Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Solar Winds Are Whispering.


I feel like one day somebody will try to memoralise my journals but will struggle to decipher the letters. There is no time to print properly when your mind flickers faster than the movement of the pen.

Translation:

I don't know where you're supposed to store all of your memories. I feel like we leave them in our limbs, veins and they become the nostalgia of who we are. But what if you knew where your pain went, the places it slept. Maybe that is the secret to immortality, following pain home, terrifying it out of darkness, maybe that's how we survive.
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

When The Ghosts Make It.

These are a few captions that I posted below pictures on Instagram, I wanted to share them with you.


Children played amongst the ruins whilst we marvelled at its grandeur (the microcosm of our future).



In Sofia, there is a church, synagogue and mosque all positioned in the same square and I think that this is quite spectacular.



I always find myself mourning things and places that I haven't lost or left yet, almost like a premature grievance for the sadness that is to come. I leave Sofia in two hours and this trip has been the most extraordinary of them all because of what it has given me. Sofia is filled with love and life, art and truth, animals and sublime landscapes. The thing about travelling is that you always take something away from the places that you have visited, or rather they seep into the fibres of your skin and thus you carry and project them into your future movements. In the same way that people leave behind a part of themselves in the people that they have loved, fragments of these places always stay with us, within us. It is in Sofia that I have learned to revel in nature, animals, the things around me, the greenery, the grandeur. The truth is that there is magnificence in everything but we just aren't programmed to look for it, or maybe we are and we somehow unlearned it along the way. From the stray, lonely dogs that wandered on the streets to the mountains that could be seen from every corner of the city, there was life and glory within the intricacies of it all. I know that Instagram has become my new blogging platform but the thing is, sometimes a picture just doesn't give us enough.



Something about being in Sofia has made me recognise my own beauty again.

This is something that we often refer to as narcissism, when in actuality it is just another form of self-love. I like who I am and sometimes it takes being broken to rebuild and reshape yourself into whoever it is that you are.

Throughout my time in Sofia, I have only seen one other person with bright hair so people have often stared in an attempt to comprehend this madness that I carry. In doing so, they have pushed me to accept my truest self. I am Qurratulain, this light, this fire, and whilst people often say that the two cannot co-exist, they are wrong, because with fire there is always light. I like my aura, I like my energy, I like this singularity. 

I'm now having to redefine what I want this existence to mean, outside and away from all of the things that have been indoctrinated in my skin. My entire life has been comprised of achievements that have been threaded together as a means of checking things off of a list but one day, there was nothing left to accomplish and I had reached the place that I thought I wanted and needed to be. I went to university, I got a degree, I got my Masters, I had a well-paid job, I had money, I had nice things but it just wasn't enough. There had to be more than this mediocrity, there just had to be. I soon realised that this check list that I was using as a guide wasn't even something that I had defined and set for myself, it was just the societal metric of success.

So, here I am, content in myself and my own energy, and from here one can only be elevated.



I have spent countless hours with this guy during my time in Sofia.

My parents have taken me to Whipsnade zoo every year for as long as I can remember and although a part of me has always felt saddened by the animal enclosures, the other part has always acknowledged that I would have been unable to truly appreciate their magnificence without these barricades. From an early age, I learned just how incredibly smart and fascinating these creatures were, the way that their eyes followed sound in a speed that we could only dream of, the way that they recognised and mourned the loss of another because they were of the same tribe & their unconditional and inexplicable loyalty to their offspring even after they were gone. In a strange way, it was through watching animals that I understood just how similar and simple we as humans are in our universal desires and motions. Somewhere along the way, we learned how to complicate this existence when in actuality the space in between animal and man is and has always been blurred. We like to think that we are superior and far less vicious but blood is often spilled and our prisons become our cages. 

Putting that aside, visiting a zoo outside of the UK was an entirely different experience. The animals were living in poorer conditions and smaller spaces due to a lack of funding, but they were also in a closer proximity to bystanders and whilst this does not detract from the atrocities, there was no denying the breathtaking nature of the animals (also, the cost of the entrance tickets contribute to helping feed them). This tiger was approximately a metre away from me and it was terrifying to think that something so close could kill me within a matter of seconds. I watched it being fed, heard it tearing bones with its bare teeth, saw as it scowled at children and then followed its paws as they drifted into sleep. If anything, being in Sofia has been worth it just to have had the opportunity to witness such a majestic creature in its glory.



Today I visited an archaeological museum which was based inside what used to be an Ottoman mosque during the 1800s. There was something so surreal about the arches and the echoes that stood affirmatively even after all these years. As I was walking, I came across something from the 1st century BC. I had to stop and take a moment. The 1st century BC. The 1st century BC. The 1st century BC. I just couldn't fathom how long ago that was and how this was the oldest thing that I had ever seen in my lifetime. It was right there in front of me, beneath my palm, a piece of history (followed by a yelling guard). I've already forgotten what it was because I looked at so many other artefacts but that moment made me reassess my entire purpose and existence. One day, people will be standing in museums looking at and admiring the things that we use in our everyday lives, this time period will become history. Our bones will become the artefacts. I forget how miniscule we are sometimes.



Today I visited a mosque that was built in 1576. It was interesting because I have sat inside several churches for hours on end and yet I was experiencing this huge complex about whether or not I had a right to enter the mosque. I didn't end up going in, simply because I couldn't decipher whether or not women were allowed to, however it made me realise that mosques themselves can be intimidating, and how often do they really open themselves up to people that are not Muslim?
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Monday, 23 May 2016

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

But Epiphany Is The Cliché.

I am leaving for Bulgaria in a few hours but I feel emotionally and physically drained. I wanted to share something that I posted online a few days ago because I need to preserve it in order to be able to look back and acknowledge my own progress.

‘I went to collect my medication today and the pharmacist began to tell me about their electronic prescription service because I visit so frequently. We ended up discussing my antidepressants which then led to us moving into another room where I talked more about my history.

I listed all of the therapies I've had, the psychologists I've seen, the psychiatrists I've visited, all of the treatments I've undergone in the past 3 years, and at the end I was finally able to say that I had seen the worst and was beginning to come out of it. I think it was the first time that I had really acknowledged and verbalised this, and being able to say those words made me realise that I was and am going to be okay.

'You are so young but so strong,' she told me. I smiled because whilst enduring all of this, I had always felt weak for having to share my pain, for not being able to withstand it with grace, for falling apart and choosing not to live. But the thing is, during this time, I became and have become my own everything and I now see that that itself was and is the strength. Maybe I didn't keep it together in the way that I would have liked to, but I did make a lot of people perceive and understand the normalcy in pain and the validity of our own feelings. The thing is, we too often struggle in secret even when we know that pain is always going to demand to be felt. We must be kinder to ourselves and the people around us. We must. You must. We're cultivating an environment where people are too afraid of their own truths and in such a progressive society; we're more distant than ever before.

I don't regret how open I've been during my breakdown because it just demonstrates how everything eventually heals, the way that we are capable of transcending even ourselves.’
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Monday, 9 May 2016

Carves the remnants of his mordant skin into a glass jar
whispers ‘another angel fallen.

She pirouettes inside its strictures, orbiting earth as gospel
chokes on the condensation of her own breath
(toes still in prostration).

Places the jar on his window ledge for the divine
palms become ashes
(waits for them to settle).

Procures the soul with his fingertips, 
swallows it whole. 
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Sunday, 8 May 2016

But This Time They Burn.

I was thinking about whether people that we no longer speak to are real. Sometimes it feels like they didn’t really exist and we are just recalling someone from a distant dream. It’s like a lifetime has passed and we’re not sure whether we just made someone up inside our heads. Even though we might have pictures, possessions, it’s like we question their existence, their validity. The things that we recall are memories, not the person themselves in their actuality. They only exist in memory and sometimes I wonder whether that is enough for them to equate to a real person. What about all of the people that we have ever lost? They don’t exist now, so does that mean that they didn’t ever exist? When do they stop existing, when they leave their bodies? When they are buried? Cremated? When does a person lose their soul? How can we be sure? How do we measure human life? Do all of the people that we’ve ever loved only become a facet that we recall from memory not recollection? Are people immortal? Are they still alive in memory until all memories of them become lost? Are we the ones that keep them alive? Are we then responsible for immortalising others? 
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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The People In The Photograph Are Dead.

Watched him being set on fire,
whispered
I don't know who you’ve made me become.’

Like a transitory realm of fiction,
calm before the storm,
(fortune told).

The silence of skin in shallow water,
oh the silence,
the silence,
(glory of survival).

Body in ruins like fragmented Braille,
reading you to the wrong home,
we’ll die when we die,’
sea becomes ocean.

And then the ache that transcends tomorrow,
oh the ache,
the ache,
withers into blood cells, stars,
constellation to ashes,
(breathing you back in).

Lives into lovers we beseech,
these things I’ve been and done,

(the people in the photograph are dead).
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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Can't Break The Brave Face.

I was thinking about plastic surgery and how people are being called out for choosing to modify their appearance. It is almost like we feel that we cannot compliment them because their features are man-made. The thing is that when we compliment people on their features or bodies, the person in question really had nothing to do with the way that they look. So who or what are we complimenting exactly? Nature? God? Who are we attributing this person's beauty to? There is no logic because we are complimenting people for having had nothing to do with their own beauty. So is this what we're praising? Their lack of control over their beauty? Your body is your own space to navigate; you have the right to do as you please with it. Also, what exactly does 'plastic surgery' constitute? Things like lip fillers and Botox are temporary, so do they count? If we are only concerned about permanent changes, should we then not perceive and treat tattoos in the same way? We have double-standards for everything. Why are we still marginalising people for their choices?
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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Heart Like A Stallion.

These are a few captions that I posted below pictures on Instagram, I wanted to share them with you.


Upon entering churches, I always find myself feeling quite overwhelmed. I don't know whether it's because of the harrowing pianists, the grandeur of intricate paintings in mosaics across the ceiling, the forsaken candles swaying to the cadence of our footsteps or the emptiness of the oak pews awaiting diffidence and sin.



Today I bonded with an Italian man over a turtle and ate the most spectacular gnocchi on the edge of the lake. I must hand it to life for not granting me the things that I wanted, because it has allowed me to be here experiencing Italy in all of its glory.



I'm currently on a boat in Venice and I've never felt more alive, infinite than I do in this moment.



I stood at the top of the arena today, felt the souls of those who once performed here, their truths still echoing in the harrowing emptiness of each step. Being contained in a space in which the past still lives was quite magical, the way you could still feel their breath as you stopped to take in the magnitude of it all, or the cadence of your own footsteps against the infinite layers of bricks and the evanescent shadows of your former self metamorphosed into silence.
Verona is more than just a means of revival, it is an embodiment of metaphysical understanding, an amalgamation of the cyclical conception of life and death and everything in between. Verona makes me want to hold on to this life, I understand now that we leave a part of ourselves in everything that we touch and so as long as these things remain alive, we ourselves become immortal. Life and death are preconceived notions interjecting our movements with fear, but this, here, now, is everything.



I took this picture whilst standing on the ledge of a bridge because I knew that I would never be young again.



Today I stood on Juliet's balcony, watched lovers scribbling their dreams onto letters, stroking her statue for good luck. Romeo and Juliet was supposedly based on the family that resided in this house and there was something quite extraordinary about standing amid this space, a realm of fiction that I've studied so profusely, a world so distant and yet capacitated in my footsteps. The house may just be a tourist attraction but a landscape that is filled with so much love and light will always be magical. Maybe we give the insignificant things too much meaning but maybe we just want to connect to something. The thing is, we create meaning, and in doing so, create significance. I don't know what Shakespeare was thinking when he wrote the play, I don't know where he sat or who his muse was, I don't know what he ate and drank, said and screamed, but for a transitory moment, I existed as part of his narrative and I felt at the depth of my own mortality.
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Friday, 15 April 2016

Hold The Applause While We Dance.

I’ve been back from Madrid for two weeks and it has been a strange, perturbed feeling. Madrid was honestly one of the best decisions that I have ever made; it was beautiful and demonstrated to me that I am capable of existing outside of this psychological catastrophe. I am flying out to Italy on Monday and there are so many things that I want to write but the words do not fit or will not reach my fingertips.

Venlafaxine makes it difficult to hear myself, it almost creates a barrier between self and mind.

I feel like there is a lot of pressure in the UK, pressure to decide on a career and conform to the societal expectancy. It’s almost as if the concept of taking time out has no validity and is therefore frowned upon. Being away made me realise just how stressful our lifestyle, reaffirming my decision to leave.

I’m supposed to be using this time to think about what I want to do with my life, but the idea of having to commit to one thing is discouraging and I don’t know why society makes us feel like the idea of a ‘career’ is a lifelong conception that we must see through. I don’t know where I belong because the things that I dreamt of doing contributed to my demise and I suppose that I have to re-define my perception of success. I just want to create and be well. 

I’m in a position where I am trying to avoid subjecting and exposing my body to any incoming stress, I feel like I’m still reeling from this past life.

I’m accepting that my existence is going to be a cyclical war between myself and my mind. It’s always something that I assumed would go away, with time, age, change but I turn 26 this year and in some ways am more lost and broken than ever before. Having said that, the lack of direction and purpose feels somewhat liberating. It’s nice to have the flexibility of not being tied down or committed to anything.

It’s strange because everyone around me is getting married; having children, buying houses, being promoted and here I am struggling to commit to a sense of self.

I’m not where I thought I’d be, however I have achieved all of the things that I had hoped to and therefore have not failed or disappointed myself. I have two degrees, I have my own proofreading company, I have savings, I am able to travel, so although the picture may look different, the landscape is still the same and I must give myself more credit. I’m hoping that when I return, something inside me will have shifted. I suppose that I just need a sense of clarity, which appears to be unattainable in an environment where everything is a trigger. Being away helps me feel in control of this space. I don’t know where I want to go or what I want to do, I just know that I need to be away from here and maybe that is the place to start.

I don’t know what I will want in a few months and I think it is difficult to make decisions for your future self.

I am aware of the repetition in this post, but nothing comes out in a linear form. Everything within us is fragmented, broken. Show me a person who is whole. I don’t know what I’m thinking; Venlafaxine keeps me here in this present moment, disregards future and past, which I think is the best thing for me right now.

I just want this existence to mean something; I want to know that this struggle was worthwhile because I lived for something. I want to create movement; I want to make people feel the things that I felt. It terrifies me to think that I could die without leaving anything behind. I just want this existence to matter, I want to matter. I want this suffering to be purposeful. I want people to analyse the spaces in between my words, find truth in them. My writing is my breath and if I can't leave that behind, then I am already dead. I feel like Islam has really caused me to become preoccupied with death, and it’s like I’ve just forgotten that I have to exist before I get there.

I feel more like Sylvia Plath with every passing day.

This is probably the longest thing that I have written in a long time and I suppose that the key is to keep writing through this Venlafaxine barrier and eventually it will break and I will be able to control and feel the stream of my own mind. It’s crazy to think that I’m in my own body but not really directing my movements but then are we all not just puppets of our own psyche?
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Thursday, 7 April 2016

When The Conscience Is Closed.

Some of my favourite tweets from the past few weeks. You can follow me  at @inthespaces.

I feel like films put you inside a character's shoes, books put you inside their heads. Some people can't handle both.

Me: I'm going to book flights this morning.
Dad: Oh cool, where to?
Me: No idea.

You'd think that with my frequent hair-dyeing, I would have perfected the art of not leaving the bathroom looking like I'd massacred Barney.

Writing sometimes feels like giving blood. You feel your body weaken momentarily; you've just poured yourself into something.

I read a post where someone compared and likened Venlafaxine withdrawal to the experience of coming off of heroin.

Would it be immoral to place a tracking device on my postman? Imagine being able to identify his whereabouts so I don't miss parcels.

Did we smile in pictures because we were happy or because we wanted to look back and think that we were?

Trying to write it all out but it won't reach my fingertips.

I hate the fact that having a phone means that you're expected to be immediately available at all hours of the day.

The portrayal of Muslims across media platforms is disgusting. All we want to do is stand up and say 'hey, look, I'm living a normal life.'

I don't think of myself as being a particularly high-maintenance person but I look at my daily skin/haircare routine and it says otherwise.
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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Allegiance To My Only.

The ever-beautiful Nina posted this comment on my blog in response to ‘Growing Up As A Muslim’ and I have found myself reading it almost everyday as a reminder, a means of restoration. 

There are sometimes things that you need to hear or perceive in a tangible form before your brain can recognise, comprehend and accept ideas and views. Maybe it explains why we turn to other people; it's almost as if our bodies feel like they are obliged to somehow validate our thoughts before they can begin to actualise. However, I also believe that the universe has a strange way of bringing words to you precisely when you need them. For example, something led you here, to read this exact sentence. Maybe one day, you’ll draw lines to constellations and remember where this moment led you. And now, for the intricate and remarkable piece in which I hope you will find some truth, a part of yourself, or God.

   *                                                                                               *

'So I've had this page open in my browser for a few days now, thinking of what exactly to say. In the end, I'm not sure what advice I can give, or am even in a rightful position to give, so all I will give to you is my narrative of religion. I came to God and religion in my own way - I am. I do not believe there is a Hell. I believe what we put ourselves through with our repentance, guilt, shame and self-hatred is hell. We create our own hell. I believe in His Mercy and Kindness and Love above all. I cannot believe - I reject the idea that the Being who claims to love me more than 70 mothers would punish me because I took pleasure in a funny movie, because I wanted to look pretty and put on nail polish, because I wanted to feel sexy and put on fitted clothing, or to be perfectly frank with you, because I fell in love and made love to someone outside of marriage or because my body needed something and I gave it or because I fell in love with someone of the 'wrong' gender.

I believe He would see me, the essence of my soul, the person who is constantly and consistently trying to do her best to be a good person, to do the right things, to find value in people, to encourage, support and love others, to never hurt someone else, to never cause pain to another living creation. I believe these are the important things - how much pain I caused, how much love I gave, how much I relieved someone of their suffering, how much of another's burden I lightened.

Obey God, by all means. But find Him first. And do not rely on the words, interpretations and customs of others to do so. Come to your own understanding of God. And please, please, please, my lovely friend. Come to the understanding that He resides in all of us. Come to the understanding that He is the moment of gratitude you feel when the sunlight warms your bones, He is the smile on your face when you look in the mirror admiring a new hairdo, He is the love you feel when you hug your best friend, He is in the contentment you feel when you're cuddling a puppy, He is the anger you feel when witnessing some injustice. He should be and is the peace in your life.

And this is what I want to end with - please remember that it is a sin in Islam to think you are superior to anyone - but it is also a sin to think you are inferior to anyone. You are a wonderful person, someone who has fought and is fighting a hard battle. Jihad is the betterment of the self. You are on your jihad. Do not let the interpretations of others mar that for you. Love yourself. Love who you are and know that you, as you are, are a part of God and He is a part of you and He would never reject you. Maybe you have not followed the tenets of Islam as we are taught them - but it does not reflect on your worth as a human being or as a Muslim. If you did something you believed was a sin, you can always come back. You can always repent. My memory fails me but there is a hadith that says true repentance and praise of God will wipe away sins even if they are as much as the foam of the ocean. So please don't give up hope. Don't give up your faith. If you are angry, rage at Him (and believe me, I have. I have done just that, refused to believe in Him, refused to speak to Him.) But if you still believe, then yes, do exactly what you said, start over, disregard everything, question everything, find your own path, find your own way and let no one interfere. God is who you are, what you are, where you are, and everything else.'
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Sunday, 27 March 2016

Drawing Lines To Every Constellation.


How do you leave a city as beautiful as Madrid and not mourn the loss of something inside yourself?

Being in Madrid brought me back to life, showed me that I am capable of feeling happy through abandoning this mediocre existence and everything that I know. I have been back home for less than 24 hours and am already looking at flights to Italy due to the unbearable weight of being in the UK

I watched the luminous clouds change to grey and I immediately knew that we were descending over home; I felt the shift inside me. 

There is a part of us that believes that we are not worthy of great things, a part that sabotages experiences through the preconception of them being short-lived, and if anything, this trip taught me how to drown out these compulsions and not mourn the loss of moments before they had even had the chance to present themselves. My mind is my worst predator but something about leaving the UK silenced its narrative and I cannot explain just how liberating it was to finally be able to navigate this space and not stand in my own way.

I was thinking about the brevity of our breaths juxtaposed with their magical purpose of sustaining our existence; if something so frail yet extraordinary can keep us alive, our tangible selves are entitled to and can be attributed to so much more and we owe it to ourselves to recognise the sacred nature of our own beings. I wasn't ready to go because I felt like I still had more to give to the world and Madrid made me feel excited to be alive, to discover. I cannot recall the last time, if ever, that I felt this grateful to be alive, and yet something about being back in the country seemingly stripped me of all of that again.

I feel like the shattered remnants of an unfinished sculpture.

I know that we, as a nation, are renowned for complaining about the weather and our general residence here, but my dissociation with this landscape rests amid a whole new realm of antipathy. I felt more at home in a foreign land where I was unable to communicate with anyone than I ever have done here, and this coupled with the detachment from my Pakistani heritage, has left me feeling distant from everything that I know. The concept of 'home' is interesting, it is where one feels the most at ease, and contrary to popular belief, sometimes you have to find and make your own home because it isn't necessarily always amid the places in which you live or have lived. It's evident through the sudden deterioration of my mood that
England really isn't and has never felt like home. I've spent my entire life questioning why I feel out of place, unable to connect, and I've always believed that this somehow stems from an issue that exists within the fibre of my being instead of its backdrop. I understand now that I don't belong here, I've tried and tried, but the disappointment upon waking up this morning was too unbearable and the weight of that sentiment made me realise just how detrimental it is to remain here. I don't know whether this means that I must travel until I find home, but anything is better than the overwhelming sadness that I've been re-bestowed with.

Maybe it really isn't depression that is the problem, maybe it's just this space.
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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Regeneration of The Dark Moon.

Sometimes it looked as if the moon was trapped inside his skin,
orbiting to the cadence of his blood flow,
pulsating only with the consent of my fingertips.

Sometimes the moon illuminated each limb,
transfixed with the spectre of its pirouette
back to glory.

Sometimes the moon peaked through his silhouette,
creating indentations like the carvings of ancient scriptures in a forsaken tombstone.

Sometimes we remembered only in shades of blue black
where we were lost at sea
and the moon could not find its way home.

Sometimes the pandemic in his derma sang the angels to sleep,
tried to set fire to the moon,
(it would not be moved).

Sometimes his incandescent veins changed colour,
illustrated the directions back to his centre of gravity,
found the weeping moon 
(soaked in its own sin).

Save me from him.’
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Monday, 21 March 2016

When The Angels Sold Their Souls.

I wondered what the angels felt like, 
whether they were often blinded by their own light. 
Could they even feel the grandeur of their skin?

Did they recognise the brevity of the space inside their halos? 
Were they able to see its reflection against the lines of their palms?

I wondered whether they removed their wings at the end of the day. 
Maybe they were hollow, 
weighed nothing?

I asked,
and the angels told me that they could not fly.
'The wings are just decorative.'

I suppose I felt sorry for them, 
for looking so magnificent but not being able to see themselves 
(or capitalise on it).
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Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Wrong To Feel Right.

As you read these words, I am most likely standing in a museum in Madrid, marvelling at the works of Picasso and Dali.

Being able to travel the world alone is a dream that I have had since my father handed me my first atlas. I remember opening up the pages, admiring different continents, feeling captivated by the glory of an omnipresent world. I wanted to see it all, experience the intricacies of every culture, explore each monument of our forsaken ancestors, feel the presence of someone else’s earth beneath my soles.

Having grown up within the restraints of Pakistani culture where the mere thought of a woman travelling alone is undignified, the likelihood of me being able to do these things has always been non-existent. After fighting this for a myriad of years, to grasp even just a fragment of my independence, I think that it took completely falling apart for everyone and myself to realise just how much I needed it.

Two weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to go to Madrid. I booked myself onto a flight and left five days later.

You are reading this in the future so I cannot write whether or not I loved it, but what I can say is that I tried. I suppose that the triumph is sometimes in the attempt. 

I have scheduled blog posts for the time that I am away but will update you upon my return.
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Monday, 14 March 2016

Birthed From An Incongruous Mind.

I sat at a table in the centre of a chaotic library, adjusted my headphones and dialled into myself. I wrote until I could no longer think or remember my own name. I wanted to share a few short excerpts.

There’s something so liberating about not writing on lined paper, it’s almost as if the words have the capacity to align themselves into their own montage. Having said that, I can’t seem to write in a straight line and I suppose that Freud would interpret it as being some sort of subconscious attempt to defy conventions.

My handwriting is dreadful. My thoughts are always in a strange kind of rush because I just want to create a space inside my head. I have an irrational fear that I’ll die without emptying my mind and then I will have existed for nothing; my thoughts will remain unheard. I must memorialise everything. If I don’t have tangible memories, there is the possibility of them becoming lost, and then who will I be? The inside of my head feels like a frenetic snow globe where I can’t access anything because it’s all moving too fast. I’m standing in the centre, watching the snow flakes in the iridescent light, but my hands don’t extend far enough to reach.

I always feel weighed down, like the devil is learning to dance on the edges of my shoulders.

There’s so much that I have to unlock, but writing means that these things are accessible and I’d prefer to keep my memories safe in my own skull. Maybe one day I’ll write truths in anonymity, but then there are always traces of us in the spaces of all the things that we’ve ever written, almost like a painting with the faint shadows of the artist’s reflection. You read and automatically attribute words to a writer. There is no escape from your own truth. Writing is like building a bridge home and I suppose that’s what we all want to feel, connection, belonging.

My hand doesn’t move fast enough, it’s beginning to ache, which I suppose comes with age and all of the words that I’ve ever written, the worlds I’ve created. I often wonder about pens, the stories they’ve told, all of the hands and lives they’ve passed through. It’s really a gift, being able to fill books with thoughts that nobody else can reach or hear.

I remembered the lips of the therapist, watching them move as she illustrated and annotated pictures of the brain. Maybe one day someone would read this, annotate the spaces in between my words as an attempt to decipher my truth. If there is anything that I want to leave behind, it is my words.

I was always taught to be preoccupied with death, which I suppose is the reason for why I write a lot about hell, heaven, the devil. The afterlife is embedded into my skin. Thoughts of hell always made me feel a strange sense of familiarity, like I’d seen it before or been there in a distant dream.

I’m just writing because I’m in one of those overwrought moods where I feel like I may burst into tears at any given moment, but then what do I even have to be sad about? I often wonder what people think when they look at me. Do they follow the destructive movements of my palms? See my sad girl smile? Sometimes the sentiments are too heavy, they encompass the entire body and there’s just no capacity for anything else to interject.
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Monday, 7 March 2016

To The Rhythm of The Psychedelic Glass.


There was always something about being able to perceive the world through glass without participating that I found fascinating as a child. It was only later during my adolescence that I recognised this premise to be indicative of how I felt about my own existence. I often described it as not really being present in the room, in my own body, a harrowing sense of vacancy from my own self. I was always watching, advising, guiding, helping, being seen, but nobody was able to quite reach me because I was safeguarded behind layers of decadent glass. Coherently, this glass meant that I was always able to perceive my own reflection amongst the world outside, a kind of haunting overlay being projected over my conception of the universe. I eventually taught myself how to ignore and divert attention from it, I separated my being from the things that I could see, but I somehow lost touch with my reflection along the way. I forgot what I looked like, could no longer recognise my own face. I studied the lines on my palms, questioned whether they belonged to me. All I saw was the world, people going about their daily lives as I desperately tried to be present in the room. It was difficult because I could not feel the things that I wanted to feel, I was a ghost trapped in a state of purgatory trying to barter my way back to earth. I heard stories, listened to other people’s minds rotating on the peak of their skeletal axes, but I could not feel the cadence of my own pulse. I was able to map out the architecture of the skull but did not know where mine resided. I suppose it paid off because something inside me inevitably shifted and my mind gradually crept back into my body. I'd like to say that I'm more in control and aware now, and whilst my brain and limbs are in the process of reconciling, I still feel the presence of the glass more than ever before. Having said that, I see the things that many do not and it's a strange gift that I wouldn't possess otherwise. When I find myself feeling sad, I sit at my window and remember. The glass, I suppose is a gift and a curse.
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Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Sin of Her Skin.

Some of my favourite tweets from this week. You can follow me at @inthespaces.

And the thing is, people cannot love you back to life.

To be honest, I feel like Gregor Samsa every morning.

It's fascinating how when a child is born & a parent knows nothing about them, they grant a name and the child then grows into that meaning.

Most people like to unwind before bed; I'm here watching tour videos of Anne Frank's house.

I think that mixing my Nars Sheer Glow with strobe cream was slightly ambitious because I currently resemble a glazed donut.

There are always traces of us in the spaces of the things we’ve written, like a painting with the faint shadow of the artist’s reflection.

I feel very lost in myself and I just want to be able to look at my life and feel settled in what I have.

There are two types of people: those who feel the absence in the room and those who only feel the presence.

I've managed to stay away from drugs and cigarettes my whole life but as soon as it comes to chocolate, I apparently have no willpower.

I often wondered about pens, about all of the words and stories they’d told, all of the hands and lives they’d passed through.

You can be whoever you want to be at any given moment. You're not committed to one sense of self.

And the veins on my shoulder look like faded tattoos of the globe.

I feel like the library should have baskets beside the entrance because I always want more books than I can possibly carry.
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Thursday, 3 March 2016

And You Said I've Lost My Head.


There are two types of people in the world: those who embrace my otherness, and those who ridicule it. The interesting thing about the latter is that the contempt generally stems from an inability to understand or accept anything that does not corroborate a preconceived conception, cultivated by one's ancestral roots. We still exist in an incredibly bigoted society and although your values may not be parallel to the extremities that we associate with such dogmatic attitudes, the dismissive narrative that you choose to direct at one's otherness still lies upon the same spectrum.
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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Monday, 29 February 2016

Symphonies For The Undressed Angel In Command.

  1.  And I was too sad to sing (didn’t know how)
  2.  a lover without the love
  3.  what more could you possibly ask for?
  4.  My veins knew, tried to steer me away
  5.  (I just needed the idea of you).
  6.  Sang love songs from inside the casket like a devil with a shoplifted halo,
  7.  fingertips tracing my sternum to reach the centre (didn’t let you in).
  8.  Unlearned the face of the barefoot moon in the gradient of your skin,
  9.  like a mosque burning in its own gospel,
  10.  lose myself until I lose you.
  11.  Cremated the voice of your ghost, dispersed ashes beneath a forsaken pew, 
  12.  they gathered in the space of an unwritten sermon, 
  13.  (tried to piece you back together).
  14.  I rebuked my cells one by one in the movement of your prayer beads
  15.  (you are no longer a native).
  16.  A mouthful of the brunette sun to singe my tongue from uttering your name
  17.  and now you’re just another scar (that I wear so well).
  18.  Let us sing symphonies for the undressed angel in command (even in her brokenness)
  19.  did you know me at all?
  20.  I wanted to fill the space (left me empty, pervaded you instead)
  21.  and now you’ll feel my presence caged in your aching limbs
  22.  a cemetery laden with my darkest secrets.
  23.  Evade me, try (you won’t make it to your own burial).
  24.  They’ll find your name carved into my headstone
  25. died of heartache, couldn’t leave her.’
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Friday, 26 February 2016

A Scar I Wear So Well.

My favourite tweets from this week.

Fingertips tracing the sternum in an attempt to reach her centre.

I'm having chocolate fudge cake for breakfast because it's 7am and I've already given up on life.

I suppose the frustrating thing is not knowing whether I'm healing, not being able to monitor a scar or feel the pain of a memory any less.

And throwing things away was just a means of exuviating my skin, the memory, the ache.

And the freckles on her skin were just the constellations guiding you back home.

Sometimes she hoped that the water would wash her soul clean.

 But I think that my veins knew, steered me away, (I just needed the memory of you).

(I waited under the covers),
the angels never came.

And did we just become the lost in the space of an unwritten sermon?

Gilmore Girls is mentioned in The Cambridge Companion To Sylvia Plath. I am elated.

If there's anything to keep me hopeful, it's the thought of all the books that I have yet to read.

But we become so many people in a lifetime don't we?
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Monday, 22 February 2016

Sending Postcards From Heaven.

Sacred white hair, seraphic blue eyes, 
(I checked his back for wings). 
Face like a concertinaed masterpiece,
a fold for every story.

Celestial palms, the halo of the universe,
each touch like the scripture of a sermon.
Veins mapping the virescent globe upon his skin,
(guided him home).

Upon his demise,
I could only remember his empyrean eyes,
oh how lucky the angels were.
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Friday, 19 February 2016

Storm Has Broken; Two Words Spoken.

I was thinking about words and how they are all constant tangible letters that are our archaic guides to history. We breathe them into structure and give them life; we create their subtext and sustain them with our own ideologies and memories. Although our ancestors used them to sculpt our path, we have become the commanders of language.

However, we lose control as soon as we position them in front of another soul because they are being interpreted through the prism of someone else’s ideology and thus being shed of our invoked meaning. Our words are governed by a different perception and no longer belong to us.

While they are inked onto pages in an infinite form, words remain boundless in our minds. They rearrange themselves amid comprehension; lose their subtext amongst the spaces. They transform themselves to create and carve a new dimension and realm within our understanding. Each time we read, something in our minds has shifted and thus this tangible form ascends into a newfound conception.

Words are our gravity, they anchor us back to where we were supposed to be and yet the person that we were upon reading them has evolved, and thus they do not exist in the same form in which we preserved them.
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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Love Songs From Inside The Casket.

And my cadaver fell into the practice of eulogising all of the souls that I had been and lost.
And I wondered whether he could see through them, transcend the asylum that I had carved for myself.
And I searched the cells of my derma for the sepulchre of my ghost, for the gospel of the lamenting angels on each shoulder.
And I did not understand why our hands with the same imprints were not made to coalesce under the seventh sun.
And I mourned my own demise for the paradigm of rebirth, until the memory was gone.
And I waited for the customary ache, covered in his ashes, holes in the architecture of my skin in the silhouette of anyone that had ever left.
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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Growing Up As A Muslim.

I grew up with a strict version of Islam where nothing was negotiable. Alongside the regular prohibitions such as not drinking alcohol and eating pork, there were a myriad of rules that I had to live my life in accordance to. From the age of 4, I was sent to classes at the local mosque to learn Arabic, to memorise supplications and study the fundamentals of Islam. I was taught how to pray, how to recite the Qu’ran, and most importantly I was taught about the things that I was forbidden from doing. 

Islam was indoctrinated into my skin.

I was not to wear perfume or nail varnish. I was not to expose anything but my hands and face in public. I was not to wear clothes that revealed the shape of my body. I was not to imitate or dress like the opposite sex. I was not to talk to or befriend the opposite sex. I was not to have any physical contact with the opposite sex. I was not to partake in a relationship outside of marriage. I was not to consume haraam meat. I was not to gossip or backbite. I was not to tell lies, I was not to curse. I was not to read horoscopes or believe in fortune-tellers. I was not to draw pictures with eyes. I was not to hang photographs on the walls. I was not to play card or board games. I was not to watch television or listen to music. Upon reaching puberty, I was to fast during Ramadan. I was to pray 5 times a day. I was not to lust after the opposite sex or make eye contact. I was not to partake in any sort of gambling. I was not to visit places that served alcohol. I was not to be tattooed. I was not to get anything but ear piercings. I was not to wear high heels. I was not to thread my eyebrows. I was not to believe in astrology.

I remember being forbidden from sleeping over at my best friend’s house because my father was afraid that there would be alcohol in their home. I remember being told off by my mosque teacher for asking a boy his name, or for being seen on the street without a head covering. I remember my grandfather profusely yelling from across the road because I was wearing a t-shirt which exposed my arms and did not reach my knees. I remember having to double-check that there were no remnants of nail varnish on my fingernails or that I was not wearing my cartoon-printed socks to the mosque. I remember hearing about the atrocities of the Hellfire, about punishments within the grave.

Although my parents did not forbid me from watching television, playing games or listening to music, I still grew up within the margins of these restrictions. By 11, I had read through the Qur’an 3 times and was able to cease my attendance at the mosque. I was now responsible for upholding my beliefs and obeying God. I was old enough to be accountable for my own sins.

School life was the only sovereignty in my life. I had the capacity to do anything that I wanted and it was liberating. I learned to practice the art of sin in secret, and although I would often be devoured by my own guilt, there was something very electrifying about breaking the rules. When I came home at the end of each day, I was still inherently Muslim but I began living two separate lives. Although I always reaffirmed my belief in God, my compliance to Islam ricocheted on each division of the spectrum. As I grew older, religion began to impose more restrictions, it became a burden. I wasn’t able to live my life the way that I wanted to because everything seemed to be forbidden and it was not until the passing of my grandfather that my perspective changed. His death left me devastated. I did not understand how I was supposed to cope or mourn. However, upon witnessing his smiling cadaver, the concept of Islam and grief suddenly made sense. My grandfather had been a good man, he had spent the entirety of his life living by the word of God. Now that he was gone, he looked happy; he was at peace. Religion became simple in that moment; if I obeyed God, I would be content.

I made changes, I tried to be a better Muslim, but upon realising the magnitude of the sinful life that I was living, my body became filled with a rush of cataclysmic anxiety. I thought about everything that I’d done in my life, I thought about the ways in which I would be reprimanded for the atrocities of my sins. I became repulsed by myself, by my reflection, by my own existence. God would never forgive me, not for these things. The descriptions of the Hellfire were engrained into my skin, its scorn, its potency. I was going to rot for eternity. I was petrified. I needed to revoke my mistakes and the only way that I knew how was to wholeheartedly dedicate myself to God. I began to cover my hair and body, I prayed 5 times a day from sunrise to sunset, I read the Qur'an each morning, I attended Islamic lectures, I surrounded myself with Muslims and thought and spoke about nothing but God. I would have done anything to erase my past. I just wanted to forget. I wanted to be forgiven. I wanted to stop being afraid, of Hell, of God. I spent 2 entire years in this state, anxious, terrified. I gave up everything that I knew to obey Him, but I was trapped in a perpetual cycle of self-hatred. I begged and begged for Him to make things better, to make me feel some brand of peace, but nothing changed. He had abandoned me. 

I gave up.

I removed my hijab and abaya. I stopped praying, I stopped reading the Qur’an. I ceased everything. I lost my faith and the depression had already apprehended my mind so there was no longer anything keeping me alive. Suicide was prohibited in Islam, it was the only reason that I was still alive, but I was alone now. I was no longer afraid of God, of Hell, because life did not matter. I surrendered because no version of Hell was  going to reach the pinnacle of this suffering. I didn't owe God anything and this feeling inevitably led to resentment, which is where I have resided for the past 2 years. 

I’d like to think that the anger has subsided but I can still feel it buried within the meridian of my ribcage. Islam is all that I know, I still do things intrinsically like when I utter ‘alhamdulillah’ in a moment of gratitude or when I return a greeting of salaam. They are embedded within the fibre of my skin. However, Islam for me is associated with anxiety and sin and I’m not ready to succumb to its regulations or this heightened version that has been indoctrinated into my being. Islam is not about existing inside boundaries, it’s about trying your best and having the right intentions so I’m disregarding everything and starting over. I need to learn to trust in God again.
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