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Creative Writing

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Literature

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Travel

When A Life Update Turns Into Confession.


I have had this blog since I was 19 years old. I am now 27. This blog has been my safe space and has seen me through what I would deem the most difficult period of my life. My own growth, however, has coincided with the evolution of the internet and this space now acts as more of a hindrance than ever before. Whilst writing here has been an integral part of my healing, it is also a public space and has therefore always required me to maintain a level of ambiguity in everything that I have curated and shared.

I don’t often discuss the complexities of growing up and being raised in a South Asian, Muslim household and the weight of expectations that have been woven into my limbs from birth. With our lives already paved out for us and the concept of freedom being something that we must consistently fight for and are not inherently entitled to, existing as a woman in this culture means that every day is a process of learning the things that we have been conditioned with. This coupled with the toxicity and proximity of the communities in which we reside is only cause for chaos.

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Manipulation and Consent.


How many times has a partner talked you into doing something that you haven’t wanted to do? How many times have you said yes because saying no was not an option? How many times have you wanted to say no but been denied or convinced otherwise? How many times have you proceeded because doing so was safer than saying no? How many times has your silence been perceived as consent?


The word consent means permission to do something, agreeing. It seems like a simple concept where every person has full autonomy over their body and saying yes means yes and no means no.

Before I go any further, I want to share a quote that I found online.

‘Intimacy is a shared experience, not an exchange.’

A shared experience. Remember that. Shared.

With this in mind, we recognise rape as an instance where consent is not given and physical force is used. However, what is unclear is those circumstances in which one is manipulated to such an extent that they almost forfeit their right to consent. What do we call it when ‘yes’ is coerced?

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Winter Journal.


This is an extract from 'Winter Journal' by Paul Auster.

'You were suffering from a bad attack of gastritis. Take these pills, he said, avoid hot and spicy foods, and little by little you’ll begin to feel better. Both his diagnosis and his prediction were correct, and it was only later, many years later, that you understood what had happened to you. You were afraid - but afraid without knowing you were afraid. 
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Progress.



Today marks exactly 4 months of being dairy and wheat free. My findings so far:

- improved mood
- weight loss
- clearer skin
- heightened energy levels
- non-existent period pains (I'm not kidding)
- improved digestion.

If you know me in any capacity, you'll recognise just how drastic this dietary change has been for my once precarious eating habits. I went from eating chocolate cake for breakfast everyday to enjoying green vegetables.
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Travelling Alone.


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 and 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.
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My Friend, Catastrophe.


My first thought is always to catastrophise a situation with thoughts like 'I can't do it, I'm not good enough, I'm never going to be enough' and it takes me about 30 seconds to orchestrate myself back into submission. I think that we unknowingly develop unhealthy thought patterns so being able to recognise them can make a significant difference in allowing us to take control of our emotional responses. We generally don’t wait for our emotions and thoughts to settle before reacting but it is within this space that our insecurities feed themselves and thrive.
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Under The Sutures.


I remember standing here as a child, feeding the ducks with my grandfather. He always emphasised the importance of giving to others, regardless of who or what they were.

'They are God's creations' he would say, tearing up pieces of bread into neat squares and carefully handing them to me each time a duck was close enough to feed.

'Even the ants and spiders?' I would ask, holding on to the tail of the long white thobe that he wore and peering over at the rainbow-like fish.

'Yes, even the ants and spiders,' he would say in Urdu, laughing and pulling me back from the edge of the water.
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The Invitation.


This is an extract from 'The Invitation' by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

'It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
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The Brink of Calm.


I wrote this piece for an interview assignment a few weeks ago and although I didn't get the job, I was grateful for the opportunity to delve into the variegated realms of my creativity.


Laila walked along the street marvelling at the graffitied gods and chains of entwined flowers that decorated the walls. Clothes hung from washing lines stretching from window to window, forming what looked like a series of inverted rainbows. Laila always joked that living in Varanasi made her feel as though she was in the midst of an everlasting carnival. The streets had so much life, character. She could make out the faint sound of people chanting inside the temple, street vendors setting up stalls before the rest of the city came alive. Home always seemed so insipid in comparison.
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4 Books I Have Read Recently.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonScandinavians have mastered the crime genre in both television and literature. This book reminds me of Forbrydelsen and is impeccable. After watching the film, a psychological thriller starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, I purchased the book knowing that the premise was going to be multi-layered and complex. Larsson creates fascinating characters amongst a Swedish landscape, constantly building intrigue by shifting the narrative and emphasising the juxtaposition between Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist being tried for libel, and Lisbeth Salander, an eccentric private investigator as they work together to solve the crime of a missing girl. If you enjoy crime fiction, you must read this. I was horrified by the ending whilst simultaneously in awe of Larsson’s mind for having curated such magnificence. Although the book is over 500 pages long, he weaves each sentence together with so much suspense that you'll find yourself sad that it's over. I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.
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Some Say The World Will End In Fire.


I remember hearing noises from the window as I read to my life-sized green teddy bear. I placed my book down on his lap, covered him with my blanket and climbed the chair that I had carefully positioned beside the window.
The attic looked out onto dozens of gardens and I sometimes pretended that I was peering out onto my own kingdom. My favourite time to sit there was at twilight when the foxes emerged and the rest of the world stood still. It was as if I was the only one alive, I felt important then.
I scanned the gardens for the source of the noise and noticed two men struggling to move a wardrobe. They had resorted to pushing and pulling it across the ground and it was the wood scraping concrete that had been responsible for the havoc.
I looked on until they seemed satisfied with its placement on the soil towards the rear of the garden. It was only later that I would go on to understand why I should have immediately closed the window and returned to my book.
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Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels.

Three years ago, I participated in a ‘blind date with a book’ and came home with Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. As soon as I poured over the back cover, I knew that it was going to be something I would love.

The book follows a young Jewish child attempting to escape Nazi-occupied Poland and eventually having to come to terms with his grief when rescued. The story is interwoven with metaphor and memory, trauma and poetry. The language is haunting, insightful, devastatingly beautiful, but more importantly, the book demonstrates the indestructibility of the human mind and spirit. I have reread it countless times and wanted to share some of my favourite lines with you.

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The Psychology of Dexter.


This is an extract from ‘The Psychology of Dexter.’

'Issues of self and identity have historically ranked among the most beguiling and bemusing of the topics studied by psychologists and philosophers. Self is such a tricky concept in part because it is so broadly used. Even a cursory peek at the psychological research literature reveals dozens of theories and concepts that employ the term: self-esteem, self-concept, self-discrepancy, self-regulation, self-awareness, etc. There are also everyday uses of the term: we often speak of “feeling self-conscious” or “acting selfishly.” In modern psychology, self is often defined as the mental apparatus that permits individuals to experience abstract, inwardly directed thoughts and feelings. Research in comparative psychology reveals that some non-human animals, including chimpanzees, gorillas, elephants, dolphins, parrots, and cephalopods (octopi and squid), have a demonstrable ability to recognize themselves. The fact that selfhood, like the lens-bearing eye, has independently emerged in numerous distinct evolutionary lineages suggests that it is a very useful feature. It is also notable that the species with self-recognition abilities tend to be, like humans, highly social. However, it has typically been argued that such non-human selfhood is fairly rudimentary: the complex reflective self is thought to be unique to human beings, and core to our historical success as a species. Selfhood appears to be a key contributing factor in our abilities to form preferences, to evaluate ourselves against internal and external standards, to plan for the future, and to relate to others.
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The Necessity of Casting JonBenét.


JonBenét Ramsey was a 6-year-old beauty pageant queen from Boulder, Colorado. In 1996, during the early hours of December 26th, her mother, Patsy, discovered a three-page ransom note and made a 911 call to report that her daughter had been kidnapped. Later that day, JonBenét’s body was found in the basement, strangled to death by a garrotte. Whilst a man confessed to her murder, he was eventually cleared due to DNA evidence and the case remains unsolved. People have continued to meticulously discuss and dissect evidence for over two decades with the parents and older brother, Burke, as the key suspects.
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When The Demon Buys You Flowers - Poem.


When the demon buys you flowers,
says ‘for you my love,’ scorns the sternum;
tears at the seraphic petals for divinity.

Stream Of Consciousness.


Sometimes when struggling to write, I do this thing that I like to refer to as my ‘stream of consciousness’ where I sit and exude onto paper. Whilst a majority of it is sanctimonious nonsense, I am sometimes able to contrive and extract creative ideas.

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Living In Your Hometown.


Living in your hometown is walking into the post office and being served by a boy that you went to mosque with, or going into a bar and the bartender being the guy that you once had a crush on, or going to a wedding and your cousin marrying the guy that you sat next to in class, or going into a pharmacy and having to talk to a girl that despised you for unknown reasons, or walking into a park that you loved as a child to find it having turned into a place where drunkards arrive to become merry.

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Scrolling Through My Feed.



Every time I scroll through my feed, I stumble across pictures of people getting married, having children, being promoted at work, moving into new homes, settling into their lives. It's only human nature to go on to use these milestones as a metric for my own life. Am I a failure for not having a plan? Should I have proceeded with that PhD? Am I falling behind everyone else? Should I be looking for someone? Am I a failure for having no direction? Should I just settle in the UK? 

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