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.

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. 

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


       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 
                                                       of our soles 

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.

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.

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
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). 

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Last Song I'll Write For You.

People are reluctant to reach out to others due to the fear of not knowing them well enough and not feeling worthy of having a voice. But even without being able to truly comprehend a situation, support is something that we can never have enough of.

The reaching out, that’s what makes us human; it connects us. It is innate; lives inside our veins. We bond over pain and understanding; think of the sadness we experience over the misfortune of a stranger. There is unity left, there is.

Sometimes all it takes is a message, a smile, an acknowledgment. Sometimes the words ‘I’m here’ are the most beneficial. We’re just fighting to live, to survive, but there's always something left for you to give.

Question Time.

I was nominated by Laila to answer these questions, it made me reminiscent of MySpace Questionnaires, so without further ado, I shall commence.

What were your expectations before getting into the blogging community?
I first began posting over on MySpace, so when I migrated over to here, blogging itself was still a relatively new concept. Blogs were online diaries, people recorded their daily recollections and experiences; but it was all very individual, there wasn’t much of a community. For me, blogging was the first real experience I had of sharing my writing with others. I didn’t think that it would ever be a means of meeting and connecting with other likeminded individuals. I guess I didn’t have any expectations; I just wanted a voice.

Has blogging changed you in any way?
It has been the derivation of my growth; my stethoscope, allowing me to hear my own heartbeat and depth of my pulse. I have been able to comprehend truth and the deepest realisations; it is my platform of reason and honesty. It was the catalyst of my diagnosis, the therapy for my pain, the support when there was nobody left, the sustenance when I wanted to give up everything. So yes, it has changed everything.

What are you passionate about?
Words. My life revolves around them, through them, with them, inside them. Each word carries weight, place them on the scales and identify how much of a burden they can be. Say the wrong one and watch the destruction in the city streets.

What do you think about overcoming fears?
It is the only way to move forward. We all have fears living inside of us that won’t unearth themselves until the crucial moment. Whenever a new fear comes to light, I go out of my way to overcome it. Fear dictates how we live, it bears weight, it resides in our roots until we obliterate it, until we purge them. This notion is my strength, and I am the greatest advocate of not giving in.

What do you think about expressing yourself through fashion?
Fashion is a great medium of expression. It is a beautiful opportunity to show the world who you are without having to move your tongue. My own style varies in accordance to my mood, sometimes I wear men’s shirts and other times I wear floral prints. There are no rules.

In less than five words, what defines you?
The footnotes in poetry.

Summer or Winter?
Summer. Everything is mellow, pleasant, vibrant, magnified, heightened.

What is your dream travel destination?
Poland. I want to visit Auschwitz more than anything. I have read a lot about the Holocaust, accounts of the concentration camps, and the war itself. I want to visit, to experience even a single depth of the magnitude of emotion. However for a more pleasant option, I would love to travel to Italy, purely for the beauty and history. I’m not really an exotic beach holiday kind of person; I would become bored and immediately look for something to do. I need history, depth, meaning, truth. Substance.

Name one thing you want to do before you die.
I’d like to have a book published, just so people could see, read and have words to live by. I’d like to illustrate my thoughts; preserve them until we’re over.

Could you live without internet connection for a week?
Well considering that I work in SEO, it would make my job quite difficult. However, in my personal life, this would definitely be possible. Although I love the internet and believe that it has many beneficial uses, it can also reach a point where we become dependent on it, too fixated with it. I have periods of not using the internet at all, just to prevent this.

Name an experience you had and would like to repeat once again.
Volunteering at the charity shop was quite possibly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was a place filled with comfort, stories and meaning; the owner still feels like family. It allowed me to meet some great people and I genuinely cannot think of anything that surpasses this. 

I love answering questions and doing these type of questionnaires, so if you have anything that you would like to ask me, go right ahead!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

And We Lived Inside Them.

The road disappeared into itself as the bus continued to move. A black car waited patiently, seating a little girl with braided hair and butterfly eyes. She made eye contact and moved forward to get a better look. I waved, puzzling her until her pupils followed the bus and then moved back to mine. Moments later, she reciprocated and her face lit up into an expression that could sustain the entire universe. The bus drove off, but I waved and watched her until our eyes lost each other forever.

She will always associate buses with people that wave, with humans that smile, with those of courage and kindness. These childhood experiences form the basis of our associations and memory; we use them as our foundations to remember, to evoke things later on. She will look for me each time she passes a bus; it will always be something positive for her to draw on. A smile from a stranger; a hopeful expression.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

If I died tonight, I would have one regret; that people would never know the thoughts inside my head.

I want to write everything down; immortalise it so my memory lives on. It’s important for me to have an impact on people, something that reverberates into the future, even when all traces of my fibre have been lost.

What is experience if not taught? What are thoughts if not provided with a voice? What is knowledge if not shared?

There is so much in our minds, aid that we can grant to the universe.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Like Fuel To Fire.

I turn 24 this week and there has been a voice inside my head telling me that I haven’t done enough. Whilst in the shower, I seemed to have an epiphany and realised some things that I needed to preserve. These words will be my saviour in the dark.

I have so much willingness and drive, even when the pain forces it into waves. I’ve spent a very long time not wanting to be alive, but I’m currently breathing and I can still feel my fingertips. This pain is a strange gift; it both aids and destroys me.

Most of my posts are about pain and truth, but within the subtext of that, there is always gratitude. I’ve been unbelievably lucky in my life and I do not ever allow myself to forget this. I become overwhelmed sometimes and social media is my chosen platform of expression. Sentiments are lost in translation, but the intrinsic gratitude is ever present. In person, I try my utmost best to be positive. When we’re broken, we don't need to bring the rest of the world down with us.

Yesterday, a guy at the bank told me that I came across as a strong person. The strange thing was that several people have reiterated this, and I think I truly just realised the extent of those words. Strength itself is when you keep moving forward, even when your own mind turns against you. Strength is recognising the darkness within you and giving it a name. Strength is acknowledgement of weakness and acceptance of pain. Strength is that voice in your head reminding you that it will be over soon. Strength is knowing what you want and pushing yourself to get there. Strength is the determination to overcome.

I’m here now. I’ll do great things some day.
It is much, much worse to receive bad news through the written word than by somebody simply telling you, and I’m sure you understand why. When somebody simply tells you bad news, you hear it once, and that’s the end of it. But when bad news is written down, whether in a letter or a newspaper or on your arm in felt tip pen, each time you read it, you feel as if you are receiving the bad news again and again.
(A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill, Lemony Snicket).

Thursday, 17 July 2014

How To Identify a Good Person.

'Be nice to the strangers,' they said.

If you have been consistently reading my blog, you will know that I am the greatest advocate of being considerate towards other people, especially strangers.

There is so much going on within the human mind, that if our skulls were transparent, our tongues would not even move. The world is filled to the brim with injustice and cruelty, so why are we breeding hatred and allowing it to satiate our own beings? Our hearts are all we have left, our souls, our character, our mannerisms. When there’s nothing to hold on to, the memories that we leave behind will become our voices. Imagine passing away and only being remembered for the destruction you caused.

I try my best to be as nice as possible to the people that serve me in the shops, the strangers I see on the streets, anyone I come across. We are always unaware about the battles that others fight, and sometimes after smiling at people, I watch their faces light up. This makes me stop and wonder what that person was going through, what they were fighting for and why it made them so happy. You can often look at people and tell that they are suffering, that they are searching for strength. I consider the magnitude of my own pain and how it is nothing in comparison.

When we are born, our mothers wrap us in cloth as a form of protection. As we grow older, we clothe ourselves, because this is what we know. But we’re too wrapped up inside our own beings to acknowledge the surroundings. To comprehend what lives inside the other cloths.

Sometimes I am in a bad mood and I snap at people, that’s just human nature and I find myself apologising shortly afterwards. I have a conscience, and I always think about how I would feel if the same thing had happened to me. That’s the important thing; I am forever considering how my actions affect others and this is something that our nation lacks. We’re selfish and ungrateful. We don't think about how many people we passed today and how many of them cry in the dark.

Be nice to people; their souls could be dead and you have the ability to give them something to hold. We are so powerful, our belief and faith in others can do so much. If only we could start building on that, utilising it to be better. It frustrates me greatly, because some people suffer in silence and your words are intensifying their bleeding wounds.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

It’s 5am and I’m sitting here typing this because I need to exhaust my mind somehow. I need to sleep, but I can’t.

I am turning 24 next week. As a child, I always thought that I would have my life sorted out by 24. I would have a steady job, self-confidence, direction and a purpose. As I’m growing closer to this age, it is beginning to feel like I am disappointing my childhood self, and running out of time to achieve the things that I've wanted. I’ve lost my drive and ambition, there’s nothing left. I’m not who I wanted to be, and I’m not becoming anyone close to it.

Some days, nothing makes sense to me. I don’t know why I exist or why God inflicts me with misery. I’m so tired, irritable and depressed, and although sleep is not the cure, it would surely improve things.

I’m so fed up of life. Everything is supposed to get better, that’s what people are constantly telling me. But I’ve been reiterating that to myself for years and I’m still stuck here in this abyss. God, I’m so tired.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Unbearable Curse of Being.

I swallowed the sunset, the aftertaste of the rays was bitter against my tongue.

I drank as much water as my body could take; until I could feel the ripple against my throat, until it replaced the hollows of my veins.

Sunshine was great, they told me. But what if it was trapped inside the body? Like a bell in a jar, ringing and ringing until the sound became a silenced fragment of the mind.

I felt the rays some days, trying to get out; illuminating the skin like the moon amongst the landscape trying to be set free.

I just wanted sovereignty; of the light, of the curse.
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