By Shameelah Khan
There are endless rituals to be thankful for in our lives. Some we carry with us always. Others, well, not so much. These cultural rituals are extremely beautiful, but I have to admit that, over the past year, this world has completely changed the way I view and experience myself. If anything, it is the rituals that I had conjured up for myself that carried me through this pandemic, and will probably continue to stay close to my heart. These are the personal everyday rituals that live with me. These are thikr (meditation), healing calls with loved ones, lighting candles, eating on the ground, long baths, playlists, journaling, therapy sessions, taking care of my hair, painting, binging The Crown or MasterChef Australia, my Friday congregational prayer group, and Qur’an circle. Most importantly, though, there were three rituals that I would like to share.
- Poetry as gifts, an act of selflessness
If anyone knows me well enough, they will know my love for poetry. I have a dear friend who I had met once briefly in person but then over social media, an unlikely friendship formed. A kindred bond from stories about our families to Harry Potter (we both agree that Dumbledore is a Sufi) to painful lamenting about Palestine, to endless chats about tea, and, best of all – poetry. I am not sure how it happened, but this gift of poetry sharing occurred quite suddenly. Before I knew it, he was translating poems every day and sending them to me. At first, I thought our poetry sharing would last a few weeks, but it didn’t. I received a poem a day for 208 days. 208 poems. From Nizar Qabbani to Mahmoud Darwish, I was deeply held through this ritual of poetry. I want to think that this will be a lifelong friendship. I know that he is travelling right now, but I hope that he is safe, content, and the coffee is good wherever he is. Thank you for being a light in this world and to all those around you. I sometimes think that poetry was a gift from you but, having you as a friend, was the real gift.
- The pipe room, an act of sisterhood
My sister and I have always been inseparable. We drive each other crazy at times, but we still find solace in our pipe room when times are tough. The pipe room is where we listen to music, stare at the open night sky, drink boiled tea, and smoke an essential shisha. It is here, between the spaces of comfortable silence and loud laughter, that the pipe room becomes a healing space. It is here that we bare all our pains and sorrows or simply vent about whatever is troubling us. We become listeners and speakers, mutually allowing the other to have that space. It is in this room that nothing else but our sisterhood matters. A precious gift, during the lockdowns, this place was a home for both of us. I appreciate this ritual very much, and over the years, it is one that I hold in high regard because my sister is my home.
- My masters, an act of selfishness
This was a really big one for me. I recently came across a friend’s Facebook post about the difficulty of research. He mentioned that waking up was tough, and writing for a few hours had become the norm. The post ends with him saying that this year things have changed; he wakes up earlier than usual and writes and prays and feels far better. I have to admit, this was me too. I read it and felt comforted in some way – this is very difficult. This masters becomes a mirror, and the more you stare at it, the more you stare at yourself. You begin to enter a kind of madness reading and writing and entering the unknown daily. It isn’t easy. To cope, I began to form rituals. Without these rituals, I do not think I would have managed at all. Writing in a pandemic is very difficult, and we have to permit ourselves to struggle sometimes. Now, to write, my day has to be structured around rituals of healing. These include lighting a study candle and incense, breathing exercises, morning pages, never writing in the same place consistently, endless curated playlists, healthy eating, taking needed breaks, not responding to texts when I don’t need to, saying no to outings or gatherings, moving my body when it needs a break, and, the most precious of all, my Wednesday sessions with one of my closest friends. When I was blocked and unsure of what to do next, she came to my rescue and ritualized our time. Wednesdays are now a day of theoretical unpacking, healing, mind-mapping, soul searching and structured conversations. If it were not for this ritual, I would not be where I am in this research. I am thankful for this, for her. Another friend, now head editor of Odd, would always check in on me, another would make sure that I was taking care of myself, and another gifted me with the Artist’s Way and also partakes in my rituals of healing – possibly the only person who bravely told me, “you are blocked, you need help”. All of this has saved me.
These are only some of the rituals that I am grateful for because these were not about me – it was about a space of sharing and giving. In the end, I have learnt that rituals are what keep us going and they help us survive the internal chaos and sometimes they are entirely needed to silence that inner critic, reminding us that people take time out to create rituals within every day. They are not grand acts of ritual, but smaller ones, that remind us of the ways of love and the many forms in which it exists.
This year marks the 5th Anniversary of Odd. This is a happy birthday to Odd but also- a dedication to all of the readers who have grown with us. This is an exciting time for us. We would like to welcome to our team our new Head Editor, Tahzeeb Akram. We would also like to invite you to witness our website’s change and the latest additions. This includes a Poddcast, a new literary consultation agency and a bookers corner. Essentially, Odd is growing, and we are hoping to create unique and meaningful contributions to our company.
In the Issue:
A Tree, a Bud, and a Flower — Radiyah Manjoo
Wedding Rituals — Zahirra Dayal
Ritualistic Change: “The Night After the Civil War Ended” — Tolulope Impact Ogedengbe
HÄXAN — Scott Aaron Tait
By moonlight and by fire & parentheses — Tanya Akrofi
Horoscope — Liswindio Apendicaesar
Isadora’s Familiar & Dermatillomania— Louise Mather
O — Geoffrey Diver
rituals of healing — Nkateko Masinga
Ritualising Love — Sarah Asmali
Rituals — Takudzwa Goniwa