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Creative Writing

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Literature

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Travel

2016; the year of sanity.


This year, I abandoned a lot of my cultural and religious ideals. I abandoned people, habits, fears, friends. I said no, stopped caring. This year, I filtered out all of the noise and gave my needs precedence.

I packed up my suitcase, left the country and refuted everything that my religion and culture had instilled within me. I needed space to demonstrate to my body that I was capable of existing beyond my depression. I needed to find a way of steering myself without being interjected with other narratives. I needed to not have to pertain to an identity or pander to my relationships. I just needed to be Qurratulain, without expectation.

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From Barcelona to Malta.

I have spent the last three weeks in Barcelona, Valencia and Malta and wanted to share some of my Instagram images and captions.


One of the best parts of travelling alone is that you have the capacity to stand and experience the depth of everything before deciding to move on. You get to absorb and sink into the entirety of your own thoughts & surroundings as history merges with the present and the two realities coalesce. You get to marvel at the intricacies of sculptures, feel and comprehend the magnificence that every space capacitates. You get to be alive in a different reality, become lost in a backdrop that your mind could never envision. You don't have to pertain to an identity, in fact you don't have to be anything. Being alone in an unknown country restores the inquisitiveness that helped us navigate our childhood. It revives curiosity and forces you to abandon the things that you know. Sure, you could do it all with someone else, but sometimes the things that you do alone are the most memorable, remarkable, meaningful.
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The Impact of Gilmore Girls.



I was 13 years old when Gilmore Girls first aired on Nickelodeon and I will go as far as stating that the show significantly impacted my character and contributed to my identity. I was the first child of two adolescents; we were figuring out the world together. Gilmore Girls provided an education, a biblical premise on how to exist and navigate life. From evoking my love of coffee to instilling Lorelai's inexplicable need for independence inside my veins, Gilmore Girls taught me strength, perseverance. It showed me that it was okay to embrace my eccentricities.

I spent my teenage years pouring through episode transcripts, quoting them word for word and growing amid their realm. The show enriched my life and made me feel less isolated from my own landscape, it gave me people to connect to. Gilmore Girls gave me something to aspire to be.
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Autumn; The Impending Gloom.


Autumn has always signified the loss of greenery; an affirmation of the colder months. It also acts as one of my main triggers, thereby marking the beginning of my cataclysmic mental breakdown.

I remember standing amid fallen leaves in the school playground, watching my friends throwing them into the air like remnants of wedding confetti being offered to the sky. I remember feeling consumed by inexplicable fear, sinking into myself until their voices merely became sound.

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The Way They See Our Bodies.


If I walked into a family gathering showing ('revealing') that extra centimetre of skin, I'd be condemned.

If I walked into a community event, I'd be labelled as dressing 'provocatively.'

If I sat in a room with my father or brother, I'd be asked to cover it as not to be disrespectful. But you see, it's just skin.
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On Being Open Online.


I've been thinking a lot about how I am so willingly open and honest about myself on Twitter in a way that I struggle to be in person. As I begin to unpack this, I realise that it is easier for me to share my problems in a space where I feel like people are not compelled to respond. The idea of throwing someone into a situation where they automatically feel as if they must sympathise or offer advice makes me feel quite uncomfortable. If I am to share something, it is not because I want to have a dialogue about it but instead because I need to speak it into existence as not to give it anymore precedence in my body. Tweeting is a means of lessening the burden without necessarily being equivalent to a conversation. I think that the conception of this makes it easier for me to candidly share my thoughts as they come, without having to pause and contemplate the repercussions of the ways that they may make people feel.
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The Perception of Women in Pakistani Culture.


You need to learn to cook.’
Why?
So you can cook for your husband.
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How To Be A Human Being.


I wanted to share the narrative that runs through my mind as I look at this picture.

The first thing that I notice is my nose, always my nose. It is my greatest insecurity and the one thing that I hate about myself enough to ever think about changing. However, they tell me that it is something I inherited from my grandfather and it therefore remains a homage to him. 
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Overcoming My Elurophobia.


I have been absolutely petrified of cats for the entirety of my life. I think it stems from my childhood when someone told me that all cats have jinns inside them. It was either that or when a cat ate my goldfish and proceeded to look at me with the tail hanging out of its mouth.

I would go to great lengths to avoid cats, whether that meant never setting foot in my own garden or taking extra long detours to evade them on the streets. The first question that I would ask someone when they invited me over was whether or not they owned any cats. I couldn't even look at pictures of them without fear pulsating through my body and manifesting as a stream of ravaging shivers. 

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Life Update.


It has been a progressive month.

I spent two weeks at my uncle’s home in Eastbourne where I shared the space with a restless cat and ultimately managed to overcome my Elurophobia. You can read more about this here.

Qurratulain: The Coolness of The Eye.


Qurratulain. Kur-ah-tul-ayne. قرّة العين. Qurratulain. 

My name has always been a burden and I should have recognised it as being indicative of the way that my life would be spent. After all, with a name so difficult to pronounce, I was already at a disadvantage. My parents were young when I came along; my mother was 18, my father still at university. I was the first child, they were very enthusiastic. The name that they gave me was derived from Arabic, meaning 'the coolness of the eye.' Whilst some may liken it to the saying, 'you're the apple of my eye,' it capacitates so much more. 
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Boarding Pass For Heaven.


Rising towards the clouds, we pervaded them like they were perished angel wings of the dejected, shielding us from being able to make out glimmers of the rest of the universe.

Almost there, get your boarding passes ready,’ said the pilot amid his sermon.
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From Budapest to Bratislava.

After a month of travelling, I am finally back in England. Here are some of the Instagram captions that I shared whilst away.


And Attila József wrote [translated from Hungarian]:

'Well, in the end I have found my home,
the land where flawless chiselled letters
guard my name above the grave
where I'm buried, if I have buriers.'

When poets pass, we owe them more than statues, for they leave us with their infinite souls.

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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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Bulgaria; life.

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).
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The People We've Known.


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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Italy; beloved.

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


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.
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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.
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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.
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Mourning Madrid.


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. 
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Regeneration of The Dark Moon - Poem.


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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When The Angels Sold Their Souls - Poem.


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?
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Leaving The Country.


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.
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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.
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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. 

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Symphonies For The Undressed Angel In Command - Poem.

  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).
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Sending Postcards From Heaven - Poem.


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


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.
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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.
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The Converse Milestone.



I remember the first time that I ever wore a pair of Converse. A boy from school saw them and started shouting 'punk shoes, punk shoes' as I walked along the street.

My school was heavily populated with South Asian children, they listened to Bollywood music, knew nothing but their own cultures and thus refused to accept anything outside of the norm. I was the weird one, the outsider. I listened to rock music, read books on the weekend. I wrote poetry in my spare time; I was not a part of them. 

But I wanted to fit in, I wanted to belong. 
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Between Patriarchy & Silent Shrouds.



The Sargasso Sea is the area of the North Atlantic Ocean that lies between Europe and the Caribbean. Ships often found themselves caught amid this space and it was concluded that the people on these ships would be stuck between two cultures, due to the central location of the sea. This centrality forms the basis of the novel Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, the protagonist residing in an unfeasible space between two cultures. The novel is about colonisation, a battle with identity and belonging. Upon reading through the narrative, I recognised the correlation between Antoinette’s life and my own.

My life has always been a perpetual navigation between two conflicting cultures.

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Inside The Bell Jar.


My earliest memory is of me sitting in my grandfather’s window, leaning against the glass, marvelling at what appeared to be life; the effervescent world outside.

My grandfather was a barber, the front of our house had been converted into his shop. It was positioned on a busy road with a convenient bus stop beside our front door. Sometimes the line of people awaiting the bus became so long that passing cars would slow down to inspect the source of commotion. Others walked by, momentarily glancing and then losing themselves in their strides.  
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Walking The Plank On A Sinking Ship.


Sometimes I couldn’t access myself because the darkness was too alive in my veins and I didn’t know how to get out of my body.

I had to massacre this sadness; all I could do was bleed it onto paper to forge a sense of vacancy in my body. I wrote endless myopic words, I kept going because sometimes it was a way for the secrets to surface, the only means of survival. Just words on a page, letters touching, infinite spaces between them. Sometimes the letters didn’t have any correlation and other times they met like long lost lovers under the sun.
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Too High On Ourselves.



I immediately wondered why the bus driver could not have waited an extra few seconds for everyone to be seated before perilously manoeuvring the vehicle back onto the road. I held onto the metal pole for dear life, searching for the least suspicious-looking person to sit next to. I needed to make a quick decision because the driver was going to turn left in approximately three seconds and there was a high chance of me losing my balance and being unable to retain my composure. I fell onto the closest seat and greeted my neighbour who proceeded to unapologetically mock the vivacity of my hair. The scent of Calpol and cigarettes lingered on his leather jacket; it must have been a wild night.
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The Emotional Gauge.


I was thinking about our capacity to experience emotions, the extent to which we allow ourselves to feel them, the magnitude of their depth, and their transitory nature.

Emotions arrive in various intensities and frequencies, but how do we measure them? How do we establish whether to feed or disregard a sentiment? What is it that determines how much of the emotion we are going to allow ourselves to feel? Are we confining and desensitising ourselves from our own sentiments through this process of extraction? By eradicating our capacity to feel something or not feeling it in its entirety, are we internalising pain and storing it in our bodies?
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