Bismillahir Rahmānir Raheem.
When I reflect on who I am, and what my life has been, up ’til now: I get it. It makes sense: that there is a Writer who is far greater than I could ever be, in terms of everything, and in terms of how He writes stories. It leaves me in a state of awe, kind of wordless, sometimes.
That lemons are so… bursting with the colour yellow. That the rain, an emblem of Mercy, comes and dulls the colour of the sky, while brightening my own, somehow. That I love the deep greens of plants. That I am… an introvert. [That, time and time again, I have wondered if I would ‘rather‘ be… an extrovert. But no: Alhamdulillah. Lose your tests, lose your blessings. Inherit another’s upsides: inherit their downsides, and what they miss out on, too].
There are many things I love. There seems to be this intrinsic understanding, awareness, of who I am. So, in particular moments, I am basically able to point and say, “yep, that’s very ‘me’“. I’m not ‘creating myself’ — Allah created me, and I am already here. This is only really a matter of discovery. I do believe I have agency also. So, it is one of choice too. No other human being in existence could be me; no other human being in existence could be you. [How bizarre, how exceptional, how awesome. Nobody alive (or dead, presumably) has the exact same face as you, for instance].
Not everyone you come across will understand you very easily. We tend to look for ‘quick fixes’ to our uncertainties; quick conclusions, simplifications. You might be (sort of boxed in as) ‘the pretty one’; you might be the ‘smart one’. The ‘funny one’; the ‘bubbly one’, or the ‘quiet one’, in their eyes. The ‘athletic one’. And a bunch of associated assumptions. We are never just one thing though. Nunca estamos sóla una cosa [I hope that makes grammatical sense].
Something that I find truly interesting: how people try to connect with you, based on whom they think you are. With me: people seem to… bring random books out of their bags, to show. One person (at the age of sixteen) got a random book of fairytales out of his bag [probably borrowed from his sister] and showed me, and I… did not know what to say about it. Another showed me a book that she bought for her young son, written by a Muslim author, and kept talking to me about it (but from hearing her talk with others, it seemed like… she didn’t usually have conversations like this. It seemed like she was trying, specifically, to connect with me. But, secretly, it didn’t really interest me). I know that people sometimes like to tell me about words: ‘nom de plume’ and the like. People have emailed me, talking about my writing, and that is how we came to know one another. I don’t listen to music, but: have sent me songs about… words, specifically. I think I’m generally heavily, heavily associated with… words and writing. I think some people maybe also think I’m… out to correct their grammar and stuff too. I’m not. [And I’m also often associated with matters pertaining to religion, quite a lot of the time, actually.]
It’s interesting because: we try to connect with people by… trying so hard to really gauge who they are. And we seek to meet them where they are, but also as and how we are. With particular friends and acquaintances, I know I talk about different and particular things. Trying to acknowledge who they are, and also being [as] true [as I can be] to me. [Who is ‘me’? Existential crisis in 3…2…]
It’s also interesting when people seem to get it wrong. Over and over again, people have told me that they assume I’m a complete “bookworm”. Someone who “reads a lot“, and perhaps who reads more than anything else; doesn’t often “look up from” books. This, among other things. I do read, but not necessarily lots of books. And I… socialise too… I don’t only want to talk about books; sometimes, I sort of really don’t. But it’s okay when people don’t quite get it right: what they are doing, regardless, is communicating that they are warm and friendly. And that they want to get to know you: this is what it seems like you are interested in, and here is how they will show that they are interested in you. The intentions behind these things are what matter: they won’t always get it right, and neither will you, about them. How special is it, that people make that effort, though?
[Religious, academic/bookish, the C- word (c*te), a tad eccentric/’weird’. This is how people tend to view me, so it would seem. Is this, also, who I ‘am‘?]
Gifts, as well: when given gifts, I tend to receive things that are to do with writing/reading. And with hot drinks. And with travel. This is one reason as to why I love gift-giving, as a love language: the closer you are with a person, the more deeper insights and/or random inside understandings and stuff you tend to have regarding them. [Someone close to you could gift you a… name badge with the word ‘Imwan’ on it, for example. And you would 100% get it, and love it.] The more you try to understand a person: the more you show that, sure, I am not you. However, I care enough about you to seek to understand you better. This is whom it seems to me that you are. So here is something — a topic of conversation, or a gift, perhaps, or something from online — to show you that I care.
Things that you care about. Things that they care about. Where they certainly do overlap, and when they… don’t, always, necessarily. Because you are you, and they are they, and there are necessary differences. And the bridges we try to forge between us, which sometimes actually sort of fail. But human beings are so cute [doesn’t it make you want to cry? Here, I randomly remember my student Thazkiyra with the gorgeous and endearing smile, Allahummabārik, who asked me what my favourite colours are, in order to knit something for me!?!?!?!?!]: that we even try to smile, and show warmth, and work on better understanding people, seeking and trying to forge these connections
What do you think people who perhaps don’t know you very well [perhaps yet] commonly associate you with? Is it an accurate view? What do those first conversations tend to be centred upon? Is there a particular kind of gift that people often give you?
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.