What is life but a whirlpool of fading memories? We drift through endless days without knowing anything about the future, not believing that it might one day all end. Death creeps in so silently, you never see it coming. This year it made its way into our lives as well. COVID had taken many lives since its arrival in 2020 spreading misery and helplessness in its wake but never for once I had imagined that our family would be one of those who suffered that fate. When I got that first call that her test results came back positive I was so sure that she would recover. I had always seen her as a fighter, battling old age and the many diseases that came with it. She was always the caretaker, and never someone who needed to be taken care of. How clueless and ignorant was I? Now all I do is wonder. Almost at the verge of 80, she was like the warmest ray of sunshine on a cold winter day. She was like a jewel, the finest of us all, yet there were cracks in her skin, cracks making her fade and wither, cracks I failed to see even when they were becoming more blatant every day. It all happened so quickly and yet so carefully as if it had been so precisely planned. She was weak but holding her own, being monitored and tested thoroughly and then she came crashing down in only a few hours. We were not prepared for it even though the world around us taught us that we should have been. She collapsed at home, and they rushed her to the hospital. My sister messaged me telling me they were leaving in an hour by car, it was a 13hour drive. We were in Karachi and she lived many many miles away in another city, I couldn't reach her in time even if I wanted to. All I could do was wait helplessly and make calls, over and over and over again. I talked to her doctor on the phone and all he could say was that they would try but it was near the end. That call shook to me to my core. I finally started to picture a scenario where there would be a world where she would no longer exist. Where we would breathe and eat and laugh but she would not. How was that possible, that she would no longer be there to experience all that life had to offer? How was it possible that she would not meet my children, that she would not hold them in her arms, like she used to hold us? I felt time slip by through my fingers like grains of sand, and I felt it hold still, all in one night. I remember spending the night only praying and crying and then I remember waking up to my mother's call telling me that they had reached the hospital in time , that she was still there. Everyone had reached in time, everyone who could at least. Of the many things COVID had barred us from doing, international travel was one of them. So a few had to wait, and mourn alone thousands of miles away. Her breathing was getting worse. My cousin sent me a picture of her, but I could barely look at it. I had never imagined of seeing her like that, pale and struggling to breath her last. All my brain could remember was her warm smile, the spark in her brown eyes, the way she softly called my name. Swollen eyes made it hard to even see the screen properly, but I had no other choice but to see her through it, my only means of being near her. Of the many times I have felt helpless, this sense of defeat was something I could not understand. My brain felt numb, my heart frozen. The call came at night the next day. She was gone. No longer a part of this desecrate world. No longer able to breathe like we were breathing, so carelessly, and so ungratefully. The next few hours are a blur. She was buried in the morning, all clad in white, and her face passive as if she was sleeping. I felt my childhood slip away, the most beautiful days of my life play like a reel before my eyes. My beloved grandmother, we called her mummy, was not going to say my name anymore. She would not call me in the middle of the day worrying about me. That old house would be empty when we went back. The ones who were there could still see her, in places all around the house, in the kitchen cooking, in the veranda praying. I could still see her waiting for us in the porch whenever we went to visit her. Now there would be no one waiting, no one hoping that we would come. No one to pamper us or shower us with endless limitless love. My children would not be able to know her, for the unimaginably amazing and kind human being she was. She was a queen, a queen of our hearts, and I was not grateful enough for her when she was here. I regret not thanking God enough for making her my grandmother. She was more than perfect and I didn't tell her that. I didn't tell her I loved her. I didn't tell her I missed her. I was so busy living a mundane routine that I could not fathom how important it was for me to tell her. And now I never could. I wish the world taught us more about being grateful for those who love us . It is only when we lose them, we finally realize what we had.
Fire is a scrupulous force. Many of us exit our ‘30 somethings' experiencing polar realizations that fire projects (often uninvited) into our life. Fire- The Foe: Fire perceived as a nemesis tears down the things we perceive as necessary and beautiful in our life: relationships, money, homes, careers, health, dreams, families, countries. We literally watch some of these fires in our life sear away at the structures that bring shape and meaning into who we believe ourselves to be and how we understand the world around us. Cartoons depict this antagonistic fire with the image of evil itself and acquaint it to a poor moral compass. The “Foe Fire” appears as a force to be feared, resented... BUT it only has the power to conquer the surface of who you are-- aka the image of you the world sees you as. It's an Earthly fire unequip to penetrate and bring destruction to the core of who are. Friendly Fire: This second type of fire has the power to weld the mightiest of swords ( one's true self-image) . Friendly fire does not come without hardship nor does it promise to be painless. Instead it promises to put the pain to a purpose. It aims to burn away the strongholds circumventing out heart and soul from growing into its best self. It tempers and kindles the resolve within us to take intentional claim to be beings of love, integrity, humility, self-discipline, merciful, just, ‘others' focused and compassionate. This ‘30 something' is in a constant state of transcendence raising my heart and soul past the pain of grief, loss, trauma and The Year 2020 to see each “Foe Fire” has been and will continue to be hijacked by Divine Hiddenness within the “Friendly Fire” to temper past the pain, resurrect meaning to the hurt, and reveal the ‘human' in me that is becoming a clearer reflection of my Creator's image. Whether the fire in your life appears to be acting as friend or foe there is hope within you. Hope to remain present, active and relevant. You… me… WE are relevant even in our isolation, in our loneliness, in our mistakes, in our pain. Fire won't pay time or attention to what it claims to be irrelevant. The very sensation of feeling a burning high or a burning low deems you relevant….. ….. it means you matter….. ….. it means hope lives in you so CRY! Cry your tears out in the open. Those tears will form a smoke signal. Help will arrive. Seek (cry out) and you will find. You are not alone but merely suffocating in the flames of silence. When the cries of our tears unite, that wretched “Foe Fire” is engulfed by the Friendly Fire that brings meaning and community to your healing heart and soul. The greatest gift God gave us was the power to choose (free will). The greatest power we hold, welded by His Divine Hiddenness in The Friendly Fire, is to choose Him. How amazing is it to realize the feeling we experience when chosen first in a 3rd grade game of kickball is 100 times the feeling our Creator has when just one of us chooses Him?! Literally angels rejoice aka have an all out party. What a ride life is with Him! My positive self-talk for Easter 2021: “God's in this. I'm present, active and relevant in my life. I'm His chosen lamb and I choose His Word and His Works to guide me through this fire and raise me to be the ME he created me to be to help others and show LOVE in His image.” James 3
Rapper "Kodak Black" was recently granted an early prison release thanks to Ex-President, Donald J. Trump. Donald Trump, recently decided to pardon rappers Lil Wayne & Kodak Black after receiving a request from rapper/songwriter Lil Yatchy. After Kodak's release, fans noticed he had took on a great weight lost & had also received new face tattoo's. The new appearance now have fans calling the rapper a clone, and has even lead some to try & assassinate the rapper at the 2021' "Tampa Bay" Superbowl party.
I am staring at the Van Gogh Picture as the dawn breaks in a sleepy little university town called Shantiniketan. After being holed up for months at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and immunocompromised family members), I feel like I can breathe again. I experience a rather unfamiliar sound at midnight- the sound of a barking deer. The house I am staying in has a haunted tale of its own. Many years ago, Maloti, an accomplished dancer and academic, died by suicide here. The neighbours attribute it to a lovers' tiff. Out of curiosity, a fifteen year old me delved into research about this mythical and mysterious Maloti. Maloti was as beautiful as she was sophisticated, with razor- sharp wit. She cared very little for social niceties and turned heads, wherever she went. "She was a true artist", said one of her uncles when I met him. " A true artist misunderstood by the world." Those words left quite an impression on me- a young person chasing their own dreams. Unlike Maloti, I wasn't an accomplished artist- but a young person that harboured those dreams. Even daring to articulate those dreams would be met with ridicule, and sneery value judgements. Wanting to prove myself and ultimately being burdened with the weight of other people's expectations, trying to be true to myself and authentic and being cut short by people in positions of power. Wanting to break away and experience freedoms but knowing that fending for myself would involve taking the already trodden path. I had already experienced the disdain that artists were met with. I read of freedoms in books and watched it in movies, but I wondered if a life like that would be possible for me. Sunflowers fascinate me. The reason they do is because wherever the sun moves, the sunflower turns its head to face the sun. In the biting cold, it is hard to think of sunflower fields. The first time I took comfort in looking at bits of a sunflower was when I chanced upon Ai Wei Wei's Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern Art Gallery in London. I was then a 21 year old university student, with barely any money, and big dreams. The art installation was a commentary on the mass production of Chinese goods and how they were subsequently sent to western countries. Each sunflower seed was crafted with porcelain and the feeling evoked by witnessing and experiencing that piece of art was understanding that artists could pour their frustrations and political thoughts into their work. That their art indeed was, political. I realised that my writing and my own art could become a tool through which I could shake off my own oppressions- being a woman, being a person of colour, being a young person whose work and words were not taken seriously, an individual who had no wishes to conform but was forced to do so, being reminded again and again through paperwork and through legislation that if I did not toe the line, if I wanted more for myself than was acceptable by my surroundings and my current context, the situation for me would prove to be dire. I sought my own experiences and my own joys from the world. What books could not teach me, I sought to teach myself. I worked in villages in India with no clean drinking water for months. I slept under the stars on a quiet night sky- the sound of lethal mosquitoes buzzing above my head. I worked with asylum seekers and refugees, which was actually one of the redeeming features of my week. Here is an excerpt of a letter I wrote to a friend, describing that time of my life : "Every day, I see ordinary people -people like you and I-wearing tattered clothes, with paint on their faces and pencils tucked behind their ears, sweating it out. There's this boy I see every day, he's about eighteen and if given a choice, he'd probably want to go to college as well. He often stops me on the street and asks me about what I study and I think he's quite a bright spark- and then I think about all the people back home, who should get an education and are not, it makes me very sad. I hope I don't grow into one of those people who shuts everything out and never does anything constructive by way of ensuring that kids are educated and well looked after. And working with children of refugees actually makes one understand how destitute these kids really are, unsheltered, unprotected, not knowing what tomorrow holds for them. Some children have never known their own homes, being carried from one shelter to another; they come from countries like Ghana, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, The Ivory Coast. Many of their parents have been intellectuals in their own country, they have spoken out against dictatorial regimes, they have condemned massacres, some of them will be executed as soon as they set foot on their home soil again. Most of these people are Asylum Seekers i.e. those who have not even been granted Refugee Status. Some are condemned because of their homosexuality and others, because of their religion." I hope I never stop feeling.