I need to hide within a storm So have the lightning come And bring the winds that scream And spill the fog all over town And break through every door And strip away the trees And raise the rivers high Just help me drown And hold me in your standstill ground I will sink down And you’ll be washed away You’ll be washed away

It’s June, and I’ve already lost three people. Two to death; one to life.

Death is much easier to accept. At least they couldn’t help it and you know there is no coming back from it. Losing someone to life is abstract and riddled with what-ifs and maybes and hopefullys – down to the last second. Until holding on becomes more painful than letting go. Then cue Cheryl Strayed: “Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” Cue Rumi. Cue Rachael Yamagata’s entire discography.

I took a real beating. A kick in the stomach. I was down on my knees. I could barely stand. Defeated, I did the only thing I knew would give me solace. I took out my prayer mat. I cried many tears into that mat. I made supplications I had never made before, and I felt an instant relief I had never felt before. But it doesn’t end there. It’s an ongoing process, as it should be.

My yoga mat is the other mat I started taking out more regularly. If the prayer mat is for my heart, then the yoga mat is for its physical encasement. Hatha yoga invigorates me, whilst yin yoga teaches me to find calmness in keeping still.

I discovered Yasmin Mogahed. She was sent as a tool to steer me back to the right path. She fed me verse after verse until it got through to my thick skull. Accept, even if you don’t understand. Nothing is an accident. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. If something is taken away from you, it is for your own good. And know that it will be replaced with something greater. You are going through a purification. Yes, it hurts, but trust the treatment. Pain never comes without a purpose.

And over and over and over and over again.

I can’t claim to fully understand now. But I’m beginning to see where I went wrong and why things happen the way they do.

It’s not okay, but it will be.

I’m not okay, but I will be.

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Will we ever get to the other side?

We bandied confessions, tears, forgiveness, reassurances and hopes
in between sleepy good mornings and sleepier good nights.
We showed our feet
and our food
and uttered familiar names of people and places.
As usual I become your dictionary/thesaurus and I’m only happy to.
Your laugh, that hair, your hands, and mine.
It’s like you never left.
We cleared out the grey; everything is clear now except
For one.

Do we swim or do we sink?

Picture Guy has resurfaced, calling me “my dear”, and bearing apologies/problems/questions. Considering I last heard from him nine months ago, I’m surprised and thrilled, but mostly? I’m furious. I want to tell him to go fuck himself. I’ve got no time for him. I don’t care about him. I no longer want him in my life. But those would all be lies. I could never bring myself to say those words to him anyway. Besides, wouldn’t embracing him be easier? Wouldn’t falling back into our old routine be easier? I wouldn’t have to miss him anymore. But three days since his first hello and I’m still trying to decide if no longer missing him would be worth the heartache when the conversation eventually stops.

Our love was made for movie screens

All it’s taken is a [insert appropriate noun here] who has since moved far away unexpectedly reaching out to get me all bluesy and singing All I want is / and all I need is / to find somebody like you.

“When are you coming to Europe again?”
“Not for a while. Why?”
“Tell me next time you’re coming. I could join you wherever in Europe. Guide you in some European city. If you want.”
“Sure, it would be nice to catch up.”

I don’t want him or someone like him. I never really did. We ran parallel but never truly intersected and that was okay then and is still okay now. It’s just a song.

Nevertheless it’s got me thinking about all the lost people. The people who used to be in my life but aren’t anymore for whatever reason. What used to be routine that is just history now. The inside jokes, the secret codes, the nicknames we gave each other and everyone else. Now they’re just photos from four haircuts ago, old audio messages, and residual feelings. Irrelevant.

I get that people come into your life for a reason and they leave when they have served their purpose and vice-versa. But sometimes I also think, well, how could that be over? I’m not done yet. All these stories I need to tell them and the stories they need to tell me. Hell, I’m pretty sure I was mid-conversation with some of them.

Sometimes they are done with you though, and you never hear from them again. It sucks but that’s the way it goes.

But sometimes they aren’t done with you either, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to be remembered so fondly, but if you’re like me you also end up singing All I want is / and all I need is / to find somebody like you when you swear you never wanted them. It’s just nostalgia. It’s just a fucking song.

I’m so mad I’m getting old, it makes me reckless

My head’s been all over the place since I got back. You know, jetlag + general post-holiday blues + extremely intense personal stuff I can never talk about here, and always, always, always interspersed with the fiercest longing for my mother. Yes, that old thing. It never ends.

Turns out there is a huge difference between feeling ready to go home and actually being home. The first time I took the bus I finally noticed and was surprised by how green the trees were. I’d grown accustomed to seeing red leaves and golden leaves; evergreen leaves, even though I’ve been surrounded by them my entire life, suddenly seemed…wrong. Abhorrent, even. They signalled home. Real life that is made up of bills, frizzy hair, and other such problems. Problems I was able to ignore for as long as I was away that I suddenly had to face and tackle.

As rainy and dreary and bone-chilling Dublin got at times, it was Dublin, Ireland, not – ugh – Singapore.

For one thing, I always had great hair in Ireland.

Three weeks on – and today is exactly three months since the day I landed in Belfast, too – I am still in turmoil. The jetlag and the post-Ireland blues are gone, but the other stuff is still very much causing chaos to what could have been a quiet, peaceful existence. That’s what makes me furious. It’s not even my issue, but because there is only one person on the entire planet it could ever affect, it’s my cross to bear and the burden I have to carry. I could be almost happy, if not for this. I mourn for what could have been every single day.

What has helped to keep me relatively sane and zen is going back to basics, and when one is a Muslim, going back to basics means to submit, prostrate, and supplicate. Say what you want about praying or religion but time and again I’ve discovered that when I’m at my absolute lowest, it is the only thing I can rely on.

And also of course my amazing aunt and uncle who offer unconditional support even though they have four children of their own. My aunt is like my surrogate mum. Not quite like the real thing, not in the slightest, not for a second, never, ever. But it is the closest to what I imagine having an adult relationship with one’s mother is like. Her mother died when she was 19 and her mother was 48, too. So she knows what it’s like and what she’s doing for me.

Today being the 24th of November reminds me that there is exactly one month left for me to be a twenty-something. Can’t believe my twenties are over. I’m not ready to enter a new decade of life. I don’t know that I lived my twenties well. I squandered it on useless things, useless people. I have a lot of stamps in my passport but I’m nowhere I thought I would be in the year I turn 30. It’s a scary thought, that I might have wasted my youth.