Homesick, but fine thank you.

If you ask me “how are you” whether it’s out of common courtesy and politeness or on the rare occasion that you actually want to know, I’d probably answer with a “fine alhamdulilah” or maybe drop a few complaints about something insignificant like exams or the weather. But if I were to be honest, I’d answer every how are you question I get daily with one word every time- homesick.
Now, whenever I tweet or post a status about being homesick, most of my Sudanese friends readily jump to reply with the same answer I’ve been getting since I came to the UAE: “You miss Sudanese people, not Sudan.”
False.
People are often surprised when they know I plan to go back to Sudan after graduating. They tell me that I’m just being sentimental, that it is not realistic or smart. They remind me of how lucky I am to have gotten out in the first place.
I don’t understand that. Am I only to love my country from afar, until it somehow decides to become “developed”? Is it so farfetched and unlikely that I love my country right now, just as it is?
Well, I do.
I love my country with its uncountable downs and few ups. I love it with –not despite- the unconstructed streets, the electricity cuts, the water running out, the people’s bluntness, the rakshas noise, and the crowded buses…till the end of the very long list. I love it with all that, and if I don’t love it, I can’t help change it.
I love the people, yes, but I also love the land, the air, and the Nile, and I would never trade any of it to live anywhere else in the future.
So yes, I live in a constant homesickness because I am here in the UAE studying for my Bachelor’s degree. The UAE is definitely a “step up” from Sudan, and it’s a comfortable, entertaining and beautiful place to be. But for me, it is no home.
When things get tough, I remind myself that I am here because I’m trying to become a better person through education and solitude. I try to remember that by endurance and hard work, I can become someone who would eventually do something for their country instead of just tweeting about it. And that gets me by for the next day, to when someone asks my how are you, and I say great, alhamdulilah.

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What Should the UAE Do for the Rajaa Children?

Fifteen young Sudanese children were raped by their school driver at the Rajaa rehabilitation center in Khartoum where they live.

Now, why should we care? It’s Sudan after all. Raped women, assaulted villages, and destroyed homes are simply natural occurrences in the war ridden country that have been undergoing bombarding and shelling for as long as anyone can remember.

Yes, Sudan is a political and social mess, but does that give us the excuse to disregard the Rajaa children case? Absolutely not.

Ten years ago, there would have been no chance for the world of knowing that Motaz, a driver at the Rajaa center sexually assaulted and raped not one, or two, or three, but fifteen street kids hailing from Northern, Southern and Western Sudan. These kids, who regarded their stay at the center as their last hope to stay off of the streets, would have had to endure this inhumane abuse helplessly simply because no one would have known about it to help them.

But now, thanks to Twitter and BlogSpot, knowing is not the issue. Wherever we are we can know, but it is not enough to just know, we must act.

UAE has the means and the opportunity to help Sudan. Not through official donations though, since it became apparent that sending charitable funds to the Sudanese government have done nothing to prevent civil wars, let alone the Rajaa Children case.

What should be done however is sending financial support to non-governmental organizations that organize charity projects independent of the government.

Organizations such as “To Sudan with Love” and “Sudanese Red Crescent Society” aim to support homeless children, widows, orphans and other misfortunate minorities. They also encourage the society to become an active part of the social change, by urging the people –especially the youth- to volunteer with their time, effort, or money to help out their follow citizens.

These organizations put considerable effort into making Sudan a better place. They do not lack enthusiasm, motive, or good intention. They only lack the proper funding, and that’s where the UAE can lend hand.   

 

Song Review: Hall of Fame

I first heard about “The Script” back in 2009, when I came across their song “Talk You Down” on YouTube. I was ecstatic; the song was unique, melodic, and lyrical. Quickly I became a fan and vowed for eternal loyalty to the Irish rock band. But just like all fans who fall in love with a relatively unknown band, I struggled with a bundle of mixed emotions towards them. On one hand, I wanted the world to know about the remarkably talented trio who sang meaningful lyrics to pulsating music. On the other, I selfishly wished they would not become worldwide famous so they would stay “mine”.
Starting out small in Dublin then signing to Sony Label Group in London, The Script became bigger and bigger. They released their first album “The Script” which became number one in London and Dublin charts. Hit songs like “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” and “Breakeven” air played in many radio stations in USA, UK and Ireland and moved to the rest of the world.
By 2010, The Script were everywhere. Danny O’Donoghue the band’s lead singer appeared as a coach in the popular UK reality show “The Voice”, and their songs featured in several popular TV shows such as Vampire Diaries and The Ghost Whisperer.
I was both alarmed and happy for the band. Their success was not a surprise; they were talented, hardworking, and innovative. That is, until Hall of Fame came out. The song is the first track of their album “#3”, featuring rapper Will.i.am. It came out last September and received immediate attention, becoming the 21st best-selling single of the year in the UK with 529,000 copies sold.
The anthem like song begins with “Yeah, you can be the greatest, you can be the best” and continues to the chorus which chants “And the world’s gonna know your name. And you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame.” It is optimistic, positive, and inspiring- in short, radio ready.
Hall of Fame was disappointingly predictable. It seemed to be written especially for the purpose of enticing the public, which is different from the bands’ previous songs. The song did not cause people to awe; it was begging for “awwwhs!” Unlike with their previous hit songs when the case was a not so popular band delivering music which the world just can’t ignore, Hall of Fame burst out arrogant and ready to be overexposed. What else explains the unusual and unnecessary pairing with will.i.am who coaches alongside Danny in UK’s The Voice? A move similar to Adam Levine’s pair up with judge Christina Aguilera at US’s The Voice to bring out the overplayed “Moves Like Jagger”.
Was the song a massive hit? Yes. But it left the loyal fans worried about whether the band is tumbling to its regrettable -yet foreseen- fall into the claws of mainstream music. In which case, it’s time to look for yet another new undiscovered favorite alternative rock band.

So Very Strange..

“How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?”

Don DeLillo

Ripping a Band-aid off of your soul.

You don’t want to be you tonight. For a change, you want to be someone who is capable of following through with their goals; someone who does not again and again fall to the same old useless pattern because they’re stuck in their familiar comfort zone.

Today, you want to be someone who, after they’ve decided what they wanted, would conjure up the sufficient patience to carry it through and the courage. You lack the courage.

You have a clear view of what you want, and by now you think you know just how to become that- how to achieve what you’ve been dreaming of for so long. Yet you find yourself stuck. Maybe not literally, maybe you’re moving, but it is SO slow that for the naked eye -including yours- you’ve only been tottering in place. Which is even worse.

It is true what they say: when you change, you destroy a part of who you are. No matter how useless or bad that part of yourself is, it is still you, and it was in you for a reason. A long time ago, your soul has invited this part inside. But it’s not your soul’s fault. At that time, maybe it was the only visitor, and you were so lonely that your soul agreed to let it in.
After all, your soul is only looking after you. It would never have allowed such a dangerous thing to enter the most sacred and sensitive parts of you had it known that it would turn from a temporal visitor to a clinging full-time resident. It most definitely would not have let it in had it known it would become excruciatingly hard for you to kick it out.
When it first arrived at your soul’s doorstep it looked week and harmless, but you unknowingly fed it well and helped it grow so powerful. Now, it had entitled itself for deserving as much right of you as any other part of you rightfully does.

Time in time, you forget that it was once only a lonely beggar knocking feebly on the doors of your heart and mind. You forget that had things been different, you could have never opened the door. But of course the idea is most ridiculous; who would have you turned out to be without it?

No matter how much you resent it, despise it, and loathe the nonliving pieces of it, you know that without it you would not have turned out the way you have. Indeed, you like how you turned out- minus it. As hard as it may be to admit, you owe it. You know it’s the truth, and you hate it even more for that.

So what can you do? If there is a book or a movie about a villain posed as a resented full-time visitor, hurriedly refer to it. You’ll need all the advice you can get. It is a battle. You discover as you try to get rid of it, that it had glued itself to your soul ever so slyly, and you cannot risk tearing it off because you are uncertain of how much of your soul you would lose forever with it.

So it became like cancer, if there was such a thing as a needed cancer. For that, you must become your own chief surgeon. You alone must decide whether it is safe to pursue the operation, or if it is too late. You alone must calculate the advantages and the potential costs. Patients have it easy, they’ve got someone to blame: the hospital, the doctors, the equipment… But you? You are the patient and the doctor. You are the ailed and the healer. It all comes down to this: You have a Band-Aid in your soul, are you willing to rip it off?

See No Lies..Write No Lies

Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go write it down, and either you over dramatize it or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want it to.

Sylvia Plath

 

This quote touches on an issue I struggle with whenever I try to put my emotions into words. I think to myself, did I really communicate what I’m feeling or is it fiction that I’m writing right now?

I realize that it’s only my emotions we’re talking about here, and since I am not The Dalai Lama or Oprah, it is not a big deal. But what does that mean when it comes to reporting news?

Can one really literally describe whatever he or she sees in real life for others to experience the same situation?  Would the reader’s experience be similar to yours- the writer’s, or would it be more or profound? Do you choose to make it less intense? I am not talking about intentional, conscious manipulation of word choice of course, I’m simply casting doubts on the journey which news take on their way from our minds onto the paper or the laptop. Does our subconsciousness play the antagonist in this scenario?

To feel is human..to not is peace of mind.

For once, she won’t talk herself out of it. For once, she is going to allow herself to BE sad, to FEEL hurt and ACT out the anger.

More than often, she questions her feelings. Tries to justify them, but this time she will allow herself not to.

She excuses herself from the dinner table and heads up to her room. Slowly, she closes the door and deliberately heads to the drawer beside her bed. She takes out her journal and finds a comfortable position.

If she is going to feel, she might as well do it right.

11/9:

He’s irrational and unfair.

He has this ability to get under my skin and irritate me to the extreme. With only words, he can bite into my skin and push me to my breaking point.

I wish there was a projector that can show people exactly how their words affect everyone around them. Maybe then, everyone would really start paying attention. Not just to their words; but to the tone, attitude, and subtle yet clear feelings that they attach to them.

I HATE feeling things intensely. Some say it’s what makes us human, but feelings are SO overrated. I always like to remember that episode in The Fairly Odd Parents when he wishes for his feelings to be removed and becomes a much relaxed cool kid. That episode strikes me as pure genius.   

Feeling things intensely means giving someone else the power over you. I want to not give him so much power over me. I want to NOT care.

But I know I do, because I hang up on every word he says. I admire and despise him at the same time. I love and hate him at the same time. I miss and fear him at the very same time. A roller coaster of emotions.

His presence echoes inside my head. I hear his words over, over, over and over again. Ringing. Ringing. Replaying. Like a song. Over and over again. 

 

She closes her journal, takes a deep breath and stares blankly ahead feeling eerily relaxed. She makes a mental note to one day write about writing, and how it can soothe and numb humans just as powerfully as drugs. Not today though.

As she lies down staring at the ceiling, she wonders if feelings things intensely could count as a sport, because she is exhausted.

 

“A Very Short Story” by Ernest Hemingway: A Review

They loved each other, and were going to get married. Abruptly and without common introduction, Hemingway tells the story of Luz; a nurse who tends to injured soldiers and “he” the wounded soldier she falls in love with. The story does not start off with the usual description of the characters and setting, instead it begins with the couple’s decision to get married. They do not marry, however, because he left to America under the understanding that after he gets a job Luz will rejoin him and they would marry.

He doesn’t have a name, and the ambiguity of his character serves to fit the general description of a passionate courageous young man who falls in love with a nurse who was working in the hospital at the time of his war injuries.

Hemmingway does not introduce us to the characters properly and skips chunks of time between events. The character He leaves to America, suddenly we find Luz making love to an Italian major and she breaks things off with him- the American soldier, but never marries the Italian major in the end.  He never writes back to her, and we are left with knowing that he indulged in an affair.

The setting of the story plays a great role. Their love first begins at the time of war. They are confused, thrilled, and optimistic when thinking ahead. The temperature is consistent with their state of love. Just like in times of war, everything is fleeting and circumstances can change in a heartbeat. At the beginning they were in the hot Padua, they felt as if they were already married but they wanted to “contain” it. Later he travels back to America, far away from her. It cools down their relationship, and as follows the weather is cold and rainy.

In the end we are despaired as we see them slowly abandon their values; Luz, breaking her promise and giving up on a chance of true love and him sinking into a quick cheap affair.  We are left with a despairing feeling of not so happy ever after. Although the story is short and brisk, we can’t help but feel with the characters and wish things would have turned out differently. In “A Very Short Story”, Hemingway shows a gloomy view of relationships in the time of war. Their relationship is just like the war in ways, at its time it seems like it’s inevitable and overpowering but no matter how it ends, it does not end well.