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The Aram

with Tahmina Begum
The Aram turned one on International Women's Day this month. What launched on last year's IWD, a few weeks before the first lockdown, with the intention of centering the stories of ease and joy around women of colour and Muslim women, ended up being the comfort and grounding I needed too.

Just as author Glennon Doyle tweeted two days ago that, "W
e’re all doing really well under ridiculous circumstances," what writing this newsletter has taught me is that we do not give ourselves enough credit for first, getting through it and second, for wanting more than to get through it. This applies especially to women. Even with the world melting and the odds stacked against us, we keep moving in whichever way we can but are at times unaware of how much we are constantly maintaining. 
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I know there have been many memes and posts about what people are going to do to commemorate the one-year lockdown anniversary and I know things have gone past the feeling of despair, as though we can't put our finger on exactly what's causing this uneasiness underneath our skins (hello, the world), but I do think we should be celebrating.

After a pep talk from a loved one, I've realised so many of us, myself included, find it hard to see growth if it's not tangible. And I use the word 'growth' gently, as even I am finding it difficult to care about things like growth these days. As sometimes in the middle of the week, when it feels like the days are on loop and I'm bored while losing any sense of motivation, I end up wondering if anything's changed or progressed this past year for the better or if we have all been stuck.
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But of course, the latter is untrue, I'm being rightfully melodramatic, and things have changed. In the past thirteen months of curating The Aram, I've noticed how much, even when we don't feel physically rushed off our feet, how we still have been. Whether you're an essential worker, someone working from home, perhaps you've lost your job and you're trying to find anything to help pay the rent next month or even a new graduate, amidst the chaos, we have been absorbing so much. 

There have been presidential elections that have affected the rest of the world. Bangladeshi garment workers who are still working unpaid due to fast fashion conglomerates. Innocent Black and brown lives being murdered time and time again. Alongside, the global resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatters movement, the boom of TikTok and Zoom, Netflix trends of Tiger King, The Crown and Bridgerton. Women being unable to walk down the street without being killed. Covid-related deaths surpassing 100,000 in the UK alone and so much more.

There has also been grief; a loss of those who make up the centres and corners of our lives and living losses for what these years were supposed to be. We've forcibly had to look directly, no distractions, at the life in front of us. To work out if where we're going is actually where we want to be or if it's the loyalty to past dreams promised
So I'm not going to say keep going. We do it anyway, inshallah. We've been going and been more able than we give ourselves enough gratitude and respect for. If social media could give us a point for how much patience and mercy we've had for ourselves and others in the past year, I'm sure we'd be prouder of ourselves solely because others could also recognise how much we've undertaken and overcome. 

Be proud of yourself. It's been over 300 days of this mayhem and look at you. Look at all the ways you've had to be the aram to yourself, when you thought it was the job for another to do. Look at how you've deciphered what now won't be accepted by you and look at you, with all that hope. All that perseverance to keep going. That looks like ease and growth coming to life, it feels like healing.

With comfort and aram,
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A special thank you message to everyone who has read, shared and supported The Aram this past year. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and your ever-kind messages. The newsletter wouldn't exist without its readers, so thank you. I hope you feel at ease when reading this as much I get from creating the newsletter. Alhamdullilah for it all.
The Aram is a bi-monthly newsletter that explores our relationship with ease and joy. In "Getting Aram With...", I ask a woman of colour and/or Muslim woman I admire, three questions surrounding her comforts.

#10 is Ashiya Mendheria, founder of Tayyib Wellness and a student in nutritional therapy. Tayyib Wellness is one of my favourite accounts to follow on Instagram. It's educational, resourceful and an honest experience in trying to better one's wellbeing, with prophetic teachings and Mendheria's own honest learning, minus any of the typical wellness shame. You can buy her zine here.
What's currently bringing you aram?

Tea and trust! I had an online consultation with a herbalist a few weeks ago and she sent me a bespoke blend of dried herbs, including lady's mantle, damask rose and lemon balm, and it has brought immense calm and given me such restorative sleep. I am also focusing my prayers and affirmations around trust — trust in my body's innate capacity to heal, trust in God and trusting what the future holds for me.

I know you're a student in naturopathic nutritional therapy, how do you bring peace into your life through food? 

Cooking definitely brings me peace. From chopping vegetables, filling my kitchen with the scent of spices, listening to sizzling onions, it is certainly a labour of love. I find I am able to be still and calm through escapism. My other absolute musts include getting lost in a good book, watching comedy TV shows and movies, funny memes and TikTok videos especially — they show how similar we all are!
 Spread the maya (love) and tell me about a platform or person you'd like to bring light to. 

I am currently in awe of
Hosai Mojaddidi's infographics on Instagram. It's brimming with profound advice about relationships, forgiveness, time, manners and so much more. Hosai shares her knowledge in a way that is digestible, relatable and easy to implement. 
Things That Have Bought Me Comfort Lately
Writing these International Women's Day features

Why Do Friendship Breakups Hurt So Much?

International Women's Day: The Newsletters By Women of Colour That Are Making Emails Exciting Again

The Reality Of Being A Freelancer And Working Mother With Selina Bakkar and Danielle Pender

How We Met by Huma Qureshi 
Brown Baby by Nikesh Shukla

My Family via BBC iPlayer
Ugly Betty via Disney+
Hola! I'm Tahmina Begum 👋🏾 I'm a writer, editor and creative consultant. The Aram is currently free to subscribers but it does take a labour of love to write and produce, so if you'd like to support, you can buy me a digital Ko-Fi. If you'd like to commission me for any work, feel free to check out my website

Images via @matildagoad @steffan @tayyibwellness and @tahminaxbegum

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The Aram · Location · London , London London · United Kingdom

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