Why is it that in the world of today, countless people are often seen bad mouthing society? Some might actually mean it but that’s hard to tell because where I’m from, opinionating serious matters to maintain an aura of condescension around yourself trumps all. I say people who may not be necessarily teenagers, the justification for this choice of word being that you do not need to be part of a specific age group to be unsatisfied with the way things are perceived and how they are being run. That you can be old enough to the point where your concerns and opinions can no longer be labelled as the surfacing naivety of a child who doesn’t know any better. The base of this argument, that a teen who voices his concerns should be ignored on the premises of being considered too young to be taken seriously, being wrong altogether. But that’s a whole other topic for a whole other time. Society. What a funny word. A group of impetuous and headstrong people who are insistent on following the rules made by frivolous old people from the antediluvian times until they themselves turn into frivolous old people of the modern times and pass on these regulations, as a sacred trust some may say (to make it sound more important or appealing, feel free to take your pick) to the next generations so that these teachings flash before the eyes of the next generations I just mentioned-who have now grown into the present generations (time really does fly)-in fluorescent blues and reds and greens, whenever they are on the verge of giving in to innovation for the sake of sparing their children this rigid way of living that some may say is menacingly close to being almost robotic, so much so that it might’ve been literally carved in stone (even though the idea of a bunch of intransigent people gathered on a hillside around a rock carving their views in it is outrageous and hysterical at the same time.) This internal struggle continues until it is washed away by the perpetual flow of time to a point it feebly manages to appear in only a few. So if you ever wake up on a Sunday morning with an angry mob outside your door thirsty for blood, now you know why. Toodles.
Her memory races back to the time she had been escorted by the shirkers to a place she now believes will encompass her final breath. A place that will cherish it momentarily before growing weary of the space it occupies. The only place where she was known. The same place where she will be forgotten. She sets aside the hammer and wedge before dropping down on all fours, breathing hard. She wipes the beads of sweat that have trickled down her face, the shirt sleeve coming away wet. Her frail body is racked with a fit of gruesomely violent and undeniably relentless coughs. She feels a hand on her back, and another one that helps her up. Wait? It’s time already? She raises her head to meet the eyes of the shirker in front of her. Her question is greeted with a smirk, impeccably portraying the mirth of it’s wearer. What wouldn’t she give to slap it off his face. I would say great progress except I don’t spot any. He utters these demeaning words so contemptuously it sets her blood to a steady boil. Come now, it’s time to go back. She glares at him, her eyes filled with all the loathing and revulsion she can muster. This particular shirker never fails to set her teeth on edge. Another shirker reaches for her shoulder, his hand swatted away abruptly, her eyes still fixed on the one standing ahead. The two start walking simultaneously, just like they did yesterday and the day before until all the days had gradually melted away into the strainingly drawn out cycle of time. Being escorted in. Being escorted out. Over and over and over again. Before passing through the threshold, her eyes linger for a moment on the surface-the same one she had spent the day trying to dig into-yearning to see the slighest fissure in the smooth set of stone. The same eyes that come away slightly red and brimming with sorrow greather than the one they had been overrun with the day before. I told you you can’t change people, the shirker says as he follows her gaze, his voice carrying an undertone of grave sorrow. The kind that she, uptil now, had believed only herself to know. Her eyes widen as she is struck with realization, looking upon the face of the man standing before her. That’s when it all makes sense. He had been here too, but not as a shirker. Trying to change someone else’s path, he had sealed his own fate. Striking a different surface of his own, he had only maimed himeslf. With a smile plastered on his face, he had wept internally. For he had done it all, and for someone who had never changed.
The world is a dark and twisted place, though many may beg to differ. We label people we don’t know the first thing about to offer some sense of sustenance or to our ever present loneliness. A flare of excitement. A long awaited change to a bland routine. The slighest sense of superiority to fuel souls that can’t ascend to greatness with or without it. The same souls that makes the world a cruel place. The same cruelty that many have yet to be subjected to. The cruelty that hides behind a mask of kindness. That provides a frame too small to an artist whose imagination yearns for so much more than the confinement of four panels of wood. More than having a limit stamped on his art. Of having it’s meaning pre written by hands too cold and unhuman. The panels that seem to close in on him inch by inch until his confidence is in tatters. Until the rare beauty his works held is almost unrecognizable. Until doubting himself becomes a second nature. We tell ourselves lies so thickly sugarcoated they can swifty pass for the truth. We assume too much and care too little. We drive the artist to madness. For he was forced to stand infront of a mirror and look upon the image of a man he no longer knew.
The forest was cool and damp. His boots sent mud splashing everywhere but he didn’t care. Not after everything that had happened. The canopy of trees formed an umbrella, hiding him from the sun or hiding the sun from him. He had always liked the rain. Not the duration in which it rained but the events that followed. Everything being washed clean. Everything but the torment that nagged at him with inexplicable constancy. A few rays of sunlight escaped the barrier of leaves and caressed his face and he winced. More out of emotional agony than the physical one. It was like being catapulted through time and space into a different world altogether. A world where he saw her running barefoot across the field of grass, turning back from time to time making sure he followed, the sunlight making her look ethereal and majestic. He shoved past his remembrance of the past and walked. He didn’t want to bump into a second tree. It was another five minutes before his suspicions were finally granted confirmation from something as meagre as a snap of twigs. He was being followed. Whoever it was wouldn’t be winning awards for discretion any time soon. He chuckled and kept on walking. After two days of indomitable solitude, he was willing to welcome any company. That and he needed to let out his anger on someone or he would have no choice but to revert to self destruction. The trees left a soreness in his hands. A feeling he didn’t enjoy all that much. A human substitute would do. He told himself he’d relish beating his father’s lapdog to a pulp immensely. No commoner would dare defy his father and make it all the way out to the forest unseen, accompanied by the looming terror of facing the wrath of a man who was basically known for his wrath. Well, his wrath and the largest administration of death penalties. So yeah, there was a very little chance of that. But deep down, he secretly wished for it to be someone else. Some rebel who had outsmarted the man responsible for his current predicament. Who had been fuelled by a hatred as fiery as his own. For behind the seemingly insurmountable wall he had built around himself after Theresa, was a boy who yearned for a friend. For someone willing to take the wall down brick by brick by brick.
I stand on the threshold of the world
Being allowed a peak into the great beyond
Yet I can’t help but lift my head
For what lies above me is more compelling than the world ahead
And so I am plucked out of the dream and plopped back into reality
But what they don’t know is
One tiny peak was enough,
Enough for me to tear through this forged joviality
I shake off the despair, having it gather inside for far too long
For if I was weak before,
Now I am ten times as strong
She was lying awake in bed staring at the ceiling trying to figure out what century the paint was from. Peeled off at some places, completely missing at others. All that was missing now were a few mice scampering up and down the walls with their tiny feet and then her room would reach the level of magnificence she deemed herself worthy of. Not a drop more. Come to think of it, this room could be the means to forming an orchestra. The creaking sound her bed made every time she plopped down on it more out of boredom than exhaustion, the rattle of hinges every time she pushed past the door into the outside world, the dripping of water on a floor that could not be restored to it’s original state with all the water in the world and to top things off, there was a lot more where that came from. She shoved these thoughts aside and made her way to the window. That was the only time she felt the rush of being alive. Heard her heart thump in her chest. Smiled. A smile as radiant as the fresh summer’s eve that awaited her at the window. Her heart did cartwheels as she finally reached it. Her means of escape from the constant prowling of hard times. From the harsh derisive laughs thrown at her without a second thought. From the voice at the back of her head building strongholds of unsurety. But a mere hole in the wall , some timber, and a panel of glass-that she had chafed her skin raw scrubbing-made it all better. She threw the window open with both hands, barely containing the excitement that she was filled with to the brim. Wind clashed with her skin. Played with her hair. Sent a tingling sensation down her spine that she longed for and she laughed. She laughed out all the fear, all the pain and all the regret locked within for sixteen long years. The feeling of being at peace, as fleeting as it may be, was beautiful.
It had all happened so quickly. He was standing there with his arm outstreched and hand reaching out, shouting at Theresa to hurry up. She seemed to have aged thirty years in those few minutes. Something made his head flip to one side and he waited. Gunshots. They were closing in on them. He felt it in his bones. “Theresa, you have to do it now!” he shouted. He looked at her pleadingly. Something hardened inside of her. It seemed as if the fear written plainly across her face not a moment ago had packed it’s bags and vanished. This was it. She was going to do it. A loud creaking noise to her left made him avert his eyes from her face. His expression turned to horror as he saw what was happening. “Theresa! Now!” was the last thing he remembered saying to her as he made his way across the forest later. The full weight of the words-probably his last words to her-hit him and his knees sank to the ground. His vision tunnelled as he was overcome by a wave of different emotions he was having trouble pinning names on. He remembered it all like it was yesterday, which it was. He remembered a high pitched scream-the same one he had since heard every time he closed his eyes-followed by a loud crash as the concrete pillar came into contact with the ground where she had been standing. He remembered his throat feeling like sandpaper due to breathing in the dust that had arisen straight after. Remembered coughing till his hand came away red. He remembered trying to call her name, while all that came out were muffled noises. He remembered the sound of footsteps. Harsh and in sync. He remembered reaching for support that wasn’t there. He remembered running till the crunch of glass beneath his feet had turned to the soft thump of grass. He remembered falling and not getting up.
You promised me flowers in the company of people. The same flowers that lay forgotten when we were alone. I trusted you. The same trust that you shaped into daggers. I had to shake myself free of the illusion. The same illusion that had once felt like the truest thing in the world. I had to force myself to look away from that eyes that had once sparkled with the promise of everything. The same eyes that were now hollow pits indifferent to my feelings. I had to distance myself from the mere shadow of a person I thought was real. The same person who had once built me palaces from scratch. The same person whose memory seemed to have been wiped clean. The same person who just decided to think that I’d be okay with it all. That one minor blow wouldn’t affect me. The same person who was in the dark about the hundreds of blows I suffered everyday. About the feeling of dread that accompanied me everywhere. About feelings too big confined in places too small. Still, I really did try. I tried to build a bridge and get over it, only to have it turn to rubble beneath my feet. Only to open my eyes to find myself catapulted back to square one. And here I am, left shouldering a job meant for two people. The same two that you were supposed to be one half of. And here I am, left fighting battles. The same battles that you were supposed to be a part of.
And all I can ever think is,
Why did you do it?
The most frequented question that has left my lips and went unanswered is “Why me?” Nothing fancy. Nothing that demands more attention than it deserves. Just a short, straight to the point, why me. Five bucks says a dying man will have no problem saying the two words. Unless he’s dumb. You never know. For instance if I parade a group of people to the sort of crime scene that rarely leaves survivors to prove my point, the supposed ‘dying man’ could pull the last trick up his sleeve and just be dumb and look at me with proud satisfaction since my humiliation played out so nicely. Getting back to the point I have so relentlessly abandoned, maybe he’ll be lucky enough to get an answer? The answer? I could work with either. Why you ask? Or not ask since I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s because people tend to be more flexible when you’re either maimed or dying or already dead. Especially if you’re already dead. If your great fortune has plopped you into any of the aforementioned categories then I shit you not bending people to your will will come as easily as tweeting comes to Donald Trump. But that’s a whole other topic for a whole other time. So yes, in this miserable and petty little hellhole that is our planet Earth, every second person would very much like to know “Why me?” as per circumstance. A stuttering child being thrown to the front of the class for some presentation? Someone facing unemployment and running through savings that aren’t there faster than the speed of light? Melania Trump being asked to deliver a speech that is completely her own? Someone watching their kids slowly starve to death while going through the same process only quicker? Snoop Dogg running out of reefer? Like I said, every second person. And that folks is how you know something or everything(it’s debatable) is very wrong. That the entire system is corrupt. That it has poison seeping through bones that are already brittle. And how long before a wisp of air sends it all crashing down and we find ourselves amidst conflict like never before.
A damaged heart, puffy eyes and a tear stained face
Happiness that lay forgotten, smiles that lay crumpled on the floor
All plastered with damnation in that one brief moment
A violent slash at the throat that had left a streak of fresh blood on the white door
The same door that had opened into a busy street
Yet not so much as a casual glance in your direction
Maybe if the red had tainted your hands and face, you would have been prone to some attention
Messy hair, a hastily wiped face and a fierce determination to not cry
A cigarette held between your teeth
Whose smoke swirled up to greet the sky
A head bent low by burdens that were no more
The same head that was now now held high
And a faint smile played across your lips
As to the world, you said goodbye