Dec 31, 2016

Wheel





Immerged from my punishing thoughts to find I was gripping the steering wheel so intensely my knuckles were white and the bones of my hands were aching, I wanted to loosen up but I needed something to hold on to, something to bring me back to reality, something as lifeless and prosaic as this hard-leathered object to remind me where I was and deliver me to the present once more.

‘Relax, breath, relax, breath’ I repeated, ‘things can only get better from here, things can only improve’ as I wished hard for my life to get back on track, for some kind of normality, for a safe shore to swim to.

‘My life? This sad little joke? This ridiculous, pathetic, endless sad chain of events’ the same old miserable demeaning voice inside me sneered, as I looked to the distance, the swarming traffic, the deafening noise, the mammoth of stress and anxiety I was carrying, and the emptiness of these crowded long roads that lead to nowhere.  I tried to see promise, I tried to see hope with my tired, brimming eyes.  I have never had so little! such little faith, such little strength, such little courage. I let my tears defeat me, as I have so often done before.













Dec 22, 2016

A walk with my mother




Walking along the forlorn seaside today I watched the everchanging greens, blues and greys of the water. How the sky, the farthest thing from the sea, reflected itself in the water so vividly, and effected so deeply.

I gazed in awe at first, but soon grew frustrated. I knew I had to feel something! The soft, languid waves enticed something in me which I could not grasp or name. What should I be feeling now? I wanted to ask the sea. What do you want me to feel? I know I should be feeling, I know you expect me to. I needed new words, another language, a different soul.

She walked with me. For most of our long walk we were silent, but her presence was heavy, I was so aware of her and she of me, though our thoughts were so foreign and far apart.

So unquiet, loud and stirring our hearts during our wordless stroll. The emotional distance so vast, the strained bruised strings that tied us together too fragile, words would only be catastrophic. Then she pointed to the distance: “look how marvelous, the sky and the sea seem to almost meet”









Dec 20, 2016

Eleven



Anais Nin said: “I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me; the world of my parents, the world of war, of politics. I had to create a world of my own, a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I can breathe and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That I believe is the reason for every work of art”.

Eleven years old today, and I am amazed, I am staggered. Did I create you so that I would live again? Another life, another birth? Did I create you, so that I would recreate myself? Perhaps I wanted to rewrite my story in you! A second chance. I am selfish, broken and flawed. You are perfect, pure and magnificent. Another year older and I am blown away by all the wonder you bring to my life, by all the colour you add and the heightened, exaggerated joy, always mixed with heightened exaggerated fear, pain and sorrow. This must be what love is; excessive joy trimmed with excessive pain. At times when I am lost inside myself, inside the swamp of my mind, I am weak and ill enough to question whether you exist at all! How is it possible that I have something/someone so beautiful so wonderful? All I know is that I had to create you, my poor sick mind had to conjure you. You had to come.












Dec 17, 2016

Broken wing




It’s usually a feather,

a single silky feather, shed on the side of the road

not unusual or tragic, just a long elegant feather

with its magnificent precision and all it stands for:

freedom, hope, strength and compassion.  

But today I found a wing, a whole wing - Broken.

Perhaps, in my own despair, after walking so long

and searching so hard, I have magnified the tragedy.

But a wing, is not a feather.

Losing a feather is losing an eye lash, a strand of hair

Losing a wing is losing an arm. No! not losing an arm;

losing a wing is losing a heart.

A wing is a loss.

A tragedy. A life of crippling deprivation,

losing a wing is an end.

I wanted, in my despair, to lean on to a wall

my feet could not carry me

I wanted in my loneliness to fall to my knees

I wanted in my brokenness to plead to God, or curse him

there was a bird out there without its wing

and I understood.













Dec 10, 2016

Seeing 'A' after many years






I sat with him on a huge rock by the sea. It was night time, a bitter cold wind blew, I held my black shawl tighter to my chest and felt myself cloaked in darkness. We spoke of shallow, meaningless things; his latest trip to America, my endless troubles. There were so many silences deep and profound. During which I turned my face away from his and felt the heat of his gaze on my freezing cheek, both of us understanding but not saying a word. I kept my eyes on the wild raging waves. The winter wind had turned the crashing waters into something terrible, something unnatural. The black depth of the sea seemed to churn like the inside of a dark stomach, the intestines of a great giant. Heavy waves, textured and thick as if made of mercury, slapped lethargically with a violent sucking sound. A glimmer of blue on a crest where the half-moon shone.    


















The free bird





There is a large bird cage in the front garden of my parents' home. A chicken coop, where many birds were once kept including a few chickens. The wire mesh that constitutes the walls of the large cage is now full of holes. The wear and tear of the years and lack of care and maintenance. All the smaller birds have flown away, the chickens are also gone, the street cats got to them.

Now the large cage is bare and abandoned, except for two old turtles who seem to have lived forever and will never age or die. The ancient creatures bury themselves in the sandy ground of the cage during the cold months of the year, and munch idly on a leaf of lettuce during the warmer months.

For years and years the husk of a cage stood, tired looking and eerie. The shadows of boxy bird houses hanging from the sides dark with a fathomless single eye.

A wild bird flew into the cage in search of leftover seeds. The free bird comes to the cage often.









Nov 27, 2016

Published poems

The Torbay Festival of Poetry
9th poetry competition
October 2009
Highly commended




Lessons

She demonstrates to her heart how water gladly takes the shape of a jug.
then almost instantly adapts to the shape of a drinking glass.
She shows it how sugar willingly dissolves
stirred gently or roughly
into the warm cup of tea.
Look,
Look how red calmly surrenders to violet when brushed against blue
without any resistance turns orange when encountered by hostile yellow
changes mood, character
submits to sensuous maroon when dominated by authoritative
black
and yet devoted to innocent baby pink when resigning to sinless
white
How a tulip bulb will grow exactly where it is planted
and if moved with care to another garden
continues to grow and flourish.
How fresh cream and be spread on bread,
spooned and served with cake,
or poured on top of strawberries,
She explains, trying to convince her reluctant heart
how resilience can be a virtue
not to be tethered by painful love
to be shaped and reshaped
the flexibility to be contained, stretched, or fenced might be good for both of us,
she added.
She feels it seethe with anger when someone recklessly says
'anything can be fixed'
'anything can be done'












Published poems



The Journal
Issue 27
Summer 2009



Winter Morning


It was a cold winter morning.

I taught her how to hold the edges of her cuffs with her tiny fingers,
while I screwed another woolly jumper onto her head, pulling her arms through another pair of sleeves,
the rim of the undergarment slightly peeking through.

I wanted to spare her the discomfort of the first sleeve pulled up and gathered at her elbow.

She was almost three and delighted with the new discovery,
she has done it every morning since,

"Shall I let go now mummy?"

Love makes us do that,
spare them the discomfort of things
life's little troubles,
the small anxieties often overlooked.














Published poems



Published in Acumen
Issue no. 64
May 2009




In-disposable


I don't know what to do with these feelings anymore
I've tried painting them, and repainting them,
then I did what any woman would do,
heavy textured, loud print vinyl,
but the poor plastering job did not hold.

I recycled them into something even I failed to recognize,
and gave them to another man,
but they were sent back to me,
damaged,
more complex.

I shoved them around like an overweight suitcase in a busy airport,
I left them well unattended, with easy access, hoping to get mugged,
excess baggage, has proven an unappealing commodity.

I finally crumpled, and crinkled them into a creased, uneven shape and tossed them
carelessly in the bin sitting next to my desk, the way a writer chucks away a
disappointing page,
I heard them slowly unfold,
the disturbing, haunting sound of wrinkled, dry paper, creeping back from the dead.

my in-disposable sadness.













Published Poems



Winners and highly commended works from Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry and Short Story Competitions - July 2010


Mother

She waited for rainbows and butterflies
there were only a few scattered smiles
as she calculates the loss of herself
what she wanted more than anything
is to stand up and shout
'I don't enjoy being a mother'
and be received with nodding heads
not gawking faces drooling stigma
but the fear of betraying the reason of her existence
dawns on her from behind the bars of the cot
big tearful, trustful eyes follow her around like guilt.

She has never felt less human
as skin stretched over nine months
starts to darken and flake
she hears it crack and peel off
her deflated belly
breasts heavy with milk
wrung in the bathroom sink

Dicing vegetables into a blender
she admires the knife in her hand
that cuts unrepentantly.







Reasons


I sit on this hard cold floor
at least once every fortnight
and I polish them
I burnish them
I wax them until they have sparkled
not that I have ever let them fade;
the reasons why we are not together,
until their luster
so fiery and powerful
ate whatever sanity was left in me.

They are the only ornaments
that stood upright
however they were placed

Then came the arranging
and rearranging
where I let them choose
where they would fit in the story,
a story simple, and reasonable enough
for my dwelling, lingering self to digest.

They sat so quietly on the shelf
year after year,
I brooded over them so
they would not age.

















Published poems



Published in 'The Birthday Issue', the fourth anthology by 'Bad Language'

November 2011




After I Hate You



After "I Hate you", "Damn you", and "Get the fuck out of my house"

there is a silence.

A profound, mature, heavy silence,
more sustained than the silences which
separate their routine arguments.

His tooth brush
his shaving cream
his mule slippers lay untouched.

She turns their family photos face down,
their smiling faces too judging.

Everything is divided:

Things he may comeback for,
things safe to get rid of,
things that are hers.

Mutual dreams that have expired,
dreams that survive him,
dreams that are hers.

Mind calculating the loss.
Heart filing memories to be kept
and those to be discarded.
Body lies cold and disconnected.





















Published in 'Electric Sky' the third Anthology published by 'Bad Language'

May 2011


Somewhere

He hides somewhere
between the skin and the skin,
and pressing my warm cheek against
the cold window I dream I've somehow
narrowed distance,
defeated,
I hold him between my lashes when I sleep.

Each thought of him an autocrat
oppressing my every other thought
moving my hands in a knitting motion
composing him a little verse of longing
tying them in red velvet ribbons
blowing them gentle kisses in the wind.















Published poems

Moving again! I can't take a lot of books with me. Instead of taking the poetry anthologies in which some of my poems were published. I'm writing them here, a record of when and where they were published.


Specially commended 2011 by the Welsh Poetry Competition.
Published in 2011, The Welsh Poetry Competition pamphlet.



Stiches

Giving birth to her
I was torn pieces of flesh
sewed together with nylon thread
between blood flooding and cord cutting
skin slipping away from skin
untidy cross stiches done with haste
new thresholds of pain and love missing,
peaking, dancing a sloppy waltz.

It took a while before
two rivals of slit open skin
forgave and forgot,
integrated beautifully with nylon.

Five years later
sitting on the edge of the bed
last chore of the day
hands tired
I unpick stiches
pulling with my teeth
redundant binding
messy hemming done with haste
end of string refusing needle's eye
making her school skirt fit.

baby growing out of her clothes,
mother ageing

another stich undone,
another knot released.











Nov 4, 2016

Going through it




I woke up with the saddest thought. Ever since Jori and I moved to Dubai, I’ve been locking my bedroom door at night before I sleep. The door to the bedroom does not close shut, and the cat can just push it open, our cat Ty jumps on my bed and frequently disturbs my sleep, so the only solution was to lock the door before I sleep. But this morning, waking from another sad dream, full of pain and despair, I realized ‘what if I die of a heart attack in my sleep?’. Jori wouldn’t be able to come into my room, the only phone in our apartment is my mobile phone and it’s always on my bedside table, I use it as an alarm clock. Therefore, if I died she wouldn’t be able to come in my room, she wouldn’t be able to phone anyone, and then of course there is the question of who she can phone? We don’t know anyone, we’ve met some people, none of whom we are particularly close to.

There is so much pain, fear and sadness in living and I have been here, in this place of foreignness and detachment for so long. I am tired of my nightmares, tired of waking up in tears, breathless and panting. Tired of feeling too afraid to fall asleep and see the gruesome violent dreams. I’m tired of not knowing where to turn, tired, tired, tired beyond words. I had hoped the move to this city, this laborious relocation would bring me refuge, answers, a sense of security but sadly it has only heightened my sorrows.

Still searching for a job, living on dwindling savings, having to care for my daughter, dealing with my disappointment and depression at every job rejection, and the fear of not being able to pay next month’s rent or bills if I don’t find a job soon, and the massive loneliness and isolation that engulfs me every minute of everyday. There is nowhere for me to turn from all my troubles, nowhere to go. My predicament has become my universe, I live inside it, it is possible to leave my flat, buy some food whilst worrying about how much I am spending but I am always in it, I may use the gym at the building where I live but I am still in it. I may take my daughter to school or pick her up again but I am still in it. I am in it when I am cooking, sleeping or cleaning the cat’s litter. I am always sinking, in my wakefulness and in my sleep, I am sinking, I am drowning.

I dream of a warm gentle hand kindly stroking my aching back when I’m finally in bed at night, after a long tiresome day full of endurance, a loving voice telling me all will be well in the end, but there is no gentle hand, there is no loving voice, there is only my abusive mind. My mind the tyrant that ensures I am always sad about my painful past and always worried about my uncertain future.  

I can’t afford therapy so I search for some relief in spirituality. Like a Buddhist, I try to let go of attachment and expectation; attachment to the past, attachment to money, attachment to what I expect my life to be, I succeed for a few days then I flounder, but the fall is steep, I fall a million stories into my grief, lightyears into my despair. I try to meditate, to silence my violent mind but it does not work.

I have never endured such a difficult time; financially, emotionally, and mentally. I wish I could face it with more grace, with more patience. I remind myself that I am physically healthy, that I still have my healthy legs, my healthy heart. That my child is healthy and although she endures with me, she is still able to smile and play and be a child and that is a blessing. But my diseased mind is unable to hold on to any solace, it convinces me that my losses are bigger, so much bigger than I can fathom, the sword of blessings I draw in the iron face of my failures and misfortunes is but a flimsy stick.

I wish I was stronger.








Sep 22, 2016

Somedays



Somedays I am sitting on my desk writing, my beige shawl draped on my shoulders, the shawl I always wore when I was pregnant with Jori, the shawl I still wear when I need warmth and comfort, the wooly shawl that survived numerous times of washing, oil paint, food stains and time, looking worn out and full of the love it carries in its stiches.

And somedays I am sitting on my desk trying to write, a light inside of me dimmed, a garden in my heart suddenly barren, its birds refusing to sing, my whole being uninspired, silent and brooding. As if unable to wake from a heavy troubled sleep, I see a way out but am unable to follow it, I hear the answers but am unable to accept them. Something much larger than me takes over me, I am completely and utterly in its grip.













Sep 6, 2016

Morning run – Al Barsha Park


There’s something wonderful and lively about running in the morning. I’ve made a habit of it and found it a great energy booster. I still do the gym but sometimes it’s good to have the space to stretch my legs and just run, not tread mill run but the actual 'real' act of running.

The only thing I thought I’d miss about the UK was the accessible green spaces. Areas near my home, where I can just put on my running shoes and go. Since I’ve come to Dubai I’ve been using pavements and sidewalks for my morning run, until a friend of mine told me to join her on her morning run at Al Barsha park. The park is so ridiculously close to where I live, I have no idea how I’ve missed it! It’s perfect for morning joggers; the grass luscious and green, the trees and flower bushes manicured and well taken care of, the running lanes paved and smooth, the toilets accessible and clean. There are manual exercising machines! A little shop that sells drinks, groups doing yoga, clean benches and seating areas and a lovely man-made lake in the middle with little swan shaped boats.

I feel so lucky that I live close to such a gem. I’m looking forward to going roller blading with Jori there, as the paths are perfectly smooth for roller blades, bikes and scooters. And have barbeques and picnics with friends, and take long romantic walks.











Sep 5, 2016

But is it really a choice?


I’m not approaching this narrative about wearing Hijab (head scarf) from a western, non-Muslim woman’s perspective. I’m an Arab who was born and raised in a Muslim culture (Kuwait) by two very strict Muslim parents. I was brought up as a Muslim, even though I have now lost my faith and am no longer practicing. I am also approaching it from a perspective of a woman who wore the Hijab and took it off because I felt like a hypocrite! I sin a lot, and I have no business pretending that I am a pious or modest woman.

When the ‘Burkini’ issue in France took over the media and most conversations, I kept hearing Muslim women say that ‘It’s our Choice’. That they chose to cover up and they continue to choose to cover up and no one should tell them otherwise. I was proud of how women fought for their right to wear whatever they wanted, for their right to dress modestly if they choose to do so. I think it’s very empowering how Muslim and non-Muslim women (who support the Burkini) responded to the French approach to women wanting to cover up.

What I doubt, is the question of Choice. When I was a little girl growing up in Kuwait and attending a Kuwaiti public school. I saw older women in my family (mother, grandmother, aunts, older female cousins) wear the Hijab. I went to school and was told by my Islamic teacher that a Muslim girl MUST wear the Hijab, or else will be brutally punished by God. As soon as I reached puberty, the pressure became more intense, all my class mates now wore it. When a girl in my class who did not wear the Hijab, came the next day wearing it, she was congratulated by all the teachers, given special treatment, showered with words of admiration and encouragement, and we (the non-Hijab wearers) were told to follow her example: ‘Look girls, look how modest and beautiful your colleague Muneera looks in her Hijab, her face is radiant and glowing with the light of Islam’.

At school I was told on a daily basis that wearing Hijab is one of the pillars of Islam. Therefore, you are not a good Muslim unless you cover your hair. The same things were said to me at home. Female cousins my age, my older sister and my younger sister all wore it now, and I was getting a lot of heat at every family gathering, at every meal: ‘Why don’t you be a good girl like your sisters and your cousins and cover your hair?’ and ‘What if you die without having fulfilled God’s wishes of modesty? You will surely burn in hell’ and ‘No good man will want to marry an uncovered girl’ and ’Good men prefer modest women, you’re not fit for marriage unless you wear Hijab’. The shaming went on and on..

Eventually, I did wear it. Because I was told it was right thing to do. Because I wanted to please my family, because I was told it was my duty as a Muslim woman. Because I did not want to eternally burn in hell. Because I did want a good man to look at me as wife material and want to marry. Because of all the social conditioning, and the ideas I was breast-fed ever since I was six years old. So, No! it wasn’t a choice. It’s not a choice if everyone you love, trust and look up to, tells you that you have to do it. It’s not a choice if you’re threatened with eternal damnation unless you wear it.












Sep 4, 2016

Finding my true direction



Recently I’ve been meeting up with frustrated writers like myself. The experience has been rewarding. I found The Dubai Writers’ Group on google meetups, we meet on Saturdays at a quaint little café called Shakespeare and Co.  

The organizer, Heidi, throws challenging writing prompts at us and allows us fifteen minutes to put down our thoughts for each prompt. These writing exercises – to my surprise – are so thought provoking, the fact that there is a time limit really does help the creative process. On other days we discuss our own work (writing projects) with each other and provide feedback. I enjoy these meetings immensely, the company, and the occasional banter which only frustrated writers understand and appreciate.

Meeting with like minded, multi passionate people here in Dubai has been a great help for my emotional health. Of course I still have my bad days, but the friendliness of the people I am meeting here in Dubai and the ease in which they open up to me and allow me the emotional space to express and be myself is just wonderful. I didn’t find that kind of kinship when I was living in the UK, people there are closed up, assuming, cold, distant and extremely unwelcoming.

I also recognize all my own efforts in finding such good people. First I searched for single mothers like myself and joined their group and the emotional support we provide each other has just been so healing for me, knowing that there are so many kindred spirits who had been through and are still going through the exact experiences as mine. Then I went searching for a writing group and insisted I don’t miss any of their meetings. This has also opened up a new horizon for me, they’ve given me faith to work on my novel again, after I had abandoned it due to multiple publishing rejections.

I’m starting my own poetry group ‘The Frustrated Poets’. We will meet weekly at my place and I’m really looking forward to meeting all the poetry lovers I hope my group will attract. It feels so good to be able to share my passions with people who are equally passionate, interesting and intelligent. It feels good to have found a better life, after all the alienation, to feel like a belong. Sometimes in the wind of change we find our true direction.





Sep 3, 2016

Pink Stain




I need to wipe that stain. Where my compact blush smashed on the white tiled floor last night

I’m too warm and comfortable to crawl out of bed, my sheets are layers of love, my body tender and brooding

The dark pink stain on the gleaming white tiles, the sunlight steels a glimpse through the blinds and the dark pink stain shimmers

My cat jumps on my little desk, pushes my pencils and papers to the floor. A crash! I call him to me, another layer of love, a purring delight

There are e-mails, WhatsApp posts and feelings to attend to

There are memories, disappointments and a lot of laundry

There’s the important question of what to cook for lunch today?

And there’s the stain, the dark pink stain where my compact smashed, in my haste to leave the house last night. The familiar disappointment, a heavy sick feeling in my gut. Another boring date, another stupid man with nothing to offer.







Sep 2, 2016

This is home




Woke up and reached out to my phone, there’s that lazy uploading circle going round and round again.

What makes a house a home?

The instinctive hand gesture reaching out to click on the kettle early in the morning,

Finding my cat hiding in the laundry basket,

Small burns on edges of new shiny pots and pans,

The familiar hum in the still of the night,

The take away down the road remembers your usual order,

Letting out along sigh of relief as you turn the key in the door after a long day out,

Napping on the sofa,

Waking up ridiculously happy just thinking of the prospect of breakfast.

This is home, I said to myself, this is home.









Aug 28, 2016

I have a past.



‘I have a past’, I said.

It sounded strange, I felt awkward as soon as I uttered it, as if I was a fugitive or someone with a juvenile offence record.

I met with a group of single parents I found on Google meetups. The group is all about single parents with young children meeting up at fun places in Dubai to keep the little ones entertained and to provide support for one another, conscious of the fact that a lot of single parent families are immigrants and in most cases without friends and family in the city.

I was talking to one of the single mothers and she asked me where I was from, I explained that I was originally from Kuwait, but that I just moved here from the UK ‘I didn’t want to go back to Kuwait, I sort of.. I sort of have a past there, a past I don’t want to return to’. She nodded empathically and I felt something in me break.

I looked at all those single mothers; young, beautiful, highly intelligent, all leading successful careers and all fed up! Fed up with the stupidity of men, the abuse in all its forms physical, mental and emotional. Fed up with men’s laziness, their lack of appreciation, the lies, the dishonesty, the cruelty, the endless lame excuses. Fed up after years of being taken for granted, after years of juggling the responsibilities, the house, the children, the jobs, the finances. Fed up with cultural expectations and social conditioning, fed up with taboos and shame and stigmas.

We all had to die a thousand times in order to learn how to live, I thought, as I watched those young mothers take their children’s hands and play, carefree and happy. We all had to say yes, be buried under a million wrong yeses before we finally learned how to say no. But once we’ve tasted the power, the sweet power of saying no, there was no turning back. Men suddenly became small, irrelevant, a boring after thought not
worth the mental energy, a sad little play thing no longer of any interest.















Aug 23, 2016

لا تضيع في الماضي



ضِعْ في ثرثرة الغُرباء في مقهى مكتظ، في رنين الملاعق المصطدمة بالفناجين والأكواب، في ضجيج طفل يبكي قاصداً شدِّ انتباه أمهِ

ضِعْ في الزحام، في هذه الشوارع التي لا تسكن ولا تهدأ، في هذه الطرقات التي تمتد ولا تنتهي، خُذْ طريقاً خاطئاً، اتبع شارعاً لن يقودك إلى البيت، تُهْ تماماً، كُنْ مركبة في سربٍ من المركبات

ضِعْ في وجوه السائحين المبهورة، في عيونهم المُحدِقة في البروج والمباني، إعجابهم بالتصاميم، بالمعمار والأضواء. قد رأيتها كُلُها من قبل، أُنظُر إليها مجدداً، بعيون جديدة، كفيلم لكاميرا عتيقة، عرِّضْ عينيك العارفتين للضوء إمحِ كلُ الصور القديمة وانظر لكل شيء من جديد

 ضِعْ في أغنية، في ضحكة رضيع، في عينان ساحرتان تمضيان مسرعتان باتجاهك، لكن لا تضيع في الماضي، لا تتوه في الماضي ثانيةً، الماضي، بأفواههِ الغاضبة الحاقدة، الماضي بكلماته التي تقتل كطلقات مسدس، الماضي ببكائه ونواحهِ المضني، لا تسقط في قبضته، لا تكن فريسة بين أظافره، لا تقبل نداءه، لا تدعه ينهيك مرةً أخرى،
أرجوك.







Lose yourself



Lose yourself in this; the loud chatter of strangers dining in this extravagant restaurant, the heavy cutlery clinking to china plates, the distressed child crying for his mother’s attention.

Lose yourself in the constant busyness of these clogged roads, wide and as far as your eyes can see. Take wrong turns, stop at unfamiliar lights, take routes that don’t lead to home, get lost, be another vehicle in this incessant swarm of vehicles.

Lose yourself in the awe struck faces of tourists, eyes gaping at the magnificent towers, the architecture, the lights, you’ve seen them before, see them anew, like an old camera roll film, expose your eyes to the sunlight light, erase old images and be in wonderment once more.

Lose yourself, in a song, in a baby’s laughter, in a pair of beautiful passing eyes, but not in the past, don’t lose yourself in the past again, with its angry hateful mouths, with its bullet like words, its dreadful clutching sobs, don’t fall in its claws, don’t answer its calls, don’t let it bury you, please.




Aug 20, 2016

A Minister of Happiness!


Something I found very interesting when I came to the UAE is that this country has a Minister of Happiness! Yes! You read correctly, A Minister of Happiness!

I was very intrigued when I found the lady Minister on Twitter being retweeted by many locals I have started following since I’ve arrived here. The idea was so new to me, I’ve never heard of a Minister of Happiness, and for the position to be occupied by a lady, a young lady, doubled my curiosity! So I decided to follow Minister ‘Ohood Al Roumi’ on twitter, in hope of being inspired and having some positive energy rub off on me. After a week of reading Al Roumi’s tweets it became apparent to me  that happiness likes to repeat itself! She tweeted day after day: ‘happy people move forward, happy people achieve’ and ‘it’s important to maintain happiness and positive energy in our youth and our nation because only happy positive people can create, develop and achieve’ and ‘Happy people never look back, they don’t let the past undermine their efforts to move forward, be happy and achieve’.

I don’t know whether Minister Al Roumi has any actual administrative executive duties but as someone who is appointed by the ruler of this country to maintain high spirits and positive vibes.. well, she doesn’t seem to have much to say. Meanwhile, the people I follow on social media who are not ashamed of their sadness, their depression and their constant struggle with their troubled past, are much more creative in the way they express themselves, they always have something new to say and their expression is deep, profound and meaningful. Sadness is creative, sadness is inspiring, sadness has a beautiful mouth and a very poignant voice. Sad people produce the most fascinating art; whether in literature, music or the visual arts. Sad people are high achievers because we are always searching for self-worth in our achievements. We are constantly working on new laborious projects because we need a reason to wake up in the morning. Sad people might emotionally be stuck in the past, we may allow our past to continue to abuse and hurt us, but we are the stronger ones, it takes courage and strength to continue moving forward with metal shackles on your feet and a boulder on your shoulders.











Aug 16, 2016

How my mind talks to me:



There are worse things you stupid bitch!

There are worse things than the image of the only man you loved fucking your friend and sucking her tits.

There are worse things than crying yourself to sleep every night, and wishing, hoping praying for something to happen; some message, some letter, some random act of kindness to prove to you that you are in fact worthy, that your sad pathetic life and your pathetic dreams are not meaningless, that despite the abusive men, the disconnected family, the indifferent friends, there is still a reason to wake up every morning.

There are worse things you shallow, self-centred loser; there are children dying, there are wars, there are terminally ill people in dirty cold wards.

You hold on to old rusty keys that fit nowhere, you knock on doors that won’t open. Inside you there’s a cave, within another cave, within a well, within an endless black hole, a darkness fathomless and infinite.

You died a million times, it’s hard to look in the mirror, it’s hard to remember! “If only I was someone else, somewhere else” you’ve been murmuring for the past 25 years.













Aug 12, 2016

A perfect soul without a hole in it





I envy my ten year old her freedom, being unaware of the scrutiny of the male’s gaze, untethered by his expectation. Still able to be inside her body and enjoy it for what it is; a remarkable instrument, not the weight of it, the height of it, or the size of its limbs. Free from her body's measurements, her eyes not yet trained to criticise and fault it, not yet made aware of how to compare herself to pictures in magazines, to peers, or to a past self. I envy her the lightness of her existence, not yet pressed by ideals of beauty, not yet pulled down by the heavy anchor of self-worth. A full, complete soul without a hole in it. A perfect being, not seeking validation or approval, not yet riddled or trampled by cultural foolishness, social norms or opinions.
I was once like that, I can’t remember what it felt like, but I know I was once just as tremendous.

  






Aug 10, 2016

Tired feet




I decided I needed a little self-pampering, it’s been so long since I had some “me time”. It felt wonderful sitting in that comfortable recliner having my toes manicured and my feet massaged, I was asked if I was comfortable, I was asked if I would like a coffee. Just as my eyes were adjusting to all the luxury, the glossy furnishing, the tranquil fake waterfalls, the floating lilies, the sound of calm music, my sight falls on the muted plasma screen at the far end of the spa, the red news ribbon and black text hurried in the bottom of the screen, people dying because of hate, people dying because of racism, people dying in mindless, meaningless wars, violence and terrorism. So many bombs, so much suffering, loss and homelessness. I felt small, ashamed, disconnected, shallow, irrelevant, naïve. I turned my eyes down to my tired feet, felt the beating of my tired heart.











Aug 7, 2016

The God I Love



The god I love

designs immaculate seashells

paints butterfly wings

The god I love

pours her soul in ocean vessels

breathes into clouds

The god I love

sways tree branches

opens flowers

The god I love

made his majestic body

his perfect face

his beautiful eyes

his hands

his good kind hands

the hands that know when and how

his knowing hands.






Aug 6, 2016

Watching the sunrise by the seashore



I’m not sure what I felt;

watching the sunrise today

the giant ball of flames that

never seems to cease or tire

always the same, showing up with

fiery passion, punctual without delay.

The lulling sound of gentle waves,

the melancholy sighs of water.

The carpet of colourful crushed seashells

a million years of past fragile crawling life.

A curious pulsing jellyfish, a misshaped rag in the water.

The shy one clawed crab quickly camouflaged .

The flat starfish mirroring her astronomical sisters.

A universe, an entire life, where words are redundant,

speech is superfluous ,

language unnecessary.







Jul 21, 2016

How Men Kill Women Everyday




I woke up on the morning of July 18th and started going through my twitter feed, not a wise decision when you’re a depressive, who sleeps poorly and wakes up with what feels like a heavy bruised lacerated heart everyday. I came across a story about a sixteen year old Afghan girl named Zahra; when Zahra was eleven, her father remarried, Zahra was part of the dowry given to her step mother, two years later at the age of fourteen Zahra was married off against her will and made to work in the fields for the benefit of her in-laws. Zahra was burned to death by her husband and his family when she refused to work in their opium fields while pregnant, they burned her to cover up the stabs and bruises they gave her over several years of abuse. After reading Zahra’s story I didn’t know how to face the day. There are so many girls/women like Zahra everywhere in the world, in developed and non-developed cultures, religious and non-religious, educated and uneducated. If you’re a beautiful glamorous super model like Reeva Steenkamp who was murdered by her boyfriend, you’ll make headlines. If you’re a poor Muslim girl like Zahra, someone might read your story, shake their head, mutter “those barbaric Muslims” and move on.

But murder is not the only method men use to kill, abuse, hurt, diminish, demean, undermine, defeat women; every single day, every moment there is a man physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually abusing a woman somewhere and calling it something other than abuse. Men cannot feel more unless they make women feel less, they can’t have a sense of self unless they destroy a woman’s sense of worth, everything about a woman’s confidence terrifies them and makes them feel small and impotent.

A while back I made the HUGE mistake of dating my therapist, like I said "HUGE" mistake. He seemed so caring, so understanding, and I was so lonely, so vulnerable and so desperate for care, love and understanding. The first time we agreed to meet - not in our professional capacity - I was looking forward to all the meaningful conversations we would have, I imagined us taking long walks then sitting down for coffee, I looked forward to learn more about him, as he knew everything about me, but when we actually met he seemed distracted, pre-occupied, elsewhere, then, in the privacy of my home I understood why, he said “I want you” in the way one indicates sex. I was surprised as I had hoped the first time we met would be about getting to know each other, but again, lonely, desperate, emotional and vulnerable I took him to my bedroom. When he took his clothes off I was shocked, I knew of course that he was overweight, that was obvious, but what I didn’t know was that he had recently lost hundreds of pounds, everything in his body was sagging and gross; long dangly man boobs, a huge sagging gut, I was repulsed but I tried hard not to think about how unattractive he was, saying to myself: he’s caring, he’s loving, he’s understanding, he’s not like the other abusive men I’ve been with. When he failed to perform sexually, I tried some of my sexy tricks to bring that sad disgusting 2 inch pink penis hidden under all that sagging pink flesh to life but to no avail. I lay there, cold, naked, sad, heart broken and disappointed, still, I thought to myself I should try my best to make it less awkward, as he’s probably feeling ashamed, so I put on my best fake smile and lied about how nice it is to cuddle. But to my surprise he began to try to blame me for his impotence! First he said jokingly that it was my anti-depressants that dampened my sexual desire, something I had told him in the confidentiality and safety of our therapy sessions, then he said “I remember you told me once that you lost your libido when your depression got worse” another private piece of information I told him as my therapist. He kept saying things like that, looking for an excuse, ignoring completely that I had tried to make him hard. I knew what he was doing, and it was the most shameful thing any man has ever done, and I had known some pretty shitty men. It sickened me that a man I thought was kind, understanding and caring was just as abusive, cruel, insensitive, manipulative and completely self-absorbed as the men I had known in the past. I pitied and resented him, it was so pathetic that he would be so petty as to use my depression - the only reason we crossed paths - against me, and to use secrets I had told him as my therapist in order to feel better about himself, to feel like a real man when he clearly wasn’t, that the only way he could regain any self-respect and pride was by making me feel less.
For six days after our unfortunate encounter he did not contact me, I was glad and hoped I’d never hear from him again, on the seventh day he sent me a very long e-mail about what a good man he really is. During our therapy sessions I had discussed with him on various occasions how much I value real communication, how it saddened me when people texted when they could have picked up the phone and called, how people e-mail when they know they should have made more of an effort and tried to talk face to face, he strongly agreed with me, but I guess he wasn’t paying attention to that conversation as much as how my depression effected my libido! I wrote back telling him that he didn’t have what it takes to be with me. I started seeing a female therapist who is a thousand times better, more experienced, more competent and emotionally intelligent than my ex-therapist.  



















Jul 17, 2016

كيف تغيّرنا الأحزان




قد لا نرى كيف تغيّرنا الأحزان،

تسرقُ منّا شيئاً صغيراً كلّ يوم، نومنا الهانيء، البريق الذي لَمعَ في أعيننا، الضحكات الصادقة الخالية من أيّ تصنّع أو نفاق، ثم الحلم الذي ناضلنا من أجلهِ، ثم القلب الذي  ضحينا للوصول إليه، ثم الصديق الذي أخلصنا لصحبته، ثم رغبتنا في الحياة..

رويداً، رويداً تمحو أحزاننا ألوان الحياة حتى تبهت الدنيا في أعيننا.. تتحوّل أرواحنا من ملمسها الحريريّ الرقيق الناعم، إلى قطن يمكن التحكًم به، إلى صوفٍ قاسِ، إلى جلد  صلبٍ عرد يتحمّل كل العواصف  بعد أن تجرّد من كل العواطف.. 

و لا ندري أين تذهب مناً كل هذه الأشياء؟

قد أفهم أن يهرب النوم من عيناي عندما تطاردهُ أقكاري القبيحة، المشوّهة ، وقد أفهم أيضاً أن تتضائل الضحكات في زمنٍ ملؤه العنف و الكُره و الموت، لكن ذلك الحب! كل ذلك الحب! أين يمكن دسّهِ أو دفنهِ أو رَميهِ، أين يُرمى جبل؟ كيف يدفن بحر كامل؟ أيمكن دَسِّ النهار؟








Jul 15, 2016

اقطعها، احرقها، مزّقها إن شئت



عندما يُقطع جذع الشجرة، نستطيع أن نرى سنينها من خلال عدد الخطوط التي تدور حول قِطرها
خطوط عُمرها، ذكرياتها، جروحها و آلامها و تشققاتها و صدى ماضيها
الشجرة لا تنسى أبداً ، الشجرة تحفظ  كل شيء في قلبها في روحها، في داخلها
قد تَتَغيّر بِتغيُّر الفصول، قد تتساقط أوراقها، قد تتبدل ألوانها، قد تتحلىّ بثوب الربيع الجديد، أو قد تميل كلما هبّت بها العواصف العاتية، لكنها لا تنسى
تحفظ  بدقةٍ و صدقٍ كل التفاصيل،  تُدوِّن مشاعرها من دون خجلٍ، خوفٍ أو إجحاف، من دون الحاجة للغةٍ أو كلمات، من دون أنينٍ ، نحيبٍ أو بكاء
تَقِفُ صامتةً، صابرة، صامدة و قوّية، راسخة، شامخة و أَبِيَّة
اقطعها إن شئت، اقتلعها من أرضها، احرقها، مزٍّقها وانثرها نشارة خشب، اصنع منها كُرسي أو كُراّس
لن تأخذ منها سكونها وسكوتها والسنين والآلام التي رَسَمَتها بحبٍ وشغفٍ وخشوع في صمت جوفها، لن تلغي كيانها.

  

Jul 13, 2016

Home and Belonging



As my departure from the UK quickly approaches, I think about the concept of ‘Home’ and ‘Belonging’, two concepts I’ve struggled with all my life. There are in the world today 65.3 million displaced people, forced out of their homeland by war, prosecution and conflict. Immigrants, who have left their homeland by choice have reached a staggering 232 million today.

Although no war is raging in the country where I was born, I have often felt I was forced to leave, driven away, rejected, shunned, publically and privately shamed, ridiculed. And now I am forced to leave the UK, it doesn’t sadden me anymore, I look forward to leaving this wet, grey, bleak country, with its cold, indifferent, unwelcoming people. I look forward to the future, I know there are better things out there, I’m sure of that. I try to think of what I will take with me from here, what does England represent to me? The tall black wrought iron gates, with their sharp spear-headed tips, cold and hard. When I was growing up in Scotland - in another life time – I ran my finger over those forbidding gates, closed, always closed, always tall and erect, on cold wet mornings, a female spider’s web spun between two bars would shimmer with rain drops, looking like a gorgeous diamond necklace from the right distance in the weak sunlight. What else would I take? what else would I save in the archives of my memory? The magnificent rose bushes that put on their best show every May then gradually, slowly fade for the rest of the year, those breath taking large flowers, scattering their velvet petals on the side walk, beckoning a passer to come closer, come and smell the most enchanting fragrance no fancy perfume factory can ever produce, full of mystery and desire. What else would I take? The smell of freshly baked M&S bread, the melancholy sound of street buskers, the delight of hearing a native Scot say “in a wee moment?”,  that’s all I’m taking. I often wonder why Cadbury chocolate tastes better here in England? I often wonder why Irn-Bru doesn’t taste as good anywhere other than Scotland? I don’t know? Perhaps it’s a thing of home and belonging.







Jul 12, 2016

يوم ماطر





يوم ماطر عاصف


بدّلت خلالهِ السماء زرقتها ونورها وهدوءها، إلى نحيب و بكاء وظُلمة


أطلقت غضبها، صرخت في غصون أشجارها، نَثَرتْ (جريحة) وريقات الزهور، انتزعت (باكية) القبعات والأوشحة،  قلّبَتْ صناديق القمامة (بعنف) وبعثرت (متألمة)
النفايات في الشوارع  و راحت  تأن و تأن حزينة ناحبة خارج الأبواب الموصودة

جلستُ أُراقب مجرى دموعها على نافذتي، كل قطرة تسقط على سطح الزجاج لها خاصّيتها، لها شكلها و حجمها المختلف، تسيل في مجراها الخاص، تسيل وتسقط على الأرض فتبتلعها التربة أو تتشربها النباتات، لكن بين الحين والآخر تأتي قطرة من السماء قاصدة قطره أخرى كالسهم، فتتجه إليها مباشرة بحزم و إرادة ورغبة ، وكما لو أنّ القطرة الأولى بانتظارها، فَتَتَّحد القطرتان ، تتحدان اتحاداً لا يمكن فكّهِ ولا يمكن من بعدهِ تمييز إحداهما عن الأخرى، تختلطان اختلاط الماء بالماء وتسيران وتسيلان في مجرى واحد ، وإن حصل وانفكَت إحداهما عن الأخرى و تحولتا إلى قطرتان من جديد، تسير الواحدة منها حاملة الكثير من خواص الأخرى، لا مفرّ لها من الذكرى








  

Jul 11, 2016

Leave the House: Surviving my Depression



I have to leave the house often,

Even if I had nowhere to go

Even if I was ill, or tired, or didn’t need anything from the shops

I leave the house anyway

I find a reason to leave the house,

Looks like I’m going to run out of coffee soon, or maybe I’ll walk to the public library to borrow a book, any reason to leave the house, if I stay in my troubled thoughts will corner me, they will call me to them and I will respond and listen.

I have to leave the house, I walk, I know my sadness follows me wherever I go, I can hear its weightless footsteps behind me, but I make sure I’m a step ahead

I take buses to nowhere and sit next to a stranger and strain my ears to hear a meaningless conversation between two old ladies sitting behind me.

I walk to town, I purposefully search for crowds, I through myself in their chatter, I try to loose my feelings in their affairs, in their expressions, in their gestures, their reasons and their words.

I look into babies’ eyes, I listen to trees rustling, I watch with hunger lovers kissing, holding hands, leaning on one another, I cry, I put on my oversized sun glasses, I hide, I’m so far away from everything, I’m on the outside, always on the outside.

I hurry back to my dungeon, my feet ache, my heart throbs, my mind palpitating with all the dark, crushing thoughts I temporarily pushed away, now they’ve had time to breed, now my ugly charged emotions have multiplied, now the ogre awaits, I turn the key, I go to my bedroom, I close the door and surrender.  







Jul 10, 2016

لا أملك سوى



لا أملك شيئاً ثميناً،
لم أملكُ يوماً قطعةَ ألماس
لم أملك يوماً سيارة فخمة أو فيلا جميلة
لم أملك يوماً فستاناً لمصمم أزياء لبناني راقي
لم أملك يوماً ساعة سويسرية أو حقيبة إيطالية الصنع
لا أملكُ سوى اليد الصغيرة التي تُمسكُ بيدي كلما هممنا بعبور الشوارع المزدحمة بالمركبات المسرعة المتهوّرة
لا أملك سوى صوتها الطفولي: "ماما، أنتِ أفضل ماما في الدنيا"، صوتها الذي لطالما أنقذني من جحيم حزني ووحدتي
لا أملكُ سوى دموعها التي تنهمر لدموعي كلما رأتني في عزَ آلامي كلما دهستني و هزمتني الحياة 













Jul 9, 2016

عن الوطن.. عن الإنتماء




لم أشعر يوماً بأنني أنتمي للبلد الذي وُلدتُ فيه، و بعد خوضي العديد من المعارك الإجتماعية و الأسرية و القانونية و العلمية و العملية. بعد التهميش، و التصغير والطمس، والتكفير والتكذيب و التحقير و التهديد بالتأديب و الحبس. بعد أن إلتفت عني كل من أحب و إلتفت إليً المتشمتين، رحلت  بحثاً عن وطن جديد

سافرت للبلاد التي وُلدت فيها ابنتي، تقدمتُ بطلبي باللجوء، بالإقامة ، بالسماح لي و لطفلتي بالعيش في ضباب و شتاء انجلترا و بعد شهور طويلة تاهت فيها أوراقي و توسلاتي و أعذاري و شهاداتي و انجازاتي و التزكيات التي لملمتها من هنا و هناك أحاولُ جاهدةً بأن أثبت أنني لستُ إرهابية لمجرد أن اسمي فاطمة، رُفضت و رُفضت ابنتي و رُفضت كلَ  توسلاتنا و رجاءاتنا باللجوء، وها أنا من جديد أبحث عن وطن، أبحث عن الإنتماء إلى شيءٍ ما، مكانٍ ما، فكرةٍ ما، حياةٍ ما، إلاهٍ ما...

لاا أريدُ شيئاً، لا أريد مالاً ولا منصباً و لا ثروة، أريد فقط أن أحيا مع طفلتي دون التعرض للسب أو القذف أو الإضطهاد لمجرد أن لي فكرٌ مختلف عن الفكر السائد، أريدُ أن أحيا من دون أن أشعر بالنقص و بالدونية لمجرد أنني اخترتُ الطلاق من ذكر غبي بائس.

ربما يكون الوطن قصة، حكاية، رواية أوهمونا بها عندما كنَا صغاراً

ربما يكون الوطن كذبة، كالحب، نظلَ نطاردهُ من دون جدوى

ربما يكون الوطن نكته ساخرة، ساذجة، نضحك كلما سمعناها أو رددناها، ضحكات تعيسة يملؤها النفاق

ربما يكون الوطن وجبة لذيذة التهمها و استهلكها الأولون منَا، و لازلنا نردد شعاراتها الباهتة الفانية

ربما يكون الوطن ابتسامة حزينة نجبر أنفسنا على رسمها على محيانا محاولين جاهداً أن نعيش