Thread of thought: What is pain?

Listen to: Eyes closed by Ludovico Einaudi

April 18th, 2012.

What is pain?

Pain is when there is no one to hold your head up as you hurl the contents of your stomach for the fifth time in an hour. When you become the prisoner of your body, intoxicated by thoughts of humanly freedom, yet bound to your bed, unable to move at will.

What is pain?

Pain is you. Pain is your body’s warmth going cold on mine. It is when you and I could be all we ever dreamed to be; instead, we built a wall of fear and past failures between us, high enough to reap through our hearts. Pain is your scent scattered across a city gone colorless after your departure. It is your eyes captured in pictures of us when we were happy. I could never see it as clearly as I do now. You are pain.

What is pain?

When you look at yourself in the mirror and see a reflection of a complete stranger staring back at you. When you feel like you are a stranger within your own body. Like your spirit is colonizing your body instead of peacefully filling it. When you feel hallow and empty, trying to fill a void that does not exist.

What is pain?

Pain is when you know what you are capable of, but never reach your full potential. Pain is when you see all that you can ever be, but always one step behind. It is when you look at your work, whether it’s a design, a poem, or a photograph and feel like it is missing that one special touch. And you endlessly search, edit, and repeatedly try to make it complete. Pain is the pursuit of perfection. Pain is your buried talent that everyone praises and believes in but you.

What is pain?

Pain is when I reach to my phone every night, dialling your number. Pain is when I am constantly reminded by you and how I failed you. Pain is when I seek love but never fully feel it. Pain is the inability to love again, to trust again, to be again. Pain is when I smile knowing that happiness will never be mine. Pain is when I am yet to forget your number. Pain is when I lose myself just to live, and what is a life without a soul?

What is pain?

Pain is unacquainted love.

What is pain?

When you take a risk for once and spend the rest of your life regretting it, wondering if it was worth it at all.

This is an experimental post. I will be updating this every now and then. This is me trying to discover what pain is, in my own terms.

For Syria

Listen to: Goldmund – Threnody

I weep the beloved country, for it celebrates martyrs that have gone too soon. It lets out a scream and although we all hear it, see it, and witness it, we cannot feel its loudness through exile. The boy who cried revolution lays untouched beneath ashes of his own home. Now, he is warm and wrapped in the embrace of heavens above. He looks down upon us in hope, while we look up in tears and pray.

It has been a year and I swear, I cannot fathom how for everyday throughout these 365 days a soul has left us due to injustice. Every asylum I seek for emotional comfort is closed for repairs. My country is dying. My people are starving. I am losing my sanity, one body at a time, one cry of help at a time.

Bless their souls, be they forgotten beneath rubble, or buried amidst gunshots. They are dead, but never gone. Their chants echo across a blind universe that is bound to wake up soon. And when it does, I will nurse you to sleep my fallen kingdom of hopes. I will shelter you within my dreams and I will save you for myself, all to me, because I am selfish when it comes to you. I am your child and you are my land, my holy red land that died while resting on my lap. I will bury you, just as I buried your different flags, your martyrs and my tears. Within my forsaken silence.. I will bury you.

I let my guard down and have failed you, my beloved country. I have failed your weeping children; I have failed your widowed wives and husbands; I have failed your unborn children that never saw the light of day and died in their mother’s womb. I have failed you. I am at loss of words, for silence has taken the best of me.

Nothingness; numbness; blank. Statistics; rivers of blood; cloudy skies; obscure future; Syria; the unknown. وهل للوطن بديل؟

Short story: A eulogy for love

Listen to: 183 Times – Greg Haines (click play)

I never understood why you always hummed while thinking. In lieu, I adapted your humming habits into mine and hummed whenever a thought crossed my mind. I remember when we fought, once. The first time; it was a silent war between two hearts that grew distant and apathetic. You just changed, and I changed accordingly. I always moulded into your behavior that I no longer had a specific identity but linked to yours. I think, now, that is why we’ve grown apart; we’ve become so similar that we put out the flair that bond us together like a mother bird teaching its little one how to fly.

You were my mentor, I assumed, and I learned though you never wanted to teach. I would tell you to teach me, and you would refuse. You’re too young, you’d say. Even as I grew older, my infantile nature never grew to you. I understood, I was always your baby, but I needed more than to be a child, I needed to grow old so you’d love me like I loved you. There’s an innocence in you, you’d often point out to me, I cannot disturb it. So you took off instead, eventually that is. We were always destined to fail, not because of my immaturity, but because your mentality and how you first perceived me.

But you see, I grew up along with you. We both did. You grew out of love, and I grew blinder in love with you. It is ironic now that I see it. I see no love, I see no passion. How so, though, when it was all I could feel; when it was all we could both feel? Or were you acting then, like you are now, once in warmth and now in coldness. This is not a love letter or a letter filled with regrets. This is nothing, just like you told me we were, nothing. This is a random stranger walking down a rainy street with no umbrella. This is a crazy gypsy dancing in front of a bonfire. This is a eulogy for love, because you killed it and I am yet to bury it. It has laid motionless at my doorstep for years and years, and I masked its stingy odour with the perfume you gave me till the last spray.

Our fight, yes, the subtle one. The one that tore us apart. It was a summery day, and then again, when does the sun not shine over those in love? You kissed my forehead not my lips, and I felt an ache, a headache from your kiss. You wore that shirt I always hated, the one with the graffiti you never liked. You had your fancy sunglasses on, and I swore for moment, you looked like a stranger from a distance. You waved at me like anyone would, and I smiled at you like no one ever could. You rode in your red car, the one you now pick up pretty girls in mini skirts in, and stopped, like a stranger would. You said, I will see you tonight. I nodded. You offered no ride back home, or to your heart where I belonged. I nodded again. You drove away before I could say I love you, like a stranger would.

Then you called later that evening, and I hated my ring-tone, but you loved it. So I kept it, for you, because you loved it. You told me you loved me in that sleepy voice of yours, and I was all dressed up to meet you. We were pretty together, as I recall. You in that black tux, and me in that white floral dress you liked. You never wore ties, you hated them. You always unbuttoned the first few buttons. You thought it was appealing to women, but not to me. You knew I never liked it, but you did it anyway. You asked if I loved you, and I said yes. You asked how much, I said I don’t know. You hummed. For years now, I wondered why you hummed when you did. If you were to love me like I loved you, shouldn’t there be no measures? We sat silent in that fancy restaurant. Even the music in your fancy red car could not silence our silent guns. But you, you had the last shot. I laid my weapon down and gave up to you, and you still fought back. I guess the only difference between you and I was that you fought for yourself, while I fought for us. That is how you killed love. You killed love because you never felt it. You killed love because you thought it was a war between us when it was only a gesture of eternity with each other. You killed it, but I let you. We’re both guilty, me for loving you, and you for letting me believe you loved me too.

Today, I let no love stand between myself and others. You made sure I would never speak of it the same, like I did when you first told me you loved me. Why would you though, if you were preparing for war? I have grown to despise those who speak of love as those it is attainable, as though it is the only thing that makes sense. When we said it to each other, it was the only thing that never made sense.

When death came, I shed no tears.

Listen to: Sometimes by Wes Willenbring.

Winter departs with just another soul escaping to the other side. She often wonders what this other side is. They speak of it greatly in movies and books; there is always an aura of white light depicted in pop culture. Then a soul leaves its body, just like that. She never witnessed a death, even in movies, she’d close her eyes afraid it would come after her. She would also skip paragraphs that spoke so beautifully about death, she failed to see the beauty of it. She could never come to peace with the idea of moving on so easily. Death is such an easy thing for the dead, they say. They will look over our shoulders from up above and guide us, they tell her.

—-

My grandfather passed away when I was in first grade. I remember coming home one day, running towards my mother’s room as I normally would, only this time her arms were not open wide to embrace me. They were wrapped around a wooden chair with her head leaned down. She was crying. This had been the first time I see my mother cry. I threw my big purple school bag on the ground and ran to her. The hallway leading to her room felt as though it was stretched longer than it normally was. I reach to her, kiss her forehead and pat on her head asking what had happened. Her voice was shaky, her crystal blue eyes shimmering with tears, she told me, “Jeddo ra7, noora. Jeddo ra7.”

I did not understand what she meant by him going, I just cried along. Her tears ached me. I have never seen my mother cry this much or be wearied by sadness for that long. We were not in Syria at the time and I think part of her being sad was because she did not get to see him one last time. I have only met my grandfather a few times back then, and my memory of him is quite hazy. He was tall with white hair, pale skin and blue eyes. They tell me I inherited my height genes from him.

Edna, my grandmother, still wears her ring after all these years. She has a picture of him in her bedroom. He was quite the handsome young man. She never tires of telling my sister and I stories of him whenever we visit. The most prevailing memory I have of him, however, was while hugging my mother as she cried him away that day.

My father grew up as an orphan. He often tells me of his beautiful mother and how she passed away at an early age. Grandpa re-married a few years later, as tale goes by, but my father tells me it is always different without a mother. Sometimes, he closes his door and listens to folk music about mothers. I dare not disturb his solitude, for death has shaken it to its core.

Death steals. Sometimes it comes unexpected and takes the young away, and at times, we feel its presence before it arrives. So we make space for it. We set aside our lives and feel a certain heaviness painting our days in grayscale. It comes in rescue of the ill and leaves a void within us. It is us, those who mourn, that feel it most. I believe the only time we do not feel the ache of death is when it comes for us.

I grew up fearing death for my loved ones that every night, before going to sleep, I would pray to God to keep my family safe. I would pray for each person in my family. I often cried as a kid. I never understood death. But my mother, she cried when it came. And my father, he closed his eyes in silence at its mention. So I cried, not because I understood it. I did not. But because everyone cries when death arrives. Then they smile.

Then in my early adolescent years, my friend died and I could not cry. Not one tear. At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. I still do not know why I could not cry, even when I wanted to. I think I cried in fear of death so much so that my tears ran out. I rarely ever cry. I do not know why. Crying gives such comfort and people always refuse it. I wish I could cope with my sorrows in tears. It would be easier to cry them away than to bottle them up like I always do.

Perhaps, this is why I am too cold, too heartless, too apathetic – because I could not cry when she died. I went on with my life. I refused to think of her. I packed her belongings in a box and gave them away. She gave me a novel once, I had forgotten its title. After she had passed I sat hours staring at the novel. I could not read for years. I could never finish a book. I always felt cheated with no endings to my novels. I wrote instead. I mark everything to read and leave novels unfinished. I only started to read this year. Every time I go to that place, right between the covers of a book, I see her shadow haunting me. I wish I could cry her away, even now, but I cannot. I am devoid of emotion. I am heartless. But I cried once, I was not always heartless.

Memories: “Forever is never forever.”

I have been struggling with memories lately. Avoiding them while awake has only forced them to haunt me while asleep. With persisting nightmares night in, night out, I longed for uninterrupted sleep. I thought I am through with haunting memories; I thought I found inner peace. It appears as though I have not, and it all comes back to me – throbbing. Suffocating my airways and fogging my sight. Then this comes along. And it all makes sense again, even just for a little while. I found peace, even just for a little while.

Memories by Ólafur Arnalds

“Memories. Memories blur into dreams. Light bleeds into truth. Everything unforgiven; everything becoming hallow. Loneliness consumes and there is no way back. The places you played; the places you called home; the people you thought you loved, all of them, reduced to a memory of another life. A life you never lived. All the yesterdays that came from tomorrow, all the tomorrows that never came from yesterday. A new beginning because forever is never forever.”

So I smile knowing that today’s worries will not make it tomorrow, because forever is never forever.

In memory of those who died during the Hama Massacre.

In memory of those who died during the Hama Massacre. It saddens me to share a birthday with such a dreaded event that took away thousands of my people’s lives. Today, I celebrate courage and honor-ship of my people. Today is a reason to rise in pride, not wallow in tears.  

Listen to: No audio. To the sound of martyrs, for they whisper.

You, who stole my country’s bread,
You, who killed my people,
Come,
Take me instead,
Come,
For you I have scarified my neck,
You, who tore down my signs,
You, who filled my land with mines,
Come,
Come to me,
Endanger me,
Leave them and just come,

You, who laughs at the blood streams of martyrs,
You, who dismantles the bodies of the dead,
Let them rest in peace and just come,
Rip my heart instead,
Tear down my dreams and rest,
You, who stole my country in bed,
Would you like some tea with that?
Perhaps a lemon squeeze in jest,

You, who promised and lied,
Will you ever leave undone?
You, who thousands at his own hands died,
You never seem to come,
Yet behind children caskets you hide,

You, whose heart in stone is engraved,
Would you please not disturb their shallow graves?
Come if you choose to be late,
Control whoever you may,
Untouchable is fate.

On your knees, yet you stand,
posing behind a brave man,
Crimson stained hands,
Nationless land,
Must you not understand?

You have not come,
And I shall not bow,
As long as I live,
As ever as I am dead,
I will not bow
I will not bow

Women and Language: Is English biased against us?

This is an informative post.

Being a linguistics student and a wordsmith, I tend to give most of my attention to lexicon; how people talk, the words they choose, their tone, their auxiliary verbs, their dialects, their adjectives, their lack of adjectives and so forth. It fascinates me and opens up my eyes to a better understanding of this world. Really, it does. I believe in linguistic relativity in very limited forms; Perhaps, in a vise versa sort of way where we, as a society, influence language.

Hint: Linguistic relativity is a theory developed by Benjamin Lee Whorf. It basically means language affects the way its speakers think and behave. The theory, however, was well in mind of thinkers and scholars of the 19th century.

Now, English as a language favors males. It is biased against women. Not the language itself but the language we structured, the terms we coined, the behaviors and connotations we gave to it. Let me first give you a brief outline on women dialects.

Robin Lakoff, a linguist, developed several theories on genderlects. She proposed that women speak differently from men. Now, some of those models she proposed are quite interesting because I myself, as a female, do them as opposed to the males I know. Even when media addresses women, they tend to use different tactics and lexicon to seek their attention. Here are a few:

  1. Color terminology: If we took two magazines: One aimed at women, and the other at men, we’d notice that when it comes to colors, female magazines are apt to use more variety in colors. So blue isn’t just blue, it becomes teal, iris, periwinkle, azure, and turquoise. However, in male magazines, blue is just blue.
  2. Empty Adjectives: Females are more apt to use those, males not so much so. For instance, pretty in female terms becomes: gorgeous, stunning, elegant, dazzling, cute, and whatnot. In male terminology, however, pretty is just pretty.
  3. Tag Questions: Women tend to seek conformation more via questions, so for instance, a lady would say, “I look good in this dress, don’t I?” or, “you think I’m crazy about you, don’t you?”
  4. Indirect requests: Although Lakoff’s theory involves what women tend to say more, I do believe men do this often as well. These would be something like, ‘I am thirsty,’ or ‘its cold’ or ‘I’ve been feeling down lately,’ in lieu of asking for water, a jacket, or a hug.

She also proposed that women tend to be more grammatically cautious than men and are less apt to use weak expletives. A student of hers later on developed genderlex, meaning basically men and women speak differently. And we do, to a great extent.

Then again, language is what we make it, right? When some terms come to mind, they don’t sound right. We live in a society that subtly favors men. If we take, for instance, words describing men vs. words describing women, we’d really notice how awful the situation is.

Have you ever heard the term family woman? I did not. But family man is something more common. Ironically, when googling family woman definition the top result was Wikipedia’s domestic violence page with no definitions, and when I did the same thing with family men definition all I got was definitions.

Then again, career woman is there. Ever heard someone introducing a guy to you and saying, ‘he’s a career man’? Obliviously both terms exist, but when speaking of a spinster people tend to shame her for being a career woman, whereas a bachelor with a career is considered someone ‘too good to be true.’ I am aware that bachelorette is there as well, but there should be equality in terminology as age progresses. There are dozens of those, I am extremely disturbed by the fact that we let such minuet differences slip by. I am not being picky at all. I am being observant, and I do not like what I see.

All in all, I believe a society that dominates men is bound to have a language that supports it. I wrote this post hoping to cover Arabic language biases against women. That is, however, proven to be difficult due to dialects. But my interest in genderlects will hopefully drive me to write another post on why we’re in the 21st century and women are still fighting for their rights in the Middle East. Here’s a tip: Always start with language.