Creative Writing





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).

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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