I’ll be reading at Readings@Seskan!

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

Love reading? Enjoy writing? Want to support local writers? Come down to Readings@Seskan this Saturday 🙂 The ever-supportive and wonderful Sharon Bakar invited me to read an excerpt from my unfinished short story collection. Thank you Sharon!

I’ve been meaning to attend for so long, and am so excited that I’m actually days away. (InshaAllah nothing cataclysmic happens from now until then, ahem)

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Update: Hanna Alkaf’s Q&A at Kino was wonderful. I enjoyed hearing her story about her own journey as a prolific reader, and how that shaped her writing. I really appreciated how honest she was about how much hard work writing is.

It was great to hear how supportive her editor (Zareen Jaffery) is in not italicising words in Malay and Chinese. Makes for a much more fluid and Malaysian story. She read her first chapter and I can’t wait to read the rest of it when her book is out on Feb 5th 2019!

Her advice to me? FINISH A MANUSCRIPT. Because I have like three unfinished manscripts, but my “book is in [my] first draft,’ #hannasaid #mustlistenlah

Plus! Her stunning book cover has been revealed! So Malaysian – I mean, just look at Melati’s uniform! Read more here.

Reflections

IMG_7728Here are some of my poetry notes during Baraka Blue’s poetry workshop during his first visit to Malaysia. I flipped back a few pages and noted the date – 21/5/2014. Pre-babies. A lifetime ago. These were nights where I performed my poetry on the same stage as Jamal Raslan, Malaysian spoken word guru. Baraka Blue sat in the audience, my teacher thoughtfully watching my word play. My nights are now spent communing with my daughters, or simply enjoying the solitude when they are asleep. I have moved from the performance stage, a public space, to a very, very private space. Expansion, contraction. The cycle of life.

We’re on Day 9/30 of Baraka Blue’s online poetry workshop, and it’s such a treat, writing and reading poetry every single day.  I struggle with the discipline of writing daily, and being part of a safe, spiritual writing space has been so, so helpful and so, so healing. It is so exciting for me to lean into the spiritual practice of poetry! I’m learning so much from my teacher and classmates. Interestingly, writing poetry has been unlocking my creative juices for my fiction and creative non-fiction works. Woo! Bonus.

On those inevitable bad days, even writing a word will do. And the words add up to lines, lines add up to stanzas, and stanzas add up to poems. Speaking of poems, please scroll down to my Day 8 poem, inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s gorgeous, gorgeous poem You Who Never Arrived.

Reading Rilke’s poem, so full of haunting longing, catapulted me almost a decade ago, when I was a young student of knowledge in Jordan, I remember being torn by so much longing. Longing for the Divine, for marriage, for children….now that I’m in my thirties, alhamdulilah, I have the marriage and the children I always wanted. They simultaneously give me so much joy and also stop me from jumping onto my next plane adventure lol. Ah well. Gotta wait til my girls are older, then we can adventure around the globe together ❤

 

Day 8 Poem – Wanderlust

A decade ago
I sat upon a mountain and
sang qasidas to You
my fractured heart
only comforted by this –

one day, I would be gone
and these giants would
remain

my brother hovered behind me
making sure that
I wouldn’t fall off said mountain
or injure myself
in other ways

the traveller inside me still
longs for deep forests
blue desert skies
vast oceans
for in motion, I see You

I am homebound now
growing two daughters
from scratch
like bread, they rise

It’s harder now to
catch glimpses of You
when my days are filled
with so much minutiae

Sometimes –
From the periphery
You surprise me
– my youngest’s gummy laugh
my eldest’s fearless dance
I forget myself
for a heartbeat

and then I remember
and fall back to earth

You are so close! and yet, always out of reach

The Naming

Aaaaaaaah! This is the sound of my EXCITED KAKAK SQUEE! My adik’s poetry book is available at Wardah Books! Buy buy buy!

OK. More coherent words.

Taskeen, Husna (in utero) and I were lucky enough to make it to Aisyah’s chapbook reading in October last year. It was such a gorgeous, unifying event. It was wonderful to witness people from all walks of life come together for the sake of poetry. This is the beauty of art, and how it transcends so much.

Aisyah’s reading was so well-received, and I marvelled at how she had her first chapbook published in her early twenties. May this be the first of many more!

She very sweetly named (ha!) me as her nominated poetry reader, and I was so thrilled to be able to read some of my own work. I have a video of my reading, somewhere, and hope to upload it soon-ish. Here’s to my poetry being birthed one day soon and finding its way next to Aisyah’s at our favourite bookstore ever.

Once I re-read The Naming, I can post a proper review ❤ I remember loving how experimental, brave and lyrical it is. And I have a signed copy muahaha.

 

It’s a girl!

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Alhamdulilah, I gave birth to my second baby girl, Husna Aminah Binti Mohamed Irfan at 12:56 am, Friday, 12th January 2018. She was 40 weeks and 10 days, a solid 3.53 kg, and 52 cm long ❤

For any mamas looking for a gentle birth-supportive hospital, I highly recommend Dr Bheena and her Columbia Asia PJ team of nurses and midwives. Dr Bheena was hands-off and supportive enough to respect my birth plan, trust my birthing instincts, leaving me and my amazing Pak Bidan/birth coach husband, Irfan, to birth my baby.

I really recommend Hafsa Hasan’s wonderful holistic care for any fear release exercises and homeopathic support. After weeks of having my baby’s head being engaged and in position, all it took was one session with Hafsa on Tuesday, and I gave birth to Husna early on Friday morning. Woo! She does Skype consultations for anyone outside KL.

Husna is almost one month old, and I’m trying to nap when I can during the day. I’m so grateful for the support of my mum and mum-in-law – they help keep my 2.5 year old daughter entertained so I can rest.

It’s still early days in this precious and exhausting fourth trimester, and after putting my feet up, getting my painful and healing postnatal massages, heat pack treatment, herbal washes, belly-binding etc I’m starting to feel a lot better.

Which brings me to my next point – HOW DOES ANYONE RECOVER WITHOUT CONFINEMENT CARE???? IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

giphy

My next question – HOW DOES ANYONE HAVE MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN??

Elmo

Sigh. Work in progress, work in progress. Learning to juggle life with a newborn and a toddler is truly a laboratory of patience-making. I guess the difference this time is that I know the painful stages will end…only to be replaced by something else lolol.  And then my toddler and newborn smile at me and I’m mush again. Haha. I live for them squishy smiles. Ahh smelling my newborn’s head makes all that sleep deprivation worth it.

If you’re pregnant, want to be pregnant, or just are curious about all things related to babies and birth, check out some of my favourite resources:

101 Tips For Having A Natural Childbirth

Spinning Babies

Gentle Beginnings Doula Services

 

February 2017

….already? RIS is around the corner! My todder is almost 20 months. SubhanAllah. Time flies.

I love these reads:

  1. Surviving as an Introverted Mother
  2. 5 Strategies to Help Introvert Parents Maintain Their Sanit

One really amazing piece of advice by Anse Tamara Gray: recharge during the hour before Fajr, and the hour after. Now that is a goal worth aspiring to! That’s only really possible if I sleep early.

Pre-baby: Ah, how I love the long, uninterrupted hours of night! I can write lyrical prose and poetry and [insert whatever else that used to happen]

Post-baby: Must. Sleep. Zzzzz

Note: I work for the SeekersHub Question and Answer service. If you have a question for me, please direct it through this form, and not through my personal email or Facebook. All questions are kept strictly confidential, and are left anonymous when we post it up. Thank you!

Ramadan!

SubhanAllah, time really flies. Ramadan is literally just around the corner! May Allah grant us all the ability to honour this blessed guest, and help us restore ourselves through the winds of mercy.

Last Ramadan, I gave birth, alhamdulilah. This time around, I’m nursing an active 11 month old baby. The minimum requirement for me is to give an honest attempt at fasting. I’d love tips from experienced mothers 🙂

Here are some useful links from the SeekersHub Global answer service in regards to nursing/pregnancy and Ramadan:

Fasting Ramadan: Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & You

My Friend’s Baby Breastfeeds Throughout the Day. Is She Exempt From Fasting?

Pregnant Women & Fasting

Pregnancy & Making Up Fasts: Does She Really Have To?

May Allah bless the team behind SeekersHub global, who all work so hard!

*On that note, if you have any Shafi’i fiqh/general counsel questions you’d like me to answer, please post it directly on the SeekersHub answer service, and not through my Facebook account, blog or twitter. These are my personal accounts, and what I blog/tweet is not endorsed by SeekersHub Global. Thank you and may Allah reward you!

 

 

Muslims in Science Fiction? Yes! @Islamscifi

I grew up on Star Wars, Star Trek, read Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit….science fiction and fantasy were my favourite escape pods. I loved these genres as a child, and I still do. But did I ever come across sci-fi/fantasy characters who were Muslim too? Nope. Not until Alif The Unseen, by the brilliant G. Willow Wilson. She’s also the writer behind Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American Marvel comic superhero. Ah, representation matters.

Muslims in science fiction. It’s a growing thing. Click here for the super exciting ISLAMICATE SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY COMPETITION! Spread the word!