Existence

LIFE . PAPER BAGS . LULLABIES . FOOD

Blink

One time I met a 14 year old kid that looked frightened like he’d just seen a ghost. I wasn’t quite sure what made him so terrified and I thought maybe I should just ask. There’s nothing more comforting than having a stranger show some care. I went up to the little boy and asked if he needed any help, or if he wanted to use my phone to call somebody. He looked at me and just bluntly asked if I believed in God. I was rather struck by the question. I looked down to ascertain that I’m not mixed up and that he’s truly just a child that is a solid inches below my gaze and then I gently requested an explanation. The boy told me how he skipped the rest of his school day because he had a fight with his friends who called him Kafir (disbeliever) for a statement he truly believes in. I asked if he’d be comfortable telling me what he shared that they had rated so blasphemous, and he teared up a bit and said “I told them I love my parents more than I love God.”
I stood quiet for a solid minute. And was amazed how this little boy had actually spared himself the time and effort to analyse how much he should love his God. All his life he’d been fed what he should and shouldn’t love, what he should and shouldn’t believe in, and what he should and shouldn’t do that he, at the age of 14, had already reached a breakdown where his head was too heavy and he had already lost the capability to carry it on his own.
“You can’t decide what you love, your heart decides for you. But you can build a love inside of it, and your heart has so much capacity to fill as much love as the world can possibly carry.”
There are certain things you don’t ever forget, a certain melancholia, certain conversations, certain images and moments that find their way to the treasure box in your memory and are stored within you till your grave, the look in his eyes… the blink… the salty tears running to the sharp edge of his chin… the tiny hands that wiped them while they were streaming to his neck… the head that turned away… the tiny footsteps of his weak feet that could barely carry him back home… the smell of the wind that found its way through his tiny body.. were one of those moments.
The world can take you by hand and teach you things you would never learn on your own, but people, total strangers, can give you wings and can get your head spinning to a point that you can’t tell whether it’s you that’s turning round and round or that the globe has suddenly taken a stronger pace and you can no longer keep up.

Loveless

In the darkest of corners exists your naked emotions -the ones that aim to exhaust your body of its last remaining drops of sanity. It is these thoughts that arouse your demons and lay you bare, perfect for mutilation. But you plead and plead for them to set your soul free, until you realise your soul was long gone – desecrated by your last lover. For you see, they say love is for the weak but it is for the brave – for the brave, time and time again sacrifice their very souls for your breaths. These lovers rip their chests open and present their souls in an open casket, but you, laden in black cloth, mourn the very same souls that want nothing more but to rid you of yourself. To rid you of every painstaking breath you take. And now you mourn the lovers that once held your breath in high regard, only to realise they weren’t lovers but demons – the very same ones that haunt you in your most vulnerable hours. So you plead and plead again for them to set your soul free, and they do – only this time, presenting themselves with an ultimatum. So you plead once again, and they give in and present to you your scarred soul; it isn’t worth much, but it’ll do. And with it you set sail in search for another soul to prey on, in the hope that it’ll cure your soul once and for all – but again, that soul only wreaks havoc within your very bones, propelling you into a cycle of destruction. Then the demons surface once more and plead with you to sell your dignity as a meagre price for your ravaged soul. So you stomp on your dignity for an ailing soul until you’re left with nothing but an empty heart and a distress of viral plague. So you promise your demons you’ll never love again, only to love more and more until your heart gives in and you become a heartless corpse, incapable of loving.

And then it hits you like a slap in the face: you are loveless.

Accomplishment?

I honestly can’t fathom a culture that solidly believes that marriage is an accomplishment. No. Marriage is not an accomplishment. Marriage is a choice. Marriage can either happen or not happen. Love doesn’t always happen. You can’t work hard to fall in love. You can’t stay up hours to fall in love. You don’t go to classes all year round to fall in love. Getting a degree is an accomplishment. Graduating top of your class is an accomplishment. Traveling the world to learn, to see, to taste, to experience new things, is an accomplishment. Writing a book is an accomplishment. Starting up a business is an accomplishment. You have to work your butts off to “accomplish” all the mentioned above. You need to fight for success. You need to not give up. And when it’s all over, you feel “accomplished”. I can’t fathom a culture that considers a person (despite all the substances that make him/her & despite the places he/she’s visited, and the books his/her mind has strolled through) a waste of space, because he/she isn’t married yet.

Conflict

I closed my eyes for a second and there I was, standing in an empty, bare room. A canvas that had suddenly been occupied by streams and films of my incoherent thoughts and once-lived dreams. Everything was whirling and swirling in front of me like a labyrinth that hindered my breath and burdened my heart into a perplexed collapse from the overwhelmingness of it all. Everything that I had ever thought of was intimidatingly making its way on the walls of a room that was now a cage I couldn’t escape from. I was trapped. You don’t quite realise how much you’ve lived until you see yourself on the floor and almost drowning in the chaos that your own life has brought upon you. 15I yearned for someone to shake me back to reality, for it was the first time that I had ever sought an escape through the real world. All my life I had rendered the world we live in as lethal and had found safety in my own head. Until it suddenly backfired. I found myself slowly integrating in the colours of the walls of the room, unnoticeably disappearing with the thoughts that have forever been consuming me. Is it true? Is it true that one can lose himself /herself by no one other than himself/herself? Suicide can come in all forms and intensities and what I was witnessing was a vanquish of my very existence. In attempt to fight back, I tried to voluntarily take over. I failed, I tried again. I failed. I was still a background of a background of something that has become a lot bigger than myself. I have empowered my thoughts so vastly that they have succeeded to take the lead. I finally became silenced. And as soon as I gave in to my silencing, I found my eyes opening to the world again. My eyes glittered with relief that I am no longer bullied by the hideaway that I had once created to entertain me, to shelter me, to protect me. But the much-anticipated breeze of anxiety had again started to take over and there . . . I was afraid of both worlds again. I had no where to run. I had no where to hide. I was haunted. And before I could admit to myself that this is it, that this is everyone’s biggest fear, I let the melancholy burst into salt-water streaming down from my eyes and washing away all the hopes that had once given me a second chance for a life I never wanted.

The Facade of Being “Hard”

Interesting how masculinity today is portrayed as a man who doesn’t cry and how media portray male violence as a normal expression of masculinity. A man is not only demanded to conceal feelings of sadness, he is taught at a young age that even other emotions are not to be expressed. During the time of the Prophet (pbuh), there were some men who believed the same.  Once, while a villager was present, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) kissed his grandsons on the forehead.  At that, the villager said with surprise, “I have ten children.  I have never kissed any of them!” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) looked at him and said, “He who does not have mercy will not have mercy upon him.” [Bukhari] In fact, with regards to showing affection, the Prophet (pbuh) was very clear.  He said: “If a man loves his brother in faith, he should tell him that he loves him.”[Abu Dawud] 

aIslam shows us the strongest of men are those who cry, whose hearts are stirred. This society wants us to be apathetic, to disregard social injustices. Islam guides us to emotional intellect: to be passionate, to be sensitive, to be affected by life. The most stern of Sahabah we know was Umar ibn AlKhattab RA, but the closest to him told us he was the one who cried the most. Reading that it was those closest to him that saw his tears shows us how much we need support from each other, to feel for each other.

The ability to cry, shed tears, sob displays strength of heart. Strength of faith. Strength of our humanity. Strength of desire to change. The Quran repeatedly warns us of hard hearts. Allah says: “And yet, after this, your hearts hardened and became like rocks, or even harder.” (2:74) And the Quran continues to reassure us that those who are closest to Allah have soft hearts: “the skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it (when they recite it or hear it). Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of Allah.” (39:23)

My biggest concern about men and women my age is that our hearts have strayed, become complacent, and refuse to be stirred by God’s words. I just want us to be better. To be closer to each other. To be closer to Allah. To be able to feel our hearts shake remembering God.

Dunya makes us tired and scars our hearts. Reflections in Salah and reading Quran heal us.

This isn’t “cheesy” talk, as society would label it. This is my sincere advice to us all, myself first. It’s a struggle and we need to start working on it.

 

Soggy Fries & Chocolate Milk

The title of this post has nothing to do with the content of it. My comfort food is soggy fries and chocolate milk. Just so you know. I am going to rant. Here goes.

I’ve learnt a lot more from the road than I’ve ever learnt from familiarity. It’s funny, though. Some of us think having a stable home, a stable job, a happy family, a dog named Tommy and a cat named Timmy are what it takes to win at life. We tend to define life in accordance to what is ‘familiar’. Everyone around us has the same job, the same circumstances and we fit in just fine, and there aren’t any missing pieces to the puzzle. Everyone collages quite perfectly. But the truth that we shan’t ever run away from is that there shall come a point in our lives where our long built familiarity will not suffice anymore. Call it a mid-life crisis, call it a wake up call, call it whatever the hell your diction spells out to you, but it shall come and it will strike you hard. There is a lethal boredom, and that lethal boredom is called life, and if you don’t ultimately stand taller, it shall eat you up. Whatever you do, do it genuinely. You don’t have to do it right. Doing things right gets you into the spiral of familiarity. Just do it genuinely and you shall forever feel content; that you aren’t just some pieces of a perfectly organized puzzle of yet another ‘familiar’ life.

Okay. I’m done. Let me go dig the fridge now.

 1

The Creative Adult

When we grow older, reality hits us. It hits us so bad that we start labeling children: “naïve”, “dreamers”, “hopers” and “just kids”. We think that adults know better because they know what’s “real”. We get lost in the spirals of realism that our only escape is the dreams that are rendered as fallacies as soon as we wake up, shutting down every piece of imagination left in us and muting the almost-silent songs in our heads. But some of us keep that fire of innovation we were born with alive. And unknowingly, the fire keeps us alive.

The rest of us, though, just merely exist.

a

Depression Hurts but Kindness Lives

‘The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.’

I came across this quote through my recent interest in understanding the medicine-death relationship. It of course comes as no surprise that recent day medicine has failed horrendously in psychological disorders – namely depression. We, as a society, fail to understand the significance of a certain ordeal without having previously experienced it. We do not look to a depressed person as being ‘sick’ or ‘ill’ only because he seems physically well. No wounds. No bleeding. No nothing. And so we completely disregard depression as being a serious illness. We even go to the extent of calling it a ‘phase’ to deny that it even exists.

Some of us don’t quite understand the importance of letting go of the mythical beliefs inherited by our ancestors, whom weren’t fortunate as we are today with the accessibility of information just by a click of a button. What I’m trying to say is that when somebody says they’re depressed you should not counteract it with a “you’re probably not so close to God” or the infamous “Pray more and God will soothe you.” Yes of course faith is an important aspect in your will to live, however the absence of faith is not the synonym of depression. Depression is a complexity of things that, till this very day, nobody can properly define. I truly believe that there is a deficit in the understanding of depression (and similar psychological diseases) and counteracting with inappropriate responses make things a lot worse.

My advice to you is that even if medicine has failed us -when it comes to depression, that is no green card to allow yourself to indulge in the failure as well. Be part of your depressed family member’s/friend’s success story. Depression is an illness. And if you feel like a person you know is suffering from depression, do not ask him to ‘change his attitude’ or to ‘get over it’. Try showing honest support, and let it not be out of pity. Let him not feel pitied for the person he unintentionally has become. Let him not feel alone in this world. We need to learn that the easiest, cheapest and must humane medical treatment of all is being there for one another. You surely don’t need a degree to teach you the basics of humanity.

The women whom ….

painting_collage

“The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

Bokken Srilankan