Hello all.

Short and sweet update. I moved from London… to Sri Lanka. I am also, therefore, moving my blog from wordpress… to tumblr.

Slowly all the posts here will move there and all that will remain on this blog will be a link. Looking forward to seeing you there.



Imagine That

First of all, I have to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all of my new subscribers. I’m also sorry, I haven’t written anything for a while and this blog has been a little quiet. I have wracked my brains and tried to think of something I could get down on… screen (!) but nothing has come to mind that didn’t inspire the immediate response “that’s stupid, Zahabiya, no one wants to read that and you shouldn’t want to write it” from that well-dressed but generally over-serious character who lives in the corner of my mind.

But today, something came to me and I wanted to write about this one. It’s about the value of imagination. I’m really not sure if this is going to be any more worth reading than any of the other ideas I have dismissed of late, but the well-dressed young lady’s look of derision has had to be ignored this time.

I, for a long time, have felt like I don’t have enough of an imagination. It is difficult for me to formulate fantastical realms and visualise that which is not and perhaps cannot be, real. However I have come to learn that imagination is so much more than that and I think that it’s a little like what someone once said to me about singing. Everyone can do it, it’s just about learning how. I’m not trying to say that there isn’t a natural talent here; C. S. Lewis was a genius. So is (in my humble opinion) Adele. However, what we have to realise is that telling a story which speaks about the observations you have made of the world in which you live, can and will utilise your imagination. Perceiving a reality, engaging your emotional and intellectual faculties to assess limits and dynamics within that reality will make a fantastic base, but a story, a story that might just speak to someone, might one day make someone see the way you see and feel what you feel, connect with you, a story that might just awaken someone, anyone, to the beauty, anger, pain, perfection, possibility, injustice, around them, a story like that can only be written if you imbue your words with everything you have. For that, you need an imagination.

Of course, you need a whole array of things, including hope, determination and creativity, not least of which will also be a dictionary and the ability to throw one hell of a hissy-fit when the words have actually stopped belonging to your chosen language and you’ve literally lost the plot. But you’ll also need imagination, or so I believe, because otherwise, those moments when your imbuing your words with the meaning you so desperately hope to convey will be lost amongst an abstract narrative because you haven’t grounded your story. This is the amazing thing about imagination – it provides the reality. Whether it be a fictional place, a possible and relatable tale of events or actual history given a believable twist, imagination is what you need to be able to give your story a canvas on which to paint your message, it’s the language in which you will tell the world what you hope to say. About them, about you, about us.

This is just story-telling. But painting a picture. Designing an item of clothing. Making a film. Anything where you’re trying to relay a message. We always need a way to make ourselves heard. And we always need imagination for that. The trick, for me, was realising I’ve got it.


See you, Harry.

When I was in year 6, so this is when I was around 9 or 10, my mum was really into The Oprah Winfrey Show. She still loves Oprah, I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t to be honest. On this show there was a regular book club segment that happened to focus, one time, on Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. My mum thought I, the book worm, should read this one, but I wasn’t interested. I don’t remember if I had heard of Harry Potter or not (back then it was growing as a phenomenon but hadn’t hit the kind of infamy that it now has, or had in its peak), but I just didn’t think it would appeal to me (this might have been because I resented my mother thinking it would be a good choice for me just because it came recommended from her favourite show). But, in the end, it was bought and I read it. I fell in love with it, like I had never fallen for any other experience in my life.

It’s not uncommon to read about people being in love with Harry Potter. It’s not uncommon to read or hear about how it changed their life for the better, sparked creativity, inspired confidence or daring, gave them a sense of belonging (whether it be in communities of fans or just within the story, its characters, that castle) or just something to talk to their parents about. Books have been written about theories surrounding the plot, about life experiences relating to the story, about the entire phenomenon; it’s studied, both for it’s content and impact; it has been the centre of religious and literary debates and of course, has birthed the most successful film franchise of all time.

It gave me so much. I have felt my imagination soar, I have been emotionally ravaged by the twists in the plot, I have literally grown up with Harry (the seventh book came out when I was 17). As a lover of stories and writing, I have been in awe of Rowling’s boundless imagination, the complexities of her world, it’s believability and the attention to detail. I have been amazed by her control and the myriad themes, motifs and subjects she has traversed and explored in her creation – from government and subject, fame and infamy, truth and falsehood, bravery and cowardice, love and power, sport and spectator, learning and teaching, travel and home life, war and peace, sacrifice and absolution; and that is just the beginning. I have invested in characters that she imbued with real traits so that they could go the distance to last seven books and much scrutiny.

The truth is, it is clear to see that Rowling put a lot of herself in her books. Her beliefs and loves pour out of the page, as she does something incredible in creating a world that young and old feel at home returning to, time and time again. The reason why it is so relatable and the reason why I feel it is so successful, is not just that she put all her considerable talent into it, but because she put her whole heart into it.

I’m writing this post because this is how I want to say goodbye to Harry Potter. I’ve put the books away, I’ve transferred the audio books to an external hard-drive and the movies have been packed up. Why? Why would I want to do this after I have obviously had such a positive and genuine experience with something actually phenomenal? Because I have to move on. I like the books, the stories, a little too much and have done for a little too long. It’s time to accept the end and enjoy it when it crosses my path from time to time (the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie that is currently being written, or if I ever get myself to Leavesden Studios). It has inspired so much amazing positive action that is actually making the world and peoples lives, individually and collectively, better. I think that’s amazing and deserves to be celebrated. I just know that for me, it’s done all it can. I just wanted, once and for all, to get down a record of how brilliant I think it is and what it’s meant to me. It might seem strange – how does someone say goodbye to… being a fan of something? Why, in fact, does someone need to? Surely, you just… stop? Well, that, only a fan of anything will understand and I wouldn’t know how to explain, in any case.

Bye, Potter. You did really well.


International Women’s Day

I’ve spent my whole life believing in the wonder of women. I’ve known how powerful we are, experienced the strength we can harness and believed that our hearts give us our most formidable abilities. We can create love, we know sincere compassion, it’s in our blood; we have secrets in our hearts that no one will ever know and yet with a look, a touch, we as women can know each other better than people who spend hours and years and lifetimes talking. We are spectacular.

There was a part of me that thought that commemorating women with a special day couldn’t be a good thing – it smacks of the kind of tribute you give to those whom you want to keep silent – after all, commemorating something is the best way to forget it (I read that somewhere – can’t think where). But no, I’ve chosen optimism (call me foolish). I think it makes total sense – we aren’t being commemorated. We are being celebrated. We really deserve it, too.

We are the most wonderful things in the world. Silent through pain, we drink our tears. The truest voices of love, we channel hope. Resilient in adversity, we fight to move forwards.

I had to write this. Being a boy seems so appealing sometimes. But I want more. I want to be a woman.