Solitude

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The greatest sensation
absences can give
is a mind
sculpted with lucidity
Able to shift
back and forth
between reality and dreams
And an imagination that dances
between oceans
free to drift.

Solitude is a gift.

According to the whim
of each living moment
I stray from banality
With every pore of my body
I dream and travel
through my mind
With eyes closed
I sleep
I unwind
I doze
The outside world
in an indefinite pause
I make room for silence.

I am alone
Inside the labyrinth of my mind
Amid the known and unknown
Barricaded by rugged rawness
In a swarm of wilderness
Wherein I turn all my sterile hours
into pure consciousness.

I wear the crown of bliss
On some exotic land
I am a happy captive
Soothed by a foreign hand
Empty of a future plan
Empty of noise
Abundant in poise
Separated from man
Consciously I stand
Tall
Whole.

Overlooking infinity
A horizon of divinity
Beneath emerging stars
Beyond the shadows
of the sky’s intimacy
I dream up dreams
of dramatic scenes
Of long journeys
to unimaginable
and impossible countries.

In that deep place
of untouched landscape
Men are scarce
One man less, less complexity
Two men less, less flagrant envy
Three men, less vulgar vanity
In general,
Less men, less vengeance
Less abominable lack of elegance
There is just the earth
And the colourful universe
Amused me
and my silent mindful mirth.

In my most heightened absence
and my imaginative fancy
I dream
I sleep and I dream
I dream and I dream
I even dream about dreams
And I am spared
from the myth of familiarity
from the sharp razor of reality.

It is exactly there
In my wide and vast dominion
That I am the world’s wealthiest recipient
of an everlasting income
without wants and needs
It is there that I found
my serenity
And became the ruler
of my mind’s territory
It is there that I diminished
The tortures of anxiety
that I divorced worry
It is there
that I proudly want to be
the woman I recognize as me.

Through the scattered rays of my imagination
The haven of my existence
Wearing my garment of relief
In my brilliant feeling of ownership
I fend off thieves
I fence off danger
No one can dare
step on my vibrant grass
nor trespass
my land of aloneness
my ground of deliverance.

It is only when
Reality can no longer be avoided
And my empire is invaded
When my implicit dreams are captured
and silence is ruptured
It is only then
That I,
With great reluctance
return home
with nothing to atone
And with much resistance
I leave behind
my solitude
I reenter
the unwholesomeness of normal life.

I write for my sister

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She kept him in her heart
He was her best part.

He was the sun
in her morning sky.

She was the connecting thread
in the web
of his dignified life.

Then one day
Fate stepped in
Wanted to stay
She tried to undo
what was done
But the thread gave in
The sun was gone
Her torment
had begun.

In her blinding disbelief
Her deafening heave
Her inconsolable grief
Her pain-stricken face
The colour grey
In her voice of fear
‘No! No!’
All I could hear
‘Baba! Baba!’
Ringing in my ear
That was my sister’s way
Keeping death at bay
Needing him to stay.

Days passed
So fast
Weeks came
All the same
Months fled
She hardly slept
Swept
by a confusing pain
by a depressing defect
stabbing away at her heart
wrenching her insides apart
She wept
while she lay in bed
feeling empty and dead
In the darkness of her room
In her wakefulness and gloom
Yet the burning tears that came
were tame
They never cussed
nor fussed
Instead
They silently bled
Flooding the valley
of his old city
with water
that is salty.

(She said to me)
He never leaves my mind
Day and night
he is on my mind
I feel so much pain
How can I explain?
I am the lonely sky
crying inconsolable rain.
 
(She said to me)
How can I ever forget
His mark on me
Who he was for me
What he meant to me
What he instilled in me
What he represented for me
What he changed within me
What he sought in me
What he gave to me
What he took from me
What he brought out in me
What he taught me
What he selflessly gifted me
Love, love, and more love
What I was never deprived of
To make me see
The potential in me
How great I can be
And because of he
I am secure and free.

(She said to me)
How can I but surrender
to nostalgia and remember
His serenity
His humility
His completeness
His uniqueness
His infectious sweetness
His discreet importance
His strong presence
His grandness and essence
His intense life lessons
His strong impact
A known fact
on little me
on growing me
on older me
on mother me
He was my soul’s key
My soothing sea.

(She said to me)
Please write
and describe
the extent of my pride
How he was my most brilliant light
How he made darkness bright
How he was everything clear and white
How his laughter was my cure
How his heart was kind and pure
How he was my bravest knight
How he had so much fight
How he made everything right
Record and remember
How he was my center
My faithful encourager
A man without blunders
A man with beautiful gestures
Write and tell
Repeat and retell
Don’t let them wonder
Keep alive
His relentless strives
His innocent smiles
His effect on so many lives
So that the world can read
Every great deed
So that everyone can see
pages of his glory
of inspiring he
what he used to be
what he will always be
what he was to me
The man of my world
My mountain of love
My magnitude above
My triumph.

(She said to me)
With urgency
Or with something
resembling fright
Please write
What he signified to me
Leave not a shred
of doubt
About
How I wish I could talk to him
How much I miss him
Fussing over him
Caring for me
Sitting with him
Hugging him
Our special connection
My affection
My attention
His fatherly protection
Don’t forget to mention
My complete devotion
As wide as the ocean
to my remarkable father.

(She said to me)
Please write
and highlight
The depth we shared
How much I cared
Let them be aware
How I cannot bear
That he is not there
Write
With great care
what I cannot dare
on paper
You are much braver
with words.

(I write for my sister)

She was his fair middle-child
The mother of his first grandchild
With light eyes like his eyes
Smiles like his smiles
She was his heaven’s river
His happiest giver
His sweetest letter
His personal defender
His most loyal lawyer
And I clearly remember
How generous
How gentle
How selfless
How tender
She was
with my father
No one could be her.

I write
Memories of the past
Destined to last
That touched me greatly
Made me smile fondly
How countless times
in their lives
in her unwavering eyes
in her somewhat subjective belief system
Despite my sister’s bountiful wisdom
His wrongs were always rights
His faults were never faults
His fights her fights
Shortcomings?
She couldn’t find
She stubbornly denied
The way a child
is utterly blind
To the weakness
of humankind
In her mind
He was the best
And the rest
were just the rest
Anything he said
was great and wise
Everything he did
she idealized
He was the answer
to every why
To everyone she told
He was her Captain
He was gold.

Did I write
How sometimes
she tries to hide
Unaware of her self-comprise
In the name of motherly sacrifice
To find inside
Some secret place
or space
to deal with her grief
to contain her pain
Less frequently, selectively
she timidly confides
in those few
she considers kind
Perhaps to carry on
to walk on
to march on.

Other times she shies
from those stoic types
And pities the ones
who dehumanize
the old who die
The ones who know her
but continue to belittle
knowingly or unknowingly
the pain she feels
Or rudely ignore
her cheeks’ wet trickles
Or do not acknowledge
her unstable flowing tears
as they appear and disappear
In her quiet mind
they signify
with their mean features
Earth’s most egoistic creatures.

(I write to my sister)

My dearest sister
My heart’s listener
Despite the thread
that became undone
Despite the fact
that the light is gone
Despite the tears that
stung
and the sadness that clung
Despite their drunken stupor
and insensitive tongues
despite what you have endured
and how vulnerable you have become
You won!

My sweet strong sister
Stay strong.

Baba was, is
your morning sun.

By Razan Abdul Majeed

Hysteria

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EMBRACE YOUR AGE. ACCEPT THE INEVITABLE.

Bee-stung lips
Legs like twigs
A butchered nose
with a pointed tip
firm like brick
Protruding ribs
thin as sticks
Facelifts
and painful pricks.

Confusingly ageless
External sameness
Addicted to excessiveness
A game of competitiveness
Under the spell
of impressiveness
While this is madness
Her aim is happiness.

She pretends normality
Exaggerates reality
Changes her features
For vanity
or maybe sanity
Sometimes temporarily
other times permanently
I should mention:
This has nothing to do
with aesthetic correction
Nor is it about
improving a disfigurement
Because that my friend
is certainly different.

An unusual mix
of big and small
Tennis balls
ping-pong balls
all kinds of balls
Whatever is in fashion
a new dimension
to increase attention
for example: two balls
against the walls
of her poor little cheeks
Stretched and besieged
cocooned and ballooned
That only last
some measly weeks
(minus the ongoing tweaks)

All shapes and sizes
A disfiguring crisis
Expressionless eyes
shocked and surprised
An effort to fix
her thousand ‘ifs’
An attempt to clip
her droops and falls
her deflated holes
her skin and moles
To regain control
of her wobbles
her dribbles
her bodily scribbles
her less than graceful wiggles
To vanish
her growing worries
her insecurities
her inner villains
To drown out
her nervous giggles.

She is so obsessed
with all the plastic tricks
all the latest beauty tips:
‘Brightening’
‘Lightening’
‘Plumping’
‘Tightening’
How frightening!
She is so transfixed
on all the objects
the varying facets
and different gadgets
she can use and install
on her fatigued face
The needles, the pair of scissors
The driller, the filler
The nerve killer
The ‘no expression’ thriller
on her forehead
on every possible area
But that’s not it!
There is no limit
to her fanatical hysteria!

This is not some complicated case
nor a biological womanly phase
This is vainly adorning
Foolishly succumbing
Naively conforming
to a manipulating
Culture of Erase:
‘Elongate the waist’
‘Change your taste’
‘Improve your ways’
‘Start now don’t waste’
‘Spend now incase’
‘Avoid numbers hide age’
‘Old age is a disgrace’
In short,
Just erase your face.

Instead of this disarray
How about we disobey
Speak up and say:
Embrace today!

Yet with all her misguided faith
with her delusion and haste
she eliminates every facial line
every wrinkle that is divine
every beautiful story, her history
everything of hers, yours and mine
every imperfect detail that is sublime
the very things that makes her shine
She spends all her time
trying to redefine
To confine
any sign of time
Losing her mind
Hiding her age
Poisoning her grace
Trying to chase
with jealousy and rage
what life left behind:
her lost youth.

She knows nothing of the truth
not her nor any woman in her shoes
Can’t she see?
How everything is romanticized
How we have been fed a thousand lies
every single time
Can’t she see?
How oblivious can she be?
Sadly, she remains convinced
that wrinkle-free
is being free
and youth is the key
to a life that is happy.

Instead of this disarray
How about we disobey
Speak up and say:
Embrace today
Find your way
Use your head
Ignore what is said
This vulture-culture
might as well be dead
Be wise
Don’t fantasise
Enough disguise
Time to say goodbye
Remember, don’t sigh:  
Every age has its prize
and every age has its vice.

Yet drowning with self-pity
she continues to copy
this and that personality
with what’s left of her femininity
with her worn-out body
that is now shaky and sloppy
She imitates
She waits
for what she considers a trophy:
a hint of human attraction
a few seconds of false admiration.

She wants to be somebody
Worth it and perfect
The best she can be
Only because they told her
then she told herself:
Unless young and pretty
I am nobody.

Everyman

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A Book Review

I recommend Everyman to every man and every woman going through a mid-life crisis.  Or to those who are helplessly confused because their immoral actions these days do not reflect who they thought they were: people with unshifting morals.

This short yet thought-provoking book cleverly demonstrates how certain choices driven either by: sheer boredom; the craving for newness; the thrill of the moment; a desperate act to relive youth; an aversion from monotony; an untamed impulse or an indescribable need for instant gratification – will eventually lead men and women astray, dropping them casually into a bottomless hole. And only as these men and women experience the alienating effects of aging (though it could happen much earlier), will they fully comprehend the monstrosity of their past actions, and how much pain they have inflicted on their loved ones along the way. Even more so on themselves.

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as an irreversible mistake and it is usually born out of recklessness.   

If you’re someone who often thinks about all of the above, you will enjoy reading Everyman by the American author Philip Roth. If you are someone who is on the other side of the spectrum (living in la-la land and thinking you are immune to life’s adversaries) then this book may not be the right one for you.

Everyman is a novel – raw and uncomfortably real. It is about one man’s intimate story through the different stages of his life.  It is a fictional memoir dealing with one man’s realisations, limitations, losses and regrets. It is about a man journeying through life and standing on the edge of the abyss. It reflects on the anticipation and inevitability of death, and if you dig deeper – it is a study of complex human relationships.  Its style is simple yet profound. It is bound to leave a deep imprint.

The protagonist says and I quote: ‘Old age isn’t a battle. Old age is a massacre’. The older you get the more tolerant you will be of Everyman and the more you surround yourself and spend time with old people, the more it will make sense to you. Read it – it will gift you more awareness.

Suicide

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Let us all try to eliminate the stigma around mental health conditions. Remember, it could happen to you or me. No one is immune to depression.

Silence is living
Within the walls of my being
A spirit of stillness
Flickering its shadow
In my room
Against the darkness
Of the midnight moon.

My face is a silhouette
An ugly drawing
Of useless contours
A portrait of disquiet
On a canvas of riots
Cleverly disguised
By my outward indifference
By my charm and allure.

I am in a state of numbness
A hopeless case
I am
Indeed I am
A bland taste
A disappointing waste
Of living space.

I am a stranger
In the strangeness of my mind
A trespasser
In my own garden
Where every living thing
Is eventually doomed
Where even wild flowers
Cannot bloom.

I am a hidden cemetery
Where bored ghosts
Wonder about in a swoon
Over my decorated tomb
Where oblivion
is my only cocoon. Continue Reading

As a Man Thinketh

James Allen

A Book Review

Not so long ago, I stumbled upon this gem of a book over 100 hundred years old. Brilliantly written and still remarkably in tune with our time, as strange and complicated as it is (our time that is). The coincidental stumble was a lucky one and I found myself effortlessly immersed in its powerful message and intrigued by its simplicity and relevance. It was one of those enlightening books far from the mainstream types. The types that convince you that ‘you are not your thoughts’ in fifty different ways and have somehow managed to sit under the throne of bestsellers. I am skeptical of these books and I’ve read many (despite some of the authentic research invested in them and sweat spilt over them). Why? Because I have a problem with the common and repetitive statement claiming to be a universal truth: ‘our thoughts are not us’. How can that be if our thoughts were created by our very own minds? Maybe a simplistic view to some but I trust what my own experiences have taught me, what my reflections have shown me and I even trust what my logic has proven to me – and that’s what I will go with. Do not misunderstand me. I am not claiming we do not have the power or the tools to reinvent our thoughts or change our perspectives. Nor do I believe that our thoughts do not affect the way we live. I am simply against the notion that we are not our thoughts. We are our thoughts AND we have the power to change them. That’s what I believe. And that’s what James Allen affirms.

 James Allen is the Englishman who wrote the 100+ year-old book: As A Man Thinketh (published in 1903). In his book, Allen manages to cleverly dismantle and explain where my belief stems from so that it makes sense to the deep and the not-so-deep – using a few convincing arguments based on his own experiences and reflections. This little book is delightful and delightfully easy to follow.

 I consider it a handbook and a practical guide to the power of thinking. It does not boast itself as the ‘truth’. What it does though is make you (the reader) understand that our mind is the ‘master power’ that ‘shapes our lives for good or ill’. And it does this by inspiring you to open up your mind rather than overwhelming you with burdensome studies and steps to follow. If we believe that our mind is the master power and we are the masters of this power – then we are ultimately the ‘authors of our own characters and thus the makers of our own destinies’. In his view, our characters are actually ‘the sum total of our thoughts over time’. He makes a lot of sense.

I love how he touches on some important themes that orchestrate the way we live or lead our lives. He covers themes such as how thoughts shape our circumstances; how circumstances do not shape us, they reveal us; the power of the mind and its tools; how health and appearance are shaped by our thoughts; the power of having a purpose; how good thinking equals success; how to cherish our visions and ideals; and the importance of achieving serenity.

I am not going to elaborate further because I am hoping you would just pick up the book and read it. All you need is two hours, even less but I am playing it safe! I promise you that once you’re done reading As a Man Thinketh you will feel as good as new! In the meantime, enjoy this quote I love by James Allen: ‘Cherish the music that moves your heart.  For out of your love will flow your purpose’.

An Encounter

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I could never forget
That summer night
When we met
A chance meeting
With intellect
Sentiments
I couldn’t detect.

There we were
Him and me
Resembling
Jordan River, me
And the Dead Sea, he
Connecting
To some degree
Indifference sitting
In between
Ready to intervene.

He was the calmest wave
I’ve ever seen
Of all the seas
In the Middle East
An influential figure
Witty and clever
Handling it well
Holding it together.

Inside his soul
Stood marred walls
And avalanched falls
Bolted doors
And deserted shores
Washed-up cities
And blocked borders
Complicated countries
And denied entries.

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