Author: madeehah

What? She’s still here?

Oh, hello. Yes, I’m still around. It’s been an uneventful-yet-stressful year that’s nearly over with and I’m staring at the glorious light at the other end of the tunnel. Just a few days shy of an exam that I’ve waited five years to take. I can’t wait to get to the end of July where I’ll be thrown into the wonderful world of unemployment.

My last post was around six months ago, and I think that was a darker place for me. I’m happy to say that I’ve been feeling a lot better recently, in all areas of life and health. I don’t know, maybe it’s the ever-sunny weather that’s put me in a good mood for most days, or the idea that in a few short weeks I’ll be able to have free time to do what I want to do (sleep, eat, read, write, sleep, eat… and eat more).

I’m writing this in the middle of the night as it’s near the end of Ramadan and I’m trying to make an effort to stay up the entire night whilst off work (trying to catch that elusive Night of Power yeah…). Excuse any incoherence that will inevitably find its way in my words.

Not everything is plain sailing, unfortunately. If you’ve been following the recent events in the UK over the past month or so, your heart must be as heavy as mine. Your conscience must be exhausted, and yet we lift ourselves for another day, hoping and praying for better news. For a miracle, perhaps.

London, my city, has gone through so much in the past few months, especially the past few weeks. It’s enough to make us feel desperate for answers, furious to point the blame at anyone, either rightly or wrongly so. We are sad and angry, and we have every single right to be.

Londoners are hurting. In fact, we’d been hurting for a long while, but now our emotions are spilling over. We want to heal, but how can we when the people responsible seem to slink away in the shadows, away from the scrutiny and responsibility?

When you’ve been at the receiving end of injustice for so long, and everyone is turned against you, you just want a portion of fate or destiny to turn with you. When, for so long, you’ve been held in the limelight of interrogation, probed with questions you don’t know the answer for, expected to represent an entire population internationally when you barely even know how to represent yourself outwardly.

I know I’m being vague, but I would hope that if you’re clued up with recent events, you would know who I’m talking about. Certain communities that are constantly being shoved in the corner and told to keep quiet, not to make too much noise. The working class, the ethnic minorities, the Muslims. How many more international events do you want to put on our shoulders, how much more burden can you give us to bear before our backs break?

There are, however, things that make my heart lighter in these bleak times. When the ordinary people of London–you know, those that don’t have fancy titles or the highest pay grade–rush out to Grenfell Tower. Those unnamed heroes in the emergency services that go above and beyond what we’d ask for a human being to do. There is a greatness in us that is often trampled upon in tragedies, but its a spirit that will not be broken. The same spirit can be found in all places of disaster, if you know where to look.

I had long since realised that if there was greatness in Britain, then it lay in its everyday citizens, and not in its institutions. Britain was not great because of its papers and politicians who relentlessly denigrated us, it was great in spite of them. Britain was great because of the community spirit you saw as soon as a small town flooded, because of the volunteers who turned out in their tens of thousands to act as stewards for the Olympic Games. But that wasn’t a spirit that I felt my country was doing nearly enough to nurture. – Musa Okwonga, The Good Immigrant

New Year, New Goals

My 2017 goals, originally posted on my new blog, Ink Chapters. Check it out!

Ink Chapters

2017goals

Another year has come and gone and in all honesty, it feels no different. I won’t be poetic about it. I do think, however, that this can be a good time to set some goals for the year ahead. The word ‘resolutions’ has become too associated with the word ‘broken’, so I prefer ‘goals’ instead. With 2017 goals, you can put your productive hat on and try to work towards something tangible. I won’t be learning a new language or hitting the gym (although, I really need to do both), because I know for a fact that it won’t work out. So instead, I’ll focus on the things that I know I can work towards without completely freaking out:

~Reading~

1. I definitely want to read more diverse fiction. Actually, scratch that. This year I want to read ONLY diverse fiction. My childhood had been filled with the ‘popular books’, and…

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Brave Little Souls

No one can see her tears.

Anguish chokes every fibre in her body. Fear shoots through her vessels until it stops short in her throat. It mingles with the air she breathes. She crouches on the floor, cowering yet courageous. Afraid of what the next dreadful second may bring.

No one can see her tears.

She is a warrior with every heartache she endures. This young heart beats with hope and despair in each of its chambers. Every day braving a battle that exists only in front of her eyes. An existence that formed from the synergy of another’s greed and anger.

How many heartaches does it take to shatter a soul?

She drags her exhausted limbs to glance outside the window. Terror is ridden in her bones.

She waits.

Her dry throat tightens as she waits.

A child screams in the distance, its terrifying echo filling the seconds. There is misery knowing someone else is in pain, but also gratitude that it is not her.

There must be something beyond this cycle, this unbreakable bond of horror. She knows there is; there are people who live carefree, only worrying about the trivialities of a normal, rainy day. Of coming home to a heated house with plenty of toys and books and games. A home that does not rest within rubble.

Gunshots blare out.

The screaming stops.

She drops beneath the window and presses herself against the wall, scared through her teeth that the wall will break and she will snap. She wants to whisper a prayer but her mouth is frozen in shock. Her heart hammers a thousand times. Perhaps her heart will break the wall. Perhaps her courage and strength will defeat them all.

No one can see her tears.

Night envelops a grey sky, drowning the street in darkness. She lays on the ground, broken concrete scratching her cheek. She wraps her arms around her like the way her mother used to. The soldiers’ voices have filtered away into the noise and cacophony of the chaos outside. The chaos of her neighbours and friends, shouting for each other, trying to converge back into a broken community. She drags herself up against the wall, her eyes heavy with sleep and sorrow. A baby cries in the distance, but it is not her baby brother. His cries stopped many months ago.

Grey sunlight pours through the broken window across her face. Hunger gnaws its way through her guts, threatening her life with its hollow fangs. Her head lolls against the wall and she blinks to regain consciousness. Her clothes are ripped and filthy but that is the least of her worries.

A hand ruffles her brown curls. She looks up weakly, straining to keep her eyes open. A woman stands outside the broken window with a stained green scarf and wide eyes. Her skin is set with wrinkles and relief washes through her aged features. Two children stand beside her, both unsure and unaware, one sleepy and the other scared. The woman reaches her hands over, pulling the girl to her feet. The girl staggers a little before regaining her strength. She yearns desperately for her mother, knowing this woman is someone else’s.

No one can see her tears. She no longer cries herself to sleep, because she is already broken inside, and has no more tears left to give.


I cannot begin to express my grief and horror at what is going on in the world. It’s even worse to feel absolutely helpless, because many situations require political solutions that we cannot bring about alone.

The situation in Aleppo and Myanmar are frequent in my thoughts and prayers. The least we can do is talk about it, and not let their suffering drown in silence. If you are able to, please donate to help send aid to the Syrian civilians in Aleppo and/or the Rohingyan community in Myanmar.

Thank you.

5 things I learnt from NaNoWriMo 2016

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For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an annual writing event where writers all across the world are invited to write 50,000 words within November.

Yes, I actually managed it. To write 50,000 words in 30 days. To brave the early mornings, with bleary eyes and cold limbs; the frantic late nights, with aching feet and exhausted bones. This month, where my mind had completely crippled its creative capability, only to have a few hours sleep to recharge for the next day.

In 2015 I only managed 35k, which, at the time, I thought was quite an achievement. Now I’ve reached the ‘official’ finish line it feels great, but I still haven’t finished writing the novel. It’ll probably be another 50k before I do!

Here are the 5 things I’ve learnt this year, and hope that it encourages a budding writer to take part in next year’s frenzy:

1. Don’t let your other commitments stop you.

In 2015, I was a final year university student with, let’s face it, plenty more time than I had now. Despite that, I didn’t manage to win, and that made me cautious about reaching 50k this year as I had started a full time job.

I actually got off to a good start and was slightly ahead of the game for the first few days. In the middle I hit a slump but still wrestled through. I wrote in the mornings after fajr and when that was too painful, I knew in the evening I’d have to eat a quick dinner and get back to it. I wrote on my phone in the car before I stepped into work and again on my lunch breaks.

What this showed me is that you do have time to write. Anywhere and any time. Remember, NaNo is just about the writing itself. Editing is a whole other monster to tame, but just to write is much more fluid. Just do it whenever the feeling comes to you.

2. Uninhibited writing is brilliant

My novel had been brewing in my mind for several months. I had already wrote out a few scenes but nothing seemed right. I just couldn’t tell the story the way it was playing out in my head. I knew NaNo was the opportunity to write without any pit stops, breaks, or even any thinking. Just write whatever comes to my mind.

That was brilliant.

It means anything weird and wonderful can be born on the page, without feeling the need to hit the backspace or furiously scribble the out the words. No one will look at this crappy first draft, unless you give them permission. I know for a fact that the first drafts of any novel I write are completely out of bounds for any mortal being to lay eye upon.

Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of mornings and nights where stringing together words felt as painful as prodding my brain with a dagger (That’s where point 4 comes into play). But that’s okay, because it’s a first draft. When you let yourself write terribly you’ll find that the creativity of the story and the characters themselves start to shine better in your eyes, which is what I prefer to focus on in the first draft anyway.

3. Don’t look back. Not yet, at least.

Do not press backspace. If I genuinely cringed at something, but it was worth, say, 100 words, I’d just highlight it and click ‘strike-through’. That way it still counts towards my word goals, but when I get to editing I at least know it needs some work or needs to be deleted. Cheating? I call it NaNo-ing smartly 😉

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Daily word counts. See the infamous dip in the middle? A lot of self doubt going on there…

4. The community is wonderful

Join the forums (but don’t get too distracted), or dedicated Facebook groups, or even find people through Twitter. Don’t do this alone, because writing can be a lonely pursuit. Find cheerleaders to keep you going when you can’t bear to cheer yourself on any longer.

Word sprints are definitely what got me through: a casual challenge with other WriMos to see who can write the most words in a set amount of time. In reality no one is bothered who wins these sprints, because all that matters is that you wrote something.

That’s what’s lovely about the writing community: no one is trying to one-up you in anything. Everyone’s running towards the same goal, and if you trip or stumble, be sure that someone will catch you and pull you back up on your feet (or at least smack you to your senses).

5. If you want to do something, go do it. Go get your goals.

Yes, a slightly cheesy number 5, but a truth nonetheless. I’ve always, always wanted to be a writer, an author, or anything to do with words (let’s question my day job at a later time…). NaNo has shown me that I can write 50,000 words in one month, something I never thought I could do before. What’s to stop me from finishing this novel draft? From editing my novels? From actually getting published? The publishing journey can be a long and arduous road, but don’t be disheartened.

Remember what is at the core of your journey: your wonderful words.

Good news!

It’s nothing amazing or spectacular or even really that big. But it is, to me.

I finally got published!! *yay*

Just a short story really, less than 1,000 words, nothing special… but still — something I wrote is actually published. Alhamdulillah 🙂

Big thank you to Bunbury Magazine for giving me this opportunity, this stepping stone in my publishing and writing journey. You can find ‘Red’ in Issue 14 of the magazine here. All they ask for is a small contribution towards the magazine to help keep it running. That sounds fair, right?

And now to leave you with one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books 🙂

“– a beauty neither of fine colour nor long eyelash, nor pencilled brow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance. Then her soul sat on her lips, and language flowed, from what source I cannot tell.” – Jane Eyre

Catch the sunlight

In these early hours of the morning, when all the dreams and wishes of the world lay in the palm of your hand, everything seems possible. Sunrise stretches over this ancient earth, but each morning it feels as soft and supple as a newborn baby,  like fresh snow awaiting footprints to carve a path into its canvas.

Push past the dreary remnants of sleep, the exhaustion that fills your bones, and the dread of the coming day. Push it all to the side. Listen to the songs of the morning birds, those that are ready to chase their purpose with every fibre in their tiny feathers. Those that chase the sunlight.

Spread the prayer rug out and let your forehead touch the worn fabric. Whisper words of wishes and hopes, to the only One who listens. Listens to the fears of frightened souls who have hearts too fragile to hold the world’s pain.

Go outside and embrace the breeze–cold and shocking at first–and feel goosebumps tickle the surface of your skin. Then catch the sunlight as it rises across a sleepy sky, until the warmth spreads over and fills you up from the inside.

In those earliest hours of the morning, when everything seems possible. When years of muddled confusions evaporate and you are left with a clarity as clear as polished glass. A clarity of purpose, of intention.

Take a deep breath. Look in the mirror and see your future staring back at you, waiting for you to take hold of it. Waiting for you to catch it in the palm of your hands, your eyes ablaze with the euphoria of eternal victory.

Crybaby

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I used to keep a baking blog here, but it took up too much time and I had far too much leftover goodies than I could eat myself. I kept the blog up for the nostalgic factor, but regardless, here’s what I made for Eid this year–a carrot cake that actually turned out pretty nice (if I do say so myself). Enough to get me back into baking! (Note: I realise I need to be more conscious about what I eat, but this cake was too pretty not to post!)

This post will probably be all over the place but to be honest, that’s how I feel right now. It’s as if I’ve been dragged out of my own body and plunked me into someone else’s, someone who’s more emotional, more tired, more fed up. And every day I keep saying “this isn’t me, this just isn’t me”.

I’m reading more into hypothyroidism/underactive thyroid because I want to learn more. Because the doctor can’t tell me more than is possible in a 10 minute consultation. Because I hadn’t realised how deep this condition can go (I’m still struggling to say the word ‘illness’). The more I do it, the more emotional I feel. Even the word ‘emotional‘–makes it sound like I’m getting teary for nothing. And honestly, I was never the type of person to cry over these kinds of things.

Was.

I remember being adamant that I only cried at ‘physical pain’, not emotional. I toughed myself out. Never used to cry at films. All that sort of stuff. Sure, maybe I put it on a little, but I wasn’t a crybaby. Now, these days, I’m having to take deep breaths. Tell myself to calm down. Don’t let myself get overwhelmed.

This isn’t me!

I tell myself I should stop reading into it and just give my brain a break–but in between all those moments of my brain fogging out, I’m thinking about this condition, because it’s starting to define me.

And I am so, so worried about that. It’s like having a cold define you. Or an itchy rash. It sounds ridiculous, right? So why should I let my underactive thyroid start to become me, because it’s not. I am so much more than my health, though my health is such an important part of me.

This is a strange post, I know. I figure writing it all out will help me sort myself out to a certain extent. It’s such an unsettling feeling, not being as reliable as you used to be. Reliable to myself; forget other people. I’d like to think myself as an independent person, always have done. Solitude isn’t frightening to me–that’s the perks of being an introvert. But the importance of asking for help is something I need to work on. It’s okay to feel weak, but asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It’s not something that should be looked down upon.

It’s like I have a dimmer switch in my brain that keeps going brighter or dimmer with a single thought. One moment I’ll be struggling to pull things out of my memory; the next, I’ll be jumping from one anxious thought to another, too quick to recall what I had thought the previous moment.

It’s frustrating.