The night before the morning that everything changed, I had been knitting a frog.
My best friend’s birthday had already long since been and gone, but what with the looming dates of our (separate) departures to (different) universities, I was determined to create something for her.
(And she had sewn me a waistcoat for my birthday – I couldn’t allow myself to be shown up)
She had always had a soft spot for frogs.
Soft dark green wool wound around one hand, the tip of a needle poking into the pad of my opposite index finger, eyes drooping with sleepiness and my mind filled with thoughts about aliens and ashes and magic stones.
My parents were away on a camping trip with friends. They had taken the dog with them, leaving myself and my two brothers behind – my sister was also gone, having just started her new job in London. Naturally, we had all taken full advantage of the empty house, with my brothers (as per the standard) both barricading themselves into their rooms, fixated on whatever game it was that their friends were currently obsessed with. And I was distracting my relentlessly buzzing mind with knit, knit, purl and Avengers Endgame plating on the screen.
Day 221: People in the Sober World often talk about Sober Shaming and the anxiety that comes with it. I can’t say I’ve experienced that myself. Yet. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been so transparent about my reasons for knocking booze on the head or I’ve just been around the right social environments / crowds but for me, all I’ve experienced is either a supportive response or no response. Those who acknowledge it will ask why I don’t drink or if they already know why, will congratulate and praise me. In most of these cases the person will also admit they’d like to cut down / give up. In fact 80% of adults surveyed in the UK admitted they’d like to reduce their alcohol intake.
Those that don’t acknowledge it are the people who clearly don’t care and why should they? Why should it matter if I’m in a pub or restaurant drinking a non-alcoholic bottle of beer or a glass of water? it has no bearing on their life!
Saram takes a range of photographs, including street photography, offering new perspectives on what we take for granted. In this interview article, collated from a series of interview answers, he discusses his photography approach, how it is influenced by his anxiety symptoms and life in Poland.
Could you talk about your experiences of working and living in Poland, having moved from Pakistan?
I came to Poland two years ago to study for my Master’s degree in architecture. It has been a great experience overall. I find it a different experience doing street photography here simply because I walk pretty much everywhere as opposed to driving. I walked to my university and took photos on the way and back. I now walk to work and take photos on the way and back. In Pakistan, I used to do the same thing but while sitting in a car. So I would say it is definitely different and I guess easier in some ways. However, I also sometimes find myself feeling much more anxious while doing photography here because of the language barrier that exists. Other than that, it has been great exploring new places and being able to take photographs wherever I go.
There have been several times in my life when I have been appointed a leader without me wanting or asking for that role. The very first instance of this was in primary school when I was appointed as a prefect. I can’t say that it surprised me because even as a kid, I think I exhibited an air of dependability that my teachers picked up on, thus bestowing me with such a burden. I ended up relinquishing that title after slightly more than a year due to my poor homework performance and inability to get my act together. I thought perhaps I would be disappointed in myself but I felt a sense of freedom now that there was no longer expectations on me to behave like a prefect.
The next instance I can think of comes during National Service when I was made to go through the Section Commander Course. During the course, I approached my course administrator with the wish to leave the course and perhaps be a medic or any other vocation. I would have loved to just be a normal fireman instead of a sergeant, having to lead other NSFs. But alas, due to my academic qualifications I was not allowed to do so.