Nobody teaches you

how to love

a narcissistic son

How to wrap your arms

around the grand ego

engulfing his tiny body

Willing to snatch the pride

off the tip of his tongue,

to swallow it on his behalf.

And in the rushing cold that fills his soul,

show him how to


with the agony

of the world

To bow

low enough

so he can see through

the lenses of humility.

Nobody teaches you

how to strip off

the clothes of vanity

that he adorns himself with,

burning away

any remnants

of decency in himself

for the world to applaud


like a sun

with whole worlds revolving

around him.

Nobody teaches you

how to embrace him

when his hugs bear

the softness of cactus thorns

tearing your heart apart.

A bitter lump

rising in your throat

when his venom words are spat out

to humiliate

and intimidate

and demean.

Nobody teaches you

how to mould a son

that stands tall

to compete with the might of mountains

Stamping his feet

on every living creature

like a dirty rug




Nobody teaches you

how to love a son

who believes

in the godliness of his self.


This poem reached the semi-finals (top 8% among the over 3,500 poems submitted) in the 2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize alhamdulilah!! Immense gratitude to my poetry teacher and inspiration, Finch (Ahmed Shayo) for constantly pushing me to improve my art. Been staring at my name y’all, still can’t believe it 😀 Anyway, here’s the link to the semi-finalists so you can enjoy the moment with me 🙂 : https://www.culturalweekly.com/2020-jack-grapes-poetry-prize-the-semifinalists/ (Winners have already been announced by the way 🙂 ) Thank you for your constant support!

The year is twenny twenny (2020) and twirra (twitter) is on fire. The trending hashtags are #worldwarIII #Soleimani #AustraliaonFire #Iran #Iraq #USA. The memes are hilariously alarming. We are still talking about Trump’s impeachment. The concentration camps and Islamophobic, ethnic cleansing of Muslims in China and India. The attacks in Somalia. The trending Netflix series is YOU and Messiah. It is just the fourth day of the new decade, and you already know it. WE.ARE.MESSED.UP.

Now for you, you couldn’t be less bothered. You stand in front of the mirror in your polka-dot pink pajama. It is barely 7 a.m. But who cares? You need to post a video of your self-affirmations on Instagram.

You straighten up your long black hair and push it away from your face.

“I am strong. I am kind. I am honest. I am happy. I am fierce. I am beautiful. I am confident. I am outstanding…” Suddenly you remember, You forgot to take your morning photo! The morning photo you were to take to out-do Nora, your old workmate who now works across the globe from you. Nonetheless, who cares where she lives now? How dare she get more likes and comments than you? You can never allow that to happen. You, you are the epitome of beauty and every one should recognize that.

You pause your video. You move towards the balcony, make sure that the sunrise is dramatically appearing in your photo. Oh wait. Your favourite cup of coffee must appear too. You quickly peep in your mirror to ensure that no perks of dirt are still on your eyes. Liiighhht make-up. Okay perfect. Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap again. Perfect. Perfect image. Perfect sunrise. Perfect hair. Perfect skin. You post it on your Instagram with the hashtag ‘I woke up like this.’

You finish your self-affirmations video. Post it with the hashtag #selflove as you keenly wait for the likes notification to start ringing. Do you really need those affirmations though? I mean, aint you the very perfect? Charming? Powerful? Most successful? But maybe you do need them after all. Perhaps your deep inner child recognizes your starvation of love.

You scroll through your Instagram, rolling your eyes at everyone’s new year resolutions. They are mediocre people aren’t they? Mediocre people = mediocre goals. But you, YOU are special. You hang around with the bigwigs. You make people laugh. Your confidence makes these tiny little brains come running to you; wagging their tails. You are powerful. You are something else.

You come across Lydia’s end of year post. She has lost 10 kilograms in a span of two months. She is grateful. She looks graceful. You roll your eyes again. “Whom are you lying to Lydia? Isn’t this the third time in five years that you have lost 10 kgs? So what now? You think you will make it this year just because it is friggin 2020?” You type like a maniac. You’re just about to post it. Then you remember. You have an identity to keep up. It took you years to build this persona that everyone loves and ‘worships’. You quickly delete and write instead, “Aww. I am so proud of you honey. I personally know how far you have come. 2020 is definitely going to be a better year for you. Count on me to always support you. xoxo.”

You scroll on. There is Aisha. She became a neurosurgeon this year. Her million dollar smile irks you. She is perfect. More perfect than you. Stable career. Stable marriage. She even has a child already! Urgh! It infuriates you that Aisha does not take notice of YOU. How can she ignore you while you went to the same university, same batch?! Well apart from the fact that you mostly made her heart a meal for your ego, why would she ignore YOU? You are thee queen. The goddess. Aisha is lost. She doesn’t know what she is doing and you know it, she will definitely regret it someday. She will realize your worth and come back begging for your ‘golden’ (mostly one-sided) friendship.

Tim on the other hand is posting a post at 2 a.m. Is he for real? What’s worse he is talking about his journey from being homeless to moving to a bedsitter. His 2020 goal? To have his own one bedroom house? Ati Big dreams, baby steps. “SMH. I DON’T RELATE”

Your timeline is filled with ladies and gentlemen flexing their summer and new year outfits. You roll your eyes again. Way, WAY below your standards. What are they showing off about anyway? Cheap clothes bought on December sale?

You are petty and you know it. So you quickly type onto your Instagram story ‘Some of you are poor and it shows.’ Followed by hysterical posts of ‘Some of you don’t know jokes. I was joking.’ Were you though? Do you really believe you were?

Anyways, who cares? Lydia, Aisha, Nora, Tim…all so mediocre. You take a killer photo, all dressed up. Your face is lit. You ARE lit. It is your time to shine. You write your story. Your very powerful, moving story of success and pure talent. How you overcame mountains. How NO ONE could ever understand what you went through. It is captivating. Almost a tear-jerker. Almost, because there is someone who actually sees you through the facade you keep.

Your post is soon filled with emotional, supportive comments from your 10k followers. Then you see it. That one, unexpected comment. That comment you’d rather never see. “Hi there. It’s been a long time coming. I am glad to know you’re doing well.” There is a smiling emoji after the statement. That suspiscious, enigmatic half-smile emoji that you never really know what to make of it.

You shudder. You read the name again. It is him. Him, who once meant everything to you then in a blink, took it all away. It all comes back to you. That intense, otherwise crazy relationship, that broke you down to shatters. The arrogance. The vanity. The superiority complex. You two, you were/are so much alike, you did not even understand the magnitude of the toxicity. Call it soul mates. Call it finding-your-match. Only, he defeated you. And that is something you will never get past. The defeat.

His simple comment crushes you. Because you know it. He knows it.

Someone actually recognizes you for who you truly are.

Hey there narcissist. You met your match. Again.


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For quite some time, people were drowning in self-pity and throwing pity party for themselves due to low self-esteem. Social media became the voice of all the people trying to fit in, breaking and self-loathing. It became our dearest diary, so we spoke up. We talked of our deepest pain and how we wish we could be like so and so, look like so and so, dress like so and so, have partners like so and so…Slowly with time, the social media power gave people a chance to appreciate themselves, love how they are without having to necessarily to fit in. Different became the new trend. It was all good at first. Emotional support from people we barely know, a chance to know people who are like us…until finally, FINALLY, we learnt to embrace ourselves. It was great! Self-love rocks no doubt. But something else happened too. We now became overly-obsessed with ourselves. And as the saying goes, ‘Too much of anything is poisonous.’

We don’t want anyone correcting us, we don’t want anyone to put a mirror in front of us and show us the darkness eating our insides like worms. We became the untouchables. Me above Everyone else. Me as flawless as I am. Me being perfect. Look, look at the particles of empathy slip between our fingers. Look at kindness being the toilet rag. Look at appreciation breaking into a thousand glass pieces. Look at forgiveness flying with the wind. While we were showering ourselves with all this love we desperately needed, we over-stepped a bit. We became too blinded and eventually did not recognize the beast we have created within ourselves with Social media being our partner in crime.This beast is called Narcissism.

Narcissism: extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

Don’t get me wrong, self-love is so beautiful and uplifting for the soul but when we let it infest our brains like mites, we become arrogant. We become selfish (not in the good way). We look down upon others who are on a different journey from ours and disregard and call names to anyone trying to advise us. We idolize ourselves too much to the extent we disrespect other people.There’s a thin line between self-love and Narcissism, and majority of us have crossed it.

So we became these people who can’t be told anything, unapproachable and inhumane. We speak and treat people recklessly in the name of loving ourselves.

The thing with people is that they don’t forget. They don’t forget how good or bad or even how indifferent you were to them. And you might be so surprised how something small you did to a person years back may result to them helping you in a difficult situation or decide to do the total opposite.

{Worship God alone and do not associate with Him any partners. Be kind to your parents and near of kin, to orphans, the needy, the neighbor who is related to you and the neighbor who is a stranger, the friend by your side, the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. God does not love those who are arrogant and boastful.} (Qur’an: 4: 36)

A simple example, I know of this lady during campus who was staying at the hostels and one time needed help fixing her room plug which wasn’t functioning. So she asked the campus guard for help and he did fix it. Some other girls were really surprised that he had actually helped because they had just a few days asked him for help and he didn’t offer any help. They asked the lady jokingly why he favoured her and she said, ‘I usually greet him every time I pass by the gate’ And that was just it. She greeted him and he appreciated it more than she personally imagined.

Have you for example ever seen the reaction of a non staff, like the school cook or guard or cleaner when you coincidentally bump into them after you are done with school and actually recognize who they are and greet them? They most probably would give you a glowing smile, not necessarily because of the greeting but mostly because you remembered who they are. They really appreciate you for it. And that’s how it always is with people. Your simple act of kindness and respect goes a long way.

Right now most of us thump our chests and say, ‘I don’t need anyone. Kwani who are they to me? Hawanilishi hawanivishi’ Well, it may be true they don’t feed or clothe you but that doesn’t make you any better than them or them any lesser than who you are. People keep pumping it to us that we shouldn’t listen to what others tell us. That this is your life, do as you wish. You are not accountable to anyone nor does anyone have the right to question your behaviour. But where do we draw the line between self-love, our self-efficacy, our independence and straight up disrespect and narcissism?

Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in his or her innate ability to achieve goals. 

 “And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.” (Surah Israa: verse 37)

I agree that certainly there are circumstances whereby one needs to disregard what others say about you. Like when they make you feel inferior or paint you in an unrecognizable way. Like when people try to stop you from achieving your goals or being who you truly are. Nonetheless, bad behaviours shouldn’t be romanticized with, ‘This is who I am so like me as I am or leave’. Like really?!

I purposely highlighted bad habits because I don’t want the statement to be misunderstood. Yes, none of us is perfect. We all have personality flaws and bad behaviours. But the only time we are justified to ask people to accept us for who we are is when we are trying to be better and working on ourselves, NOT as we continue disrespecting other people or the bad habits we have.

Remember the advice of Luqman Al Hakim to his son:
[And Luqman said], “O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” (Surah Luqman: 16-19)

Don’t allow this temporary world make you be egoistic, boastful, inconsiderate and impolite because truly, you never know who will benefit you eventually. So treat people as you would want to be treated.

Be kind. Respect others. Love yourself within limits and enough to accept your mistakes and work on being better. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Because yes, what goes around comes around. In Arabic we say, ‘Kama tadin tudan’ to mean ‘What you do unto others will eventually be done on you too!’

Abu Darda (RA) reported that Rasulullah (SAW) said, “Nothing is weightier on the Scale of Deeds than one’s good manners.”(Al-Bukhari)

Photo Courtesy: Mc’Lopez

In a world where everyone believes they are a star, a legend and a hero, be rational enough to yourself. Accept yourself as you are; without exaggerating your own existence. Yes, you ARE special. Always remember that…but never forget that you are not any more special than anyone else. Don’t raise your nose and walk with arrogance, believing you are thee best; like no one is better than you.

Taking a hundred selfies, getting 200 or 1000 likes, having the most followers on snapchat and instagram does not define your self worth. Neither do these photos portray self love.

You only become a legend by creating a difference, by leaving footsteps in other people’s lives; by being yourself. Do not be a slave of society love and fame because if that’s what matters to you, do know your time of fame is quickly running out and someone else will soon be ‘thee new star’. For all that I’ve ever known, no star ever labeled themselves that name. They were recognized for their impact and their achievements and not by their show off. So don’t get ahead of yourself. If you believe you are a genius, then do know you are not the first one to exist nor will you be the last. The same thing with anything else that you are good at; be it sports, talent, academics…you name it!

Many people confuse egocentrism and narcissism as self love. And as much as the current world encourages people to love themselves, the whole idea of it shouldn’t get to your head. There lived so many legends who were not appreciated until their death while there lived people with immoral ideas yet they have been made our idols.

Times are quickly changing and most of us have been enchanted by what we see on social media; people sharing their naked photos, egoistic posts and underrating of everyone else in the name of self love. And sadly enough, we are made to believe that it is very okay to be narcissistic and to consider everyone below us. So whilst the villain also considers himself a hero in his own mind, be brave enough to balance your self esteem and self love without letting your ego take over your thoughts.

My idea of heroism has always been the same as what Ellen Goodman said: “I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference.”

Always remember that what you do; the smallest bits of kindness and humbleness that you give to the world is what makes you rather extra-ordinary. So even when the whole world thinks you are a nobody, do know that for someone out there, you are their biggest hope and their light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ll end this by this remarkable quote that very clearly draws the picture and summarizes this whole article in a few words:
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” – Arthur Ashe

Keep leaving footsteps wherever you go!