Premature Lights

The crowd was so sure that I wouldn’t find you there no matter how desperate I am or how long I’d look for you. If I’d ever noticed you there, it was done intentionally as to avoid ordinary people like me approaching you. It was the crowd with him or him in another planet. Yet, even the sight of your shadow would overwhelm my existence. I’d run, I’d persisted, I’d fallen and I’d gone in circles with ideas of seeing you and listening to your voice, in which, would slowly be torn by pieces. It was a loss cause that I’d find difficult to embrace.

I was afraid, you see – I wasn’t expecting to discover personal things about you and would still admire your artistry after that, or even gain the curiosity of interacting with you. Initially, it would be fine to imagine the philanthropy work that you’ve done was due to your own sentiments and thoughts. It would be simply satisfying to hear you argue against the oppression being acted upon the forgotten nations that was denied by the majority. I didn’t want to dream more than that but someday just became a hopeful day to me. A little too hopeful, unfortunately.

I was cold and had been cold plenty of times, before in various ways. You don’t know this but your presence had helped to ease those unwanted feelings. Your words were warm, so soothing that I thought you’d understand the pains of the restless group. Your tone was indiscriminating in which I felt safe. Your stance was firm but not imperfect. I liked that it was unapologetic, yet empathetic. I grew keener to know your approaches to things in general and things in particular the more I witnessed your skilful and elegant performance.

That’s where it went wrong, I suppose. Loving the idea of ideas of the embodiment of an individual. I so always forget that characters are backed up by beliefs and actions that are demonstrated in different circumstances. I kept focusing on, instead, the richness of the language that was elevated by the privileged experience. I believed that was an advantage that only added to your greatness, not arrogance. I gave far too much praise for the apparent figure whom I failed to claim that his traits were beyond my knowledge. Far too obsessed in my own thought…

I respected you not as a person, but as someone above that.

That was the careless mistake.

You were amazing, yes (and probably still is) but I shouldn’t have decided to put things and things together as if I knew what I was doing. I was simply creating my own globe that included you as someone pragmatic, yet sensitive, intelligent beyond words and gentle by nature – a truly idealistic role model.

Perhaps, you did have those values and perhaps you were that person (who I am to judge, anyway?) but most likely, it was unlike my imagined reality that heightened those abilities and strengths.

I thought I was at least, mildly aware that I was merely longing and not seeing a person. Even if I didn’t see you as a star, you were glowing to me, brighter than the so-called stars. I should’ve stopped myself then, should’ve taken a step back where the imaginary globe would cease by time and I could’ve just admired what I’d seen and not gone deeper if not for my undamped and daunted curiosity.

As the world spun, I started to wonder if I was wrong and then I didn’t mind that I was. ‘Nobody’s perfect’ became a chant in my mind. As I tried to understand your philosophy, I found out more things again (when I should’ve stopped, again) and I didn’t know that my heart was breaking. Your words were as impressive as I hoped to be, but your views were confusing as they contradicted to the nature of who you were supposed to be in my mind. Opposing opinions was not the problem. What shocked me the most, however, was the discrepancy that can be figured out by anyone – not by the qualification of your education or superficial intellect, but by the heart and mind of a human being. Your words sent warnings to the victims. Not out of comfort, but of prejudice.

Still, I believed.

Still, I hoped.

Still, I waited.

But eventually, I had to ask myself: What happened?

That incident revealed your position that I desperately wanted to believe it was not your true nature. So I thought about it again and I managed to console myself that it might be true. No one can know the whole truth anyway. Little basis, but I was clinging to it.

Yet, I didn’t like the feeling that I couldn’t explain. What was it, the truth that I couldn’t comprehend, or the truth that might be true or false? The truth that I was looking in the wrong directions, looking at the wrong lights? Was there even something there, in the beginning?

It was disheartening to try and see the cracks. I realized I was disappointed, perhaps not in you but more in myself. The start of all of this. The self-proclaimed impartial attitude towards people. The severe compliments to logic. The endless appraisal to the one portrayed in the media based on a small prism. The eagerness that overlooked the signs.

The crowd probably didn’t know what they were doing. You certainly had no idea what I was feeling and that I was there. In any case, in any way, I was grateful for the stop. Still mended by the tunes of nature, I do sincerely hope for…the best of you. For the people who are beginning to seek for whatever light that they’re searching for, I hope that you’ll go through things that might break and hurt you, and that you’ll be able to rise in spite of all that.

Better be oblivious, than be fazed by the faux.

Better be truthful, than be crushed by lies.

Better be yourself, than be others.

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A Quarter for a Change

Maybe it just wasn’t easy as I thought,
And it’s alright. At least I didn’t stop
Calling people for random purposes,
Or celebrating others’ happiness,
Just to get a feel,

A sense of wonder, thank you God
For looking beyond the embarrassment
Of those silly antics and desperations,
I do wish I’d live and not lie,
Or simply cry than smile,

After all, I was born with a word,
Not a stone, not an automaton,
Yet I choose to forget,
That art flows freely
And is also eerily wild –

A beauty without a comparison,
A diligent thought beneath the line,
A crumbled piece somewhere,
A living memory in the middle,
An unspoken word from time to time.

Oh, so much conflict behind the ears!
Dear self, please take a look
At things besides your faults,
What isn’t there is still up
For a change, maybe from here or a mile?

Reading Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

I’m currently reading Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable and I’m already thinking:

  1. This is definitely a critical work & research on Malcolm X’s life, at least more than what I’ve read. Marable isn’t afraid to point out things that are not aligned to the popular notions of Malcolm X and for that, I appreciate his immense effort and hard work of creating another insight on the amazing black nationalist leader/human rights activist.
  2. I’m also feeling reminiscent of one of my favourite books, The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told to Alex Haley. A lot of quotes are taken from the former and I just miss reading Malcolm’s story from his own mouth (and imagining his charismatic tenor voice in my head)
  3. I’m feeling a bit conflicted with the way Marable describes the possibilities of other truths, the ones that Malcolm X ‘exaggerated’ or didn’t mention. E.g. ‘almost certainly’ or ‘probably’. Do I wish for him to keep some of his thoughts and assumptions of the late Malcolm X to himself? Probably.
  4. It’s pretty difficult for me to take some of this stuff since I’ve long admired Malcolm X. I’m starting to question, is there some kind of validation that Marable wanted to find? Or am I just being defensive about this? Maybe. I’m still reading. (I have to keep reminding myself that Marable was a historian and these are not mere assumptions)
  5. Reading at the part where Malcolm finally got out of prison. Things seem to be more interesting as the last paragraph ends with ‘He would see more, would travel, and he would seize the time.’

Well, I can’t wait to read more.

Flood Lines

Territory for years is granted,
Leeway for crashes is sorted,
Temperature is made adaptable,
Assumptions are daily exercises,
What on earth is going through their minds, I wonder?
 
Dangerous exhibitions are stamped,
Any possible extinguishment of the circle is forgotten,
The rides are fairly wounded and confined,
Would they be able to find out the shows are a hoax
Or would they be offended by the lights

that have always been there, like the sky?
Riddles are ensured to be manipulative,
As writers are claimed to be creatively insane,
Never mind how famous they are,
Their words are always mingled

with wooden crates and unnamed sacks,
Confusions occur mildly in the centre,
No one thinks they’re right or wrong,
But blames anyone who opposes them,
A grand hobby for the rising successors,

Temporary whistles scald the streets,
Where furrows are born and being painted over,
Scars are seen as wise for their sacrifices
Of facing the unexpected unknown,
They become the privileged and warriors.
 
Though there will be an upside down,
By the experienced or inexperienced tellers,
Synthesizing their own garments and fortunes,
Marking and disapproving fallacies at the same time,
I don’t know whether it’s a conscious decision or not.
 
The rooms are just created in a blink,
Completed with furniture and others in seconds,
Designed bountifully with cheap prices,
But what about the addresses of the tenants
That are hardly known or cared?

Living becomes an excuse, not a reason,
For tides would always arrive,
No matter where you are,
And we think to protect ourselves
by having them shunned away
 
as we form our confined circles,
With tentative views of rivers,
We thwart the torrent,
But still we are
Restless.

Finding the Heart of Passion – Part 2

One thing that gradually occurred to me during my uni years was that, being lost was a mandatory state in every semester.

Sometimes I wouldn’t even notice that I was feeling lost. There was no specific time or place when it happened, it just did. A reasonable explanation for this, is perhaps, the weariness that was caused by the exhaustion due to the assignments (no surprise) and keeping up with the lectures/tutorials. They seemed to be consuming my energy so much that all that was left was the need to rest, eat, nap and sleep.

That could be it, but I knew I shouldn’t blame uni all the time it was more than that. It was a cycle I’d become accustomed to and it was quite a destructing one.

Some people would say the condition is similar to having a writer’s block and I don’t disagree totally. It did feel like having a mental block and a few times, I’d just stop doing what I was doing since it wasn’t doing anything except building more doubts and negative thoughts. Thirty minutes later, I found myself continuing doing what I was doing before that i.e. facing the laptop and getting on with whatever assignment I had at that time.

Strange, how the mind and body work.

Despite the complaints that I had and still have with the uni life, the schedule or the assignments, I do feel appreciative towards those times where I was feeling lost and uncertain. I’d say I started questioning things when I was in high school but the sixth-form was when I dug deeper about things and then uni officially made me a ‘deep’ person, however unflattering it sounds (since I’m the one saying it, it’s a different story if somebody else says it. And uh, you know what, never mind).

The doubts might have tortured me, because no one really likes not knowing what to do or being uncertain about the existence of life, but they helped to steer some things to a better light and made them clearer. That is, if you treat doubts as challenges or ways to understand meanings beyond words and actions in order to make sense of your life. At least, that’s how I’ve come to see and accept.

I think it was during my first year that the doubt was becoming more intense. I’d find myself in this kind of situation (extracts from one of my journals):

13/10
I don’t really listen to what the lecturer is saying and most of the time just think about other stuff and also ‘what am I doing here for?’

25/10
Feeling unsure of what is it that we’re supposed to do, asking yourself the same question, walking on the same path all over again, pacing here and there, back and forth – constant doubt.

So, constant doubt – why is it happening? How did it happen?

I suppose this happens to everyone, at some point.

And it is happening to me now.

So you can see, the big questions that had appeared during my sixth form days were entering my life again and this time, with more emphasis on the choices that I would consciously make for myself. (Hey, guess what? It wasn’t uni, it was life! Okay, glad that’s settled now)

The things that I love, the things that I hope to be, the things that I don’t need, the things that undermine and motivate me – the growing independence eventually raises these issues that I’d have to confront at some point in my life.

And it’s really hard.

The fact that I haven’t gone into specific details about those experiences probably shows this.

I can tell you for certain though, that humanities/liberal arts are the core of my interests if you’re talking about academic interests. They’re the ideal subjects that I hope would and should receive more attention especially in my country.

Sociology, Literature, Philosophy and History – taking classes for these modules is one of the best things that happened to me. Modern education does have its demerits, which I would love to talk about next time, but I think what attracts me the most from them is the knowledge that has been seeded in each of them.

Sure, some scholars or professors might have written works for other reasons than spreading ideas/theories and elevating people’s minds into understanding the society and societal issues. But the energy, the effort and the sincerity – some things you can just feel and I was entranced by this phenomenon. I suppose I was having some kind of realisation, that I want to do what those individuals that I’ve learned, studied from and about, did. To me, it would be fulfilling to do something that benefits others and myself.

The passion for learning is basically the reason why I opt to study in a university. Even if I’m not a student anymore now, I don’t think I could stop doing research and reading from trivial to crucial topics.

To tell you the truth, I’m still clueless, afraid and anxious about life: what’s going to happen and what’s going to change. What have I actually changed from 4/5 years ago then? Maybe, I’m just more relaxed and not so caught up in things and one would argue that this could be a symptom of becoming mature, I don’t know.

I’m not sure if I’m going to do a part 3, maybe. It’s so hard to write stuff about yourself and honestly, I think I’ve been all over the place. Hope there’s something good somewhere here, though.

I’ll share a quote that I find comforting in going through stuff in life which may be a bit harsh (or even unrelated to the stuff that I’ve been talking about) to some:

“These are problems [murders, terrorist acts in the name of religion and secularism etc], they’re not going to go away. Welcome to the world, welcome to planet earth” – Hamza Yusuf

I mean, who wouldn’t feel comforted knowing that there are issues/problems all around the world, solvable and unsolvable. At least I know I’m not crazy and at least I have some things I’ve grown fond in life despite the struggle to keep up with the society’s standards.

On a more optimistic note:

“To find yourself, think for yourself” – Socrates

 

Cheers!

Those Artists

I’m drawn to people
who think a lot
and put salient effort
in describing their journey,
whether in words,
pictures, paintings, melodies
and thoughts.
 

Those people
who may not call themselves
as artists,
but they are
the ones
who create art,

 
I feel deeply
connected to them
as they share their stories
that some
may have glanced,
passed by,
and not noticed
their struggles,
pains,
uncertainties,
and
their restless hearts.

 
Those street artists,
they have it hard,
they’d rather crawl
than die
a millionaire forever,
unscathed.

Grant Acceptance

Often at night, I would sing a song,
Imagining myself before a great audience,
In the silent auditorium; just how I’d prefer,
Just how it has been all this while,
It’s the same here and everywhere,
Except, the audience now
is nowhere to be seen.

Often at dusk, I would sing a verse,
Picturing myself in a busy café,
Where people like me would gather,
Sharing their sorrows and lost identities,
And though they might not listen,
They’d appreciate my voice, all the same.

Often at dawn, I would hum a chorus,
Believing in better days and wistful woes,
To the new homes and kindred spirits,
Hoping one or two would cry, whether in tears or laughter,
We would watch the sunrise together,
And I would hug them and say, ‘it’s okay’.

Often in the dark, I would cry,
Dreaming of wondrous adventures at the peak,
Along with friendly strangers met by strange fate.
And I would improvise the learned tunes,
As a way to show my gratitude, debt and ties
To those who are listening and those who stay.

Often in somewhere bleak, I would pause,
Thinking about memories of the past,
How ancient solitude and chaos are,
How little we have always been,
And I wonder if our voices are scarce
Because we are afraid to die.

Often I would forget, that I was nothing
But a paper human, scribed and written
With a choice of heart.

Crying and Laughing Together

We were teenagers, there was nothing to worry about. We were just doing what we were supposed to do. The others would do their job, and we would do ours. We were teenagers, we didn’t mean any harm to anyone. We were simply goofing around, trying to feel and savour every moment in our lives like there was no tomorrow.

We were young, we only wanted to have fun. We were curious about a lot of things and sometimes got into trouble because of that. We laughed about how we managed to get away from those troubles every time we did. We were young, we absorbed things that we only wanted to take, hear and see, and we shunned everything else that we considered unimportant and boring. We were young, we thought we could create our own world, rule there and forget about the reality.

We were friends, we were singing and laughing together. We weren’t really doing anything wrong, we were just expressing what we felt about the world. We believed nothing could go wrong. We were friends, we thought we knew what we wanted. We fought from time to time and refused to talk to each other for a long time. We were proud, we didn’t expect things to go this way and eventually went to separate paths.

We were young, we’d forget that. We began to see and hear things we didn’t want to before. We were friends, yet we were so distant. Some challenges in life broke us so hard and made it difficult for us to swallow the bitterness. We were lonely, we screamed for help desperately and tried to shed the tears with our own hands.

We were afraid, we couldn’t sleep well. Nights became darker and days were even more obscure. We thought we couldn’t live again. We missed how we played in the rain and talked about dreams and wanting to change the world. We were afraid, we finally saw each other. We stood silently at first. There were no words to describe the emotions perfectly, and we forgot why we fought in the first place. We were just happy. As soon as one of us smiled and cried at the same time, we understood each other. To be honest, I hadn’t felt a warm hug for so long.

We were teenagers, we told ourselves that. There were moments and memories that we wanted to forget. We’ve made so many mistakes and wrong decisions that we wanted to hide. We were young, we failed a lot of times. But we grew, and it was good that we had each other at that time.

We were young and we were just beginning.