Many years ago my best friend and I hit the high street for a shopping session, when a strange feeling washed over me. “We’re going to see C*****,” I said, a boy who had been my high school sweetheart. Once the realisation came to me I was wracked with nerves and anticipation, vibrating with the certainty that it would happen. Shortly after, we bumped into him. “You must have known he was coming,” my friend said, disappointed he’d interrupted our shopping mission. But I really hadn’t known he was coming to town. That was a premonition that stuck with me.
For hundreds of years in Dominican folklore, people have spoken of the legend of ‘La Ciguapa’ – a beautiful woman who can be found roaming through the trees at night. She has dark features, piercing eyes and hair that swings past her waist; the only way you can tell she’s something other than human is by her backwards facing feet. La Ciguapa’s hypnotic beauty usually reels men in before they notice the oddity below her ankles – and then she eats them alive.
I want to start noting stories that deserved more than they received, so here goes. ‘The Afghan Girl’ is one of the more known stories when it comes to exploration of eastern narratives. I always felt a strange connection with this photo – I saw it when I was a teenager and I immediately felt like I could have been her, she could have been me, life is a bizarre lottery.
I recently turned 30, and it was bittersweet – I don’t miss my twenties; I can look back and say although heightened self-awareness brought more anxiety, I am a better person than I was a decade ago. As I welcomed a new era, I saw myself for who I was and the wisdom I gained and it felt significant, character strengthening.
Happy New Year my loves.
Some people talk about the dawn of a New Year as if it is going to fix something, as though the tide that is the New Year will wash over us and we’ll finally start swimming in the right direction, we’ll be cleansed, we’ll have a new start and more importantly, we’ll know what to do with it.
I am a British Pakistani born in London. Both my mother and father were born in Lahore, Pakistan. I can’t speak my mother tongue and I know little to nothing about my ethnic culture – what can I say? They didn’t bring it with them when they came. As I got older I became curious about who I was, what my parents grandparents were like, how they survived partition, what led them here and who is running through my veins.
“You can’t understand Punjabi?!” Rishma* said, mouth open in a grin stuck on pause that evolved into rolling laughter of disbelief. “No,” I smiled, clenching my fists that lulled by my sides to prevent them from instinctively floating up and punching her in the jaw.
I have suffered with mental health issues for as long as I can remember. Even in primary school, I just found life too overwhelming. What I didn’t consider though was that my diet and lifestyle didn’t help – I bunked every P.E class and I lived on fried chicken, ramen noodles, frozen food and concentrated juices in abundance.
I think it’s pretty safe to say at this stage that hatred of Muslims is brewing into something that can no longer be halted; there’s no other option now – it is going to get worse before it gets better.
It was the dead of the night, and Maria was dead to the world. Her legs sunk into the mattress, the weight lifted away, her mind finally tranquil when the first pebble hit her bedroom window. The cul-de-sac she lived on was quiet; a safe space away from the city, the throng of trees a shelter from the concrete jungle that her days played out in.