**Many contributions to be found on Instagram under the hashtag #bookedoutsundays. The following are the ones with private profiles. You can click on their names to find them on Instagram.
By Lubna Khan:
Enamoured with the illusions set up by the literary world on one hand and confronted with social reality on the other, quixotism was never too out of reach to grab onto and hold as if a crutch. The loss of moral values in this social reality and the conditionality of it would probably make you a quixote like me, as if through rational intellect you can make sense of the world, as if knowledge is infallible, which isn’t really in our limited cognition of it. So now it was an ethic, a rationality, a method by which I asserted some hope for my idealistic practicality, that which is considered systematically absurd. Belonging to a society that prides itself in “seeing through” the fallacies of modern individualism, advancing one’s own psychological and social interests are characterised, and patronisingly so, heroic but immature aspirations. So then, furthering individual perception against that of the “uniform society” creates conflict with the real world. So now we start to think that maybe the most toted advice to bridge the gap between romantic imagination and reality, between vision and actuality, between the world and worldview is not after all a noble foolishness we ascribe to well-meaning elders. And true to Piaget’s theories, this conflict, in principle, as most conflicts, comes to end with a methodical defeat: quixotic principles held at bay, imagination must be overridden through a process of disillusionment and for it to be reached for again to become the zenith of the process of self-awareness and maturity. Maybe this is the kind of defeat I would like to see in pop culture, identity politics, the irresponsibility around “wokeness” and the commodification of social movements. As for myself, it is work in progress.
It’s going to be ok.
I know now that the clichés spill from one’s mouth before one can stop them. Empty platitudes that you’d assume – when it’s you, when it’s your family – you’ll be more than capable of avoiding. But actually, you’re too exhausted to stop them coming. It’s tiring seeking clarity in the chaos. And people say these things because they’re easy, because they’re simple, and because actually everyone who has been there knows what you’re really trying to communicate: God, I hope it will be ok. It has to be.
‘It’s going to be ok’ is the proxy for the unspoken alternatives, the impossibilities that you must banish from existence with your denial of them. Don’t utter them and they can’t come true, like the opposite of a birthday wish. Even if you can’t stop them from existing out there in the world, you can stop them from existing in here. And really that’s half the battle. (Another cliché.)
It’s about conquering yourself, because the real enemy, the dragon to be slain, gets fought by waiting, and biding, and not breaking, and no great tales were written about a battle like that: Where the chivalrous hero and their brave allies defeat the undefeatable through pure stamina, the skill of not losing their minds when circumstances dearly want them to. So instead we identify the new big bad – the part of our brains bent on inuring us to the worst (and the part of your brain not trying to kill you) – and try to lock it up in a cage somewhere where we don’t have to look at it. But the bars get rattled from time to time, and the beast will even spill out on occasion. And it will be over some silly mistake, like breaking a glass, or asking a question whose answer has changed quite breathtakingly in the last few days – and you end up chasing it around your head as it ravages your insides, climbing up the walls and leaving great, red-raw claw marks where optimism and normality once dwelt.
But eventually you coax it back into the box. And you slap a big lock on the front, made of well-worn, well-tested phrases like It’s going to be ok.
No one had ever told me that this was what I was, am. Idealistic beyond repair, living one or two alternate worlds away from real life. Maybe they themselves did not know what to do with that child and her strange ways. Why was her head always tipped to one side ? And why was she always wearing this vacant expression? She always looked like she was waiting for something, scrutinising the skies as she was, hoping to see beyond clouds and stars. And what odd questions she asked!
“What does it feel like to die?”
“Why do people want children?”
They must not have expected someone like that to be born from among themselves.
No one ever told me what quixotic meant — I don’t suppose they had the faintest idea themselves.
I circle through the ‘O’, go across and down the ‘T’; I drag my finger down for the ‘I’, with reverence I go through the crescent moon shape of the ‘C’. What a way for the word to end, in a crescent moon — something in perpetual finding of itself: whole at first, thinning, invisible, then barely there. The word never sets, never truly ends.
No one ever told me what quixotic meant, never understanding why there would be such a word to begin with.
All the same, I found it.
I chased the nameless feeling in me through the pages of books and countless suns setting on the horizon. I sought it in every pair of eyes I met, every song lyric that stirred my soul, every silence that held more than would meet the eyes.
And then one day, there it was. Handed to me casually, the light of recognition. The feeling of being seen. It all started with this:
“À Léon Werth. Je demande pardon aux enfants d’avoir dédié ce livre à une grande personne.”
“To Léon Werth. I ask children to forgive me for dedicating this book to a grown-up.”
It is through others that I found myself.
Long gone, never met, not speaking the same language — in many ways, we did not belong in the same world.
In the expression of their own odd selves, the documentation of the strange inner worlds they lived in, I found out I wasn’t the only one. Surrounded by their voices, embraced by their words, I felt like I had come home, finally.
By Rasna Razak:
Somewhere in a parallel universe, where the concept of peaceful coexistence is not shunned upon, all castes, races, genders, identities and the non linguistic earthly creations of the Almighty, rose upto sunshine, without having to brood over the threatening realities of life.
The “blacks” mattered and shone in life, as magnificently as their melanin composition.
The refugees lived a life unheard of hunger and airstrikes.
No child lost their parents to war and violence.
Nobody had to leave their homeland as Mother Earth was their right of abode.
No fauna had their habitat stripped away for mankind to trample upon, no oceans foul with detritus.
Darwin’s revelations about ‘survival of the fittest’ was frowned upon as those who couldn’t prove their capabilities were still deemed fit and had the privilege to survive and thrive.
Somewhere far away from our Milky Way, as quixotic as it may seem, humanity and kindness won all battles and love became so infectious that detestation paved way for it.
Somewhere, someplace, we all unwrapped our best traits and the world blossomed.
By ND Seno:
My mother constantly asks me to wake up early in the morning while I fail to conjure up one single good reason as to why. Why should I wake up in the morning when there’s nothing much for me to do at that hour, except maybe, going right back to sleep? Right? Wrong. My mother, apparently, can list 10 good reasons: Brush your teeth. Take a bath. Walk in the garden. Dust the windows. Mop the floor. Do the laundry. Comb your hair. Finish that book you started. Chop some veggies for lunch. Just wake up already!
Waking up at 8 in the morning is harder than learning a new language when you go to bed at 5 AM. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, I tell you. Oh here’s another one: Get up and make a cup of tea!
I mean, I’ve given up on it. Countless days have passed when I have stayed up all night only to be caught by her in the morning. She brushes her teeth to prepare herself for the day, I do it at the same time, preparing to go to sleep. One would say it’s really a noble notion, waking up in the morning because your mother wants you to…for me, I’d say it’s extremely idealistic; unrealistic and impractical…almost quixotic.
By Syed Umair Ahmed:
A prompt on Saturday, thats a bit unusual 🤨
What happened @teadup? Thought Friday was the ritual…
A word so old dating back to the sixteen hundreds
A book by Cervantes, highlighting chivalry as ideal.
Heaven is on one end, the world we live in s on the other.
One a quixotic fantasy of happiness and love,
The other filled with racism, religious intolerance and people who don’t bother.
My heart goes out to Syria and Yemen
To the helpless children, to the homeless poor
Running barefoot on the streets, dodging bombs, avoiding bullets.
Having their one leg inside and the other out life’s door.
With a constant doubt and a never ending fight.
Living in fear hoping to see tomorrow’s light
Searching for shelter in the sunset’s hue,
Yes, black lives matter and so should theirs too.