Ramadan 2017 

She heard the tadbir when she broke her fast with her family members, everyone present this time round, in-laws included. 

She couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of sadness and loss – the tadbir marked the end of the holy, magical month of Ramadhan, the month where trials and tribulations are at an all time high, the month where endurance was put to the test but the happiest and most magical month of all. Her favorite month. 

She did not want Ramadan to end, despite not tasting food and not letting water touch her lips for almost 12 hours. She did not want Ramadan to end despite the fact that she did not get enough sleep because she was working. No, she didn’t want Ramadan to end. 

Because Ramadan was the time she sought solace and peace for her troubled, sad and confused heart. She read more of the Quran and she made it her personal mission to understand the Quran, despite not being able to read the Arabic version entirely well (she needs to work on that). But she found comfort amidst the sentences written by the All Almighty One, in the divine Holy Book that was delivered to the most beloved Messenger, Prophet Muhammad SAW. 

The atmosphere, the mood was different in Ramadan. She could sense it. The camaraderie as your fellow brothers & sisters are going through the same thing, the kindness she witnessed, the acts of compassion & the patience. She did not want all of these to go away. 

She really didn’t. 

But she knows that like any month, days will pass; nights will pass; the dawn will break. She can only hope that she will meet Ramadan again next year, and that she will be even better than before. She can only hope that the takeaways she received in Ramadan will continue to stay with her throughout the year, to keep in her heart, like pieces of gold & treasure that are not meant to be given away. She can only hope the guidance, peace, comfort and solace will stay with her, and if they ever fade away, she can only hope she has the strength to get it all back. 

“And whoever puts his trust in Allah; then He will be enough for him.” ~Al Quran; 65:3 

Eid Mubarak everybody. She wishes to seek your forgiveness for any wrongs that she has done – be it in her actions or in her words. She does not mean ill in her intentions. She wishes you well. 

end of the affair / ben howard

2016 has been a mixture of highs and lows for me. The main takeaway though, for me, was that I truly discovered myself in 2016. I finally understand myself, I finally know myself. 2016 was filled with uncomfortable moments that have forced me to delve deep into myself and to question my character and my beliefs. What am I truly made of? What are my inner convictions and my beliefs? Being someone who has put up so many barriers and walls to protect her heart, I forgot that these barriers became impenetrable even to myself. I told myself it is to guard people from coming in and from taking advantage of my weaknesses but in that process, I shut myself out too, such that I couldn’t understand myself. 

But Allah S.W.T works in mysterious ways, and I think He chose this year specifically to open up my heart to myself. He chose to put me in difficult and uncomfortable spots, to have unrequited feelings for someone such that I stray out of my comfort zone, stretch my limits, look deeper into myself and my capabilities, learn where I have failed and re-evaluate myself. Re-evaluate my judgments, my capabilities, my convictions, my justifications for taking certain actions. 

2016 was all about uncovering my true self for myself. 2017, insyaAllah, will be to act upon this newfound knowledge and to become a better person. Become a better person who knows what her limits are, what her weaknesses are and turn those to her advantage. 2016 was about stumbling and falling apart. 2017 will be about piecing herself back together to become a better version of herself, a much stronger version of herself. 

2017 will be better, insyaAllah. 2017 will be a year of constantly renewal, of constantly trying to better myself. Like an athlete training for a 10km marathon, 2016 was about knowing what my limits were – what my strengths and weaknesses were. 2017 would be to challenge those limits so that I can be a better runner in this journey of life. To be more confident, more brave, less unnerved, have less self-doubt and possibly use lesser social media from now onwards. Bismillah. 

Man alone measures time

As with an insanely good book, I feel this overwhelming, mad rush to write about it, for if I didn’t, my thoughts inside my head will just consume me wholly.

Try to imagine life without timekeeping.

You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie.

Yet, all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays.

Man alone measures time.

Man alone chimes the hour.

And because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures.

A fear of time running out.

Have you ever felt so lost after reading a good book? You spend your night reading, being immersed in Dor’s, Victor’s and Sarah’s life, as though they are your friends. And when you’ve flipped over the last page, you know that’s the end, and in that moment, you’ve ended your relationship with them too, like a dear friend you’ve lost.

I was so inspired by Mitch Albom’s Time Keeper. The man who created time can be punished for it, but he can also be redeemed if he saves others. We’re so consumed by the prospect of time, we wish for our years to be longer, to be limitless, or we wish to end it too fast, too soon. But we fail to realize that in trying to realize such goals, we don’t appreciate our present, the time now. We don’t cherish it. We don’t regard it to be precious, like a gemstone in a museum that can easily be stolen. We are always chasing after something that’s lacking in our lives, that we don’t fully stop to appreciate the things and the love that we already have now, the people in our lives right now who love us. And what happens when we’re so selfish to only think about our own well-being, without giving a thought about how our lives have impacted others around us?

It is only when we are made to see our very impacts we have made in other people’s lives, or have something so very precious taken away from us that we fully begin to comprehend that every moment is precious. Instead of spending our whole lives constantly trying to pursue what is lacking, this book is a sweet reminder to just stop, cherish and treat each moment as precious. Afterall, only Sarah and Victor are privileged enough to be able to see their futures, and the consequences of their actions. The rest of us aren’t as lucky as them.

Celebrating the middle class.

Hello World!

Before torturous semester 2 starts, on Tuesday (heh heh benefits of being an FASS kid is having the power to avoid Monday blues altogether by eliminating the source of the problem; lessons on devilish Mondays), here’s one last ditch attempt at a book review. Mind you, when I read an extremely well-written and inspiring novel, I have a lot of feels and opinions, which need to be quelled when I write them down into coherent sentences and paragraphs.

So this semester break, I embarked on an Orwellian journey again (seriously, NUS has to consider putting a module where we just read and analyze George Orwell’s books). I embarked on his road less travelled, on a book not many has heard/read before – Keep The Aspidistra Flying.

Ok so from what I’ve heard, he hated this work of his so much because he felt it was too flawed and the symbolism was too strong, so much so that he didn’t want to get it published initially. But I’m glad things didn’t go according to his wishes because this book was truly a remarkable read, regardless of the strong and heavy symbolism of aspidistras (maybe I’m just biased towards him but try to write like him la then we see kay.)

To start things off, I hate Gordon Comstock – the protagonist. I simply loathe, despise, detest, abhor him. I hate the fact that he despises the middle class men. I think he’s just stupid to declare “war against money” and renounce the whole pursuit of money altogether. Perhaps political science has made me very pragmatic/practical but I am in favour of the middle class men with their pursuit of money, albeit not to the point that it borders on excessive. Gordon Comstock just doesn’t buy the fact that an individual wants to lead a normal, mundane but decent lifestyle. He wants to be on the edge of poverty, he wants to abandon the money-grubbing world and just doesn’t want to lead a financially stable life by having a “good” job to put it simply.

He thinks that if one goes on a quest with money, they’ll surrender themselves to worshipping the money-god, and then they’ll become stripped of their individualism; their creativity; their accomplishments. They’ll become void of a person, so to speak. So he abandons his “good job” at an advertising company to work as a book assistant in a local bookstore, which earns just enough for him to scarcely get by.

However, here’s the genius plot twist – in a bid to escape the money world and lead life on scarce minimum wage – he ends up wishing for more money. He ends up worshipping money. He ends up being tormented by the prospect of not having enough money to meet his basic needs. In retrospect, it is deeply ironic and paradoxical that the very thing he chose to avoid now comes back to haunt him when he attempts to escape from what most desire to achieve. He falls into a self-inducing poverty cycle that just destroys his creativity, his enthusiasm and zest for life. He becomes “moth-eaten” and accomplishes close to nothing. He succumbs to the money-grubbing world when he doesn’t have enough of them to even get by decently.

I won’t tell you what happened in the end but I think one can guess the ending of the novel. One thing I find amazingly unique about George Orwell’s books is that he doesn’t give a happy ending to his stories (ok maybe that’s a little sadistic of me). He shows the protagonist succumbing to the norm; to the everyday social conventions that the society prescribed to them. They wanted to stand out, to be an unconforming member of the community, but they bitterly fail. And as the realities of the world have it, they become the very thing they desired to avoid, or the very person they used to hate so much, vowed to never become, in the end. I guess that’s why I feel he’s such an amazing writer; he doesn’t attempt to sugar-coat his readers with forced happy endings, he shows the reality of the world today. He shows how one individual cannot change generations of social conventions and norms. It takes everybody to bring about significant reforms to unspoken norms. An individual must be pragmatic to survive. They can’t live outside the norm to survive. They have to swallow it all in and learn how to live with it, coz that’s just the harsh reality of the world.

(Ok maybe now I know why I’m so critical and sometimes a bit grim at how I view things LOL)

But yes, I’ve read 3 books of his now (and counting, hopefully), and I’ve realized this pattern emerges in his books. It is both harrowing and a bit depressing, but that’s what I like about it. Because life is not always filled with happy endings. It also serves as a warning about a dystopian future looming over us if we continue on a downward spiral.

To encapsulate, this book celebrates the middle class and their moderate, non-excessive pursuit of money. Capitalism and socialism are both discussed in this novel. Money is the very thing that enables them to survive, and if they’re able to provide for themselves and their families, as well as lead a decent lifestyle with it, then it’s ok. And you should be ok with that. Your beliefs, principles and religion don’t necessarily have to be compromised to give way to the money-god.

“The money-code as they interpreted it was not merely cynical and hoggish. They had their standards, their inviolable points of honour. They ‘kept themselves respectable’ – kept the aspidistra flying. Besides, they were alive. They were bound up in the bundle of life. They begot children, which is what the saints and the soul-savers never by any chance do.”

Have a great 2016 everybody! Be kind, pragmatic and learn how to survive.


ShabiraBasheer 🙂

Revelator Eyes

the title is completely a juxtaposition of what I’m going to be saying, atleast I think. (just so you know, the title is the name of a song from a melbourne-based indie group, The Paper Kites)

my goal for 2016 is to not care so much. I feel like I should adopt this nonchalant, stoic attitude towards issues; towards people; towards stuff. I realized that I should focus my energy on stuff that really matter, on people who really mean the world to me. This includes building ever stronger ties with my family members; to not be so detached towards them, and to maintain long-lasting relationships with friends who deserve my energy and time. The rest, I’ll leave it up to God. 

I should learn to not care so much, to not fret over people/issues that are not worth fretting over. coz this social anxiety, it’s tiring. I want to be rid of this social anxiety. I do not want to give my all to people who don’t deserve it, who won’t be with me when I’m low and tired and impatient, when my bad and ugly side is showing. I want to give my all to people who will stick around and who will make an effort to continue to want to be my friend (does that last bit make sense HAHA). That includes boys, oh it so includes boys. 

I want to learn how to leave everything to Allah S.A.W. Who He decides to put me in my life permanently, (I hope I will know who you are), I will give you my 100%. But those who are in my life for only a short period of time, don’t get me wrong, I will still be nice to you because everybody deserves to be treated kindly and justly, but just don’t expect me to give me my 100% from the start. It takes me a very long time to get very very close and comfortable to a person, because I’m not sure if you’re going to stick around with me. Just yeah, it’s just very tiring to do so, to give 100% to everybody. 

so i’m learning to not care so much. 


2015 was a wild ride.

While everyone is busy typing long captions in their Instagram posts which I’m too lazy to read, I, on the other hand, resort to the conventional and traditional way of writing this year’s reflections. For the record, I do this every single New Year’s Eve. It’s like a tradition for me.

2015, as the title suggests, has been a wild one for me. I started off the year with not having any school (can you imagine how happy I was bcoz I didn’t have to wake up at 6am anymore). Instead, I had 2 jobs for the first 8 months. I worked as a retail shop assistant and met so many different kinds of people. I had a fresh outlook on respect and gratitude while working as a retail assistant. And then I worked as a specialist clinic assistant at KK Hospital for 3 months.

Working in a hospital was an eye-opening experience for me. A whole, different-in-a-g00d-way experience. The things I saw there, I can never un-see them. The drama, the held back tears, the worry. They felt so real, and they gave me a new perspective on life. I had a fresh outlook on the treatment of others. Granted, I didn’t get the chance to intern in a newsbroadcasting agency or in a magazine company, but I never once regretted taking on these jobs because they allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, interact with people who are much older than me and who have tons of worldly experience and advice. I took away so many life lessons, more than what was being taught to me in classrooms. And for that, I am so so grateful for being lucky enough to have a job that can keep me occupied for the long 8 months of vacation after my As and to be able to earn some money.

Halfway through working I got back my A level results and that was one of my proudest milestones in life. I knew I deserved my grades, but at that moment, I felt like not only did I make myself proud, I made my teachers, friends and family proud as well, for their belief in me was justified. I proved them right. Still, I know I can’t take all the credit for myself. Every A and B I got was because of their unwavering and unshakeable faith in me.

I managed to get into the dream school I’ve always wanted to go – NUS FASS. But there, I am slowly realizing that everyone just might be smarter than me, and now I have to cope with how to fail. One of my biggest flaws, in my opinion, is not knowing how to cope with failure and rejection, especially when it concerns academics. When I entered uni, I felt that everyone was smarter than me, everyone was out to kill me. I didn’t know who to trust, who to turn to to help me out. Fortunately, as the months passed by, I figured out that there are equally friendly and nice people who genuinely want to make friends with you and study with you so that both of us can celebrate success together, and I thank them for that 🙂 But I can safely say that 2015 is ending, yet I still need to learn how to fail and be rejected, and at the same time be okay with that. University is a whole different ball game to play, with new courts, new terrain, new people. I believe I will make it in the end, but for now, I still need to learn.

2015 was the year I went to Europe too and by golly I loved every moment of that trip. I went without my parents, so it was a whole new experience for me wow. Travelling with my sister, meeting what used to be strangers in the tour group, making an effort to maintain the ties forged with my Europe friends long after we came back.

It has been one heck of a journey la 2015. I live on campus, in a single room, so I learn how to spend my nights alone (dont get me wrong I do have hall friends whom I eat dinner with). Some days, I yearn for company as my nights become very long due to all the late-night mugging. And sometimes, I would have lunch alone in my school. I have to be comfortable with being by myself and not having the need to surround myself with people all the time in 2016 because even though I’m surrounded by people, I’ll feel alone. And I have to be ok with that. I have to understand what it means to be alone and lonely; because I’m not lonely. I’m alone. And alone can be the most peaceful thing ever.

Most importantly, my biggest takeaway of 2015 is that I finally realized that I am now an adult. Nobody is going to make my decisions for me now, I have to make them myself, and I have to live with the consequences and effects of every choice I make. I will only have myself to blame for every irresponsible and hasty act. It scares me, this revelation, this epiphany. And I have not come to terms with it fully. I need to in 2016. I have to adjust. I need to adapt. I need to familiarize. I need to learn how to cope with becoming an adult in 2016.

keep your head up, keep your heart strong, keep your mind set. 


ShabiraBasheer 🙂

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