Wednesday, May 2, 2018


She laid under the tree

Wondering when women will be free

The sky above looks spacious and wide

When will women ever decide?

She laid under the tree

Wondering when men will see

The destiny women designed

Must not be twined? 

She laid under the tree

Wondering when women will flea

The grips of stigmas and shame

To a place where they can't be tamed

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Being bilingual

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

I attended a conference once about bilingualism and I left the room feeling extremely proud to be bilingual myself. Unfortunately, I am not able to recall everything that was said in the conference, however, I do remember that one of the many benefits of being bilingual is keeping the mind sharp. As a result, speaking two different languages or more can make you a great multitasker. Now that sounds magical, right? Maybe. Let’s get into the other side of being bilingual and it isn’t as magical as it seems.

It began with me the same way it began for most of us. We were taught in school our ABCs and even sang the letters along with our teachers. It was a celebratory song because it meant that our minds were ready to put themselves in division. It meant we were ready to separate ourselves from our mother tongue. It marked the beginning of a creation; the creation of another identity being sculpted and designed to hang side by side with our original self. Being bilingual is truly extraordinary.

My native language is one of the most beautiful languages in the world, if not the most beautiful. It is rich, complex and alluring to both the ears and the heart. One written word can have several pronunciations and different meanings. I am in awe of the Arabic language as much as I am intimidated by it. I was always struggling with my Arabic classes in school and it frustrated me beyond belief. “It’s my mother tongue, I should perfect it”, I would tell myself. I realized that my heart was already taken by another language. Opposing to my frustration to the Arabic language, I found peace in the English language. She was and still is my sanctuary, my protector, my shelter. My passion for English has been planted in me for as long as I can remember, but it
bloomed recently. I listen to English songs, watch English shows, read English books, have conversations in English and even think in English. In that way I subconsciously put my mother tongue in the dark. Doing so made expressing myself a struggle. Though I am perfectly capable of delivering a full thought in English, translating it to those who don’t speak the language is a challenge. I find myself getting nervous, sweaty and sounding like a complete idiot. Given the fact that I am born and raised in an Arabic speaking society, I am expected to speak Arabic. And I don’t do that often, which upsets people for some reason. I would try nonetheless and in return, I get mocked, accused of snobbery and even shamed for having my identity “westernized” and stripped away. These claims are treacherous and they hurt because I am aware of how beautiful and important my language is, but I simply find it easier for me to use English as a communication tool. I have had people coming to my face telling me that I am acting all high and mighty for unintentionally infusing an Arabic sentence with two, or three English words in a conversation.  What they don’t understand is that I am trying. To put it in another way, if Japanese was the language I found myself comfortable using then I would use it. There are no complicated reasons behind why I choose the English language over my native one.

I think most of us can relate to the accusations being thrown at our faces. I personally am finally making peace with the fact that eventually, no matter how much I try to avoid it, I have to be reunited with my mother tongue. I’m actually excited to challenge myself and find the bridge between the two languages so none would be neglected. I want to practice speaking Arabic again and embrace it as I always embraced the English language. I mean, it’s only fair.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Let's talk books

At the beginning of every year I sit and write down the number of books I want to read. The number usually starts off high, somewhere between 40 and 30, then as time pass and books stay on the shelf untouched, I try to be more realistic with myself and reduce the number to something more reasonable.
I read fifteen books in 2017 and I think one of the reasons why I had trouble reading in that specific year was having to read dense novels for my classes before I graduated. Some of them put me in the most awful reading-slump that I am still trying to break away from. However, I won't be going through all the fifteen I read in this post, instead I chose to share with you my favorites.

Lord of The Flies by William Golding

A modern classic that will alter the way you look at humanity. A piece of literary art that stood against time and will continue doing so. Although it was written in the 1950s, it is still relatable in the most unfortunate ways. The book is about British boys who are lost in an uninhabited island. A simple plot, one would think, but is filled with so many layers. Has elements of politics, religion, philosophy, psychology all presented on one plate. It's such a treat to the mind and a challenge to one's morality. What is right? What is wrong? 

Why do I like the book?
I personally enjoy reading books that keep me on the edge and this particular book has thrown me over the edge. I was mesmerized with how the author played with the idea of civilization verses wilderness, nature against mankind and who's to win. Life is a journey that constantly puts our morality into question. Sometimes it is as easy as breathing and sometimes it isn't. Those specific times when your morals are being challenged, you feel the uncertainty and heaviness of it all. Now imagine children, lost, tired put in a situation where morality is neither black or white. It was intriguing to see the process of innocent little kids transform into something that is unimaginable just to survive. And who do we blame? The island, the accident, God or the existence of evil?

 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

A non-fiction book about Albom's college professor Morrie who was diagnosed with ALS and their Tuesdays together discussing everything there is to be discussed.

Why do I like the book?
The simplicity of the writing along with the complexity of the situation is merged beautifully in ways I cannot express. It is true, the lessons in the book are a little out there and obvious, but that is the whole point of this book. We often overlook things and neglect the smallest, yet most important parts of our lives. I feel like this book is not necessarily a "wake-up-call" kind of book as much as it is a reminder for us to notice what is already there and appreciate it more.

 Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I am sure you are familiar with the name if not from the novel then definitely from the film. If you have seen the film, then I recommend that you try reading the novel. Although the film was incredible and aesthetically pleasing, I thought that it did not do the novel its justice fully. The movie was simply just the tip of the iceberg. The novel is about a young man who survives a shipwreck on a lifeboat with a tiger. Need I say more?

Why do I like the book?
Original plot; one of a kind. Reading the book took me on an ethereal journey that I did not want to end. It is embodied with the right amount of symbolism; not too much to overwhelm your mind, but just enough to keep you enticed. The words are carefully chosen in a harmonious way. Paragraphs filled with consonance. Chapters filled with new ideas and possibilities that should be explored and questions that should be asked. The protagonist practices not one, but three religions. That itself is intriguing to read. Three clashing religions coexist peacefully inside a human who just wants to love God in any way that he can. And then comes the emergence of the human survival instincts, the giving up and literally going against the tide all with the presence of a merciless tiger. An animal that is designed to end life. A god of death of some sort.

The Tiger and the Acrobat by Susanna Tamaro

A coming-of-age fictional novel that revolves around a young tiger that is far different from her own kind; a tiger that does not conform to the reality of her purpose and chooses to find her own. 

Why do I like the book?
This was the last book I read in 2017 and the perfect book I needed to read before entering a new year. A short read that is delightful. The writing is easy, yet flows like magic. I saw myself in the tiger and I simply loved it. I can't explain why I did, but there are things that I love which are inexplainable and this novel is one of them. 

What books did you enjoy reading most in 2017? 

Friday, January 5, 2018


I ended my 2016 post by saying that 2017 would be the year of change and I was absolutely right. 2017 was a wild hurricane filled with changes; both drastic and small. Each and every change was infused with a bittersweet syrup of lessons and reality-checks. Being Shahad, I had to drink these lessons and try to understand them as best as I could. On some days, I drank a little too much of that syrup and ended up drunk on anxiety. It is no lie that the lessons I learned are great in number and fathoming them was a challenge, but they were also very necessary. Here are some of the lessons I learned:

 everything comes to an end.

Sometimes we lose ourselves to life and forget that time is not an enemy nor a foe, but a friend that is kind enough to end things for us. Time allows us the courtesy of closure, because it is in human's nature to hold onto things we love even if those things don't love us back. That is when time comes in the picture, take our hands like a caring mother would, and turn us away. When I was still a student, fed up and tired, I resented time for not letting my journey come to an end. But when it did, I felt lighter than the lightest thing that could ever exist. My pain and exhaustion came to an end and were not necessarily replaced with ecstatic joy, but with the sheer satisfaction of having my journey to bid me farewell. Whatever may be holding you back, weighing you down, is going to end. Just keep reminding yourself like I did that time is not so bad. 

anger is a blackhole. 

Anger's gravitational force is extraordinary. Once you let it get to you, it sucks everything in. It sucks all of the emotions at once and leaves you confused. Unsure of when and how to recover; to go back to your self. Sometimes it does not only poison your mind, but your body as well. The anger runs in your veins and charges you with nothing but negativity. Your sight becomes blurry to everything and everyone is to blame, including yourself. Anger is a trickster that should not be trusted. It waits for the moment to be given an opportunity of control, to walk you through a road of agony towards utter destruction. If you feel its presence lurking, shut the door and breathe. If it does get it in, rationalize it. Find its root and cut it out. I realize that it is not a simple matter, but try to find a way to gravitate back around your sun; your source of warmth and happiness.

with independence comes responsibilities. 

Few weeks after celebrating my academic accomplishment, I realized that I have reached the gate of adulthood. The realization alone terrified me because I had to leave the den of comfort and tend for myself. However, that also meant being independent which is incredibly liberating. The moment I gained that amount of independence, responsibilities were born. Endless paperwork and looking for job opportunities are only few of those responsibilities. But the one I did not think I would fear the most is having time. Having so much free time after being tied down to deadlines and homework submissions sounded divine at the beginning, but then I became conscious of the fact that I have to do something with that time.  
"One staying active will make you want to live a hundred years." – Japanese proverb 
I may no longer be taught by professors, but instead I had to teach myself how to make good use of time. So I began listing things to accomplish and kept myself occupied, because being productive is actually a thread to sanity. Though this can be argued mercilessly, I believe that having a purpose is what keeps people going; what keeps me going.

 "I know that I know nothing."

It was not easy for me to embrace the fact that it is completely fine to not know something. Admitting it alone pierced my ego right in the heart, and it was not always easy to recover from such embarrassment. However, once I grasped the philosophical meaning behind it, I realized that not knowing something leaves room for learning. We live in a society that rarely admits not knowing something. In fact, if one asked something, most would try to come up with any answer even if it was  false rather than say they don't know. I don't understand the stigma that is behind saying "I don't know", but I began to use it more often this year and I actually gained far more than when I used to pretend to know. There's absolutely no shame in not knowing.

Other lessons learned:

  • I can't help those who don't want to be helped. 
  • Red lipstick is a mood changer; a confidence booster. Wear it with pride. 
  • Korean skincare products are the only skincare products that matter. 
  • Communication is key. 
  • Letting go of those who are not on the same level of growth as yours is necessary. They can hold you back and tire you. 
  • GUST's graduation ceremony is phenomenal. 
  • Black coffee tastes far better when sugarless and bitter. 
  • Kuwait City is actually very beautiful.
  • "I know I'm not alone." 
  • Respect all, but especially those who deserve to be respected. 

All in all, 2017 was not a bad year for me, but that doesn't make it a good year either. I believe that 2018 would be the year of getting shit done. Having more accomplishments to be proud of and definitely a year to heal. If you reached this far, I thank you dearly for using your precious time to read this post. I wish you all the best in whatever that is you want to do in your life next. 

Friday, September 8, 2017


My womb is swollen

My wrists are bruised

With hibiscus and orchids

Ready to bloom

The Lion stained me

With colors so rude

Red and purple

Mixed with blues

My time has come

As a carrier of wounds

To give birth to innocence

Drenched in gloom

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thoughts on being a Guster: End.

"It was my luck to have a few good teachers in my youth, men and women who came into my dark head and lit a match." – Yann Martel

There were supposed to be posts in between to explain further my experience as a GUST student. They never made it up here simply because I was overwhelmed with what it actually felt like to be a bachelor student and all the obligations, the responsibilities that are tied with it. I was also a tad bit lazy. I am not going to deny that.
Many things happened. I met new people; let go of some and became close to others. However, I suppose the biggest change that happened in regards of my academic journey would be the change of my major. I stepped in that university certain that English Linguistics is what I wanted to study. Then I took English literature classes, which are obligatory to every English student. Something in me sparked with delight. A delicious joy I couldn't comprehend at the time. I was being heard and my opinion actually mattered in class. My professors would listen to what I say. Some mockingly and others admiringly, but both listened and they listened profoundly. They tolerated my crazy ideas, my uncalled-for analysis of characters, things and history I was not able to understand at the time. Yet, they listened. I was eager to learn about what I was raised to avoid. I don't think I ever was in my life this hungry for knowledge. I was intrigued but afraid. Changing my major would naturally mean the change of my future. I would be jumping from the bridge of certainty to a pond of magnificent mystery. The idea of the leap into the unknown was thrilling, but I was not able to do it. Not until my best friend Max nudged me by saying Literature has always been my passion and that I should pursue it. At the same time, I took an introduction to linguistics class, just to at least give my major a fair shot. I loathed it to the very core of my being. I hated everything about it, and above all, I hated the silence. No discussions allowed, no arguments, no opinions. I was fed information. No, I was shoved with information down my throat. Information that I did not even care about. That is when I decided, I had much more in me, much more to give. I changed my major and it is one of the best decisions of my life.
I had to read countless number of literary texts that filled me with life. The Fifth Child, Lord of the Flies, Voyage in the Dark, Wuthering Heights, The Yellow Wallpaper, etc. Introduced to many legends behind those texts. Walt Whitman, Henry James, Henry David Thoreau, Doris Lessing, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Jean Rhys. These are only few names of the people I read for and stayed up the night memorizing and being mesmerized by their words. Not to mention the ancient texts such as Beowulf, Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Plato's Cave. I'm honestly surprised that I still remember this much. This proves to me that my soul carried a piece of each and every text I read and fused it together. I can proudly say that I am what I read and I am what I will continue to read. Even if it is not a classic, or a best seller or praised by others.
The hardest part of ending my journey as a student there was saying goodbye to my instructors. I was absolutely in awe with their passion for literature, for enlightening our minds. The passion flickering in their eyes as they taught me stories they probably taught a thousand times. I am honored and thankful to see a glimpse of their courageous and beautiful minds. I wish I was able to the perfect student enough. I wish I could say that I did not give them a hard time, but I did and most understood my frustration. I was simply tired. Tired of not being allowed to longer speak my mind the way I could before. The walls thickening, the rules branching around my wild mind, tying me down. All the "عيب" and "حرام"  I heard and complaints against stories we read that are supposed to make us think. Just that. Think. As my journey progressed, I realized that not many students majoring in literature actually wanted to think. They were in it because they thought it was easy. That alone suffocated the ones who truly wanted to reach beyond the border of our minds. I grew exhausted of not having a safe place to express all my thoughts and that is when I realized... it was time for me to move on. I pushed myself to graduate and I did. On the 27th of August, I was free.

Dr. Keith Jardim
Dr. Piers Smith
Dr. Martin Rosenstock (my German professor who always listened to everything me and my friends said, whether complaints, news or stories.)
Dr. Yulia Naughton
Dr. Gerald Naughton
Dr. Kenneth Pak (my philosophy professor who asked me all the right questions.)
Dr. Shahad Al-Shammari

I do not have enough words to express my respect, love and gratitude to the instructors mentioned above, but I will try. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for nurturing my thoughts. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for listening. And thank you for lighting a match in my dark mind. Thank you.

A long journey of mind ended, but I am already on the look for the next one. I know for a fact that all I have to do is keep reading and asking questions because being a student is not tied with a degree, but with simply being alive. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Creating Poems

I can't paint pictures using words

Neither beautiful or bold

I wish I could draw metaphors with gold

Or stanzas that shatter molds

Alphabets designed to leave you in awe

But I still can't paint, nor can I draw

Once my fingers touch the pen

The ink refuses my call

Papers await my fall

In the deepest pit of black holes 

When will I create poems as divine as my soul?