Mutasim Billah

They’re defining it wrongly

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

They say you can’t find the perfect partner. I think they’re defining perfect wrongly.

The perfect partner isn’t flawless, or a verbatim reflection of every little feature we would want in someone.

Instead, that’s someone, any divergence from whom would only make you worse off and you can’t be better off elsewhere.

It’s that poetic inertia of being stuck at a single point, and being terrified.

Not because you’re stuck there but because you can’t afford to be unstuck.

You need to earn all of it

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Photo: Dollar Gill // Unsplash

We don’t mean to disappoint, but your “back in our days” doesn’t fly with us. When we question your advice and you respond “because I said so,” it doesn’t register with us as acceptable logic. When you expect us to respect you and your views simply because you were born a generation earlier, we find your expectation devoid of reason.

Let’s clear one confusion right away. Just because respect isn’t readily given without question doesn’t mean it isn’t given at all. We’re not a disrespectful generation. We simply don’t believe in handing out respect for its own sake. …

Your writing advice can take a hike

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Photo by moren hsu on Unsplash

Enough. Quit pushing the unsolicited advice on how I should cut my paragraphs in half, use simpler words, shorter sentences; on how I should research what people want, how I can go viral, get trending, make cash.


Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. Actually, for a change, I really won’t. I decide.

I’m tired of seeing writers gather like sheep under your shepherdhood listening to your one-size-fits-all advice that has too much to do with cosmetic upgrades and nothing to do with pouring oneself out in courageous honesty.

Where’s the fucking honesty?

I’m not angry with you. Well let me rephrase, I’m not just angry with you. I’m angry with me too. I allowed this to happen and kept going down that pathetic rabbit hole of “nobody’s gonna read your shit if your piece don’t look like mine” narrative. …

If you’re going to seek attention — own it

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Seriously, just admit it — you did it for attention.

You post 17 times a day. You never run out of photos. Or quotes. Or memes. Okay, the memes have little to do with you. But you post non-stop.


Hey, it’s your wall. Do whatever the heck you want. Nobody gets to tell you otherwise. Your posts don’t bother me.

What does hit a nerve though is when people ask you about why you spend so much time on social media and your response is —

“I just post for myself. I don’t care who sees it.”

How do you say such chicken-poop to people’s faces? No, not rhetorical. I’m actually asking. …

A slow but magnificent transformation

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Photo by Liliya Grek on Unsplash

We learn to disintegrate

We’re naive and rigid when young. We group our thoughts, feelings and beliefs and treat them as one.

As we grow older, wiser and start to familiarize with newer dimensions of the world around us and ourselves, we learn to compartmentalize. We identify dichotomies and learn to see different parts of a whole under different lights.

When we’re young, if we hate someone we hate everything about them. When we love someone, we want all of them. We put our passions on pedestals and our battles in secret diaries.

We swing between utopia and annihilation.

Then we grow up and find a spot inwards of extremes. …

Move back

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Photo by Konstantinos Papadopoulos on Unsplash

My shelves have gotten heavy. Really heavy.

There are way too many bottles up there. Bottles of everything I wanted to do but didn’t. Bottles of everything I felt and didn’t talk about. Bottles of every fire that raged in me that I didn’t let burn long enough.

Sometimes my hands are free but I can’t write, my eyes are open but I can’t see, my voice feels alive but I can’t speak, my feet aren’t chained but I can’t walk — because the hands, feet, eyes, mouth of my mind are sealed shut.

I’m spending another night in this prison. A prison that has grown brick by brick, day after day. A prison of it’s not the right time. A prison of it’s not the right place. A prison of let it be. A prison of this isn’t right, that isn’t nice, this isn’t fair, that is too selfish. A prison you all built around me. …

It’s a misogynist’s utopia

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Photo by Marie Couffon de Trevros on Unsplash

A woman doesn’t start at zero. Her initial score is in the negative. Being born female means being handed a long list of socially composed commandments to comply with —the prerequisite to scoring anything on the goodness scale.

Forget about appreciation. Just to be generally accepted as a person worthy of any value she has to do things most men wouldn’t — things almost no man is ever asked to do.

A man doesn’t start in the negative. He begins his life with a good initial score — a head start. Simply being born male, he is free from ever having to reach standards of astronomical heights, to be allowed to walk the earth with a head held high. …

Stooping that low closes the difference

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

I woke up this morning, Swedish time 06:45 to Breaking News flashing on my TV that Donald and Melania have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been self-quarantined.

As people of the United States were still in bed hours away from waking up to this news, I went to Facebook and Twitter to check if the news has spread among my peers.

Every few scrolls, I saw messages like these —

“Fu*k yeah! Take that sucker! Waiting for good riddance!”

“And that’s for downplaying the pandemic you pathetic clown!”

“Finally! Been waiting for this since March! Just die already!”

I was left shocked and disappointed. …

Where context is key

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Stories we’re looking for

There’s virtually no limit to what story you can tell at The South Asian Narrative. Give us tales of your life, tales from your village or city, give us tales of love, loss, struggles, victories and defeats. Give us philosophy. Share memories of your childhood, your aspirations and fears.

We want to see the human in you, we want that personal touch. This is a safe place to be vulnerable together.

Tell us what makes you angry, let your words embody the change you want to see in society — show us your concerns and suggest solutions. …

And what researchers say about it

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Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

“… Our marketing team will take care of the rest.”

I didn’t even blink before saying yes.

A few years ago, I was called for a corporate event photography job:

“Just come to the venue, you don’t need to bring anything. Use our cameras, cover the whole event, return the cameras to Amanda and she’ll pay you before you go.”

I didn’t feel like a photographer that day. I felt like a cameraman for hire. My identity was irrelevant.

During my early years in freelance photography I’ve had clients who rudely handed me crumpled cash, wanted to pay half because they “won’t need all the pictures”, and stood me up and texted “Let’s reschedule. …


Mutasim Billah

Let me nudge your perspective for a due revision. Sugarcoats are out of fashion • • List of all my stories:

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