2022: A Middle Year

It’s currently four a.m., and I’ve just realised I haven’t prepared an end-of-year post for this here blog of mine. This is understandable, given that I amassed four posts this year. Three were recycled essays I wrote for my university, and the last one was a short story I was hoping to adapt into a novel but haven’t gotten around to yet. Truth be told, I kind of forgot this place existed. Which is rather sad, considering it’s named after me. This brings me to the main point of this post: there isn’t one.

When I first realised it was 31st December about an hour ago, I began questioning myself. How did I let this happen? How could I forget something that used to be such a central part of my life? I started this blog in June 2020, back when Miss Rona first showed up. It saw me through those early lockdown days. Through the A-level kerfuffle. Through my gap year. Now Miss Rona is gone, and I’m still here, and this blog just ain’t blogging. But why? What happened in the last year that stopped me from writing? Ironically, the answer is university.

Looking back, it’s clear that university has dramatically impacted this blog’s output. Before starting university in September 2021, I put out an average of three to four posts per month, sometimes five or six. Since starting, I’ve only made six. That’s six posts in just over a year! Now, I could sit here and keep berating myself for letting this happen, or I could do a little self-reflection and unpack this. Alternatively, I could just close the laptop and go to sleep, but where’s the fun in that?

Let’s start from the beginning. Why did I start this blog? It’s not really an easy question to answer. Partly because there were multiple contributing factors but mainly because the largest of those factors is a little embarrassing. You see… the truth is… damn, how do I say this? I… I started this blog because I had a crush on someone. There we go. I said it. The cat is out of the bag. I repeat the cat is out of the bag.

I’m not gonna go into detail about who this person was – I say “was” because I haven’t spoken to her in nearly two years, not because she’s, you know – that’s not important. All you need to know is that your boy was down bad for a girl. She liked writing, so he started a blog to impress her. She wasn’t impressed, but your boy did find a new hobby, and ultimately that’s the real love story in all this.

I started this blog with my first post: Founding of the All-India Muslim League. Technically Was the British Raj good or bad for the Subcontinent? was my first post, but I don’t count that, seeing as it was just a recycled essay I wrote in year 12. Alas, I digress. So, I started this blog with my series Jinnah’s Pakistan: Revisiting the Pakistan Movement. The intention was clear: this was going to be a history blog and I was going to be the next greatest historian since Herodotus. At least, that was until A-levels results day.

To put it mildly, A-level results day was not a good day. To put it frankly, A-levels results day was $#*% day. So $#*% in fact, I had to take a month’s hiatus to process it. And after a lot of processing and self-reflection, I came back with my first thought piece: Limbo. It was a great success. So great it got both a single like and a single comment. Which was one more like and comment than any of my previous history posts. No. It was a great success because it revealed to me one of the greatest feelings known to man: catharsis.

And so, after Limbo, my blog began to branch out. I continued writing about history; the difference was that now my writing had a lot more character. A lot more pizzazz, if you will. Then on 25th November 2020, I discovered a new passion: storytelling. Admittedly, my first attempt at storytelling was a little confusing. I read back Shaheen today, and just like when I was writing it, I still don’t know what’s going on. But people liked it. Friends called me up, telling me they thought it was deep and meaningful and that I should write more fiction. And so, I end 2020 on a high note with A Reflection on Loneliness and How to Punch.

Going into 2021, I had the ambition of taking my blog more seriously. I aimed to write at least twice as many posts as I did in 2020. I start the year with a few book reviews and another instalment of Jinnah’s Pakistan. Then at the start of April, I begin my first real crack at fiction writing: Midnights In London, an episodic story set in 17th-century Victorian London.

By this point in my blogging career, things were going well. Posts were pretty much going out on a weekly basis. During this period, I posted some of my best work. Notable mentions include The Fourth Battle of Panipat, Iron Brothers: Assessing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Storytime with Aqil: The Three Fights. Then in late September, I started university, and things went downhill.

Uni life got the better of me. The first semester of university was an absolute rollercoaster. It had everything: action, drama, intrigue. So much happened there wouldn’t be enough gigabytes on my computer to record it. Alas, I will have to save those stories for another day. All you need to know is that, between all the craziness and university assignments, I had no time to write blog posts. And the one post I did write, Mass Surveillance and the Erosion of Our Civil Liberties: Why You Should Be Concerned, was part of a university assignment. It was safe to say my streak had been broken, and I finished 2021 with what I’d honestly call a lazy cop-out post, The Aqil Ghani Media Awards 2021.

I went into 2022 with less enthusiasm and time for my blog. In many ways, this place became a landfill for me to dump my university essays into. After all, university essays were the only things I had time to write. I finish the academic year in June and begin my summer holidays. During the summer, I wrote another story called Wishes which served as a proof of concept for a novel I intended to write. I still intend to write a novel, just one based on a different idea. And now here we are, 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, the last day of 2022.

As far as my writing goes, it’s fair to say 2022 wasn’t a good year for Aqil Ghani (the blog). In fact, one could put it frankly and say 2022 was a $#*% year for Aqil Ghani (the blog). But was it a $#*% year for Aqil Ghani (the person)?

To be fair to myself, I did achieve some personal milestones this year. For one, I’ve finally started eating and going gym consistently. I’ve gained 3kg in the past two months, and I’m the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been in my entire life. As far as acting is concerned, 2022 has been a great success. I filmed my first paid role as one of the leads in an anthology film, and I’m currently booked in for another two projects I’m gonna film in the new year.

Overall, I’d say 2022 was a middle year. A year of metamorphosis. In some regards, I’ve stagnated. In others, I’ve excelled. But regardless, I have learned. A lot. And that’s what life is all about.

So, what am I going to do differently next year? I’d love to promise to start posting consistently again, but, truth be told, I don’t know if I can stick to that promise. I’m already swamped with uni work as it is, with an exam to prepare for and two essays to write. They may soon end up on this blog, depending on how good they are. However, I will promise myself this: to take at least a little time out to write, not for university, not for the blog, but for myself.

I made this blog to impress the girl I liked and discovered a passion I didn’t know I had. I started with a story of the past and ended with a story of my imagination. And as the story of my own life unfolded, this blog took a backseat. Whether this blog continues to wither or makes a resurgence remains to be seen. Regardless, though it may be little, I’m content with what I’ve achieved here.

That’s enough corniness from me this year, folks. May y’all have a blessed 2023 and achieve everything you set out to achieve. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep smiling. And if I see, I see you.

Peace be with you.