Creative Writing





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.

From watching the sunset in Budapest with a group of strangers on the SzĂ©chenyi Chain Bridge to accidentally ending up in the Palm Sunday service at the Almudena cathedral in Madrid, this year revived my spirit by allowing me to experience the infinite nature of self beyond the mind.

I don't talk about this often but I struggle a lot with not allowing myself to feel like I'm good enough, due to the fear of becoming complacent or overlooking my flaws to such an extent that I feel that they no longer exist. I was never taught to love myself, my culture instead drew comparisons, presenting me with a pre-determined conception of womanhood and the things that I should have been striving for. I had to be prettier, more domesticated, I had to be stronger, more compliant. I just needed to be more because Qurratulain wasn't enough. There were clear boundaries between who I was supposed to be and the things that I was prohibited from. It left no space for me to cultivate the person that existed inside my body.

I have spent a long time fighting my heritage and upbringing. However, this year I was finally able to take the steps to begin to carve out my own path. It felt a bit like my organs suddenly being calibrated, or shedding anyone that I had ever been and known, whilst still being able to make out the vivacity of their shadows in my periphery. They say that everything comes to pass, however if you have followed my struggle, you will recognise just how difficult it has been to have faith and remain hopeful amid all of that darkness.

It was almost as if somebody had unravelled me by the seams and told me that I would find a way to weave myself back together without using my own limbs. I nearly didn't make it but I suppose that survival is our intrinsic nature and we will somehow always find or create the means to continue moving forward.

In two weeks, I leave the country again, for sustenance for solace. I often say that it is now or never, that we spend too long carrying out risk assessments and weighing up consequences of the things that we participate in. Sometimes we forget our humanness and end up starving our bodies of these extraordinary moments. This deprivation only ever results in misery, because we were never designed to live this way. Life itself capacitates so much more than these routines that we create for ourselves, however it is difficult to perceive anything beyond our own spheres which is why travelling is so significant. 

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