When I Have A Child

When I have a child,

I’m not going to tell them the alphabet is from A to Z.

It’s going to be from A to B

And all the letters in between,

In random order.

A  C  G H L K F T M O Q ….


Because things don’t have to be in order for them to work.

Because the world is disorganised, disoriented and random.

They’ll know that I’m A and they’re B

And even if everything’s a mess in between

They’ll know where to find me,

At the start

Looking over chaos and everything

Just to be able to see them.

They’ll know they can try to look through and still see me.

Climb over and bypass havoc in the way

And still get to me.

I’ll smile,

Knowing the struggle of being B coming from A

With jumbled letters and incoherent words in between.

My child will go to school and be taught order

1 to 10

A to Z

All the rules

With no exceptions.

I’ll teach him or her the rules of the world

And while they figure out all the exceptions

They’ll know there’s one definite,

That A always leads to B.


When I have a child,

They’ll know there’ll be no such thing as mild

When it comes to life.

That they’ll have to order it hot

Or not order it at all

And there’ll always be a bottle of hot sauce on the side

Because a lot of the time

Life will seem mild and they’ll heat it up.

There’ll also be a cup of water on the other side,

One that I’ll always refill

For whenever it gets too hot.


When I have a child,

They’ll know that the hand’s a paintbrush

To the heart’s colours.

That they can paint the sky,

The Moon,

The Sun,

The clouds

And the storm,

But they’ll never be able to paint a smile,

On their own or on another

Because that’s the heart’s rarest colour.


When I have a child,

They’ll dislike death

Because death implies ending.

So they’ll find a way to keep on living

In the hearts of so many.


To The Distant One

I wrote you a letter once. I poured everything into it, an empty jar waiting to be filled. I fold it and place it in my pocket and carry it around. Everywhere. I stand before you, itching to reach into the darkness of my pocket and extract the thoughts written from the depth of my soul.

But I can’t.

You tilt your head, confused. I’m scared as I know it’s only a matter of seconds before you pull away, retracting.


I can’t. Again. You’re head is still tilted and now your brows furrow. 3, 2 and inevitably, 1, and then you leave. Again. This ridiculous tug of war game we’ve had going on. So I keep the letter in my pocket and carry it, especially everywhere you go, in the hopes that maybe one day the courage will come.

Weeks later, I get a call.

“You have to come. He needs you right now,” your brother says to me.

“What happened?” A thousand and one thoughts spiral out of control, my head foggy. I feel faint and sick.

“I can’t explain, just get in the car and get here. Quick.”

“Okay, I’ll be at your house in 10.”

“No, not the house. The hospital.”

I encountered approximately three near death experiences on the way, but that’s okay. I got there in 15 minutes. I had no idea where to go, so I rushed to A&E to ask about you, except, I see you right there. On the bench, with your head hung low. You look like you haven’t had a shower for days and you’ve probably been in the same clothes for a while. I can’t see your brother, or anyone else I know around. I go from being utterly frightened to being very confused. I gently sit next to you. You make no acknowledgement of my appearance, so I shuffle a bit closer. I wait. And I wait some more. Then you finally speak.

“I didn’t want this day to come,” you whisper, head turning slightly my way so the breeze could blow your words on to me. Your eyes were still focused on a spot on the ground. I have a feeling I know what’s going on, but I suppress it. I’m good at that. I really hope the day hasn’t come. 

“He just rapidly deteriorated. I can’t explain..,” you pause to cough, a low grumble clearing your throat. I wanted to tell you to try not to explain. That maybe logic can fail us at certain times, or at all times. That the human body is more complex than what your medical training taught you. That maybe a lot of things just don’t need to be explained. But I stay quiet. You’ve never once initiated a conversation with me, and here you are, speaking without me asking you to.

“He just…,” you pause again, pulling your eyes slightly upwards, that distant stare now all too familiar. But now, it’s misted with unshed tears as your mind races to find an explanation.

“He’s dying.” The whisper oh so quiet, I wouldn’t have caught it if it wasn’t an obvious statement. He has been for a while, but you failed to see. Even with your training and supposed rational, you failed to see, because he’s your best friend. You didn’t have to say anything to me, I know. I have known for a while.

Last week, I sat beside him on the steps outside his home. I got a message from him telling me to pass by on my way back from work. So I sat next to him, not sure what I’m supposed to be saying or doing. I make him green tea. He tells me that my green tea is his and your favourite thing to drink; that no one does it better than I do. I don’t know why, but it gives me a kind of warm feeling inside. So I go back into his kitchen, make him a lot more of my green tea and fill up a large thermos. All the while, his mother is looking at me with a solemn expression, not saying anything, but hugs me a bit too tightly. I bring the thermos back and place it between us on the steps outside his home. He looks at me, eyes sunken and cheeks hollow.

“Please take care of him,” he says, his voice croaking and weak.

“I didn’t ask for this, but it is His will, a challenge I’ve accepted,” he says while looking up into the sky. I too, follow his gaze, and see that sundown is nearly upon us.

“He doesn’t say it, but he cares for you,” he says. He tells me to pour him more green tea. Then he tells me more things about you and my hands start to shake, along with my head, denying the words he spoke. He assures me they’re true and yet I still can’t quite believe. I think there’s a manual somewhere that says you’re supposed to be nice to people who are dying, so I give him a small smile, not knowing what else to do. I then jump, with the sound of the Adhan coming from the mosque opposite. He laughs his unique laugh and tells me how hilarious it is when I jump every time. I walk away and leave, not before looking back and pulling my tongue out to him.

That was the last time I saw him smile.

“I don’t know what to do,” you say, bringing me back from the memory. Neither do I. So I stay quiet and inch slightly closer. I have an empowering urge to reach for your hand. My fingers twitch slightly closer, but then I ball my hand into a fist and place it on my lap. We stay like that for a while.

Three days later, I stand in the kitchen, pouring my green tea. My hands shake as I carry the tray around the back garden towards the tent. I call out to you, but you don’t hear. Your head is in the shadows, while your father has his arms around you. Your shirt and trousers are still smeared with dirt from the graveyard. The patches on your knees large from where you sat weeping after you buried him, your best friend.

You’re brother takes the tray away from me without a word and walks back to the tent.

The days go by and your pulled back into the darkness, the one which I’ve tried so hard to get you out of. Maybe some things just aren’t meant to be. I’m late for work and still searching for my keys. I search all the pockets of my favourite jeans and trousers, even though I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave my keys there. In the pocket of my brown ‘work trousers’, which I hadn’t worn for months, I find the letter I wrote to you, nearly a year ago now. It’s crumpled, withered and battered, but the words still evident if I squint. I laugh in despair and toss the letter on the ground, shaking my head at the naive wishfulness I once had.

I finally find my keys beneath the sofa bed and make my way to work, arriving an hour late. As I walk in the reception, a profile of a face I haven’t seen for a while greets me. The exact same hazel eyes, long lashes and smile, except more feminine. Your sister puts her arms around me and I suddenly don’t care that various colleagues are wondering what’s going on and I hold her close. It feels all too similar to home, wherever that may be. She tells me how she’s been, how you’ve been and how everyone’s been. She talks and talks and I talk back and it feels so real. So raw. And then she leaves. She didn’t ask for anything in particular, but I know the unspoken question left behind.

So later in the day, I make my way over to see you. It takes me 1 hour and 32 minutes to be exact. There always has been a bit of a distance between us. I see the glimmer of chestnut and auburn stands of hair reflecting in the sun’s last rays of the day. Your sitting outside your place, on the steps. The situation is too deja vu-ish and it scares me. Will this be the last time I see you too?

I sit next to you and then inch a bit closer. Why is it always me that’s inching closer? I wait.

“It kinda still…hurts, you know?” you say after a while.

I know. I know all too well.

I keep silent, in the hope you’ll say some more, but you don’t. Just the crawl of your tears down your cheek. I don’t think I’ve felt more pain than in that moment. My heart constricts and my head hurts. May hands ball into fists. I was prepared to punch fate, to keep punching and kicking until it surrenders to my force. I’ve never felt so much utter pain in my life and nothing physical is broken. If this is Love, Universe, then I don’t want it. I don’t want the pain it brings and it’s all locked up inside. It’s been far too long being locked up inside.

A splatter of rain fell against my eyelashes. I give a small thanks to the Universe, as now it’s not too obvious that tears are falling down my cheeks as well.

I keep on waiting. I realise that I hate this game, that I hate this thing, whatever it is, this Love. It makes me sick and I just want to keep punching it or fate in the face.

A deep sigh escapes your lips. I turn my head towards you. You’ve managed to express my thoughts with only an exhale of breath.

You inch slightly closer. I freeze. You gently lay your head on my shoulder. I’m not too sure what’s happening but my eyes widen in fear. What is this? I think you’ve just crossed the invisible boundary between us, the one that’s put up every time I take a seat next to you.

Another smaller sigh escapes your lips. I look down at your face, your eyes red from the salty tears, still staring at the distance. Confusion eats away at me and I’m not sure what to do. I feel like you’re asking something, without saying any questions.

I uncurl my fingers from the fists they were in. I didn’t realise my nail’s had dug so deep into my palm. I take a large intake of breath and look up at the sky. I gently lay my head against yours and we both look at the distance together.

The Countdown

The riot was evident from looking through the window. Shouts, brawls, paper planes and the beginnings of a food fight.

Just another day. 

My hand grasps the door handle and I slowly open the door. I’m wearing four inch heels, one more inch than usual. It feels fabulous. The doorway encompasses me, my presence not noticed. 

The heels sound fabulous as I walk towards the front of the class. 


A few eyes turn my way, a few taps on the shoulders and a few ‘six seven eight’s. 


Chairs dragged across the back of the class and placed in their rightful positions. 


Laughter simmers into quiet chuckles and music stops.


All seats face forward, all eyes face me.




“Thank you. Let’s begin.” 


This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge prompted this post (better late than never).  I use this countdown technique to get full attention from students before beginning a class. 

The Desolation of Valentine

There is a day,

where we are encouraged to Love,

to indulge in chocolates and flowers.

But what if there was a day

where we are encouraged not to Love,

to indulge in bombs and power.

Would this day be so widely received?

So greatly promoted?

If it is true,

what they say,

that Love is for ever present,

then we should hold it dear

and leave its absence

to be for ever feared.


There was a time when things were different.

I’d walk through school doors like I owned the place. Hair flowing in every direction, each strand dyed a vivid shade. They used to call me ‘The Parrot’, mainly due to my multi-coloured hair, but also due to my impeccable ability to mimic teachers at their worst and actors at their best. I’d say a word and laughter would erupt around me, shaking walls and raising roofs. I’d stare, confused at my capacity to amuse, but accept it nonetheless. Popularity was a precious thing after all.

But it all changed the night they came. I remember how their large, lifeless eyes looked into mine. I could feel their long, curling fingernails grazing my soul, tickling the outer corners of my being. I could feel their tongue tasting the skin on the back of my neck, slimy and wet. I could see dark clouds forming around us, distant thunder shaking their cloaks. I could feel a knock at the door of my consciousness. The door opened, allowing them in. They entered, gliding and swirling, forming clouds and mist. My mind felt full and distant, inaccessible.

I’m not too sure what happened after that. They could still be there.

Everyday I mimic their actions.  I stare at my reflection with wide, empty eyes, hoping to see inside. Wanting to see inside. So, so bad. I graze my fingernail down my sternum. Maybe then I could open it up and access what’s left of my soul. I shut my eyes, seeing darkness. I search for the door. I search and search and all I see is nothingness. Nothing. There is nothing to knock, nothing to see, nothing to hear.

So I live each day lost in confusion. My hair now dull and grey, framing the sides of my hollow face. My eyes vacant and skin pale.

I walk through school doors like I own nothing.


This is my submission for Speakeasy 147. The sentence prompt, to be used in the first line, was “There was a time when things were different”, plus a photo prompt of parrots.

The Knights of Africa

Heart pounding, blood pressure rising.

Sweat droplets trickling, throats constricting.

Immense silence.

All we need is one save. One save in penalties to win the African Nations Championship. The first time to ever reach the final. Could this be the first time to win?

No words can come close to describing the tension. Nashnoush, it all lies in your hands now. Literally.

And then…

libya african cup final

It happened. The save!

Cheers erupt, from the depth of our lungs.

Fireworks explode.

Car horn sonnets, ululation ballads.

Benghazi won’t sleep tonight. Tripoli is out on the streets tonight. Bayda, Zawiya, Kufra, Sabha and all of Libya is joyful tonight.

libya chan2014 celebrations

Celebration in Martyrs Sq, Tripoli.

And tomorrow.

And the day after.

And after.

Because in 120 minutes, the Libyan national football team, the ‘Knights of Africa’, done what the interim government couldn’t in 3 years. Unite us all in joy and celebration.

The Inner Workings of My Mind. Welcome.

There is, and there will always be, two things on my mind.

The first is Life.

I always ponder the meaning of existence, far from religion, politics or any societal or materialistic gains. I ponder it on a highly personal level. What does it mean to me? What will I achieve and how? More importantly, how will I work towards it? And the questions keep revolving and revolving, just like the Earth on its axis.

It’s so easy to just go with the flow, try your best at whatever you do, and then hope and pray it all works out for the better. Yet it’s a difficult challenge, especially since every decision you make is an important one. Even the mistakes you make are important in the development of who you are and what you stand for.

Maybe I’m just a worrier. It’s quite possible I am. I tend to think and then over think things, trying to find a grasp of my direction and aims. I simply can’t let go and accept things the way they are and the way things come. But worrying, psychoanalysing decisions and philosophising over what my life means to me can only lead to destruction, a ticking time bomb just waiting to…boom.

I think eventually, one must accept that time machines do not exist. It would be ideal however, to fast-forward, say, twenty years and observe where life took me and what a fool I was for making those mistakes. Where is the Tardis when you need it? I guess even if I had one, now, I wouldn’t use it. You see, it would just ruin the mystery. Yes, it would quieten the doubt and loosen the worry, but it wouldn’t do much in terms of self improvement, as one can only learn through the mistakes and decisions they make, regardless of how foolish they are.

I think Life is like being handed a pick ‘n’ mix bag: you don’t know what sweets are in there, but you sure as hope you pick the ones you like.  

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind.

Just incoherent thoughts. When I read what I’ve written, I’ll probably facepalm. Mentally.

The second thing, is Death.

Now this one is pretty straight forward. I have a deep and innate fear. Not of death itself though. I am petrified of being on my deathbed, looking back at Life and realising that I have not accomplished a thing, or more drastically, that I have not made a single positive difference,

The thought alone makes me shudder.

Writing this, I have realised something. There seems to be a common theme: ‘The fear of the unknown’. Huh, I guess writing does make you discover things about yourself.

Maybe overcoming the fear of the unknown relies on establishing what you do know. I do know that I am capable of achieving something and being someone, I just have to work hard towards it. I do know that I have a supporting family to catch me if I fall. And I do know that both Life and Death are inevitable and one mustn’t question it too much. Believe me, it’ll give you a migraine.