Electric Blue

A muted wave washes over your senses, silencing you with its austere force. You’re ocean-blue, battered blue, blue-blue. However the water moves, you carve your sides to accommodate the physics. In the back of your mind there’s a resonance of stories past about the life of water, the kindness of water, the fluidity of water; a resonance silenced yet again by the force of water, the persistence, and the stillness, then flow.

Then stillness.

Then flow.

You oscillate ever so slightly as one wave carries you through a vastness of life trapped beyond your senses. You know there’s no way out: how dare you? So you fight to let life break in. Let it start a riot that will force you to your knees, that’ll guide you to land, any land. To kiss the soil, to plant a seed, to dance to something that isn’t deafening silence.

That isn’t the music within.

That isn’t your favourite laugh.

That isn’t your dreams.

You ripple again across the ocean with a distant promise of an insurgence. Listen. Keep listening through the vacuum. Hell is full of screaming.

Electric Blue

Marginal Feminism

This is one sappy post written one sleepless night; emotions in the paragraphs below run amok.

Any set of ovaries in the world recognises free will as a beautiful yet intangible prosepect. The idea that decision can be a unilateral expression is kept at that bay: an idea. When it comes to execution, or rather the painfully-impossible-while-humiliating process of materialising the idea, we’re told we can be whatever we want to be if we will it to be, dismissively and moronically enough. Setting aside how that is, in fact, bollocks, the normalisation of sacrifice by women in order to gain basic human rights is nothing short of barbaric. If a woman doesn’t compromise a main component in the make-up of her life, she’s lazy, she’s too comfortable, she doesn’t want it bad enough. If she doesn’t cut off a leg to get a bike, she never really deserved it. And in that ill-perceived manner of hard work and reward, she’s forced into an either/or scenario, and the alternative is defeat.

It is true that to gain something you must lose something, but when you comfortably fling that inspirational quote around, how much does it weigh? Is it 5 kilos around the waist? Is it an antique that never really fit the room? Is it a 2009 Toyota Prius? Is it reputation? Is it family? Is it love? Is it safety? Is it livelihood?

The stakes are too high for your regular heels to reach; the elements of sacrifice are inconceivable. Not every woman has the luxury of disposal, not every woman has the courage to stand alone, not every woman is self-destructive enough to gamble it all away. But we are all women, ordinary, sub, and extra. What we need is for the margin of sacrifice to narrow, so that our transition towards self-actualisation is not leaps of faith, but stable steps free of shame, loss, and anger.

Marginal Feminism

Everybody Hates a Tourist

Ah, summer. Scorching heat, unbearable showers, natural escape, and the tourism industry’s backbone since no one is submissive enough to endure these temperatures; not even for poetic reasons. While the larger portion of us prefers the intimate fondling of passport control abroad, some of us relish in the excitement of domestic exploration. That is the general, tangible theme of tourism, the one that drives you into loans and/or carrying out murder-suicides on the members of your immediate family and an indiscernible number of very deserving cousins.

There is, however, a third, subtle form of tourism that doesn’t traverse land or distance, but instead, travels through class, money, and status. Tourism that is at heart not very different from orientalism in its approach to the culture it imposes itself on; a sort of hipsterism that preys on the circumstances people’s lives are run by. It is the tourism of socioeconomic class, and the sole manner of transportation in that trip: a one-way ticket to the lower decks.

Now emerges a trend amongst the new, educated generation of Arabs. Young men and women of the upper-middle class who hail from the best families with seemingly self-replenishing means and with access to the best education who cannot, for the lives of them, find sufficient validation in the rich lives they lead. Their exposure to Dickensian literature (for want of expensing the benefit of the doubt) or simple lack of experience in life pushes them towards finding self-assurance and relatability in the manners in which those less fortunate lead their lives.

It is no secret that nobility seems to be exclusive to the poor, but it’s not the direct link these validation vultures seem to believe in that builds character and strengthens will. You will not be one of the common people by breakfasting on the off-chance at the Fawwal. You will not be seen as a struggling individual if you can’t afford that spring break trip to Florida. You will not share the collective frustration with the inflation by shopping at the 2 Riyal shops as a hobby and not out of necessity.

It gets worse for you, dear predator, because we, middle class and lower, see that you’re not just the loser kid that’s trying to blend in by any means necessary, but you go further to the point of ostentatious audacity of complaining about your status, of claiming that you’re broke (darling, 1200 in your account is a more-than-decent amount), of calling yourself blue-collar, of “dreaming” of being rich, of whining because you can’t afford the new Celine handbag and the new Yeezy’s, and cursing your luck that your father’s credit card isn’t as open-end as you wanted it to be.

Growing up middle class meant that we always wanted to look better off, more important, richer. We stole our siblings’ better clothes, our mothers’ favourite make-up, borrowed that designer purse after weeks and weeks of begging, saved up our allowance to buy that one thing everyone was talking about at school because we were too proud to admit that things just don’t happen when we wish them to. So, as a large part of society, it is incredibly laughable for us to see someone flaunting what we grew up to see as embarrassing. But then the vultures start crooning fondly to each other in “sympathy,” and it becomes infinitely insulting.

Having breakfast at the Fawwal isn’t a choice of amusement, it is a necessity shaped by circumstance. A person’s remaining balance at the end of every month doesn’t indicate what he can spend, it indicates how he should live his life, it dictates what he perceives as success, happiness, and well being. His lifestyle shouldn’t be used as a gateway for your self-indulgence. I realise that self-search is a vital aspect in a young person’s life, but when it becomes a blatant disregard for the harsh reality of others, it becomes a childish desire to become a literary character, not a person.

When someone’s day-to-day concern is how to survive by the end of the month, it hardly comes as a pat on the back when the sons and daughters of the high-middle class attempt to identify with that struggle. When you eat out more than you cook, when you travel more than you stay, when you indulge more than you save, when you read more than you experience, your occasional strolls through Taibah speak nothing but a severe lack of touch with reality.

I plead to this young generation, the readers, the revolutionists, the Guevara wannabes, the socialists because it’s cool, to step out of their convenient bubbles of Goodreads lists and be thankful for the struggles they don’t have to fight through, to not fall for the romance of poverty, to not be trapped into theorising real life experiences in order to understand them. Not everything has to be understood, just respected.

You might be hated for the graces you’ve been given, but ultimately it’s a lighter burden than that of being hated for being an ungrateful little prick. I leave you with the masterpiece that is Common People by Pulp. I tried to be polite and explain it, but maybe Jarvis Cocker’s torrent of insults can make this unsightly charade cease: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuTMWgOduFM

Everybody Hates a Tourist

Delivery Chicken Politics

One of my personal favourite things about living in Globalised Earth 2016, right after Internet music and just before chicken wings delivery, is the entitlement to a political opinion, even when you know, or it matters, fuck all. No one like Arabs truly knows the absolute worthlessness of their opinion, and I consider myself lucky being one in that regard because I dread to think that a thought process of mine can have any repercussions. I like to think of my opinion as that proverbial tree in that proverbial forest that nobody has ever heard because no one could be arsed. Once the absolutely-inconsequential value of my thoughts and opinions has been established, I can let them run free; analysing, insulting, suggesting, and my favourite: surrendering to the hilarity of it all.

Sitting here all kinda pretty (bless unnecessary beauty standards for pushing me towards mascara) thousands of miles away from the magical land of Heard Voices, I get to entitle myself to an opinion about e v e r y t h i n g ever. Exhausting, yes, but if you are a person of consequence, you do not understand the pleasure of this at all. It’s like we’re gym addicts and you’re blessed with fast metabolism: we hate you, so we go extra lengths to feel an odd sense of pleasure just to cast you out. And so, I decide to entitle myself to a peculiar opinion, of course, because I only entitled myself to one in the first place to feel special.

British domestic politics. But before you discount this revelation as yet another attempt to feel intellectually superior, you must know that I only did it for comical reasons to begin with before it grew on me… and then I reverted it back to its’ comical origins with angry calls for the return of Nando’s and 2015’s election frenzy (HASHTAG MILLIBAE). I cannot tell you if it serves as a welcome change from the grim politics of the Middle East, if I’m just fond of a certain type of bleak fate that screws people over in fine print and polite discourse, or if it is simply amusing. The neatness of the British huff and puff, the properly-channeled anger of the public, the fact that there is the possibility to have a say in the way your representative statesman actually represents you is nothing short of baffling to someone whose immediate experience of politics is God Save Us.

It could very well be heartlessness on my part; perceiving the minute day-to-day repercussions of some policy or another as sources of amusement, but I live in a part of the world so thirsty for political movement that it takes the London mayoral elections to heart. The winner of the aforementioned election, Mr. Sadiq Khan, with his ideology, has caused a stir-up in our vacuous space of politics; interestingly so, that stir-up was hardly different from the electoral procedure currently happening in the United States during the presidential hullabaloo. The ideological factor, much as we want to dismiss it, remains the force driving our choices. We decided that Sadiq Khan was one of us because he has a name like ours, a faith like ours, and so an ideology like ours. Never mind that we would probably shun him with our acute racism and exclusivity if he were among us, but over there, in the far, far away land of Heard Voices, he was the closest thing to us. Here’s the thing, though, that thought process is exactly the same that Trump supporters possess: he has a name like ours, a faith like ours, and so an ideology like ours. He’s the closest thing we’ve got in the far, far away land of Political Mayhem.

The key to all of this is to try and realise that Mr. Khan’s ideology is that of a stark, brisk Londoner: grey, uncompromising, and cosmopolitan. Debating his policies, we look like the country girls who just read the Sex and The City column and want to be the next Carrie Bradshaw. We don’t even know how to handle 17-degree weather.

But then what do I know? There’s hardly anything cosmopolitan about taking the politics of another city in another country in another continent to the bedroom and dedicating Twitter fights to it. There’s also hardly anything cosmopolitan about eating chicken wings in your parents’ living room with the BBC on mute.

 

Delivery Chicken Politics

Verbal Abuse

Language must be humanity’s greatest two-edged sword. For something that has elevated human thought, achievement, and perception, language has been the benign-looking, elusive microbe deconstructing collective human consciousness, consecutively and simultaneously creating and demolishing cultures and concepts thereof as it prances around time and space. (I sincerely apologise for not being able to resist that Doctor Who reference. It’s RIGHT THERE). That relentless, never-giving nature of language is what perplexes me the most, and thusly charms me to no end. A person’s manner of speaking does not only carry vocabulary acquired from baby teeth and onwards, but every piece of food stuck between them, every flavour, the dull geography of the surroundings (all geography is dull and you know it), even the basic physics of the universe. So when you utter that compliment/racial slur, you do it through what is basically the in-built Talking Tom app that renders any loud thought bouncing around your head into a setting-inappropriate squeak. 

NO ONE IS SAVED!

I mean it. No one is spared. Not even this post, which I’m typing in English because… I’m desensitised to English mockery and sense of disaster? I’m too apprehensive of the overwhelming nature of Arabic? See, even I, an incredibly tiny speck in the course of humanity, am divided between my own mother tongue -don’t even get me started on dialects- and a language I chose to pick up because, as every other sane and cool preteen, I adamantly loved and still love Backstreet Boys. I may have acquired a broader overview of the world with every new metaphor I learnt, but that view is perceived through a kaleidoscope of all the fragments of understanding which fool me into seeing the peripheral as central. 

The enriching nature of language, along with the nature/nurture element it carries, is also inherently degenerative. The human mind and its experience of the world relentlessly give new methods of expression, sometimes for the same exact experience. However, all the aforementioned steps that language undergoes to reach formation add to that about-to-be-expressed thought sending out a connotation-laden utterance with, apprehensively so, a context.

You have to understand, I hate context. If only for the sole fact that empirical truth wheezes into dust in its presence. Or non-presence. Or both. Not just wheezes, the process is anything but dignified. The idea of context takes the attempt of establishing empirical truth, rolls it up in a bunch, and wipes its ass with it.

Now void of absolute truth and burdened with context, a thought has to traverse culture, time, place, history, age, and setting to reach the intended recipient. Now mostly two or three of these factors have to be taken into account. Your barista really doesn’t give two tosses about the origin of your name to spell it correctly. They don’t even give one toss about spelling your name correctly. But take a look at how religion is passed down to us, and how many groans you utter when you realise how the one language with time difference fucked everything up for you. How those words decomposed into vague syllables rounded up to the nearest available meaning, how ballpark our understanding of them is, how we patch the fractions together but the jigsaw puzzle doesn’t quite fall into place every time. And most of all, how terribly, terribly context-bound it all is.

Language is divisive more than it is unitive, human nature suffers to rise above it, and the only way to do so is to succumb to language.

Disclaimer: I enjoy insulting the things I adore. Admiration loses its charm and I need a punching bag. If you think this was a passive go at religion not language, you will be that bag. If you think I’m attacking your language, whatever your language may be, I am. All of them. 

Verbal Abuse

Passports

We are all, by some means, loyal. To someone, to something, to an idea, or a place. We belong by natural disposition to something of our choosing, hence defining and defending our restrictions in case any insurgence should occur. In a civilised world, most of us (I’m looking at you, Kuwait) have passports that tie us to certain cultures despite our unwillingness to adhere to them. We are children of that land, that is the basis of the system. Problematically, however, for citizens of wonderful Arabia, this appears to not be the case. Whatever land you were born on is of no concern, the real concern is “where can we dump you?”

I’m legally Yemeni, as Yemeni as Yemen gets. My passport is navy blue with a hawk or an eagle or whatever that squinting bird in gold is. I speak my dialect fluently, a gift of my culturally-proud parents. I’m even marginally good at Yemeni cuisine, something I never thought I’d need to learn because, well, I’m also Saudi. I’m Saudi in the sense that I was born here, Saudi in the sense that I’ve lived nearly 25 years here, Saudi in the sense that I’m more familiar with sand than I am with greenery, Saudi in the sense that I have to ask my mother about Yemen when I effortlessly know the littlest of things about life here, in Saudi.

And so, my loyalties are hazy for I love Yemen. I love Yemen, with its poverty and insufficient infrastructure, its perfect weather, divine architecture and otherworldly scenery, its generosity, hospitality, and wonderful food, Yemen has captivated me. But Saudi has always been home, I can navigate through Riyadh (via driver) with incredible ease, even mastering the detour maze where I insistently fail a simple left turn behind my house in Yemen.

My loyalties are hazy, and have always been dormant, but now they’re not. They’re tested, tortured. Stretched from extremity to extremity to the point of laceration. Bombed in instalments of 1200 air raids so far that set the cities alight. Terrorised every night for the past 2 weeks dusk till dawn. Annihilated. Demolished. Devastated.

It is very easy to point your finger at an Apache, ripping your sky up in half in patronising force. It’s even easier to parade that force in a relaxed air of military supremacy, like a lion strutting out in the afternoon to stretch. It’s somewhat difficult, though, to lie in the lion’s den and cry for it to come back home.

My loyalties take no hue, they’re not leather-bound pages of pride. They’re words of plea away from rubble, glass, and blood.

Passports

Winter

I see my years engrave themselves into lines on your palms; I’m stretched thin but your eyes only see delicacy. You hold your hands, and me, close to your chest, with urgency you think I wouldn’t feel, but I’m too close to home to turn a deaf ear. Your fire rumbles within, I listen, and you cast me away with a flare.

You pull me even closer, you ignite even brighter, until you’re all ashen, until my lines widen. I wear you out, and you lie.

You lie about the cold; about burning for me and burning me, about keeping me in your extremities when I’m well-worn in your core, about winter; the fact that it exists, that it’s out of your hands, and that the cold was the enemy. The seasons shift for you, the wind bows and cedes. Your fire was never winter-bound.

You’re my 56 years of oak, and I’m your favourite 24 lines.

To my father, who is too stubborn to admit that I’m basically a heavily-diluted version of him.

Winter