Poem: The Refugee

I based this poem loosely on my mum’s experience of war and becoming a refugee during the Balkan wars in the 1990’s. However I feel as though this piece can be read and appreciated by anyone who has been affected by the horrors of war and the changes that come with it. 

 

At the end of my street stands the lamp post under which I had my first kiss,

The bombs wiped that lamp post away with just one hit.

The cafe opposite my school is where we’d skip class and cause trouble,

There’s nothing left of that cafe now but rubble.

That September I was to begin my University degree,

Instead I had become a refugee.

I packed enough clothes for two weeks away,

Who knew then I’d be gone for a decade.

The day I left my home the sky was shedding tears,

Bullet holes and raindrops mixed with people’s fears.

So there I stood, scared, in a new country all alone,

It was then that I realised I had no choice but to grow.

War is something you see in books and films,

It’s different when you know the people being killed.

It’s funny how they say time flies when you’re having fun,

For me it seemed as though time flew whilst on the run.

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In the Summer of 2015 I first picked up the book described as ‘the greatest novel in any language of the last fifty years’ (Salman Rushdie). At the time I was unable to appreciate the full genius of the novel as I was often distracted with other things. However two years later I am reading it again and can honestly say it is spellbinding.

The novel centres around the Buendia family through the history of the rise and fall of the mythological town of Macondo.  Although I haven’t yet finished the book, I am mesmerised by Marquez’s ability to chronicle the tragicomical nature of life and death through the written word. In addition from what I can tell so far from reading OHYOS, the book is dominated by themes of human nature, political impacts, historical repetitions, life, death, peace and truth. The character of Colonel Aureliano Buendia stands out particularly to me as it is through him, I believe, that the reader is able to fully understand the theme of solitude which is referenced in the title itself. He is the first human born in Macondo and is described as ‘silent and withdrawn’. Furthermore it can’t be denied that each character Marquez has brought to life on paper becomes deeply rooted in the heart of the reader as the story goes on.

Finally in my opinion the first line of a novel often gives a reader insight into the quality of the narrative. In this instance the very first line is one of the greatest ever written. It begins with ‘ Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.’ I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for something insightful and possibly life changing to read. I will post more reviews as I continue reading the book.

One hundred years of solitude

Daily Thought: Knowing Your Worth

In this society it seems as though it is considered an insult to say that you love yourself. People who love themselves are accused of arrogance and bearing large egos. This then leads to the thought that the only way that they will achieve acceptance in society is to NOT love themselves. And so along this quest of wanting to fit in we start to believe that focusing on our insecurities is far more socially acceptable than learning to love and accept yourself wholly. With this approach to life rooted into our brains it’s no wonder so many young people today are seen suffering from low self-esteem and depression. It also isn’t surprising that so many relationships fail, whether it’s romantic, friendly or family related. How can one expect someone else to love them if they can not even love themselves? The media certainly doesn’t help by constantly reinforcing the idea that we are not good enough the way we are.

What’s more is that self love should never be mistaken for arrogance. There is a big difference between being comfortable in your own skin and putting others down in order to elevate yourself. One of my all time favourite quotes is ‘accept what you can’t change and change what you can’t accept’. Realising your self worth and letting go of the things that are beyond your control acts as a large weight being lifted off of your shoulders and is ultimately the best thing that can happen to you. Once more people begin to realise their own self worth and encourage others to do the same, only then do I believe the world will become a slightly better place.

-Mash x

American Sweetheart

This is a short story I began writing for my Creative Writing class at University. It’s also my first attempt at writing a murder mystery, which I am hoping to continue writing in further depth allowing myself to develop the plot and characters. 

‘In the summer of my 13th year I fell out the tree dad told me not to climb. I didn’t climb it because I was the type of kid who enjoyed climbing trees. I climbed it because I saw what looked like an American Goldfinch amongst the branches. Seeing as I was only three birds short of having a full collection of all those native to New Jersey, I took the risk. Dad would later roll his eyes at my explanation for disobeying him and mutter what sounded like ‘why can’t you just be normal’ under his breath. We never truly saw eye to eye, me and dad. He was always a man’s man who’s hobbies included fishing, football and sharing a beer with the guys. I was the opposite.  He loves me, sure. I’m his son after all. But he never got me. Pam used to say it’s because my IQ was a lot higher than his.

Arriving at the hospital, the first thing I noticed was the smell. A mixture of old people and antiseptic with an undertone of bleach. I don’t remember much about what the doctors said about my head injury. All I remember thinking about was the goldfinch I missed. Three stitches and an ice cream cone from a friendly nurse later, I was excused. Before we left dad insisted on discussing my injury further, leaving me alone with my thoughts in the waiting room. Everything in the hospital appeared to be different shades of grey, including the people. Dull pieces of art were lazily hung up on the walls for, what I assume, was an attempt to brighten things up. This place served depression cold. That’s when I heard the voice that would change everything. ‘What happened to your head?’ I turned to see a girl around my age sat two seats down. A mess of blonde curls sat on her head which appeared to be streaked with reddish hues complimenting her otherwise pale face. I wondered why she was here as she appeared to look healthy. ‘Well? Do you talk?’ she spoke again. ‘Oh um, I fell out of a tree. I was – um- looking for a bird and I fell – so um yeah‘  Her brown eyes scanned my face and she burst into an infectious laugh. I couldn’t help but notice how her eyes weren’t the boring kind of brown. They were the kind that melted into rays of gold when the light hit them. ‘Bird watching!? That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard! You’re funny’ I was mentally prepared to ignore this girl and drown out her mean words, like I usually do with people. She continued ‘It sounds pretty neat though! I’m in here cos my mama is a nurse and I’m waiting for her to finish her shift and take me home. Say, you look awful familiar’ For some reason, despite the fact I was silent throughout most of this conversation, she kept talking. ‘Oh where are my manners!? I’m Pam by the way. Pamela Judith Scott but only my ma calls me that when she’s angry,’ She stretched out her pale hand which held a homemade friendship bracelet. I mirrored her actions. ‘M-Michael.’ ‘Michael what?’

‘Clark! Mr Clark could you please answer the question?’ My attention was drawn back to the present by the overweight lawyer in front of me. His pug like face looked irritated at my lack of response. I muttered an apology and the case proceeded. ‘Mr Clark, once again I ask you where were you on the night of July 16th 1969?’  ‘Jenna Dunn’s party, sir. We were celebrating the moon landing.’ The fat lawyer interrogating me had beads of sweat visible on his bald patch every time he turned to face the jury. If Pam was here she would laugh at him and probably call him a fat phony. She’d say he didn’t really care about the murder, only about the pay check he’d get if he won the case. Thinking of Pam made me smile; something I hadn’t done in a few months. When something big hits the timeline of your life, it squeezes into the middle and splits it in two. From that point onwards you think of your life in terms of the before and after it happened. For me there were two big wedges in my timeline. The day I met Pam and the day Pam died… (To be continued) ‘ 

 

An Article I Wrote for The Richmond and Twickenham Times

In 2015, I was lucky enough to gain work experience with the Wandsworth Guardian and the Richmond and Twickenham Times. During my time there I was able to shadow a number of experienced journalists as well as write my own articles. One of the articles I wrote involved interviewing Kathleen ‘Kitty’ Bastable who had just turned 100. Despite her age, Mrs Bastable demonstrated a deep rooted love of life and appreciation for positivity. Her positive mentality, independent nature and strong sense of humour will stay with me forever and will always be remembered as the vital ingredients for a long and happy life.

100 YEAR OLD INTERVIEW