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The Aram

with Tahmina Begum
As it's my birthday month, there will be a weekly edition of The Aram in February instead of fortnightly. In honour of my late grandfather, I'm also raising money for those who can't afford their own funerals. The fundraiser ends next week.
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It's my twenty-sixth birthday tomorrow and seeing as I've been stuck indoors with Coronavirus for the past couple of weeks, I thought I'd indulge myself by writing a list of thirty-five 'truths' I've learnt by twenty-six. I can already hear the scoffing by those who are much older than me but don't worry boomers, your girl still has bouncy skin and a lot of life to live inshallah.

1. The things that women usually get made to feel small about are usually the important things in life that insecure men can't capitalise on. From looking after the home, taking care of our hair and nails, to the ways in which our friends react to the news of us getting back with our ex. Even when your bath isn't the kind of bath you wanted. All these 'small things' matter. 

2. A walk in any kind of greenery always grants the ability to be grateful.

3. Red and pink will always work well together. Or any colour that's either next to or opposite each other on the colour wheel. There are literally no rules when it comes to playing with your palette, especially when you own melanin. 
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4. Pleasures or tastes shouldn't have to be explained. I have approximately five TV shows that are always on loop in the background and would rather listen to noughties R&B all day instead of turning on the radio. Spend your free time exactly how you like, it is yours after all.

5. Nothing lasts forever and that's the best, most humbling thing. And this too shall pass.

6. Pears always taste better after 10 pm. Apples too with salt, chilli and lime.

7. Being busy for the sake of appearing busy is quite a sad sensibility to adopt. It may keep you sane for a little while but most things you're avoiding have a way of becoming a life mission. Your life doesn't have to be bursting at the seams to be very good. 

7. Book shopping has nothing to do with book reading but both are excellent for the soul. 

8. Great friendships, just like everything else, is time invested in. They will never just fall at your feet. Also, always remember important dates like birthdays and anniversaries, please! No-one is that busy. 

9. My mother is the best cook in the world. Those who did not have the privilege of housing in her womb tend to agree with this fact too. 

 10. If you're shunning something, it's usually life asking you why you're so intent on not having it. This most definitely goes for love.

11. It's important to say 'Alhamdullilah' or 'thank you' to everything that goes wrong. The redirection could literally be saving you from something else. 

12. It's even more important to say thank you for the things you don't have as well as the things you do have. The things you don't have to go through.

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13. As the 'strong one', it's important to let others learn their own lessons without stepping in and 'saving' everyone.

14. Men who are gentle and remember that they too are half of a woman are the best kind of men. 

15. No-one in the workplace should make you feel inferior, even if you're just starting out. That shouldn't come under the umbrella of paying your dues. 

16. Bengali cuisine is highly-underrated but literally caters to everyone. We are spicy, sweet, salty and sour, and dons at making everything taste so good

17. If you're holding onto something too tight, it probably isn't yours in the first place. It's cliche yet true every time. 

18. It's fantastic being wrong and changing your mind with the seasons. Whether that be your sexuality, your haircut, the loveful boundaries you’ve set with those in your close circles. This applies to everything.

19. If you do not ask, you do not get. Be it salaries, the ways in which you need to be held to the lifestyle you require.

20. Therefore, whatever you ask for, you need to be willing to give. Whether it be peace, compassion, loyalty or time. 

21. Your parents are very human. And sometimes, they only grow up when you do. And sometimes they never do and at other times, they surprise us. Human is the keyword here.

22. Before we blame a group of marginalised people for how they are, it's important to look at how that community is being supported financially, their living circumstances and the things they've been made to accept.

23. There is an art to buying mugs as it sets different moods. From the Central Perk kind to the dainty Japanese glass-blown type. The same goes for T-shirts too.

24. How you go to sleep at night is usually how you'll wake up. 

25. No-one and nothing can give peace to yourself the way you can. It's vital to work out who you are without the stress and noise of it all. 

26. It’s even more imperative for women to work out who they are outside of being a wife, mother, sister, friend and so forth. 

27. There's a reason why duas, prayers, affirmations have been here since the dawn of time. The most important thing about being prayerful I've found is doing so in small and consistent acts and not knocking yourself down when you don't meet your own standards. Perhaps, that's something to keep in mind for everything else too?

28. Sometimes people only find a sense of shanti after they pass away.

29. You can hold two truths in each hand without them being mutually exclusive. Something could be perfect but still not for you. Therefore it's imperative you see what's good for you versus a good opportunity.

30. If you have them, grandparents are gifts. Treat them as such. Have (now digital) sleepovers and record simple conversations. Find out about ex-flames and what they still adore. 

31. All of us are scared and fearless all of the time. 'Daring greatly' comes with practice.
32. If you get periods, your cycle controls everything and there's no shame in that. I recommend reading Period Power by Maisie Hill. 

33. Rest is a fundamental right and not a treat.

34. It's important to live while doing *all* this unlearning. Not everyday work on yourself, somedays just enjoy. 

35. I know nothing and that is completely freeing. All praise to the Most High.

With aram,
Tahmina

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Things That Have Brought Me Comfort Lately
 
Books
Voices of The Lost by Hoda Barakat

Playlist

No Bus by lophiile, Col3trane and Amber Mark

Podcast

The Michelle Obama Podcast

On Screen
Soul on Disney+
The IT Crowd

 
Support Independent Bookshops

Everyone knows buying books off Amazon isn't great for authors, or actually anyone involved, so Bookshop.org launched in the UK to support independent bookshops with every sale.

You can 
shop for my recommendations here (I get a tiny commission fee). You'll find reads by Muslim women, my favourite titles, and the books that continue to shape my work. Mwah, mwah. 
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Hola! I'm Tahmina Begum 👋🏾 I'm a writer, editor and consultant. If you like The Aram, feel free to support my work and buy me a digital Ko-Fi. If you'd like to commission me for any work, feel free to check out my website

Images: @remotely.co @beautiful.bibliophile @collagerie @hirokolele

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