Sunday, 27 March 2011


The only problem is that this city and its dynamics are trying to mess with my mind.

Let me start from the beginning. To the ‘family’ girl, or the ‘respectable’ girl in Iraqi culture, there is no thing as falling in love. She gets engaged, and then she falls in love with her husband to be, who meets the criteria/requirements, rather than meets the needs of the heart. Obviously it is not always the case, but for the traditional family, that’s the way it works.

Anyway, so Touta comes to London, and sees what she doesn’t expect. A city that runs on finding love, finding a partner, etc. She dutifully ignores it.
And that is precisely what Touta does. Every time a friendship gets a little too close, or a little too comfortable, she shuts it down amicably, with a variety of excuses.

But, recently, I feel almost as if loneliness is going to consume me throughout the entirety of my life.

At first I blamed it entirely on the Iraqis in London. For every Iraqi that approached me, eventually asked me about my love life, and once I replied that mine was never existent, their eyebrows would shoot up, and a pitying look would fill their eyes ‘So who are you going to marry? Everyone has a girlfriend/boyfriend ready to marry, as soon as they finish university’. At such comments, I always smiled, and laid that statement down to reliable Iraqi exaggeration.

Many tried to persuade me to see the error of my ways, and the downfall of my nun-influenced lifestyle. But I refused to give in. I was strong. I was independent.

What followed was an episode where I convinced myself (and those around me), that I was determined to live completely alone. No family, no children, alone. It seemed a lot easier and safer than to risk what could potentially be one of my life’s biggest mistakes.

For although I don’t like to always admit it, but I have fairy tale expectations of life. So far those expectations haven’t suffered too badly.

Anyway, after many agonising moments over the possible futures I may or may not have, I gave up worrying about whether I would end up alone or not, and I did the following-

I closed all the lights of my bedroom. And I stumbled onto the bed. Looking out into the dark, brought alive by millions of glittering lights, I spoke loudly and clearly, to the city causing me insecurity over my isolation-

You can mess my sleep. You can mess my eating. You’ve even messed my (non existent) fashion. But you will not mess my mind or my heart.

I then fell back onto the pillows, closed my eyes, and dreamt a thousand and one dreams of happiness and love.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

See it to believe it.

A life cut short in so many ways.

A song hums in the background; a balding greasy Iraqi laments...

“He loves another, and I’ve let him love another. I lift my soul and throw it in the fire. I lift my soul and throw it in the fire. And what has happened to me would not happen”.

I keep expecting myself to suddenly fit into this new world. To have all the jigsaw puzzles fit, and not get lost, bewildered or astounded by this loveliness. The ‘v’ could just as easily be replaced by an ‘n’.

One thing I’ve noticed about these capital city types is their brute determination in every aspect of life. It scares me to be quite honest...watching their angry walking, their efficient hair, and even the viciousness of the way they eat- almost leads me to believe they are fighting and pushing in every aspect of life- a life that is not to be enjoyed but grappled with.

I don’t think they believe in happy endings or the slow roll of days. They believe in squeezing every second for what it’s worth.

But strangely enough, everyone is unbelievably kind and helpful. I’m not sure if I look like I am permanently in need of help, or if this charitable nature is overlooked by the quick steps and sharp turns.

A sight that somehow never (and I mean never) fails to make me smile is the underground at ‘peak times’. I cannot suppress the bubble of laughter that forms in my throat. It reminds me of busy Thursday souks, the only difference being the atmosphere. The souk has a comical anger, and the stench of sweat and grease is always prevalent.

Whereas the Underground smell is laced with designer perfumes, and the anger is cold and quiet- the type that frankly sends shivers down my spine.

Perhaps this is only an onslaught of homesickness, brought on by a slight excess in free time...exams are over, and now that my mind is relatively more relaxed and free, it (unfortunately) gave me more time to think about life, current affairs etc.

“The tiredness of years has been lost of him. I wish just to forget him. The soul is saddened by him, but to love him, she is forced. “

(Look at how easily the word count rises and rises. Why can’t the many essays piling up be as easily written? :D)