Its brand story is an inspired conception; a narrative crafted to knead and unknot that part of the consumer’s brain responsible for decision-making.

So as someone who once studied that kind of thing to pass a few exams, I know that Hemingway and Picasso didn’t actually soak up their genius-vomit with the same oilskin-bound acid-free papers I see in Exclusive Books and hear with angel-song accompaniment.

But I buy them anyway, as overpriced as they are, because they’re well-made and I’m sold on their minimalist practicality. And I have an abnormal fondness for notebooks. Any brand, even those ones from the government stationers we used to get in school on first days; pages hinged together with a sturdy cover, fuck, that just speaks to me!

The bamjee-beaten one you see in the photo (fourth from the top) was my first moleskine ever. A gift from a friend, it lasted almost three years, and would’ve been in action today, had I not run out of pages. It’s not that I’m not a prolific writer (well, yes, there is that), I’m a forgetful one. There’s never just one notebook, but several at any given time. So perhaps their longevity can also be attributed to the fact that my mind is literally in so many different places.

Some of them are still in their wrappings. I haven’t filled enough of my current notebooks to warrant me opening any new ones. And they make great gifts, so maybe I’ll pass some on. (I’m also one of those people who leave the protective plastic covers on their gadget screens until they absolutely have to be peeled off because they just start looking gunky.)

Right now, I’m leaking onto the brown leather-bound and the spiralwire-spined one (right at the bottom). The wire hinged one was an emergency buy at the airport before I left for Malawi. I had to have a notebook with me. It had nothing to do with the fact that my job description has journalist thrown in there somewhere. I needed the notebook because, without it, I feel kinda lonely.

This is where you laugh and feel better about yourself.

Anyhoo, my notebook is the place where my mind gets to lay its head down. In it I make stuff up and figure things out. It doesn’t matter if I spill my deepest and darkest, very few can read my handwriting anyway. In the picture below is a sketch I did of a window overlooking the Vatican City. It was a long queue to get in, and time was sweating itself slowly out of my skin. I don’t usually sketch, because, well, I’m crap. No, seriously, it’s obvious. Don’t even try at amelioration in the comments. One must always be cognisant of one’s shortcomings children. Below the sketch, is the rendering of an arcane script from a long-extinct civilisation. Seriyaas! The Ahelaas of Eejmab.


I had a notebook jacked from me in Std4. It was held to ransom by a bunch of boys in my class outside my house at my 11th birthday party. My mother invited them all inside, and all I heard after that was, “Oooh… Saaleha had boys at her party.” I crossed the line between nerd and cool, and to this day, I still hover above it.

There was nothing personally incriminating in that notebook. Just the random observations of any 10/11 year old. In it was a list of home phone numbers (cellphones were stuff we awed at on Beyond2000), under my own made-up codenames, belonging to some of the more popular boys. Numbers I would never call by myself, because I wouldn’t know what to say. I probably made up the list with some girlfriends, for when we played stupid funny prank games like “Is your fridge running?”

I once found someone’s notebook. I was walking back from madressah, and cut through an alley close to the flats behind what used to be Ruwaida’s Hairdresser. The rain had fused some of the pages together. In it were copied poems in neat female handwriting. Curving lines, their roundness spelling out why boys with brown eyes were better than boys with blue. Something like that. I left the notebook where I found it.