Reviving

I was terribly exhausted, but i thought it was normal — i mean, everyone gets tired right? And then i felt rather sad; for no reason, or perhaps for so many reasons, i couldn’t fathom which one haunts me the most. But every time it came; the darkness, i brushed them off, so it won’t consume me. I controlled my emotions to keep me sane — though it might not work, i tried anyway. Some days, ignorance becomes a bliss. But some days, it comes back and chases me down.

I hated the fact that i’ll always be on my own. It’s too frightening. You know, not sure whom to reach, and afraid that no one would catch me if i ever fall. Would i keep falling then? I don’t want that. I seek people for help, but i know that they are also fighting their own battle. Everyone has their own puzzle to be solved. Some people passed by and pitied me, so they reached out to help. But believing that pity is an insult, i refused the offer. Some walked by and saw me hurting, so they whispered words of comfort. I turned to be okay for a while; my inner self was consoled by the warmth of their supports. But when they leave, part of me shattered back. And i’m lost again.

I didn’t know how badly hurt i was, i didn’t notice at first. I thought it was just a phase, and it will get better soon; like always. Except that it didn’t. It was last Wednesday morning when i went into the shower, and found myself breaking apart. Worse, I didn’t even know whom to find — would there be anyone out there who can afford to understand my grief when i couldn’t even understand it myself? The only option that crossed my mind was Him, the one who controlled hearts. Because if He made me to feel this way, He surely can make this feeling disappear.

So that morning, i took the chance to perform dhuha. I wanted to meet my creator and desperately wanted to talk to Him. Unlike on the normal days where i’d humbly seek Him to ask for success or forgiveness, i reached out to Him that day solely to find peace of heart. I thought i would burst into tears the moment i placed my forehead onto the ground; but i miscalculated. The tears came rolling out just a few seconds after i said Allahuakbar in the first rakaat. Until this day, i still don’t know the reasons behind my miseries. I don’t know what troubled my heart the most at that particular time. But one thing that i’m sure is that for whatever reason it may be, the reason is now gone.

I now understand what prophet Ya’qub a.s. meant when he said, “I only complain of my suffering and grief to Allah, and i know from Allah that which you do not know” (Yusuf; 12:86). True enough, no one in this world could ever understand us, more than He does. Of course, sometimes we told our parents about certain things, sometimes we find our friends to pour what has been bottling up inside us. But have it ever occurred to you that sometimes, we depend too much on people, that we forgot to seek Him. We asked for others’ attention, begging them to hear us out; when He is actually waiting for us, ever-ready to listen to our stories — no matter how nonsense they are! Yes, it is overwhelming to have a listener, but it’s way more profound to have Him as your listener.

I’m not saying this because i’m a saint, i’m saying this because i tend to forget Him too. And on days like this, where He made me feel lost and empty, i became more and more grateful that He steered my heart to go back to Him. He made me to get up, and perform those two rakaats. How beautiful is that?

Featured image was captured by Amar Zarif.

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Sea Change

Flashing back to 11 years ago, my life has been a series of ongoing revolution in many many facets. Here’s a fact; befriending someone from different gender wasn’t an easy task for me. 7 year-old me was extremely loud, i could ran across the hallway laughing my head off with my girl friends, but when the teacher asked me to sit beside the boys in class, i… instantly muted. Probably because i was only seven, and the only perception a seven-year-old girl would have on boys is that they’re disgusting and ill-mannered. Or maybe, just maybe, because i grew up with 5 sisters that i didn’t have any idea back then how on Earth do i make friends with boys? Well, i do know boys from my neighbourhood, it’s just that initiating a conversation with them at school wasn’t really my expertise.

When i went to high school, i was exposed to many types of guys — each of them gave me enough reasons not to trust any. You know when i was little, i didn’t like them only because they’re generally mean; blurting out whatever crosses their mind without thinking whether it may or may not be offensive. But as i grew up, i realised that there are more to be scared of. Long story short, i was horrified by how their minds work to the extent where i dressed modestly because i fear them, instead of God. And i hated to feel that way. To relentlessly live in fear, to feel like i was being harassed, to be paranoid.

Years passed by, and more people came into my life, leaving traces and lessons. At first i shied away from confronting them. But running away from things you’re scared of does not make you any braver; it only engulf your self capability little by little. So i forced myself to blend in. Starting from the simplest ‘Hi, can you help me with this?’ to handling meetings and organising events with my male acquaintances, i started to gain courage. For once, i wasn’t scared anymore.

Now that i’m furthering my studies in a course where the majority are male, i honestly thought it would be tough and uncomfortable. But surprisingly, it isn’t. Last week, i went for a laboratory practical with me being the only girl in the group, and proud to say i survived the day; even aced it. They even asked for my opinions and took my ideas into considerations. I must say we made an excellent team despite our genders. It was revolutionary.

So ladies, if a guy condemned you, called you with names, or maybe took you as a joke, just walk away. If someone said that you’re not going to make it because girls are weak and incapable, don’t listen. Those words will always remain empty and insignificant unless you put meanings in them. And they will never have the power to bring you down, unless you let them to. A few people made me feel unworthy, but there are many others who helped me along the way; they made me feel belong. So if you’re a guy, and you treat others — especially girls — with respect, then you’re awesome! Thank you for making this world less callous.

— A lifetime learner, Sofea.

Day one

[23/6/18]

That day, I woke up with zero spirit. Completely oblivious to everyone’s exhilaration to send me off, a sense of guilt seeped in myself when i did not manage to even fake a smile. Pretending should be easy, but that day was an exception. I scanned those unfamiliar faces — sparkling eyes, grinning mouths, confident steps — each of them has the eagerness i was lacking of. A part of me envied them for their contentment of being there. The chancellors then congratulated us for thousands of times, followed by a roaring applause. I knew by fact that i should be proud and glowing inside out, but i wasn’t; because my heart desired to be somewhere else. As i stood there amid the crowd, i grew sick with every praise. It felt like i was a glitch. Not meant to be. Misplaced. People around me, they are having their dreams come true. They’re living their dreams. But since i was hopping for more, being here means forgetting my biggest dream. Being here means having a permanent reminder that i’m nothing more than a failure.

Sometimes i despised myself for being ungrateful. That is why i started to learn to pretend, hoping that one day the exuberant facade i’m putting on would become real and genuine. Even so, forcing oneself to like something is never easy, especially when your heart has been attached to something else for a long time. It took me great strength to face every single day here. It took me a lot of faith to believe that God has better things in store for me. It all took time and patience, but i know that i’ll make it through. Unlike everyone else, i didn’t come here with pride; i came here restoring a new dream; with an aim to thrive. I have failed my last dream, i’m not going to waste another one. I promise myself that.

Just like a wildflower,

i will flourish;

regardless the storm,

the downpour,

through walls or hard ground,

i’m gonna bloom anyway.

– Sofea

Being indecisive

The thing about making a decision is that you’ll never know which one is right and which is wrong. It’s like when you wanted to go somewhere; someplace you have never been before. You feel like you’re losing yourself in the middle of a labyrinth — not being familiar with the roads and junctions, uncertain with every step you’re taking. The only option is to ask around, but then you’ll realise that everyone on the streets have distinct opinions; they all give you different directions. As time passes, it gets more and more confusing. ‘Should i trust my instinct, or should i just listen to others?’ you’d ask yourself. When the main road diverges into two, you have to halt and actually think which one is the best way. Choosing is a gamble. You’ll never know what awaits you up in front. You’ll never know how bumpy or smooth sailing your next journey would be like. You’ll never know what kind of people you would stumble into, or what kind of person you would become. It all remain as a riddle.

But isn’t that the beauty of life? Yes, the state of not knowing invites fear to rise in ourselves, but that ‘fear’ invites challenge, and thrill, and courage. Nothing will ever turn to be a complete disaster. Even if you feel that way, it can never be 100% ruined. In the middle of catastrophes, there are ALWAYS sparks of hope or perhaps a hidden blessing. Everything would eventually work out. So remember, no matter which path you’re going to choose, it’s alright. Either way is okay, either way is fine. Trust me, i know how hard it is to decide; i understand.

After spm has ended, i thought my misery would come to an end. How foolish of me! I think the hardest decision i have ever had to make (by far) was to choose my next study path. Do i have to fight for my passion or do i have to listen to my parents? It was a depressingly tough phase indeed, notwithstanding, i must say it actually made me draw closer to Allah. My troubled heart was lifted after series of istikharah prayers. God guided me in the most indescribable way. In the midst of confusion, i actually found my peace. Before this, I kept thinking; “Why do i have to go through all these? Why me?” But then i learned that questioning my life journey and comparing it to others’ is not necessary. Everyone in this world is blessed; maybe differently, but always equally. So i stopped comparing myself to others and everything started to make sense again. You see, deciding becomes easier for me when i focus more on what i really wanted to achieve, instead of what people want me to achieve. I am entitled to my own choice, and what others might feel or think about me; is beyond my responsibility. Of course, i do not know yet whether i’m making the right turn or not, but i’m going to find out now. In fact, i am already pumped up to see what the future stores for me. I used to be lost, but now i’m more to ecstatically wandering.

Having to decide is never easy, but come on, ‘easy’ is too boring! It’s not compulsory to burden your heart with unbounded worries. Enjoy yourself a little bit, perceive every situation in the best way possible. If i can do that, then so can you!

Hoping for better days to come, Sofea.

The Kite Runner : Book Review

Good day, everyone!

I’ve spent these past few days totally immersed in this new book i recently purchased from Popular in Sunway Pyramid and had to admit; i loveee it! Truth be told, i never ever write a book review before — because what is there to be said? Every story is engaging in their own way. But The Kite Runner is one of a kind. It gives impact. Remarkable. Even the word ‘engaging’ won’t be enough to describe how exquisite the author put together words by words to create such story; the kind that deserves to be read by the literates, and to be told to the illiterates. Well, it’s alright if you feel the opposite about it; everyone sees things from their own perspectives. Just because we have different point of view doesn’t mean one of them is more or less meaningful than the other, right?

When i read this book, i found myself feeling for each character in it. My heart actually ached for every pain they went through. The moment Hassan stood up for Amir, was the moment i got all teared up. Hassan knew where his actions would take him, he knew he would be in great trouble. Just like how his guts unfailingly lead him to run for the kites; he had always knew. Even so, Hassan never disclose the fear that rose inside him. His loyalty, although unrequited, was willingly preserved for the only friend he ever had; Amir.

I also understand the silent battle Amir was having with his own self. He felt guilty for not being good enough; as a friend and as a son. However, instead of owning up to his mistakes, he pushed everyone around him away — people that love and care for him — to conceal the remorse he had been feeling for almost a quarter of century. But the thing about wounds are that they either got healed, or they got worse. In Amir’s case, well, his life was then haunted by nightmares that dragged him down the horrible memory lane he couldn’t seem to forget. Not until a letter from an old friend came up to his door. “There’s a way to be good again,” it said, and Amir definitely clung onto that phrase to fix whatever the mess he has caused.

You can have many reasons to love a book; it can be the good messages it brought, the sentimental values, or even the relatable plots. For me, i fancied this book because it taught me something. Mostly, it taught me how kindness and decency always win in the end. So friends, no matter how upset or furious you are, don’t let that be the reason to hurt others’ feelings. Just because you were treated badly doesn’t mean you have to throw the same attitude towards other people; that is not right. Also, The Kite Runner has opened my eyes to how people in Afghanistan back then grappled in their own land. How war and misuse of power can lead to destruction. How destructions can crush every child’s dream. I must say it broke my heart in every possible way to imagine myself in their shoes.

As soon as i finished reading this book, i got all pumped up to narrate the story to my younger sister. But that’s not enough. I felt the need to share it with everyone else! Hence, this post. If you’re looking for a good read, i suggest you to drop for a while those classics love stories, or those fancy sci-fi books; and let your heart flourish with The Kite Runner. As for me, i really can’t wait until my next visit to the bookstore to get myself other masterpieces by Khaled Hosseini which are A Thousand Splendid Sun and And The Mountains Echoed.

Here comes the end to my first ever book review! As always, thank you for reading my little write up.

Yours truly, Sofea.

Ramadan Kareem

Hello everyone!

Now here comes our favourite month of the year — the month of fasting! I’ve been meaning to write about this holy month of ours since last week, but i was in a muddle these past few days and ended up having unfinished drafts instead (and i keep deleting them because none of them sounded like myself). BUT on this rainy evening, while waiting for waktu berbuka, i’m taking this opportunity to pour out a piece of my thoughts.

When it comes to Ramadan, there is A LOT that can be reviewed. The topics are infinite! And i’d love to talk about them all, despite myself; who obviously has many more to learn about religion and Islamic histories. But to avoid uncertainty and confusion, i’m going to only write based on my experiences, what i’ve gone through, what i’ve come across with.

“To fast is best for you, if only you knew.” – al Baqara; 184

When people say “I can’t wait for this year’s Ramadan!” it makes me wonder what exactly are they looking forward to? Is it the variety of delish food that they can find in the bazaar? or is it the raya celebration — the aftermath of Ramadan? Because let’s be honest, who would not be hyped up at the thought of new clothes and Instagram worthy ootd? We all would right!!? DO I HEAR A YES?

But hey, it costs myr0, and it causes not a single harm to ponder more deeply about this month, and its purposes to mankind. Well as for me, here’s the list of what I love about this month;

1. it brought people together

Being in an immense family of 9, i’m used to having many people around me. But as time passes by, my siblings and I went on our own separate ways — to boarding schools, colleges, universities. It builds a chasm between us when we don’t see each other much often. But when Ramadan comes, we would always make time to cook and have iftaar together; just like how we used to when we were little. And i’m sure everyone can relate to this; whether you’re in your 20s or 40s, we all long for family dinner at home. I mean comfort food and good talks? Sounds like an excellent idea, yes?

2. it’s the month of purposeful efforts

I LOVE to see how Muslims attempt to be a better version of themselves in the spirit of Ramadan. I witness my close friends restraining themselves not to curse in this month. I have some acquaintances who tried to cover their aurah to respect this holy month. I see people from my neighbourhood who never step to surau before, now making their way there every night to perform tarawih. Even i myself put extra effort to constantly read the Quran and its translations everyday in this month. It might last, it might not last, but how we are all determined to change ourselves from within, in courtesy of Ramadan; is amazing.

3. the value of Ramadan itself!!!

Okay the blessings that this month brings annually; gifted by Allah to us, are umpteen — the list might go on forever! I can’t afford to write every single one of them but here are some that my father has taught me;

Every single door of jannah are opened to Muslims who repent. Every single door of hell fire are closed to even sinners. The angels descend from the skies every night to muster and deliver our unfeigned prayers to Allah, the Almighty. Shaytans are all chained down for the whole month, so that Muslims will not be distracted; unless by their own nafs. The rewards of every good deed will be multiplied in Ramadan. If we happen to do ibadah in lailatul qadr, it’s like we’re doing that ibadah for a thousand months; like hitting a jackpot. AND MANY MORE!

“The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months” – al Qadr; 3

To me, Ramadan is more profound if we took our time to perceive it. Not just by looking at the surface, but by diving deep down to see what it has stored for us. The virtue in it. The awaiting rewards. You’d be amazed by how beautiful your life would turn into, if you spend this holy month wisely.

Well, i hope this post enlightened you at least a bit. Thank you for reading!

A hungry writer, Sofea.

Photos by Amar Zarif, a photography shīfu.

A nightmare

It was a chilly Saturday morning. I had nothing to do in particular but it wasn’t a big a deal; as long as i have a decent novel to read. 1 hour through reading, my eyes felt heavy, my mind could no longer focus on the storyline — they spun until i lost track of the story. I didn’t remember when, or how, i fell asleep on the white leather couch i was laying on. A faint voice suddenly lingered in my ears. My mother’s. “Oh no, not now,” i thought, i wanted to sleep more. Not long after that, the world fell into a complete silence. Then i heard voices of a crowd. I was standing in the midst of a thousand people, trying to fit in, albeit i had no idea where i was. At that moment, someone shouted my name and chased me off. I didn’t understand what was happening but the urge to run forced my legs to sprint forward. My heart was beating fast with adrenaline rushing through my blood. Confused, i trembled recklessly to save myself. I was tired, scared, petrified. “Please wake up, i know this isn’t real, please wake up, oh God please,” i begged, almost crying. And just like that, the whole universe turned pitch black — it felt like i was floating. Drowned by the absolute darkness and silence around me, i couldn’t breath. I strained to open my eyes, so abruptly that they actually stung. White couch. Spinning fan. Living room. Great, i’m finally awake. But the pleasure was relished only for 5 seconds. My eyes felt numb, then they suddenly shut on their own. I tempted to move my hands but it was futile. I couldn’t move, as if i have been paralysed. It took me minutes to be completely awake and aware — eyes open, hands shaking, body sweating. I panted. Placing the back of my hand to my forehead, the hotness of it was unbelievable. Looking up, my mother was staring at me; bemused by her own daughter. “Sorry, it’s just another nightmare,” i grinned.