Monday, 15 March 2010

Dispatches - Children of Gaza

Catch it on 4OD if you missed it. Innocent souls whose eyes speak throught the lens of the camera, volumes more than we could ever articulate. I feel like there’s no point writing a narrative or review of the programme, I don’t feel I could ever justify it. The relentless cycle of violence, and what these children have seen and suffered. Fathers shot at the their doorstep, a nine year old boy bombed in his own home, a girl living iwht pieces of shrapnel in her brain…children living and leanring about life and the world in what could be the hrashest, cruellest way. What could hurt more, what could be worse. The anguish and fear we could only imagine, what our tv screens decide to tell us.

Beauty and survival. Pain and torture. Hope and fear. Makes me feel small and insignificant, my problems aren’t problems. And I can change the channel and watch Glee or Friends and forget, but that is their reality. That revenge they want to take, that eace they want to make, its justified and its real and its true.

And us? We are still sleeping and Gaza still burns.

On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear – [Quran 2:286]

Part 7

I just spoke for the longest time today. Apart from when I was teaching, and I had to force myself and put on a bit of an act. although it was nice to tell someone about yesterday, and they had genuine concern and hoped it went well. I feel quite glad and I’m happy I spoke to her, a nice friend, and now I feel like I can write this.

Got back late last night and felt…overwhelmed and numb. If that’s possible. The conversations, deep and meaningful and analytical, the questions and the answers in the car of course added to this, but they needed to be had, and I’m really glad for it. When we got home, I felt so tired, and emotionally drained. Every bit of me ached, and I couldn’t wait to sleep. Sleeping was good.

Ok so now my line manager came in to my room and asked how it all went. Weird. Apparently everyone’s been asking how I am, if I’m ok. That’s really sweet. Again, had to force myself to speak to tell her about yesterday, but again its making me write so that’s a good thing. I feel quite humbled. Feeling a bit strange and overwhelmed…I do have some breathing space now though which is good. And shell shocked. She nailed it.

People have been asking me how it went, and honestly, I don’t know. As in, we went, it was nice, everyone chatted and got on, and chilled and ate and had dessert and tea and made jokes, but I don’t know how I actually feel about it. Which is quite worrying. I should be relieved, or happy or something. Maybe it was the dreams I had last night.

And now I’m really regretting not going to the airport to drop my parents off.

Foreboding, apprehension, unease, anxiety, discomfort…I can’t think of the right word to describe the feeling lodged in my gut, right by my diaphragm, and deep in my chest too.

So we got there, me cradling the orchids like a baby, and went in, said our salaams, and sat down. Felt so strange being there, a few awkward silences, and then people coming in and being introduced. The kids came in, or were sent in, one by one, and did their rounds of shaking hands and saying salaam, which is always a cute ice breaker. I was feeling so hot with my coat and big woolly scarf on so took them off awkwardly and tried to fold them in a ladylike way across my lap. He kept looking at me, and I tried to ignore him, averting my gaze. Stop looking at me! Could feel his eyes on me. Why is he wearing that shirt? You should dressjust a little bit more like your brother, haha.

Mum and I went into the next room as we needed to pray. As we finished, his little sister, the youngest and favourite, came in, so we said salaam and introduced ourselves. And sat and chatted for a while. Very nice and friendly. Actually, really nice, warm and welcoming. Couldn’t fault a thing. Or ask for more. So why do I feel like this. Have things concluded one way subconsciously in my own mind?

So anyway, chit chat, chit, chat, and it was food time. I thought we would all eat together, but it was meant to be us, and some of them. When I said, lets eat together, it was misunderstood as lets us girls eat together. That’s not what I meant. I meant everyone. So it ended up the men eating first and then the women. Which is annoying but anyways.

His brother was cool, making jokes and taking the mick. Made things more relaxed and chilled and I prefer it that way then all quiet and formal.

This is still so strange. And I missed asr today, not good :-(  Writing this in bits, it feels like last night’s dreams are haunting me, and determining my percpetions and judgements and emotions. The one where I was with a friend of a cousin or something. And the one where we were both in the same place, at the same time, but not together. And there is an empty set next to me, only I have to text him to tell him this. And then it ended. I don’t know.

Eating together, dessert together, the men went off somewhere for a walk, so we had tea and chilled, watched the kids. Then the boys came back, and we sat together and chatted. It was nice. But it was the first full meeting so of course everyone was on their best behaviour. Including myself. And he would talk to me, and I would side step, and again, avert. You look yummy when noone is looking, and me trying to ignore and send evils at the same time. A short question, don’t talk to me. A poke when nobody was looking.

Uuurrrgghhhh why am I feeling these reservations? Is it because I know that I wont fit in? That I won’t blend and bend to be what may be expected of me? That I cant do it? That if I change myself, for that purpose, then I won’t be me anymore. Then you may as well order something and have it sent over on PIA, or go and pick it up yourself. Why me? What is it about me that you want, or like, or more importantly, expect? And what if I cant fulfill those expectations? What if you cant fulfill mine? And then what? Emotional attachment and physical attraction and all the swooning? Where do we put that and what do we do with it. I want to be with you becuase i want to be with you. Not becuause I dont want to be alone.

I need to sleep on this. I need to pray some more. Life was easier when it was all about the swooning.

“… Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace.” (Qur’an, 13:28)
I feel really, really weird. I’m not sure how to explain it. Kind of like a bad mood, but more out of sorts. Nothing is satisfying me and I have a lot of questions in my mind, all unanswered. I don’t know if I’m angry, or upset, or annoyed. Perhaps subdued, pensive. One person said to me I seem very reflective. I think perhaps today should be spent with me. I’ve already inflicted this upon the kids today, negatively, and it wasn’t even their fault. As a consequence, my lessons didn’t go as well as they could have. My year 11s took the mick, miss you’re on form today, but that’s ok I don’t mind that. We have that sort of relationship where we can make fun of each other.

Another thing, my prayer mat has gone missing from my room when I was off sick – what is that all about?! It was in a cupboard as well.

Anyway, I think I may be overwhelmed. Or a bit numb from yesterday. And then with the parental unit leaving today and leaving me and my brother to it for two weeks; it does give a lot of supposed time to think and question and look for answers and the sort, but I know it’ll fly by and culminate in me being none the wiser. I also have to take care of everything, as well as stress at work, which is a bit daunting. Domestic goddess I am not.

Daunting. That’s how I’m finding this all. The conversations that are to be had and the questions to be asked and answered and considered, and the views and opinions and feeling and anxieties and doubts to be aired and vocalised. Honesty and tact. Much required, also time. And the future and the decisions, and all that depends on it and vice versa.

Am I the right person?
Are you?
Does it make sense?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I Love My Mum

Being ill is weird. I’m the sort of person who needs loads of sympathy and TLC; anything less gets me annoyed and angry. However, when others are ill, and yes depending on who they are, I try to keep away from them and ask them not to breathe on me. Yes, mean I know.
I’m currently undergoing a serious case of flu and in need of cheering up. My mum just did an amazing job. Two days off work and I don’t know if I’ll be able to go in tomorrow. I want to, even though it’s a really busy five period day. I’ve even missed Wednesday night, and I love, live for, Wednesday nights. Was just feeling too weak. Am surprised I can sit and write this, have been feeling so out of it, so physically weak.

But being ill has its advantages; you have an excuse for everything, you are meant to sleep loads and loads, and you generally take a break from busy day to day life. But this type of taking a break doesn’t mean you can go out and catch up with friends and sort things out, it’s more of a hibernate from the world break. Which is sometimes required. And when you do go back to work, you realise that the world carried on without you, and you really shouldn’t have worried so much. Your students asked where you were, you missed a couple of meetings and are a few lessons behind (you also missed some deadlines – oops) but that’s pretty much it.

And being this ill doesn’t happen often, twice a year for me; near the beginning and near the end, discounting the awful hayfever in between. And it does make you appreciate things, like work, and friends, and day to day life, and being up and about and stuff. Your health.

Ok, so I guess that’s why I’m writing this. If I can go into work tomorrow, I will. And I’ll pick up from where I left off, and catch up, and try to find all the stuff that’s been nicked from my desk. And If I can go into work tomorrow, I won’t. I’ll rest, and I’ll read if I can, and watch TV/films if I can, and try and get better.

I need to go and wash my hair, but don’t even feel like I have the energy for that right now. Sympathy..?

Monday, 8 March 2010

Part 6

Don’t ever stop these things you do, don’t ever become boring. Don’t stop being you. Like these bright pink nails and stuff. The crazy things you do. Don’t think you have to leave parts of yourself to be the perfect daughter-in-law. Do these nutty things you do from time to time, and they’ll get used to it. It’ll be like, ahh she’s a bit mental, but its ok, and that’s it.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

I'm Too Young, Part 5.

How do you tell a guy you don’t want to live with his parents? That yes, you can’t wait to live with him, marry him, be more than his girlfriend, but that the thought of living with his parents makes you want to book the first seat out of Heathrow and fly as far away as your plastic allows you. How do you tell him, that it’s not just his parents you don’t want to live with, but anyone’s parents. That as much as you love and care for them, you’re even looking forward to not living with your own parents any more.

What is it with this Asian culture. It’s not a Muslim thing, it’s an Asian sub continent thing. And for some reason, it seems to have seeped into our generation. Well, the male members of it anyway. Yes, there are financial constraints, and yes, there are concerns about looking after elderly parents. But till they need us to look after them, surely they value their no-need-of dependence-yet state of life.

I’m sure that, back in the sub continent, or east Africa, or where ever this derived form and is practiced, it worked, because that was society and that was the context and it was done for a reason. But you can’t apply every tradition to every context; it just won’t work like that. Times are different, people are different, society is different, even hopes and dreams and aspirations are different. Children are raised differently and even the roles of men and women have altered and changed somewhat. Many friends have entered into this living with the in laws thing, not one has had no problems, not one is 100% happy.

And yes, no marriage or relationship is going to be perfect, it’s all going to be hard and a test and involve sacrifice, why make it even harder, why put extra stress and strain on everything?

Take an adult, a grown up in their own right with their own career, and ask them to live under the roof of another family, follow their rules, regulations and practices, sacrifice parts of who they are, and do the best they can. Who would willingly do this? Then throw in the person they’ve fallen for in to the mix, and the conundrum arises. Still, do you go for it? Knowing that you would have to quell and sacrifice parts of who you are, your being and your nature, to please the people you live with. Even though those parts of your being and nature were the very things that made said person fall for you. Then what happens to your relationship, your marriage?

Culture is a beautiful thing; it informs us of our identity, gives us tradition and belonging, fills life with colour and music and clothes and food, zest and family and spice and love. But it’s not all lovely and perfect, it has constraints and conditions too. Will it cage in my free spirit, my tendency to fly and sporadic bouts if impulsive spontaneity. My independence – what attracted you to me. Or do we consolidate what we know, mix it up with the best bits of cultures we are from and have grown into, amalgamate the best of both worlds the best we can, and create a better future, a better culture for our children, whilst maintaining our spirit, our identity and our roots. Finding the balance and getting it right somehow.

Free spirit culture cage.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Project Manager (Architect)

Me and dad measured my nose. its 40mm from bridge to tip, 30mm from upper lip to tip, 30mm from side (nostril) to tip and 25mm from nostril to nostril.

We're weird like that.

(Dad had his measuring tape out for some sort of work he was doing. When I came downstairs, and he had it in his hands finishing off what he was doing.)