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Creative Writing

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Literature

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Travel

From Lisbon to Rome.

I have spent the last three weeks in Lisbon, Nice, Tende, Monaco, Amsterdam and Rome and wanted to share some of my Instagram images and captions.



The second oldest café in Italy where the likes of Lord Byron, John Keats and Hans Christian Andersen have had coffee. The entire place is filled with artwork and sculptures with waiters dressed in tuxedos bringing you coffee. This is what my dreams look like.



I walked along the walls of the castle and felt infinite.


Every morning, I walk into a new bakery and eat as much as my body will allow.



One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather holding my hand and walking me across the marble floor of a mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. I was too young to comprehend the significance of the surrounding space but remember this trip as being the first time that I was truly able to conceptualise Satan.

One night, my grandfather had been discussing the ritual of throwing stones at the three pillars with his friend, referring to the act as 'stoning the devil.' Upon overhearing this, my naive mind developed the idea of Satan being present in a tangible form. I seemed to make a connection between stone and the brick-like components of an igloo and therefore deduced that Satan was in fact an igloo. From this moment on, at any mention of Satan, I would envision an igloo. This wasn't something that I discussed with anyone because I was under the impression that everybody else also imagined him this way. 

As I grew older, I was taught to be aware of Satan in my every movement and I therefore spent a lot of time trying to identify ways to destroy the igloo. It was something that I would constantly have to thaw at, find ways to melt. I was always battling Satan and I think that believing him to be in a tangible form made me understand the weight of his role in Islam and my everyday life. His presence was almost like a game that I could not lose. I would need to fight him everyday, he was not to win. However, I eventually came to the realisation that Satan had never been an igloo and although it sounds humourous to say, I struggled with this a lot. If he was not tangible, how was I to stand a chance at conquering my own self? How was I supposed to obey God and not listen to Satan if I could not see him? How was I to battle something that was invisible? It was too soon for me to be asking these questions or thinking about my own mortality. 

As time went on, I began to retrain my own mind and let go of this concept of the igloo, it was ridiculous after all. However, today I came across this church and my childhood-self saw the architectural image of what I had always envisioned Satan to be and it was a strange, perturbed experience.



I wrote this on the bench facing Anne Frank's house, listening to the chiming carillon and feeling so overwhelmed by emotion that my skin was ready to burst at any moment.

At 8-years-old, my teacher saw that I had shown interest in a child's account of surviving war in Sarajevo and suggested that I read The Diary of Anne Frank. I remember staring at the front cover, feeling drawn to her kind face. 

Reading her diary was the first time that I truly felt connected to a story, to writing. Although her words were heart-breaking, Anne was also just a child trying to write to preserve her experiences and emotions. Writing was her escapism, the only thing preventing her from suffocating. I realised in that moment just how impactful words had the capacity to be, the way that storytelling was a dialogue between author and reader, transcending time. This is where my love for writing began. To Anne, I owe this medium of expression. On paper, I found breath.

When I walked towards the bookcase, something in the air changed. It was almost as if gravity was attempting to pull my organs into the ground. I couldn't move or breathe and I felt the same shift in the people around me. There was only dread and silence. 

In the secret annexe, markings on the wall documented both Margot and Anne's growth in height during their time in hiding, displaying how much of their adolescence they had been deprived of. 
They were required to keep the curtains closed during the day but the rooms were already so small that the darkness only made them appear more suffocating. To be deprived of daylight, of the basic right to see the sky in its glory. This isn't a life.

Otto, Anne's father, shared his feelings in a video about reading her diary for the first time. It took him a long time to get through it and he was surprised by the depth of her emotions, the things in her that he had been unable to see. 'Most parents, don't know, really, their children,' he said.

Photographs still hung on Anne's bedroom wall, her attempt at creating a haven. We often only associate war with violence, never the refuge. 


5 years ago, a friend recommended that I read 'Meditations' by Marcus Aurelius. Since then, I have read through it so often that it has not left my bedside. One of my favourite quotes from it is 'what doesn't transmit light creates its own darkness.'



I couldn't go to the Vatican and not see the Pope.

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