Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Graduate :)

My schooling began unceremoniously. I remember my first official day. It wasn't exactly my first day. My mother worked in that school, so I ended up doing my kindergarten year twice before I was eligible to start. It didn't feel like my first day of school because I'd been going to school unofficially for ages.

That class-room had hexagonal tables, mini-chairs and colourful walls. The windows were large and let in the little sun-light that was available. By the class-room door were hangers on the walls supporting kid-sized rain-coats, and a shelf with extra sets of neatly-folded uniform. I secretly dreamed of the day I'd get to wear one of them, but that day never came. There was a corner with a sink, and a stool to help us reach the tap. I was always looking for excuses to wash my hands ("Oh, I had to use my rubber, Miss", "I sharpened a pencil", "I touched the carpet strings") because for some reason it was so exciting stepping on to that stool and using the pink liquid soap. Then there was the Reading Corner- a cosy, carpeted area surrounded by low book-shelves, where I spent many hours of my un-official school years napping and flipping through picture-books.

The day I started my "real" kindergarten year, I strolled around the class, feeling in control while kids poured in wailing and clutching their mothers. I finally chose to sit at a table opposite a chocolate-skinned girl with big cheeks and shoulder-length straight hair. She interested me because she was weeping silently like adults do, and she had her hands covering her eyes but I could notice her peeking at me through the fingers. I remember staring at her unashamedly for the rest of the day until we talked. Her name was Ada, and she's a mother to a two-year-old son now, which is both awesome and daunting.


Now I'm done with my university years and it feels like my schooling has ended as unceremoniously as it began. I've spent enough time lamenting the fact that time passes and people have no choice but to grow up. A part of me will always continue to yearn the past. I can't help that.

But I'm looking forward to what's next. I don't have a plan and I don't know exactly what it is I want or where I'd like to land. I do know that the schooling I've spent my whole life at has left me with a load of facts, feelings and precious lessons, and armed with that, whatever I do, I will do it as best as I can. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around me. Cherish my friends, stay true to my principles, live passionately and fully and well. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

For the Love of Words

I recently read a work of pure genius recommended by somebody from my book club.

Ella Minnow Pea (if you didn't catch that: L-M-N-O-P!) is set on an island called Nollop, named after the supposed creator of the famous sentence that uses all the letters of the language:
"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"

This sentence is preserved on an important memorial in the island, and throughout the novel, the letters begin to mysteriously drop one by one. The government takes this as a sign that the letters that have dropped must be eliminated from the English language, and bans the use of those letters.

Here's the amazing bit:
As each letters falls and becomes prohibited from use, so do they disappear from the novel.

If you're not shaking your head in amazement at that, I don't know what it takes to impress you.

There are several themes brought up in the novel: free speech, totalitarianism, the sanctification of things. But what got me thinking most was the degree to which letters getting banned affected their expressiveness- their connectivity to each other- eventually, their life. It reminded me of 1984 and the "Newspeak" that the government enforced to take away expression from people.

It shows that words are everything.

What's a life worth when you can't give voice to your thoughts? When you can't connect with the world around you? Sure, there are examples, like Hellen Keller who was able to shake the world being deaf, dumb and blind. But she only started to make a difference when she began reaching out and making herself heard.


But that's not entirely true.

Some people are all talk. ALL talk. Literally.
There are others who do. Have you ever heard the saying, "What you do is so loud that I can't hear what you say."? I love that line.

Also, sometimes you don't need words. Remember that summer in Lebanon when you and I were official vacation buddies? We left everyone with their afternoon tea-cups and water-melon plates sitting under the grapevine, and we climbed up to where there was that cushioned-swing facing Amu's orchard. We spent two hours just sitting there on a swing in a mountain, with orange and apple trees spread like a carpet before us, watching a breath-taking sun set over tens of villages looking like dots from so far away.

When we went back to everyone else, we laughed like crazy because we realised we spent two hours together not saying anything. Weirdly, it felt like we'd had the longest conversation ever.

It shows that words are nothing.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Weep the World

When life catches you cry
Tell your tears, as they pour
How noble it is to do so for much more

Like, you could cry
On behalf of every boy brought up thinking it isn't man to
For every face and body scrutinized to be "approved"
For every slashed wrist,
forced puke
and pill misused
For the tonnes of powder and pencil helping to disguise
tired and insecure skin and eyes

for the kid whose mother's too busy to raise
and the parents on their child's life missing out
for hearts of house-maids far away from home
and the scarce notes they can't do without
for ignored questions
untold bed-time tales
and drawing-less fridges
for couples biting their nails in fertility centres
and for babies left under bridges

for all the unnoticed flairs and potentials not harnessed
for every time a human heart was demeaned
and every time an ego-injury wasn't spared
for miscalculated rejections
and unprecedented afflictions dealt
for every swear word told
and every insult felt

for a disease with no cure
and the time-tickers over homes looming
for all the beautiful minds
that are destined for grooming
for emptying bank accounts
and bills demanding to be paid
for skills on stand-by
and economies swayed

Dali's "Pool of Tears"
for bullets in innocent heads
and buildings in shreds
for homelands destroyed
and the high price of diesel
for rivers turned to mud
and the cheapness of blood

for every lie conveyed
and every dark game well-played

No misery weighs more than the other
Everybody has their own story to tell
So weep for yourself
But while you do,
Weep for the world as well

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