Why do you work?

February 19, 2018 § Leave a comment

(For the privileged first-world members who wouldn’t be hungry without work)

This question popped up while I ate brunch at a café earlier today. I took my lunch break earlier than usual, at 12.20pm to have a croissant I’d been craving all morning.

And then it hit me. I don’t eat here every day, and I no longer spend my money here and there as I so often did during university.

When I was studying for my bachelor’s, I made up for the lack of sleep by indulging in the habit of ‘treating myself’ on the regular – it worked. The morale was, “I deserved this because I did that.”

But I knew that university was a passing time – a temporary, fleeting, period of my life.

I followed the plan as everyone did to be a sufficient member of society: a university graduate, a normal, educated, ‘adult’ who is now suitable for corporate jobs and marriage, and somehow, raising children.

But would I be doing this all my life, until retirement?

Will I live to work, or will my life be some work and more living?

Or is my life my job?

Does it necessarily have to be a negative thing if I see my co-workers more than my family, who I currently live with?

At once, while writing, at a café, as I so often did, it hit me: why do I work?

I do not work for money at the time being. More than half of my salary is spent on my commute to work, on the car I got to get to work, the course I study for my career, and on the food I eat while I’m at work.

At the end of the month, there is not much to save. Does that mean I live for work? How come I’m not unhappy as some of my peers, or my friends, who also work? Why is work a negative term?

I do not live for work. Essentially, I live to learn. Banality and tedious, bland, colourless conversations or books do not entice me. If there is nothing to learn, what is the point?

So why do I work?

To learn.

Perhaps, this is why I am not afraid; I am not sad; I am not disappointed. And I do not feel my time fleeting in nothingness.

I see my work. My portfolio is growing. I am learning.

I am making mistakes, experiencing life, and for now, this is good.

Perhaps society’s greatest fear and shared experience is to live for the weekend, which we’ve so often fallen into since our youth: to wait for the summer vacation, for the holidays, for the leave-days, for the weekend.

To live a double life: one at the office, and one with friends.

Many of us live for money and consumption. In essence, that is living to spend, and in many cases, it is to work a full month to live short spans of little pleasure.

And what’s the point of having money to consume? To live for the latest technology and the latest fashion, or to forget our misery by drinking and passing out?

To exist as a consumer, rather than take part of a larger experience?

To do mandatory work instead of meaningful work, even if it were a corporate job?

Your time is valuable.

Make your own choices.

Live, learn, and be weary of settling in exchange of your life.


The 1st of February

February 1, 2018 § Leave a comment

I can write despite cheer’s poverty

I can write when the wind pushes my plans away,

When my fears return,

I can no longer write,

For I have not held a pen in ages,

I have not written from my heart’s desire,

Have not cried

Have not kneeled to the power of the pen,

Have not surrendered my voice free to echo in the streets,

I have not written, and I am not writing now,


I am watching my soul perish

To the banality of existence,

To the reality of capitalism, to the next pay-check

To the expectations of my peers,

To my relentless criticism

Of this soulless self,


And all I ask for you

Is to spare me a sentence,

Let me live again, let me write again,

Let me breathe as I often did, as I was lost in commas and similes,

As I analysed every page till the letters became my family,

As it fed me with passion and bliss,

Give me, back.


January 2, 2018 § Leave a comment

It is the New Year, evidently by the celebrations worldwide in clubs and on the internet, in the desert and on public streets. Perhaps it is fate that I write this now, quite appropriately on the 1st of January than on any other day, and that these thoughts washed on my shore by the end of 2017, than on any other time throughout the year.

Unlike two years earlier, during this time, I am excited. I am excited and not in the fairy-tale sense of this year being a treasure chest to open holding seated opportunities. I have the excitement of a child and a student who has the parent or the teacher to guide and support them (luckily).

I almost suddenly yet gradually developed the will to have faith in myself and I truly believe that this is thanks to one main person in my life, along with many others. I do not think that when I secluded myself, as comforting as it was, that it was the best thing to do, or even the most productive way to go about life – to each their own, after all. Some work better alone, most work better with support – yet it is important to remember while mentioning this anecdote that we ought to remain dependent on ourselves.

This is not to say that you should never depend on your partner, or your best friend, or your family. There will come times when your knees will tremble and you will need someone to carry you – quite literally – and those important to you will be there, and you can depend on them and trust them fully to hold you. Despite this, we need to remain our own person, to continue thinking and sharing these thoughts, to work on our skills, to live and discover without creating the barriers we so often create for ourselves (and I am guilty).

I have missed out on many ‘good times’ because I simply stayed home.

I no longer want to remain tied this year by invisible walls I’ve created by myself (with some help from the society, etc). I want to be the person I imagine to be, I want to be proud of myself, and not only for some moments, and not only for a few bits of the past, but for the goals I have for the future, and the small cumulative efforts I put towards achieving these goals.

These goals are not necessarily capitalistic-driven. They can be as simple as spending 30 mins a day alone, thinking, in open air. They can be challenging yourself at work. They can be smiling at every passerby. They can be saying good morning to that one person at work you don’t really think replies to anyone’s good-mornings.

I did not intend to write this because it is the new year, nor do I support those who say the new year ‘feels’ are overrated (because, let’s face it, it’s much better seeing cringe-worthy and happy uplifting tweets than others).

This is a simple happy post of a hopeful and optimistic person. Maybe when I’m not feeling so well, I can come back and read this (and you too, reader) and somehow feel slightly better.

The Scythe of a Decision

April 17, 2017 § 2 Comments

I was in a forest. I thought about life that day, and as the sun gushed through the leaves with the air’s current, I felt a breeze all over my jeans, my fingertips, up to my face –– it was cold in the middle of summer.

When the wind wrapped its arms around me, I remembered that there are more important things than success. I walked three more minutes after that realization to find something.

It was a hut – a cave – a little rut in between the woods. I was hungry and ought to let my stomach behave, so I knocked on the door. My parents taught me to be polite.

And an elderly man, who seemed like kind of a bore, looked below to see my small little self stare at his big feet.

“Oh no,” I thought.

This is how it all ends.

And better yet, I die hungry.

So the man with the big feet spoke, as I trembled and shook and my entire body froze. The words raced in my mind and all fell to my tongue. He invited me inside and I thought, “Well, I will die one day anyway.”

He made me food and sat me in a very comfortable chair. I froze once more, because they always make sure you’re comfortable before they eat you. He stirred the soup three times before serving it to my bowl. With every round I could feel my soul swing.

Soon after, I arrived home safely, went back to school and enrolled in university. My mother told me, “Honey, you will find yourself a handsome young man. You will live an honorable life as a housewife.” It sounded good, and what’s better than selflessly cooking and cleaning for a bunch of children, and the even bigger child that ought to support us?

It’s been 30 years since I met the man with the big feet.

The wind that gushes through me no longer does and my fingers are frail at the sight of those who love. The money and the pressure and the work at home –– I do not sleep anymore.

I wish I had stayed with the man with the big feet. At least I would have eaten my last treat.


April 17, 2017 § 2 Comments


This was written more than a year ago.

Of all of my years of living,
Which have only been a few,
I have never been as sorrowful,
As I am with you.

Your arm’s grip on my soul
Retains me enclosed behind this door,
Though you keep me whole
I would not beg for more

But perhaps it is destiny
That granted us this presence
Of an entity that keeps me,
Confined within its essence

Though plead, I did not
Nor run, have I so
But creed took its pot
And fed me to the foe

Now I do not confess guilty
Yet truth would be a lie
For I held it gently
And to it, did not defy

But must you hurt me
After years of gratitude?
Or did we reach a curfew
And a split, requested solitude?

To now, I must behold
For I, must return
This sorrow, will make me bold,
Or else, continue to yearn.

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On pseudo-intellectuals,

December 19, 2016 § 2 Comments

I haven’t written something that is in article-form (for recreational purposes) in a while. I often write short anecdotes on life, or spaced sentences (poetry) or just attempts of personal reflection. Yet, I find it in me now to write something that is beyond a tweet or three, or even just a paragraph. Therefore, the following paragraphs or thoughts may not go about in an organised manner, and will have no sources.

I am in my last year of studying English Literature and Translation (at the bachelor’s level) and my appreciation for written words has decreased, quite ironically and even surprisingly. That is, of course, not to say that I appreciate celebrated international, and even timeless, works any less than before – I appreciate them a lot more – but simply saying things, or writing things in a proper manner no longer excites me or leaves me impressed. Instead, it leaves me feeling sometimes sorry for the person writing.

Anyone with proper training or just experience can write a good sentence. The degree to the fluency of the sentence differs from one writer to the other, and of course that ‘difference’ is what distinguishes a good writer from the rest. What I have been observing over the years, and I am in no position to generalise this (because my readings are limited and I do not find myself to be in such authority) is that many people often think that writing full sentences coins them as intelligent or of high intellectual status. For example, if someone were to write Facebook statuses in formal English – by not using slang terms or emojis, or even missing any full stops – then they are someone that is ‘intelligent’. Similarly, because someone simply writes a long post then they must be right. But that is another topic for another day.

Many of the general Arab community view speech that is bombarded with complex words an intellectual one, although the very purpose of language is to communicate, and if one were to aimlessly throw around complex words, then they are defying the very purpose of language. If one were to write an academic paper, or to speak to someone from their field, then they are free to use as many technical words as they wish. But using the same words to the public is useless; they would not be understood. Ironically, some of the people who agree with me on this, would also quote famous intellectuals – be it Machiavelli, Tolstoy, or Sartre – going as far as idolizing them, and presenting their views on to you as though they are divine. This, again, goes against (my view on) intellectualism. Anyone can read Tolstoy and quote him. Anyone can read a few pages of Sartre’s essays and act like a professional in the field of existentialism – going for sometimes hours – and passionately defending what they believe to be their view, despite it being Sartre’s views.

The great thing about ‘intellectual’ conversations – compared to others – is that they jump the further step into questioning and sharing the information at hand. To say, “I have read about this enough to speak of it” or “I have a degree” and even “I interviewed the best” is hypocritical. It is all well and good to say this – of course a degree offers one with a lot of authority on the matter – yet denouncing the second party’s opinion or ideas – given that the topic is not scientific (although science is based on questioning everything) – defies the very purpose of the conversation, given that the party’s intention is to learn and share valuable information rather than debate out of the ‘intellectual’ conversation. The hypocritical stance taken here by the pseudo-intellectual is speaking of values (that are actually others’) that they do not act upon.

Any student who speaks well, or writes in proper English, or memorises a few words from the dictionary and reads a book about Plato can win a debating competition. However, to have a genuine conversation that goes two-ways (a student to student rather than a teacher to student) must be one where both parties remain humble. Simply put, acting ‘civilised’ by speaking formally does not mean one is actually more civilised than the other. An easy example, which is common amongst Arabs, is that speaking English in a ‘local’ American or British accent often classifies this person as more educated than the one who speaks in an Egyptian or Jordanian accent –or even no English at all– although this is not the case.

The pseudo-intellectual say they speak for the people whilst covering themselves with a coat of fancy words to sound authentic. Yet, ‘actual’ leaders use simple and emotional speech to reach out to the masses. One of the situations that made me feel ‘sorry’ for someone is when Umm Kulthoum and Abdel Halim were mentioned – celebrated Egyptian singers as well as two of the “Great Four” – and the person looked at me and condescendingly said, “Oh, you probably don’t listen to them.” For some unspoken reason, it is a shared view amongst Egyptians that those who listen to dead artists have ‘high’ taste in music, and are therefore considered ‘classy’. Don’t take me wrong, my father and I discuss and rejoice in Abdel Wahab’s music at least once a week. But simply because I enjoy listening to an already celebrated artist, or in some cases an underground artist, does not mean that I am more ‘classy’ or even smarter than someone else. To enjoy going to galleries and to appreciate art and paintings does not mean that I am more deserving of respect than someone else. To enjoy certain mediums of entertainment does not mean I am better; it is simply a preference.

Perhaps this is the point of this ‘article’ or these paragraphs: it is that simply doing things that are viewed as intellectual does not make one an intellectual. I obviously, as aforementioned, do not have the authority to say who and who is not an intellectual, yet the purpose of this writing is not to define what an intellectual is, rather what an intellectual is not. It is noble to read, and speak well, yet the purpose of these readings and speech must be genuine (if even to defeat an enemy) rather than to simply ‘show off’, or act as an entrance ticket to a certain ‘type’ of group that is scarce in the community. I’d even go as far as terming the pseudo-intellectuals as the nouveau riche of the intellectual community. Simply put, it must be quite tough to abstain from ‘bad’ art because it does not fit into someone’s perception of how an intellectual must act and be.