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Creative Writing

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Literature

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Travel

The Red Notebook by Paul Auster.


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


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

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

We stood 
                 shoulder to shoulder 
regurgitating oxygen
                               and then the whistles blew. 
 
Replicas from the First World War
the final sound they heard.
 
And when the whistles blew 
the wind swept over us 
in fear, in recognition. 
 
And we stood in silence 
on the 
           P
           E
           A
           K
           of our soles 
                            remembering 
                                                those 
                                                        beneath                           
                                                                      us. 
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The Disadvantage of Intelligence.

From an early age, we are taught to learn, to study, to absorb knowledge in order to be able to secure its presence within the traces of our fingerprints. We are told to push ourselves, to strive, to always yearn for more. However, in the midst of all of that, nobody teaches us about how to manage success, about how to cope with achievement, about how to acquire and appreciate stillness. 

Nobody speaks about the misfortune that accompanies intelligence.

Although aptitude is present in several forms, it can be controversial to claim intelligence and label oneself as being ‘smart' even when the word intelligence itself is multi-faceted and has the capacity to encompass everybody. Some fall under ‘educational intelligence,’ ‘emotional intelligence,’ ‘business intelligence.’ The definition of intelligence itself is subjective.

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

The most successful people are generally the ones that are trapped within the abyss, that are afflicted with mental illness and tragedy. We are never taught how to appreciate stillness, to connect with our beings and satisfy ourselves on a more spiritual level. Our mind and bodies become disconnected, disorientated

We are so much more than these machines that we have evolved into.
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10 Titles To Change Your Life.


I was nominated to list 10 books that have had an impact on me. It took me a while to narrow it down but I have finally settled on some titles.
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You've Got Your Demons, Darling.


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

What were your expectations before getting into the blogging community?
I first began posting on MySpace, so when I migrated over to here, blogging itself was still a relatively new concept. Blogs were online diaries, people recorded their daily recollections and experiences; but it was all very individual, there wasn’t much of a community. For me, blogging was the first real experience I had of sharing my writing with others. I didn’t think that it would ever be a means of meeting and connecting with other like-minded individuals. I guess I didn’t have any expectations; I just wanted a voice.
2

Rando: a Photograph For a Stranger.


A few days ago, I downloaded an app with an interesting concept. It is called ‘Rando’ and if used correctly, could prove to be quite astounding.

You begin with taking a photograph using your phone and pressing send. This photo is then sent to a completely random person who could be anywhere in the world. There is no way of knowing who will receive the image or where it will end up. Upon receiving the picture, this stranger will then respond with their own photograph. That’s it, a momentary exchange between two strangers. There is no correspondence after this exchange or any way to find out who the receiver is. The only information that is provided is a general location that has been pinpointed on a map. The app also doesn't have any options to like or favourite pictures, it is just you and this stranger, in each other’s worlds for a transitory moment.
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Immortalising Our Words.


We want to preserve as much as we can, we want to leave behind a legacy; to be remembered. It’s why we carve our names into stone, write our names in the sand.

We’re afraid of being forgotten; we want to exist forever. When we write words, a little bit of our soul seeps into them. The ink dries and our souls live on in each letter. We become immortal; those words will forever belong to us.
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99 Red Balloons.


The children ran around twisting red ribbons attached to balloons, entangling them with each other, swapping them and creating patterns.

They eventually let the balloons go, hesitantly, with their palms still attached to the ribbons.

Fear swept their faces and they reached the air to bring them back; it was too late, they were alone now.

They watched the heavens steal the balloons, found themselves with the remnants of ribbon as a bandage for their wounds.
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What Insomnia Feels Like.


In one of the beginning scenes of Fight Club, the protagonist says ‘when you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep and you’re never really awake. With insomnia, nothing’s real. Everything’s far away. Everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy.’ This is a perfect representation of what insomnia feels like.
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Inhaling Through Social Media.


It’s strange. Social media was once a form of communication, a means of interacting with people and rekindling lost friendships. They have now become networks to preserve and document our lives, to validate our existence to others. We have not only lost the essence of survival, but we are becoming reliant on social media to be our source of advocacy and nourishment.

With check-ins and updates. Relationship statuses and photographs. We are creating a stalkers haven in an attempt to authenticate our existence by detailing occasions.
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Make-up and Insecurity.


Make-up is not about vanity or narcissism; it is about masquerading insecurity and enhancing confidence.

I have dark hyperpigmentation underneath both of my eyes; a build up of melanin under the skin. This is common amongst Asian skin tones and many experience this around the sides of the mouth. The hyperpigmentation is not caused by a lack of sleep or a bad diet, it is something that I have no control over. I have spent years attempting to reduce their appearance, but they are two permanent rings that both circle and cover my eye area. I also have deep-set eyes which are positioned deeper into the skull, causing the brow bone to appear more prominent. The combination of hyperpigmentation and deep-set eyes causes my eyes to appear bruised, almost as if they are sinking into my face.
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Home by Warsan Shire.


This breaks my heart into pieces every time.
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Branches of The Same Old Tree.


It's amazing how much changes, even when we think it's all the same. It's only when you put everything together that you notice the evolution of self.

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The Art of Remembering.

Our memories distort people.

We only extract fragments that we want to remember, whether that is through solely recalling trauma or repressing the negative occurrences. We don’t remember people as they were. We recall them in the way that we want to see them, even when they change. 

However, people do not live and exist as the tangible characters in our memory. Everyone moves forward and therefore we have to formulate new memories to override the old ones. Nothing is as you remember it because everything in the universe evolves.
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Keep Relying On Dead Stars.


The fog reminded us that purgatory was close, retinas taking nothing but our palms.

Moving our fingertips, carving names onto glass, we disguised them with our breath, finding our way back.

I think we’re alone now,’ I said. ‘I can hear the angels.’
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Writing The Details.


Within a single day of our lives, we perceive thousands of small details that we do not pay attention to. The name tag of the person that served us, the scent of the guy waiting in line behind you, the lines etched into the pavement, the scratches on a car door, the buttons on your shirt, the footprint of your shoes, the water droplets falling from the tap in your kitchen, the conversation of two strangers in the corridor, the sound of coins rattling in your pocket, the roughness of one’s hands, the sturdiness of your chair, the backing vocals in a song playing on the radio, the softness of the keys on your keyboard, the pigmentation of your pen, the folded pages in a book, the profoundness of the rain, the consolation of new socks, the vivacity of the light from your lamp, the dust on top of your wardrobe, the humidity of the rain, the dead skin on your lips, the strand of hair that has fallen onto your clothes, the peeling skin around your cuticles and the solidity of the wind against your face.

It is only in words that we are truly able to comprehend the intricacy of our lives. It is only then that we are able to perceive the edifice of the minute details and the way in which they depict the smaller moments. It is only in words that we can foreground these details; it is only then that we can bring them into focus. This reminds me greatly of Kafka and the way he used detail to subdue everything.

Writing is about capturing and re-creating, about inventing and connecting. It is about reviving the small aspects of life that we choose to ignore. It is about projecting the intricacy of human interaction and the morsel of emotion that we sometimes find ourselves clinging to. Writing is about drawing attention to the stranger that held the door open for you, about the friend that offered you a piece of chocolate, and the covert simplicity of living. Although we as humans are complex, writing is a means of presenting and preserving ourselves in a way that is commendable; in a way that is comprehendible, in a way that inspires us to be better. Writing gives us something to aspire to, it provides us with a basis; it instigates progression. It allows us to capture our lives in a moment that will never exist again.
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Limitations of the English Language.


The sound of heavy laughter filled the carriage; it was coming from a woman. There was something peculiar about the way that she laughed. It was profound. With every moment, the laughter traversed through her, emanating sorrow as if
 her only way to heal. She was laughing through melancholy, through pain; this laughter was surfacing from the abyss of her skin. I pondered but realised that I could not locate the words to depict the sound that I was hearing.
3

We Live Inside Glass Bottles.


Our bodies are like empty bottles.

As we grow up, they are filled with sand.

When we learn to think for ourselves, water is poured into the bottle.

The sand absorbs the water but there is still space in the bottle for something else.

We try to fill the bottle with stones, but they get stuck or they don’t fit. All we can do is shake the entire bottle to try and get them out.


This is just like life.
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Finding Love With Insomnia - Short Story.


The time on your malicious alarm clock alerts you that you should still be sleeping. Sadly your body seems to disagree. You lay awake, your eyes fixated on the sinister ceiling. You begin to wonder why nobody has invented ceiling posters; something to look at to help you sleep. You think that it sounds like a feasible product and you begin to devise a business plan in your head. Your mind wonders off into the world of tax and numerical figures. It stresses you out so you disregard the idea. You continue to stare at the ceiling and tell yourself that tomorrow you will wake up and do something about animating the ceiling. Secretly you know that it won’t happen but you like the satisfaction of being able to convince yourself that it will. 
1

The Change of a Century.


I was waiting in line for my coffee.

I looked around and noticed two teenage girls at a table. One girl positioned her coffee on the table and the other took a picture of it with her phone. The angle wasn’t good enough; she instructed the other girl to move it.  
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Writing in the Margins.


Writing is a preservation of memories, a sea of reminiscence, a sky of shining stars that coalesce to construct beauty. Words can build and destroy, terrify and weaken, heighten and inspire. They are an amalgamation of imagination and reality, the lines having been blurred. Sometimes when I want to write, my mind disciplines my hand. The pen moves with grace and captures the fragility of moments, preserving memories and sustaining their existence in a tangible moment. The lines write me, they define the person that I am; they are the road to self-discovery, paving the path to finding myself. Words tell me secrets about myself that I do not know. They distinguish the details that the mirror does not exhibit. There are times when I write solely to fill the pages and other occasions where I must write to liberate my soul.
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Withdrawal Symptoms (An Ode to Kafka).


You regret staying up last night talking to whatever her name was; she wasn’t worth the excruciating headache that you’re now suffering with. You need coffee; it’s all you can think about. As soon as your mind becomes aware that you’re awake, it reiterates the word 'coffee' until its desire is fulfilled. Today is no exception. 

You enter the kitchen and your heart begins to panic; there is an empty space where your coffee machine usually resides. How could a coffee machine possibly vanish? Maybe you’ve been robbed? You wonder why the burglars overlooked the supreme rapture of technology in the other rooms; in fact nothing else appears to have been taken. 

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Eleanor Rigby.


She washed her hands with great concentration, as if washing away remnants of sin. Her hands gave away no signs of ageing but something about them reminded me of the nurse that had worked at my childhood doctor’s surgery, hands that were tender and comforting. She glanced at herself in the mirror, almost by accident, but something caught her attention and she began to lose her gaze in her own reflection. She stared into the teary eyes, lost behind thick lashes. I found myself intrigued by this woman. She had suffered; I could feel it in my bones. There was a sense of sadness in her aura but I knew in that moment that there was no way to comprehend the depth of her melancholy. She was covered in battle scars, manifesting in her eyes.

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If Only I Could See - Short Story.


‘What’s going on?’ asked Melrose, attempting to identify the unfamiliar sounds around her. Rocks? Birds? Water? Where am I?

‘Stop panicking woman! I think the coach may have possibly … driven off. That’s all,’ said Travis, calmly. He felt her presence beside him; her heels clicking a soothing rhythm against the rocks. She only did this when she was nervous; it gave her something to focus on.
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The Validity of Feeling.


Emotions are an interesting thing. We spend our entire lives attempting to control and manipulate them into coinciding with the invisible instruction manual that dictates how one should feel in a given situation.

Our feelings are capricious and we feel something before we are even able to recognise what it is. We as humans attempt to defy this by analysing a specific situation, determining the appropriate emotion and then feeling it. We often experience a sense of guilt when we feel a certain way that may be deemed as unsuitable for a certain circumstance. Sometimes we may feel things that other people will call irrational. But is any emotion irrational? Is there a right way to feel?
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Night by Elie Wiesel.


I have been reading a lot about the Holocaust recently. A few weeks ago, I read Night by Elie Wiesel which is a young boy’s account of his survival in the concentration camps.

As I read through the atrocity, I found these lines that ripped my heart into morsels of flesh:
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The Alchemist Conspiracy.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is an international bestseller. Having sold more than 30 million copies, it has also been translated into over 60 languages. It has been identified as a life-changing piece of literature that moves and touches the lives of anybody that reads it. This not only heightens one’s expectations of the book but also prompts one with an urgency to read it.

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Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl.


Every now and then, I come across a book that resonates deeply within my bones. A book made up of words that do not truly leave my blood, pages that turn themselves in my dreams, characters that I pass on the street, a subtext that reverberates into the universe. The echo of literature is a global phenomenon; it runs through the streams, rests amid the grass and pervades the air until everything is whole.

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is one of the most profound pieces of work that I have ever come across. It is an amalgamation of philosophy entwined with accounts of Frankl’s survival in four different concentration camps during World War Two. It not only explicates his daily life in the horrific concentration camps, but also the way in which he found a means of coping.
2

(If I Could) Paint The Rain.


I sat gazing at the zealous raindrops on the window of the train. There were millions of them in a horizontal race with time, some marking their territory, leaving trails until they reached the finishing line that was the window pane, others reticent, disappearing just as quickly as they had come. Some hesitated; others drew a consecutive line until the end, obscuring the glass with the resilience of capacity. They resembled fervent tadpoles, fading into the nothingness of the sea with every current. My eyes followed them until they became nothing more than a memento of what had been, bewildering the eyes of the beholder. The glass became speckles of reminiscence; I blinked, until the lens cleared. 

(Image Source: here)
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Dumped By a Schizophrenic - Short Story.


1. Stuck.
You wonder how you reached this point; stuck with a person that is destroying you. You sit beneath a tree that was planted in memory of a courageous soldier. You wish that you were courageous enough to leave her, that humiliation would not consume you every single time you contemplated it. You drown in your thoughts like a coin sinks in water. An elderly man cycles by, smiling at you as if he can sense your predicament. You nod in response, as men do. The phone in your pocket begins to ring; you know it’s her without even checking. You ignore it, humming to the rhythm of the ringtone until it stops. A few seconds later, it rings again. You pick at the grass beneath you, tearing away its life while the ringtone plays in the background for what seems like hours.
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My Thoughts on 4 Books.


Here are some books that I enjoyed reading this week.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. This is a detailed account of the time her family spent in hiding during World War Two. This book will make you value your freedom and appreciate the luxury of being able to walk in the street without being captured. It is a wonderful piece of work and her positivity emanates through her words. There are some excerpts that make you feel as if you are reading an ordinary teenage girls diary and some that demonstrate the atrocity of living during such a horrific time. Towards the end of the book, it is evident that Anne is becoming more hopeful, which makes it even more heartbreaking when she suddenly stops writing. She is brutally honest, but also makes you realise just how powerful hope can be. There is a two-part series based on her diary available on YouTube, which I would recommend watching called ‘Anne Frank: The Whole Story.’ Here is Part One and Part TwoMiep’s account of events is also available in a book called ‘Anne Frank Remembered,’ where she details how she helped the family hide. I have yet to read this but she was living on the outside, and will have a different story to tell.
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4 Books I Have Read This Week.


After years of having to read books for assignments, I am finally able to read for pleasure again. There are several books that have accumulated on my ‘to-read’ list so I have slowly been working my way through them. These are four of the books that I have read this week.

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