I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
I’ve been talking about quiet places and finding peace recently and I keep forgetting to mention that I also find reading books comforting. Especially the Harry Potter series. I think it’s because I know what’s going to happen but it never seems unamazing or boring. It’s reassuring and each time I read the books it adds to the story, the clarity of the world J K Rowling created. A wonderful place to escape because every battle ends in a victory despite the losses.
What are your favourite books to read? What do you do to relax?
Honestly, I don’t know how to live slowly or to do one thing at a time. I like being motivated and busy and working on lots of things. I have to be constantly doing something. But I do appreciate being able to stand in one place to reflect on things and take them in.
“When the world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai
So, I’m currently reading Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. The book is a collection of tales from extraordinary women from all over the world.
Each page is filled with a story from an amazing woman, the page above tells the story of Malala Yousafzai a Muslim woman, a young girl who fought for her right to an education and has since fought for many girls like her and not to have the right to an education. Each story is wonderfully accompanied with an illustrated image. Each image is done by a different illustrator and each story and woman and journey is as breath taking and inspiring as the last.
Malala’s quote means so much to me, because I believe that as a Muslim woman my voice, and other Muslim women’s voices are oppressed, overlooked or ignored and shouting out and saying, “hey hang on” and believing that one voice can be the difference between something happening and change taking place matters to me. So much. Malala is an inspiration to us all. She made change happen because she wanted an education, she demanded an education.
Success and achievement looks different to what we imagine. Sometimes the things we want to achieve seem so far away and in our minds eye they are murky and not quite hashed out and the path towards what we want isn’t always or even most of the time straight or simple. We have to wind down side roads and meet dead ends and have to re-evaluate our intentions and aims many times over before we reach where we want to be.
But what looks pretty and fulfilling from far away, what looks beautiful in our minds eye, what we are working towards and want to achieve may not always “be” what we wanted when we set out on our journey. You see if you get too stuck on achieving something something in a very particular manner, at a very particular point and place then you can’t grow or learn. You need to appreciate the not-quite achievements and the things you learnt along the way, not just the successful achievements that give you heartwarming feeling.
Sometimes it’s great to take a step back to stop seeing what you didn’t get and work out what you did get because we can learn from our not-quite achieved goals too.
I love BAMEinPublishing! Some of the most talented people I know are apart of this group. I’m so grateful for groups like this, safe spaces for those of us who are outnumbered in society and in industries that still have a lot to do in terms of inclusivity.
Let me tell you the story behind this picture though, well my story. The morning of this day I wasn’t even in London, I had a meeting so I commuted in from Birmingham, I was wearing salwaar kameez and I remember this because I messaged a couple of friends to ask if wearing salwaar kameez would make look odd in my meeting because, well there wasn’t going to be any other Asian wearing salwaar kameez in the entire building so I’d be the odd one out. After some convincing and then because I didn’t have time to go and change in my place in London I went to my meeting in my traditional cultural dress and that was that.
After the meeting I rushed home and changed my clothes because I was desperate to fit into this safe space too. And I did fit in and it was fantastic and I know I did a disservice to every single person there because nobody would have cared if I wore salwaar kameez, but I guess I would have. Because somewhere in my mind I have allowed myself to believe that I should be ashamed of this part of my culture. When I wear salwaar kameez outside of my community I get weird looks and people scrunching up their noses and speaking to me like an idiot because they think I can’t speak English. I stick out like a soar thumb and I guess I just really wanted to fit in here. For me this has turned into a battle with myself where I am one person in one place in one sort of dress and another in another place. My own perversion of my imposter syndrome for myself means I will only accept certain dressed versions of myself in certain environments. I find this odd and interesting especially because I believe this space is one of the the few spaces where nobody would have cared what I was dressed like.
Birmingham. All my life I wanted to be far away from Birmingham. To run away from it. I spent the majority of my university life telling my friends how much I wanted to move to London not being able to explain why because again, as with many things in my life this was nuanced.
For me, moving to London was going to be my break free moment. You know the moment when someone moves out and goes to university well for me that moment came a year and a bit after I went to university and graduated.
It was a surreal moment and then I spent some time in London, with my perfect job and now almost 8 months later I’m moving back to Birmingham and I know I haven’t failed anything but I also feel like when I left Birmingham I knew what I wanted to do and now I’ve come back to city I wanted to run away from and I feel secure and happy that I’m here and I feel sad I spent so many years wanting to run away and not seeing how much comfort it gave me.
I’ve come back to Birmingham to find my best self. To think and explore what the future holds for me and now that I’ve started to appreciate this city for what it is it’s giving back to me. It’s helping me day by day. I’m doing things in my city because even without anyone saying it this city has been holding me secure for a long time and I know it will continue to do so for as long as I ask it to. I am proud to be from Birmingham. And that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say!
I know many people have found ramadan quite difficult this year. I’m in a fortunate place that I can do the odd freelance piece from home and work from here. I feel for those who have to conduct their daily lives and jobs whilst holding an 18 hour fast but I pray that Allah gives you patience, strength and guides you.
This is a time to strength our resolves in purifying ourselves. A time to make our wills stronger, to fight against desires and wants, things we don’t need. A time to make us closer to God. I can’t believe it’s been more than 10 days already. I’ve learnt so much and I can’t wait to learn even more.
Identity and home is something I think about constantly. I’m the daughter of an immigrant mother. On forms I tick “British Asian / Pakistani”. I identify as British, I was born and grew up in the UK, but my Mother didn’t. My Mother was born in Pakistan. She’s lived in the UK for longer than she did in Pakistan though, which I find odd.
Culturally I’m Pashtoon and the land we live on in Pakistan is governed by tribal law I believe. I think if I went back a few generations I could find my family roots in Afghanistan. Maybe. Nobody keeps records in Pakistan from that far back to be honest.
So I identify with the British, Pakistani/ Pashtoon diaspora plus I’m Muslim and that’s just complicated in itself. Because although in many ways my cultural experience has been similar to many Pashtoon girls in Pakistan, it’s also been different. My culture has been amended and filtered to fit into the western world. In reality it’s taken me the last year and a long long digging deep process to come to this conclusion.
I find identity such a tricky area to explore. I don’t “fit into” one place or area/group. I’m a new sort of identity. A mixture of things.
I also find home a complex issue. In the picture the house in the middle is our family house in Pakistan. I call that home when I’m there but I call my home in England home too. Sometimes when I’m there I feel guilty that I have a home elsewhere and the other way around.
I think again, for me, feeling like I belong or could belong in more than one place is complicated because I feel like I’m betraying the other. It’s this idea of always being half a different person in one place and half a different person in the other. It’s complex and nuanced and I guess it all ties in with my identity and me feeling like an imposter like I don’t belong in either places properly. Like I’m just not “right” you know?
Home and identity are complex things to me and I’m 24 years old. I wonder when these things will become less complex. Do you feel the same?
One thing I have resolved to do this month as I am moving back from London for a while is to declutter my life.
I don’t NEED a lot of things that I own. To be honest, this is something I’m conscious of but still over time the things I own pile grows larger. I own many books, several which I’ve bought and not read for almost 3+ years so this is where I’m going to start, I’m going to slowly declutter my book shelves and give away the books to either family, friends, charity or sell them.
I’ll be tidying up my place in London later this week and when I’m going through that I am aiming to declutter everything there. No point bringing back clutter to moms. I might go crazy and put a number on the things I can own.
I think being surrounded by so many things is bad, it makes luxury the norm. If I’ve learnt anything during Ramadan it’s that I, one person, don’t need so many things in this world. Ramadan has reminded me of my self control and empathy with those who don’t have a fraction of what I do and yet I moan about what I don’t have and I’m unappreciative of the things I own. I’ll keep you updated on how things are going!