20 things that quicken my heart.

My shot at writing Zuihitsu. For those who don’t know, Zuihitsu is a Japanese style of poetry prose, which consists of random personal thoughts, and fragmented ideas of the author. They are written casually and randomly, without any pre-planned thoughts. This was our final paper in Advanced English Composition class in my last year at university. Each of us had to write about things that quicken our hearts. 


1. When the cake that you spent an hour on, rises beautifully in the oven. The aroma of the soft, warm cake fills your lungs with craving and the sweetness of the first bite lingers on your tongue.  

2. When you experience your first snowfall. The winds are cold, yet bearable, and when the first snowflake gets caught in your hair, your heart swells with happiness. 

3. When autumn arrives, and the shady trees start to strip; and their orange leaves fall to the ground. The soft crunch the dry, and withered leaves make when stepped on, quickens my heart. 

4. The bookstore and its own distinctive smell; of old books, old paper and of ink. The books sit there on the shelves, patiently waiting to be opened, to be read, and to be loved.

5. A warm cup of coffee, that tastes just right. The soft aroma of the coffee beans and sugar boosts and exhilarates your senses, and the first sip makes you want more.

6. When it is night, and thoughts, in the dark of your room, creep up in your mind that have the power to suffocate you into sleep and stab you awake before the right hour.

7. When the drums beat, music starts, and the man wearing the sparkly silver glove, white sequined socks and the black fedora strikes a pose and moonwalks his way across the stage.

8. Tiny, forgotten notes that fall from your old books and desk drawers; the paper has aged with time, the words now faded, yet, the sentimental value remains the same.

9. When the sun is up, the sky blue and the day is going well and you hear an announcement of a neighbor’s death from the loudspeakers of the mosque.

10. When you’re sitting on the high chair at the well-lit salon, wearing the long plastic overcoat that hugs your neck, and you realize that the hairdresser has cut your hair more than what you had asked her to.

11. When the battery of your phone dies. The lifeless phone, without power to turn it on, is as useless as a candle without flame on a cold wintry night.

12. Adrenaline pumps through the veins and your heart thunders loudly in your rib cage, as you walk into the spotlight and stage fright overcomes you.
13. You come home after a long tiring day, with a growling stomach, and a delicious smell of food greets you at the door.

14. When your eleven-year-old brothers are wrestling one another, jumping here and there on the bed, and one of them falls down on the floor with a loud thud and a moan.  

15. That feeling you get when you give someone the perfect gift. The look on their smiling faces, as they rip the wrapping paper apart with anticipation and excitement, is just priceless. 

16. That moment when words start to stream like a river in your mind, but as soon as the pen strikes paper; the thoughts come to a stop and fade away.

17. When you are lounging on the sofa, lost in the movie that you’re watching, and suddenly you realize that you have left the food to heat up on full flame on the stove.

18. A honeybee resting on a flower is a pretty sight, but when it flies fiercely close to your ear, you think otherwise, suddenly fearing the sting of its sharp bite.

19. When you are standing at the rooftop of a skyscraper and look down; the zooming cars seem like little toys, and the people like tiny ants. The wind slaps your face, as your heartbeat escalates, and your height fright intensifies.

20. When you realize that your teacher stood right behind you, and listened to your every word, while you casually sassed him in front of your friends.


To the moon and beyond.


The day of her Nikkah- March 21st 2013


I saw a tear roll down her cheek. I had never seen my cousin cry before. I looked away as she brushed it off with the back of her hand. I was feeling quite overwhelmed myself. The news was just a matter of time, I thought. It is ironic how one can have love for something that doesn’t exist, someone who isn’t even born yet. Yet, there is that humbling feeling that weighs your heart down with love. It bursts through like the break of dawn, the first sunray through the clouded sky. For the first time in my life, I was going to become an aunt. Nothing in the world mattered at that moment, and it is quite hard to have words to describe the joy that I felt.


Tabinda and I are first cousins, from my father’s side. She is 11 months older than me, and we have spent every minute together since then. We went to the same school, had the same teachers, and friends. We wore matching outfits when we were kids, listened to the same music and watched the same movies. When something went wrong, we were both blamed, and when one of us was feeling down, the other was always there to cheer up the mood. Needless to say, we act like twins. One glance, and I know what she is thinking. I agree, I was a bit jealous when she got married in March this year. Was I willing to share my sister with someone else? It seemed a bit unfair actually. It was hard to see her laughing with another man, joking around and living at his place. But she was happy, and so was I, I decided.


I was the first person she confided in after she was pregnant. And that day couldn’t have gone happier. I was going to become an aunt. The idea seemed a bit far-fetched, as I haven’t felt this way before.  However, everything changed when she brought the black and white photograph of her ultra sound. The image was fuzzy and abstract, and I could barely make out the shape. The baby was 10 weeks old, my cousin told me. I couldn’t see much of the baby’s features and shape, it was all just a black rectangular blob, but it was an overwhelming experience, nonetheless, imagining what he or she would look like, and trying to picture the tiny nose, the small feet and the nails on his or her fingers.


24 years ago, my cousin was a baby in her mother’s arms, and now she will have a baby of her own. The news still has the power to quicken my heart with all the anticipation, and tremendous joy. And I know, deep down in my heart, that the moment I hold my niece or nephew would bring me as much joy as if I were holding one of my very own.

Things that quicken my heart.

  1. A perfectly risen cake
  2. Winter
  3. Snowflakes
  4. Coffee
  5. Walking on dry autumn leaves
  6. Climbing tall trees
  7. Michael Jackson
  8. Giving/receiving the perfect gift
  9. Brothers’ laughter
  10. Parents’ smile
  11. Parents’ fights
  12. Grandfather’s old books
  13. Grandmother’s signature perfume
  14. Pearls
  15. Tears
  16. Blood
  17. Public speaking
  18. Spotlight
  19. Airplane ride
  20. Boat ride
  21. Ghost stories
  22. Electric shock
  23. Bad dreams
  24. Tall guys
  25. New clothes
  26. My first bike ride
  27. Waves on the shore
  28. A starry night
  29. Johnny Depp
  30. The show, Supernatural
  31. Pile of unread books
  32. Pile of all read books
  33. The smell of old books
  34. The smell of wood smoke in winter
  35. The Harry Potter series
  36. John Keats
  37. Emily Dickinson
  38. Typewriters
  39. Ribbons
  40. Tiaras
  41. Long, flowing dresses
  42. The smell of vanilla
  43. The smell of petrol
  44. My favorite song on the radio
  45. Candles
  46. A bee zooming past your ear
  47. Fast cars
  48. Rollercoasters
  49. Sharks
  50. Fire
  51. Shadows
  52. Miracles
  53. God
  54. Heaven
  55. Hell
  56. Grave
  57. Death
  58. The thought of being alone
  59. Abuse
  60. Someone playing the violin
  61. Someone playing the piano
  62. When the words come easily
  63. Poetry
  64. The color blue
  65. Raindrops in my hair
  66. The sound of heels on the floor
  67. Walking on a wooden floor
  68. The death announcement from the mosque
  69. Almost getting hit by a car
  70. Almost hitting someone by car
  71. Heights
  72. Secrets
  73. Baby kittens
  74. A cold shower after a long, hot day
  75. The first sip of a cold drink on a hot day
  76. Home
  77. My desk
  78. Salty snacks
  79. Chocolate cake
  80. Orange cake
  81. Spaghetti
  82. Flowers
  83. Butterflies
  84. Forgetting something important
  85. Remembering something you had forgotten
  86. Smiles
  87. Curly hair
  88. A bad hair day
  89. A good hair day
  90. When babies smile
  91. When babies cry
  92. Friends
  93. Pen pals
  94. Birthday cards
  95. A handwritten note
  96. Cold, lemonade
  97. The first poem I wrote
  98. Looking at a rainbow
  99. Paris
  100. Confessions