Once upon a dream

Once we’d meet in a world untouchable,
Unreachable by the fastest of ships.
A land with no bounds, no rules, no reality;
Yet you were real, I was real, and our souls intertwined
In that cosmic realm that we call dreams.

Once I stood strong at the edge of my cliff,
A sea parting me from the edge of your own.
The thundering waves beneath were to us, so placid;
We could see, we could feel, but no sound would propagate
Yet you would awaken with my whisper upon your tongue.

Once I would leap from rooftop to rooftop,
In search of your arms, your touch, your smile.
In the depths of the caves I would find you in waiting;
The moment I’d longed for, so surreal it would seem
That finally the journey had ended, we were home.

Once I awoke from a dream in my dream,
Finding us together in a room filled with light.
We were whole, we were one, together at last;
The purity of our union, bathed in the illumination of deep devotion
A lifetime cherished in those moments of peace.

Once I was broken, just a vessel called ‘Me’,
You were gone, so I died, and yet still I breath.
I may not live, but survive as the undead clutch to hope;
Each grain of the sands of time teasing at my existence
As my every wound heals but scars me for eternity.

Now I awake from a long and dreamless sleep,
Into a dream in which you return in a search for repentance.
I run to you not, instead, I flee – I soar higher;
A double edged knife slides passed to cut us both
For my realisation of freedom means I have now let you go.

…Once upon a dream, you haunted my nightmares.
You now have no power in my realm.

© Naziyah Mahmood, 2014.


To Infinity and Beyond!

(Written as part of ‘The Daily Post: Future Past’ prompt – As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?)

“A Doctor!? That’s fantastic!”

How many children hear this from their elders when asked about their future aspirations? From what I’ve seen, quite a lot.

As opposed to saying “That’s great! However, there are also many other great professions too! Don’t think about what others tell you, think about what YOU would like to be”, many youngsters have been brainwashed from a young age to think that some of the only professions that are worthy of being spoken of, and boasted about by our parents, are doctors, dentists and engineers.

From what I have been told by my mother, ever since I was three years old, I would always say that I wanted to grow up to be a neurologist – I would happily ‘examine’ any head that came my way with my favourite crayon and a ruler, leaving behind colourful trails of my diagnosis.

Whether I solely said this to make my parents proud – the stereotypical hope of their child becoming a doctor, as with many families of South East Asian/Middle Eastern decent, often lingered in the air around us – or whether I said it because I truly wanted it, I’ll never know.
However, I can say that I am one of the lucky ones.

I grew up with parents who supported me in the choices I wanted to make in life, and I still remember my dad telling me before I was applying for my university course “Do what makes you happy. It’s your life and your path to chose. Money doesn’t bring happiness, but a content heart does.”

You see, this isn’t a common occurrence within South East Asian/Middle Eastern families, but being born and brought up in Scotland by an English mother and South East Asian/Middle Eastern father really did open doors of chance for me.

Up until the age of fifteen, I continued to strive towards the dream of becoming a neurologist, however, that all changed when my high school physics teacher stepped into the iron-clad equation.

Remember that experiment that we do in school where a small test tube is filled with methane gas, a lit taper is slid inside, and POP!?
Well, this was the kind of man who, after school hours with the school technician, decided he wanted to try this with a huge black bin liner instead of a test tube.
Needless to say, the next day in class our questions went unanswered because he couldn’t hear anything! The POP was a lot louder than he had anticipated! (The nut!)

He showed me how much I truly loved physics and learning about the mechanics of our world and solar system (and how much I disliked coffee), and so I decided to apply for ‘Physics and Astronomy’ as well as Medicine as a course option.

Also, as mentioned in another blog post I had written as part of the Daily Post Challenge: Blog your Block, the cosmos also became more meaningful to me after a certain incident involving my sister, a slip up, and my inability to physically see the heavens above me due to my partial blindness.

A relevant excerpt from the post:

“Many years ago, my older sister and I stood outside at the foot of our house, in the midst of the eccentric but homely neighbourhood that we had come to know, and admired the fresh night air.
She looked up and gasped with joy “Wow! Look at all those stars!” Suddenly, her words came to a halt and she covered her mouth with her hand.
For that magical moment in time, she had forgotten that her little sister could not see the beautiful celestial painting above her.
“You’re right, it really is phenomenal!” I smiled as I pointed my face up at that twinkling sky, and closed my eyes as I took in the very essence of the beauty before me.
I could not see the stars, but I could feel their warmth.
I could not see the crescent moon, but I could feel it smiling down at me.
I could not see the constellations, but I could feel the story behind their mythological names.”

Since I could not see the stars, then maybe I could reach out to them in other ways – at least that was my thinking at the time.

To my surprise, I managed to get a place in both courses and so I had to decide between them.
Fifteen years of wanting to do Neurology, or a few years of seeing my passion for Physics and Astronomy growing, which would it be?

I ticked my option on my choice sheet without much thought and sent it away, and have never looked back.

The stars were in my destiny.

I managed to attain an Honours degree in Physics with Astrophysics, and then a Masters in Space Mission Analysis and Design (Aerospace engineering).
Designing satellite orbits and space missions helped to combine my curiosity about the great unknown, with my longing to reach for those stars and explore that which even the healthiest of eyes cannot see without help.

I was lucky to then work on different missions by the European Space Agency, ESA, and try my hand at different parts and stages of mission design.
Considering that I am known as a technology-jinx, this has all been quite a ‘fun filled’ adventure – that big red button that we are told not to press was definitely made for me!
(I’ll never understand why they have to make the one thing that we’re not supposed to go near so tempting to look at!)

Currently, I am taking some time away from work due to ill health and to care for my mum, but this time away has helped me to rediscover my love of the arts and those hobbies which took a backseat due to the very limited free-time offered by a life in academia.

Do I think I should have become a neurologist? As much as I admire those in the medical profession, no.

Considering that the possibility of finding jobs in the space related field are limited, will I still try to remain within it? I hope so.

Should I become an astronaut? If I can manage to have my eyesight corrected someday, I will be blogging on this website from another planet 🙂

I hear Saturn is nice during this time of year!

(Unfortunately the origin of this image is unknown, but it was found long ago through a Google image search)



Inside Pandora’s Box – Third Themed Improv Challenge with The Dreaming

As a recap, my wonderful friend and fellow blogger – The Dreaming http://thedreamings.wordpress.com/ –  and I have decided to start a bi-weekly themed challenge! Unfortunately, my second challenge could not be uploaded here, but I did send it to her – I’m persistent!
For some bizarre reason, I was thinking about the seven deadly sins, and so  for our third theme I gave her “Envy”, and I was given “Sloth”
As usual, this is a quick 40 minute write up, but I hope you all enjoy it!
Please do check out The Dreamings blog! She has some amazing work, which never fails to put a smile on my face! 🙂

Inside Pandora’s Box can be found in the ‘Short Stories’ section, Happy reading 🙂


How’s it hangin’?

You’re probably wondering what you’re doing in here, huh. Well… I have no clue either, and even if I did, you shouldn’t ask me.
Why? Because I couldn’t be bothered telling you.
Not. One. Bit.

The name’s Acedia, but the others can’t bother pronouncing it properly so they call me Sloth. Bloody hell, they’re lazier than me.”


Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

(I don’t usually use old posts for my Daily Prompts, however, I guess this poem kind of sums up the one closest friendship I had with someone.
Written for the Daily Post: Daily Prompt – On Bees and Efs: Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).)

Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

Against the plagued hordes and demonic armies,
I stand strong, grounded;
A battlefield of blood, flesh and tears
Surrounded by their flaming rage,
But you are with me, you have my back.

That’s all I need.

I feel your back warm against mine,
Strong and impenetrable, each muscle tense;
The numbers mean nothing, nothing at all
Because when we unite, two sides of the same coin,
I am undefeated, untouchable and free.

Let us fly together.

I raise my sword, linking heaven’s lightning,
The eyes of my enemies drawing closer;
My battle cry rises like a phoenix flare from my core
The deafening beat of my heart as the battle drum,
Forward and onwards to victory, let us begin.

I am with you.

Before the first blood, my unscathed enemy,
Watch on as I stand paralysed, in shock;
A sword meant for good, my forsaken soul
I see the steel piercing through my chest,
You have betrayed me.


Lying eyes stare back at mine with no answer,
Once a wolf, the sheep flees from the scene;
I fall to my knees, my hands drenched in blood
The enemy advance to the lone standing warrior,
Broken by the only blade that could cut so deep.

Your cowardice becomes a reflection of your true form.

I smile in pain, hope and grief,
Flesh torn from my limbs, an unnoticed pain;
I could not be your salvation, yet your burdened sins
A restful sleep they receive in your depths,
A sea of denial, pride and falsehood.

We shall meet again on the appointed Day, the fated Hour.

The call of a Higher purpose echoes loudly, and divine,
An unfinished story with new chapters to write;
A lesson learned, a hope destroyed and new hope found
I will not become the mirror in which your vanity shines,
For I will see with eyes unblinded by guilt.

My chains are broken.


© Naziyah Mahmood, 2014.

Olympus is falling

(Written as part of the WordPress Challenge: Out of Your Element by fellow blogger Opinionated Man!
Keeping a ‘long story short’ is something I don’t seem to be familiar with! What often starts off as a quest to ‘short and sweet’ often turns into a tome of unnecessary information. So, I challenge myself to keep this passing thought ‘Short and Sweet!’ )

This story has also been chosen for publication in the Great British Write Off – Immersed in Words book for the 2014 competition! What luck!

Olympus is falling

One hundred tonnes of water plunges off the edge of a magnificent waterfall and crashes to the bottom where the vapours and steam rise from the permanently disturbed pool.

A tributary meanders off into the lush green valley, where the sounds of exotic animals echo through the trees, and the dew on every leaf sparkles like stars.

The river then flows out into the vast open sea, giving a panoramic view of nothing but the water meeting the clear blue sky, and the gentle ripples travelling along the silken surface.

Suddenly, with an ear-splitting screech, a fiery meteor plummets down from the heavens and crashes violently into the water, turning the sea to a deep shade of black and setting off an angry water cyclone through its depths.

Lightning flashes. Thunder roars. Olympus itself seems to be falling from its heights.
Humungous ice balls rage down in a flurry of chaos, disintegrating on contact with the scorching sea. All the while, it feels as though the world is being turned inside out and that Armageddon is upon us.

… With the TV remote in one hand, and a good ol’ cuppa in the other, I can’t help but wonder why we Brits always have to overdramatize a simple tea advertisement and waste good air time. For goodness sake, I could be watching my favourite episode of Tom and Jerry right now.


© Naziyah Mahmood, 2014.


Seeing isn’t always believing…

(Written for the Blog your Block: Daily Post Challenge)

As I went through the challenge description, the words that stood out to me were “How can you see the familiar landscape of your own block with “explorer eyes”?”

For you see, I don’t see the way many people see!

I can’t quite remember when it all began, but I started to lose my eyesight from a very young age.
I have had specialists and doctors examine my eyes many times over, however, they are still dumbfounded as to why my eyes are in their current state.
I apparently have the eye health and ‘set-up’ of someone who should have 20/20 vision, yet, my lack of vision has left me partially blinded, and unable to wear glasses for too long (any more than ten minutes) as it begins to cause me migraines. For this reason, my evenings have been riddled with these painful and unwanted guests due to academia and prolonged use of my spectacles – you need to be able to see the book you read!

They say that when one of your senses drops, that the others become more acute. In my case, when one of my senses began to dissolve, I accumulated some new ones – a keen sense of awareness, but also something which reached out further than our physical capabilities, and almost into the pseudo-realm between spirituality and a disembodied far-seeing.

I do not resent my lack of clear vision, as I understand that there are possibly many things that God did not wish for me to witness that could have been disadvantageous for me, yet I also found my appreciation for every smudge that I see growing day by day.

I may not be able to see your facial features when you stand one meter in front of me, but I can feel their every curve and line.
I may not be able to see the recognizable characteristics of the person walking towards me from the bus stop, but I know that it is my neighbour because of her unique ‘smudge’.
Every person, everything, has its own energy – an aura, if you will – and this translates to me as a beautiful, but individual, smudge.

Many years ago, my older sister and I stood outside at the foot of our house, in the midst of the eccentric but homely neighbourhood that we had come to know, and admired the fresh night air.
She looked up and gasped with joy “Wow! Look at all those stars!” Suddenly, her words came to a halt and she covered her mouth with her hand.
For that magical moment in time, she had forgotten that her little sister could not see the beautiful celestial painting above her.
“You’re right, it really is phenomenal!” I smiled as I pointed my face up at that twinkling sky, and closed my eyes as I took in the very essence of the beauty before me.
I could not see the stars, but I could feel their warmth.
I could not see the crescent moon, but I could feel it smiling down at me.
I could not see the constellations, but I could feel the story behind their mythological names.

(I later went on to pursue my degree in astrophysics because, since I could not see the stars, then maybe I could reach out to them in other ways.)

Skipping forward a few years, I found myself walking back home after a tiring but satisfactory session of sword training, and turned the corner onto my street.
The area I stay in is known to be a bit of a hybrid land. One side resembles the busy, cluttered streets of an Indian bazaar, housing a multitude of cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, and is made up of lower priced residential apartments. The other is home to some of Scotland’s most affluent families and well-maintained parks.
To our luck, my family stay slap-bang in the middle of both of these areas, but were surrounded by more of the former.

I stopped at the corner, next to a lamp post, and took in all of the sounds around me. From the unloading of food into the grocery stores, to the rushing of car wheels and the sounds of kids playing – I wondered in that moment what my home ‘really’ looked like.
Pulling out my glasses, I slid them on for a brief few seconds, and was taken aback by what I saw.
The very cracks in the paint of the lamp post twisted and turned like vines growing up its length, leaving behind a trail of evidence.
The strong reddish hue of the brickwork on the buildings, and their grainy texture, reminded me of what I’d imagined the surface of Mars to resemble.
I looked up to see people – actual people – walking around, and the detailing of their clothing, their hair and expressions had me in awe.
I couldn’t help but watch the cars go by, the very shape and form they took as they blurred passed should have been ‘expected’ by a physicist, but instead, my wild imagination could see these other worldly beasts zooming passed on their daily routes.

From the cracks in the pavement, the shape of my house door and the well placed tiling on the roof – to the lines painted on the road and the stones that lined the garden paths; I had never imagined my so called run-down, impoverished neighbourhood to be so…. beautiful.

That moment took only a few seconds, and yet till this day I still remember clearly everything I saw.
Could it be that I had romanticized what I had witnessed with my first-time seeing ‘explorer eyes’, and that my optimism had painted an allure over a dog-eared canvas?
Or maybe I had hoped so badly to see my home in this light, that it had all been in my head?

Whatever it was, all I can say with surety is that my home, my neighbourhood, and indeed this planet, is a smorgasbord of beauty, blessings and bountiful treasures all waiting to be discovered with our ‘explorer eyes’.

For you see, although I may not be able to see what you see or they see, I still hope to see all the good there is to see in this oh-so-seeable world…. You see?

Smudge Studio (Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse), Brooklyn Obscura 3



First Themed Improv Challenge – Theme: Orchids

My first theme received from The Dreaming is Orchids.

Fajr, the Islamic morning prayer, takes place in the very early hours of the night in Scotland during summer (1.33am!) As such, I found myself in deep thought in those few moments before I took my place at my prayer mat, and thought about what I knew of these beautiful flowers.
I recalled that once, as a child, I had seen a bouquet being given to a grieving family during a funeral, and the silent smile that spread across the lady’s mouth as she stared into the depths of the white aromatic arrangement was one of acceptance and relief.
Is this why, I wondered, the white orchid was known as a ‘sympathy’ flower? I hadn’t known of this before, yet from the expressions given by those receiving the bitter-sweet gift, the quiet meaning behind those elegant petals was clear – even to an eleven year old child.

I then also remembered that I have once heard of these flowers being related to ‘angels’ in many stories, and have also seen images of the angel orchid, also known as Habenaria Grandifloriformis.

The two memories connected instantly, and a method to their amalgamation – in the form of the following poem – sprung to mind.



From a single point you grow so bright,
my sweetest angel.
You spread your wings and soon take flight,
my sweetest angel.

A beauty to rival the rose in bloom,
my dearest angel.
With Heaven’s scent upon your plume,
my dearest angel.

You cast a coolness upon my eyes,
my brightest angel.
Give birth to hope that never dies,
my brightest angel.

Engulf this soul in the warmth of your wings,
my beloved angel.
Ease the path to what eternity brings,
my beloved angel.

Guide me with scent to the eternal gate,
my forever angel.
A gift of love to close my fate,
my forever angel.

(Image taken from gardenofeaden.blogspot.co.uk)

© Naziyah Mahmood, 2014.