Juwairiah M
Poetic Journal // Voices During Quarantine

époque press
pronounced: /epƏk/
definition: /time/era/period

Day 1 – Lockdown


We are in lockdown. Now that I am in it, I am not too sure I want to be. I am a busy person.   I am worried about how I will cope now my life has come to a grinding halt.  I can use this time to write.  Will it deliver the stillness I require?

April, May and June were meant to be hectic months for me and I was gearing myself up for it.  Ramadhan, university deadlines and work were going to leave me with little to no time for anything else. How will it be now?  I don’t want to feel trapped.

I’m not sure I trust Boris to see us through this. I haven’t forgotten that he called Muslim women letterboxes. Do we have to forgive that now the virus had intruded? 

 

Day 1 – Response


We are in a lockdown. I was waiting for it, but now that I am in it I am not too sure I want to be. I’m always busy I’m worried about how I will cope now my life has come to a grinding halt. 

May I can use to time to write. Will it give me the stillness I require? I can rest, connect with ‘A’  and rejuvenate myself. 

April, May and June were meant to be hectic months for me and I was gearing myself up for it Ramadhan, university deadlines and work were going to leave me with little to no time for anything else. How will it be now? 

I don’t want to feel trapped. I’m not sure I trust Boris to see us through this. I haven’t forgotten when he called Muslim women letterboxes. Do we have to forgive that now the virus had intruded? 
 

Day 3 – Pancakes


Pancakes are so bizarre. They are round gloopy lumpy things that turn into round pretty beings, that taste divine.

I made pancakes for breakfast today.  I mean I took them out of the packet, warmed them up and cut some fruit for decor. My sister makes pancakes from scratch. They are perfectly round. She cuts the fruit neatly and decorates it with some cream.

 

My pancakes aren’t like hers, but that’s ok right? 

 

Day 6 – Sunshine worrier


I can smell the sunshine today. I feel sad when it’s sunny and I can’t go out.  So instead we sat on the roof terrace and played cards. I’ve never played before so I lost numerous times. I’m a sore loser I’ve come to accept. I said the game was boring when in fact I just didn’t like that I was not great at it. 

I’m going to get better; I don’t give up that easily.

 

Day 10 – Couple quarantine


Read today that there is a rise in divorce due to the pandemic. Couples who love each other seem to not like each other. Me and ‘A’ are getting on well. It is a chance for us to reconnect. We never get to spend enough time together.

He calms me down and reassures me when I’m anxious. I often think of how my life would have turned out if I married someone like me, would both our anxious natures make us drive each other out. I like to think I’m a support to him also, a breath of fresh air with my weird and witty ways. I wonder how our relationship will morph after this. 

 

Will there be a new normal? 

 

Day 14 – NHS Cakes


I bought a cake today; it was delivered to my house. The proceeds went to the NHS. I wondered whether having the cake delivered defeated the purpose of charity, as the courier would be risking his life to deliver a cake. 

I felt bad for a little while, but then I ate the cake. It was good cake. Spongy yet firm. I would eat a cake like this on the days I would have school dinners. Those days were rare as my mother would usually pack me great home-made lunches.

 

Age 26 I’m eating a similar cake; I wonder if I’ve changed? 

 

Day 1 – Ramadhan


We have spotted the crescent moon and it’s Ramadhan.  But my family and I are spread across London.  I miss the communal feasts and my mother's cooking. I wonder if I will connect more this year? 

I can see the overground from my window. The train I get to Hackney Central. I haven’t been on the train for over 6 weeks. I haven’t lived in Hackney for almost 5 years but it will always be home.  

The mosques will be shut. There will be no congregational prayers, no bowing or prostration in union. That saddens me.

Fasting has given me a sense of clarity. As though I am rebooting my body, as the world is rebooting itself. Together we will be new. 

 

Day 1 – Ramadhan Response (Haiku)


forehead to the earth

pleading for the globe to mend 

Ramadhan is near

 

Day X – Canal Walk


I’ve forgotten the date. I’ve lost count of what day of lockdown we are in.

I took a walk on the canal today. I’ve lived here for over 6 months but have never visited the canal adjacent to my house. There are lots of boats, they all look a little different. One has lots of paintings on it and I believe if I had a boat it would look like mine.

Me and ‘A’ discuss what we would call our boat. He said simple names but I wanted something elaborate.  I like the idea of a boat; it would allow me to never settle and to travel. I wish I could be at a beach right now. 

 

I’m tired of these concrete buildings. I need blue. 

 

Day X – Visit from Red


I saw Red and began to sob. Red means I will no longer fast. Usually I welcome Red; she offers me a break from fasting. This year it is different. My period is unwelcome. I wanted to fast, it helps me breathe.  It allows me to detox, focus and be present. 

I needed Ramadhan to come. I counted down the hours and days. When sunset set in and Ramadhan embraced me I felt at ease. It was a comfort that meant stability, routine and gratitude. 

I’m not fasting in the literal sense, but I am fasting my soul. I am feeding my heart nourishing news, love and gratitude. I am giving to others and hoping that the earth will heal.  In 7 days, I will fast again. I’m waiting for the moment for when I can put my forehead to the floor once again.

 

Day X – Visit from Red response


I saw red and began to sob. Red means I will no longer fast. Usually I welcome red  she offers me a break from fasting. 

 

This year it is different. My period is unwelcome. I wanted to fast, it helps me breathe.  It allows me to detox, focus and be present. 

 

I needed Ramadhan to come. I counted down the hours and days. When sunset set in and Ramadhan embraced, me I felt at ease. It was a comfort that meant stability, routine and gratitude. 

I’m not fasting in the literal sense, but I am fasting my soul. I am feeding my heart nourishing news, love and gratitude. I am giving to others and hoping that the earth will heal. 

 

In 7 days, I will fast again. I’m waiting for the moment for when I can put my forehead to the floor once again.

 

Day X –  Nourishing the celebs


Politicians and celebrities are fasting. They aren’t Muslim but they are fasting. Some people are annoyed as they are unsure of their intention.  I welcome it. Maybe they are intrigued as to how it feels to not let food nor water touch your lips from sunrise to sunset. 

How it feels to feed your soul and body after long hours with nourishing food. The joy it brings. How it feels to have discipline, and to be in control of yourself, in a time when we have none. 

 

Day X – The horse came to visit


There’s a man on a horse outside my window.

 

I live in London.  Not in the countryside. 

 

Is he taking his horse for a walk? 

 

Where does the horse reside?

 

Why is out on the street? 

 

Is the horse making the most of the lockdown? 

 

Is the horse taking the man for a walk? 

 

Please come back Horse

 

Day X –  Laundry day


The lockdown has stolen my voice. I am not able to write poetry. Instead I write a journal. It is meant to be a daily journal, but days blur and I have lost my sense of time.

Sunday’s are now the new Monday’s. Laundry day is no longer Wednesday and now Friday. Our Friday night routine of takeaway and a movie has been cancelled. It hasn’t been rescheduled.

 

When will you give me my week back?

 

Day X – Body slam 


Today I do not love my body. I saw pictures of myself as an 18-year-old. I believe I was beautiful then, because I was slimmer.  But back then, I did not feel beautiful because I thought I was fatter.

Some days I feel as though I am too pale to be Indian, other days I am too brown to be anything else.

In fleeting moments, I find myself to be beautiful. On the days I can feel collar bones and ribs. Those days are far and few between.

 

Day X – Body slam response


Today I do not love my body. I saw pictures of myself as an 18-year-old.  believe I was beautiful then, because I was slimmer.  But back then, I did not feel beautiful because I thought I was fatter.

Some days I feel as though I am too pale to be Indian, other days I am too brown to be anything else.

In fleeting moments, I find myself to be beautiful. On the days, I can feel collar bones and ribs. Those days are far and few between.

 

Day X – A 20-year-old prayer


I FaceTimed my mum; my dad was in the background. He is dressed in a white vest and trousers. He is helping my mum cook. The lockdown has improved their marriage. They have learnt to appreciate each other. She said they prayed together for the first time in 20 years, because usually he prays at the mosque.

 

He looks older. I miss him.

 

Day X – Parenthood comes crawling


‘A’ has a gentle soul. He would make a great father. I too would make a great mother, or so people say. 

I am too selfish to love another yet. I don’t think I will ever be ready. I’m worried I will ruin their life.

But then we have so much love to give. We both come from semi broken homes, could we ever make a child feel whole? 

 

Maybe I will get a cat instead.
 

Day X – Career Bonanza


This lockdown has helped me gather my thoughts. Sometimes it forces me to address parts of my life which I ignore; such as my career. I have always loved working two-part time jobs. One in an office working for a charity and one within a classroom as a facilitator.

I couldn’t work within a classroom full time nor could I work in an office full time. I need a balance of both. All I know is I like to work for an organisation I care about. I like to help others, both within the classroom and within the charity.

 

All I know for sure right now is I need a holiday. 

 

Day X – Worried Wonder Woman


I’ve been feeling anxious today.  I’m worrying about how everything will unfold. I’m worrying about balancing work and university assignments. I’m worried about my parents. 

I’m worrying way too much. But it’s ok. I need to be kinder to myself. I’m doing well by being indoors for this long. Everyone’s allowed to have a down day.
 

Day X – Death toll


The death rate has reduced. I rejoice. 

But people are still dying. A friend of mine lost her father today. 

I don’t want to lose anyone I love. I’m not ready to let anyone go.

 

Day X – Mama’s cooking


I’m fasting. I feel whole once again. My mum sent me food. I may be biased but I believe Indian food truly is the best. The level of flavour and spice we beautify our dishes with is heavenly. 

I wish I was breaking my fast with them. Waiting for the call to prayer at sunset and then reaching for the dates are the highlights of my day. I never imagined a Ramadhan where I’d be isolated. I’m grateful to be with ‘A’, without him I’d be lost. 
 

Day 36 – Healing


It’s almost day 14 of Ramadhan. It’s flying by. I don’t want it to end. I’m not done with it yet. I still need to heal. 

 

Day X – Restrictions lifted


Some restrictions within the lockdown may be eased. I thought reading those words would bring me comfort. Now I am unsure. 

Where will I go first? Would I go to see my parents or am I worried that I may still expose them to something? 

I have so many questions. Google isn’t giving me the answers.

 

Day 40 – Colouring the virus


Read that Black Britons are nearly twice as likely for to die from COVID than white people. 

People from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities also had a significantly higher risk of dying.

Apparently, it’s down to socio and economic factors. To me it means people of colour are dying because we are poorer. Is there now a price on this virus? That if you are rich enough you are more likely to survive. 

I’m tired, that everything around us revolves around the colour of our skin. Even the virus. 

 

Day 40 – Colouring the virus response


Read that Black Britons are nearly twice as likely for to die from COVID than white people. 

 

People from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities also had a significantly higher risk of dying.

 

Apparently, it’s down to socio and economic factors. To me it means people of colour are dying because we are poorer. Is there now a price on this virus? That if you are rich enough you are more likely to survive. 

 

I’m tired, that everything around us revolves around the colour of our skin. Even the virus.

 

Shades of Corona

 

we don’t want to die

this virus feeds on brown skin

will you stain us white? 

Day 48 – The call to prayer
 

The call to prayer echoed in the streets. I felt as though I was in the streets of Makkah or Madinah. But instead I am in London. 

 

People piled out of their homes; Muslims and not, to fill their heart with the melodious sound. In that moment, I was at peace.

Day 48 -  Response
 

Lockdown Adhaan
 

holy melody

it bounces from the rooftop 

and into their core.

Juwairiah M is a British, Muslim, Indian poet and educator based in London. She is a postgraduate student studying Creative Writing and Education.