Wide awake

I honestly have no idea what people mean when they say, “We should reject wokeism”. Indeed, I have no idea what they mean by “wokeism” at all, though it reminds me a lot of “political correctness gone mad” — which is to say, we oppose disenfranchised people standing up for their rights. Personally, I refuse to use these terms, loaded with an ill-defined derogatory sentiment. It just seems to be media-speak designed to dispossess people of their natural inclination to pursue equality, fairness and justice. If being alert to injustice is woke, then count me in.

Forgotten

By now we are forgotten. Most we once knew have forgotten us, and we have forgotten them. Amidst 7.7 billion bodies, we are strangers, unknown. Amidst our 68 million countrymen, we are nobodies, known only to a few. We barely know our neighbours; only a few faces on our street.

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Divergence

A chance encounter with one I once knew years ago. How incredible how far our paths have diverged. A choice here, took my life off in one direction; another choice, another direction altogether, on and on, multiplied through the years. A choice there, took their life in a completely different direction too. Now we reside in completely different worlds, so unalike, walking completely different paths. How utterly extraordinary.

Plans

So convinced were they that God was on their side, that they voted for an executive presidency. But God does not play human politics. If the government should be brought down by anger at the sliding economy, what does that mean for the faithful now? Imagine an executive presidency staffed by a rabid secularist, with the power to rule by decree, turning back the clock on two decades of reforms to enable religious freedom. Of course, the masses are angry today, calling for early elections. The bold vision of the powerful might be about to come crashing down. Alas, the short-sighted plans of the faithful might mean dark days lie ahead. An executive presidency may sound fine when it’s your man in power, but should your fortunes change? Yes, perhaps trampling on the rights of others was not such a great plan after all.

Not my type

Do modern-day publishers no-longer obtain a physical proof of their typeset works before going to market? As an occasional typesetter myself, I find myself perpetually frustrated by the impossibly tiny print in which so many contemporary books seem to be set.

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A theory of relativity

Too often, I feel inadequate because I compare myself to others. I look at their expectations, and conclude that I fall far short of them. In my mind’s eye, I am an imposter, constrained by the lack of ambition which characterised my formative years.

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Whistleblower

It’s inevitable. If you call out the rich and powerful, you must expect the rich and powerful to call you out. If you dish dirt on others, expect others to dish the dirt on you. You may be allowed to savour your day of glory, but behind the scenes your opponents will already have started digging for dirt to discredit you. So beware of skeletons in the closet. Beware of your own biases and behaviour. Society will have us believe that only the righteous saint may call out wicked conduct; the sinner must rightfully be ignored. Soon enough, the whistleblower will be discredited absolutely.

I am who I am

Gradually, we come to terms with reality, that we are what we are; I am who I am. My soul was inserted into this skin and this form, with this gender, to live in this land under that sky. I was raised in that family, with those privileges and that ease, but was nevertheless built shy and slow by the One who created all things. I am the sum of many parts. I am who I am. I cannot be other than as I am. If I am unread, I am unread. If I am uncool, then uncool. My reality, in every facet, is the decree of the One. And so I wander on, embracing my medium of expression. This is me.

Perspective

When I am writing fiction, the biggest obstacle to progress I encounter is deciding upon the narrator’s perspective. This inner debate has scuppered many a nascent work, as I switch midway through, only to abandon it, frustrated.

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Ungrateful nation

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my ungrateful nation. I’m sorry that you came to these shores to staff our hospitals, to make up for labour shortfalls and fill skills shortages, and were then treated like dirt by the very people that should have welcomed you. I am sorry that you built the institutions which the nation claims to hold dear, but received no gratitude at all. I am sorry for our boastful arrogance while we trample the rights of those to whom we should be eternally grateful. I’m sorry that we could not just say thank you. I pray that the One compensates in full all who have been wronged by this ungrateful nation.

Spiked

I’m always worried when I see a spike of traffic hitting my usually quiet website. A true self-promotionist would rejoice at this point, dreaming of ways to monetise the sudden influx of visitors. Me? I fear I am about to be lambasted for something or other. Brace for impact. Hopefully it is just an aberration.

Sufism

For me, Sufism—tasawwaf, ihsantazkiya—concerns the purification of the heart, striving to replace our egocentric egomania with God centeredness. With that understanding, I embrace it.

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Racism

Naively, I thought we were becoming a post-racist society. I thought we had made great strides forward towards treating each other with respect. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to find that this isn’t the case. Now I have Dory from Finding Nemo ringing in my head: “Just keep swimming…” So much work still to do.

Faith at work

I have not disclosed my religious affiliations at work for over a decade. No, that’s not true. I did once tell my former line-manager—also our director—who promptly quipped, “I hope you’re not going to blow yourself up.” Ah yes, and I confided in a couple of Muslim colleagues five years ago.

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Wanderer

Wandering one: do not lose hope in the mercy of your Lord. You are doing well. Stay strong. Take it slow, but stay strong. Allow your living faith to sustain you. Hold fast.

Feed the poor. Clothe the destitute. Provide shelter for the homeless. Be an ally to the orphans. Walk humbly on the earth. Strive for peace. Spend your wealth in the service of others. Let that living faith of yours sustain you. Try your best and leave the rest.

Cancel culture

It is with regret that I have decided to cancel my world tour in protest of cancel culture.

Waffle-waffle, something about wokeism, yes I am cutting-egde, risqué, daring-even. The newspapers love this stuff.

Oh, and don’t forget to buy my book. See, I am still relevant.

A pile of problems

We think that good intentions can transform even the most foolish or most impractical acts into the most amazing and good. Well, yes, of course we say: may they be rewarded for their good intentions.

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The panic attack

Last night I had a major meltdown. The trigger was relatively minor, but I blew my top. The morning-after is worse than a hangover. In truth, I’ve probably been carrying anxiety around with me for a year or more.

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