Benefits

You can’t put a price on your experiences. Not everything we do leads to some monetary gain or increase in prestige or status.

I don’t feel my undergraduate degree benefitted me in my worldly life, but I found faith midway through, for which I am immensely grateful. I don’t feel my postgraduate degree helped get me ahead in career development, but I made a sincere prayer there, which would be answered one year later.

I don’t feel that my current employment is the best I could do, but it gave me a front-row seat to view the scientific and medical response to the pandemic, enabling me to steer clear of pseudo-scholars spouting their peculiar and dangerous nonsense.

In whatever situation we find ourselves, there is always some kind of benefit: you just have to seek it out. Think beyond that constricted box of wealth and status. What else is important in your life?

Do what you love

My beloved toys with returning to work. I say: if you really want to, choose to do something you love. Do something that appeals to you, which will make you happy. Don’t go yearning for a job that demands a tiring commute, or a workplace in which you will daily have to battle racial discrimination. I’d rather we live on one salary, than return to live with those stresses again. If you want to work, let it be in a field that brings you pleasure.

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Namesake

For me, my namesake is a gem of our community. We are unalike in nearly every way: he is a brilliant intellectual, articulate in speech, spiritual, courageous and of profound learning. Those who know me will confirm that in speech, I struggle to string together a coherent sentence, my mind given to blackouts mid-thought. In religion, too, I am more wayward spirit than wise sage.

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Paths converged

Wandering in the woods yesterday, I couldn’t but be touched observing that so-called mixed relationships are now not just accepted, but have become the norm.

At one point, where footpaths converged, it was like the meeting of the united nations. Gone the days — at least in that square kilometre of woodland — when such relationships would be considered untoward.

Today we see grandparents of every background taking their mixed-heritage grandchildren on a day out. Gone the disapproving stares once so common in some communities. Now just smiles and acceptance, as couples in love wander on hand-in-hand unperturbed.

I celebrate this era, where whole families now embrace the outsider, considering him or her their own. This is progress: a source of new optimism. This is how it always should have been.

Good mood

Getting outside, beneath blue skies, sunlight falling on your face, wandering amidst nature… it makes so much difference to your mood… generating positive energy… happiness. Alhamdulilah. This afternoon, Wendover Woods. Lunch, hot chocolate, laughter with kids. A better mood all round. We must do this more often. Best to stock up on joy before the gloomy winter kicks in.

Powerless

Mostly I’m unconcerned that I have no influence on the world around me. I can function perfectly well in most situations, especially as my day to day life does not demand significant interaction with others. But every now and then, when attempting to assert myself, I feel I have no control at all, which causes intense frustration. I might as well be a stone. Perhaps that’s all I am. And, right now, I’m sinking to the bottom of the lake. I feel powerless. I always have.

Called to forgive

It’s funny that while we feel the need to forgive or be forgiven by some, others we simply forget completely. In secondary school, I was tormented for nearly five years without pause by boys on the school bus, every single evening on the journey home. But today I can’t remember them at all: I don’t even recall their faces. I certainly don’t remember their names.

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The Markets

Following the news this week, it would be impossible to ignore that great illusive term: markets. Yes, for the markets have just crashed, wiping billions off the value of, well, just about everything. In a state of panic, investors started selling off pension funds, forcing the Bank of England to intervene to stabilise the situation. Good for the markets, perhaps, but bad for just about everyone else. If you have a mortgage, a financing deal for a car or a credit card, it will mean punishing interest rates you probably won’t be able to afford.

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Autumn

Alas, we can’t be there, but at least we have video streaming to our phones. The wonders of technology. Until teleportation has been invented, nearly the next best thing.

Be

Why do I think the best of people I have no reason to think the best of? Am I hopelessly optimistic or simply extremely naïve? Why do I imagine them to be pure of heart, their motives clean? Is it merely wishful thinking, or have I truly read them right? I suppose I have a hope something like this:

Ring ring

On Friday, I received a phone call from myself. I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when my mobile started to ring.

When I glanced down, it showed me a slice of cake, which is my profile picture, and my name. I didn’t answer as I was a bit spooked. What if it was me ringing from the future?

Seeing the number in my call log just now got me thinking. With all the weirdness in my life lately, could it be… could this really all be a VR simulation? Could it be… the Matrix?

Nope, of course, it’s just a spoof ID from the scammers that plague me. Still, fun to imagine the less mundane.

Breadcrumbs

I realise now that even if I wanted to remain anonymous, it is impossible, for I have left too many breadcrumbs behind me. Every decision, however long ago, to publish under my name, whether in print or online, points back to me. So I am found out. Not that it was ever really a secret; I’m not hiding, I’m just trying to tame my ego. But, alas, I am already revealed.

Arbitrary

Some battles are not worth fighting. Especially if they’re battles at work. In those scenarios, you have to recall that it’s just a job. Do your best. Do what you have to do. Fulfil your responsibilities. But don’t go busting a gut in pursuit of your ideals and principles. There will always be that team intent on implementing a solution to a problem they have not yet identified or defined. If their answer to the question “Can I read the project brief?” is “This has all been agreed!” know that your input is not seriously required. Let someone else sign off on their arbitrary folly.

To believe

The self-congratulating activist, revelling in his mastery of identity politics, can’t help but boast of his radical hatred of the Muslim convert — those irritating upstarts everywhere held in contempt — rallying against their pretence of belonging or their claim to the prophetic inheritance. Real Muslims are sick of Muslim converts, they remind us to great acclaim, their declarations liked, reposted and quoted all over.

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Donkey

Who says you can’t domesticate an old donkey? This afternoon I’ve prepared two dishes to last the family the week. I can’t promise they will taste nice, but at least they will be fed.

Happenstance

I can never resist Persian cuisine, and I definitely can’t resist saffron pistachio bastani. Years ago, we knew a wonderful Persian restaurant in Maida Vale, but neither of us could remember its name. So it was that after our appointment in Knightsbridge on Tuesday, we decided to make do with a Turkish restaurant in Bayswater. But as happenstance would have it, on our arrival — after a leisurely scenic walk through Hyde Park — we discovered there was a Persian restaurant right next door. As I say, I can’t resist, so we went there instead. No regrets.

Dyson Fury

That moment of trepidation after an afternoon spent vacuuming the house… awaiting your beloved’s judgement. Will your efforts meet her exacting standards, or will she spot the bit you missed and get the Hoover out again to do the job properly? I like to think I’ve developed one talent in twenty years.

Phew. This one’s a pass. Stand down.

No debt

Blame my irrepressible blues, blame contrition: March was the month of reaching out. I suppose there was nothing new here, for I had spent the month of February a year earlier doing the same, this time apologising to my parents and siblings. Indeed, much of that year was spent looking for those to whom I felt I owed an apology. Only one of them was I able to reach, but by then — twenty-five years on — they said they only remembered me fondly and couldn’t remember anything negative. All of the rest, it seems: completely lost in the mists of time.

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Two minds

Dear self: I see you’re working on that project again. I thought we agreed to obliterate it.

We did… but… it called me back.

Yes, like a hundred times before. When will you learn your lesson?

I can’t help it. It pulls me in. It has me in its grip.

Even though we established long ago that nobody’s interested in this project at all?

I know, but…

So you will waste your time all over again, for the sake of what? Your demise on that awesome day, when your account of deeds will be laid bare?

Well, when you put it like that…

So you will abandon this folly now, once and for all?

I know I should… and I must… but… I’m not sure… I’m… forever in…

Two minds!

Be not destroyed

Put away your extremism, founded on your profound ignorance of your inheritance. Delve beyond the racist representations of your heritage, pushed by supremacists in their game of divide and conquer.

Reaquaint yourself with hundreds of years of coexistence and mutual respect. Rediscover friendships across traditions. Appreciate shared love for the greatest of poets, held in esteem by all traditions.

Do not be destroyed by your ravaging hate, nor let your ravaging hate destroy all others.

To blog

They say blogging is dead. They said that fifteen years ago. But people still blog and people still read blogs. Blogging is all about expressing yourself, expecting nothing in return.

If another asked me today if they should start to blog, I’d say, “Why not?” If that’s the medium they felt most comfortable expressing themselves through, I’d say go ahead. Join the club. I’ll read it too.

Where are you?

Where are the cool headed folk who verify the news they receive? Where are those who pause to probe when they receive alarming information via social media, which seeks to foment and stir up communal tensions? Where those whose first question is, “Is this true?” Where those who will reserve judgement until all the facts are known? Where are those who recall what is written in their Book: “Do not mix truth and falsehood!” Where are those who remember anything of their faith at all? Won’t you please stand up?

A face despised

I once tried to delete my face. It was the spring of 1997, during my second term at university. My face wasn’t the cause of my actions directly, but it became the target of my unrestrained rage. The cause was my decision to unapologise to a friend I had earlier apologised to at length, telling them now that I was not sorry and that everything was their fault. As impulsive and emotionally immature as I was, I wrote this down in the form of a letter, which I then trust into their hands in the university library.

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