A virgin’s tale: “Hold my bum and put it in your mouth”

“Hold my bum and put it in your mouth” he instructs. I close my eyes and try to control my gag reflex as the sour taste of the drizzle sharply catches the back of my throat…


It’s Reena’s hen do, and we’re meeting her friend Kay for a late lunch at Dishoom, in Central London. I’m told that Kay wears a hijab (headscarf). I wonder if I’ll have to be on my best behaviour since my potty mouth can quite easily secure me a place of high standing within the “astagfirullah” club. The literal translation of astagfirullah in Arabic is ‘I seek forgiveness in Allah’ but it’s often used as an expression of disapproval or shame. Usually though, even my good deeds are punished with the likes of aunty Bushra who’ll mutter astagfirullah under her breath as I innocently tell her that sex toys are now up to 30% cheaper at Ann Summers – after all, I’m just trying to look out for uncle Amjad who needs a little more spice than aunty Bushra’s peach coloured Marks & Spencer girdle.

Don’t talk filth I remind myself as we park up and make our way towards the restaurant. One thing I’m not worried about though, is small talk. Unnecessary communication is Afreen’s department. Not one to understand the definition of precise and concise, she will literally talk until your ears bleed. I on the other hand have other plans. I’ll be using this time to assess Kay. She’ll be travelling with us to Reena’s wedding, so if I don’t like her, I guess I’ll have to find a way of nudging her out of the vehicle when it’s moving at 80mph. After all, accidents do happen.

Wowzers, she is tiny I think, as we’re introduced to Kay. At 5’10 with heels, I tower over her 4’11 miniature frame. As we take our seats at the table, I laugh at the thought of Kay fitting snuggly between Tamara’s gigantic boobs which radiate the heat of a fully functioning tandoor. Surprisingly though, it’s not long before we warm to Kay and I quickly drop the idea of pushing her out of a moving vehicle. “We have a spare ticket… for the strip show… if you want to come” I ask tentatively. The girls quickly echo the invitation. Kay casually shrugs and accepts the invite, winning our hearts in the process. Our evening is spent bonding over male nudity and watching Kay squirm in her seat as the host picks her as his target for the evening.

Reena’s wedding venue is Eastnor Castle, a magnificent Georgian castle situated in the foothills of the Malverns. It’s early April, and we’re hoping for two things: hot guys and good weather. We arrive a day early with the bride to-be in the hope of a relaxing stay at a hotel nearby. I’m immediately put on edge by the smell of cheap cigarettes as we walk through the dimly lit hotel car park. The sticky floor in the reception area doesn’t go undetected as I exchange what the fuck was Reena thinking looks with Afreen and Tamara. It’s essentially a pub with a handful of rooms upstairs. I miserably carry my luggage up the navy blue carpeted spiral staircase. As I reach my gloomy room, I silently pray that Reena gets explosive diarrhoea as she tries to consummate her marriage tomorrow. Ignoring the dust on the mahogany furniture, I charge towards the bathroom to assess the showering facilities. Aside from the foul urine smell, it’s apparent that the shower hasn’t been cleaned since the armies of King Harold and William the Conqueror clashed in the 1066 Battle of Hastings. It really is a hotel from hell.

As we later join the other girls in their room, I note that Reena still hasn’t showered. She blames her lack of hygiene on having had a wax yesterday, but we know that if she had it her way, she’d only shower once a fortnight. Taking my role as her bridesmaid seriously, I firmly remind her that she is getting married tomorrow, and her husband to-be won’t appreciate her smelly bits. Afreen and I resort to forcibly walking her to the bathroom and pushing her in to shower. She emerges half an hour later looking somewhat cleaner, albeit wearing a questionable outfit – it’s what she describes as her night ‘maxi’ – if you’re Bengali, you might know what that looks like, otherwise, let’s just call it a hot pink mess.

The next morning Reena, Kay and Tamara leave early to meet the make-up artist at the castle. As Afreen and I enter the bridal suite a couple of hours later, I can’t help but laugh at the sight of Kay standing beside the bed that almost matches her in height. There is talk of Tamara joining Reena and the groom in their bedroom overnight. We can’t quite figure out whether this is a joke or some weird Bengali tradition. Afreen and I exchange confused looks as we make our way to our room, trying hard to shake off the image of Tamara sleeping between the bride and groom.

Our bedroom beautifully captures the views of the botanic gardens and lake. The castle is simply exquisite and for a fleeting moment, I allow myself to think that I could happily get married here – until of course I digest the fact that it would require me to tolerate a man long enough to walk down the aisle. We quickly get dressed and head downstairs to sort out the cupcakes and wedding favours. We’d spent endless hours at Tamara’s house the preceding week preparing bridal cupcakes and putting together these fidgety favour boxes. For the odd sugar almond sweet that dropped on the tiled floor, we placed this in a special favour box for Reena’s evil sister in-law. Of course now that these favours are being placed on the tables, we can no longer identify the box containing the floor-kissed sweets. Oops.

As the wedding commences, Afreen and I are tasked with leading the bride down the red carpeted stairs. Whilst we wait at the top of the stairs, I look down below to get a glimpse of the groom and his family. I’m casually scanning the room for hot men when my eyes freeze on the groom’s face. I suddenly panic. Why the fuck does he look like Jackie Stallone?? How has he managed to look 30 years older than his age?? We all attended the same college in East London and whilst he did look like a gangly Brown boy, what the actual hell has happened to him since college?!! I look at Reena’s beautifully made up face and then down at this Brown Jackie Stallone with a Donald Trump tan. I just don’t understand. As we start walking down the stairs with his bride, I notice how miserable and moody he looks, almost as if he doesn’t want to be here. As I edge closer to him, I see that the orange colour is more prominent on his cheeks – he is wearing tangerine coloured foundation. Once I’ve got over the initial shock, I feel a little bad for judging him superficially, and rather ashamed of my reaction. He’s probably a nice guy I try to convince myself, but for once, both my heart and mind are in sync: NO. There is something about his energy that I just don’t like.

Other than a slight altercation with the evil sister-in-law over the lemon drizzle cake, the reception is going rather well. As the two token Pakistanis at a Bengali wedding, Afreen and I struggle to convince the golden oldies that we really don’t understand their language. Sadly, my knowledge of the Bengali language is limited to “ami tomake bhalobashi” (I love you) and “amar nunu chaat” (suck my dick), neither of which seem quite appropriate for this particular occasion. The wedding fortunately ends on a high and we’re back in the bridal suite trying to pull Reena out of her extremely heavy bridal dress. As Tamara and Afreen pull her wedding dress over her head, Reena bends over to expose her pink lace knickers. I can’t help but to grab the broom in the corner and try shoving it up her exposed arse, as a preview of what’s to come when her cherry is popped tonight – yes, she is a virgin.

Once the bride and groom are in their honeymoon suite, we settle by the fireplace in the drawing room, surrounded by medieval amour, tapestries, Italian furniture and fine art. The night guard who I’m convinced is a ghost, offers to light the fire whilst Afreen and I head upstairs to make tea. As we return with the tea in hand, we see Kay and Tamara nestled up against a wooden panel. I raise an eyebrow as Kay whispers that the bride and groom’s bathroom is on the other side, and they can clearly hear the conversation. Feeling not even an ounce of shame, I pick up a slice of lemon drizzle cake and join the party.

The running tap suggests that they’re trying out the fancy bath tub. Getting Reena in the bath is of course a small miracle in itself, but I’m hoping he’s not trying to pop her cherry in the bath tub. Merely seconds later, I freeze with horror as I hear his words “hold my bum and put it in your mouth”. My lemon drizzle cake makes its way back up as I try to control my gag reflex. The image of this Brown tangoed Jackie Stallone instructing his wife to hold his bum and put his little wiener in her mouth is simply unbearable. Why would she need to hold his bum? I wonder. Does his little jalapeño spin in clockwise direction like a handheld fan? Is it really that small? I try hard not to imagine what his bum looks like, but I’m failing miserably – and it’s not a nice image. Reena soon has us all in hysterics as she says the dreaded words that no man wants to hear: “is it in?”. Suddenly though, the mood turns sour. He starts raising his voice in frustration, because it seems she doesn’t know what she’s doing. The fun is knocked right out of us as she starts crying. I get the sudden urge to hold his bum and stick a cactus plant through his back passage, but we know that it’s not appropriate for us to step in, so we head back to our rooms, unable to make sense of what’s just happened.

As a Muslim woman, I find the patriarchal arrogance of many Brown men deeply disturbing. Screw around, insist on marrying a virgin, and when she isn’t bringing it like a Hugh Hefner Playboy bunny in the bath tub – make her feel like absolute shit. It’s fair to say that this whole virginity obsession irks me – on both sides of the debate. Our Eastern values dictate that we don’t engage in pre-marital sex for a number of reasons: religious teachings, the risk of pregnancy before marriage, oh the shame – “what will people think”, you’re a cheap whore if you do, and my personal favourite: “no man will marry you”. Compare these values to the West where a more casual attitude is taken towards sex, and we soon find ourselves in a bit of a pickle.

My issue isn’t whether you’ve taken a vow of chastity or engage in pre-marital sex – it’s the judgement that comes with it. If you do engage in pre-marital sex, it’s likely that you can’t openly discuss it with your family or even with some of your friends from the Indian subcontinent out of fear of being branded a whore. But equally in the West, you’ll find that telling someone you’re a virgin will be met with “Are you serious – you’re a virgin at this age?!”. Chances are, you’ll be too embarrassed to express your truth, so you let people assume otherwise. Basically, you’re a whore if you do, and a whore if you don’t.

You’ll often hear men like Reena’s husband moan about Asian women pretending to be virgins when they’re not. Yes sweetheart, they do. You can push your 3.7 inch little wiener into your mama’s home baked cherry pie and no one will bat an eyelid, but a Brown girl can have her character assassinated merely for not being able to make round chapattis, let alone her sexual activity. The real question to ask is why a penis is considered so important that it can change who a woman is? Hymen is a tissue, so stop making it a bloody issue. Whether we have cobwebs, cucumbers, or battery operated boyfriends between our legs – it really ain’t your business.

Until next time…

The Accidental Lawyer

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Dear Diary…

Dear diary,

There is nothing else I can think of except him. First, ages ago I just thought he woz cute but slowly it turned into a crush, then love, but now it’s an obsession. I can’t live without seeing him, he’s like a drug, if I don’t see him I become restless, I see him everywhere….

[2.01.2007]

So here’s a confession – I’m a bit of a hippie-dippie at heart. Eden Phillpotts’ quote ‘the universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper’ wholly resonates with me. I believe in the magic of the universe. My entire being can perhaps be summed up in a few words: the soul of a gypsy, the fire of a lioness, the heart of a hippie, and yes… the mouth of a sailor. My curiosity, coupled with a heavy dose of childlike excitement often takes me to the strangest of places.

8 May 2020: whilst browsing Etsy.com, I stumble upon an unusual listing: “I will draw your twin flame with accuracy within 24 hours”. Bullshit I think, as I read through the ThePsychicArtist’s seemingly exaggerated claims. He promises not only to draw your twin flame but also to provide you with a description of their character. The reviews seem appropriately falsified:

Do I believe that a psychic can draw my twin flame? No. It has scam written all over it. Do I part with $33? Well, of course.

9 May 2020 [09:24]: ThePsychicArtist’s email lands in my inbox with a warning that the sketch should not be shared with anyone else. Alright scam artist I think, almost rolling my eyes into another dimension. A shadow of guilt begins to darken my eyes as I realise that the money could have been donated to a cause more noble than lining the pockets of a fraudster. I mean why else would I not be able to share it if he wasn’t trying to recycle the sketches?

I refuse to let this dampen my spirit, and decide that I will share my latest adventure with my girlfriends regardless. I swiftly justify my purchase in the name of entertainment and shut down the internal chatter. With my morning tea in hand, I head towards my favourite spot in the living room – my two seater leather sofa. Surrendering to my childlike excitement, I quietly chuckle to myself as I hope to find a sketch of a short, fat, balding egghead who was probably named Rizwan at birth.

I’m caught off-guard by the first paragraph. The description in the first sentence alone brings to mind someone that I already know. Knob head, I say out loud, as I shove him firmly back into the ‘do not enter’ zone of my mind. Skimming through the remaining description much faster than I had intended, it’s finally time to view the sketch of this so called twin flame. Once downloaded, I spend all of 10 seconds looking at it before I put my phone away. It’s not anyone that I know.

It’s almost 3pm before I’m willing to admit that something is in fact bothering me. I’m great at blocking things out of my mind, but I just can’t shake this one off. It’s the sort of uneasy feeling that I get when I see people touching the pedestrian crossing button. You see, my theory is that people don’t wash their hands. I’m therefore convinced that pedestrian crossing buttons contain traces of semen. You know… person A touches the button with his unwashed right hand that has just provided a two minutes and twelve seconds service elsewhere. Innocent bystander B touches the button, and picks up a smidgen of semen – unknowingly touching their clothes, face, and God forbid… mouth… ah… salty. I call it ‘the wank button’ for a reason.

Anyway, I know what I have to do. I dive back into my emails to look at the sketch again. Now that I’m willing to be honest, I saw it straight away. I scroll down my WhatsApp contacts until I find the person I’m looking for. Fuck. I see it clearly. The left hemisphere of my brain however requires further evidence – I am after all, a bloody lawyer. I place both images into a collage frame to assess the evidence. One third of the sketch is an identical copy of this man’s WhatsApp display pic. The long neck, the shape of his jaw, the way in which the hair is styled, and every stroke of the stubble accurately mirrors his display pic. It’s almost as if the artist produced part of the sketch using the very same photo, whilst sympathetically giving him a 12ml dose of much needed lip fillers. Turning back to his display pic, I tenderly whisper the most romantic word in my advanced Punjabi vocabulary: panchod, as I mentally screw up the sketch and throw it over the fence for my neighbour’s dog Soca to chew on.

A few weeks later, whilst discussing the difference between soulmates and twin flames, I casually mention the artist to my sister. Like me, she of course isn’t surprised by who the sketch resembles, but is stunned by ThePsychicArtist’s abilities. I see a little glint in her eyes as she toys with the idea of purchasing one herself. “You can if you want to” I say with some uncertainty. I’m hoping though, she won’t. She’s been with Abraham for almost a decade. Despite his head being the size of a watermelon, he’s an alright guy.

“Well he definitely isn’t my twin flame…” she laughs, thinking of Abraham. “He is more like my best friend… he’s loyal… omg maybe he was my dog in a past life… baji [sister] can you have a soulmate dog?” she asks, as though I have all the answers. In that moment, our thoughts turn to the same person – Ali. Pulling a sour face, she says “omg, imagine if it were Ali… eww”. Not one to miss an opportunity, from memory, I theatrically recite a passage from her 2007 diary – aka ‘the love journey’. “STOP” she begs, trying to forget her childhood trauma.

Yes, I’d sneak into my little sister’s room to read her personal diary. No, I have no regrets. More dramatic than an episode of the Love Island, her school life was heavily influenced by Bollywood twists and turns – a bit like a ‘90s Karan Johar movie. It was addictive. Her person of interest was a boy named Ali. How did she feel about him? Well, let’s find out…

<Flashback> January 2007:

“I love him a lot but he duznt luv me, he duznt give me any attention at all, and it hurts my heart! If I got his luv it would mean the world 2 me but I just know that its neva guna happen. Wishes + dreamz neva cum true and hope neva helps! Whenever he luks at me, I feel special, but I no I’m not, when he smiled at me, I felt I woz on top of the world, whenever he takes my name, my body tingles from inside, whenever he talks to me, I feel like I’m in a dream world with just me and him and loads of stars twinkling around us..”

Some days were of course good, when she managed to do her half-pony:

Other days, well… she wasn’t so sure:

One unfortunate day though, she thought she lost the love of her life. Those wicked witches Neena and Jessica, trying to take what should have been hers:

<Fast forward> 9 July 2020:

I receive a WhatsApp message from Abraham. My sister and I celebrate our birthdays soon, and he can’t think of what to buy her. His choice in gifts is questionable at the best of times (i.e. a custom made wooden …. box), but this year it seems that he has really lost the plot:

Newsflash: she… doesn’t… like… Lego.

Less than an hour after I save his ass from being buried under our patio, I look up to see my sister glaring at her phone. Eyebrows tightly knitted, I see the shadow of annoyance wrapped around her face. Oh you plonker, I think, as I realise Abraham has told her what he had been planning on buying her. She looks up. “LEGO?!. If he had wasted £400 on Lego, I’d shank him” she barks at me. “Why does he think spending a lot of money makes a good gift?! He looked up luxury gifts!!! Luxury!!! Me?!!! How does he not know me in 10 years?!”. I hold in my giggle, and message Abraham a new gift idea “relationship counselling?”. He promptly responds “I fucked up lmao”. Oh, he really did.

The next morning she grins at me. I recognise that look – she gets it from me. Sweet revenge. Poor boy, I think. “So baji… last night, I purchased the twin flame drawing. That’ll wind him up” she says, looking satisfied. Ok, I admit. I’m beaming with pride. That’s my girl, I cackle like an evil witch. She doesn’t buy it from the same psychic though, and I suspect that’s because she wouldn’t really want to know.

Hours later we are looking at the photo of this alleged twin flame… we exchange ‘err is this actually Ali?!’ looks. A bit of Google stalking later, we are satisfied that’s not him. She is of course not stupid enough to end a relationship based on a sketch, but she gets her satisfaction when he reacts:

Whilst my sister and Ali don’t end up riding into the sunset together, her ‘love journey’ nonetheless continues to be a great source of entertainment for me. These days, Ali can be found playing football with Abraham and their mutual friends (#awkward). I’m quite certain that Abraham would prefer to substitute the football with Ali’s head… ah… true love.

If I’m not murdered and buried under my patio for splashing my sister’s diary all over the internet… until next time…

The Accidental Lawyer

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Lifting the veil

Today’s post takes a little detour from my usual dating stories. Last week, my sister ‘had a moment’. Not a stranger to mild anxiety, she suddenly panicked at the thought of turning thirty in three years and not having done all the things she was ‘supposed to have done’. Having considered her list of things to do, I asked what would prevent her from doing these things after she turned thirty.

Nothing it seemed – but thirty was ‘old’… and naturally, it’s all downhill from there…. right?

Wrong.

My thirties have been my best years. As a teen preoccupied with sticking mayo filled condoms on school fences (thank you Keeley for stealing your parents’ condoms), I’d predicted that thirty-five would be my best year.  Thirty-five really has been my best year, but not because I finally got that J.LO body, or that my smile suddenly gave me the softness of Kylie Minogue. No, I didn’t even bag myself George Clooney – he clearly got the wrong human rights lawyer. My body still does its own bloody thing, my sharp vampire teeth continue to make me look more murderous than Count Dracula, and I’m still convinced that the love of my life got stuck in a condom.

So why has thirty-five been amazing I hear you ask? Grab yourself a coffee and allow me to take you on a journey…

I was eleven when I first experienced the feeling of vulnerability. Travelling to Pakistan to visit family, I was immediately captivated by the vibrant and populated streets of Punjab. Whether it was flying multi-coloured kites with my ‘cousins’ or developing an unhealthy obsession with spotting excrement in the malodourous open gutter – I was truly fascinated. I quickly warmed to my father’s maternal relatives, effortlessly basking in the light of their affection. My father’s uncle, affectionately known as “abba” was a sweet old man with hygiene issues.

Donning his gigantic brown ‘chaddar’ (shawl) that had no doubt escaped a wash since the ‘60s, you’d find him indiscreetly spitting out his phlegm on every available surface – I soon realised that walking around without your slippers had consequences. Despite the need to hold my breath to avoid abba’s nauseating stench, or playing hopscotch around his phlegm, I was thrilled to be there.

One evening, I discovered that within a week, my favourite uncle was moving to Dubai for work. Irate that he was leaving, I refused to talk to him for several days. The night before his departure, as usual, I joined my female cousins in the communal room to sleep. My uncle came in to talk to me. Stubbornly, with my back to him, I refused to talk. To an observer, what seemed like an uncle cajoling his niece, made an eleven-year-old suddenly very uncomfortable. Frozen with fear, I wondered why he was getting too close – was I, an eleven-year-old child imagining his hand hovering around my growing breasts..?

The pattern of blaming yourself, even at eleven is not unusual. Was it my fault? Should I have listened to my mother when she insisted that I slept in her room? Had I not been stubborn, could this have been avoided? Was I just being disgusting and making this whole thing up? What would happen if I told anyone? He called me ‘daughter’ though, so I must be wrong, I somehow convinced myself.   

Over the years, although the characters in the story would change, the storyline, as I soon discovered, would remain largely the same. At twelve, the Indian man standing behind me would find his erection on the bus, whilst an uncle’s hand would miraculously find itself resting on my thigh when no one else was around. Making excuses to dodge his increasingly frequent calls, I soon learnt that the heavy breathing that made my skin crawl was, in fact, him masturbating on the other end of the line. It’s not that my parents wouldn’t have believed me had I reached out; they would. My father would have murdered anyone that hurt his baby – but I felt ashamed and angry at myself for not being able to protect myself; I hated that I had no voice.  

Around this time, a death in our family significantly changed the dynamics at home. Despite my tender age, emotionally, I felt it was time for me to step up and make sure that we never fell apart again. Naturally maternal, I raised my sister – not because my parents were incapable, but because I’d quickly learnt what was out there, and would not allow her to experience what I, and many other young girls my age were experiencing. I found a mute button for my own emotions and a headstrong, protective and feisty Leo emerged. This was a pivotal moment in my life – my ‘resting bitch face’, death stare and unpredictable angry outbursts had these dirty bastards running for the hills.

Now aunty Bushra down the road will have you believe that you pass your sell-by date before your twenty-first birthday. Expect trouble on the horizon if you’re not willing to dress up like a Christmas tree and marry cousin Bashir from the pind (village). Despite his unsightly monobrow and ‘Matric fail’ qualifications (i.e. high school failure), cousin Bashir is a good catch. He has his very own Ya’maa (Yamaha motorbike) and speaks some words of English, even if it is just “do you friendship me”. The fact that cousin Bashir doesn’t understand the concept of underwear shouldn’t phase you though, as once he gets his UK spouse visa and skips through Heathrow terminal 3 straight into your arms, you can devote your entire life to pulling that wedgie out from his hairy ass crack.

As a British Muslim woman, you are likely to spend your twenties making sense of where your values lie between the East and West. Generally, the usual narrative is that “good Muslim girls don’t have boyfriends”, so many, but of course not all, don’t. You enter your twenties and realise that cousin Bashir who will no doubt have a remarkable career at your local Chesters Chicken shop, is really not happening. You discover that you are now at a severe disadvantage – your parents expect you to suddenly pull a “good Muslim boy” out of your ass when you barely know how to communicate with the opposite sex, and rest assured, aunty Bushra will be by your side – tutting at your inability to settle down.  

Whilst my twenties didn’t quite follow this narrative, it’s been the norm for many British Muslim women I know. My early twenties were spent rebelling against my overly conservative relatives and breaking free from the “you can’t do this because you’re a woman” shackles – women don’t jump out of planes? You watch me do it would be my answer. Fortunately, my father, himself a rebel for marrying a woman that was not his blood relative, never felt the need to dictate my life – however, this didn’t stop others from trying. I was largely disliked by my relatives because I’d found my voice and would not think twice before telling the aunty that had me physically locked up in her house for 4 hours until I ‘listened’ to her advice on marriage – to fuck right off. My motto soon became – “if you hate me then grab a ticket and join the back of the queue”. 

My mid-twenties were overshadowed by a toxic relationship that left me drained, depleted and distraught. Gaslighting was the hallmark of this relationship, but at the time, my ego would never have allowed me to reach out to anyone, or admit that I was being subjected to emotional abuse – obviously because I was invincible and ‘in control’. The end of this relationship saw me enter the online dating arena. I met some good guys, but my self-allocated responsibilities wouldn’t allow me to pack up and leave. I mean, even if I had married that guy living just an hour away, how would I get home at 3am when my mother was having an anxiety attack over throwing an old pair of shoes in the bin? Who would go through the outdoor bins in the early hours of the morning in the midst of winter, like a diseased rat just to calm her down? Yep, that was my job – and actually, I really didn’t mind, even if my hands would emerge covered in spoilt chapatti dough from the night before last.

So what changed in my thirties? Well firstly, I found my passion in working with survivors of human trafficking. It gave me a sense of purpose and allowed me to channel my anger into making a difference to the lives of those that were vulnerable. My job became my biggest blessing. I learnt a lot from my clients. Their immeasurable strength and willingness to carry on in the face of adversity really put things into perspective for me. I realised that I was exactly where I was required to be and that every experience carried a life lesson; my faith in God became unshakeable – I knew he had my back.

My mother’s anxiety became more manageable when I realised that mollycoddling her like a 4-year-old wasn’t helping her. My sister had grown up and was sensible (though sometimes too sensible), so we worked on making her more independent. These days, she is a social butterfly and doesn’t really give a fuck about us mere mortals – she is the queen of social media, and yes, even has a bloody ‘tick tock’ account!

Freeing myself from some of my responsibilities has given me plenty of time to self-reflect. At thirty-five I now know that it is okay for my friends to know who I really am; and it turns out that they love the filthy-minded, imperfect, confused and sometimes wrong me (though for the record – I’m never wrong). I’ve learnt that we all have our own struggles and reasons for being where we are; there is no judgement between us. I know that my friends will be there if I struggle to cope, but most importantly, they will bring that shovel to bury the next body under my patio – without question.

At thirty-five I finally appreciate that happiness is a choice and that I am responsible for my own happiness.  I understand the need to keep ‘destination addiction’ – the idea that happiness can be found somewhere other than the present, at bay. Happiness does not lie in my next relationship, job or my shrinking hips, though the latter is open to debate.

There are of course areas of my life that are still surrounded by uncertainty. I’ve recently come to realise that marriage really isn’t for me. My biological clock, however, issues me with daily warnings, because despite my frequent jokes about babies being “cum pets”, I want to be a mother. As much as I’d love to head down to my local sperm bank for a donation from a gorgeous gora, as a Muslim woman trying to keep the balance between the East v West, the odds on that are still against me. I know, however, that one way or another (I’m creative like that), I will be a mother. I am destined to raise good children – a son that will be worthy of being someone’s husband, and a daughter that doesn’t have to live in fear of uncle Amjad making her uncomfortable because mummy and her aunties will have buried the bastard under the patio before he can even think of it.

As a single woman in your thirties, it’s easy to forget how you got here. It’s much easier to forget the sacrifices that you’ve made. Instead, you convince yourself that fuck face aunty Bushra is right; you are single because you are “too picky” or “stuck in your ways”. No, you don’t need to be the fourth wife of Jamal with the hairy back, because you’re in your thirties. If bucktooth Billy is what your heart desires and you can find a way to make it work – let’s get the bloody non-alcoholic champagne out! Similarly, if no one meets the standards that you have set for yourself – and you are fully entitled to do so, don’t let anyone tell you that you must marry because you are quite capable of being whole, all by yourself.

For what it’s worth, I’m discovering the joy in finally living for myself. I take risks that I wouldn’t have dreamt of taking in my twenties. I still make plenty of mistakes – be it the sporadic raged outbursts, accidental witchcraft (yeah – don’t ask!), still caring for people that I know will shit on me, or allowing myself, now and then, to be treated like an option. At thirty-five though, whilst I continue to learn and grow, I can finally say that I actually really like me. I like that I can be kind, compassionate, generous, full of inappropriate humour and kinda batshit crazy all at the same time. I like that I speak my truth, and am – unapologetically me.  

This post really wasn’t supposed to make it to my blog of dating horrors. In fact, I’ve sat on it for a couple of days, questioning whether I’ve lost my mind in trying to share this with my friends, colleagues and the bloody World Wide Web. However, when the sister you’ve raised wishes that “more women would talk about the positive experiences of being in their thirties”, you know it’s time to lift the veil.

Stay tuned for the next dose of dating disasters, where I explain why my ‘date’ was pelted with eggs..

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The Accidental Lawyer

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