Drift apart

Change is inevitable, so too the drift apart. Of the multitude we once knew in London, only our Ealing friends remain close. All those days socialising with dear friends in Acton, Hounslow and Central London: long forgotten. Some moved away, just as we did. Others went through personal crises, disappearing into their own worlds. And all of us: simply raising a family has taken priority over all things. This is our life now. Relationships are a WhatsApp message, a Facebook like or the occasional phone call. Our lives, like the vast continents beneath us, must inevitably drift apart.

Glorious fourth

We didn’t get away, just the two of us, to Kaf Dağı Konak hotel. Nor did we have cake. Instead, a day spent in Teams meetings for me, carers duties for my beloved downstairs. Still, it’s not as if we’re deprived. Even in adversity, we reside amidst such beauty. We can’t complain about such blessings.

Green light

You say I proposed to you, down on one knee, at the traffic lights opposite the park on West Ealing Broadway, waiting for the traffic to come to a halt. As you were thinking about it, the green man said “Go!” and you agreed with him. “Yes,” you said, and there we crossed to the other side. But me: I thought we were already good to go, for we’d already been down to the town hall to book our civil marriage. Suffice to say, I wasn’t exactly worldly-wise.

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Bu kalp

I know you asked me not to write anything about you, us or our life together. But I can’t help it. I get emotional thinking about it, tears in my eyes. I have never known anyone like you, capable of embracing me just the way I am, and sticking firmly at my side through all the tests that life has thrown at us. Bu kalp sonsuza kadar minnettar.

Moments long gone

I suppose those who have had the misfortune to encounter me again after all these years may be asking one another: “What does he want from us?” But apart from their forgiveness, I don’t want anything at all. I don’t need their approval, we don’t need to meet, we don’t need to have a conversation or become lifelong friends. Nope, just forgiveness for what occurred in their presence, and all that then occurred afterwards.

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A good union

Today, may the honourable be honourable. May blessings descend, good bestowed. May the gentleman be gentlemanly, his beloved valued, his companion cherished. May peace descend, serenity spread out, kindness rule. May the One guide the couple, granting contentment, gratitude and a good return. Let it be a blessed union, destined to carry them to paradise, hand in hand.

Satnav

May God bless the developers of satnav. I shudder thinking back to the daft rows we had in the early days of marriage when stressed by a map reading mishap, completely lost on the way to some event in London in our little red donkey. Such ungentlemanly behaviour, tempers flaring. Thank God we have mellowed with age. Thank Satnam we now have satnav!

Undying timidity

There is so much I have always attributed to a strict, Christian upbringing which should probably be more correctly associated with my undying timidity. When I begin exploring past events a bit more, it occurs to me that a normal youngster would have just asserted themselves to demand whatever their heart desired. Few would have been as passive as me, forever in fear of the consequences for transgressing the norms set out by the significant adults around me.

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This design

Lounging around in the garden, my wife and I have had a day reminiscing, reflecting on all the strange coincidences that brought us together. Actually, there are no coincidences. We’re taught repeatedly that God is in control and has knowledge of all things. The coincidences — too many to enumerate — were merely things being put in the right order to facilitate our union.

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Social charter

I feel like I am only now coming to terms with the impact of my character on my ability to function socially. It’s certainly easier today to access research papers on the condition than it was when I was diagnosed eighteen years ago. At that time, the information available to non-specialists was negligible, with just a few resources providing a very generalised overview of the condition.

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Boasts

If I were to boast of famous friends I knew at university, it wouldn’t be the likes of Maajid Nawaz and Afzal Amin, only of Malini Srinivasan. I had significant dealings with all three, but only one of them I consider a friend. Two of them bullied and belittled me, one encouraged me and made me laugh. Two of them shared my faith, only one of them shared my humanity. One I regretted losing touch with for years, the other two I don’t regret at all. Only one of them I ever felt moved to reconnect with. Only of one would I utter with honest pride: “I knew that wonderful person.”

Man of honour

Perhaps this time around you will get it right. Let the one in love marry the good man, and let her be honoured, valued and cherished. Let her find happiness, pleasure and contentment in that union.

I am completely opposed to compulsion in matters of the heart, for or against. A forced marriage, I cannot comprehend. But opposition: yes I have experienced that myself.

It’s natural for family to worry about their loved ones, but sometimes that worry just leads to a lifetime of unhappiness. Do something different this time. Be there for her. Stand by her side. Be a man of honour.

Strangers

How the years come and go, ebb and flow. How relationships blossom and then perish. All those moments socialising long forgotten, no longer even remembered, loving couples now bitter enemies, their children all grown up, setting out on adventures of their own. In two decades we have transformed from cherished friends to total strangers. Such are the tragic trials of life.