300 Books Before 30

Part of my identity has always been that I am a reader. I cannot remember a time in my childhood — from my earliest memories — that I did not love books or count myself among those who love reading; whether it was thick, cardboard-paged books about a spotty dog, The Famous Five, Sweet Dreams (cringe!), Sweet Valley, then finally the more mature books about life, love and such… books formed a huge part of my identity.

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But, increasingly, in my young adult years through to my current adult years (old adult?), I’ve found less and less time for reading. And I know that’s just because I’ve made less time for it. I’ve found more distractions, more stress, more work, more world news, more to fret about, and more Facebook and YouTube to numb my brain with.

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Let the Children Play

This is something very important to me, though it’s not something I would have thought to write about in this form. It kind of just found its way out of my head and onto my laptop screen while thinking of what to write about in today’s poetry prompt by the folks over at NaPoWriMo. This style is called a lune, which is like a haiku, except that instead of counting the syllables in a line, you count the words. And instead of 5-7-5 (as in a haiku), it’s 3-5-3, i.e.. first line of the stanza has 3 lines, second has 5 lines, third has 3 lines.

So the reason this topic is very important to me is because all too often I see adults around me telling children to be quiet or to not be “so loud” when all they’re doing is playing — loudly. Adults get upset when toys get smashed loudly to the floor or into each other in a fight between the army man and a car (odd fight to have, I know, but hey, it happens). And naturally, there are sound effects that go with that epic fight. But the children are told not to make so much noise; “play quietly”. This upsets me. Deeply. Let the children make a noise! Let the children hum and sing loudly, or mutter nonsense to themselves if they want to! Let them play! For goodness sake! No, literally… for goodness sake. I mean, when children have the freedom to play and have fun and make a noise — and let’s be honest, they all go hand-in-hand, because how much of fun can you have quietly in a corner by yourself, and how much can you play without some sound effects and shrieks of laughter? — they grow into whole people, confident people, positive people, intelligent people, kind people. And isn’t that just good for everyone?

So, let the children play.

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Let the Children Play

by Ruqaiyah Davids

We tell them
They’re naughty when they’re noisy.
Ain’t that crazy?

Children are meant
To be noisy and dirty;
It’s their journey.

We shouldn’t stop
Them from shouting in play;
They’re young today.

Before long though,
Our rules and reprimands will
Make them still.

Children will be
Too scared to have fun—
Damage we’ve done.

They won’t be
Young for much longer, sadly.
This is reality.

When they’re grown,
They’ll be shells because we
Didn’t let’em be.

I cheated a bit on that last line there. I know “let’em” isn’t the conventional way of shortening “them”, but I would have had one word more than I should. So I whipped out that ol’ poetic licence I have stuffed in my wallet and used it.


Tick Tock

This one isn’t quite finished yet. I’ve been sitting with it since yesterday (which is why I didn’t post anything yesterday), because it wasn’t ‘right’ yet. I don’t yet know what will finish it or how to finish it, but I’ve decided that that’s okay. I’ll share it with you anyway. This is what it is for now.


by Ruqaiyah Davids

The second hand of an ancient clock;
Listen closely for the far-away knock.
It kills, it steals, and it heals;
The future is what time reveals.
Forever caught in time’s wicked trap;
It is somewhere in the middle that the stream and the storm overlap.
Tick, tick, tock.
Tick, tick, tock.


NaPoWriMo Day 5: The Pain of the Day 5 Cinquain

Today’s challenge is to write a cinquain about this fifth day of NaPoWriMo. A cinquain is a type of poem that has a very specific form in terms of the syllables used in each line. A bit of a pain is the cinquain. I’m not a structure and form type of girl–at least not when it comes to my poetry. I like to go with the wind when it comes to my rhyme and my syllables. But ah well, I gave this a shot in any case.

Oh, I know it sounds like the poem is incomplete or abruptly ended… and well, I could go the cryptic and mysterious route here and say that it’s symbolic of the ‘new chapter’ in life, or the story of life that is ever incomplete. But that would be lies. And lying was for day 2. Today, day 5, the truth is that I just didn’t know how to end this poem. And hey, in truth, a poem really isn’t ever completely complete. As we grow and learn and re-visit our old poems we may see that there is something new that can/should be changed. So perhaps I’ll re-visit this poem someday, and when I’ve grown and read it with older eyes I might see a better way to end it. But for now, this is what it is.

 The Pain of the Day 5 Cinquain

Day five

Of the challenge

So far I could manage

It takes me out of my comfort

Of old


This day

Is bittersweet

Happy-sad news received

The end of a story is now



Fresh breath

Of new stories

To be told; go be bold

A brand new chapter–can’t wait to

Read it


Tell me what you think. How do you feel about strict rhyme and form?


April Time is Here Again

Hi, y’all! It’s April! What a beautiful month it is. Things I love about April:

  • The cold, wet weather
  • Public/school holidays when I get to stay in bed and listen to the rain outside
  • The sound of the word, ‘April’. I think it sounds nice.
  • NaPoWriMo!!

So to start with, let’s just pretend that it hasn’t been months since last I wrote. Okay? Okay. Glad we’ve got that out of the way. I will not make any apologies nor any commitments this time around–we all know how wonderfully that turned out last time… uhem.. (Check out the link for some insight into my current state of shame and embarrassment.)

So it’s National Poetry Writing Month. Oh, yeeah! I’ve decided to go the regimented route, relying on the daily prompts from the NaPoWriMo website to give me some start-up inspiration every day, rather than just writing as the mood strikes me. I fear that if I do choose to go the latter route that the mood might never strike me…

So please do check back here regularly to see how I’m doing with the challenge. I’m quite excited and I hope to make it to 30 days with 30 new poems to show for it!

Here is my first one.

Breaking Down the Door

Let’s do away

With all the useless things we say

The chitter

The chatter

We’ve become so bitter

Our words and thoughts

Have become littered

With inconsequential worldly glitter


We care so little

Our promises have become brittle

All our relationships are noncommittal

We say so much but do so little


Who will help the friend who is lost?

Who will buy bread for the neighbour

Who cannot afford the cost?

Who will talk to the sister?

Who will listen to the daughter?

We send our children out to the world

Like lambs to the slaughter

And yet we hold our breath

Like we’re underwater

Hoping that the evil of the world hasn’t yet caught her


But we don’t know

That it is in the home where the evil begins

We should be our daughters’ best friends

Talking to her mother

Is where a young girl’s confusion and doubt should end

We spend too much time preaching

And not enough teaching

Too much time scolding

And not nearly enough care to moulding

Young women who will go into the world, upholding

Their faith and their virtue

Changing the way the world views

Young women whose words and actions are true

Of which there are too few


So let’s do away

With all the useless things we say

Spend a day visiting an old friend down the way

Find out if she is okay

Buy some groceries for your neighbour

Who cannot afford to pay

Listen to what your daughter has to say

Take your sister’s hand and let her rest her head

Let the useless chatter go unsaid


It is when we say less

And do more

That we’re a little bit closer to breaking down the door



My Oldest Friend

I write. That’s what I do. When something great happens to me and I’m bursting with joy and gratitude to my Creator, I write. When my heart is breaking and I feel like crying, I write. When I come to a turning point in my life or I reach some groundbreaking discovery about life, or about myself–you’ve guessed it–I write. I write about anything that matters to me, anyone who matters, anything that’s close to my heart–or that hurts my heart. I write poetry or just little pieces–words strung together, trying to express the emotions I feel. But, recently, I’ve noticed that there’s one ‘thing’ that I’ve never written about. One person who has never sprung from my mind and from my heart into words on a page. She is my friend. My ‘oldest friend’ (Side note: this post is partly due to my own random realisation of this non-occurrence and further spurred on by one of WordPress.com’s ‘Topic Ideas’ for blog posts. It says: ‘Write about your oldest friend’. So that is what I’ll do.)

So, by now you know that she is my oldest friend. We’ve been friends since high school–we’ve known each other since the eighth grade, but only actually became friends in the tenth. Our friendship had a random beginning, I barely even remember its actual starting point. I do, however, remember one particular instance when I thought to myself, ‘She’s so cool, I like how she thinks’. She shared my values and we respected the same things. I was used to people at my high school, and other social circles, thinking less of those who valued their religion, those who chose to live their lives modestly. So, when I met her, this is what I had expected from her, only to be pleasantly proved wrong, and it was at this point that I knew I wanted to be her friend. She never knew it, but I had always wanted to be like her. Back in high school, I wasn’t the person that I am now. I have changed much. I didn’t always cover all my hair–I thought that completely covering all my hair with my scarf made my face look even rounder than it already is (I used to wear it with some fringe out in the front). But she would wear her scarf so beautifully, and all her hair would be in. I wanted to be like her. I did not know as much about religious matters as she did. She knew a lot about things that matter. I wanted to be like her. She recited the Qur’an beautifully and fluently. I wanted to be like her. She was always so nonchalant about insignificant teenage drama, she was a great listener, a whole lot of fun to be around, and a really good friend. I wanted her to be my friend. And she was. She is.

She has led me to so many new things and she has taught me so many things–but she doesn’t even know it. And this is one of the things I’ve always loved most about her; she never teaches me by instructing me. She teaches me and changes me simply by being who she is. One of the things she’s taught me that I will always value is how to be a good friend, because she was always a good friend to me. And the greatest way that she has changed me is by inspiring me to love deen as much as she always has. And that is a love that no one can put in your heart by telling you to love it. It is a love that can only grow through being nurtured by the love that exists within a kindred spirit.

Now, granted that she is such a significant person in my life, I began to wonder why I had never written about her before. I write about things and people close to my heart, and she certainly is close. Very close. I pondered, and I pondered. I didn’t like that I didn’t have an answer. And then I realised what it was. Practically all the poetry that I have ever written has been about one of two things: sadness or new phases in my life. She fits into neither. She has not been the cause of any of my sadness, and she has never been a phase in my life. She is my friend for life (in-shaa-Allah). Even when I first met her, it didn’t feel like I was entering into a ‘new phase’, or starting a ‘new friendship’. It felt like we had always known each other, like we were always friends. And so, after this realisation, it all made sense to me, I knew why I had never written about her before. But, regardless of her being in neither of the two categories, I still felt that I really wanted to write something about her–it just didn’t seem fair that all the bad stuff (and some bits of the good) should be etched in immortal words, but my friendship with her wasn’t.

I am thankful for my friendship with her, and I am thankful to Allah for guiding me to her (or her to me), because I know with certainty that it was not by chance. Alhamdulillah.

Where Do You Go to be Brave?

You’re not a teenager anymore.

That is what I keep telling myself.

You’re not a student anymore. This is not your university campus. This is NOT the student life.

Tired nights, followed by lazy days… they can no longer be passed by moving from lecture hall to lecture hall in a student haze, strategically picking a seat far enough away from the lecturer, but close enough so that it does not look as though I’ve intentionally selected my seat so that I may go unnoticed by the lecturer, still recovering from the all-nighter of the previous night — by catching up on some sleep to the soothing melody of my lecturer’s voice.

I am a teacher now. I must set the example. I must teach. And my students will not sleep in my class — and neither will I.

So student life is behind me now. And adult life looms before me. I have responsibilities — not only to myself, but to others. To my students. To their parents. To my employer. To the generations that are still to come, the children that my students will nurture and raise!

I have responsibilities.

As a student, I only really had a responsibility to myself: to ensure that I handed my assignments in on time (and that it was well-researched and well-written), that I study for exams, and that I show up for exams — on time. If I had failed to do these things, the only one who would have suffered the consequences would have been me. The only one who would be failing would be me. The only one who would be repeating a module would be me. And I would probably have had to find my own way to pay for it, since it would also be me who would have been suffering the punishment and wrath of my parents for failing, thus resulting in them not paying for the module I would have had to repeat.

But now, as an adult, I don’t just report to myself at the end of the day. It’s not just good results on an exam that I am working towards. It is so much more than that. I have to think of budgeting and saving, of short-term and long-term. Being an adult is scary. Leaving behind my Chucks because they’re no longer appropriate footwear to wear to work was daunting. Going to bed at a sensible time because I have to wake up sensibly early the next morning and be at work a sensible ten minutes before the time was challenging — no, is challenging. Making sure my car is filled up with petrol because I’m no longer leeching off my father by driving his car — horrifying (to my purse).

But if being an adult is scary, being a teacher is absolutely terrifying. As a teacher, I have so many young minds before me, waiting for me to actually teach them. What could I possibly teach them?? The thought sometimes paralyses me. At times, I feel small and inadequate. I feel as though it’s all going wrong. I feel scared. But then I remind myself to be brave. But that doesn’t always work. I sometimes have a difficult time actually listening to what I tell myself. And then it’s time again for me to just suck it up and do my job: go into the classroom and teach those girls. Give them something to learn. And that’s when it happens. That’s when I get my courage. That’s when I’m reminded of why I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. That’s when my passion grows. And I fall in love with all of them all over again. When I need to be brave, I just step inside the classroom. I am greeted by my students with zest: “As-Salamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh!May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you! What more do I need? What more do I need  to be brave than the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah, and the students whom He has guided me to teach?


Do you get scared sometimes? What scares you? Where do you go, or what do you do, to be brave? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.