Writing

Things that perhaps I have no right to be annoyed about but I am anyway

1. Hot weatherDear God, if I be super good, can I keep Autumn for longer this year, please?

2. Ridiculously good looking couples – mashallah ya’ll, for real, but get back inside the magazine cover and stop making the rest of man kind feel average.

3. Crowds – Panic attack pending. Yes, I am that wimp with anxiety. I am not sorry.

4. Positive people – it’s blessed ya’ll positive people hate me too #balance_restored

5. People who take the gum out of their mouth and put it on the side of their plate before proceeding to eat – why?

6. When my cat refuses to show me love – you are all I have in the world you little bastard, love me!

7. The sound of the land-line ringing – how do you still exist, my G?

8. The fear of being alone at night intensifying the older I get – I have no right to be annoyed by this because I have repped being alone for 29 years, but now it scares me. Good thing I have no immediate plans of living alone or anything . . .

9. That not enough people have picked up on why it’s called “falling” in love – because it really is like falling and no one likes to fall because it hurts, it’s humiliating and leaves you feeljng paranoid and vulnerable. Mind blown.

10. When people don’t reply to a message you sent, then come back the next day and lead with; hey, what you up to? Thus leaving the last message you sent just hanging in the air like you never typed it – well, ignoramous, nothing is up, other than you being ignorant.

A letter to my younger self: Revisited

Hey Kid,

I know that misery has become your best friend. I know that moving to another country and having to start all over again sucks. I know school is hard and teenagers are basically Satan’s minions. I know you are not telling anyone about school because everyone is busy trying to secure a better life here and your job is to pretend you are loving it. I know you want to go back home. I know you literally stand in the school corridor and use the stupid pay phone to call the house to hear your parents voice and hang up because you have no one to talk to. Put the phone down you sad act, you’re seeing your parents in a few hours the school day is not that long. Go read a book.

I wish I could tell you that you are going to visit home again soon like they keep promising you. But you are not. You will have to wait nine whole years before you see your extended family and old home again but when you do, it will be glorious and it will be MORE than worth the wait, I promise.

The good news is, there will be more trips back home after that and each one will be more life changing than the last. Soon, life is about to get real good for you and I want you to make the most of it. You will meet so many people that will make you feel so many things and from whom you will learn so many lessons. I want you, during this phase to make decisions using your mind and intelligence and not your hormones heart.

Understand that not everyone who promises to stay does. And not everyone who swears undying love for us is always telling the truth. Kindness is not love. Attraction is not love. Pity is not love. Over ambitious promises are not love either. Grasp this and maybe you will save us both some grief, Tam. Trust me.

I wish I could tell you that things are going great now. They are not the best. But, they are not the worst. You are alive, and though you have no career you have work and though you are (still) not social you have a circle of close friends. And though you are in a dark place in your twenties you still have little bursts of happiness now and then and an abundance of blessings to be thankful for. Be thankful. Force yourself if need be.

I wish I could tell you that things are okay back home. But there will be a war, one that will drive your family out of their homes and into hiding. One that, believe it or not, will make you somewhat grateful for escaping home all those years ago. Nonetheless, you will still feel helpless and you will want nothing more than to rush back there and see the people you love, but it’s a waiting game for now.

In other news, remember that lady you met at 21? The one who told you that being alone was great and loving your own company was hella quirky until you get to 25 and realise you should have invested your 20s meeting people? The good news is you got to 25 and felt no such thing. But now that you are heading towards 30…

In other, other news, you are still scared shitless of all animals but you have a cat. Go figure. She fills a major void. You are looking into purchasing property you big grown up, you. But your immune system is crap. You’re gonna get anemia in a couple of years. Don’t ignore it whatever you do.

Please enjoy life more. Please take happiness WHEREVER you find it. Do not wait for permission. Do not begrudge yourself little moments of joy – life is too short for that crap.

Love from a much older if not wiser,

YOU x

Men and the Hijab

No, I’m not going to talk about men’s hijab and how they should lower their gaze because a) I try not to be captain obvious, men should know this anyway and b) I need to find me a fella, so if all the mandem be’s looking at the floor then… what? I can’t say that? Aight. Moving on.

I struggle, I honestly do, to understand why some men feel like they need to have their say on the hijab. In my humble opinion, unless they are a scholar, or training to become someone who is dedicating their life to studying the deen for the greater good of the ummah, and they are asked for a fatwa regarding hijab… then said men should have several seats and pipe down.

I feel like dads can have a (gentle) say in it up until the girl reaches a certain age. Brothers… I mean, I think they should stay out of it too personally, but some girls have good enough relationships with their brothers not to mind hearing their views. Husbands unfortunately get a say in it, even I have to admit, but other than that, I am not sure why everyone men feel like they have the right to pass opinions on hijabs and the wearers of it at all.

I know Islam encourages naseeha in the name of caring for one another and this is why a lot of bhai log feel they have a leg to stand on when it comes to throwing hijab sermons like confetti. This is a little phenomena I like to call; Islam said therefore I am syndrome by the way. At which point I have to refrain from asking men, “tell me one thing Islam said men should do, anything will do.”

The emphasis on naseeha in Islam bothers me sometimes because generally, I hate advice unless I specifically ask for it. But also, I honestly think if God knew how appalling some people’s approach to naseeha is these days, he would revoke that license real quick.

I wish I could tell every man who would listen that hijab is hard. But unfortunately not all men want to listen. Here I am saying it anyway.

Wearing something that competely alters your appearance is hard. It makes you a target for bigots, you get catcalled anyway, mostly by muslim men for the record. Living in the west and wearing it makes you stick out like a sore thumb. It’s horrible. There, I said it. But we do it willingly anyway. Why? For God. End of.

So then, when some pillock comes along and declares in the comments section of some young hijabi’s instagram (where he should not even be loitering like a creep, by the way) that her hijab is not technically hijab because her neck is exposed, or her fringe is out, or her ankles are showing… I start to lose the will to live.

Fam, it’s not easy for young girls okay? She wants to hang on to her deen AND be young and fashionable. Would you rather she left the deen fully and focused on the fashionable bit alone? You think you, a pathetic keyboard warrior hiding behind his screen with his three-haired beard and five Islamic books on the shelf, will make her see “sense”?

Let me break it to you, it ain’t happening. In fact, she will think what’s the point and take the hijab off altogether. Can you live with knowing you made someone hate the deen because you decided to go holier than thou on them?

I am not saying what’s right or wrong here, I am no sheikh and I am not in the business of giving out fatwas, that’s your job. I am probably the worst observer of hijab there ever was by own admission. What I am saying is; everyone is trying their best. Everyone is finding their own path with the help of God and we will all reach a point inshallah where we observe it properly in a manner that pleases God. Not you. No one needs your words of wisdom. If my Lord forgives my mistakes then who the hell are you to tell me x, y and z?

To sum up, Akhi, hijab is not unlike labour pain. And we all know the rule with that one.

No uterus? No opinion.

A conversation with a 14 year old Autistic Girl

Recently I came across a very heart-warming article titled; How You React To Your Son’s Autism When Your Language Has No Word For Autism which you should all give a read; this mother’s struggle will move you to tears.

My God does more awareness need to be raised about Autism. Particularly in the Asian / Arab cultures where some families would rather claim their child is possesed by the devil than label them as Autistic. The mind boggles. It really does. And the problem starts by NOT talking about this issue enough amongst ourselves and worsens when you don’t talk to the autistic individual in question about their experiences.

The article also got me thinking about my own sister whose journey with Autism I told you about last year. Leah (not her actual name, which I kept private in case her friends come across this blog) is a 14 year old Autistic girl who is hella talented and actually really funny. She calls me Didi, a title one gives their older sister out of cultural respect, or you know, because said older sister demanded to be called that. Today, she talked to me about her journey with Autism as best as she could, given that communication is actually a big struggle for her. I thought she did amazing. Here’s her story in her own words.

1. Do you know you have autism & How did you find out? Yes, I was 11 and you (she means me) were reading this book to me. The main character was displaying symptoms similar to how I act and behave. He was different and the book mentioned he had Autism. So I asked you if I had Autism too and you said yes.

Side Note: we sought advice from the therapists / doctors Leah was seeing on when the best time would be to tell her she was Autistic. They advised that when she was ready to find out she would start asking questions herself and that it would be okay to tell her then. I was shaking when I told her.

2. Do you know what autism is? Yeah, it’s a brain disorder which you are born with or diagnosed with later in life. It means you struggle to be social and communicate. You have no idea you are being inappropriate sometimes. It can be severe or mild. Mine is in the middle I think.

Side Note: Actually, accrding to her doctors, Leah’s Autism is severe. But I have not shared this with her.

3. Are there things that really bother you or frustrate/ annoy you? Usually people think having Autism is like having a mental health problem which is not the case at all. It’s not like we’re crazy.

4. Are there things that you are afraid of? Erm, I am afraid of not making friends because of Autism and struggling socially as an adult.

5. What kinds of things are you really good at? Playing the piano, eating and sleeping! I have a good memory because of Autism. I never forget anyone’s birthday.

6. Are you glad we are doing this intetview? Yeah it’s okay. I don’t mind these kinds of questions. I hate interrogation questions though that you guys ask me when I am late coming home from school like; where were you and who were you with?

7. How did you feel when you found out you were Autistic? Nothing major. I was doing fine in school. Finding out made me put more pressure on myself I guess.

8. Do you remember your reaction? Yeah, I asked you if Autism meant I was dying and if I was going to need medication. I was relieved that I wouldn’t need medication.

9. Do you remember what it was like when you were a kid? Yeah, I was happy, I had no idea about the Autism.

10. How many friends do you have? A lot. I can’t count, but I get along with everyone. I am not in a rivalry with anyone.

11. Do they know you are Autistic? Some of them and others guess sometimes. I’ve only told a few.

12. Do they treat you different? Nah, that’s what I like about them.

13. Do you find it difficult to spend time with other people? Sometimes, I get shaky and angry when I am not sure how to act. If I am about to meet someone new I get nervous.

Side Note: When Leah gets angry she actually gets very aggressive. She backs away into a corner and shakes violently. She will physically attack anyone who tries to get close.

14. Do you know of anyone else in your family who has autism too? Yeah, one of my cousins does.

15. Who understands your Autism best in your family? Didi, because you understand why I get angry more than the rest of them do I guess.

16. What kinds of things do you think are funny?Who makes you laugh? Comedy shows are funny. My friends make me laugh.

Side Note: Lowkey depressed she did not say me.

17. What is relaxing to you? Piano music; playing it and listening to it.

18. What do you dream about for the future? That I am successful in whatever I am doing. I want to be a musician but maybe that’s not realistic. If not that, then I want to be a social worker. If the right guy comes then maybe I’ll have a family but I am not fussed about marriage and kids if he doesn’t.

Side Note: she randomly decides to ask me if using condoms is haram at this point which I was not going to include but I feel like this portrays her autistic tendencies accurately.

19. What do think about people who don’t have nice things to say about people with autism? If you have nothing decent to say then bye *shrugs*

20. Do you still struggle with idioms? Nah, I used to though, like when you would tell me that I was the apple of your eye. I’d be like; there is no apple in your eye… I am not an apple… what?!

21. What makes your Autism obvious? I don’t always give the right responses. I am literal. If I annoy someone and they angrily say, “do you mind?!” I would probably say, “no, why would I mind?” They think I am being sarcastic. But I am just answering the question. I am sarcastic sometimes though haha.

Side Note: sarcasm is a family problem ya’ll.

22. What would you do in a crisis? Once my friend and I were walking home from school. She is epileptic and had a seizure and passed out. I was scared. A passer by noticed and asked if we needed help. I said yeah because she’s epileptic. Looking back, I think I should have called the ambulance myself. I know that if I got lost at the mall I should stay in one place and call you but in that situation it was hard to know what to do.

23. What would help Autistic people? Just be understanding.

24. What do you wish people knew about Autism? I guess I wish they knew that we can be as normal as them and we are intelligent.

When you have way too much free time on your hands…

-Does anyone choose the “Price- High to Low” option?

-Do more people know that in Harry Potter, the message on the Mirror of Erised actually reads; I show not your face but your hearts desire, if read backwards?

-Where is the good in goodbye?

-If love is blind, why is the lingerie industry as big as it is?

-Is colourless actually a colour?

-In the middle seat on a plane, which armrest is yours?

-If Tarzan grew up in the jungle away from civilisation (and razors) where’s his beard?

Nana Speaks; Revisited

Hey ya’ll.

Depending on how long you have been following my blog, you will know that a couple of years ago (I think!) I started a series called Nana Speaks which consists of some extracts I have been sharing from my Grandfather’s memoirs so to speak. More details of course can be found in Part 1 of the series where I talked about this little mission of mine to get Nana’s name on the literary map. Obviously, I didn’t manage to get him published, hell I can’t even get myself published and I am alive.

Still, I shared with you all his thoughts on matters that he had on his mind prior to passing away, his thoughts on friends and family, the poetic way in which he talked about being homesick, and of course more and more beautiful words he shared on the old computer before his death. If you have nothing to do, I encourage you to read it all. Your soul will be enriched.

I am sorry to say that the last time I visited his documents was February 2016 which is shameful. I can only blame work and the fact that the USB I had saved all his work on decided to go ahead and stop working and recovering the bulk of work was a mission and a half. But anyway, I am off work at the moment and on the hunt for more beautiful words to share with you all. Please spare him a prayer when you read. Thank you.

Side note; I normally edit the work’s font and capitalisation to make it look presentable but I thought it might be fun today to invite you to see it exactly how he wrote it. I’m not sure why he capitalised some words but I know that the highlights were to help him see the words better as his vision was compromised towards the end of his life Bless him.

***

In SINGAPORE, I caught sight of two wrapped chocolate pieces on the bed  above a card reading `sweet dreams` and signed off, above a good night wish, by the chamber maid who did my bed. As part, I  guess, of winning friends for the hotel. In my hand from a drawer of a wardrobe around – were valuable photographs bringing back memories of friends and relatives in different apparels and poses  preserved in an album. The people represented by the photos came to me in a dream, and, I spent a lovely time with them. Missing them so much led to my next day booking an air ticket to Yemen where they were [mostly in Aden].

 

Always recall the education/education/education mantra. Three of my own kids took advantage of it. One being a doctor, a BSc and a holder of a degree in Middle Eastern studies, which handsomely pay back already.

 

Despite the bitterly cold weather, I watched many children have fun outside making and throwing snowballs at each other.  In fact, their cheerfulness made us want to have a look at the Christmas lights in town and we looked forward to hearing the xmas songs played at this time of the year like `White Christmas` in many shopping areas. But I could not dare step out of the house not to encounter catostrophies, like `flu` as a senior lad suffering from stroke and other illnesses. Instead, we chose doing something we had remembered doing 15 years or so ago at this kind of festive period, like going to the mall.

I find the fact that he refers to himself as a “senior lad” so adorable ♥ I also find myself smiling at the memory of how much cold weather terrified him bless him. Anyway, I feel like this is a good one to end this post with, until the next time.

Out of love for me and in the interest of my own longevity, he [my son] thought that it was good for me to be amidst, or close to, a telephone set so I could hear the voices of relations and friends as easily as possible.  The happiness following that, made him feel amazingly better, as it would. At least according to Asian traditions and, I guess, within many other cultures –  as simple as that. Time that I now sign off. It could well be an insult to your intelligence and unfair to talk about this any more. With that in mind, now signing off and wishing you all best at all times, wherever you may be.

Brown Girl Struggles

-Getting busted with Tariq at the bus stop by some cowbag Khala. Her giving you deluded “I see you” smiles. Whilst Tariq mentally rues the day he offered to walk your Asian ass to the bus stop.

-Making up an excuse for whenever there is a work outing to the pub; “we have guests coming over/ we’re going to London that day.” Read: My Ma will murder me for stepping into the pub Khudda ke liye stop inviting me you politically correct assholes.

-Your dad sitting you down to question you on why you haven’t been praying the last few days and how we shouldn’t stop praying even if we get depressed and life gets hard. Like fam, did they teach biology at your school because this convo’s about to get bloody awkward. Mind the pun.

-Coming to the sad realisation that if he doesn’t respond to, “haal kaisa hai janaab ka?” with, “kiya khayaal hai aapka?” he is too young for your spinster ass.

-When you decide to challenge Shoaib to a healthy debate by asking him, “how would you feel if someone spoke to your sister the way you speak to me?” But it backfires on your holy ass and he stops flirting with you.

-When you clock Mustafa with his latest conquest and her hair game is hella weak compared to yours but thanks to the hijab he will never know.

-When he’s disappointed that you can’t cook given that you’re Asian. Aye, DJ Imran, I was disappointed you ain’t a heart surgeon, but what you gonna do? Life eh?

-Being forbidden to talk to boys ALL your life. Then getting berated for not maintaining Waseem’s interest when he came to propose to your socially akward ass.

-When your curfew game hella weak compared to your brother’s. Fatima, your brother is home and you are not. What will the neighbours say? Get home now!

-When your hijab rises slightly and Arshad’s pervy eyes clock your hairy back of the neck situation and raises his concerns. I mean… it keeps me warm in winter. What’s your beardless face saying when it’s cold though? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Keep walking Arshad.

-When you lack of skill in cooking, dancing, make up, fashion, tolerating spicy food are all met with; “wait, aren’t you Asian though?”