Isa. Mama. Aylan Kurdi

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem.

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts for some time now. 7 months seems about right.

It’s been one heckuva year thus far. Not always in a good way.

About a week after my last post in February, I had a baby boy.

I wish I could tell you it was the happiest day of my life, but it was more like the climax to a horror movie. That resulted in something beautiful. But something I really couldn’t relate to as mine.

That feeling lasted a very long time. I’d never been around something as tiny and vulnerable as my son. Yet here I was supposed to bathe him, feed him, dress him and love him.

Meanwhile, my family decided to abandon me to my distress and leave me to work it out on my own. My body was beyond recognition. My life was beyond recognition.

Oh and my son refused to breastfeed. So I figured that he hated me, though he’d only been alive a matter of days. I wish I could say I don’t believe that anymore. But sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion of every kind prevents me from thinking clearly.

Yes, I have post-partum depression. I’m on the drugs. But the best anti-depressant is life, I’ve found. Can’t buy that for the highest price.

If anyone shoves infertility in my face and tells me I should be ‘grateful’, please go find another blog. I can acknowledge my own feelings while honoring other women’s sadness. It’s called dichotomy and I’ve learned in the past few months that it’s the cornerstone of the human experience.

The hits kept coming, of course.

A couple of weeks ago now, my mother died. ALS took her the way it usually does, stopping her breath. My heart is broken.

In all of this, I’ve learned a few things, by God’s Grace.

I’ve learned that every moment is precious because we never know what the next moment may bring.

I’ve learned that people can be indifferent, insensitive, even cruel. But there is no point in being angry with them. It’s just a waste of energy. Staying away from them is a better tactic. And directing my energy towards the people and things I do love.

And what of screenwriting? I spent a long time wondering what the eff I’m doing still screenwriting. Is anyone going to care what a Muslim Sri Lankan woman has to say? People don’t even care what Effie Brown has to say. And Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are actually trying to give directors a leg up. But apparently not diversity.

White straight dudes FTW!

It’s an ugly world out there. ‘Satirical’ magazines mock a dead toddler. Who looks a lot like my son, incidentally.

Children have been killed by guns, intentionally and unintentionally. And yet the government does nothing to protect them, at least from the crazy ones. If we don’t think it’s our responsibility to protect and care for children, however much it hurts us, who are we going to protect?

My stories all contain women of color. Muslims. Sometimes only women. Sometimes only Muslims. Will anyone ever care to make one of my films? I’m wondering now whether I should continue to spend my life beating my head against the wall of privilege. Because I’m tired and I have a headache. For realz.

I have a son. I have a husband. I told stories because I enjoy them. But my heart is too broken for the holes to be plugged by narrative anymore. Maybe I should spend my life loving my family instead. Maybe I should try and find fulfillment somewhere else. Being a teacher like all the women in my family before me.

Maybe. Maybe it just isn’t worth it. Maybe I should leave the good fight to stronger warriors than me.

But there are many lessons I have yet to learn and I can’t, except from my mother.

Mama, how do you learn to die? How do you learn to say goodbye to things and people and dreams and lives that are forever gone? How do you wake from that and still know who you are? Mama, come back. We have so much more to talk about. I have so much more to learn.

But you’re not coming back. Are you? Lots of things are never coming back. And it would appear that once again, I have to figure things out myself.


9 thoughts on “Isa. Mama. Aylan Kurdi

  1. Hi Sabina! Sorry to hear you have had such a hard time of things over the last year and sorry to hear that you lost your Mother. Nothing prepares us for events like that and nothing I can do can help you. It will get better, you know it will, but it takes time, and that wound never truly heals. If you can learn to concentrate on everything you got from her, rather than what you have lost, I hope that will help you through.

    As for writing, only you can really decide whether to carry on or not. Not that my opinion, as a non-professional writer matters a jot, but I loved your writing and it would be a shame to lose that voice. Take some time though – we can all wait until you are ready.

    And having a baby is hard at the best of times. A mother can easily find herself isolated and under massive pressure with her new family member, and emotions are all over the place – my wife was in similar circumstances after our first, so we have an understanding of how you feel and wish you all the best. We can look back see how it got better, but it can be a hard road.

    Of course, one good thing has come out of all this, I found your blog! and I can’t believe I wasn’t already following you! So now I can keep an eye on you and shall look forward to hearing how you are and when you get back into writing.

    All the best to you and your family. Take care of yourselves and good luck!

    1. Thank you SO much for connecting – I’ve missed you guys from the Board so much! I’m glad to know someone’s got out of it. It feels interminable when you’re in it. As you probably well know. My love to your wife and girls 🙂

  2. Sabina! I am on the road at the moment, but I wanted to send you HUGE HUGE virtual hugs from Texas. Postpartum depression and grief from the loss of a loved one are not small battles to fight and I applaud you for taking a step in even writing this… it’s a good first step.

    I wish for strength and resilience and a return to happiness for you. Even though it seems dark now there is light down the road. I’ve been down a similar road with postpartum depression, as well as with grief in the deaths of family and friends and I’ve seen my share of darkness, but I’m here to tell you: time heals and there can be light again.

    No need to suffer alone. Many of us would be happy to be a virtual shoulder to lean on should you need to scream it out, vent, cry, or simply talk… we’re only an email away 🙂

    As-salamu alaykuma wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu

  3. Oh my sweet Sabina!!! My heart aches for you and I shed tears for the pain I know much to acutely as I too lost my mother to ALS in 2008. I can still feel her hair as it runs through my fingers. The touch of her hand in mine during her last hours as I held it, is forever seared into my skin; down to the warmth from a heart that was beating it’s last.

    There is nothing I can say that will ease the pain, only time and God can do that, and it never completely heals. It simply gets better over time. It’s like losing a limb. After awhile the acute pain heals but every now and then the “ghost limb” ripples pain through the soul, affecting the body and even making you cry.

    In time your PPD will heal and all that will be left is the great, unfettered joy of watching your amazing son grow. If anything, take solace in the fact your mother got to see him. There are support groups for women with PPD, there is no weakness is searching them out. Connect with women who have traveled this road and can be a strength to you.

    As for screenwriting, all you need to do is ask yourself one question, “is this my passion?” For a moment, quiet all the fears, doubts, frustrations and pain and simply focus on how writing makes you FEEL. Does it drive your joy? Does sitting down and creating stories and character make you feel like you’re doing the one thing you were born to do? If not, put it down. Walk away. It’ll only be a soul sucker otherwise. There is a very successful, well know screenwriter we all know on Twitter who regularly talks about how much he hates writing and just wishes he could walk away. But he’s too deep into it, too far into contracts, companies, getting paid, he is and feels, stuck. If screenwriting has even the most remote chance of making you feel this way, leave it be and search for the one thing that you truly were born to do.
    However, IF being a screenwriter lights your passions and drives you, then ignore all the bullshit in your head and what you see happening around you and write. Just write and keep writing. Because if you truly feel you were BORN to be a screenwriter, then that is what you are supposed to do and someday you will write a script that will fling open doors for you and magic will happen.

    I say this not from a place of magical fairy tale beliefs but instead from a place of having learned, if there is one thing absolute in life is the universe is NEVER wrong. If you feel you were born to be a screenwriter then you were and everything will fall into place when it’s time. It’s an unwavering belief I know deep in my soul. Just spend some time each day, sitting quietly, calm the mind, focus on your breath and listen to the universe, your soul.

    Believe Sabina. Believe in happiness, success, joy and rest. Believe in your passions, whatever they be. Believe there is light after darkness because one cannot exist without the other. Neither one will last forever.

    Your joy is coming Sabina and it’s coming in a very very big way!!

    Peace my sweet friend.
    (you have my email, feel free to reach out. You can DM me on Twitter as well and we can talk)


    1. I’m sorry to hear about your mom, Tara. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my mama. I know I couldn’t have known her end was near, though I still feel regret. Good advice about listening to my soul. I think I’ll take it. I’ve had enough of rushing through life.

  4. Sending you lots of LOVE ! Stay strong and go through the “pain”…there is beauty in them when you come out the other side. My duas are with you. I have gone through my share of pain too when I gave birth to my girl 9 years ago and close to homelessness. It will get better and the awareness may lead you to where you direct your energy and your dreams towards. Keep your eyes and ears open of the lessons and the signs. Asalaamualaikum my dear.

    1. Walaikum salam warahmatullahi wabarakatahu and jazakhallah khair Murshidah! Allah only gives us what we can handle. Insha Allah, I’ll learn the lessons I need to.

  5. Always remember you are amazing! Direct your own films! Start with a short, submit it to festivals, see where it leads. You do NOT need to wait for the powers that be. Never give up.

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