From My Journals -i

Artist Zahra Ammar
Advertisements

Published Works

SPRING DELUSIONS: Chaotic Poems of Despair and Blooming Hope


Words are our only tools to express the physicality of the chaos in our minds. 

It is tedious and painstaking process to create something, anything. Emotions are not words, hence, to put them as such, requires quite a bit of searching, meandering and stumbling. I believe my affair with these alphabets will never be satiated. Yet, I have tried to sing some broken tunes, sketched some bleakness and shared fragments of my inner hope.
I have often had a love hate relationship with poetry. Its enigmatic power has often left me confused but also enlightened me. Although rhymes are fun and easy to tap your foot to, it is the rhythm or sometimes, the lack of it that can truly sear through the heart. For me, simplicity is key. It is graceful. It is alluring.
Each poem is handwritten, followed by typewrite for easy bookmarking and commenting and is accompanied by an illustration, meticulously and thoughtfully crafted. I refuse to acknowledge that illustrations are for children’s books only. There is no age limit to vision. Seeing is as much a part of feeling as reading and imagining is. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have in making them.
The poems I write do not follow any rule in particular. Although well-versed in writing verses, I opt to experiment with a variety of things, from alliteration to repetitions, and rhyme to meters, and mirroring to collating. Some poems have written themselves. Some, I have agonized over for days and nights. Writing and rewriting, getting it just right and then starting all over again.

It is an organized pandemonium of the human self.

Get a copy of this book from Amazon: Spring Delusions

The History of a Bookworm

It has been quite some time since I have thought to myself how quick I can get this over with so that I can start reading again.

I think I was around eight years old when I specifically bought or rather my father bought me a book to read. It wasn’t for school nor for any ulterior motive like moral learning or some cultural propaganda of appropriateness that most kids digests tend to poop all over kids’ brains. No, it was just because I had found something interesting.

I wish I could remember what my first book was. I have alzheimers when it comes to my childhood memories. But it must have been pretty good to have me hooked.

Technically my area of speciality if murder, mystery and thrillers. By the age of sixteen, I had managed to make a private library filled with the genre. This consisted mostly of Hardy Boys and Famous Five, Sidney Sheldons and Grishams. They constituted of the world of fiction where I would find refuge at all times and all hours. I’ve done the most predictable of the bookworm acts… locked in bathroom- read till mom threatens to tear down the door, crept under bed and read till ungodly hours of the night, read on the bus, while walking down corridors, stumbling down staircases, keeping books between textbooks in class and defeating the natural order of sleep to get to the end of the book.

I am an adrenaline junkie.

The kind of adrenaline that comes while flipping the pages of a good book but it’s not fast enough. Where reading at a speed of 400 words per minute feels like belonging to the turtle family. I could devour pages and pages if normal life would not beckon me to keep up with other things.

Wise people say that books are friends we choose and that there is a wealth of information that we might never uncover if we never had books. There is also one I believe that says that civilisation really became civilisation when we started writing history down. But what I believe is that books are like universes. We get to be spacemen/women who get to experience alternate realities and traverse the scope of time and space.

This is the real Theory of Relativity.

We get to convert ourselves and extend and lose and discover. We go to dimensions that are possible only because the human mind exists. We get to exult in our cleverness and believe that we have left a tiny footprint in the stardust for years to come. That we have shared some sort of a secret with all the people before us and all the people that are yet to come.

This is a grand thought. It is nostalgic and reminds me of the time when I was given as a birthday present, Grisham’s A Time To Kill. When I read this book, I graduated from a territory of YA to somewhere new I knew not. I was fourteen then. Impressionable. The TV was conservative, the news even more. The world was dreamy and bright and then it was dark and bleak. Albeit, it was shocking, I was more hooked than repelled. I read everything. From classics to junk, contemporary and old, the predictables and easy ones to the challenging and not-so-easy reads. Even though I must have read many Sweet Valley Highs and the likes of them, I knew then too it was just toilet reading that one knows is a waste of time but just can’t stop reading. It was the acceptable dope, I guess. The fact that I was hooked was not lost on my parents who always reminded me what was on the top of priority_ studies. That did not deter me how ever. Sometimes, I feel I over reached myself. There were things I read which I should have read when I was older, not because of any sort of racy content but because I was a baby trying to eat sushi. Books, the good ones are like a delicacy. One needs to experience the world and certain ideas before gluttonously trying to eat them up in a glob. The only result of such a reading orgy would be a word diarrhea.

I tried to read Rumi at 17.

I looked cool. People were really impressed.  The adults were awed by my sagacity.

The words in the Masnavi were gibberish to me. It went to the pile of books that were for later. I rarely did that. Once I started a book, I was like a monogamous lover. Never cheating to go to the end, never skipping pages or paragraphs or even lines.I never gave up on them, even when frustrated or when I had them all figured out from the start. I thought I was wise for all the words I would read. But I wasn’t. I guess the wise person is the one who knows he isn’t.  I think that is a Socratic Paradox…hmmm…

I’ve had a great love affair with books but it hasn’t been an easy road. Falling in love with a great book is almost euphoric as thinking about one weeks and months after it has ended. Some of them do end up in the trash bin of my mind. Other, I wish I could erase as easily as clicking a delete button. In the course of such a memory stock, I have a treasure trove of trivia stored in my head which surprises my friends _‘ How in the heck do you know that?’ to which I usually meditatively reply, ‘Hmm, I read.’

It took me two decades to realise that all is not about the end. A reader is like a knight. Even though, I don’t usually imagine myself metamorphosizing into a handsome man donning a shiny suit of armour and bouncing up on a white horse,  what I mean is, every time one opens a book, it is like going on the quest for the Holy Grail. Most of the times it is the journey that is more worthy and we should remember that the prize, the gauntlet, may be empty or may be full, it is not the only reward.

 

 

The World Is Too Much With Us

William Wordsworth was one irritated man with the fast pace of the world. That was nearly 200 years ago.
 I am not sure with how much horror he would react to the world in 2016 but I can safely assume that he wouldn’t be amused. WW started something spectacular in the wake of the Industrial Revolution with his collection of eclectic poetry (people in his time were horrified with his simplistic- return-to-the-barn style) along with his doped up genius friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The movement, Romanticism had nothing to do with romance in the mundane use of the word. Instead, like Transcendentalism, it urged man to go back to his roots_ nature. The splendours of the natural world are the only truth and man is but a little part of something much greater than himself.
I recently moved into a new apartment block and had some Comcast guys over to connect me to the spidery yarn(… just my superfluous way of saying the internet). There were wires to be connected and things to be tested and so much at stake for all my toys to come alive that I felt old William whispering in my head something I had read for my masters’ poetry course a few years back. Have a read. What do you think?
The World is Too Much With Us
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Misgivings and Procrastination_ A love story with an ALMOST happy ending

Perfect beginning and perfect ends, great stories and earth-grating ideas. This is what stops one from writing. For me, it is the wonderfully wrapped box, which a child is afraid to open lest his dreams come crashing down to discover a piece of sensible clothing instead of a toy that he so longed for. So, he prolongs it as much as possible to savour the dizzying feeling of anticipation. Soon, the gift gets lost in the mundane meanderings of life and years go by… until, one day whilst cleaning things in the attic, the eye spies a shiny wrapper. Curiosity urges the dust-shrivelled fingers to coax the sticky grimy tape off the wrapper. With the rustle of the paper, a memory emerges of the gift that was once presented but unopened, misgivings and doubt that were too great to handle. Now that the years have painted more lines around the body, more corners than edges, the mind is wiser to know that it is none-the-wise. It matters only that what was inside, was to derive joy, it was to give and it was to receive.

Many eons ago, I had read an essay on the follies of writing. The author had made a compelling case against amateurs writing and filling their two-cents worth of ideas out in the world and filling it with garbage. It had also said something of the lines that whatever one may do, one will not achieve the greatness of the writers of yonder years because this generation is too polluted and are the breeds of incunks.

That was the time I contracted a strong strain of Idiotoviridae where upon whatever I wrote was never good enough. I was my own best critic and a very fastidious one at that. My other good chum was no other than Procrastination who with cahoots with the Critic went on a joy ride for the better part of half a decade. They almost made it into the dusky, drowsy sunset.

Almost.

There are somethings inside a person that are stronger than misgivings. It lies in the corner of the top most cabinet of the kitchen where you shoved it and can barely touch it now with the tips of your fingers. There is just barely enough light in that dim, web engorged quarter to make out the shadow of its existence. I know it’s there. I’ve been tempted to fetch it many a times. I even know that it is the best of all my belongings. And that is what is scary. The What-Ifs are just so many… so so many.

The quandary nearly deafening, I tremble, stretch and grasp. Initially, it is just air and cobwebs and dust. I push my toes to the very tip until my nails dig into the tiles all-ballerina-style and just touch enough of it to give it shove.

That shove _my ramblings, I present to you. Whoever you may be.

Of Maiming or Because I said So!

I got up today.

Ready to take on the world.
By mid afternoon my head was spinning in multitudinous directions. I started grumbling and bitching in my own head. To get over it I started day dreaming about the next season of Dexter and how would he get out of explaining to his sister (who is in love with him) about the murder she sees him committing and ………
and wham
I could swear it was someone inside me.
The only thing he said was “Seriously????”
I was stunned for a moment. Jumped out of my chair and started pacing and realised that something inside of me was screaming!
Zahra! Good God! Has it come to this? Are you stupid? You ridiculous old senseless ….. umm (and other inappropriate words to myself).
 
We are conditioned to be parasites from birth.
We are spoon-fed at school. I remember getting lower grades at school because I didnt copy the answer exact same to same from the text book. I used to pour over my answers and question my teachers but I was just told to ‘print’ my answers.
I was not allowed to question.
When I found some idea contradictory, I was not allowed to contradict.
When I found something new that the teacher didnt know, I was rebuked.
When something did not get through my skull, I was called stupid and told to memorize.
(“Who has heard of “other” teaching methods?”)
I was told to respect the teachers I didnt respect.
I was told to do things that I was not taught to do and expected to do them like a craftsman.
I was told….
I was ordered…
I was told….
I was ordered…
I was ordered…
……………..and I was told not to “THINK”.

My elders had already done the thinking for me.

False doctrines were ingrained and hammered into us :
Not tell the truth cause it will hurt others.
Not share ideas that are different, it may cause outrage and ostracism.

I was told to understand and compromise that which I thought was false.

and as I thought about me and my generation being maimed, I realised its been like a vicious circle. This story has probably been going on for generations. Those who realised it, got liberated. Those who didnt, are right now watching Star Plus ke saas bahu dramey and crying over them or busy ‘poondying’ at girls the age of their kids’ or sitting frustrated at some frustrating place doing frustrating work and wishing to just get some sleep without the power going out.
By the time I have finished writing and editing this, they will be calling up their friends and chittering chattering about “oh do you know!”es or sippping tea and watching the latest atrocities on the news or watching cricket (depends if there is a live match going on and lots of gambling to be done or not) or yelling at things and people who are inconsequential or…or …or …or…
 
Incidently I read this and I dont care how long it takes, just shut up and read it!
I have “ORDERED it!.”
and do it because “I HAVE SAID SO.!!”
and do it because “I AM TELLING YOU TO!!!.”
and because “I KNOW BETTER!!!!.” and you DON’T!!!!
so dont you dare……..OR ELSE!!!
and for the season finale quote…..
They advertise not to waste electricity. How about advertising about the one thats in everyone’s brain?

Conflict….

It’s Thursday morning and a weekend here in the cold desert that I have come to call home. Was aimlessly wandering in the web of the web and came across another Robert Frost poem; and wondering why haven’t come across it till now. It goes like this.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

WHAT the #$%^$^ is going on?

What the *bleep* is going on with people?
I usually get up bright and early at the crack of dawn, make myself a cup of tea and open google chrome. Check my mails, browse through a couple of newspapers, read the highlights on answers.com and … and … turn facebook on.
I procrastinate going to this ultra ridiculous website. I admit that I am not the biggest fan of facebook. Infact one of the only truly useful features are the photo album and the marketplace. Apart from its roaring merits… which are that it has totally commercialized friendship and becoming like a big “IN” “CoOooL!” brand… are that it has promoted the human race from a telly tubby couch potato to the high-tech PC cabbage.
  There are these countless applications, quizzes, kisses and hugs and chocolates and cakes and blah blah blah and God-knows-whats that allow you to …hmmm do something. Something like wasting time.
 
 Who makes these things? And on top of that I am amazed at who actually uses them?
 
 Ok this was a roar! Your name is in the top ten SEXY names of ALL TIME!?
Hahahahaaaaa!
For those of you who are curious, the name that I erased is totally alien to a majority of the people in the world. And the thing to think here is what makes a name sexy? By what scale or measure?
 
Comeon! Seriously….comeon!
How many emails and spams etc have we seen this in!
 
 Seriously?
“A hero! Sigh! What about my superpowers of thinking that are getting wasted by doing this stupid quiz?”
  I hear these remarks that ‘Oh no… facebook is so much fun!’, ‘You are being too cynical’ and ‘It’s a good time pass’. And there are those that hear me out but then go home and laze away on the website for hours anyway.  It has created a sad isolation.
The sport and activity that allowed our bodies and minds to create and simply have fun is replaced with a keyboard and a monitor. Its just sad.
This is a comment I read on another website: By Facebook you find friends… Is it really true? All of them who are named as your friends on Facebook, are they your friends in real life? If you have friends in real life do you need Facebook? I don’t think so. 
  We have mastered a lot of things …and I mean a LOT of things. I am still at times literally in awe of the machine that warms my food all the time to the one that brings the electricity to my home. But even though we are at an epoch , we are still sitting in that chair and giggling to senseless things. We have lost sight of the valuable and the important.  We have lost control … no rather forgotten ourselves.
It is truly truly the ultimate sin.
Because of all things in existence…
We are the ultimate creation.

After a long sleep

It’s been a long time. I am refraining from checking when I last blogged. It’s not that I haven’t thought of it. It was just sitting in the corner of my head. When I came up with words, the keyboard wasn’t there and when the screen was staring at me, my brain stubbornly stared back.
I guess it’s a party tonight cause they are both here with me….I will start off with posting something I had written back in 2009. I had published it and then pulled it back down because of uncertainty. But now more than ever, I think my theory stands. So go ahead and read.