On being cheated

I always knew what you were doing. I knew it in my stomach, I knew it in my heart. The lies that didn’t add up. The accusations that didn’t have any basis. The control and mistrust.

I guess I did not think it would happen to me. And then I didn’t think it would happen again. And not again (again). But it did. Rather, you did. A leopard never changes his spots the first girl told me. Leave him.

But I had given you so much – too much – to walk away now. So I stayed, telling myself that things would get better. Because I would be better. All the while knowing that nothing was enough. My time, my mind, my money, my words, my energy. Nothing of it was every going to be enough for you. You took and you took. From me, from her, from her, from her. The black hole in your chest sucking up all of our love, nothing could escape.

I know it wasn’t me. It was all you. I don’t understand why. And that’s what bugs me the most. 

Written in response to the prompt “your opinion on being cheated” as part of the 30 day challenge.

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Everyday 

I am struggling to make my days productive. This is fustrating enough of a normal day but even more so in Ramadan. So I made my ideal day – visualise what I want to achieve, set myself realistic targets and know what is possible. 
I hope everyone of you are having a blessed and light filled Ramadan. Start everyday with a fresh heart, ready to be a new. End everyday with reflection, ready to let go. 

Advice for someone like me

I was recently asked what advice I would provide for younger women who are like me. Dissecting “women like me” could be turned in an epic graph as I am made of many layers and levels – each with their own barriers to overcome. 

First generation British; eldest daughter – not son; born to two brown migrant parents; one of whom was an abusive predator; the other who was practically a single parent and stay-at-home mum; growing up on welfare; being a visibly Muslim women of colour. 

When it comes to giving advice, I thought about the feedback I received throughout my (short) career on things I can improve. And one thing that has come up time and time again is I don’t show what I’ve been doing. 

I am the type of person that will do what needs to be done, and I never understood the need to do a song and dance about literally doing your job. But I noticed how others around me would. And that meant I consistently looked like I was doing less, even when I wasn’t – and often I was doing more. What struck me also was speaking to people who would describe the work in such positive light – work that I would always consider to be average at best. 

The mix of being a women and expected to just overcome combined with humility being so ingrained into the cultures of many people of colour – we often do not even have the skills to describe or recognise our achievements. 

I realise we are our own worst critics. Not just about what we have done, but when it comes to believing we are capable of so much more. 

And so if I had to give advice to women like me – I would say to recognise this. Do not change your character but recognise that this particular characteristic may not necessarily translate well in interviews and applications, or the work environment. When people give you positive feedback, write it down if you have to. Internalise it. Learn to use it when required. 

You can have humility but also have faith in yourself. 

The good and the bad 

What is it that makes you and I good people and him and her bad people? 

Can law abiding citizens equate to being good people? Laws are after all meant to upload societal values. But what if the law itself is structurally flawed?

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. 

And what about the people who are forced to break laws – steal from hunger, hurt for self-defence? People in desperation – are they bad people?

So maybe it comes down to ones intention? And here’s where it gets messy. Because even the terrorists think their intentions are right. They are striving for the what they believe to be the lesser of two evils. 

And with majority views on what evil even is fluctuating over time and space, differing so vastly around the globe – modesty, sexuality, responsibilities – how can humanity say what evil really is. 

So if we can’t judge what evil is – how can we judge what good is?

Iif we don’t even know what good is, how do we know if we are good people?

News and thoughts 

The last few months have been an onslaught of news – the systematic rise of democratically and legal oppression. Everything from Trump (and how much of a focus there was on the individual rather than the mainstream ideology he represents) followed by the #MuslimBan to the recent EU hijab ban. It’s all been a tidal wave of news after fake news. Exhausting. 

So I have stayed away from it all. I have been doing a lot of thinking – around the political climate we find ourselves in, whether there can be hope in all this – we have seen successes and a uniting of people’s in ways we haven’t seen, when is violence acceptable (following the split in opinion over the punching of the far-right “alt-right” leader), and why are people forced to prove themselves worthy of humanity for people to care (where doctors being affect by the #MuslimBan were seen as more worthy of their citizenship compared to a house wife on welfare for example). 

And I appreciate the above is all a word vomit. Especially on a day like today when we mourn the death of innocent people and wonder again what happened to humanity.  

On our screens we see a hatefilled terrorist who murdered and hurt too many innocent lives. And it’s painful – the waste and cruelty of it all. So twisted and confusing. MUSLIM TERRORIST they shout as soon as they see brown skin. No further evidence needed. It seems this has now been proven false and it is still unknown whether this was a politically motivated attack. 

But news is news, who needs facts when propaganda material is so readily available. Let us headline Tommy Robinson, not an expert not witness but someone who blames “Asian culture” and “Islam” for what happened. 

And I am filled in deep sorrow knowing what is to come. The increase in racism and islamophobia – spitting on the streets, girls hijabs pulled off their head, old men beaten up as they return home from prayer. The strengthing of racist and islamophobic laws. The fuel required by the rising powers to keep on rising. Towering over us with their watchful eyes as they strip away our rights and justice. 

Tighten the borders they should. *But he was born here*. Ship them all out is what they mean. 

And no one will say anything because they are scared. 
Any hope is hard to muster and I can’t help but know darker days are to come

The first day 

I do find is weird how we humanise the years like a block of time scheduled by the western world has any control over the fate of the whole world. 2016 was an awful year we see all over social media. It was made into a comical horror “film”. It was 2016 that caused all the deaths of the celebrities and 2016 that caused Brexit and Trump.

2016 and not people. 

In this way we can shift the blame away from ourselves – the voters and non-voters. The friends of fascists and non-friends who did not organise. 

We mourn the names of those who’s names were in lights. And that is understandable and natural. Our heroes, the unfallable, now gone. 

But natural death comes to us all. And though we mourn their dates we do not mourn the deaths of those caused by our hands. Syria, Yemen and Palestine to name just a few. We watch humanity die live from our screens. In their homes, in the sea, in the hospitals. Outside our own doorsteps we have the homeless, unable to apply for help – dying from the cold and hunger. 

Now that we have entered a new year the suffering for the millions will not stop. 

Happy New Year. May we always be concious of our actions, throughout the entire year. 

2016

Looking back at this year I am honestly struggling to think of positives. This year has taken many of our greats, and has replaced them with continual wars, noticeable rise in fascism and  uncertainty.

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The year is 365 days long. Yet it is hard to think of highlights when the most recent news is filled with children dying in Aleppo, Trump and Brexit happening so recently and, on a personal level, being stuck on a project I am not enjoying at all. Our perspectives are warped and bloated – bubbles of despair far outweighing the small pockets of hope we have seen.

And there have been pockets – the election of Malia, the first Muslim women president of NUS – someone who has put liberation in the heart of all she does, #BLM, Momentum. But even Momentum is fractured and Black Lives Matter UK is working on its direction and Malia continues to work on fires caused by those unwilling to give her a chance. I am in a new relationship and it is going very well. And dare I say it, I think I am in love. But we live in two different cities and navigating our relationship long term will be a struggle.

Tomorrow will be like today. A few seconds on a clock do not bring certainty where so much uncertainty exists. Do not provide answers to questions and do not rid us of the pain we have carried for the last 365. But unlike tomorrow we have this concept of a new year. So we can pretend it is a new beginning. We can try and better ourselves at least.

Perhaps nothing will change. But for my sanity I will change. I will refresh my outlook. Go in ready to take on the battles like they are new, with new energy and new resolve. I will try again like I have not tried a million times before. And maybe, just maybe, it will all work out differently this time.

I wish everyone a blessed New year and pray you are able to overcome this year. 

The age of automation: work less, paid more

I work to make the rich richer. Improve the technology companies use, saving them resources and ultimately costs. Old ways of working are replaced by software or more efficient robots. Ultimately this leads to loss of jobs.

With the rise of strike action happening over Christmas directly caused by this it got me wondering about the sustainability of manual work forces.

Even with my lovely starter salary I am consistently in my overdraft. With the cost of living in London is rising still and work available reducing, I wonder how the capitalistic state we live in can continue. We continue to blame immigrants for loss of our jobs. But is it computers that we forget to worry about?

We invest billions to save trillions. Do we not want to be more efficient and advanced? Of course the answer is yes. Technological advances are inevitable. The problem is those at the top are taking savings made as profit, and making those at the bottom redundant. This is only sustainable for so long before you have a nation of people with no jobs. Now do the managers care – probably not. But we shouldn’t let that stop us.

What could the solution be? Here are a few of my own musings on a Monday morning over Christmas break. No theoretical and economic backing has gone into this except my own experiences working in the industry. I would be very much be interested in book recommendations or thoughts in the comments.

Less work, more pay.

With a global world, a world where the sun never sets and boundaries are just lines on a map, why are we still sticking to the 5 day a week schedule? Why not have a timeless workforce? One where each person works less overall – say 35 hours per week. The money saved from the cumulative longer hours and more efficient work done can be poured back in to pay everyone a decent salary.

And then we will all have more time. Time to help out in our communities, grow our own food, stay fit, spend time with our families. More rest to reduce the stress induced mental health and physical health issues draining our NHS. Reduced crimes due to rise in employment. A reduction in the divide between the poor and rich.

We will take back control of our economy so that it works for us rather than we work for it.

A utopia worth fighting for.

Workers of all lands, unite!

My bi brother 

My sister found my little brother’s phone still in his hand late on night. Light still on and headphones still plugged in. He was fast asleep. She reached to take the phone from his clutch and place it on the table besides him. And then she dropped it. 

He had been watching porn. And not just any porn but gay porn. 

Her little brother. 17, brown and Muslim. 

She didn’t know what to do and and came crying into my room. She gave me his phone. He had been messaging a older man. The man had sent him pictures and videos. And he had sent pictures back – but only of his face, fully clothed (as far as the pictures on record showed). 

I proceeded to printscreen and send to myself so I had this man’s number. A man who was sending naked images to minors. And accidently locked the phone. Fuck. 

The next morning my brother saw someone had messaged me the pictures. I called him into my room and explained I that I was simply worried about the pedophile and reassured him I still loved and cared for him. I apologised for going through his phone and told him he could speak to me if he wants. 

He told me he was bi. And I told him it was ok. He begged me not to tell mum and I promised him I wouldn’t. 

And I haven’t. 

But we haven’t spoken about it since. Not me and him. Not my sister and I. 

I have always been an advocate for liberation and this included LGBT+ rights as you cannot separate them. Yet as a straight, cis person – it has not been personal before as racism, disabilities, sexism and islamophobia have been. 

Since then I have been doing a lot of thinking about queerness. I do wonder if we are all born queer and socitial and other pressures lead us to live one way or another. For instance, LGBT+ communities were very prevalent and accepted in south Asian communities prior to western, Christian colonisation that outlawed it. And yet Islam specifically prohibits non-heterosexual relationships. It also prohibits all sexual relationships prior to marriage.

I guess it is easy to speak about rights that go against your culture when the two don’t have to intersect. This whole thing has made me question my allyship. Clearly more for show than I had previously realised. 

And of course this is not about me. I am sure my brother is going through a very complicated thought process, being outed without his choice and having to navigate life as a bi, brown, Muslim man. 

Yet that does not take away from me having to do a lot of learning and growing.