Tuesday, February 19, 2008

 

Three Years Later…

Tranquilart is resting or not?

The date is 18th February 2005; it’s Friday. I am teaching a group of adults in the centre of my city at a building site where many individuals recovering from mental illness access services and courses.


I am the only person who wears a headscarf and constitute about 8% of the BME staff here. I’ve been here for a few years; hated this place when I first started. Actually when I first applied for this job one chilling winter, I was rejected on the spot at the interview. Never mind I thought; I got a contract to teach elsewhere. Six months later when the organisation were re-recruiting, they telephoned me and asked if I was still interested. ‘Yeah right’ I thought?! I was preparing a trip to Pakistan that summer and remember being asked for another interview: so much was going on so I thought I’d just pop-by and see what they had to say. It was a hectic week that heated July and I dropped off some exam material and marked papers at the college I was contracted by. As I hugged my manager goodbye for summer, I told her that I had to dash to that place. She asked me if I would take the job, I replied no and we both chuckled at how fate had brought this opportunity round again.

I returned from Pakistan and began that job a day before September 11th 2001.

It was not a full-time position; I hated full-time work. I happily managed to juggle it with my job at the college and felt content that I was cleverly able to keep away from the red tape that exists in the education field.

We’ve had lunch and I go back to the class. I am wearing a bandage on my right wrist: have been doing so for a day or so as my wrist was hurting a little bit. Luckily this is half-term week and I wasn’t working at my other job at the college for most part of the week; just here today. Yesterday I was delivering a workshop at one of the local universities. It was an art workshop. Many student Islamic Societies tend to contact me with regards having art stalls. I tend to paint calligraphic designs onto glass frames and sell them to raise funds for a charity project I am working on. I have this amazing vision that it would be so grand for lots of people to support a single cause and for that reason the prices I sell my work for is very cheap: a few pounds for an average 6” X 4” frame. I’m not too bothered at the moment about developing my work as an artist: the creativity helps me and that’s sufficient for now, no need to worry about developing myself as an artist too much for now I think. I’ve raised over £2000 for the project I have in mind and have about another third to go. I get paid a decent income so I hardly care about the prices.

I am also hoping to raise funds for the purchase of some baby equipment at the local maternity hospital, and for this reason I have been trying to launch a ‘Catalogue’ which will allow me to reach out to a wider audience. I am hoping to include the photography I did in Granada in that catalogue. The photos were exhibited about 3 months ago at an exhibition I organised in this city. So much is going on; I need to contact my website designer Shaeed to ask if the site will be ready for launch next week or not. The website is up and running but it’s a new page and gallery he is setting up for me. There’s loads of queries I need to answer. My new manager at the college is asking me where he should send a cheque to support my work. I need to email him my postal address at some point. Work have been great with everything. Most of my colleagues in both organisations are not Muslim. But they have been there ever since my creative phenomena emerged in 2001. They helped me with feedback regards my website design and layout, proofreading the content on there, looking through various domain names for me: we settled with “tranquilart” after going through so many names. And I think the 20 or so people who were regularly bombarded with emails for domain names are perhaps now relieved that we have finally got a name!

The afternoon session is progressing well; we’re in an IT room and the group members are learning to empower their being by controlling these machines. The ability to learn to operate a machine when one is feeling very low in esteem or confidence has been cited by some as a way of attaining control, power and focus. I have certainly seen that many people feel a sense of achievement when they can use a computer. Most of my students are dosed with medication of all sorts. We call them ‘clients’ aswell as students. I have seen many kinds of clients whilst being in this building: people with depression and anxiety disorders are very common as too are those with Schizophrenia. I’ve seen women who have postnatal depression and individuals who are recovering from bereavement. I’ve seen victims of abuse and met some who were doing their PhDs before they became psychotic. But my world really changed the year I met some young people under 20 who had their first psychotic episode as post school-leavers. It was also at this time that I met individuals who were caught for petty crimes as teenagers and sent to prison, just to become entrenched in the cycle of depression. Actually I have now met a handful of men under 25 who are here from probation services.

I also was surprised to bump into a school friend the other month who is ‘mentally unwell’ now and will soon be joining us for some courses or training. Most people I work with are white ethnically, although I have had a sprinkle of clients who are not. There were a handful of Muslims I taught here: a couple of converts aswell. Life is so fragile. The history of mental health in the UK is interesting. It is also interesting to know about the Mental Health Asylum in this city and what happened when it closed. What happened to the clients?

The pain in my right hand is actually getting quite bad now.

I notify my manager that I may need a Paracetamol to control the pain; especially if I am to complete my class. My line manager is great. We all get on like a house on fire in this department. We have had a fair amount of the people-politics but we also do the usual things any team does: sharing problems, shopping tips, holiday tips, cooking tips, the annual Christmas lunch, and oh a reminder to bring in cakes for your own birthday! My line manager is shocked: she knows how I very rarely take medication for things. Actually, I am very rarely off work. I only ever had a couple of days off work due to sickness: a migraine that lasted until the next day and so I couldn’t get into work. I took a few days off work when my grandmother passed away about 3 years ago for compassionate leave and then 2 years ago I had a chunk off for Hajj. I remember when I came back from hajj, I had an awful tummy-ache at work and she said I was bound to pick up bugs from my trip. After vomiting my morning break, she kindly put me in her car and dropped me off home. She knows about my ‘detox plans’ and that I hardly ever take pills. She got me Paracetamol from the other department as we don’t keep it here for health and safety reasons. My colleagues are surprised that I am resorting to this. Finally I complete teaching my class and they wish me well as I head home.

I am able to make an appointment for Monday to see my doctor. My my, it’s gonna be a tough weekend I think. And yes it is. The weekend is awful. I have had more paracetamols this weekend than perhaps in the last year or two.

Monday 21st February 2005 I am signed off work for a week…

The intention of this write-up was to share my life and how things have changed in these 3 years: and that's what I had proposed in my mind this morning. As I started to type this evening, my blog changed and ended up 90% different to what I had thought about this morn. So I guess I will be back quite soon to type what I had mentally prepared for you all :-)

Life is fragile - extremely.

Peace & Prayers x x x x x


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Comments:
salam,

nice to see an update. hope all is well.

look forward to da next.

Ali
 
Walaikumslam :-)

Yes!
 
Salaam 'alaykum dear,

Great to see an update & I hope you are doing well, insha-Allah!

Life is fragile - extremely.

So true, may we each cherish it in the time we've been given, ameen!

Warmly,
Baraka
 
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