The Writer

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“I would have made you immortal,” a passionate William whispered to his muse, Viola, in Shakespeare in Love. With these words, the wandering spirit within me, to write, found a place to rest. Yes, it all made sense now.

There lies a beauty within the power of breathing life to feelings through words of black and white. Marvellous things happen when thoughts transcend the cages of our minds, to tangible sentences on paper. You can feel Love cutting beneath your skin, taste Jealousy at the back of your throat, hear Betrayal’s mocking remarks, and see Anger scribbled across the page. It’s an art often misunderstood ; cast away as too open, too vulnerable, too time-consuming. Ah, but what freedom comes with being its victim! It lures in the wanderers, the dreamers, the romantics, until we can no longer perceive the world but through lenses imprinted with phrases, similes, and oxymoron.

If you want a love that’s personified, choose the Writer. She will scrawl your soft lips across her skin in unfading ink, and engrave your husky voice across her heart in metaphors. You will find her, late at night, furiously documenting your scent and the taste of your words. She will write of your love in frightening imagery, and dissect your soul until you’re her favorite character.

When she looks at you, you will see her eyes travel to a world where every embrace is jot down, and every flaw of yours is turned into an art form. Yes, choose the Writer. You will give her your love, and in exchange, she will give you invincibility ; for she sees through eyes that tell of stories from faraway, and speaks with tongues from foreign lands.

She will idolize you, she will cherish you, she will immortalize you ; and when you fade, the memory of you will never die, but live on through the pages she painted you on. See, without you, there is no her. Love a Writer, be her muse ; for even long after you may forget her, she will always remember your story.

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Seek, and you shall find.

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WE are all searching. The only difference lies in where we choose to look.

Much of my college life was spent trying to figure out what was missing. And then, in my Third Year, I began to write again ; small passages, hidden notes that exposed my vulnerability, but also my soul. Things changed after that. My oldest memory of writing is standing in front of my Grade 8 English class, reading out a creative essay I was succinctly proud of. I still remember, it was called The Key’. My teacher, Mrs Hutchinson, doesn’t know how much she impacted my life, just by encouraging me, as it was after that, that I learned that I was good at it. After I finished school, I pursued a career in Law – possibly the most contradictory profession to the freedom of creative expression. The irony is uncanny. There were no longer any creative-writing exams and talks about poetry’s beauty and hidden meaning behind the words. I lost that, for a while. And it’s good to have found it again. It has been all technical jargon, deciphering what’s right and wrong and legal loopholes – and trust me, there were a few of those, and I suppose that was the fun part of the degree. Law is a very crafty profession, mind you.

Halfway through the year, I got a part-time job at a mall down the road from me, where I learned how to balance the art of studying, and using my minimum wage on partying, food, and black friday shoes. So now I can add ‘Professional gift-wrapper and soap-seller’ to my resumé. No one could understand why I was doing it, I just knew that I needed to. It tested my patience, my pride, and now I’ve closed that chapter of my life and am happy I did it anyway. It’s taught me humility, tolerance, and also how to go nine hours standing on my feet (I mean, you never know when that might come in handy).

The point is, we are all searching. And we will always search – that comes with the territory of being called Human. We will never know why a path may lead us somewhere entirely twisted and seemingly off course. But sometimes, it’s important that we go with it. Surely happiness does not have to be a constant pursuit – not if there is something within us to keep us grounded ; something that stands through the storms of life, the wandering, the fear of not being okay. We need that. Surely there is a meaning to everything ; the problem is finding out what that is. What makes us alive, what makes us different? Different. I’ve grown old enough to admit that perhaps we will never truly feel set apart from everyone else. So what is it that gets us through that reality of commonness? What is it that makes us feel beautiful when society dictates what is, and when age touches us and paints us into something else?

This year, I want to learn that I am enough. I want to do things that not everyone does. I want to feel fulfilled by extending beyond myself and my own desires. I want to travel the world and experience the lives of others in 20 different countries. I want to learn their languages too. I want to live and feel young even at 30. I want to write, and write a lot, about memories that matter, and not an 8-5 job.

I like to believe that one day, I’ll be sitting on a porch in a tiny cottage, with the sea spray brushing up against my cheeks, and a copy of my published novel on the bookshelf by the fireplace ; content, and worthy, and I will think, “This is why.” 

A traveller’s eyeview 

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Her streets are lined with stories from faraway lands. The cobble stones have heard the echoing cries of sorrow, war, disaster, but also love. The walls of Gaudí have beheld the prayers of desperation, and overlooked the grief of its people. On a lone hilltop, the symbol of the Messiah watches over the city.

Red and yellow silk caress the glass peering over the allies. Tourists bustle in its shadows, their cameras stealing the history engraved in every crevice. Raindrops cling to the slippery lanes, travelling with the gypsy to her flamenco performance, with the father to his family of three. Mystery floats through the land, from one town to the next – like a lonely spirit looking for a place to rest. The smell of tapas and wine brush against your hair ; the scent of weed and flavoured cigarettes linger over your clothes, and entice you into shadowy walkways. Picasso leaves his touch in the hidden galleries and books in the bags of college art students.

In the Gothic part, a humble woman sits. She is wrapped up in wool and cotton, geared for her day. Her voice flows through the antique flea-market, down the path, and bounces off the wrought iron protecting the homes above, until it settles in the darkness. People rush past her, distracted by man’s architecture. They smile when they hear her – but very seldom stop. She is just a poor lady, filling the city with her harmony, and also, a bit of sadness.

An hour drive away, lay a medieval town. Castles reign from every mountain, peering over the valleys of the once Ferdinand and Isabella. Cruelty and beauty mingle in the paintings lining the palaces and cathedrals ; you can almost touch the remnants of pain staining the fortresses.

Ávila, Segovia, Toledo : may my memory never grow dim of your worlds. May I always remember the colour of your tiles, Casa Batlló ; the silence of your wooden chairs, Sagrada Familia ; the sincerity of your touch, Casa Milà ; the exoticism of your paths, Park Güell.

You have imprinted on me, in just ten days. You have given me a quiet hope, broader horizons, a wandering spirit. I have seen the stories of others who have suffered before me, the work of those who believed that life was defined by the legacy you leave behind. You have inspired my dressing, my desire to discover new cultures and languages, and my writing.

You were my muse – perhaps that is why I have left a part of my heart with you.

This is my Land of Art ; this is España.

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Authenticity

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My heart grows like the flowers in my Mother’s garden at Springtime. It blossoms with cherished friends and close love. Its vines envelope beloved pets and good memories. The petals bloom in the sunlight of religion and inner peace.

My heart roars like the waves that ascend into the heavens, reaching higher, leaning towards the hands of God. And then it crashes, heavy, and with a force that can extinguish the fragile life beneath it. It heaves with power and tranquility, all at the same time, until the next moment it caresses Shore’s skin.

My heart is the art I have fallen in love with, the words I’ve fallen asleep to, the love I have contained. Its valves pulse with lands I have travelled to ; its veins clotted with the pain Life has brought me, too.

My heart is the crack in the window, where the smallest light can creep through to warm up a room. It is the lone bird in a cage, who forgot how to fly, but is still hopeful that one day it will be free. It sings because it loves to, it plucks at its feathers for sometimes, Rage beckons. Passersby have stopped to admire it, claimed they know it, understood it. They saw what I allowed them to see, they have loved only what I revealed. But my heart is raw and ugly and bruised. It is not loveable. It is dark and real, and afraid. It is my fears and unfulfilled dreams, it is the nightmares I never dared utter out loud. My heart is the girl inside that relished in solitude, but also needed to be loved. It is my furthest memory of a piece of writing, by an optimistic, 13-year-old me. It is the moments I have felt truly alive, truly beautiful, truly cherished.

My heart is the whisper that tells me to keep going. It’s the fire that consumes me, but also calms my storm.

Be still, dear heart, for you lie in the hands of someone greater. And you will always be okay.

Niche

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There are days I wake up with a zest for life, and there are days I wake up saddened by the lack of a new adventure. Some mornings, however, I open my eyes to a stillness… to an inner calm, where my soul is quiet and at ease – these are my favourite.

There is a kind of happiness I can only feel when alone ; I enjoy the company of my own thoughts. I have always been somewhat of a loner, although this did intensify with age. My heart craves the connection of those closest to me, but at the same time, it also revels in its solitude. One of my fondest moments of being alone is when I take my first sip of a hot cup of tea. I gaze out from my bedroom window, and watch life go by, for those few minutes in an otherwise normal day. I notice the leaves of our palm trees brushing against the white candy floss of the Sky. The sparrows hop onto my windowsill ; a Mother often flies by, with a twig in her mouth for her new home. How little and insignificant are their lives. Yet, how intensely intricate and precious it is, too. To me, there is very little that Words and a cup of tea cannot heal. Yes, Words – my other favourite pastime. I’ve found a joy in Writing, that I would probably never find in any person, place, or thing. Euphoria rushes in whenever I find a beautiful quote, or create a sentence or piece that I am particularly proud of.

Sylvia Plath was right in saying, “There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: “I’ll go take a hot bath.” This, too, is a lonely hour I delight in. It usually is my time for meditation. I reflect on my life, my troubles, my dreams, my fears. I pray there, too. The goal of a good bath, for me, is that by the end of it, I should be washed of my anxieties and momentary sadness.

There is no place you could ever be safer, than in your own space. Your mind is free to indulge in the thoughts that bring joy, and unrestrained in creativity and wonders. Oscar Wilde once said : “I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” To me, it is in these moments of seclusion that our souls can grow. If you cannot be comfortable with your own mind, then you will feel an eternal loneliness. What worse nightmare is there, than isolation from one’s self?

 

 

Silence is deafening 

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The rain whispered against the cold window. Its touch seeped into the pane. The flowers in her mother’s garden danced with delight. Wind beckoned Storm. In the distance, a lone cat meowed ; its feline coat glistening with the full moon’s mercury glow. The atmosphere was annihilating, yet quiet at the same time.

Leah lay on her back, her fingers clutching at the white sheets enveloping her. She let out a silent scream ; her pain cut through the spring air around her. She was alone, tonight. And that loneliness was one she couldn’t bear. Her world bounced from moments of bliss, to nights of anguish which consumed her. She felt herself pour out of her. For once, Leah didn’t fight to keep the pieces together ; they flooded out of her in waves, and crashed upon her cheeks.

She sensed the all too familiar darkness start to set in ; gnawing at the contours of her mind, demanding to be let in, to take over. How much longer could she resist this time? It was so much easier not to feel, not to think, but to surrender to its call.

The blackness swallowed her. Tomorrow, she would wake up numb and in denial. Bliss would eventually sneak up on her again, until Darkness clawed its way back.

She was her greatest fear.

Lonely Art

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I didn’t have many things in life, so I wrote. I wrote when the world felt empty and my heart ached from life’s mishaps. I wrote when my universe grew dark and void and all I heard were the thoughts inside my head that screamed out I wasn’t enough.

I wrote most when hurt, when vacant, when washed up by my subconscious and emotion. I found musings in pain and regret, in darkness and self-hate. Nobody knew the extent of my thoughts, the depth of how I bled out onto the paper that contained stories that others deemed “beautiful” and “talented”. It was just art to them. For me, it was every heartbreak etched through fiction. I used fantasy to deflect from reality – which writer doesn’t ? I used words to forget my unhappiness. I created strong characters to make up for my weaknesses. I created love, where I craved it.

My most prized creations were birthed from my own pain. Drafting happy endings made me believe that I, too, could be happy. Where others took their own life, I turned to a page and pen instead. I breathed life into words when I needed company, and sought refuge in its embrace.

I wanted to be more than just a petite footprint swept over by the waves on the shore. I wanted to be dangerous and terrifying, powerful and beautiful. I wanted to be loved, to be needed, to be memorable.

Or maybe, what I truly desired, was to be nothing at all.

Childhood monsters in the closet: Part 1

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I cowered beneath the blanket of darkness. It made me feel secure. The monster paced ; with each hulking step, he became more furious. His leathery claws pounded into the cobble, leaving behind a screeching cry of nails against stone, with every new step. Fiery breath puffed out of him in clouds of anger and rage. Sweat dribbled down his wrinkled neck, and lingered across his masculine torso. For years he had haunted me ; now, he was ready to devour.

I felt the familiar chill start to crawl its way into the air ; gnawing at the contours of my mind, demanding to be let in, to take over. How much longer could I resist this time? It was so much easier not to feel, not to think, but to surrender to its call.

Nausea crept her way up my stomach and onto my tongue. Her soft, silky acid scraped through my interior ; I fought to hold her down. The black of the air around me was paralyzing ; it swallowed my limp body, and all that remained of my sight was the image of the bloodied eyes of my attacker. His irises glistened with greed. He grew strength from the taste of my fear. My nerves pulsated as vibrations across the ground, massaging the underneath of his rough, skilled paws.

My breaths shortened. Carbon dioxide clenched at my lungs, hungrily. He was my predator, and this was his favorite past time. I was merely just another victim in his story collection ; a puppet in his stage play.

I waited.

He drew closer, timing his movements perfectly.

At any moment, I would be nothing more than the memory of a girl.

———–to be continued———-

Stay tuned for the two-part series of ‘Childhood monsters in the closet’