Saturday, May 28, 2016

The murder of an ant

Franscesca killed an ant. The ant was on table at a cafe where Francesca was having coffee and reading a random paper. The real estate section was filled with overpriced houses and the advertisements were pushing condos with an escalating insanity. Franscesca could not afford any of those. The ant had an outer shell that made killing it more difficult than regular ants. Its head kind of swiveled before it was decapitated. The brutality with which the ant was killed bothered Francesca. She suddenly found herself questioning her motive. Why did she kill that ant? Was she pegged by the rising prices of life? Did she feel the need to assert her existence by killing another being? It was none of those.
Francesca was freaked out and her first panicked reaction was to kill the ant. It was all a matter of survival. It was either Francesca or the ant.
The sense of guilt stayed for a little while, but just as she finished her coffee, she brushed it away. She brushed it away just like she brushed away that sticky strand of hair that fluttered before her eyes. She went about her day. She did laundry. She received texts, frivolous texts from friends. Then it began. First a cancellation and then nothingness. Francesca's mood quickly changed as her day fluttered from an orderly affair to a slightly more chaotic affair. It was not earth-shattering, but it was simply annoying.
The dull tempo of the day filled her with a blunt sense of sadness that embed and flowed within her. The humidity all around her echoed the hollowness she felt. She reminisced. Yesterday, she was in a good mood. It didn't last. Good moods never last.
Everyone says that age sneaks up on you. Francesca found life excruciatingly boring. She felt every passing year. She agonized over every thought. She felt like she was at sea, not a specifically tumultuous one, but one that was so vast there was no end or beginning to it. It was a journey of unimportant nothingness. The light from the beacon was so dim that at times, she couldn't even see it, and yet she continued on her vacuous journey. She kept wishing it would end, but it never did. It never does.  
Francesca blamed herself, as she always did. She never complained like others did. She knew that it was no one's fault but her own. And it wasn't even her fault. Or maybe it was. When she killed that ant, a sense of dread filled her. She was certain that it was that one act of cruelty that ushered her descent into the hollowness of her existence. She was certain, but she knew it was not true.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Loss of Odin

It was not the receding hairline or the small muffin top that he suddenly developed. He still maintained some charm. It was the lack of life. It was as if those novel physical alterations were indicators of the beginning of a soulful decline.
Before meeting up, Tanne found herself nervous that all of the old feelings would rush back. She feared that she would be stuck, once more, in a love triangle without a third edge. It all changed when they sat down, and she realized that all of the things that made him beautiful in her eyes were lost.
She struggled to understand why Odin seemed so lifeless. According to his stories, he had a more stable life, an interesting job and an overall calmer existence.
The takeaway from the quick meeting was sadness and disbelief. The former was for him and latter was for her. She could not fathom that this was the man she almost fell for seven years ago. She wondered if he was always like that and she just failed to see it. The melancholy was for him. A small part within her wanted him to remain as he was. That part wanted validation for what it made her feel years before. It wanted to jump up and say "I told you so". It did not. In fact, that part of her wondered if maybe it steered the ship in the wrong direction.
Tanne found herself re-estimating all of her romantic choices. She doubted her ability to make sound choices. At the same time, she wanted to help him. She imagined if they became real friends, she can steer him in the right direction and rehabilitate his soul. She would not do that for herself, but for him. She felt, as a friend, she owed it to him.
She wondered, though, if she had enough life within her to breathe life into Odin. She had just regained her spiritual footing after a bad tumble. Her ego partly rejoiced that she was seemingly better than him. As with broken romantic ties, there was always a comparison to being reunited. However, she found no joy. Her ego rejoiced alone, unaccompanied by any other part of her. It was a lonely party, but as expected from an ego, it did not care. It was enough. Slowly, Tanne realized that resuscitating him was not an option. Tanne also feared that maybe he would suck her in his undead existence. Maybe his soulless pull would better her soulful reawakening.
Perhaps another brave soul would be able to do it. She prayed that she would not witness the rebirth of his soul on the hands of another. Jealousy refused to leave her side.
She felt the need to say farewell, properly, but as with half-lives, it was impossible. They flit and fidget everywhere, unable to focus on anything.
He was half a life, walking, talking, but not living. Just existing. It was almost painful to watch. There goes the lively soul she once thought was so precious and good. It still maintained some charm, but it was no longer itself. Odin was forever lost. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I miss you

I find it really hard to respond honestly to this phrase "I miss you". It is a simple phrase; neat, three words, not messy at all. It is uncomplicated and unhindered.

Allow me to digress.

Emotions make me uncomfortable. Expressed emotions make me even more uncomfortable. I do not like expressing emotions and I do not like being the recipient of expressed emotions. I have expressed genuine emotions only a couple of times in my life and I regretted it every time.

I am from the section of society that would show emotions only to pets. I love my cats. I miss them constantly and I feel homesick whenever I am away from them. When I didn't have a cat, I trolled the internet for pictures of cats, trolled the streets for stray cats and fantasized about the day that I would have a cat.

I do not know why, but I rarely miss people. The people I would miss sometimes are my family members and only in certain situations.

I miss places more than people. I pine over Scotland all the time. I always say that my love for Scotland is unrequited. It is.

I miss situations. That time when my flipflop decided to break while hiking up a hill, or that time when I hiked solo up a mountain. I miss a fully-stocked and spacious kitchen whenever I have to work in small kitchens. I miss the day when I would find fulfillment on earth.

When I was a teenager, I did not care about anyone or anything. I remember my father once called me into his office and talked to me about caring. He told me I have to start caring about my mother and sisters. He told me I have to ask about them and make sure they are alright. He told me even if I am sure they are ok, I still have to ask. I did not understand what he was doing or what he was asking of me. However, I knew I had to do what he said.

I think if it wasn't for this brief conversation with my father and the chores he gave me, I would have become a sociopath.

Now back to the neat, three-worded phrase.

I find it hard to genuinely respond to this phrase. I also think that the phrase is redundant, saying it doesn't mean anything and doesn't accomplish anything. I would rather not say anything and just talk to the person. What is the point of saying these useless phrases? It won't make you miss the person less and it won't make the person miss you.

I can say "same here" or "me too" to be polite once, maybe twice, but I can't keep saying it. I can't keep saying something I don't mean. And I also feel annoyed when people shove emotions in your face. I mean why on earth would anyone miss someone that much unless they are dead?  And I am not talking about parents missing their children, I am talking about two people who know each other as friends, romantic partners, etc... I just think it is sick to miss someone so much you have to shove it in their face every time you speak.

No wonder I like emotionally unavailable people. My peeps!

Shut up and just repress your emotions like everyone else. It's the polite thing to do.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Email Etiquette

I remember vividly the first time we got a computer. It was just as the internet started to become a thing in Egypt. I was 10 years of age. My father came to pick me up from school which was very exciting because usually it was either my mother or the family driver. We went to my father's office and there we met with a weird computer engineer called Medhat. He showed me how to operate the computer and the first program that we used was a digital atlas called PC Globe. My father had also bought a printer with the computer so we printed a map. I think it was Africa's map, but I am not sure. It took about 10 excruciatingly noisy minutes to print.
The internet was only available for two hours a day, and so it was split 50-50 between my father and us(the kids). I had to share the 50% with my sister, which didn't always go well. Our eldest sister was not very interested. She believed it was a bubble or a phase and soon we would grow out of it. Ha!
Thus began my love affair with the world wide web, mainly because of disney,com. Way back when the website had mini-cartoons, comics and many other entertaining things. Now it is all commercial. Yes, even the internet was better in the past, kids.
When it came to email, my father taught me how to write and respond to emails. He treated them as he did his business letters and faxes. He taught me to be prompt, polite and formal. It was the only way I knew how to write emails until maybe college.
Hence, I carried with me the sense of urgency that was instilled in those who write regular letters, but with email. The response had to be right away. Why? Because my father said so. And I did. Until this very day, I still get very antsy when I have an email in my inbox. I must respond, says the etiquette bot in my brain. Do it, do it NOW. This transferred to all social media and messaging services. I get a message, I respond right away. It has nothing to do with the message, and more to do with my obsessive thinking. Therefore, I appear too eager.
The only times I don't respond right away is when I am baking or on vacation or I want to discourage someone from communicating with me. So, instead of right away, I wait about 15 minutes and respond in short bursts of conversation. Rarely do I completely ignore someone. They have to have really pissed me off.
My mail-era etiquette does not go well with the current times. You are not supposed to respond right away because you are busy have the best time of you life. You are busy making money, making kids, building a career and being an awesome human being. Sure, why not? However, I find it really hard to believe that in this day and age, someone is too busy to respond to an email or text right away. Unless you are deep in the Borneo jungle, there is internet access almost anywhere. Secondly, we all procrastinate in some way or another and we take our phones everywhere. Hence, whenever I get the occasional person who tells me they are "too busy", I just take the hint and realize that they are giving me the brush off. It's fair enough.
The thing is I will still respond right away, because that is how my father raised me.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How talking to a stranger made me realize I am interesting

I am an introverted, socially awkward person. It takes me a while to develop any sort of connection with people. I also never approach people I don't know. There are so many potential outcomes to speaking to strangers beyond the normal civilities. So, to my brain, that is just suicide. All the friends I have made in my life happened because they decided I am friend-material or I worked with them or I went to school with them. There has always been a clear, firm context with any connection I have made. When I start a new course, it usually takes me two weeks to a month to actually be able to speak normally to my classmates. Sometimes, it might take even more time than that. When it comes to social interactions, I am a total newbie, a 29-year old newbie, but still.
I am currently studying abroad, and when my plans for March Break fell through, I felt bummed. However, spurred by my inner-clown (always up for a laugh), binge-watching Girls (if Hannah can go through all this and survive, I can talk to a stranger), and a comment by my instructor to "try and do something new", I decided I will not waste the break. I will take that week to push beyond my comfort zone and do something I find scary whenever I have the chance.
Day one: I wore my frizzy, curly hair down. I thought that was enough, but my inner-clown refused to shut up.
I have been a patron of a nearby cafe. I go every couple of days to work on college projects, draw or just have a cup of tea. I like having a hangout spot for people-watching. The first question one of my best friends asked me when I first came here "Have you found your cafe yet?". I am a person of routine, just like a cat. And so, I found my cafe. It is near my apartment, on a main street, has multiple electric outlets and usually quite busy. It is perfect for my people-watching/tea-sipping/working needs.
During my "work sessions", I noticed a stranger that I found attractive and also intriguing. I don't know which came first, but we can question my uterus later. At first, as with all men I like, I thought of him as creepy. He already passed the first hurdle. Then, with time, the intrigue grew. I wondered if he was part of a cult because he was always at the cafe. It seemed like he never worked. Was he a vampire? He does have squinty eyes. The obsession grew beyond anything that my inner-clown can ignore. And so on the first day of March Break, my inner-clown decided, "today, I will talk to a stranger".
I stepped out of the cafe, almost turning around and ignoring my obsessive thinking. However, I stopped in my tracks when I reminded myself of the proposed challenge. I might be socially awkward, but I never back down from a challenge and I am very persistent. So, I collected my nerves and courage by throwing snow balls at a tree and missing completely. It did not boost my ego. Finally, I decided, just like I used to take cough medicine as a child, I will just close my eyes, not breathe and power through it.
I went to the unassuming stranger and mumbled something about tea. He was gracious enough not to stand up and shout: "Hark, old hag. I beseech you, stay away from me". Although, in my mind, I thought he might. He said something about the pyramids; the no. one topic when anyone knows I am Egyptian and promised to "see me around". He tried to get me to sit down, but I said I was leaving. My stomach was in so many knots, I might have buried the cafe in vomit. I left the cafe feeling dazed and confused.
This was not a good interaction. It was weird, awkward and strange (I know synonyms too). I obsessed over what I should have said or done or maybe not done. I prayed for a chance to redeem myself.
For the following few days, my whole self was cringing. I continued with my "planned events" and some were really redeeming. I avoided the cafe because it was stressing me out. Finally, I decided I have to face my fears. I kept telling myself "it will only be awkward if you let it be". And I did let it.
The second interaction was even worse. When I saw him, I said "Hi" sheepishly and then proceeded to ignore him. The cringing only got worse. I prayed for a chance to redeem myself... again. I know the universe has been kind, but I just need one more chance to right a wrong.
Today, the universe gave me that chance. I went to the cafe, sat in my spot and waited for my social prey (cue evil old hag laugh). The guy came in and avoided me, which made sense. I probably seem like a maniac. After some time to write some mental script, I went over and started a conversation by apologizing. We talked for a bit and then I invited him to join me at my table. I was very smooth and also cringing the whole way through. We talked a bit and I answered the mundane, small talk questions people usually ask to get to know you.
This time it was different. There was no common ground, no similarities, nothing. The context was totally lost and so when I was describing myself, I only had the facts, nothing to relate them to. This story is not about the stranger, this story is about me. As I spun the tale of my life, I realized that I am a fairly interesting person. If I was on the other side, I would be intrigued by me (arrogant, I know). Up until this point, I have always thought of myself as confused or undecided or stunted. Interesting or intriguing has never been part of my vocabulary. I realized there was a lot to talk about even though I always thought I was sheltered. I was no longer a sad, confused girl, but a woman who has obviously worked on her self-development. I realized that I am not just physically, but also mentally well-rounded. In short, I would make the perfect party guest.
I am not saying you should talk to strangers to know your worth. You should know your worth before even talking to anyone. If you don't like something, work on it, but stop the self-deprecation that we have been taught and start celebrating whatever accomplishment you have.
So, I thank the stranger who aided me through my journey and we will probably not cross paths again because I will be avoiding the cafe from now on. Quit while you are ahead; another great lesson. I will miss the cafe though, but you always have to sacrifice something to gain something else.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

My Hair

We've had a rocky relationship, my hair and I.

I remember when I was a girl, my mother used to spend a long time every morning trying to untangle my hair. She would pull at it and yank my head several times. I would shout "Ay!" many times, only to have her tell me to stay still. As a child, I regarded hair-grooming as an excruciating experience that only brought torture and pain. My mother's hair is soft with only the slightest wave, while my father's hair is very coarse (he used to have an Afro as a young man). I have curly, dry hair, bordering on coarse. 
My hair had no shape whatsoever growing up. My mother's style of choice was a bazooka braid. Since my hair was so dry and would literally stand on end, a braid would just stick straight out. It wouldn't rest on my shoulders, just stick out of my head, threatening to poke the eyes of unsuspecting strangers standing behind me. It did. Many a time would I hear a schoolmate crying in pain as I accidentally poked them with my bazooka braid. 
I used to watch other girls' hairstyles with envy. I used to wish my hair had shape, that I could actually do something with it. I mostly coveted the soft, swishy ponytail; the kind that you would see in 50s films that bounced with every movement, but retained its shape.
In my late teens/early twenties, I discovered the joy of chemical straighteners. I started to relax my hair. I endured hours smelly applications, more head-yanking and sometimes burning of my scalp to tame my unruly hair. For the first couple of days, my hair would look like it was frozen in time. It was straight, but it wasn't soft or bouncy. Then it would start to look more normal and then it would become really brittle and start to fall out. Then the new hair would come in, and I would have partly straight, brittle hair, partly coarse, frizzy hair. Nonetheless, I continued to use them because everyone thought I looked great. 
It was until my hair started falling in chunks, a few years later, that I decided to stop and just accept my hair for the frizzy, messy thing that it is. 
Now, I love my sometimes soft, mostly curly, dry, frizzy hair. It has softened a bit with time and proper care. It still gets majorly frizzy at times, but who doesn't? I realized that my hair is the perfect expression of my personality: temperamental, stressful and sometimes nice when no one is looking.  I may never have a bouncy ponytail, but I do have witch hair. I get to pretend that I am casting spells as I walk down the street with my fluffy hair.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


لقد طالت الرحلة...ما ظننت أنه سيحل فى غضون شهور، لم يحل، بل زادت التعقيدات و أصبح- ما يسميه الممثل توم كروز- مهمة المستحيلة. فى بداية الطريق أخترت أن أصدق المقولة "كل شىء ممكن" و لكن مع توالى الأيام أصبحت أدرك أن هذه المقولة الشهيرة هى كذبة كبيرة يتبادلها الناس لأضفاء القليل من الأمل المزيف الى حياة فارغة و مملة. أيقنت أننى كنت أعانى من السذاجة المفرطة و أن تلك القصص التى كانت تقصهاعلى أمى و أنا صغيرة دمرت جزء كبير من خلايا مخى، لدرجة أنى كنت أؤمن بالسحر و عروس البحر و الأشكيف المخيف. فى عقلى الصغير، كل تلك الأشياء أختلطت بالواقع و أصبحت جزء لا يتجزأ مما أتوقعه لنفسى فى الحياة المستقبلية. و أعتقدت أننى عندما أصبح بالغة، سوف أحارب المخلوقات الشريرة كساحرة طيبة وأنقذ الناس من مصائد الساحرات الشريرات بمساعدة قطتى السوداء ذات العيون الخضراء. لم أدرك أن الحياة أكثر تعقيدا من ذلك بكثير و لم أدرك أن عقلى اللا واقعى سوف يوقعنى فى مشاكل لا تحصى.
طالما كنت دخيلة على هذا العالم منذ الصغر، قضيت معظم وقتى فى المدرسة بمفردى أو مع صحبة القطط الضالة، كنت أتشارك طعامى معهم على أمل أن يسمحوا لى باللعب معهم. أدركت فى سن الثامنة أن لا يوجد سحر فى العالم و أن النوع الوحيد الموجود يتطلب التضحية بأصدقائى الوحيدين فى الدنيا و هو عامة سحر أسود يشوه الروح و الجسد. شعرت بخيبة أمل كبيرة و لكننى سرعان ما عدلت من توقعاتى و بعد مشاهدة عدة حلقات من برنامج د. حامد جوهر العلمى "عالم البحار"، قررت أن هدفى سيكون العثور على عروس بحر فى البحر الأحمر و أستكشاف عالم البحار بجانب د.حامد جوهر. للأسف تحطم هذا الهدف عندما قالت لى أمى أن عروس البحر ليس لها وجود فى عالمنا هذا. 
تكرر هذا السيناريو عدة مرات و بأشكال مختلفة حتى يومنا هذا.
حتى بعدما أصبحت أستطيع أن أفرق بين الخيال و الواقع فى سن الحادية عشر وحتى بعد ما بدلت قصص هانز كريستين أندراسون،  بروايات أل.أم.مونتجومرى و عباس العقاد ثم شيكسبير وتوفيق الحكيم. صرت أعانى من الأكتئاب و فقدان الهوية فى سن مبكرة مصاحبة بعدوانية شديدة ضد الاغراب. كنت على يقين أن فى يوم من الأيام سوف أدرك ذاتى و كنت على أستعداد أن أبذل قصارى جهدى لتحقيق ذلك... كان ذلك فى بداية الطريق عندما كان لايزال يوجد بعض من الأمل فى روحى الصغيرة.
لست بضحية و أكره أن أفكر فى نفسى بهذا المنطلق، أننى ألوم نفسى معظم الوقت لأننى لم أدرك حقائق عالمنا هذا فى وقت مبكر و لكن فى نفس الوقت لا تعجبنى هذه الحقائق و أرفضها معظم الوقت و لذلك ترانى أتواجد على هامش الواقع و الخيال، لست أحى فى أى عالم منهما و لكن أتشبث بخصائص من كل واحد فى أنتظار شىء لا أعرفه، المكون الضائع الذى سوف يبرر لى أخيرا سبب وجودى فى تلك الدنيا.
أعتقد أن هذا المكون الضائع لن يجد طريقه الى أبدا و سأبقى فى حالة من حالات الايقين حتى الموت و مع مرور الأيام سوف أفقد شىء من نفسى تدريجيا حتى يبقى جسد خالى من الروح، محتجزا فى ما يطلق عليه بعض الكاثوليك المطهر(purgatory) و لكن فى الدنيا بدلا من الآخرة.  
P.S. :This post goes out to Mahdeto, the second reader of this blog and the one who requested something in Arabic. I don't know why it became so depressing, but it was not intended. I just wrote what came to mind at the time.

Monday, September 22, 2014


To my sister, the only reader of this blog and the one who requested a sweet and romantic short story (against my better judgement) to entertain her. 

She exited from the bathroom humming. Her wet hair created a line of squiggly drops as she made her way from the bathroom to the bedroom. She could hear the sound of a keyboard's buttons being gently struck in the other room, and there was an intense smell of coffee. 
"He's working," she thought.
She sat before the credenza and proceeded to brush her hair in long sweeping motions. Her arm soon grew tired. She noticed the clumps of hair falling all round her. She was surrounded by wavy strands of long black hair on the floor. They formed a half circle, like guards protecting her from an unknown danger, A thought came to her. It was of such urgency that she had to rush to the study to divulge the contents of her mind.
"My hair is falling," she announced, standing in the doorway, her hair still dripping.
He looked up from the computer, his glasses on the tip of his nose and looked at her. He laughed.
"You should cut it, you know that," he said with a smile as he took off his glasses and laid them gently on the table. He stretched and yawned like a cat. His hair was flecked with white and his unshaven beard has turned slightly silver. 
"I thought you liked long hair," she paused, "not that I care what you like. I am a strong, independent woman."
"I know," he said.
"Will you still find me attractive when I am bald?" she asked as she twisted a strand of hair on her index finger. There was now a tiny puddle of water next to her feet. The strand of hair soon became a clump that dislocated itself from the rest of its brethren. As she noticed that, she sighed.
"Honey, you are tripping and dripping at the same time."
She glanced down and sighed again. At that, he left his desk, took her hand and led her back to the desk.
"Sit down, please madam," he said in a pleasant tone like a salesman at the beginning of a sales-pitch.
"What are you doing?" 
"Trust me," he whispered in her ear and kissed her neck.
He turned on his computer and after fiddling with the mouse, some tunes started playing. It was swing music of the 30s. Soon, the whole house bounced and swayed to the gentle rhythm of the old songs.
"Oh, I love this music," she gushed.
He went to the cupboard where he kept the coffee machine and started to make a coffee. 
"You need another one, huh?" she said, "you should consider cutting down on your coffee intake."
He then brought the cup and laid it down before her. 
"You know I am not a fan of coffee," she said.
"Trust me," he reiterated.
She took a sip. Her eyes opened wide as she realized the exact type of coffee she was drinking.
"Is that the coffee that I drank in Peru? How did you find it? I searched for days after..." she interrupted her own speech as she took another hurried sip. "Yum," she added. 
"Just close your eyes now and think of nothing but Peru's high mountains and a cool gust of wind tickling your pretty cheeks," he said.
She did just that.
She imagined herself trekking through the lush, green mountains of Peru, but soon her fantasy lulled her into dozing off. The comfortable, leather chair only exacerbated the case and soon she struggled to keep her eyes open. Every now and then, she would resist and open her eyes to see him holding a pair of scissors or a small comb or snipping a strand of hair. 
"Wake up, honey," he said as he shook her awake.
She opened her eyes. "Did you douse my coffee with something?"
"What? No."
He took her hand and led her back to the bedroom. She saw her reflection in the mirror as they walked in and gasped. 
"What? How?" she screamed. Instead of her long, black hair, she now sported a short 1930s bob, one that would could be imagined on a character of a Fitzgerald novel. 
"Remember when we were watching The Great Gatsby? You said that if you were ever brave enough, you would cut your hair like Daisy? I figured now was the opportune moment to do so," he explained.
"But how did you manage it?"
"I took some lessons at that fancy hairdresser's near our building. I showed him the haircut and told him I wanted to be able to cut only this style. I spent weeks practicing on dolls. It was kind of creepy, really," he said scratching his head, "Anyway, he also gave me some products that he told me you would need to manage it."
She remained silent. Something to which he was not accustomed. 
"If you hate it, we can go to the hairdresser's right now," he added.
She still remained silent.
"Honey, you're scaring me. Say something," he said.
She turned around and kissed him. 
"It's lovely," she said with a tear in her eye, "I love it."
They stayed silent for a while, hugging one another.
"But you still haven't answered my initial question, you know," she said, smiling. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Brain freeze

Unlike the onset of the ice-cream induced effect, this brain freeze did not come suddenly or with any searing pain. Instead, it took two heart-wrenching years for it to finally settle in the recesses of his brain. It was a eureka moment when he realized that this agonizing process has begun. He was relieved to know that it was not an illness or that he was about to die. The atrophy that occurred was merely figurative. It was quite ironic that the thing (imagination!) that gave him life was also the thing taking it away.
He knew from the get-go that there would be nothing he could do (nothing he could change) to stop it.  He spent a few days mourning the loss of creativity and the connection he once had with his inner self. He regretted the time he wasted on anything but getting all those thoughts out. Over a stale cup of coffee (and a stale brain), he mulled over all the things he could have done with his former abilities. He teared up as he remembered his former abilities to conjure words from thin air and forge them into beautiful sentences.
They, those who read them, would shiver with emotion, scratch their heads, take a pause to breathe, raise their heads to the heavens and plead. Divine supplication was often uttered as they realized that twist or went through that turn.
He sighed. Oh, how he wasted those precious years of excess to produce so meagerly like an old miser.
And so he let go of all the hopes, dreams and aspirations. Of all the loves, the fails and the losses. Of all the lives created and all the whispers (unsaid, neglected and left to perish). Of all the ones he would have gotten to know and the ones he knew. Of all the pain, agony and labor of creation. Of all the life within him and the one without him.
He waited, like an insomniac waits for a boring film to end (coveting and fearing the last credits).
"Sweet salvation, won't you come to me?"
A birthday. Nice wishes. Smiling faces. Worlds apart, they are. Presents, cupcakes and candles. Gifts, cards and cups. Love, kisses and hugs.
"And to a hundred more."
He could barely think of five more years of this existence, let alone a hundred. It felt more like a curse. In his mind, the wisher became an old hag with drooping breasts and wild hair. A witch, she was, of the Shakespearean kind. The ones who used spit, pee and bleed to make spells, incantations and curses. The ones who gutted chickens and goats (real witches, not the TV kind).
There, another year has passed with an unresponsive mind.
"I am a thief."
He was stealing air, love and supplies from the living. The ones who needed it. A robber of souls, lives and aspirations. He fell from grace, but they were still feeding him Ambrosia. Like a baby, unable to speak (enough!). He wished for the thought police to come and arrest him.
"Do you know how fast your brain was going, sir? It wasn't."
He feared the nights. They all slept, snored and quieted down. Yet, suddenly the morning yawns transformed into nightly energy. Nothing to do, nothing to say. Left alone with a thoughtless brain. Sleep escapes the empty space. It echoes and resounds, hollow like his soul. From a flimsy mind, a divine conversation escapes. An apology, a plea, a prayer and a promise. Divine rejection hurts as well. He remembers the unrequited love of his foolish youth and sighs.
There will be no salvation tonight. Like each and every night. A reverse zombie; he roams the night eating his own brain instead.
The drowsiness multiplies every second until the first glimmer of light shines through. A cat purring by his side. It yawns and stretches, effects of restful sleep. It calls for tuna chunks and loving cuddles. He willingly obeys. The sun now stares him in the face, defying him to stay awake.
He falls, again, with broken limbs and a worn out body. A dead brain ushers him into the listless world of truncated dreams. Running, always running. Out of breath, unable to see, unable to hear, unable to rest. There was nothing sweet, succulent or swimmingly delicious within the dreamworld. His lovers have left it and his enemies have remained. Torture and pain; hate and heat, sweat and tears. Screams, he screams.
Drenched in sweat, he emerges again. The night begins again. His brain is dead again. The words perished again. Tears flow again. Rage ebbs again. The hate swells again.  
Life begins again. The end escapes (him) again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

And in darkness, there is life

If you listen carefully to the rhythm of the city, every now and then, its urban beat would be interrupted by shrieks of frustration. The frustration stemmed from the inability to read, the loss of data, tripping in a puddle of mud or the tragic loss of battery time. Those significantly audible shrieks were frequent especially during the first few weeks, when there was still hope of civilization, technology and light.
Whispers of conspiracy theories would be heard in cafes, restaurants, bus stops and metro stations across the busy metropolitan.
“They are doing this on purpose,” one would hear as they crossed the street with the aid of a flashlight or one of those fancy phones with built-in light. At night, people walking in the street could be identified from the faint bluish lights that led them through the pitch-black city. They seemed like guardian angels perusing the city for escaped demons.
One by one, each citizen stopped shrieking as the darkness became a regular part of their daily life. Slowly and methodically, the darkness lasted longer with every passing week. In a couple of months, after all of the shrieks died and all the protests died, light became a rare commodity. Precious phone calls to loved ones announced the same state in several cities around the world.
Nights became a time when only ghosts, fools and criminals decided to roam the dim streets. Fear and survival instincts prevented the rest from wading through the dark. This meant that days were busier than they have ever been, but quieter and more relaxed. This paradox existed because the lack of technology forced the hurried to slow down and procedures once finished in a few minutes to take days. Streets filled with bikes, skateboards and roller blades.
After the food and medicine ran out, urbanites soon transformed into the people they once dubbed “low-lives”.  Those who wished to remain civil migrated –on foot– to the country. It meant days of endless walking with little or no food and whatever contaminated water they found on the way. It also meant subjecting themselves to unknown perils during the night. Many found the sacrifice worthy so as not to turn into those rabid creatures once known as human beings.

Exploiting others soon became the norm in cities around the world. The lack of commodities with which to trade meant that an able human soon became sellable. Good looks and health became burdens as the freaks, the ugly and the sick were disregarded as worthless. To make for easier filtering, the worthless were marked with a stamp on their foreheads created out of burned flesh and agony.  There was life –for the first time– in rejection. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Standing guard

"Jiggle, jiggle," he thought as the jogger passed him by. He couldn't really see her butt. Not really, on account of the baggy sports trousers she was wearing. He couldn't see her breasts either. They were flattened down somehow. He didn't know how exactly, but whenever he compared joggers' breasts with normal women's breasts, they were always flattened rather than perky. It was strange.
"They must think this makes it better somehow," he thought. In his humble opinion, it didn't; "breasts were meant to be perky. Otherwise, what's the point?"
Every morning, around 5:30 am, the first batch of joggers start to trickle one after the other. They were mostly men, but every now and then, there would be some women. He waited for them. He longed for them. Unlike the rest of his colleagues, he refused to sleep at that time. He knew that if he fell asleep he would miss them. They were, after all, the best perk of this job.
He was 16 when his father died. His uncle came to his mother one day and they had a conversation. Then his uncle took him away. As he left the small, rural village, he could hear his mother ululating and shouting: "my son will be an officer" between jeers and cheers. He took one last look at his seven siblings as the toktok took them further and further away from his home. They went straight to the enlistment camp.
He thought he would be an officer like his mother announced, but then after he was registered he found out, he was to be conscript.
He went up to one of the people in charge. "Ya beh. I was supposed to be an officer," he said naively. The officer responded with a slap that managed to floor him and unhinge two of his teeth from their roots. He spit them out with along with a small puddle of blood. "Clean up your shit, conscript," the officer said as he stepped in the pool of blood and moved away leaving bloody footsteps leading up to his office.
That night he was assigned the cleaning of the entire dinning hall floor. He spent all night scrubbing the floor while his mouth throbbed with pain. He was too afraid to ask for a doctor. All he could do was sob, his tears falling on the floor's muddy surface.
The rest of the year was a series of constant humiliation, abuse and torture. Any kind of thought that had crossed his mind faded away as his body sustained multiple bruises, breaks and bloody lashes.
"Do not think, conscript," they said.
"Obey, conscript," they insisted.
"Push the wall, conscript," they shouted. The wall? How can one literally push a wall? It doesn't matter. Just obey and keep your head down. Those who didn't obey, suffered. No one wanted to suffer. The emotional pain went away after a few months, but the physical pain was always too much to handle. He just didn't want to be hit again and again and again.
He obeyed. It was really his only choice. He could not run away. He wouldn't go anywhere. Whatever money he was given went straight to his uncle. He didn't even see it. He had a bed and three partially hot meals. What else did he want?
Every now and then, they would have to go down in the street "to protect the country".
"Those fucks in the street are fucking terrorists. Your only task is to fuck them. Do you understand, conscripts?" their training officer would say. Every time, they would drill that in their heads.
"Push the wall. They are all walls. Push the wall. Just push the fucking wall," he would remind himself, "then you can go back to sleeping and three meals."
It was on the way to these "missions" that he learned about staring at girls. He saw his fellow conscripts whistling and shouting at girls passing by as they were parked in the street, waiting to be unleashed unto the "terrorists". They sometimes waited for hours, packed in the truck under the sweltering sun. The smell of rotting flesh underneath their heavy suits made the truck reek for miles. The heat was unbearable but no one dared leave the truck, not until they were told. Staring at others was their only mean of entertainment.
He had an inclining that what they were doing was not right, but he also thought it was his right. These people who walked and jogged early morning were trying to lose weight while his whole village were starving. He imagined them stuffing their faces and then going for a run. He despised their ability to choose what to do with themselves; something he lacked.
It was his own way to seek vengeance upon an unfair society. He argued that if people did not want him to look at them, then they should not pass in front of him. After all, they had their fancy clubs to go jog there in peace, but instead they chose the common man's abode. In the street everything was fair game.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The realisation of a revelation

A revelation often occurs when least expected. It does not happen to you while you are searching for it or pleading with the invisible gods to send you one. A revelation is often the result of deep thinking and a random event that you witness or experience. It does not have to be a unique event. You might have even experienced it before many times, but it is this one time that the brain chose to create a pattern with that event as the central point. Hence, you start identifying with that event in a different method.

Unlike fictional work, a revelation does not equal an immediate state of relief and/or a known plan for you to execute. In real life, it might take you a long time to actually start putting this revelation into executable steps. While the thought might be ripe in your head, you could find that many internal or external factors hinder you from executing it. Therefore, if neglected, a revelation might continue to swim freely within the confines of your brain without ever seeing the light of day.

An unrealised revelation might be a dangerous thing since it could lead to overthinking, notions of depression and a sense of great failure. On the other hand, the execution of a revelation could lead you nowhere. Unlike fictional work, which tends to provide audience with linear paths of salvation, real life is more convoluted.The execution of this revelation might produce no significant results that you are left as vacant as before you had that revelation. In fact, you might find yourself even more hollowed out that before. This means nothing just as your life means nothing.

To summarise, damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Please consult with your physician before attempting to create or execute a revelation.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Whole-grain muffins with almonds

I made this the other day and it tasted really good. However, I haven't been eating sugar for a while, so anything remotely sweet tastes good for me. It's definitely not for the sugar-fiends. Since I haven't been posting, I figured this might jog my brain a little. Also, I am not claiming it's healthy or anything, it's just tasty.

2 1/4 cups whole-grain flour
1 cup warm milk (I used skimmed, but it is up to you)
1/4 cup honey
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 small chocolate bar (any kind, I used orange-flavoured sugar free one)
1/4 cup oil (I used corn, just make sure it's a neutral kind of oil, so it doesn't leave an aftertaste)
a handful of almonds (depending on how nutty you want it, you can add more)

Preheat oven to 220C.

1. Pour the honey in the warm milk and stir until dissolved.
2. Combine flour with baking powder and salt, and then add the sweetened milk and oil. Stir well until everything is combined. The whole grain flour sometimes has pockets of air inside it, so make sure everything is well-combined.
3. Chop the the chocolate bar with a knife (it's a very easy process if the bar is at room temperature) and then add to the mixture.
4. Chop the almonds with a knife or by putting them in a kitchen towel and hitting them with a rolling pin (good for exorcising demons).
5. Add almonds to the mixture and give it a final couple of stirs.
6. Divide mixture unto the muffin tins and then put in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is nice and golden.

This makes 12 according to my old muffin tin. 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chance meeting

At first, you are not really sure that you have in fact glanced it. It is out of the corner of your eye...the left one. Yet, your brain instantly matches the face with a memory and something lights up. The person walking in the street, about to cross your path, is someone you know. Perhaps an acquaintance or a distant relative because your first reaction is to duck or run. It is too late to cross the street and so you jump behind a tree that proves to be too willowy for your pudgy frame.
Yet, they see you and instantly smile. They approach you with that smile. You know that the coming five minutes of your life will be completely wasted. You pray to a higher force to rescue you somehow, but they refuse to grant you that wish. The hug you. Your insides get squished. You haven't seen them in a long while and so they seem to believe the hug has to be a long one. You start choking and their hair is all over your face. You don't want to eat hair.
They finally let you go. The physical torture has ended, now comes the social or rather mental torture. They ask you a series of questions about your life to which you have to present an answer that is two sentences or less. Think of it as a pop quiz, only you do not know the answers to those profound questions even though you have been searching your whole life. You have to condense your whole existence in a paragraph to satisfy a mere acquaintance who you will never (hopefully) see again.
It's a harrowing exercise, especially when they ask you if you are happy. As if I am going to gush to a mere stranger about my joy in life. Oh, wait, that is what people do now. I am just not in on it. My bad.
They are always very "happy" to see me. Strange because I wouldn't be happy to see me. I am always left to wonder how happiness has become such an empty word. I don't think people know what it should stand for anymore. It is so overused that it has lost its value. Soon it will join its sister "love" in an untimely death.
The good thing about the chance encounter is that it ends, always, well at least if you are lucky. Then, you go about your business and thank the universe that you remembered to brush your hair that day. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


If we suppose that we were randomly created out of a spark somewhere in the vast, seemingly black universe. From this spark, emerged the earth, people, plants, animals, and all those other things. If we suppose that no one made the decision of creating us, that there is no one beneath or above us. If we suppose that we live suspended between two imaginary ideas.

Then, all our faults are our own, heaven and hell are on earth and we become responsible for everything. The randomness of the universe becomes a factor in the equation, but not a dominating one. Then, we stop seeking truth and all the rules we created become meaningless, insofar as the after. Then, only the now persists and nothing else.

Then, why becomes obsolete and how takes its place.

It also means that neither good gets rewarded nor evil gets punished. There is no guardian. Suddenly, the thoughts and conversations you have in your head echoes, unheard and unknown. Then, there is no one laughing with you or keeping you together. When you walk down that dark street, jiggling your keys, singing out loud and looking left and right, no one is looking with you.

You become truly and completely alone. The heavens become a dark, empty space in which nothing resides. When you look up, no one looks back at you, and when you shout, your voice dissolves within the layers of darkness above. Existence ceases to matter, and is surpassed by survival. The glory is all in the now and the more you wait, the less you get. Ambition is no longer contemptible, but admirable, or even sought after.  

We are the universe and it is us. 
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