the last call

those moments past 12am when you come across a recent clip of your ex, and he’s no longer a ‘him’, he’s merely a person once existed in a past life. the few minutes you can tolerate of the clip give you relief, that this, Razan, finally – is your closure. you try to stir up the memories now distant of the time you shared a life, or rather – when you shared your life with him whilst he kept his own in secrecy – you struggle, it feels like an age away on its way to eternal doom. how did you once live? you’re wavelengths apart, the abyss between you is greater than it has ever been with anyone you’ve known. in his picture, you realise how deep your depression was just less than a year ago – the miles and years you’ve come since. time truly heals. you praise the Lord. you realise all the things they blamed you for are still visible in his face, an unsung small victory is heard: your heart finally acknowledging that you weren’t to blame after all. how do they feel now the artificial excuses are exposed? you wonder. no emotion nor lack of emotion escapes you this time; you open your heart to embrace any hurt – none but brief anger, then – curiosity: really, how did you live? you didn’t, barely – so then, how did you survive? why were you killing yourself to go back? love blinds, you see. i was a girl. you experience the physical shedding of dead skin and a heavy weight drops from your shoulders. you feel your heart double pump as if refreshing, refueling. you utter thanks to Him endlessly until it becomes in the subconscious, He truly saved you. you realise you’ve moved on, matured – grown. for the first time you get up to truly close the door – and seal it well. you’re not fooled by the adrenaline of the moment; you know you’ll still hurt by the pain of rejection, by the easy disposal and constant projection of insincerity and of worthlessness – in your lows. but you also know that today, the key has finally been thrown away. for real this time. scattered. lost. and there is absolutely no turning back. it’s as if, the emancipation process has been completed. it has. it is. done. finito. the only shackle you live in now, is the throbbing nerve ache in your wisdom tooth which will keep you up all night.

 

you ought to really call the dentist to get it removed.

musing .x1544

“Our very psychology has been shaken to its foundations, to its most secret recesses. Our notions of separation, absence, distance, return, are reflections of a new set of realities, though the words themselves remain unchanged. To grasp the meaning of the world of today we use a language created to express the world of yesterday. The life of the past seems to us nearer our true natures, but only for the reason that it is nearer our language. Every step on the road of progress takes us farther from habits which, as the life of man goes, we had only recently begun to acquire. We are in truth emigrants who have not yet founded our homeland.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

I tried explaining to a friend a few weeks ago that I’m not a fan of reminiscing the past, as much as I may sometimes appear a romantic nostalgic – studying history. And particularly from a ‘technology’ and social point of view. It strikes me rather damaging the amount of times we hear ‘the olden days when X didn’t exist’, or when we mock the times we live in for being so preoccupied with our phones/social media/be it what it is. It feels like there’s a widespread lack of understanding that time changes and develops, the the good old days were good for the times they existed in but would never function in a developing world – and the days before the good old days were the good old days for them. We need to really look to the present (and future) positively, and not keep ourselves wrapped up in the illusions of the past – and worst of – the language of the past. Of course, a balance is necessary; addiction to smartphones and laptops etc. need to be solved, but a measurement of what consists of ‘addiction’ needs to also be established. Our understanding of this world needs to develop and shift – just as time does – it’s no good remaining static; we’ll never progress.

So, coming across this particular link (poem pasted below) last night brought me joy. It’s nice reading your mind in a place you least expect:

I swear to every heaven ever imagined,
if I hear one more dead-eyed hipster
tell me that art is dead, I will personally summon Shakespeare
from the grave so he can tell them every reason
why he wishes he were born in a time where
he could have a damn Gmail account.
The day after I taught my mother
how to send pictures over Iphone she texted
me a blurry image of our cocker spaniel ten times in a row.
Don’t you dare try to tell me that that is not beautiful.
But whatever, go ahead and choose to stay in
your backwards-hoping-all-inclusive club
while the rest of us fall in love over Skype.
Send angry letters to state representatives,
as we record the years first sunrise so
we can remember what beginning feels like when
we are inches away from the trigger.
Lock yourself away in your Antoinette castle
while we eat cake and tweet to the whole universe that we did.
Hashtag you’re a pretentious ass hole.
Van Gogh would have taken 20 selflies a day.
Sylvia Plath would have texted her lovers
nothing but heart eyed emojis when she ran out of words.
Andy Warhol would have had the worlds weirdest Vine account,
and we all would have checked it every morning while we
Snap Chat our coffee orders to the people
we wish were pressed against our lips instead of lattes.
This life is spilling over with 85 year olds
rewatching JFK’s assassination and
7 year olds teaching themselves guitar over Youtube videos.
Never again do I have to be afraid of forgetting
what my fathers voice sounds like.
No longer must we sneak into our families phonebook
to look up an eating disorder hotline for our best friend.
No more must I wonder what people in Australia sound like
or how grasshoppers procreate.
I will gleefully continue to take pictures of tulips
in public parks on my cellphone
and you will continue to scoff and that is okay.
But I hope, I pray, that one day you will realize how blessed
you are to be alive in a moment where you can google search
how to say I love you in 164 different languages.b.e.fitzgerald (Art is a Facebook status about your winter break.)

On Aleppo

There’s about a thousand things I want to say about Aleppo, and yet difficulty overcomes me. My attachment to my mother’s hometown is one purely based on borrowed memories. I’ve neither visited, nor seen it properly – the closest I’ve ever been is standing on a hill on the borders as an uncle standing beside me guided my vision to an obscure countryside in the distance – “that there, is Aleppo”. I stood for a period of perhaps 10 minutes watching the clouds of an early March afternoon travel from where I was standing to the motherland. I recall telling my parents later that evening that it was as if I were watching my heart being wrenched out of me and departing – in slow motion – landing somewhere in between where it truly belonged and where it couldn’t be; to which my father jokingly replied “that’s right, cry over Aleppo and forget Homs, your father’s hometown.”

What’s happening today, happened to Homs over the past 4 years. Of sieges. Of bombardment. Of mass displacement. Of betrayal. We felt at loss with Homs, situated in the very center – we knew reclaiming the city was a difficult one. We cried over the slow death of the city – which was once the beating heart of the revolution, and looked to my father for hope. He taught us strength. He instilled the hope in our amateur hearts. We vowed we would return, and we will. We vowed the same wouldn’t happen to another city in Syria. Today, we see the very same happening to Aleppo. The suffocation of the oldest inhabited city, from all sides – and the theater of the international community, as they host conferences and splurge money in the name of the very thousands standing on Turkey’s borders, on a freezing winter night, right now, escaping death by Assad. By Russia. By Iran. In the midst of all of this, an emotional cycle of desperation, guilt, nostalgia – we recall our promises. We pity ourselves for our limited capacities. But then we remember our father, his hope. We turn, see our mother crumble as she sees what has become of her home, her family. “Will I ever see Aleppo again?”, she questions. We hold her hand tightly and promise, again – the sight of families scattered across the very border I stood by just under a year ago holding to account: you will mama, wi7yat Allah you will.

Did the Arab Spring Actually Fail?

A comment-piece of mine was recently published it on The New Arab.

Comments, thoughts and feedback highly appreciated! The transcript reads below:

Did the Arab Spring Actually Fail? 

Failure appears to be the descriptor looming over one of the most defining moments in contemporary world history.

So far, and by large, the Arab Spring has been examined through a material lens: the tangible achievements of each nation and the repercussions of that nation’s uprisings.

It has been a conscious attempt to pit revolutions against each other by polemically categorising the “successful” and the “failed’; and many irrelevant comparisons have been drawn to events in the region over the past 30 years.

All attempts to contextualise the revolutions have done the exact opposite.

To render the Arab Spring a failure is but a reductive assessment, undermining the extraordinary developments that have taken place – and are still ongoing – in the region. These developments are of a political, social and cultural nature – and at the very essence of each has been nothing short of a revolution of consciousness.

If contextualising history meant something today, one could take the example of the Palestinian resistance movement after 1967, which, while failing to uproot the regime of colonisers settling upon its soil, remained a revolution of social structure, national liberation, and heightened consciousness.

The Palestinians then knew well that relying on Arab and world powers would do little to strengthen their cause – and so took it upon themselves to organise; in absence of a state and bureaucratic framework, their organisation was popular and proved by the far the most democratic among all Arab states at the time.

Decades of intellectual repression and fear were shattered on the streets of Tahrir

Grassroots movements from education to military training became the driving factor of the Palestinian spirit. The movement was far from flawless, and gave birth to many negative consequences, yet it was organic – it taught the nation valuable lessons in development and independence, and most importantly in consciousness.

The Palestinian was free to think; to speak his mind; to criticise; to grow – all while being considered invisible and stateless before the law.

This consciousness is precisely what sparked into life within the individual at the onset of the Arab Spring. Decades of intellectual repression and fear were shattered on the streets of Tahrir, and the Arab citizen found a voice he had not known was within him.

Today, I argue that the Arab Spring is successful.

I neither use the term “was”, because the Spring is a continuous stream of developments which is yet far from over, nor do I succumb to the failure argument, because my measurement is per the changing dynamics of Arab consciousness, and not per material results.

Perception in the Middle East today is a concept alien to the region before 2011; both in individual consciousness and in organic progress.

Much like the Palestinians, disillusioned by “international support” – ordinary Egyptians, Yemenis, Libyans and Syrians alike have taken it upon themselves to champion their own cause.

Today, the average shopkeeper of 2011 thinks for himself, he fends for himself, he criticises state and opposition fearlessly and depends on none but himself regarding the ambiguous notion of “national security”.

Today, organic initiatives of an educational, critical, political and social nature have sprung up across the region.

Budding activists in Egypt have taken it upon themselves to educate impoverished unschooled children on the street in absence of a nuanced educational system, and, in Syria, new curriculums are being produced, injected with revolutionary vigour and a high dose of critical thinking, to ensure a levelled consciousness and vision in the future generation.

One such initiative which has launched in this capacity is the Education Development Commission, an effort of individuals working across borders in collaboration with schools and centres within warzones, to provide access to quality education and personal development.

Power structures have radically transformed from incredibly bureaucratic and hierarchical frameworks to organic, democratic, horizontal organisations.

We see this in creatively youthful revolutionary activity such as the Ultras Nahdawy, who actively seek to shake Sisi’s regime; operating a decentralised horizontal structure across the country, with the ability to mobilise en masse within a short period of time.

Or in local democratic elections, conducted under regime bombs, with candidates of both civilian and military nature, neither threatened by the other’s presence and both respectful of the outcome.

Such structures which would have not existed had it not been for the Spring, and have been heavily resented by the autocratic regimes – purging their people for the sake of espousing such notions.

Much like the Enlightenment, what we are seeing today in the Middle East is an awakening of minds

The Spring forced the nations away from submissiveness and surged them forwards towards reform, political consciousness – and a fundamentally new perception of a future Middle East.

Thus, the assessment of a “failed Spring” misconstrues the very essence of the Arab Spring – which is itself a vision, and not a set of immediate goals with a deadline.

Much like the Enlightenment, what we are seeing today in the Middle East is an awakening of minds, still on their path of discovery and development with an ultimate vision of transforming the region from an autocratic monopoly to an organic-led, popular framework – leading the way towards progression.

The savage bloodbaths consequential of states’ resistance proves only the success of the Spring, albeit in perhaps the most horrific and unfortunate way; the fear of the regimes (and their supporters) from awakened nations and the strength of a vision.

The make-up of the Arab street today is drastically different to that before 2011; a new citizen inhabits the country now – a consciousness that regimes and world powers are yet to grasp.

A new citizen who has suffered the worst of losses, torture and brutality, awakes in this new consciousness, and cannot simply “return” to the old ways.

Ultimately, the common scepticism clouding the hopes of some – who dwell on the “reality” of counter-revolutionary movements – dismisses the fact that triumph was also a reality, and not long ago. And this triumph will remain as long as the consciousness of the Arab Spring spirit is kept alive.

She wished she could enjoy the moment with someone. It was quiet and loud at once, intimate, homely. Latino jazz was playing somewhere in the background, and the dimly lit room contrasted perfectly with the raging rain of a late January night outside – the musky chill of the cafe against the crazy city blur.

The moment missed a partner. She was one to enjoy her own company, but sometimes a lover of your own muse is necessary. It missed a him. A him she could plan revolutions with in the backdrop of a cosy local cafe. A him who would appreciate her crazy – perhaps naive – out of the world dreams and afflatus. A him, youthful, refreshing, never settling for less. Eager, like her, who would look at her with eyes full of excitement and love – not stare her down as if she were unreasonable, ‘unrealistic’, ‘idealistic’. A him who would believe in her, not merely entertain her. A him she knew she could rely on, she knew she could speak and plan and dream and act – to her heart’s content – selfishly and selflessly – without fearing his judgement, without fearing an end.

She missed the meaningful conversations – moments – heightened by the intimacy of love. And then she wondered if they ever existed, or if they were but a figment of her imagination. They were all but a figment of her imagination, one-sided conversations she thought were vesting into the heart of someone who cared. But they were in constant rebound, never quite touching the pinnacle of what she mistook for a human heart.

She entertained herself alone, make-believing that one day a him will come along to cherish her – to pick her up – and never put her down until she touches the seventh sky. Forcing back the rapidly increasing glaze over her eye – calming the anxious heart beating inside. It’s okay, she reassured it. Don’t worry about this now. The time will come. He will come. One day, your love will be reciprocated. One day, endless warmth and affection will find you. And with that she sunk into the jive in the background, picked up her book – and engaged herself temporarily to essays on modernism.

Pt. I

It was perhaps the most illustrious depiction of reality. There she stood, on a step elevated enough to see what others couldn’t. She saw her aspirations in the distance, the grand vision piercing into the open sky of never-ending possibilities; two sides of the same coin to her left and right. Both representing the very same and the very different at once. But visionary, both of them. Her step had enabled her to see them clearly at close proximity, yet with many hurdles to battle her until she reached the end goal. The hurdles were unseen to those already there, and oblivious in their own existence to the very obstacles they poised to her. They appeared neither pleasant nor unpleasant, just many unnecessary necessary procedures which would test her patience and skill. But then, her step also exposed her to another side: below – the alleyways which lead the mind to curious places. She could see the whereabouts of people going about their everyday lives. She could see the buses as they trotted down the unflattering lanes. She could see them from her privileged position, knowing well she was invisible to them – knowing well her vision was invisible to them – and it may be that one day they would travel through their alleyways to arrive at her vision; standing closer to it than she could in that moment, but they would never touch it. Because they had no such vision, no such consciousness. She pitied them; those who lived with no sense of purpose; those who had no idea what the world and heavens had to offer; those who lived a life of oblivious ignorance. Her step rendered her an onlooker onto a world of boundless possibilities where the key was in her hands. Should she lose it, there is no one to blame but herself. That was her privilege, a double-edged sword, moulded in responsibility. And the sky – an endless merging sea of the unconventional, beauty – and wonder.

 

image

Image taken with my iPhone 5, King’s Cross. 

It returned, all at once. The numbness vanished in an instant she couldn’t quite locate, in an instant where she was able to engage her mind in a clause and be completely wrapped in it – escaping the smother of distractedness and ill-focus. It were as if an opaque shield was slotted immediately in front of her mind, then lifted in a moment of semi-consciousness. Her vision blurred, zoomed in and out before finding its focus – clear as a blue sky. It took her some moments to adjust to this new founded clarity, not quite deciphering exactly what changed at first – but then her tongue unravelled and words began forming poetically, one after the other in nuance and abstract coherence in her mind. Her absent tears found their way to her lashes, not quite releasing themselves but signalling arrival – and in that moment she sighed in relief. She was back.

Head to the ground, she released the anger and frustration she once struggled to contrive when numbness occupied, somewhat combined with her ability to feel again. She thanked Him. Over and over. Crying in anger and gratitude. She had no idea, but she knew He did. The prayer she once made for a numb heart she now vowed to never repeat. Keep it raw. Rather unveiled than shrouded in darkness and vacancy; susceptible to every emotion and experience, rather than shielded from the very essence of humanity.

She marvelled for a second at the effect the heart had on the mind. For the current in both had switched off for the duration, and switched on again at the same time. She had no explanation for the time being, but whatever it was that brought it back, she prayed it would never leave.

How refreshing to wash her face with organic produce again. How reinvigorating to water her heart and quench her mind. How reviving to dampen the ground and feel connected, even for a split second – feel herself rise out of her body and wallow in a moment of freedom – spill the contents of her heart in salty ink to the One who will make sense of it all without any footnotes necessary.