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The Aram

with Tahmina Begum
Liminality is a word I'm thinking a lot about these days. Described as "the psychological process of transitioning across boundaries and borders", this concept is summing up my mid-twenties well.

After a recent voice note from my aunt, she spoke my mind and said "I hope we get to the stage where we are the people we want to be instead of being caught up in becoming all the time. So we can just be — be it the best in our deen, the best of a friend and the ability to give our family and children the right time and attention." This Big Present Energy is what I'm leading with this September.
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Because I think about Her so often. Who I am going to be and what she is made up of. Be it the kind of home I will live in, the lifestyle I will carry, down to the feeling of who I will be. And to an extent, it's such a distraction. Especially as most of these things I already have but aren't always the ways in which I desire.

There's a difference between having goals and fantasising about a different life. And the funny thing is, sometimes we know why we haven't gone down a certain road but what's hard to let go of is the fact that we wanted that thing, be it a love, a career, a friendship, so much at one point. The ghosts of unresolved dreams can truly hold on and therefore have a hold on us. 

The problem I find in dreaming like this is that there becomes a separation in who you are now and who you think you should be; sometimes to the extent that you miss out on what's in front of you. This gap of in-between isn't always an environment for gratitude or a space for believing in greater timing. It can become fuel for comparison or a rush to get a task sorted — be it getting married or buying a house, just so you can get that out of the way.

There's also a difference in looking around and experiencing this knowing that you have outgrown certain purposes, people and places. That liminality for me is a sign, a pull that I need to stop avoiding my discontent and step into the person I need to be for myself. 
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It's no secret that this summer didn't exactly summer the way many of us planned and expected. The collective feeling of being exhausted even after prioritising sleep shouldn't be dismissed. I haven't met a single soul that feels replenished by the past six weeks. But I'm tired of feeling burnt out and more than that, I'm tired of talking about it. 

So for the first time, in a long time, I'm looking forward to being grounded in Autumn. I think I need it. "Disconnected" is the word I've used most often when my therapist or loved one has asked me how my mind and heart are but like everything, there's a season for everything. It's time for me to be connected again.

Time to step up and be courageous enough to see to my utmost potential (whatever that means to me) while maintaining a lifestyle that doesn't forget the importance of ease. It's a good thing then that September has always felt like the time for new beginnings. 

I hope you too are brave enough to step into who you are and need to be.

With aram and willpower, 
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.

#20 is Maliat Ahmed. Creator of PHD Pending, a space that breaks down academic smoke and mirrors, especially for those from marginalised and working-class backgrounds. Mali also studies the use of non-invasive brain stimulation on developing our understanding of social perception through transcranial magnetic stimulation at Goldsmiths (yeah wow I know) and co-hosts the Honest Academia podcast.  

Not only is Mali someone close to my heart but I'm always impressed by the educational ceilings she's breaking, especially for others so academia can be less intimidating and more diverse.

What's currently bringing you aram?

Aram isn't something I'm all too familiar with or something I make much time for. Having said that, when things become overwhelming I know exactly who to turn to which are my loved ones. I have a small set of people who constantly bring me aram and for this past year, that's been a genuine lifesaver. Whether they know it or not, talking to them, laughing and being held by them is everything to me. Allahumma Barik Ameen to those individuals. 

Also, anything matcha flavoured, be it homemade lattes to Mr Whippy-style ice cream. Something about that flavour brings me such ease.

What would you like women of colour from marginalised and working-class backgrounds to know about making space for themselves in academia?

That it's not going to be easy but that you have every right to be there. The world as we know it is so skewed, especially in academia. So it's time for us to take up space (it's been time but we don't dwell on that). Remember to be your authentic self, your background is what helped shape you and you should never have to hide that.

Our world of academia is slowly changing and that's because people like ourselves are making waves in our respective fields. Maybe you'll have to play the game a little to get in but that's life. Just remember who you are and you are always enough. Fiind some good friends who can remind you of the blessing that it is to be you, whether that's because of the faith that grounds you or your ethnicity that enriches you or your socio-economic status that shows what a hard worker you are. My arms are always open to being a part of that support system for you!

Spread the maya and share a woman of colour you'd like to shout out.

Oh this is funny because in any normal circumstance it would be you Tahmina! I have to give maya to my big sister Lamisa (another woman of The Aram). She's always doing bits and balancing a million things in the background most people don't get to see. I'm so proud to call her my family.

 I recently connected with the sweetest Bengali woman on Instagram, her name is Nusrat and she's sick. She's about to start her journey in Med-school. This woman is so unapologetically Bengali — I freaking love it! She has created some free resources to help people navigate their med school applications! I'm so excited to watch her blossom.

Since I can't really give you a shoutout here I'm going to shout out Sofia. Dr Sofia I should say, she's the only other person I would trust with book recommendations. I interviewed her for my first series on PhD Pals and I just remember her being so lovely and her page is full of reading recommendations, from South Asian authors too!! 

The super talented makeup artist Tasnim Nahar, who is one of the most genuine souls I've had the pleasure of meeting. Her work is phenomenal - definitely worth checking out! (Reserved her for my wedding already).

There are so many people I want to share the love with but to save time those who are close to me know who they are. I want to take these last moments to once again say, Allahumma Barik, may all your dreams come true and any obstacles in your way be removed to provide a path of ease, Ameen.

What's Brought Me Aram Lately

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

When You Were Young by The Killers
Mouthwash by Kate Nash 
Get Into It (Yuh) by Doja Cat

Claudia Winkleman via On Reading
Spiritual Awakening: Who Am I And Why Am I Here? via Unswnd + Unfltrd
Famous But Skin via The Receipts Podcast ft Mo Gilligan

Luna London Candles
So Just Shop Palm Shopper
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 courtesy of @jacquemus @luciazolea @_malimal @qavi_reyez

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