Mask

Don’t take off that mask, darling.
The world cannot handle your rawness.
They will misunderstand you.
Protect yourself.
Wear that mask like an armor.
The moment you show your raw self,
Is the moment they will start clawing at you.
Trying to destroy you, your innocence, your raw beauty.
This world does not deserve it.
Stay beautiful inside your shell, my dear.
Protect your light.
Be safe. You are worth saving.

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Memoirs from another land

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Hello world!

And this world I say hello to, is not the same old small city of Dhaka where I grew up and spent the first quarter of my life in. My world now, thankfully, has expanded. I have now travelled far, across oceans and seas, and set camp in a new land. A land where everything is new. A land of opportunities and new beginnings.

It’s been a little more than four months since I moved to Toronto. It has been and continues to be one hell of a ride. I will probably run out of adjectives if I wanted to describe the myriad of emotions that I have felt throughout this journey. Leaving the familiarity and comfort of home and moving to a foreign land all on your own is… wonderful. But it’s a wonderful that’s mixed with a pinch of scary, a dash of exciting, a sprinkle of overwhelming and a spoonful of humbling. And when you mix all those things up. what you get is yourself going through the most challenging but rewarding experience of your life.

What has it taught me? For one, it has taught me that I am enough, and I am capable. It has taught me to be fully committed to myself, and love me and take care of my soul all on my own. I continue to grow and evolve everyday, and instead of fighting it, I embrace my changes. It amazes me to see my own growth, and I am happy and proud of myself for my achievements and for how far I have come.

There are a few other things that I have become more aware of since coming here. One is my love for my family. Isn’t it human nature to understand the value of something when we don’t have it anymore? I guess it’s sort of like that for me. I, like many others, took my family for granted. They were an invisible warm cocoon surrounding me, always showering me with love and protection. But now that I am so far away from them, I don’t have that safety net anymore. It has made me more aware of how much my family means to me. And I miss them everyday. It’s hard for me to reminisce about home without having a painful lump in my throat, like a mechanical reaction. My heart aches for the love and comfort of home. When I close my eyes, I am back in my room in Dhaka, in my bed, hugging my mom and listening to her heartbeat. It’s a sweet memory that fills me with warmth but floods me with tears. And when I open my eyes, I am no longer there. I am in the future, I am here.

Another thing moving abroad made me aware of is the kindness of strangers and acquaintances. Back home, our interactions with strangers aren’t that many. We have our trusted groups, and we stay within those groups. But when everyone around you is new, you are forced to let these people in. To make new friends, and spend more time with existing acquaintances. And when you do, you learn to appreciate their kindness towards you. The more you ask for help, the more help you get. This experience is enough to restore your faith in humanity.

And the last and the most important thing, is my awareness and faith in Allah. He has guided me all this way, and continues to bless and protect me everyday. In a strange land where I have no one to call my own, I have Allah. And He is enough.

I will end my ramblings here with two sayings that I have believed in all my life.

The first: “Life is too short to not take chances”.

The second: “Nothing worth having comes easy”.

So work hard, prepare yourself, and take a chance. Don’t just blindly take a leap of faith; do your homework first. You won’t be disappointed 🙂

Till next time,

– Wandering Mish

Of Life and Time

Life and TimeLife and time. Such simple four letter words, but indeed two of the most mysterious things in this entire universe. So many philosophical sayings are associated with these two words. So many people have spent their entire lives trying to understand the meaning behind these two. Whatever these two may mean, one thing is for certain. Both life and time are constant, flowing, fleeting phenomena. We say, time’s running out. In actuality, time is just moving as it’s supposed to. It is us, who are not quick enough to keep up with time. It is us, who are limited, not time. Time is a vast limitless pool, from which we are each allotted a sliver, which we consume as long as our perishable bodies exist in this world. We call this sliver a Lifetime. We marry the two most elusive concepts together and create this new entity called a Lifetime – a frail attempt by human beings to capture something which cannot be captured. By putting these two words together, we create finite from the infinite. From the gazillions of moments that time is made up of, we take 100 years or so and term it a lifetime. And in those 100 years, we grow and evolve. We learn, get degrees, work, get promotions, earn money, buy houses, buy cars, accumulate wealth, love, marry, have children, grow old, have grand-children, and then pass away. That’s the textbook definition of life. The more boxes one can tick from this list, the more successful one is considered. The success of life is defined by society. We are all supposed to do a certain kind of activity at every stage of our lives. If we don’t, we are not living life the way it is meant to be lived.

Perhaps that is the right thing to do. Perhaps. But it might not be. However, can anyone really challenge society? Or more importantly, can anyone who challenges society still be considered a part of it? I guess I will never truly understand the meaning of life, or what we are truly supposed to do with it. I wish I could be a daring female protagonist like Katniss from The Hunger Games or Tris from Divergent. I wish I could not care and embrace the inner warrior princess in me. However, it seems easier in my mind than it does in reality. So me, even with my most divergent ways, might eventually be compliant to the rules of society. Might.

I often wish I lived inside a book. Have my life written by someone else. But it won’t be one of those books that end in mid sentence. It would be a book that ends with a happy ending. I would be a strong female protagonist, who goes through a turbulent and eventful life, and emerges as victorious. All I would have to do is play my character; just live the lines. There would be no uncertainty, as I would know the book would eventually end, and the leading protagonist, aka me, would finally get a happy ending. I wish.

But life isn’t that simple. Or maybe it is, it just seems really complicated because we are not meant to understand life. We are just meant to live it, learn lessons from the past, be awake in the present, and look towards the future. The one who is supposed to understand life, our Creator, knows everything and has written all our endings with invisible ink, that only He can see. Maybe we are all characters in the great book of life, after all. We just don’t know it yet. We don’t know how many chapters and how many pages we have left. And we also don’t know the other characters we are supposed to encounter in our story.

I guess that’s what life is. We are all characters in our story, and we spend our lifetime playing our roles. Our character evolves with every event, with every quandary, and becomes stronger and stronger. The ones who have been good, the ones who deserve it, will get their happy endings. And the villains, the bad ones, will be defeated in the end.

I genuinely hope I am one of those deserving ones.

Moving on

I must have read a hundred self – help articles and quotes. All of them tell me to move on. To forget what’s gone, to erase the past. To live in the present. Because “You can’t get to the end of the story if you keep on re – reading the previous pages.” Because it is up to you to decide if you want up emerge as “victorious or a victim.” I have read enough to perhaps be able to write a self – help book myself.

However, those who are struggling with recovering from trauma will understand, that it’s easier said than done. These words are comforting, soothing, and to an extent act as lullabies helping you to drift into slumber on those dark and scary nights. But there are times when you realize that no amount of sugar-coated words can make you forget, or help you come to terms with what happened. You can’t just “Erase and Rewind”. You will inadvertently come back to those haunting memories from time to time – knowing fully how self – destructive that activity is – and shed a few tears over your misfortune. We are, after all, human.

Don’t feel bad, or sorry for doing this. If something traumatizing happened in your life – maybe you were in an accident, maybe you lost a loved one, or maybe you were betrayed by someone you loved – you have every right to grieve. You are not a robot. (Although I must admit there are times when I wish I was one.)

There will be people who will tell you to stop moping over what’s lost. “Look to the future,” they’ll say. Again, it is easier said than done. You have to come to terms with the fact that NO ONE will understand your struggle. They might empathize with you, and they might have honest intentions, but just know that they have no idea about your inner demons, and how you struggle to tame them everyday. But be thankful for these people who try to help. Say a little prayer for them.

So you go ahead and cry. Feel sorry for yourself. Allow the pain that you keep bottled up inside to take over. Take as much time as you need to grieve the part of you that died. You owe it to your memories.

And when you’re done, wipe your own tears, and be strong for the coming day. Believe that with every passing episode of self – grieving, you are drawing closer to the day when things will finally be alright. Find solace in that.

So in the meantime, read those sugar-coated self – help books, articles and quotes, cry and break down sometimes, but then remember to stand up proud for being your own hero.

Remember, this too, shall pass.

Loving life

She doesn’t need your validation.

She doesn’t need the look of pity in your eyes, or the little bit of smugness in your face letting her know that you think you’re somehow superior, because you were not struck by trauma and devastation like she has. Because you have someone in your life who you can call your own, and she doesn’t. Because she made mistakes, and you made wise decisions. 

In many aspects, she is soft and fragile, but don’t let that fool you. She is strong enough to stand up for herself, to stand up for what’s right, even if it means standing alone. She is a girl of few words, but don’t let that fool you. Her mind is brimming with words, words that will fill every empty vase of thought that you can possibly have. 

Don’t you worry about her. She will do just fine. She will achieve her dreams despite all the road blocks. She will live this life. Alone. She will travel the world and watch the sunset in every continent. She will climb mountains, dive under water, and jump off cliffs, not to end her life, but to feel the exhilaration of being alive, of breathing in this beautiful body that God has blessed her with. She will smile at the world, and be thankful everyday. There will be good Samaritans who will extend helping hands to her wherever she goes, because she is protected by God’s grace.

She does not need you.

She is free. 

Chasing Light – 2

Candlelight_dinner_by_PeaceLoveHeavyMetal

Her eyes were on the flickering wick. As it burned off its own existence, the warm, translucent wax trickled down the cold, hard body, and more and more light emanated from it. The semi-dark room was dimly illuminated by a set of these blood-red candles. The place had an old, beaten down look to it, with its yellowing wallpaper, failing to cover the old brown bricks in some places, and shabby, unmatched furniture. Yet, there was something magical and welcoming about it. The swiftly fading twilight seeped through the only open window in the corner. The faint murmur of people deeply engrossed in conversations filled the space. A slow, trance-like melody from a nearby jukebox pervaded the room. The air smelt of a delicious mix between sweet vanilla and warm espresso.

She sat on a high revolving stool, waiting for her mochachino to arrive. This was one of the few luxuries of her past life that she occasionally allowed herself: To indulge in the familiar warmth of her favorite beverage. A drink, that reminded her of home. A time and place of love, laughter, belongingness, and never-ending light, that she had left a long, long time ago. She found herself falling into a hypnotic trance, triggered by the combination of music and memories of home.

“Here you go miss”, said the Barista as he slid her coffee in front of her. “You look like you could use a cookie. Tell you what, it’s on the house. Enjoy!” The unexpected kindness of this stranger caught her off-guard. In a state of panic, she looked down. A long, quivering shadow stood attached to her stool. With a sigh of relief, she looked up at the attractive man standing in front of her. Although she was not used to such warmth, she was grateful for it. Thanking the nice young man, she rested the palms of her cold hands against the ceramic exterior of the hot mug. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, drawing in the aroma permeating from the coffee and the cookie. She heard an audible growl, and realized with a start that it was her own hungry stomach. It had been a long day.

Saying a silent prayer, she took a small bite. The cookie must have been more than a week old, but to her it tasted divine. She finished her coffee and cookie quickly, and offered to pay the Barista the full price. He smiled at her and with a slight wink said, “The cookie’s on me.” She supposed in another life she might have reciprocated this young man’s innocent flirtation. But this was not the place nor the time. Forcing a smile, she paid the man and got down from the stool.

The twilight had by now turned into pitch black darkness outside. The people had already started to leave. Her eyes fixated on the one person she was here for. She had been following him for days, and tonight was the night she was finally going to meet him. She had heard many things about this man. She hoped that she had finally found the one who had the answers.

The man in the dark brown overcoat stood up to leave. It was time.

Remembering Miss Havisham

When I was in grade 6, we had to read Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations as part of our English Lit course. That was my introduction to Dickens. While reading the story, the characters of Estella, with her exquisite beauty and haughty appeal, and Pip, with his child-like innocence and honesty, appealed to me the most. I was scared of Miss Havisham. I remember thinking what a strange name it was, Havisham. Something about her disheveled hair, cold eyes, and frayed and withered wedding gown, made me uneasy. The fact that all the clocks in the mansion were stopped at 20 mins to 9, the precise moment when she received the letter bearing news of her fiance’s betrayal, and other things like the untouched wedding cake, now rotting away, unnerved me even more. There was no question about it. To the 13-yr old me, Miss Havisham was as scary as a ghost, perhaps even more. I just didn’t understand her. How could someone take such extreme measures to deal with a tragedy? How was it possible to live secluded for so many years, away from people and sunlight? It was mind – boggling to me.

Fast forward 15 years, one marriage, one massive heartbreak, one painful divorce later. I now understand Miss Havisham fully. I understand her hatred for men. I understand her desire to live in isolation for the rest of her life. I understand her stopping time at the exact moment when all happiness left her. Her life as she knew it and as she dreamt it ended at 20 minutes to 9. Even if she had not stopped all the clocks then, that moment would have been forever etched on her mind,  and she would have always replayed that moment in her head in an endless loop. Because it just never goes away. For her, time did not heal, as she stopped time. I understand it all now.

I suddenly remembered Miss Havisham today. And to my utter amazement, I realized I could now relate to her. Such is life and it’s miseries.