A Language Klutz

Learning a new language makes you wonder if you are allowed to keep a cat as a pet when it starts raining cats and dogs. 

It requires you to break apart the good old Subject-Verb-Object and put that Verb at the very end of the now Latin sentence.

And sometimes drop the Object before the Subject… and other times to misplace the Subject altogether because, after all, it’s understood, understood?

Learning a new language requires you to learn a new title for each of your uncles to distinguish them as matrimonial or patrimonial and then by age relation to your father. Or sometimes it makes you wonder why everyone calls every uncle just “uncle”.

It requires you to learn that the proper way is not “She do” but “She does”. Not “They does” but “They do”. Even though the “they” is the plural and you thought it is the plurals that go with the s’s.

And after you finally memorize that “I” goes with “do”, you are told that you must say “did” if you have already done it.

Oh and just because you done it, does not make “I done it” proper.

More importantly, it does not matter if after all your hard work, your grammar is flawless if you think “The dishes are bad” is a proper way to talk about the food that you serve on those dishes. Even if you have grown up saying “Mom I love the dish you made tonight” your entire life.

Even if you have grown up saying “Mom I love the dish you made tonight” your entire life.

Learning a new language requires you to learn the difference between think and think. Think. Is not think. Still don’t get it? Well… I guess we understand you when you say “think” instead of “think” so its okay.

Learning a new language requires you to be a certain kind of clumsy. It requires you to fall, to blush, to get back up and keep walking. Or sometimes just… sit down.

You see, learning a language does not just require you to be clumsy. It requires you to embrace that clumsiness. It requires you to talk to people even when you can see the confusion on their faces. It requires you to translate things literally and be embarrassed… or to have an accent and worry about not being understood.

Learning a new language requires you to know it’s not always easy because learning a language does not just equate to having to learn the vocabulary or the grammar but also a culture, a way of thinking, a way of life.  

Learning a new language requires patience. Because it’s okay to be clumsy. 

High-functioning Anxiety

I recently watched a video about high-functioning anxiety and it really resonated with me. It taught me what high functioning anxiety looks like. High functioning anxiety looks like achievement. It looks like normal.  It looks like calm. And to me, that is what makes it so dangerous.

People often have an image of someone closing themselves off or being unable to smile whenever they think of anxiety or depression. But mental disorders do not have to look like that. It scares me to think of the number of people who live their lives with battling thoughts every day. The number of people who keep telling themselves that they are okay because they can get up every day and make it out. The number of people who are scared of “faking it”. The number of people who are battling over every single decision just to make sure they don’t mess up. It scares me.

I will not self-diagnose myself… but I will say that I know what it feels like to constantly try to make the right decision. To try to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good sister, a good person… and believing you are not one when the smallest thing goes wrong. I know what it looks like to be careful at every single minute of your life… yet to pretend that you are the most carefree person out there and smile. I know what it feels like to dance in the rain and feeling joy… and knowing that a small part of the joy comes from the knowledge that no one will be able to see your tears if they accidentally escaped your eye ducts.

I lost myself somewhere in the battle between careful and carefree. But I find myself every day so it’s okay.

Just please be aware that a smile can hide a million things and always be kind to each other and yourselves.

Unity

The prompt “together” reminded me of a story I had been told as a young girl. The story that has stayed with me since today. A story which had implications I hadn’t thought about.. A story of a lumberjack and his five sons.

There lived a lumberjack who was extremely old and knew he was to die. He had five sons who never got along. He wished to teach them a valuable lesson so he told them each to go and get two sticks.

Being obedient sons and knowing their father would not live long, all the sons went and got two sticks. The father then asked each son to break one of the sticks that they had gathered into two halves. Each son easily broke one of his sticks.

Then the father asked them to hand the remaining sticks over and tied these sticks with a string. He handed the bundle of sticks to his oldest son and asked him to break it. He tried as hard as he could but could not break the bundle of sticks. The father asked the bundle to be passed onto the second oldest and asked him to do the same. He, too, could not break the bundle.

The bundle of sticks made its way from son to son but none of the sons could break the sticks. After the last had tried and failed, the father smiled and asked the sons if it was easier to break a stick at a time or five together. The sons answered one at a time and the father said, “There is power in unity”.

The sons lived as one even after the father’s death.

This story is one of my favourites to this day because I truly believe in the power of unity. I had once been made to question the validity of unity when in freshman year of high school, I learned that Mussolini’s symbol of fascism was the fasces: a bundle of sticks tied together to  depict the strength of unity. I don’t remember if I laughed or choked. I think it was some mix of those.

It is fascinating to see the two depictions of the very same concept. I am not one to say that one is right and the other is wrong. I just know that to me, there is power in unity. There is beauty in unity. But just because something is part of a whole does not mean it is not whole itself. 

Radical… The Elections?

Not joking here: the first thing that came to mind when I read the prompt was the presidential elections that are about to take place. Let me just tell you: they worry me.

I am not fond of Hillary. I hate Trump. Like many others, I too am going to choose the lesser of the two evils. But I want to assert that the evil I have chosen is a much lesser evil than the one I reject.

Trump will “make America great again”. He will make it his version of great. He will turn us into a sexist, racist and fearful society of hate. A society that does not tolerate. But I should keep my political opinions aside and focus on the radicalism of this election: the two party system.

We all have probably heard enough times that voting for a third party is equivalent to wasting our votes. And I want to rebel against that notion.

But the stakes are too high. Especially as a person of color,a Muslim, and a woman. The stakes are too high. 

I recently heard that voting for a third party system and being able to say “My vote counts and is not wasted” is a privilege only white people can afford. I did not quite understand it at first, but thinking about the stakes for us, it makes sense.

My optimism and desire to believe that there is hope are fighting against my fear of what could go wrong (because a lot could go wrong). The third party is the only thing that does not seem radical in this radical election. But is it worth the risk?

Comment your thoughts below! I would love to hear more perspectives!

 

Recharging My Spirits

I have lost a total of three eyelashes today. To the crazy girl I was, that would amount to a total of three free wishes that she would have made with a smile on her face and blown away with just as much gusto. But today, this girl did not make a single wish.

I texted my friend who is off to college yesterday, with the same “Booo!” that greets everyone. He sent me a picture of the group he was chilling with and my heart told me it’s best to let him be.

When I met the boy whom I thought was Mitch and learned he was Andre, I chatted with him for about 3 minutes and ran out of things to say. I spent a good twenty minutes talking to a girl whose name I did not know but as soon as class ended and her name greeted me, I had no desire to keep talking to her anymore.

I was the girl who loved fiercely and cared passionately. The girl always willing to help you, even if it hurt her. The girl who smiled even when she wanted to cry. And that hurt. 

In fact, it hurt so much that I think my heart’s immunity system finally woke up. It has closed off its walls. It needs to recharge. I had tried to ignore its cries for rest and I tried to go on loving, hoping it would recharge as I went on.

But charging your phone while using it only worsens its ability to charge. Maybe I need this break. I will give myself this break. 

Perhaps then I will be able to be the crazy girl who loves like hell and laughs until she cries. I will be waiting for the day my heart is fully charged again.

Her Hijab

 

 

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There is elegance in the way she wears her hijab as her crown.

It’s in the way she wraps it around her head, and ties a knot near her neck to secure it in place.

It’s in the way it sometimes matches the rest of her outfit and other times clashes against it. Yet she wears it anyways.

There is elegance in the way she wears her hijab as her crown.

There is elegance in the way her eyes meet those of everyone who mistakes her choice as her weakness and say “You are wrong”.

There is elegance in her blend of confidence and humility.

There is elegance in the way she wears her hijab as her crown.

 

Packing Peanuts

When I was younger, my father sent us a parcel full of books. He did not send us presents that often, so my siblings and I could barely contain our excitement when the brown box arrived. It was huge.

When the box opened, we were greeted by two things: a number of children’s books and lots and LOTS of packing peanuts! I only clearly remember one book and that is one featuring the beloved sponge, Spongebob Squarepants. I remember him so clearly because when I had first read the book, I could make no sense out of it. Spongebob was foreign to me. Heck, had you told me that Spongebob Squarepants is a sponge, the only image I would have had in my head would be of the sponge my mother washes her dishes with. Had you told me that this sponge lived underwater, I would have given it a lot of thought and would have finally come to the conclusion that the sponge that my mother washes her dishes with was originally kidnapped from the seas. In fact, years later when I found myself in the US, sitting in front of the TV and looking at the sponge and crab talking, was I beginning to pull together all the loose strands of the strange book and the strange sponge. But I diverge.

My siblings and I went through the foreign books with their foreign characters and the foreign language that our father had sent for us from overseas, smiling because we knew he had sent us his love in these presents. We read them and we reread them. We were content.

After having read and put away the books, I remembered the box in which my present had arrived. More precisely, I remembered the magical soft small cylindrical things that it had come with. I looked inside the box again and found the things still in there. I touched them, wondering if they were toys that my father had sent with the books. Strange books, strange toys, right? When my grandmother found me poking the things that I was fascinated by, she told me to run and get some water. I ran over to the kitchen and filled up one of the steel glasses that always felt cold against my lips whenever I drank from them and ran back.

After some pinching and coloring with pinks and reds, my grandmother showed me her creation. In her hand was a flower made from the strange things that I did not know the name of nor understood the purpose of. We saved those peanuts and made many flowers from them in the day to come.

I remember the colorful flowers whenever I am greeted by those soft white things even today. I would probably still think them strange and foreign had I not known them in their sweet flower form.

Admire.