Sunday, 4 October 2015

Between Patriarchy & Silent Shrouds.

If you know me in any capacity whether this is through social media or in real life, you will know that I feel very alienated from my Pakistani roots. I have written a whole blog post about not calling myself ‘Pakistani’ which you can read here. However, today I wanted to discuss my main issue with the culture.

You need to learn to cook.’
So you can cook for your husband.

This conversation summates everything. The Pakistani culture declares that women exist for the purpose of men; to take care of them, to please them, to be their slaves. Women are perceived as the weaker sex and thus less desirable. A prime example of this is when a woman gives birth. People are overjoyed if she has a son but a daughter is a consolation prize. Things such as ‘it’s such a shame that she only has daughters’ are reiterated as if females are a burden and a son is their saviour. This is also rooted so deeply within the Pakistani culture that women are happy to accept their positions as a housewife and are ready to berate anyone that hinders this norm.

We must remain at home until we are married, and then again, when the man goes out to work. Our lives become marriage CVs and everything that we do works towards our levels of marriageability. If a woman remains unmarried by the age of 28, she is considered to be ‘past her sell-by date’ and is believed to have something wrong with her. Maybe she cannot have children, or is depressed, or too educated, or not pretty enough? We may as well be made to stand in front of a police line-up wall and be pointed at from behind the glass. We are sold, bartered for. We are not entitled to live our lives to their fullest capacity because we are reined by the hands of men.

I cannot go travelling alone or move out before marriage because ‘what will people think?’ However it is perfectly acceptable for a man to do these things without raising questions. We repress everything whilst men are able to live openly, honestly, abundantly. We must hide a huge fragment of ourselves and thus split our own souls into pieces. Our existence is nothing but the ode of men. I did not endure countless years of education for men to put words into my mouth, to be ‘chosen’ by a man and scrutinised by his mother, to waste away my potential from behind the stove. We are not taught about self-development, growth, healing. We are taught to iron, to cook, to do whatever will please our husbands because we do not exist for ourselves. Our lives do not count unless there is a man beside us, to give us meaning, to be our voice. These things are indoctrinated within men, and thus they treat us as being inferior to them. Abused, manipulated, broken, hurt, we become their property because we are taught to be nothing else.

I am not compatible with the culture that I was raised in. I do not agree with patriarchy and I do not intend on being a part of this system. Whilst I recognise that this is something that is also present in many other cultures, I feel that it is highly accentuated within Pakistani/Indian cultures. My mother was born and raised in Pakistan and thus carries and conveys a predominant amount of the customs which I am forced to live my life by. I do not agree with them and do not ever intend to enforce this on my own children.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

If You're Having A Dark Day...

When you’re standing in darkness, it feels like everything is still. It feels like nothing is changing because everything is motionless, but somewhere in the world it is a different time of day. People are going about their lives, waving goodbye to their children, watching them disappear behind the school gates. Someone is peering at a patient fastened to machines through a glass door. Somebody else is pouring ingredients into a bowl, entranced by an image of a transcendent banana loaf, or standing on a railway track awaiting their own demise. Someone is in a jovial embrace at the airport with an old friend believed to be lost. The earth is orbiting; the birds are flying. This moment is not where you will be stuck forever because we can transcend time. Your life is moving forward. Look at a clock, the seconds are passing. Things will change, because they are changing even when we believe that they are still. That object on your desk doesn’t look like it is moving, but the seconds are bringing it into the future, and thus it is transcending time just as you are.

Move your arms. See, you can do it. You are in control of your body, no matter how foreign it may seem. It can hear the command of your brain because you are inside your limbs. You are in control. You are the inhabitant of your own body. You are here, now, in this moment, inside your veins, behind that flesh. Move your arms, do it, see you can hear yourself. You are alive beneath that skeleton.

Listen to the sound of your breath and recognise that you are existing. This now, this is survival. Now fight for it, fight because you can still feel the electricity in your veins, because you can feel that you have something left to give. You’re not ready to go yet, there is still a fire burning beneath your flesh. You have the capacity to fuel it, to do everything that you want to be remembered for. Stop listening to your mind; command it because you will not be your own victim. Use that fire and be fierce.

Refute. Battle. Empower yourself even when it means fighting an internal war, because one day when you’re at the height of your triumph, you will look back at the scars and recognise this moment as your greatest success. And if you can fight this right now, if you can fight yourself, then you are invincible and you will slay. Don’t give your mind a voice, be the voice.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The World's A Funeral; A Room Of Ghosts.

I remember reciting ‘la ilah ha illallah’ with my eyes closed praying we’d make it. The fog was so thick that the driver couldn’t see his own shadow in the dark. Horns, cars; I could feel their closeness against the vibration of my fingertips.

I felt the crash, screaming, being pulled out of the van by my mothers hand. Standing on the side of the road, with a line of disconsolate vehicles in front of fog that masked traffic and the drivers own breath. We waited. Waited. Waited.

More people joined us, eyes in the sky. I struggled to breathe, kept reciting ‘there is no god but Allah,’ waiting for Him or the angels to come.

1. Dubai. I will be visiting next month and am currently in the midst of planning my trip. The sole reason that I agreed to go was because I will finally have the opportunity to visit Sephora and if you know me in any capacity, you will understand how much of a triumph this is. If you have recommendations on places to visit, please do let me know!

2. Yankee candles. There’s something very cathartic about lighting candles and I generally always have one burning in my bedroom. My father loves candles more than anything, so there is an infinite supply of them in every corner of our home. My current favourite is the ‘Raspberry Sundae’ Yankee candle which smells like heaven.

3. Stepanka. I randomly came across her videos on YouTube and was captivated by her experiences. Her stories are compelling and there is something very humourous about the way that she tells them. My favourite is when she discusses the mysterious disappearance of her boyfriend. You can watch part 1, part 2 and part 3 here.

4. Made in Chelsea. When I mention this as being one of my favourite shows, it generally results in a frown or some form of judgement. It is essentially the British version of ‘The Hills,’ and for some reason, I just cannot seem to stop watching. The show is also shot so beautifully, making London look idyllic.

5. Lean On cover. My taste in music varies in accordance to my mood. I don’t have a certain ‘type’ that I listen to and therefore I don’t rule anything out. Having loved the original, I came across this cover of ‘Lean On’ and thought that it deserved a listen. There is something uplifting about this version and I have had it on repeat for weeks. You can listen to it here.

6. Nail varnish. I always have my nails painted in an attempt to prevent myself from picking at my skin. I’ve recently dabbled into the world of glitter nail varnish and have been enjoying experimenting with different colour combinations. One day I hope to venture into the world of nail art, but for now my confetti nail varnish is satisfying my creative urges.

I’m really enjoying doing these posts; it’s a good way of capturing my current fixations. Let me know what you love right now!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Becoming A Sense8.

My notion is that there are five kinds of truths: the truth you tell to casual strangers and people you meet, the truth you tell to your friends and your family, the truth you tell to only a few people in your entire life, the one you tell yourself, and the truth you won’t even admit to yourself. And that’s the one that tends to decline us,” Straczynski said. “And we thought, if we take these characters who suddenly have access to each other’s thoughts, histories, their secrets, their personalities, it lets us take the global aspect of the show and bring it down to a very human level. You may not understand what it is to live in India or live in Iceland or live in Berlin, but we can identify with an abusive father, or a person who is hiding a part of their personality because they’re afraid they’ll never be accepted. I found the smaller you go with your truth, the more universal and global the story is. And so we wanted to sort of hinge off of that into making a larger statement.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was watching the television show Sense8. I’ve never felt so connected, so captivated, so engrossed in a show like this before. It completely blew my mind.

Sense8 is shot so beautifully with landscapes that heighten the magnificence and authenticity of each story. There are eight characters from all over the globe, from India to Iceland. The show depicts the life and customs of each place, with real-life locals enriching scenes to create a sense of reality. Everything feels sincere, everything is heartfelt. It is raw. Sense8 shows life in other countries, but also demonstrates that although our lives may be separated by the places in which we live, we really are no different from one another. The story is not just about a group of eight strangers and the way that their lives intersect, it is about mankind, human connection, unity itself.

The audience becomes the character, and through this the show creates the capacity for one to feel the depth of exactly what is happening. You feel what the characters feel, which adds a whole new dimension to the premise that the show is built on. You become a Sensate because you feel what they are feeling. You are present with them in that moment. You are learning truths, just as they learn. You are a Sensate.

The stories feel real, the characters are alive. Each person has a captivating back story and the acting and storytelling are impeccable. I felt each scene almost as if I was a part of it. I smiled, I laughed, I was horrified, saddened. Everything is carefully crafted, but bold, daring. Nothing is out of the question and it forces one to accept the things that they perceive as a part of their everyday reality. This is the step that the world needs to take, acknowledging everything that is outside the norm. Sense8 is not just a show; it is a way of life. It teaches tolerance, acceptance. This show could do some great things for the world.

I would wholeheartedly recommend watching it. I will even go as far as saying that it is the best show that I’ve ever seen, purely because of its intensity. Although it falls under the science fiction genre, the show doesn’t use special effects or anything more groundbreaking than clever editing, and yet the story is so magnificently narrated that you can’t help but feel in awe of its brilliance. It demonstrates that the true ingredient of a successful series is simply a good premise.

There are 12 episodes, and a 25 minute documentary which goes behind the scenes and demonstrates just how much work has gone in to shooting a show of its magnitude. It is global, it is universal. This show is groundbreaking.

You can watch the trailer here, and I've included some extracts about the show below.

‘On some level, the sensates’ telepathic empathy is a metaphor for the Internet, which seems, in some ways, to be making us more open to others’ experiences (especially queer experiences). The show also evokes the joys of creative collaboration: people who watch the Wakowskis work together often say that they have “two bodies, one brain.” Really, though, the point of “Sense8” is to revel in the broadening of empathy — to fantasize about how in-tune with each other we could be. In its own, low-key way, therefore, “Sense8” is a critique of sci-fi. It asks whether, in tying our dreams about human transformation to fantasies of technological development, we might be making an error. The show suggests another path to transcendence: each other.’

‘The Wachowskis employ the very fabric of the film medium to remove the distances separating their sensates, using sneaky editing strategies to create the illusion that characters on opposite ends of the globe are conducting a conversation in the same room. The underlying brilliance of this trick elevates the film form to the saving grace of those stricken by desperation. Editing, in the simplest terms, bridges gaps in time and space. Sense8 aims to bring the people who need one another into contact so that they may provide each other with the support that they need.’

Friday, 4 September 2015

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

I was sorting through my laptop files and came across a compilation of thoughts. Maybe one day I will give them an individual voice, but for now I want to share them in the form that they first arrived.

Sometimes all our soul needs is a reminder of who we used to be. Something that shows us how much we have grown, something that communicates the promises we made, something that echoes the voices of our spirit, something that revokes the depths of our dreams. It is only then that we can measure progress of the miles travelled and realign ourselves onto the journey.

I took a deep breath and tried to really hear the sounds in the air. There were stories around me, preserved with ink on the pages, embedded within the people that walked. I heard glimpses of people’s lives and their predicaments. There was a universal battle of yearning.

I seem to feel inspired when it rains. It’s something about the overwhelming sentiment that falls with it, the shadows, the obscurity.

Today is one of those days where I want nothing more than to escape the boundaries of this place, to run as far as I can and forget who I am.

Write me words of deference, adoration between the lines.

The sun and my good mood coincide like two lost lovers that have found each other once again.

With the sole capacity to comprehend the depth of your thoughts, it is only you that can recognise how injurious those thoughts can be.

My path is paved with each word, tracing the core of my existence within the rhythm.

The reflection of the sun illuminating only half of her face, the other side left to delve in the shadows.

Hands tied by ropes of paranoia, a heart resting in the delicacies of veneration.

Monday, 31 August 2015

The Birds, They Sang.

Stepping out into the snowstorm, 
icicles stroking sin,
this is just the beginning.

Blueprints created with blood spatter,
bullets ricochet like a raucous puppy in a new home.

Cold solidifying organs through desiccated veins,
body recycles petrified air.


'The angels, they're gone now.'

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Waiting Outside Heaven.

I remember playing with pebbles beside a Scottish lake, a body being exhumed a week later.

I remember watching men carry the carcass of a cow from a truck filled with its departed friends. I wondered about the families they left behind, their children, their dreams.

I remember faking a headache to avoid having to wear a dress in a play about Picasso. Wake up it’s a beautiful morning.

I remember pulling out weeds from in between the slabs, hands aching until the ground had nothing left to give. Returning the spade to the back room of the shed, Dracula’s bedroom and a serial killers haven.

I remember stroking a blind dog until the cats learned to keep a distance. My cousin feeding bananas to a giraffe with a tongue the size of my torso.

I remember searching for shortcuts in between gardens, exploring alleyways with belongings and stories laden at their wake.

I remember dressing up as one of Fagin’s boys, singing a solo, befriending Bill Sykes in the playground.

I remember devoting myself to Eastenders like a new religion, ‘Free Matthew Rose’ on the back of a van until Steve Owen went up in flames.

I remember practicing dances to the Spice Girls on elevated slabs in the back garden, memorising song lyrics from magazines until sundown. Stop right now, thank you very much.

I remember buying penny sweets at the corner shop, filling up paper bags with cherries and flying saucers while the shop keeper stared at his friend disdain in the distance. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

1. Sense8
. Think about the sense of nostalgia that you experience upon seeing a stranger you’ve met in a distant dream. This feeling is the essence of the entire TV show; it is on the same spectrum as Heroes and Lost. It is about diversity, strangers from all over the world connecting. The show explores everything that mainstream television avoids, such as identity and religion. It is unlike anything I’ve ever watched before. You can watch the trailer here

2. Colouring books. I’m not entirely sure why, but everyone has suddenly become fixated with adult colouring books. Colouring has always been a form of therapy, but adult colouring books are made up of intricate patterns that force your mind to concentrate on each detail, which as a result, diverts your attention and makes you forget your surroundings. The Millie Marotta ones are my current favourites. 

3. Lily Melrose (LLYMLRS). I’ve been following Lily’s blog since university and I feel like she is one of the few YouTubers that didn’t ‘sell-out.’ I love her authenticity and have really been enjoying her moving vlogs. You can check out her channel here

4. Neon yellow ZARA bag. This bag has been in my wardrobe for years, but for some reason or another, I have never made use of it. When having a clearout a few weeks ago, I thought that it would be a good way to add some life to my otherwise very monochromatic wardrobe. It is tiny, but forces me to minimise the amount of things that I carry.

5. The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz. The book is made up of short stories/essays by a psychoanalyst who describes his interactions with patients. He explores why people behave in the way that they do and provides insight into how we become who we are. I do wish that it was more detailed, but I’ve enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

6. Snapchat. I love watching and gaining a peak into other people’s lives. I’ve also enjoyed watching the featured stories from around the world and it has magnified my desire to go travelling.

What do you love this month? 

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room.


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

'How do you evenly distribute the cinnamon onto the coffee?'
'You just have to sprinkle it from a height.'
'But then won't you make a mess?'
'You can always clean it up. Don't let the fear of making a mess stop you from getting what you want.'

Monday, 10 August 2015

As The Mourners Pass.

And sometimes she felt so nauseous that she thought the anxiety was going to come out of her mouth (at least it would get out).

The body shivers, stomach does aerobics, blood runs marathons through the veins of clouds.




Organs work overtime, the sound of fragmented mechanics in the darkness.






Sunday, 9 August 2015

30 Facts About Me.

We each have our small quirks that make us human. They give us character, they form our identity. I always enjoy reading facts about other people. I’ve done some of these in the past, but I thought that I would share some more.

  1. I feel exposed if my feet are visible. During the summer, I always have the challenge of trying to locate sandals that cover my toes.

  2. I generally opt for the vegetarian option at restaurants. I’m not much of a meat eater.

  3. I set an alarm everyday even when I know that I cannot sleep past 7am.

  4. I suffer from mild acne (thanks dad).

  5. I’m the most organised person in my family.

  6. I love cheese a lot. Camembert, Applewood, Mexican, Feta, everything.

  7. I don’t eat the crusts on pizza.

  8. I can’t handle spicy food; it completely goes against my heritage.

  9. I like to drink my coffee in silence in the morning.

  10. I’ve been watching beauty videos on YouTube since 2008. It’s where I’ve learned everything I know about makeup and skincare. The first few people I watched were All That Glitters 21 (Elle), Dulce Candy and Michelle Phan.

  11. I don’t wear much colour; I think my hair makes up for it.

  12. My aim in life is to find the perfect under eye concealer. I have yet to find something that beats my MAC’s Studio Finish Concealer.

  13. I have my drivers licence but haven’t driven since I passed my test over a year ago.

  14. I find going to the movies quite stressful. I like to watch things in silence, and there is always the worry of someone talking through the film. It’s either that or being seated directly behind a freakishly tall person (I have nothing against tall people unless they are interfering with my vision).

  15. I don’t watch many movies, I feel like there isn’t enough time for proper character development and I generally don’t have the patience to sit through them. It feels like too much of a commitment.

  16. Snapchat is my favourite social media network. I love making stories, I love watching other people’s stories. It’s a peak into their lives.

  17. I feel exposed if my ears aren’t covered by my hair.

  18. I only listen to music when I write or work. I’m not one of those people that can walk around wearing headphones. Nothing is that great that I need to carry/listen to it wherever I go.

  19. I actually quite enjoy going to the dentist (I have a really great dentist).

  20. People don’t believe me when I say this, but I’ve never smoked a cigarette or experimented with any sort of drugs (illegal ones).

  21. I don’t listen to the radio because I feel like it’s voluntarily listening to people talk when you have the option not to.

  22. There is an 11 year age gap between my younger brother and I.

  23. My Urdu is very broken; I always struggle when trying to communicate with older relatives.

  24. I watch TV with subtitles even when I can hear everything perfectly. It stems from watching the Gilmore Girls and not wanting to miss any of the fast-paced dialogue.

  25. I always read about a movie on Wikipedia after I’ve watched it, just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.

  26. I love the smell of nail varnish.

  27. As a child, I used to collect CDs, but only the ones that you would get free in the mail. I had over 200 stored in a box. I once created a pattern with them on my wall, so when the sun reflected, it created magic.

  28. I used to love to play basketball; I made my dad put up a hoop in the back garden so I could practice.

  29. I very rarely answer my phone.

  30. The thought of marrying into a Pakistani family gives me hives.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Between A Crucifix & The Hollywood Sign.

I’ve always wondered what our souls look like and where they reside. I imagine them as glass balls, sometimes transparent, sometimes encircling colour until our eyes perceive the same metaphysical pattern.

They move around in our bodies, floating as they please from our mind to our kneecaps.

I wonder if our souls even exist inside our bodies, whether they’re tangible enough to be their own entities.

I used to think of death as an escape, but our souls live on. We’re alive, even after we die. Does the soul wait inside the corpse? Does it just sit in the grave and listen for the angels? For the devil?

Does anyone come? Will they come?

Friday, 7 August 2015

Removing The Hijab: Part 4.

I have written three blog posts about removing the hijab. You can read those here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. I still receive a lot of questions about my experience, so it made sense to turn this into a series. I’m more than happy to answer questions, so please let me know if there is another aspect of the journey that you would like me to discuss.

A few months before I made the decision to wear the hijab, the Islamic Society at my university hosted a lecture about the modesty of women in Islam. I volunteered to help at the event, so I could attend and not feel like an outsider. I felt out of place at Islamic lectures, 85% of attendees wore the hijab and didn’t take me seriously because I chose not to. It was as if I wasn’t authorised to be a part of Islam. During the lecture, the speaker discussed the way that covering ourselves protected us from the gaze of men. She addressed the un-hijabed women in the room, maintaining eye contact to signify that these words were directed at us, making us feel victimised. It was as if we were not worthy of being there, as if we were tarnished. She told us that we were disappointing God.

During this period of my life, I was struggling with severe anxiety. I could not be left alone, I was constantly sick with fear, I was always crying, I had to be supervised everywhere. My mother took me to see an imam because I was no longer able to cope. He recited a prayer and told me that I needed to cover my hair if I wanted to feel better. The girls in the Islamic Society reiterated this; I was made to believe that it would help me. In such a vulnerable condition, I didn’t have a choice; I was desperate to rid myself of the anxiety. I just wanted peace.

The hijab and abaya made me feel as if I had the entire weight of Islam on my shoulders, as if everything that I did would be attributed to the religion instead of me as a person. By wearing the hijab, I was adorning myself in symbolism. I felt pressured, as if I constantly needed to have my guard up, as if I couldn’t be myself because I was so concerned with trying to be a good Muslim. Meanwhile, the anxiety was feeding itself; growing stronger, greater. I remained terrified. Always terrified. I was afraid of God, of Hell, of the devil, of sin, of being punished, of dying, of everything.

In my anxious state, people would still tell me more things that I couldn’t do, inducing episodes of grave panic. Someone once told me that taking photographs was haraam, that God was going to ask us to make the photos come alive when we died. I was petrified; I removed all of my photographs from my albums, ripping them into shreds at 4 in the morning because I didn’t want to go to Hell. Someone told me that it was haraam to wear makeup, it attracted attention from men. I panicked and stopped wearing makeup. Sometimes I received messages telling me that my status on Facebook was inappropriate. I couldn’t do anything right. Everything was haraam; I didn’t know how I was supposed to exist. I became withdrawn, it was easier. I cut off contact with my male friends, stopped reading stories because people said that I should use my time to learn more about Islam. I stopped watching TV because ‘it was from the devil.’ I became so conscious of my own movements, terrified of sinning, of burning, of rotting in Hell. Sometimes I would sit and think about my past and all of the sins that I’d committed. I would cry and cry, begging God for forgiveness, shivering until I could feel the Hellfire inside my limbs.

I wore the hijab and abaya for 2 entire years. I didn’t write or talk about anything but religion. My entire life was about Islam but I felt out of touch with God. I was struggling to concentrate in prayer, I couldn’t keep fasts, I didn’t feel connected to Islam. My body was withdrawing from itself, rejecting everything. It took me a long time to understand that this was my mind’s way of telling me that it didn’t know who I was anymore. It was refusing to absorb anything.

I was angry at God for putting me through this. I took off the hijab because I didn’t want to resent Him. I didn’t want to resent Islam. I wanted peace; I wanted to feel connected to something. I wanted to be myself. At the time, I was volunteering at a charity shop. When I went into work without my hijab for the first time, everyone was fascinated with my red hair. They commented on how much happier I seemed, how alive I looked. I was talking, I was interacting; I was alive. That’s when I realised the true extent of what had happened.

It took me a long time to go back to the way I was; I had to constantly tell myself that it was okay to look a male sales assistant in the eye. It was okay for me to laugh if he made a joke. It was okay for me to wear what I wanted. It was all okay. I don’t want to advocate that it is the best thing to do, but in my case it was the only thing left. I’m still Muslim, I still believe in God and I recognise that our whole lives are battles with the turbulence of our faith. I recognise that we are always at war with Satan.

There is always reasoning to sustain actions; we are in no position to decide whether these are valid enough. We’re here to live, we’re trying to survive and if we need to do it in our own ways, it’s okay. God is the judge; we can’t stand with pitchforks and berate others for the way that they choose to exist. I felt a huge responsibility to be the perfect Muslim, as if I had to take it upon myself to solely improve the reputation of Islam. It was too much; I was just a girl trying to find my way in the world. Wearing the hijab was an act of desperation during my residency in the abyss. It’s almost as if I was travelling and then decided to buy a house in a country without knowing whether I would return. We need to learn our own path before committing.

The hijab was never about wanting to look modest; it was a means of annihilating my anxiety. I wanted to be closer to God; I was told that this was the only way. But I was uncomfortable, I received more attention, I was followed. I tried to love the hijab; I tried to make myself want to wear it, but it didn’t feel right. When answering the door for the postman, I wouldn’t wear the hijab, it didn’t even occur to me. I didn’t want to wear it, I felt like I needed to. I just wanted to get rid of the anxiety. I suppose you can liken it to losing weight. It’s easy to lose a large amount of weight, but the challenge is keeping it off. It is a gradual process; you have to change your entire lifestyle before submitting. I went from mini skirts to an abaya overnight.

I had to walk through the fire to save myself. Our responsibility is not to make other people happy; it is to be true to ourselves. People are narrow-minded, they only see one means of becoming close to God. We have our individual feelings and just like we don’t have the same experiences, we’re not all going to walk the same path to find God.

Mankind struggles with letting other people be. There’s always criticism of one’s character, but Islam teaches us to be tolerant of others, kind. It is the essence of the whole religion. We should be giving others space to exist in their own way. If something helps someone and lets them feel alive, don’t get in their way. We’re fighting our own battles; you can’t stand and measure someone else’s pain against your own. We have different tolerances, and if you take one thing away from this post, please let it be to allow others to make their own decisions and be free.

I receive messages from people telling me that there is ‘still time to change.’ But I’m more in touch and aware of God than ever before, because there is no compulsion. I’ve learned that submitting to Him doesn’t just mean through prayer, it means through our movements, through the remembrance and acknowledgement of Him. I thank God, I innately find myself mumbling ‘alhamdulillah’ in a state of overwhelming bliss. I recognise these moments as being from Him. That’s faith, that’s worship. We’re blindsided by doing things like wearing the Hijab in order to get closer to Him, we forget about the smaller things that are rooted in our everyday lives. These are characteristics of piety; they demonstrate that someone recognises their moments as part of a greater movement.

At the end of the day, our purpose is to get closer to God, it doesn’t matter how you get there.  

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Draw Me a Smile, Save Me Tonight.

I’ve always wondered whether we’re born with this void inside us, whether we just become more aware of it as we age. We always seem to be in a perpetual state of trying to fill this void with books, television, music, God, other people.

But that’s where we are going wrong. In the words of Amy Poehler, ‘other people are not medicine.’

People can only do so much before the void takes precedence. It is inside us, within us, we carry the void wherever we go. It follows us, lives in our shadows, exists in the space between our fingers, in the aches of our stomachs.

And I just need enough of you to dull the pain.’

You are your own entity and although people can provide a means of numbing the pain of your wounded limbs, your body must still take its own time to heal. Other people cannot fill an emptiness that exists in your body. You need to reach your own recovery.

Warsan Shire says that ‘you can't make homes out of human beings.’

We believe that loneliness means being alone, but in reality it is the loneliness from self. It is about being lonely from your own solitude, from your inner peace. Other people cannot complete us. Once we recognise this, we begin open ourselves up to getting what we deserve.

Understand how to love yourself, discover your own talents, find your own dreams and ambitions, realise that you are worthy, fill that void with your own greatness. Other people are just passengers on your journey. You are in charge of your happiness; you are your own saviour.

Learn to revel in your own company. Appreciate your own silence; feel whole in your presence.  Do what you love. Find your way.

You exist in your own body, you are its inhabitant, you are accountable for your limbs, for your heart, for your mind, for your soul. You control your own breath. You, alone. You are responsible for your own void.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

They Said God Loved Our Aching Bones.

I spent two years of my life wholeheartedly dedicating myself to God, doing everything that I thought I was supposed to do; covering myself, praying, being devout, seeing Him in everything. This didn’t make me feel better; I didn’t feel any closer to Him.

When I eventually reached the crux of the abyss, I didn’t understand why God was subjecting me to infinite pain. I was angry; I am angry. I’ve spent the entirety of the last two years feeling completely abandoned by Him. I didn’t understand why He continued to evoke this sadness, why He was feeding it with life, why it still seems to be eternal.

Although I will always uphold my belief in God, it doesn’t stop me from feeling angry or anxious or from wondering why He won’t make things better, even after I’ve begged and begged and begged. It doesn’t obstruct the thousands of questions I ask Him in my dreams.

People tell me that God will enforce the same pain until I learn from it; I will fight the same battle until I attain victory. I’m realising that although He is inflicting this pain, He has provided me with the means of writing in order to work through it. It’s almost as if I have the weapons to fight my own war.

But then sometimes I think that I don’t owe the world anything, I didn’t choose to be born. I didn’t ask for this life. I didn’t come to fight. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Pressure In Our Bodies.

I burned 800 calories on the treadmill today. 25.5 laps.

It’s as if exercise, physically challenging the body, eventually breaks down all of the barriers that my mind has imposed. It helps to release emotion. It puts me back in touch with myself. The negativity pours itself into a stream, I’m raw, I’m open, I’m whole.

That’s when I can think clearly, I feel still. Transcendence. It’s just myself and my breath. Me in that moment, as I exist, now.

When I experience intense mental struggles, I push myself to the depth of my capacity until I cannot feel my legs or hear my thoughts. I only stop when I can no longer endure it. Calm embraces my body. My breathing resumes, the anxiety is gone. I listen to the sound of my breath. I’m floating; I am back inside my body. I hear the consoling heartbeat and the submission of my limbs.

That’s when I feel the most ecstatic, when I’m restored to my inherent state of being. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Hell Sees Her Shadow In My Back Seat.

A guy parked his car directly outside of my window, his music blaring as loud as the speakers would permit. I felt the vibration of the rhythm against my desk. I was annoyed; I could still hear the music, even through my headphones.

I deliberated getting up to close my window but I decided that he would soon drive away. 

I continued writing and listened to the song being played. It was raucous, the kind of music that was overpowering enough to drown out the universe. The kind that made you sink and forget about your own existence. I continued listening, it made me think of being at school knowing that there were only 5 minutes left until I could leave. It made me think of my soul doing cartwheels inside my stomach, the rush of adrenaline that made me sing a thousand songs. It made me think of standing in the sun, ice-cream dripping down my fingertips.

I sank into the music and it transported me to a whole new realm.

I continued to write, I continued to sink. The song inspired my fingers to hit the keys, releasing new emotions, accessing a different facet of my memory. It broke down the barriers that I set inside myself, I poured everything out and for a moment, I felt free.

The car eventually drove away, but I thought about my initial annoyance. Stopping to listen had in fact changed my entire perspective. Sometimes there are disruptions in life, but if you stop to really look at them, you recognise that the disruption itself is a form of aid. It’s like God ruins your plans just to help you.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Friday, 31 July 2015

Thoughts Turn To Angels On The Run.

Another compilation of some of my favourite tweets from the past month.

We're so selfish; even the act of giving to charity is about us, making us feel good, acquiring good karma.

And a new day meant that everything had healed and there was new skin to pick.

"I've written my to-do lists on yellow paper."
"Is it to make you feel better about life?"

And again, staring blankly at the lines on my palm.

I've spent my life rearranging words, creating meaning, measuring their impact against each other.

I'll be 25 this month. I'm lost, and tired, and hungry. Mainly just hungry.

"Bring your creative minds to the meeting."
"Is there food?"
"How do you expect us to be creative?"

I'm feeling quite stressed so I'm going to dye my hair.

I'm basically waiting for the day that Russell Brand is in charge of the world.

"It's times like these that build character."
"I have pink hair, I think I've got enough character."

Whenever I feel down, I just look at my hair colour and it makes me happy. It reminds me that I'm fierce.

Since I can't cry, sweating is my body's equilibrium. I just burnt 700 calories and I feel like a new woman.

'I've got one Christian neighbour and one Muslim neighbour.'
'Which one do you like best?'
'They both teach me to be good.'

Because clicking 'save' meant that a version of it would exist somewhere forever and I just wasn't ready for that kind of commitment.

I was about to watch PLL after a long day but I got into bed and the Wi-Fi stopped working. I'm just trying to live my life.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Moving Our Own Trauma.

I was reading a blog post about trauma and how we can move it.

I suppose we have to think of trauma as its own entity, something that lives within us. The more we repress it, the more it feeds itself. The longer it remains in the body, the stronger it becomes. But no matter how much you repress trauma, you can still feel the faint twinge at the bottom of your throat, in the pit of your stomach. There’s always a subtle ache in your limbs, in your movements. Eventually we have to bring pain to the surface in an attempt to drain it from our bodies.

It’s almost as if our bodies are bottles which we fill to the brim with memories and pain. The bottle can only endure so much before it overflows and refuses to consent to anything else. We have to remove the pain before new experiences and feelings can interject.

Trauma turns into negative energy within the body and slowly appends itself to our personalities.

The challenge is bringing everything to the surface in order to release it. I’ve mastered the art of repressing things so that I don’t have to deal with the pain. I used to drain everything through writing, but now I don’t go into enough detail, I don’t give the pain enough capacity to leave my body because I’m always too conscious of what I am saying. My mind and body are so full that I can’t absorb anything more until the trauma has been released.

I’m trying to talk through things and access the memories. But once you’ve repressed them for so long, you kind of don’t know what you’re looking for anymore. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Being Satan In A Dream.

Sometimes I wonder whether the angels sing the devil to sleep. Does he sleep at all? Annihilation needs to be sustained, somehow.

I wonder if he uses the magnitude of his own sins as a compass. Bottled poison on standby, just in case.

I think he has red hair, a reflection of what Hell is supposed to look like, against the contours of his red skin.

I used to picture his house, question whether or not he owned books, whether he was familiar with Fitzgerald and Plath. 

I realised that he lives inside us all, in our veins, in our own minds.

We submit to the devil in our movements; our radiance belongs to him. 

We are Satan.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

He Stands Alone Because He's High On Himself.

When the mind becomes a vapour and I can’t think of anything profound to write about, I read song lyrics or poetry. Fall Out Boy’s lyrics always spark something, so I wanted to share some of my favourites.

Strike us like matches, because everyone deserves the flames.

We only do it for the scars and stories, not the fame.

They say your head can be a prison, then these are just conjugal visits.

I thought of angels, choking on their halos. Get them drunk on rose water, see how dirty I can get them.

If heaven's grief brings hell's rain.

And you lock the house to keep your secret from coming out.

You're sleeping with the light on like you're dying to be found out.

And the sound of the descendants.

Your smile reminds me of switchblades and infidelity.

I know what you're thinking, "he stands alone because he's high on himself."

She's shallow like the shoreline during low tide.

With promise and precision and mess of youthful innocence.

I hate the way you say my name like it's something secret.

I know that you're in between arms somewhere, next to heartbeats where you shouldn't dare sleep.

Take your taste back, peel back your skin.

Every line is plotted and designed to leave you standing on your bedroom window's ledge.

Tongues on the sockets of electric dreams.

Say a prayer but let the good times roll in case God doesn't show.

Say my name and his in the same breath, I dare you to say they taste the same.

Pull a breath like another cigarette.

On the oracle in my chest, let the guitar scream like a fascist.

Know you've heard this all before, but we're just hell's neighbours.

Preach electric to a microphone stand.

They say the captain goes down with the ship, so when the world ends, will God go down with it?

I can't remember and I want it so bad, I'd shoot the sunshine into my veins. I can't remember the good old days.

And it's kind of funny, the way we're wearing anchors on our shirts when being anchored or bored just feels like a curse.

Milligrams in my head, burning tobacco in my wind chasing the direction.

When Rome's in ruins, we are the lions free of the coliseums in poisoned places.

Blood brothers in desperation, an oath of silence for the voice of our generation.

Don't breathe life into a monster then complain when he destroys it all again.

And I just need enough of you to dull the pain.

I've got the skyline in my veins.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

If Heaven’s Grief Brings Hell’s Rain.

On days like today, I realise that the bad days were actually the good days.

I have to let this pass. But it’s the waiting that breaks me; it counteracts all of my progress. Everybody keeps saying that time heals, but nobody tells you what you’re supposed to do in the meantime.

There is always pressure, expectation. I can’t just be. I have to hide everything, I have to repress. It turns the battle into a war, with the absence of weaponry still indenting the curves of my shoulders.

‘God loves you.’
‘Then why is He subjecting me to this torture?’

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

‘What would you describe your style as?’
‘I try and go for the whole ‘I woke up, had a cup of coffee and then just threw on the first thing I found and didn’t brush my hair, but still made sure to look in the mirror before I left the house’ type of thing.’

Monday, 20 July 2015

To Qurratulain.

I don’t know what it is about you, but you’re addictive. One conversation later, you are all that exists. You’re infectious, it’s like your words immediately enter the veins, consuming, feeding. You so quickly become a way of life, until our organs won’t recognise or submit to anything but the sound of your voice.

You’re smart and insightful, you always have interesting things to say, you’re compassionate and spectacular. You never have bad intentions, you’re pure and honest. You love and care about everything so deeply, so intensely. You’re generous and encouraging, you believe in other people, you see their truth, you recognise their talent, you empower them, you just want to make everyone else’s dreams come true.

Your attention to detail still continues to blow my mind; you remember scents, pauses, the faces of strangers that sat beside us in a coffee shop a year ago. You find meaning in everything, from the dead spider that was trying to find his way back home to the way I hold my prayer beads at dawn. Your eyes attempt to consume everything they can in a frenzy. But beneath all of that, there is sorrow. It manifests in the subtext of your every movement; I think you’re beginning to learn how to use it to fuel your own fire.

You are made up of quirks, like needing to remain quiet while drinking coffee, or watching movies in silence as not to disrupt the emotion. These things are what make you so intriguing, fascinating. You have a justification for everything, and you’re okay with being different. You’re so comfortable in yourself, you’re confident even when you think you are not. I wish I could make you see just how much strength you have.

I’ve never met anyone so determined and driven. You don’t hang around. If there’s something you want, you get it. You don’t have the patience to wait, and you don’t like making other people wait. You pour your soul into everything that you do, whether it is for yourself or for the sake of other people. If anything is to be associated with your name, it is going to be the best that it can be. There’s no disrupting that. There’s so much fight inside you, I see it in your movements. You’re always fidgeting with something, picking at your skin, looking for ways to occupy your hands. You can’t be still. There’s always adrenaline within your fingertips, ready, always ready. Ready to fight, ready to try, ready to give, you’re always ready to go. But it means that your touch is electric, it’s fire, it’s magic.

You take the term ‘perfectionist’ to a whole new level. I’ve watched you edit the same piece of writing for six hours straight until it is perfect, until each syllable is empowering, until you feel like each space has captured a sentiment. You forget to eat, to drink water, to move. Your eyes are fixated on the words and we can’t pull you away until it’s complete, otherwise you feel uneasy, unable to think about anything else. You just want to finish it. You’re forever thinking, looking, conversing with yourself. Your mind doesn’t stop, even when your limbs are exhausted, even when life itself becomes a daydream. You can’t switch off, you’re always on edge. You’re always tense, reserved. I’ve never seen you be still, completely relaxed. It’s like your body never gives in to itself. Every time I look at you, I can tell that your eyes are searching for the closest exit, a form of protocol, just in case. There is doubt in every situation but sometimes your desires are too loud and you don’t think. Like when you want a piercing or to try something new. You get these ideas in your head, you’re impulsive, you’re unpredictable. I guess that’s part of the attraction. I just wish you would slow down sometimes. Let us in. Listen to the voice of reason.

But then you have another episode, and the sadness interferes with everything. It takes over and nothing matters anymore. You stop talking, you stop looking us in the eye. You’re vacant; you even forget to blink sometimes. All we can do is watch and pray that you’ll eat something, hope that you’ll cry or laugh, or something, anything. You just stare at the walls and we don’t know if you’re present in your body. We don’t know what you are thinking, whether you are about to do something stupid. We just want you to be safe. But you don’t exist, your lips won’t move, your face is frozen in the same expression. You shut down.

When it passes, you realise that you need to heal, but you push everyone else away so you can work through the sadness. You need to be in full control. You need to be the one making the decisions. You need to be the one to make yourself better. You’re vulnerable so everyone else is a threat. You’re cautious, paranoid. You don’t ever like to ask for help, it’s almost as if you don’t know how to, or that you can. You just want your space, you want to be alone. You won’t talk to us, you’re distant, and that’s when you lose us. But for you it all just becomes a part of the same pain. You’re already suffering; you’re accustomed to pain, you’re immune to heartbreak. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy for you, or maybe you’re just great at hiding it? But you move forward, even if it means leaving us behind. Even if it means shutting us out. Even if it means never talking to us again. You move forward, always move forward, always hold on because otherwise you will have to stop, you'll have to acknowledge the pain. You don’t want to be interrupted; you just need to be okay. You want to forget, so you’ll focus on moving forward because it means you are better. Even when you are not. Even when we are shouting from the sidelines that you need more time. Even when we are begging for you to be still, and you continue to fight through. Even when there is nothing left of your body but your shadow.

You live inside your own willingness, you won’t let others in. You can’t hear us, or you won’t hear us. I don’t know anymore. It’s as if your limbs are weapons in your own war, fighting against each other, momentarily in harmony and then battling again. There is no room for another person. No room for input from anyone else. I know this now. You live in a permanent conversation with yourself. But we’re trapped; we’re all confined inside your echoes. We are still seeing your name; forever thinking about what could have been, forever wondering when we’ll stop breathing your name, when we’ll stop seeing your silhouette in our own shadows. You’re a drug, Qurratulain. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Old, Devil, Moon.

We each have small things in our lives that contribute to our sense of self. Songs, books, words, films, scents. They are the small constants in our lives that remind us of who we are. They are our means of realigning ourselves and restoring  perspective in the wake of melancholy. But what do we become when these things are stripped away? Who are we without our own talents and dreams?

Imagine if you have been a painter all of your life and the art has added a whole new dimension to your existence. There is depth in each moment, details, preservation, healing. Painting is all you know. But what happens if you wake up one day and you suddenly cannot paint anymore? You can’t preserve the intricacy of your interactions, capture the beauty of the person that made you smile. Your hands were made to hold brushes, your retinas to experience the magnitude of a colour palette. It feels like a limb has been torn off, you no longer feel whole. Painting has always been an extension of your personality; you might as well not exist without it.

We pour facets of our beings into our own talents and our dreams, these things contribute to our identity. When we are without them, our veins are empty, we have no purpose. We lose our way.

This is where I have been. Writing has always been my coping mechanism. It has allowed me to acknowledge my pain by giving me the capacity to pour it into a tangible form, thus draining it from my body. For the past few years, my medication has prevented me from writing, from crying, from experiencing emotions to their fullest capacity. I cannot see or process anything that is going on in my own head. It’s like holding an opaque glass ball with something trapped inside and no matter how hard I shake it, I can’t make out what the object is. I’ve just wanted to write for the sake of sorting through the voices in my head, to see clearly, to be able to think.

Whilst transitioning between two medications, I’ve been able to hear myself, to actually exist inside my own head, to access my thoughts. I haven’t been able to sit and write properly for the past two years. Not like this, not where my hands are hitting the keys faster than the words can pave their way onto the screen. 

And then it’s gone.

I think you can tell when my words are stripped of meaning, that’s what the medication does. It disconnects you from this present world, this present moment, your present body, your present movements, your speech. Everything is bleak and you’re just trapped inside a ghost of someone that died in another lifetime. It’s like existing in a permanent state of writers block. I can’t feel, I can’t absorb music, I can't feel compassion, I can't be still. 

I’m typing nothing and nothing and nothing. I want doves, I want fire, I want magic. I want depth.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

(I Swore I Wouldn't Dream).

I’ve always pictured my mind as being two separate rooms. One filled with rows of multicoloured filing cabinets. The other, a room dedicated to inventory where everything is sorted. This is the room that is prominent in my mind. There are fragments of paper all over the ground, shreds floating in anarchy. Things are read and dealt with, eventually being stored away in those filing cabinets. This is how my mind works; something enters my brain and I immediately rush to categorise and store it away. However, everything is arriving at such a rapid speed that I cannot fathom anything quick enough. Everything ends up torn, on the ground, undealt with.

I just want everything to be put away neatly. It’s partially the reason for why I begin to organise things when I can’t cope. The physical act of moving objects makes me psychologically feel like I’m sorting through my head. I feel  cleansed after throwing things away.

It’s strange to think about your own ligaments and the way they must look on the inside. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Irises, They Never Find Any.

Limbs at war with aching ghosts, pixelated blood cells, adorned.

Nomadic mind overrules movement, veins synchronised against a broken globe.

Oh the guts and the glory.

Immortalised soul pirouettes in a jar, chanting symphonies of the suicidal into a dream.

Splintered memoirs inside a casket, trails of peeled flesh at its wake.

Resuscitation. Revival. Recovery.


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Pros & Cons Of Breathing.

(Source: here)

Relax, enjoy your life,’ said my mother, not realising the magnitude and impact of the words that she spoke.

I began to think about the ways that we exist, within the journeys of our own minds. We earn money, we save, we plan our meals, we put money into pensions, we plan a life for our children. Our minds are forever living in the future, our bodies in the present. But we create a gap, between imminence and this present day, an empty space that is susceptible to being consumed by fear. Thus, we live in a perpetual state of anxiety about everything, second-guessing, overthinking, complicating.

We’re fixated on the notion of a future, we’re attached to its perception, but our tangible grasp on the future extracts the spirit from our current moments. When it’s all gone, when the pulsation of our bodies begin to digress, it will be our memories that ricochet against the walls. It will be the voices, the sounds, the scents, the movements that embrace our mental hallways.

It’s like taking a photograph for the purpose of looking back and remembering. In taking the photograph, you’re almost pulling yourself away from the experience; you’re missing out on the intensity and magnitude of your surroundings. You’re not allowing it to heighten all of your senses; you’re not experiencing the beauty, the soul, the core of these moments to their fullest extent. You're going to miss the sovereignty of your own feelings because you didn’t exist to your fullest depth.

There’s nothing wrong with spending, feeling, indulging. There’s nothing wrong with being adventurous, out of control, spontaneous. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself, sinking, submerging. After all, is this not better than living with the intensity of regret? It’s the moments of pleasure, of bliss, of ecstasy that fill our time with meaning. Do the consequences of our actions not just become another facet of our gratification? Do they not just become a part of the experience?

Sometimes I listen to the sound of my own breath and notice that it’s the only constant in my life. I feel my pulse, the sensation of the rhythm, the blood travelling through my veins reaching my limbs. It’s the only thing that reminds me that I’m alive, it brings me back, calibrates my organs. We’re out of touch with who we are now. You’re alive. I’m alive. We’re living. We’re existing. This is our life, here, now. Go out and do something crazy because you can. Do it. Feel the movement of your hands, feel the strength, feel the capacity to do something great. Feel it. Be whoever you want to be, go with your feelings, be impulsive, do whatever makes you feel alive.

Although we live in a sense of imposing irony, surviving the present in order to remember, indulge and exist to your fullest capacity. 
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