Quarantine Diaries: Day 61

photo by Casey Horner

 

20 May 2020 // 27 Ramadan


one thing i like about these days is that i don’t talk a lot. i like being silent. i’m slowly training my mind to also not think in any way that i wouldn’t want to be heard outside. of course, i can’t fully eliminate my thoughts because aside from that being humanly impossible, i do harbor some beliefs that to others and to my own rational mind are absolutely insane, and i can’t just not think them because “i don’t wanna be heard saying them.”


all of this is based on my conviction that what’s within us inevitably comes out through our words and behaviors and even in our mere appearance. if i want to appear serene and peaceful and somewhat intelligent with my humble little nook of the world’s knowledge, then it only makes sense that i actually be like that on the inside. this is the art of being a person in the world. it’s true that we are seen (and misjudged) by others based on their own clouded perceptions, but it’s an unquestionable truth that there’s a margin of who we are that shines out to any observer no matter what they make of it.


it’s this tiny window that inspires me to mindfully sculpt my inner world, and to hone the art of doing so as i grow and evolve. this inner world of mine, this rich forest, murky with mystery and occasionally sharp with clarity.. i see it as a canvas for me to paint with the colors and virtues i choose, because if i didn’t mindfully choose them, the paintbrushes of others would scribble on me and i would fall prey to my own unconsciously chosen misfortune.


looking from the outside, through this tiny window comes an aura, a person’s essence, something you perceive but can’t really pinpoint.. i want my emanating light to reflect a serene and benevolent person.. perhaps this period of continuous silence and solitude is a great opportunity to look within and start painting something beautiful..



look at that..! i had no idea i had it in me to write tonight! see? what’s within always finds a way to come out into the tangible world and prove its preexistence in the mysterious non-material inner world — wether we were aware and consenting or not — it doesn’t care!

Quarantine Diaries: Day 54

13 May 2020 // 20 Ramadan

the details of my day are not worth mentioning. it was no different than yesterday and the day before and the one before that. i have nothing to say except this:

when lockdown started in mid-March, we were stifled with uncertainty and ignorant of how long it would take to get back to our lives. we were all baffled and in collective distress. the imminent threat and consequent anxiety were rippling all around us, invading our minds and permeating our homes and ghosting our streets. for the first time in our lives, we were all feeling the same emotions, thinking the same thoughts. we were separated and in isolation, but none of us was alone. we were all understanding and understood. those of us that didn’t get infected by the virus, they were sure sick with its looming all around. the thing with this pandemic is that it clogs our minds before clinging to our lungs, and sometimes it fails to infect our bodies but it surely succeeds in disrupting our lives. at this point we just held our breaths and waited for April.

when April finally arrived, we were only faced with disappointment and there was no sign of getting out. some of us took hold of their pens and filled their papers till they ran out of notebooks. some of us stocked up on canvases and turned their homes into galleries. some of us read book after book while some could not turn a single page. some of us spent all their waking hours switching between bed and the couch running marathons on Netflix as an attempt to escape the reality of the rising numbers and gloomy predictions. many of us cleared our desks and sat there facing those inanimate screens that were the only form of contact we had with the world. all of a sudden a lifeless object fed our need for human contact; it kept us alive and sane behind those locked doors and between those lonely walls.

we said maybe Ramadan would be it. it would come and bring the airs of Heaven along with it. it came, it blessed our hearts and cleansed our souls, but it kept us home, praying in the solitude of our tiny rooms. we prayed like never before. millions of us, scattered across the globe, asking God for the same exact blessing in a hundred different languages. we whispered to the sky incessantly like birds chirping at the crack of dawn and went to sleep with surrendered hearts.

we kept holding our breaths with the hope that May would bring our release from our homes — those houses of ours that started to feel too small and suffocating for our arms and legs that yearned to stretch and move. May came and it only succeeded to dishearten and disappoint. do we have any more hope left for June? i think we need to stop holding our breath and just breathe in our safe homes and befriend our new close allies — our masks and gloves — until our collective human fate makes a turn for the good and sees the light of day at last…

Transmutation

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How can one feel so lost, yet know that this is the state that they are meant to be in at the given moment? So confused, yet know that this veil is only obscuring clarity for a short while? So broken, yet know that every whole and enlightened soul had their pieces scattered and threads torn apart before they were rebuilt into the loving wise humans they became?

Tell me, am I as lost as I feel?
Am I as confused as I feel?
Am I, oh God, as broken as every inch of me feels?

The Lingering Winters of The Heart

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When a loved one departs
Winter submerges our hearts in snow

Our nights become tearful
Our mornings mournful

But then
Spring inevitably arrives
Bringing along sun and life

If the sun
Doesn’t melt away
The snow engulfing our hearts

It’s we who won’t let it
It’s we who reject life

For we equate
The death of a loved one
To the death of ourselves

Four Years

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1101 pm
1460 days later.
3rd of October 2019.
this evening 4 years ago,
i was in a hospital room
lying on a bed next to yours,
listening to music
to mute the fear
of what could happen to you
during the hours of the night.

it’s 11 pm now.
i remember switching turns with mom
to hold the oxygen mask
over your nose
because it bothered you,
but we had to secure it
because your body needed it.
my eyelids were getting heavy
and my arms started to ache.
you moaned from exhaustion
and cried silently at times.

i gave you oxygen
hoping that you’d sleep
and wake up better tomorrow.
i didn’t know
that you were going
to take your last breath
just a few hours from then,
so early in the morning..

it’s 4 years later tonight,
but the hospital scent
and the heart monitor beeps
are as vivid and real
as though no time has passed,
as though it’s happening right now..

1258 pm
1461 days later.
it’s the Fourth of October again.
a Friday this time, not a Sunday.
i’m sitting on the pink couch
that used to open up to be your bed.
i feel numb, like i know nothing
that could make me feel something.
i don’t know what this means.
am i desensitized from all the grief?
or healed from it?
what do you think?

it’s 330 pm now.
i’m in a café, reading a book.
four years ago at this hour,
strangers were filling our house.
i was locked in my bedroom,
in utter shock,
writing meaningless words
on sticky notes,
wondering where you were,
what was life and what was death,
and what exactly did it all mean..

when i did come out,
i saw grandma downstairs.
i noticed her eyes weren’t lined with kohl,
and i realized
that this wasn’t just a bad dream
on a Sunday morning sleep-in..

my tears came in waves.
sometimes
i looked blankly at a wall
as tiny tears streamed down my cheeks,
and sometimes
i weeped and fell to the floor
from the weight of the grief
and the heavy presence of your absence
in this house.

it’s different now.
you know how it is.
you prefer it this way.
and i think i do too.

we’re united
as pure souls.
grief and longing
are not the rope that connects us
anymore.
it’s deeper now.
so pure, it’s ineffable.
words don’t do it justice.
it’s out of language,
deep in the soul.

only you and i understand it.

Homelessness of The Self

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by Jordan Sanchez

During the past few months

The discomfort, the homelessness, homesickness

Contaminated the places I was in

Making me move from one room to the next

One city to another

Now it has spread to my veins

I feel stiffness enveloping my limbs

Like this body is no longer mine

Changing places is not enough anymore

I feel the urge to change my clothes

Yet even that doesn’t ease away the suffocation

Because what I need is to get out of this skin!

I have no option but to succumb and resign

To the dull reality that

I have no home

I have no self

I have no peace

Yet I can’t relinquish the hope

That one day I’ll have what I need

I’ll be my own home

I’ll cultivate a self that I love being

And I’ll build my own fountain of everlasting peace

 

If Words Were Home

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who am i without writing?
who are my friends if not words?

lately i’ve been actively
straying away from this page

sabotaging myself
away from my joy in life

writing is the very meaning
of my existence

through it, and only it,
can i know myself and
make sense of my world

so why am i not writing?
what part of me is trying
to steal this away from me?
what part of me can be so opposed to me
that it dares targeting my source of purpose?

it’s been a year
since i started writing a novel

one month of writing
and eleven of passively yearning
to return to the page to free myself
from this fictional world that occupies
my every moment

i am bereaved, broken;
an orphan in this huge world,
a foreigner in my own body

and only words,
only the act of writing,
of imagining and reflecting,
can mend my pieces
and bring me back home

1397 Days Later.


when i looked at the cloudy sky today,

i saw you smiling.
i closed my eyes in delight,
but i could still see the light.
my heart brimmed with love
like a cup filling from the ocean.
it connected me with you,
and with God, too.
now i feel a delicious togetherness;
an unceasing lovingness.
it comes from God,
and it has the shape of your smile.

Home

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by Musab Al Rawahi

I was born here,
But is this my home?

If it is—if it must be—
Then why doesn’t it feel like so?

When I travel,
I don’t feel like an outsider
As much as I do in my own hometown.

Yet when the flight lands back here,
I feel as though my heart is a jewel
Being placed back into its safe box
Like this land is two open palms
That await my arrival
And spread to embrace me
Into eternal safety.

I must accept
That I am forever torn
Between being from but not of,
Being part here and part elsewhere.

My Love, İstanbul

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by Emre Gencer

I find myself a seat in the corner of a coffee shop; brown table, wood everywhere, the aroma of coffee and caramel filling the air. I place my book on the table or on my lap—either way my neck bends so low it aches after a few pages—and I lose myself in a different world, touching the pages as though caressing a lover. Recently I’ve been double-pretending; the first setting is that of the novel I’m reading, and the second is İstanbul. Wherever my body happens to be, my soul is nowhere but in İstanbul, all day and all night. This she-city; my loyal friend and my enchanting lover, my mind’s remedy and my heart’s home. I am under Her sky, my skin absorbing the life radiating from Her sun, my consciousness expanding in Her language, my feelings expressing themselves in Her tongue. İstanbul is the lover I never got to meet in the body of a human; She’s the beloved to whom all my love poems are about. İstanbul is both a manifestation of my soul and a being all on Her own. I don’t know where I end and She begins. I have never loved as fervently and wholeheartedly as I have fallen for Her. It is the waters that soften Her edges that are the blood that swirls in my body. It is the echoes of Her past with all its tragedies and triumphs that engulf me and make me believe that life is worth living, no matter how long it takes for it to feel like so. It is Her complexity, Her fascinating identity, Her secrets and hopes and memories that have slipped into a haze of amnesia that I most relate to… It is the voices of the souls that have taken Her as their home, both as a blessing and a curse, that fill my mind as I pretend that the corner I’m sitting in is on Her land, by one of Her flowing waters or in one of Her cafés. This is what keeps me thriving as I count the days to have Her air be the oxygen that kisses my lungs; to have the chirping of Her birds be the pleasant sound I wake up to in the morning and the flirtatious song of Her shores and rains that I go to sleep to at night.