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Lamentations of a failed writer

Journal Entry 1:
I woke this morning to the smell of winter coursing through the winter… actually it was fog and I got scolded because I was stupid enough to leave my window open. I tried to make dad understand that there was more beauty in an open window, the symbolic and the eternal. Dad told me there was nothing beautiful about a cold and a nose full of snot… something I had acquired in the night. I don't actually mind the cold. It sets the mood you know. The open window was an experiment. I intend to write about it, an article that will finally get me some much deserved attention. I know they don't believe me when I tell them I write. The article will be called The Window of Freedom. Nice title right? Yeah I thought so too. Now I just have to write.

Journal Entry 2:
The English teacher told me that Window of Freedom was utter crap. The audacity of the old fool! What does he know about beauty and freedom? Yeah so he's a freedom fighter big deal. Does it matter? Where's the beauty in a war? But a window! It's eternal; the symbolism sends shivers down my spine. I have decided that I will show that fool. My talents will not be gone unnoticed. Also I didn't like the way the girls laughed when he recited the essay out loud. I'm thinking that maybe inserting Shakespearean blank verses in between paragraphs was a bad idea. Modern and old literature, don't mix, evidently. But no matter, let them laugh. The next time, the next essay, it will be no laughing matter. I will make sure I am noticed… by the girls and not because I'm being laughed at.

Journal Entry 3:
I have English class today in the afternoon. I want this class to be my crowning moment. I'll show them all. My boasts aren't just boasts. They are rooted in truth. So I plan on staring at the wall. The wall is beautiful, somber. Undoubtedly the depth and symbolism of a wall is unmatched. Even a window cannot stand in front of a wall in terms of beauty and magnificence. The sheer ingenuity of a wall, the plaster, the bricks line up upon one another beneath… the sheer symbolism… Yes, my next essay… it shall be called simply, The Wall. And this time I plan on using a whole different writing style. Already I have set the mood to write this piece. I have dimmed the lights, I have closed the accursed window and I have put on some music. To lessen the distractions, I have thrown the pet rabbit. I have also put my favorite pair of shoes… for luck. Pulitzer or bust!

Journal Entry 4:
Must I suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous English teachers who refuse to see talent...? I noticed that this time the other students had tears in their eyes and some of them not from laughing… Am I that bad? Is my grammar off? Do I not use enough commas? Or maybe my metaphors are a bit too… metaphorical? Why can't I make them see things the way I do? Is it because I lack vocabulary? I did try to memorize the dictionary and I used as many foreign terms as I could remember in my essay. Maybe they didn't get the Alaskan… or maybe it was that Icelandic idiom that the teacher said was me making up words. I didn't make up words to make the sentences rhyme… well maybe not as much as the teacher claimed. But that Icelandic idiom was real…really. It means: Painting a wall ain't that bad as long as they pay overtime. I only used it as tool for humor… apparently humor is not allowed in the English Language.

Journal 5:
I have been dubbed a wannabe. Maybe I am one. I've tried writing again. Just like old times, I threw the rabbit out of the room and clad in my favorite shoes I attempted to write. I failed miserably. The words just won't come. I fear another repetition of the disaster like the recitation of The Wall. Maybe I wasn't cut out to be a stringer of words. Maybe I am not meant to write my way into history. My life is a disaster… without words I feel disconnected…without the joy writing I feel lost. I have tried my hand at poetry… the last resort for failed writers of prose. It didn't work. I can't even write poetry. A failure… a total failure… Maybe I should become an accountant. I never thought it would come down to this. I think I'll have to replace my favorite lucky shoes. Up until now they have yet to deliver on the luck…

Journal 6:
'Tis a sad, sad day… But there is hope yet. A glimmer, something to work on, maybe cling some hope on. The English teacher called me over after another dismal class. This was only class in which I failed to submit my essay. The teacher noticed. There were covert smiles every time I was asked to answer. They expected the old me, the one that used to stand up and say the answers, usually with some example or excerpt from literature. They expected me to do the same… and they all waited to laugh at yet another of my valiant tries at writing. But they expected wrong. They were met with a man broken… a man finally submissive to harsh reality. The teacher noticed and told me later on, that I maybe I should focus my sights lower. A step or two down and then try my hand at tried and true topics… and maybe try writing in simple English instead of becoming overly artistic. He also advised against Icelandic idioms. Sound advice and thus I hope. I sit here today, at the same table as before, with the lights dimmed, the rabbit out to lessen distractions, the shoes on my feet and when the sweet words flow from my pen, the world will come knocking at my door. Maybe not immediately, but one day I shall be known!

By Tareq Adnan


THE Earth was spinning on its axis, non-stop, without rest, and it had absolutely no similarity with the way Firoz's world was spinning right now. The stars blinked through the haze of his blurred vision. He stumbled onward with unsteady steps. He was Earth's drinking mate tonight. He was a sailor lost at sea, trying to find his way home using the sodium lights of the street as his guide. He had no idea whatsoever as to the appearance and location of the North Star, though he sardonically guessed vaguely that it may lie to the north.

The streets were bare. Occasionally a vehicle would whoosh by, a CNG, a taxi, an ambulance, some rich brat coming back from a party. At a darkened street corner he noticed a guy talking to a few girls standing in the shadow of an enormous shopping complex. After a while one of the girls took the guy by hand and walked away down to the alleyway somewhere. A couple of the girls stared down the road at Firoz.

'Don't waste time on him,' said one girl in a rather rough voice. She sounded aged, experienced. 'He's wasted; hasn't got a penny on him. Let's get away from here.'

They should have had her along with them on that cab, he thought wryly; she had summarized the financial state of his pocket pretty accurately.

He had been picked up half an hour ago by a taxi cab. The driver had stopped beside him and asked him to hop in. He had thought it was very gracious of the driver to drop a drunk off at his home. But, things proceeded exactly as it may be expected at 1AM two guys jumped into the backseat before long and demanded that he turn out his pockets. Grinning broadly, he had revealed that he was currently in a sorrier state than the muggers. He had guffawed at their expressions and had received a black eye and split lip as a reward before being chucked out of the cab.

He had blacked out for a minute or so before coming around to find a large puddle of water a couple of feet from his face. Had they thrown him a little harder, he would have landed smack in the middle of it. Somehow, his brain managed to find something extremely comic in this little bit of luck and he started laughing. He laughed so hard that he was out of breath. His body ached from the fall; his face was smeared with gravel and his cheek was bleeding where it had skidded on the asphalt; his left eye was an unsightly purplish red; the bruise swollen to the size of a small omelet, but none of that mattered. This was funny! A part of his brain tried to rationalize the situation, but it was swept away by the tide of laughter. Who cares about logic when presented with such humour? He rolled over and stared at the stars, still laughing like a maniac.

After a while he mustered his will [what was left of it] and got up. He went two steps forwards, stumbled and fell face first into the puddle. This set off another fit which almost had him drowned in two inches of water.

Now he was here, at the mouth of the alleyway. The street was the ocean and the alleys were rivers. Come dawn, people will flow down the river like water going to the ocean. The Ladies-in-Red had taken off as he had approached, limping slightly. The strangled glow of the sodium lamps illuminated his background as he stood there, looking like some deep-sea demon risen to the surface.

He noticed the girl and the man come out of a side-alley, an estuary. The man gave the girl something and vanished down the opposite end of the alley. Firoz stood there for a moment, hesitating slightly. Then he started to walk down the alley to the girl. The moment the girl was aware of his presence, she went rigid, like a panicky doe when it picks up a scent that doesn't bode too well. She loosened up immediately and started to back away.

'Hey, I mean no harm,' Firoz's words came out slurred. The girl was even more frightened now. She started to back away faster. Why is she behaving like this, Firoz thought, bewildered, I'm a good person.

But his astonishment was changing. Hey, what's her problem? What the hell does she know? What does she know about messed up parents and unfulfilled dreams and back-biting friends? What does she know about cheating spouses? She knew quite a lot about these things actually, but she wasn't about to discuss them with Firoz, not right now anyway. There are certain situations you are supposed to avoid. You don't get by on the streets by being stupid.

All of a sudden there was an explosion of fury in Firoz's head. Who the hell did she think she was? His head became amazingly clear for a drunk. He started running towards her. The girl let out a scream and started running as fast as she could in the opposite direction. She has no right to behave like that with me, Firoz thought feverishly. I'm a good person, I'm a good person. He caught up with her and tackled her to the ground. As he sat on top of her and started strangling her in his rage, as her eyes bulged out in fear and disbelief at such a death, he thought to himself, I'm a good person. And then he passed out over her lifeless form.

The World kept spinning, ignorant, or perhaps ignoring, the tales it was producing.

By Kazim Ibn Sadique


A girl's hands,
Soft, supple and sure
But empty
White finger nails, cuticles, skin

A change of place
Of phone, of address
A figure appears
An arrow in his heart
Golden the arrow was, straight and sure
It landed where it was supposed

The glaring lights of a shopping mall
The quiet hush of a movie theatre
The excited chatter of friends
News it was, this unlikely amalgamation

Soft, scintillant sunlight
Crowning the two as they experienced an awakening
To the fallacies and rules of love
It was unexpected this
This flutter of hopes, excitement of meeting
The slow but quick patterns of love, all too becoming

Rickshaws, the sound of bells tinkling
Red, blue golden, how colourful!
The lake seduced by the moonlight
A glint of gold on the water's edge
Bangles, a sign of eternity
Whole, holistic and never-ending

Her hands weren't empty now
Filled with green with flecks of gold
Like a fiery emerald on fire
As if made for her hands, the green against the gold
Glinting, gliding, glorifying
Their love like a proud ship on uncharted waters

But it was all over so fast, so soon
The whispered promises, the stolen kisses
All gone so soon
The torn clothes, the warmth of hurried breaths
The scent of each others hair and skin, like peaches and lime
All gone so soon

Ah, the bangles!
Falling in the darkness, no moon no sun
Breaking apart in pieces, Shattering in silence
The green filled with flecks of fold
She felt trapped in that gold, that glint of gold
And now her hands were empty again.

By Nisma Elias


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