Communicating Warmth

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

anyway.

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.

7 thoughts on “Communicating Warmth

  1. What do you think people who perhaps don’t know you very well [perhaps yet] commonly associate you with?

    Hmmm *strokes beard*. This is harder to answer than I thought it’d be. I think it depends on where/when the people know me from. If they’re from secondary school then they probably associate me with Star Wars/Marvel/academia. I think people from Sixth Form probably associate me with waffling/Pakistan/Wrap City. Now I think people associate me with acting/writing/reading.

    Is it an accurate view?

    Fairly accurate. I am interested in all these things but I think when people get to know me they kinda realise that I have very wide reaching interests.

    What do those first conversations tend to be centred upon?

    Usually, when meeting new people, I’m able to quickly find a topic of common interest and the conversation goes from there. To illustrate, when I was last at the opticians, I was learning how to put on contact lenses. The optician made a comment about how she wished she had eyelashes like mine, which led to a conversation about European beauty standards and ultimately ended with a conversation on spirituality and Islam (She was a non-Muslim interested in the faith). Another time I was helping an older white woman find the bus stop when she started speaking to me in Hindi (Her parents lived in Kolkata prior to partition). This then led on to a discussion about South Asia and the British Raj. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

    Is there a particular kind of gift that people often give you?

    Truth be told, I rarely receive gifts. I think guys in general don’t get gifts for each other and women rarely get gifts for the men in their lives (it’s usually the other way round). Anyhow on the rare occasions I do get gifts they tend to be the generic aftershave and what not. That being said, I’m not really a sucker for gifts and much prefer people giving me their time and company. That isn’t to say I don’t appreciate a good gift when I get one though. 🙂

    Also nice job on this post. Mashallah.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We are already what we are; words are meant to aid us in explaining ourselves. But when it comes to human complexity, words are simply not enough to contain the enormities and subtleties and complexities (and paradoxes, even) of being (Masha Allah).

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I get the impression that ENFPs might tend to enjoy more entertaining conversations, while INFJs might enjoy more ‘interrogative’ ones, to get to the roots of things.

      And an interesting conversation could probably be had with pretty much anyone — if you notice the right things, and ask the right questions. [How does a comment on eyelashes lead to discussing European beauty standards in particular though?]

      Finally, giving gifts to men should be normalised. With good wrapping and all

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A lot of the time I have no idea how I get to different topics in certain conversations. For the eyelashes one, the optician said she wanted to get plastic surgery for her nose which led to the European beauty standards part of the conversation. The truth is I bounce around a lot in conversation, often going on very long-winded tangents, and struggle to stay on topic a lot of the time. I am far from a concise individual.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. To answer your last questions, I am often seen as the quiet, awkward and nice one.

    Would it be vain of me to say it’s accurate? Well, I try to be nice at least. Everyone has their pitfalls.

    First conversations with strangers are often…one sided. I ask the questions, they answer..it saves me from opening up about myself.

    My gifts tend to be centred around food 🙂 wouldn’t have it any other way

    Liked by 1 person

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