As the 2020 academic year drew to a close, Dillon Nazareth, a final year law student, spontaneously started a blog with three of his colleagues in order to tackle feeling unproductive. He decided to start something through which he could continue making use of things he had learnt in ways that were interesting for him.  

“I’ve always felt that if I spend too long doing nothing, I just lose track of what I’ve done before, and it takes me ages to get back into that routine”, explains Dillon.

Lacuna in Absentia was born from Dillon’s desire to look forward to something in a year when plans and possibilities were suddenly halted the world over. The other three authors on the blog- Abdulrahman Mohammed, Yasmin Beheri, and Rifdi Abqary, were keen to join in on Dillon’s idea.

“I feel like this was a great way to maintain our friendship during a time when everyone felt lost in their own world. It’s a difficult time, but when we did this together it brought all our thoughts and plans in line. It made us work together, rely on each other, and made us closer,” Abdulrahman tells Mindset.

The blog is used by the four authors and graduating law students to express their individuality, interests, and passions.

“There’s no restriction or limits. We don’t even have to collaborate on the pieces”, says Dillon.

Indeed, the focus of each author is quite different. Yasmin explores literature and philosophy, an opportunity she didn’t often have during the academic term. She welcomes the dialogue that writing about these topics brings through the comments section. For Rifdi, his interests are around Asian politics, growing from his love of contemporary history.

“These are things I’ve always wanted to write about, but the circumstances didn’t allow me to do so. Now I’m finally able to write about it”, Rifdi says.

Abdulrahman writes about social change and art, trying to ensure that his articles bring in the field of law as well. He emphasizes, however, that they don’t limit themselves to certain topics.

“Another nice thing about the blog is that we don’t necessarily have to focus on one theme, we have complete flexibility.”

Starting this blog has many potential outcomes for the authors. Initially, they were using it as an outlet for expression during the current situation, but they have found that it also helps them refine their research and writing skills. It’s a way for them to keep improving themselves after the end of classes.

The year 2020 has been interesting and everyone’s stories are different within the shared reality of the global pandemic. Rifdi says that this creates talking points that they can bring into the blog to interact around our experiences moving forward.

“It’s as if an entire society falls and then rises together, which is powerful.”

Abdulrahman adds that while blogs and social media have definitely been used as a coping mechanism, they see the blog as more of a strategy to gain a competitive edge as they move into their careers as graduates.

“Our coping can come from the artistic way we voice our emotions, but that isn’t the sole purpose of the blog.”

Although they are not happy with the current global situation, the four authors agree that it has helped them get creative and build character.

“The year 2020 has brought about radical change, and a more human approach to human issues”, says Rifdi.

For Abdulrahman, he has reached levels of motivation he previously did not think possible, and has found the situation making him more proactive, humble, confident, and stronger.

Facing a situation like this right at the start of their careers has helped them become more immune to adversity down the line, says Dillon.

“We’re more prepared to expect the worst and at the same time look forward to the future.”

Finding ways to stay productive, whether in a pandemic or not, largely depends on the people around us, explains Abdulrahman.

“We can feel so hopeless sometimes, and our connections really make a difference- they make us feel like things will be OK.”

About the ‘Lacuna in Absentia’ authors

Dillon Vivian Nazareth is an aspiring barrister and academic. His interests include International Law, Human Rights, and history.

Abdulrahman Mohammed is an activist who is keen on social change. He currently works in the field of social and environmental sustainability.

Rifdi Abqary Farhan is an avid sports enthusiast who is passionate about contemporary Asian history.

Yasmin Talal Beheri is interested in literature, philosophy, the arts… and everything in between.