reality

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

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The fight in you

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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

Like a slap of cold water

The life of this world is a deceiving enjoyment.

It’s both fake and yet amusing at the same time.

And we prefer it, we like it. We prefer this life. Because it’s so much closer to you, it’s what you see, feel and think. It’s what you breathe. We all become a little too comfy and too accustomed to ourselves here.

In fact, we willingly allow this world to take us in and comfort us, to tell us that what we’re doing is correct. To whisper to us that what we’re doing is perfectly fine and that the goal we are chasing after, the goal that makes our hearts ache in the same way muscles do after a long run, that goal is infallible. Flawless.

We think that this world is flawless.

And yet we know it is not.

We prefer the flawed lie when we know that the truth is still there under the rubble. We just have to pull away the stones and rocks, the hard covers on our hearts.

The truth doesn’t hurt as much as you think it does, or at least the biggest truth. The fact that your life is ready to crack at any moment shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Because when you realise what the truth, the beautiful yet difficult truth is then you’ll feel it, like a slap of cold water to your face. First it takes your breath away, and then it’s oddly refreshing. And you relish it.

But it takes work to keep it there in your face. This life, this lie, keeps coming back because it’s where you’re sitting. It’s what you eat, and where you sleep. It’s what you work as and how you drive. It’s the people walking on the pavement and it’s a summer breeze when you sit down outside. It’s everywhere around you and you have to fight to keep your right to know the truth, to not be robbed.

 

Written: 29/08/2013