffer from Elurophobia (a fear of cats), and coherently the cat population in the
UK appears to be increasing.
4. When I took the Myers-Briggs personality test, my result was an INFJ and this changed my life.

5. I try my utmost best not to waste water; it makes me feel extremely guilty, more so than anything else in life.

6. Most social gatherings bore me; I’m so much more content in my own space.

7. I try to do most things myself; I’ve always viewed help as a luxury.

8. The only colours that I haven’t dyed my hair are grey and white; I suppose I’ll get there naturally someday.

9. I truly believe that I was born in the wrong era and into the wrong culture.

10. I keep my pills in a hollowed out book because it makes me feel like a junkie.

11. I regularly shop in the men’s section; androgyny is the look I go for most days.

12. My typing speed is approximately 103 words per minute.

13. I find that I get on better with people that are older than me. I don’t have many friends that are my own age.

14. I have been using computers since I was 8 years old and I got my first email address at 10. It was
qurra@talk21.com.
15. I currently own 4 domains and it makes me feel important. I plan to dominate the internet one day.

16. Apart from cats and thunderstorms, I can’t think of anything else that makes me nervous.

17. Most of my wardrobe is not “Muslim-appropriate,” dressing for family events can be a complicated process. Having said that, this time last year, I wore the hijab (headscarf) and was a completely different person.

18. I have size 6-7 feet which are entirely unproportionate to the rest of my body. I look like I have clown feet.

19. I try to avoid wearing make up for at least a few days a week, I always fear that I will become dependent on it.

20. I’m so much more likely to trust you if you have dimples (they add a sense of innocence). 
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