Brain fog

img_20160912_155436

I’m tired of being tired.

I’m tired that my paper thin patience can snap at a moment’s notice because of something incredibly insignificant. I’m tired of feeling that way, and I know I wasn’t always like this. I’m anxious that I’m becoming more anxious;

a tiny thing I did yesterday is riddled in my thoughts today;

I feel embarrassed about doing something that other people barely noticed–or did they?

I am so concerned over these small things… and then not concerned at all. Not bothered and not caring–but not carefree. I just want to spend an entire day–twenty four cosy hours–in the security of my bed. Not having to speak to anyone. But I’m tired of feeling like I have to mentally pull a ‘let’s-be-social-now’ jacket over myself together just to talk to someone.

My bones, my muscles, my blood, feels tired. I can’t bear to drag myself up again, but I have to.

That’s normal, right?

But those are only the bad days.

I used to be carefree. I used to have the energy and zeal to spend time with others, to be able to make others laugh, be concerned about their well being. Now I fear that I’ll be too concerned, so I step back.

I don’t want to get hurt either.

I step so far back that I feel like my mind is in another room: boxed away, sterilised and sanitised; yet here I am, talking to you. You probably don’t notice all these things spilling around in my mind. Confusion upon confusion. Layers of fog.

I literally just forgot what I wanted to write next. I’m tired of that too.

I hate conflict, yet I feel like I want to start one whenever something ticks me off. I never used to be like this, I promise.

This isn’t normal.

It’s as if there’s a strange storm thundering inside me, wearing me down, straining me on all pressure points–and in the next instance there is nothing. Not even a calm sea–just nothing. I could stare blankly at a wall, neurons dimming, chemical circuits flickering; my thoughts too weak to resurface.

And then I’ll fall asleep, wake up, and the day will renew. It can be better. Sometimes I go back to normal, my normal, where I feel balanced and whole inside once again. But then it can get worse, and I’ll feel like grey clouds are filling me up, top to toe, bringing misery wherever I go.

It’s awful when you realise you’re no longer interested in those things that you loved to do. Not every day, thankfully, but sometimes I can’t bear to look at a book or pick up the pen. That could be classed as usual behaviour, but this isn’t just “I can’t be bothered”. It’s more a hollow non-feeling, where you have no connection to that activity, as if I’d never picked up a book in my life. A strange and unsettling thing.

It is terrible and tiresome when you have to contend with yourself. When your mind is telling you that nothing is going well, but there’s that silver voice that goes over the negativity, the voice of some-kind-of reason, telling you to get yourself together. Telling you it’s all okay, you’re just crying for no reason, you’re being scared for no reason. There’s no reason why you should stay in bed all day. There’s no need for this.

This is the fog that I fight through, and it feels terrible, because battling with your own thoughts is exhausting.

I don’t know where the end is. I don’t know for how long I have to carry on like this. I hope, well and truly hope, that I can manage this. You can never know what cards you’ll get dealt, but you can’t swap them or throw them back to the dealer. This is your lot in life, and you have to get on with it. Through every tear, every cry of frustration, each and every miserable morning where I don’t want to get up–I can do this.

It’s gonna be difficult, but that’s okay.

Not everything comes easy.

Just take it slowly, one foggy day at a time.

Our Innate Ignorance

You were not born with hatred, but with curiosity.

You were born with an intense thirst for knowing, even if you didn’t know that.

Children are little students of life. They don’t have a pen and paper ready but they make notes in their minds as they crawl, walk, and run; entranced by everyone and everything. The first dandelion they hold is the sun in their hands. They stand at a mountain’s peak every time their wobbly legs hold them upright.

We don’t know about hatred until we are taught. This raw, horrible feeling that riddles your emotions and clouds your judgement. Making you less human, perhaps.

There are people who have been taught to hate others. To hate a certain group of people, just for being different. But that ‘different’ is what allows us to grow. It’s what children need to learn;  anything different is a new universe opened to them. But there are people who will continue to hate others because of their difference. And when the seed of hatred grows within them, they water it with malice. It takes over their limbs and lungs.

They breathe with venom. Can’t go without the spite.

IMG_20160715_120320

Why?

Does making someone else feel disgusting, make you feel better? Do you feed off their tears? Do your ugly words taste like honey to you?

Because somehow constantly telling yourself the lies made them the truth, and you’re blinded by your truth. But really, deep inside, you let your curiosity wither. You let the hate grow.

Do you fear the colour of his skin, or the strange accent traced in her speech? Do you hate the scarf on her head, or his language that you don’t understand?

But what would have happened if you called out a question instead of an insult? What if you asked him—hey, that’s a lovely accent you have. Where you from?

What’s your name? That’s a cool name, what does it mean?

Your clothes are nice, is it from your culture?

Children rely on that curiosity to discover the world. They are explorers of the Strange. Adventurers in the Mysterious. They ask questions, perhaps one too many at times. But that’s how they learn. To learn is to be human.

And we, as shameful adults, decide that asking questions makes us feel stupid. We feel defeated by our innate ignorance. By denying our natural curiosity—the thing that challenged us and let us grow—we turned to fear the unknown. As we feared that which is strange, we instinctively want to lash out at it. To hurt it. To put it away somewhere so that it doesn’t affect our cosy familiarity.

IMG_20160715_115300

These are just some thoughts I’ve had about various events happening across the world, related to racism and intolerance. It is heartbreaking to see people who believe that one race or people are inherently better than others. To even say that other races came ‘from animals’. It makes me sad that they cannot see past their ignorance, that their curiosity has died within them and given rise to something vile. It is a small minority that have these attitudes, but often times this minority shouts the loudest.

But know that the world is filled with decent people. In every country, on every street corner, in every home in this tired world we live in.

Hatred breeds hatred; don’t add fuel to the fire.

 

Streets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All photos taken by me.

Celebrations of Faith

The sun is setting on another Ramadan. We prepare ourselves to welcome the day of Eid al-Fitr, but I can’t help but feel that Ramadan itself is a celebration. It’s a celebration of faith, and something that I feel blessed to be a part of.

A lot has happened this month that has made our hearts heavy with sadness, worry, and fear. But I can already feel the comfort that Ramadan has given me, one that I’m sad to leave behind. This solace we find as we swing from long days and blessed nights, from the breaking of the fast to the dawn prayer, and from the supplications we make and the prayers we recite.

Some may ask why we would even allow ourselves to go without food or drink for hours on end, for thirty consecutive days (dawn to sunset, that is!). It is a whole month that tests our self discipline, not just in the kitchen, but also within ourselves. But do we really need to go through the rituals of Ramadan just to prove we can become better people? Is it really necessary?

I ask you, is anything worth achieving in life easy to come by?

Finishing a degree. Getting a job. Buying a house. Becoming a mother or a father.

Anything that is worth something is never easy to attain. For us Muslims, Ramadan is about attaining the quality of being conscious of God. This precious trait is at the core of our faith, a crucial characteristic that helps us to govern the way we live. It’s a state of knowing that God is aware of our actions and that we should be accountable for the way we carry ourselves.

Should I have spoken to my mother in a more gentle tone? Should I have listened to my colleague, who seemed upset about something, instead of rushing to go home? Should I have offered to go to the shops instead of my father as I know he’s exhausted from work?

IMG_20160611_185732

These things are minute details in our lives, but no one ever said we had to save the day. It’s all about making sure we’re trying to do the little things right. The things that no one really notices, no one tweets about, the things that slip into the cracks of our fast paced days.

So how does fasting help with this? To me, keeping myself away from food and drink is almost like a gateway to help me discipline myself in other ways. Ramadan helps us to slow things down, take life in perspective, and provides a mechanism for us to improve ourselves.

This month holds a special place in our faith. It celebrates the Qur’an and its guidance in helping us become people who are conscious of God in the every day details of our seemingly busy lives.

IMG_20160611_185845

Masjid Negara in Kuala Lumpur. Pictures are my own.

definition

Diaspora.

Sounds like a strange word, doesn’t it? Before I knew its meaning, I always thought it was linked with war, turmoil, or something else that I didn’t really understand. Another technical term. I wasn’t completely wrong, however.

Diaspora: a technical term for the feeling of being “not quite there”.

At least, this is how I feel.

I’ve spent many quiet moments thinking about my identity and how I’m often caught between a crossfire of different culture, so much so that it feels like I don’t actually have an identity. Now that’s a scary thought. Imagine being nameless and faceless when you’re surrounded by the vibrancy and colour of other people’s national or cultural pride.

But, of course, I’m not the only one who feels this way. I know that there are people in the world like me, probably not 100% like me, but they feel the same way about identity. Being “not quite there”. They know they can’t speak their mother’s tongue with perfect fluency, but they still appreciate its subtle phrases that express their feelings better than English. Or, they have a soft spot in their stomach for both homemade curry, and a beef lasagne. Or, they feel most comfortable walking the streets of their capital city more than they would driving through a market place back in the ‘homeland’. I know that describes me.

There are several directions I’ve been pulled in:

am I Muslim,

am I English,

am I Bengali,

am I British?

Many ropes that tug me in separate ways in separate moments, sometimes giving me a wonderful colour to my life, and other times wishing that the each identity wouldn’t clash so much.

I still wonder at my identity. Perhaps only to satisfy that human urge to belong. I have friends and family who are proud of their cultural heritage as well as their Britishness. But in all truth, I am neither proud nor am I ashamed of my culture. I just don’t feel that strong, irreplaceable connection that other people might do.

And you know what? I like it like that. I like who I am; I’m just trying to figure out who that is.

When I was coming from a holiday all the way in Malaysia, it was only then when I realised what my ‘homeland’ was. It’s England. More specifically, London. I never felt like I would miss England (in fact, I was more than happy for a holiday), but I felt a genuine homesickness for my home. Not ‘the country’. For home: the place where I wake up and feel secure, the place where I live with the people I have grown up with for the past twenty-odd years, the place where I feel my soul is connected to the ground that I walk on.

Sounds deep, but really, isn’t that what home is? When some people say that home is the people they love; you have a connection to your loved ones, right? So I have a connection to this home of mine, this city, this little part in the south of London that I’ve inhabited for my entire life. It’s my home. It’s not defined by a certain culture or language. It’s a mish-mash of many things, and I think that pretty much describes me. A mish-mash. Not quite 100% this, nor 100% that. So you can stick as many labels as you can on me to try to define my identity, but you’ll never be able to pinpoint me exactly to the letter.

I guess this means you’ll have to speak to me to find out who I really am.

One year ago

This is an old post from a blog I no longer keep, but I thought it’d be relevant to post seeing as we’re half way through Ramadan again 🙂

Thoughts from Ramadan 2015:

This year I was eagerly anticipating Ramadan much as you would wait for a gift that you knew you were going to receive. Ramadan brings with it many warm memories of night prayers, day-long fasts, and of course the irreplaceable sweet joy of breaking your fast by the dying sunlight. In this month your spiritual core is exposed for what it truly is and you see how your character really fares in the daily grind. You realise how much you’ve ignored this cultivation of the heart, letting the seeds of pride, envy and hatred being slowly deposited into this fragile vessel.

But that’s what this month is for. To use its blessed days and nights as a means to improve yourself, improve your relationship with others, and with your Creator. The first few days, even week or so I felt irritated at myself. I struggled through the fast initially, perhaps because before the month started you hype yourself up so much about how “amazing this Ramadan is going to be”, but then realise that the process of revealing your true inner self is not always pretty. I wondered at why I wasn’t feeling the spiritual high every night in taraweeh, the night prayer, and why I wasn’t being super productive whilst fasting a nearly 20-hour-long fast.

But then something struck with me. That in order to build yourself up into something good, in order to build anything into something good, you need to start off at the bottom. At the foundations. So in order to build my character into something more becoming of a Muslim, I needed to face the shaky core that for so many months I was put off from looking at deeply.

And with that I found a calming feeling within me that I hadn’t felt, perhaps, since this time last year.

 

The fight in you

IMG-20150606-WA0036

What else has happened in a year? I’ve learnt a lot. About people and about emotions, and I’m still learning. I made up a quote once that I thought was pretty good; “Life is both the teacher and the test.” Because it’s true. There’ll be so much that will push you to the edges of your being, tempting you to fall over into an abyss of harm, but you cannot let that happen to you.

You know why?

Because you’re a fighter.

You’re a human being so you will fight your butt off to keep it together.

You’re not alone. Millions and billions and trillions of human beings before you have gone through the same problem, different problems, worse problems and crazier problems than you and they still came out fighting. It’s not about reaching the end point and giving a big sigh of relief, no, it’s more than that. It’s making every day count. But also, don’t be afraid of being afraid. Don’t hold back the tears. Don’t be ashamed to cry and then smile. Because you’re so beautifully human that sometimes it will hurt and you will feel so broken that you don’t know how to patch up the pieces again. But you can do it because you can.

Tell yourself this after you’ve let the sadness stew.

I can do this.

I’m writing positive because I’m trying to be positive myself. But I’ll let you know that I went to bed with anger last night, and I had my reasons. Sometimes you need time to boil it over, but after that you have to use your mind over your heart. Contrary to what a lot of people say about following your heart, there are times when you can’t throw a fit of passion. You need think coolly and calmly. You need to think.

That organ inside your chest will want to take over, but sometimes you can’t let it. Sometimes the grey matter in your head has to win, to take charge.

You’ll know what I mean soon enough.

The Swelling

How many more newborns must smile their last

Never to take their first steps

Upon that blood stained path

How many more children will never play under the sun

No longer run through the grass

But fall to death, not fun

How many more mothers must watch their child starve

Never to gorge through any meal

But plunge into eternal sleep where they would play and laugh

How many more bombs must drop

Bullets must scatter

Lives must shatter

For us to realise

That the blood of the innocent

Cannot always be soaked up by our soil

And this planet will swell in all the pain

Anger

And rage

That we have stamped on it

Before its scream rips through the heavens

And we would see

All that was pure and perfect

That we had destroyed