Covid-19 became such a catalyst in time for people and their lifestyles. It changed everyone for better and for worse. But there was definitely something we were able to benefit from, the ability to hear the silence and not have to worry about it being so quiet. Why it was so quiet or what we had to do to fix it, because it didn't need any fixing. I could walk into my room and exist in the silence, in such a pertinent time to the state of the world all I truly cared about was being able to feel peaceful. Being able to stare at the 4 walls around me and look to the ceiling and know there is nothing calling my name and no responsibilities I had but to just sit with myself. I didn't know what to do with myself, all this free time I had to myself being something I'd never imagined I'd ever have and don't think I will again. And not that that's bad, but I long to have that peace again. I never slept, but it worked in my favour, three years down the line I know what I want to do with my life. It never felt right staying stagnant in my room and my surroundings being the same. I would spend the late hours of the nights and early hours of the morning constantly moving and rearranging my room, the furniture would be turned sideways or shifted across the room for a new perspective. But the question still stands, what was I trying to achieve? Should my bed flush to the wall? Away from the wall? Would my dresser come off less demanding in the room if I placed it horizontally? I always found a way to change and analyse everything I changed and did. Then there was also the silence, of course there was never any actual silence, just the faint noises of my presence. The shuffling of my feet across the tile floor, the scraping of the furniture legs as it glided across the room. The television playing whatever movie I could think would make me feel serene. Some nights I'd come up with something to watch outrageously sad and end up just stopping what I was doing to sit on the floor and watch the saddest love stories, or other nights I'd be dancing along to Billy Elliot or even finding myself again and again in the characters on the screen. Every night was different, a different movie, a different layout and a different feeling. Usually spending the earlier hours of the morning filling the time doing something like editing a powerpoint between friends or clearing my closet or cutting my hair… again and again. In the impetuous days, it was funny how the nights became unhurried, steady and undemanding. Each day and night melting into one another, something that was such a cause for worry 3 years ago still feels so recent as yesterday. The busted little radio I spent days and nights trying to fix, the odd projects I would pick up thinking I had a hope of ever getting them to work again. Realising as the times passed all this fixing and rearranging was just a distraction from what I was really meant to be doing. This was the perfect time, the only time I may have had to do this, find myself. I tried everything, painting, cooking, baking, pottery, writing, everything you could dream of. But I was blind, I was always looking for some thing that would make me me, but that was the problem wasn't it? I tried to materialise my character, who I was trying to understand. Trying new things over and over again. But it all took me back to the quiet. That was who I was. That is who I am. I'm not a painter, or a cook, I'm the peace from dusk til dawn, or atleast that's what I feel when I am me. Sitting in my room, moving and changing, that's me. Unbothered, Uninterrupted, Unchanged but doing all those is what made me me. I was how I lived when at peace. How I functioned is this high anxiety time. Sitting and consuming the silence with movies of all genres and fixing everything around me. It was finding where I fit into my own life. And I have, going on to do what made me stop in my tracks from always trying to fix everything. I know I want to evoke the emotions in others that the movies did the me, I want to make people think, feel and cry. And I want them to fall in love and understand themselves just like I slowly but surely did.
Everyday you wake up to choose either a coffee or a coffin, I chose coffee that day, but my friend chose a coffin. Everyone was there, her mom's eyes were wet, everyone sat in a circle around her consoling her, and I watched. I felt hands on my face and it was her sister, her sister's eyes were not dry too, she thought my wouldn't be too, but they were. "Why aren't you crying?" She asked, and I stared at her not saying anything. It happened when I was twelve, my mom said there was something wrong with me when I watched my father die with nothing in sight but his legs dangling and his body soulless. The doctor diagnosed me with alexythymia, and my mom read that as me being a creep, she still thinks that till date, she still thinks that as I do not mourn my friend. My mom worked as a teacher at the school I attended, when she was asked about me, she simply said, "she'll get over it with time", I'm fifteen and I'm still the same, no one asked about it again. They saw it for themselves. It was a Wednesday, school for that day had ended and mom was busy so she asked to wait for her, then I saw it, I saw a boy being hit on the head, he was bleeding from the head, he was screaming and tears were streaming down his face, I went back in to my classroom and met a teacher, I told him what I saw, and he looked at me for a moment, then went on with his work. "Why didn't you say it a little more seriously" his nose was scrunched, his eyes were red, probably from the tears, but I stood there, watching everything unfold, people had now gathered, some speculating that the boy was soulless. "Leave my daughter alone please" my mom said something when the man kept screaming at me, he looked at me one last time, before getting on his knees to take the boy, mom then stared at me too, her eyes were red, everyone's eyes were, except I was not part of everyone. After the incident, mom decided I should change to another school, she suggested a boarding school, and I nodded when she suggested that. We set off the Tuesday of the following week to a neighbouring town, throughout the drive, she held my hand and looked through the windscreen, I took my hand a few times to either fix my dress or drink water, she did not say a word and I did not ask why. We reached the school at noon. "Your roommate will be joining you shortly" the man looked like someone approaching forty, he had lines on his forehead, his eyes weren't on me as he spoke, the papers on his desk kept him busy. I expected to see my roommate a week or two after the man told me that, but I didn't see her till after three months, she came in not like I did, her eyes were puffy and her hand had scars, "What's wrong with you?" I asked her, she didn't respond, she had a mirror facing her, she turned away from it, maybe she did not want to look at it, "Does anything seem wrong with me?" "Your eyes are all puffy and your skin is all scarred, you don't look right" "You're brutally honest" it almost came out like a whisper from her, I nodded when I met her eyes. She laid on her undone bed, and I saw her close her eyes, I did too. The next morning, I woke up and she was not there, I went on to my classes and saw her, she had the clothes from yesterday on, and her eyes were still like they were except a bit less swollen, "You're late" the teacher stopped teaching to face me, "I'm sorry" Mom had taught me phrases that she claimed would make me 'normal', she told me to use 'im sorry' more than the others and I did just that, when I did that often, her eyes didn't get teary every morning. The teacher went on with his lesson. ★★ "Wake up" I heard a voice faint as I tried to see though my eyelids. I opened them and it was her, she had changed from her previous clothes and her eyes were a little less puffy. "Classes are over" she said again and I nodded, she went out through the classroom door and I followed. Then suddenly I heard a loud thud. It was her. I looked around for a teacher but there was none. Then I heard her get up, she got up coughing as if choked by something, "Can't you help me up?" I saw her raise her hands right at me and I grabbed it and helped her up. "I heard you're sick too" she said and I found it very not related to the current situation, but I nodded. It rained and we stayed in the rain because she said so, we did that the day after and the week after. "School's over, see see you next... year?" I she said it like a question and walked out of the room with her suitcase as she waved at me, then I heard her slam the door right before I felt it, I touched my face to see if they were real and they were. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I did not stop them. I smiled.
As a teenage girl living in South Africa, my life has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Born into a humble background, I reside with my parents, younger sister, and brother, with my father being the sole breadwinner after my mom lost her job due to the pandemic. The challenges brought on by the outbreak have affected me academically, emotionally, and mentally, forcing me to adapt to new circumstances and develop resilience amidst unprecedented difficulties. 2020: A Year of Turmoil In 2020, I was in grade 7, trying to find my footing in a new school. Just as I began to settle in, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, turning my world upside down. The loss of my parents' jobs compounded our financial struggles, leading to anxiety and uncertainty about our future. The school's kindness in providing grocery packages helped alleviate our immediate food concerns, but the mental toll was immense. The transition to online classes added to my distress. As a top student at my previous school, my slipping grades left me feeling like a failure. The pressure to live up to the expectations placed on me by my scholarship and my own high standards overwhelmed me, leading to bouts of depression and self-hate. When in-person schooling resumed, I found solace in the company of my classmates, and the support provided by the school helped me pass the year, albeit not with the results I had hoped for. 2021-2022: A Blur of Emotions The following years were marked by a rollercoaster of emotions. The lifting of COVID-19 protocols allowed for more social interactions, but I struggled with anxiety in large gatherings. Balancing my studies, personal life, and the challenges of the pandemic took a toll on my mental health. The disruptions caused by the pandemic led to curriculum cuts, affecting my learning and grades. Facing personal struggles, I withdrew and resorted to unhealthy coping mechanisms. While I found comfort in my group of friends, I was hesitant to open up about my problems, wanting to be the strong support system for them. I joined robotics and coding to find a healthy outlet, but the pressure to excel in these areas added to my stress. Despite achieving relatively good marks, I continued to feel unsatisfied and burdened by self-doubt, leading to a constant feeling of inadequacy. The pressure from school, home, my scholarship, and myself weighed heavily on my shoulders, often making me feel like a failure. 2023: The Journey Continues As I turned 16, life remained challenging, with financial struggles continuing to impact my family. Problems within my friend group added to the emotional strain, causing divides and reshaping our dynamics. Despite coming to terms with my grades, I still grappled with occasional disappointments in myself. Throughout this tumultuous journey, my dogs have become a source of comfort and strength. They, along with my family and true friends, keep me going and give me the will to face each day with renewed determination. Conclusion: A Path Forward The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected my life, presenting numerous challenges and obstacles. As a 16-year-old girl from a humble background, I have been through emotional turmoil, academic pressure, and financial struggles. Despite the hardships, I have persevered, adapting to new circumstances and finding solace in my passions and loved ones. As the journey continues, I strive to embrace my imperfections and learn from my experiences. I acknowledge that my struggles, though personal, are valid, and I should not downplay my emotions. My resilience and determination will continue to guide me towards a brighter future, pursuing my interests in coding and robotics, and supporting my family through our difficulties. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has left lasting scars, it has also taught me valuable lessons about strength, compassion, and the power of resilience. As a 16-year-old girl in South Africa, I look forward to the day when our world heals from the pandemic's wounds, and together, we emerge stronger than ever before.
I looked out the window and looked at the beautiful blue sky and then thought to myself, “What a wonderful world.” I decided that I would go for a walk to a cafe and come back later. I ordered a cappuccino with extra whipped cream and took it to go. I shortly left and just went to the park and read for a bit and got tired and started my walk back home. As I was walking, I heard screaming. Not the good kind of screaming but the bad. I walked towards the sound of the noise and found three goon men beating up a guy who was bleeding profusely and DEAD. I gasped and I started running. Not the little jog that I do when people chase me for fun, I was full-on sprinting. So many thoughts were running through my mind. I heard men screaming after me but that gave me more morale to run even faster. At some point, I went into an isolated area and hid. One of the goons caught up to me and started searching for me. The goon that came for me with a scar on his lip shot at the sky and I cringed. I thought I was going to die. As if my silent prayers were answered, the other goon came running and said, “I think little princess girl is gone, let's head back to the boss.” I don't know why, but I started crying. I had a death scare and I'm still alive. I cried so much, my eyes turned bloodshot red, my nose was running and probably red too and I was shaking. I decided to run back home. I was traumatized, that was for sure. I couldn't talk or eat properly. I would skip school and not go out of the house. I felt so trapped in my mind and body. I would lock myself in my room with my back to my door and just look into space and do nothing but breathe and think. “Honey, you have to get out of there at some point. You can't stay in your room your whole life. When will you graduate if you plan on dying in there,” my mom said with a sad voice. The day I came back from the incident, I didn't talk to anyone. It's been a week and I hadn't left my room. She left after some time, probably waiting for my response which she didn't get. “Darling, Adrien's here and he wants to talk to you,” Mom said. I was tempted not to open and let them in but I love Adrien. He's my big brother and my best friend and I couldn't just not see him. After a lot of contemplation and thinking, I opened the door. I hadn't stood for a week because I was sitting the whole time. My legs were wobbly but Adrien caught me and hugged me for the first time in a long time. He had moved to California for uni and I hadn't seen him in almost a year. “You smell, bug,” Adrien said and I laughed. I missed him so much. I was out of my room but I still wasn't talking. I hadn't talked in some time and it was weird. Adrien and Mom tried talking to me but I wouldn't speak. I refused every time they tried and they gave up and decided to leave me. My mom tried asking if I would like to talk to a therapist but I gave a pained look. She must have thought that there was something wrong with me. I was watching Friends when Adrien came with popcorn from the kitchen and sat next to me. “Hey,” he said with his perfect smile, and I couldn't help but smile. He looked at me with a look of happiness then pity. I looked away because if I saw that look in his eyes, I would start crying and I didn't want that, for him to see me cry. “You know, if I didn't leave the house that day, I would be fine,” I said, but since I hadn't talked in quite some time, my voice was hoarse. He nodded until he realized that I had just spoken. He called Mom and she came running from wherever she was from and screamed, “What, what happened?!” “Hazel, she just spoke,” Adrien said with the hugest smile I've ever seen. Mom smiled too and it was nice, to cause someone's happiness. “My baby, she's speaking,” Mom said with tear-filled eyes. After what felt like a zillion years of telling them what happened that day, I like a heavy load was lifted off my shoulders and I felt good inside, to not suffer alone. Everything changed when I read the book, “Girl, wash your face” by Rachel Hollis, and was moved when I read the part which said a lot but when summarised said, “Girl, get a hold of your life. Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid, stop giving away pieces of yourself, and stop saying you can't do it. Stop the negative self-talk, stop abusing your body, and stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday, or next year. Get up right now. Rise up from where you've been, scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again… Girl, wash your face!” To say I was moved was an understatement, I was touched to the core. I told myself that I would rise up and be better because what I went through and what caused my depression and anxiety doesn't define me but what does is how I move on and become the better me.
I didn't know when it started or how it started. Or what was the real reason to happen for all of those things? No, in reality, I knew the reason. I just didn't want to accept it. Maybe, I was too scared to accept it, after all decisions that I had made. Now I think that it does not matter, I mean “the reason”. What does matter is that those things have happened, and have happened with me… I decided to talk about the period of my life that I have tried to avoid thinking about for a long time. To be honest, I had never imagined that situation, certainly, those feelings were going to happen to me. I think when all of those things happened, nobody knew or realized them. How were they supposed to know? Even I was shocked by those sudden feelings. Also from the outside, it seemed like I was living in my best time ever. Finally, I was a student at one of the prestigious Universities in my country. At first, it seemed to me that I had lived for this moment only. Unfortunately, it did not last long. After a few months in my first student life, those dark feelings became to walk inside me to the outside. I felt lost. I felt something wrong with me. I felt like I had missed an important thing, the thing that I should not miss. Then, after my lessons, to avoid those feelings I got used to sleeping, even though I had never been a fan of sleeping a lot. Why all of a sudden I changed dramatically? There was no answer. I became not to read books or not to watch movies, even music became to irritate me. I didn't understand myself… I just cried and slept… I hated every single thing and person around me. Before that, I had made too many plans for my future, especially, for my student life. But I could not remember any of them... It lasted long, I mean, the pick of my “strange feelings”. If at that time, Death came and took my life, I would say nothing, even, would feel happy for his coming and making me free from those feelings. I asked God to take my life because I did not want to make my parents upset by committing suicide. Then, after “years” of that period (it seemed to me lasted that long). I tried to find the strength to do my favorite activities again. Because it is the fact that despite those feelings I used to go to my lectures and lessons every day. Also, I continued to smile at everyone and make some jokes as well. I watched movies, but not like in old times, I just watched beginnings and endings. Because of it, I had a habit of watching various videos and news on the Internet, I had never had a mobile phone, so it was new for me. During my “searching activity”, I found interesting news about “The most handsome men in the world”. I was interested in who is the first one on this list and it was some Korean boy who I didn't find handsome. After that, I searched his name on Google and found that he is a member of a famous Korean boy band. I was really surprised and interested at the same time. Then I tried to find a few songs of them on YouTube and watched some music videos of their songs. The next day while walking to my University Campus on my way, I listened to their songs, and one of them attracted me, the rhythm was really interesting, although I couldn't understand their language. I watched the music video of that song with subtitles and the song was about "dream". And there were words like “What do you dream about?” For a moment, I just froze, as it seemed that question was given to me. I realized the thing that I had never done before was "dream". I had never dreamed. Yes, there were the things that I wanted to have, or wishes that I wanted to make true. But I didn't ask myself a question, the most important question “Are they things that I want?” After that event, I became to give questions myself “What are dreams?”, “What I should dream about?”, “What makes me happy?” Day by day I understood that all my old wishes, even University decisions were made by others. In other words, people around me affected me and the decisions every single time that I had never known before. The society in that I lived was the pressure and the reason to make me do this or that decision, which was sad… sad side of my life that I had been trying to avoid. I was limited by them and just said “yes” to all their offers without thinking. “Those feelings” were my hidden emotions which I had kept deep inside for a long time. This story is not about “my dreams”. It is about a song that I found accidentally. It is about the song that helped me to find my true way. This song is not the best song ever or something like that, for others it is just a simple song. But it was the song that could be the only light for me when I was in the dark. When even though I didn't try to help to find a way to escape from those feelings to myself, a song and a boy band became “my only hero”. It might seem unbelievable, but it is true, true story about an ordinary song that taught me to dream!
Benjamin Disraeli, a British politician once said, “There is no education like adversity”. I used to believe that education was something you only studied in a classroom. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic started, my entire perspective on education was significantly altered. There are two different forms of education: knowledgeable education and moral education. Knowledgeable education is primarily acquired from schooling, but moral education is mostly acquired from society around us. After I had already begun my first few months of middle school (Grade Six), it was announced that subject to the pandemic, in-person teaching would end, and students would complete the rest of their coursework online. It was difficult for me to adjust to virtual learning given that I was still fairly young. However, this was not ideal since these first few months of middle school would lay the groundwork for the academic abilities I'd need for the rest of my life. My school's faculty provided me with the emotional and educational assistance I needed to adapt, which was a tremendous help in this area. Although, despite the encouragement and support I was getting from many of my peers, I just didn't want to attend an online school. As a result, I stopped attending online classes and started going for daily walks alternatively, skipping the entirety of my classes. My daily schedule was being completely consumed by my walks. I used to take five-hour long walks. I sincerely don't know how I managed to do that. I was still completing all of my homework, but I was using Google to complete all of my homework, rather than my textbooks, so I wasn't truly understanding the subject. My mental health was undoubtedly getting better, thanks to my daily walks, but my academics weren't doing as well. After completing Grade Six, I kept in the habit of being active, spending the majority of the day on very long walks, and once grade seven began, I was completely absorbed in learning — true learning, rather than just googling everything. Even though I was fully immersed in my education, I was still exercising by taking lengthy walks, but usually after school. Additionally, another similar experience happened. After my two-week winter break, we had a two-week period of online study after spending the first half of the year learning in-person. I detested taking classes online since I was used to going to school in person and seeing all of my friends. But while I was confined to my home and isolated from the outside world, I had a realization that transformed my perspective. I made the decision to do exceptionally well in school, over that two-week period. After we returned to in-person learning, I started working exceptionally hard and started to maintain an open mindset in order to get the grades I really wanted. Obviously, I couldn't get the grades I so desperately desired as my Grade Eight year was halfway through, but I still graduated with honors. Making a solid habit is obviously crucial for success and should be commended. I obviously didn't acquire moral lessons from my virtual education directly, but because of the virtual education, I had to make a change, which ultimately benefited me greatly. Now that I am in my first year of high school, I am excelling with not only fantastic grades, but also a great mindset. But to repeat Benjamin Disraeli's important quote, "there is no education like adversity", I began high school with the same goal of going for very high marks while having a great mindset that I previously expressed, and it has most definitely paid off.
a daughter's humorous hope for a mom desperately missed OK, so first things first …of course Mom has Vidal Sassoon himself doing her hair and is looking fabulous! Mom met Nora Ephron at orientation and thought she was a cool chick. The two of them hitched a ride to the party with Ferdinand Porche in his 911. The excitement and grandeur was beyond words. Everyone was still buzzing about their Secret Santa gifts. Mom got a painting of a tree next to a cottage, all signs point to Thomas Kinkade. Soon after arriving Nora made a beeline for Helen Gurley Brown. "Are you seriously wearing nylons in heaven Helen?" Mom is definitely wearing "pantyhose" in heaven too, regardless of their extinction on earth. To the squish squash of rubbing thighs she approaches the ballroom in awe. Spotting an empty seat at Henry Hill's table, she goes for it. "This guy has to have great stories" Even in heaven, the scene is reminiscent of high school; the jocks sit at one table, the politicians, actors and musicians all with their respective cliques. The champagne flows. In one far corner Robert Bork, George McGovern and Arlen Spector can be heard having a spirited conversation about the recent election. Daniel Inouye is clearly the most excited. Ernest Borgnine and Larry Hagman haven't budged from the buffet. Sally Ride has clearly had one too many Tangtinis and is chasing Neil Armstrong around with mistletoe. Richard Dawson leads a rousing game of spin-the bottle. Phyllis Diller is thrilled to be the only woman this round. Andy Griffith, Jack Klugman & Sherman Helmsley don't seem to mind indulging the harmless fun until Zalman King takes things too far.James Herr stops by to offer some potato chips. Oh boy Mom, I know you're a sucker for a man in uniform but don't go stormin Norman yet, he just got there! And now, the moment Mom and everyone else in Heaven's Class of 2012 has been waiting for…Don Cornelius introduces Whitney Houston and Donna Summer! Let the party begin. Mommy could not walk for some time, now she grabs Robin Gibb and dances the night away. She never sits down and sings along to every song at the top of her lungs with boundless energy. Adam Yauch is teaching her to rap though she has no clue who he is. Davy Jones stands on a chair for a better view. Free from physical pain and mortal concerns everyone is smiling & laughing. At last, Etta James takes the stage and slows things down. Dick Clark presides over the big ball drop while the room counts down in unison. The Class of 2012 has graduated and the calendar begins again.
Ariana packed her bags in a hurry. She was going back to her parent's house for her year-end holidays and she couldn't wait to get there. Her dad would be picking her up and she didn't want to be late. After ten years of staying away from home due to her dad's constant moving from one state to another on work assignments, her stay in her paternal grandparents' home was coming to an end. She lived with her grandparents so she could attend a private school nearby their home. It was a missionary school and Ariana loved attending school there. However, she didn't stop missing her family when away from them and looked forward to the holidays when all of them could be together again. She especially missed her dad as he was the one person who would mollycoddle her and indulge her with presents and whatever she asked for. Mom was always the strict one. But with her dad, she could throw a tantrum when she didn't get what she wanted and not be punished for it. She looked forward to the year-end since her birthday falls in November and come December, Christmas and New Year celebrations made her time with her family all the merrier. Ariana had a secret passion though. Her parents lived near the seaside and each time she went back for the holidays, she would always look forward to catching the sunrises and sunsets that graced the skies there. She would count the hours to sunset just as the hours of sunrise trailed away. Before dusk, she would walk, sometimes miles down the beach, talking to the winds, hearing her voice echo back as the tides washed softly ashore in a welcome whenever she traipsed down its sands. Like her, the waters of the seas believed she belonged among them, and she whiled her hours away till the evening sun lit up the horizons in unbelievable colors of crimson and gold. Ariana had an affinity for the seas, the tides, and all of the skies' splendorous revealing. She knew them to be as mystical as they were seraphic. The colors of the skies were seraphic and blissful in nature. They created artistry and displayed the wisdom of the Gods. Her dad pulled up at her grandparent's house, and after saying their goodbyes to them, Ariana and her dad were on their way. It was at least a five-hour drive to reach her home in another state from where her grandparents lived. When they reached, it was late evening. Her mom and siblings ran out to greet her gleefully. Mom had prepared an elaborate dinner to celebrate her return. All of her favorite food was laid out on the table. Ariana had a sumptuous meal that night with her family members. They sat down together after dinner and talked about Ariana's plans to further her tertiary education since this time around, she was back to stay for good. Ariana could smell the sea from her house. So after they had finished talking, she walked out to where the beach was. It was dark but the path to the beach was lighted as were the surroundings of her home. She saw the park empty on the way when usually the residents who lived there would come out after dinner to sit around and talk or walk on the grounds and enjoy the cool breeze that blew their way from the seaside. When Ariana stood by the fence overlooking the sea, she heard the waves rise and splash against the rocks. She couldn't see the waters in the dark except for a lighthouse in the distance. And its light shone and shimmered on the waters of another part of the sea. Ariana thought about how light dispels the dark. The lighthouse was symbolic of it. She listened for a while longer to the waves and waited to catch the sunrise the next morning. Dawn was only a few hours away, she came away thinking. That night Ariana slept peacefully while listening to the sounds of the tides and the winds. They instilled a deep sense of solace and calm within her. Ariana woke up to dawn and got dressed quickly. Her mom was already up and about in the kitchen. She briefly told her that she was going down to the beach and rushed out. She sat on her favorite spot on the beach and waited to see the first glimmer of light. Like her, the skies waited their turn for the radiance from the rising sun. The sun drew an embodiment of colors across the sky and rose in resplendence. Far in the distance, the horizons came alive almost like the skies sat upon the seas and transmitted an array of visually colored clouds throughout the celestial universe. Ariana sat mesmerized as never before for the winds whispered that they would create a splendorous viewing just before dusk overtakes the night once again for her. Ariana walked back home appeased. She began her count to the hours before sunset. She had heard it in the winds and wanted to be part of the sunset's silhouette. It was going to be an exquisite, lustrous day. Ariana's embers of passion for celestial beauty would be reignited once again. The End.
In our country it is common and customary that girls get married at early age like 18-19, even it can be earlier than it. Mostly, in rural areas, parents prefer their daughters to be married instead of studying in universities, due to the fact that they are not able to support them financially. I consider that girls should also study, at least they should get enough knowledge before marriage. Because, life does not consist of only housework. That is why I have always been disagree with this fact. Two years ago, I made the most important decision in my life. At that time, I was studying at art school, and there were a few months left to apply for universities and take exams. By that time, I was going to apply to the National Institute of Fine Art and Design, as my field was art. However, I chose to learn English language instead of being a painter, even though I had a great chance to enter that Art university with scholarship. There were several reasons why I wanted to become an English language teacher, but the main one is my love to teach children. I have always been inspired by seeing their smile on their face when they learn something new, as they are always passion to get new information. Furthermore, by educating, I am able to bring a benefit to my community. Of course, I have not stopped drawing, so I have left it as my hobby. However, all of my relatives criticized me for making such a “crazy decision” (choosing a little chance by dropping a great chance). By their criticism, I was under pressure, also I had a few months left to prepare for university exams. Unfortunately, my country was in lockdown because of COVID-19, which lead me to only self-study without any teachers, since a lot of families suffered this year including my family, too. I studied for almost 3 months, applied for Uzbekistan State World Languages University (below UZSWLU), took the exam and waited for results. Then, the results came out, only 3 points were not enough for me to enter UZSWLU which had been my dream. My relatives again started to criticize me and tell my parents about marriage like their daughters instead of studying, since they argue ‘Would she become “a scientist” by studying?'. I am not against getting married, however, given the fact that mothers grow their children, who will educate and grow them better? – ‘Mother who did not study or mother who studied?' That is why, this inquire question also shows that girls should study rather than get married at an early age. Since, the last time I had been under pressure by people's words around me, this year I started to prepare exams without considering what people say or think about me. Moreover, I was not depressed by failing exam, as I know mistakes can lead to success. The only essential things were my dream and goal. My mother also supported me despite looking others, by seeing my enthusiasm to study, which also had been important to justify her truth. This time I had more time – 10 months, again I studied by myself in order not to bother my parents with financial support. I studied harder, learned more, worked more on myself, and took the IELTS exam before university exams. After had been self-studied for 10 months, I again applied for UZSWLU and took the exam. We waited for results of exams almost for a month, but this time it was worth to wait, I entered my dream university UZSWLU with grant. Now, I am a sophomore student, and I am not sorry for failing from exam first year, as I have learned only we can decide who we will be, not others; mistakes can lead to better changes; challenges and conflicts only make us stronger; the key to achieving success is effort without being stopped.
She was abruptly awakened from a rare sleep by what sounded like a crash under her bed. She hid under the covers, which provided a warm, protected feeling, as she froze in fear. She was still curious as to what caused such a bang despite the intense fear coursing through her. It didn't help that she'd been having terrible nightmares lately about monsters under her bed. Childish, she realised. She felt a bolt of courage strike through her like a flurry of lightning, and she nudged her covers—her safety—away and set her feet on the chilly wooden floor. Her double bed was spacious enough for people to sleep underneath it; a large monster could easily do the same. She quickly ducked and peered under the bed after taking a deep breath. She backed away, breathing deeply, sliding under her duvet covers. She shook and shivered under the sheets. Meredith whimpered as her mother flicked the light switch; darkness consuming the room. Meredith turned her head to see a shadow when a large hand grabbed her mouth. No one will hear you scream, and nobody can help you right now, a muffled cry rang out throughout the spotless space. It resembled a hospital ward the most. Her knees were hit in the back by a chair. Under the large hand, she barricaded her teeth in an effort to free herself from their hold. When Meredith unintentionally fell into it, it laughed menacingly. She made no attempt to stand because she knew she would lose this battle. She was thrown to the ground, her eyes welling up with tears. Finally, with fists raised, the shadow moved to step into the light. Meredith woke up with a yelp and a jump. The worst part was probably that. To her mother, Meredith exclaimed. "The dream always comes to an abrupt end!" Meredith became irritated with her mother's lack of interest and stormed back to her bedroom as she simply nodded and busied herself around the office. She sighed as she sat on the bed. The monster's laughter. She is positive that she just heard it next to her. She clenched her hair in agony and cried, "I'm not crazy, am I? She mumbled. It responded, "certainly not," as a giggle broke out. Meredith spun around in surprise to find nothing there. Even as months passed, Meredith's "insanity" only grew worse. She even missed weeks of school because it was so frustrating. Her mother expressed surprise and even concern. Meredith murmured to herself as she held her dry lips in front of her coffee mug. She sighed as the mug became empty. Her head shook and her eyes fluttered shut, disrupting her sleep. The TV's glowing light illuminated the tiny space as she fumbled with her fingers and nibbled at the couch. Meredith slipped into a deep sleep and a nightmare in less than a minute. Meredith was bound to a chair by a rope around her back and her legs were fastened to the chair's feet. The thing said with amusement, "You're back." Meredith's lips quivered with a sob. “don't …. I beg you not to hurt me. Meredith pushed herself further into the back of the seat as the monster began to claw her. Her abdomen was freed when the monster's claws tore the ropes holding her body together. In the light next to her, a knife shone. She picked up the blade after covertly lowering her hand. The monster was preoccupied looking in the opposite direction, muttering quietly to themselves. She slowly pushed the knife against the monsters back, the tip slightly grazing their clothing. A whimper escaped the monster's mouth, “don't please don't.. Hurt me” it sounded like herself, she thought. Meredith had had enough with this madness and insanity. Although she has never considered herself to be a murderer, this situation could influence anyone. The monster's knees were thrown to the ground when she kicked the backs of them. She turned the monster over so that, but for the darkness of the space, she could see the monster's face. Meredith inserted the knife into their chest because it was too dark for her to see anything other than the outline of the body. The monster's muscles tightened around the blade, making it difficult for her to pull the knife out again. She kept slicing and stabbing the body. The stomach, legs, face, chest, and throat were completely dismembered. As she stood over the lifeless body below her, Meredith trembled in terror. The shaky breathing had stopped, and the squelching of the blade being pressed through her skin had also stopped. She gasped and woke up only to witness the end of her own life. She lay motionless, nearly dead, with a knife next to her and identical cuts and gashes all over her body. Her surroundings were covered in blood, and the metallic smell made her feel even queasy. She tried moving and screaming. She had no chance. All this time, she was the monster. She knew she would lose the battle.
I'll get through this A sentence I always say to myself when my world comes crashing down, but do I actually get through it? Not really. On a usual day, I would blame it on the horror movies I'd stay up late watching to satisfy the inner traumatized part of me, but today, It isn't a horror movie, neither is it a random black cat showing up at my door, it is something far worse than that is draining every single feeling in me that is giving me the will to live. I do not want to leave, I love it here, I love how the cold wind gets under my skin and how it makes my hair get in the way of my sight and my hair but all that seems not to matter anymore as I have to leave because the graveyard gates are closing, the screeching sound of the iron is supposed to be my reason to get up from the mess of mud that I am laying but a feeling is holding me back, Loneliness Isn't forever indeed promised? I get up from the mess I am in, and every other thing that binds me whatsoever, and make my way out of the graveyard making my way back home, on reaching home, I try to reach for my keys but they were nowhere to be found in my pockets, I try to look for it nearby with the thought of it slipping out as I was walking but it was nowhere to be seen, concluding that I left it at the graveyard, I give up and I sit down right in front of my home with tears streaming down from my orbs. "It's late, what are you doing here," I hear a husky voice that sounds like one of a kind, I've never heard a voice like that before. I stay silent, of course I am not speaking to a stranger who just comes here and stands over me. He probably is the type that doesn't talk much, I judge that from the action of him taking a seat right beside me without uttering another word. His action amuses me, it amused me to the point that I raise my head up to take a look at him, he is in sweats with a beanie that boldly spells out 'Jayr', it's probably his name, but it's a name I've never heard of before. "Jayr," I say to try to see how it would roll off my tongue not noticing I say it loudly. Upon hearing me say his name he smiles at me, and I see a glimpse of his features clearer, he has hazel eyes which are pretty common but for some reason it dazzles me, his smile, it is my favorite type of smile, he has a gummy smile, which upon catching a sight of it, it makes me smile too. "How are you," This time he says making eye contact, an eye contact that makes me feel some type of way. "I'm okay, how about-" I was about to ask about him when he cuts me off. "I asked about how you are doing, you obviously don't look okay," his voice as soft as ever, almost making me push the thoughts of my dead best friend away. "I lost a friend," I say looking down, fear envelopes me and I go numb. "She's definitely watching over you," He looks up and smiles then looks back at me, before handing me my keys, "Here, go back in to your house, it's getting cold, see you tomorrow," he says and If I'm being honest, this is the best I have felt in 6 months; after losing my best friend. We meet up the next day, the day after, and the following week, slowly jayr becomes a part of me, a part of me that if taken away I won't be able to bear it. We met everyday and I kept loving every minute of it until a day came that I couldn't find him. "Jayr" I call out after five minutes of not seeing him on a Wednesday afternoon. "Jayr" I call out again, this time I look down and I notice an envelope that says "FROM JAYR" The letter read as follows: Hey, You never told me your name, and I never asked because I didn't need to know but I'm glad I helped you move on, everytime I came to see you, there was always a beanie on my head, you never asked what it was for, but I had cancer, and it was predicted that I'd live for 5 months more, if you're reading this, I'm gone, I'll be watching over you, Love, Jayr. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to tears, or even scream, I looked at the paper with a straight face, but I know I am screaming and crying internally. Jayr healed me, but there wasn't enough time to do the same for him. If my life was a book, this chapter would definitely have a folded edge. I love you jayr, but there wasn't enough time for me to say that.
I was thinking the other day about how long it took me to be bold enough to showcase my writing to the literary world. I had always kept it private, not wanting anyone to know that I had this knack for writing down my thoughts or delving into the deepest part of my soul to express a poetic semblance, thus creating pictures through words. The picture that I conjure in my mind is always one of perfection. I suppose it is because life is so imperfect that you want to run away from reality. I had this voluminous amount of inspiration that arose from things around me. I imagined much of what I wrote in ways quite unimaginable. Words would spill from the depth of my soul, and therein I find peace, laughter, magic, and love. Writing takes me to another level. It creates the perfect balance between realism and invention. Creation is the aftermath. It takes a great deal of courage to be able to write for all the world to read. Behind the façade of the writer is a tumultuous mind, vulnerable to criticism or applause. Would you be courageous enough to withstand the pressures either way? There are so many reasons that awaken one to the beauty of writing. In some cases, it is of paramount importance to be able to relay one's feelings and thoughts on paper as it can be as healing as an anti-depressant, you find your happy place to thrive and grow and even learn. You unveil the person you are beneath it all. One has to be motivated to write. Interest has to form about a subject matter which will create an impression in your mind, thus facilitating an expression of words in writing. Focus is the key point here. When ideas surmount, it is like a storm waiting to be unleashed. Just like when your cup runneth over. Your cup runneth over like manna, Where wisdom is found, Treasures of knowledge abound, Where a longing for appeasement liberates a tired mind. Writing liberates the mind. This brings to mind a neighbor who used to come over to our house nearly every day to borrow a cup of sugar or salt. I don't know what it was that made her borrow these essentials all the time. She would bring her cup, and mom would fill it up, never once complaining, though we sometimes laughed at her antics. I suppose it made her day to be able to come over to our place and have a tete-a-tete. After a while, it became routine. We expected her to appear at our doorstep at the same time every other day. Each time she came, she said that she was lazy to go to the shops to get her groceries and that she would do her shopping another day. I guess it was her way of wanting some attention. Writing is a compulsive disorder, I think. Especially, if you get deeply immersed in it. There is no room for laziness if you want to succeed. I don't know if laziness is the right word but being laid back and neglecting its relevance in your life doesn't help in turning passion into dreams. Everyone has a passion. Writers make dreams come true out of their passion and inspire a hungry world to knowledge and understanding. After a while, the expressive element to get your words across will become an essential part of your life. Now, I am glad that I dared all those years ago. Writing has liberated me of nearly all the trappings of my life. The End.
On July 4th, who wouldn't be excited to celebrate festivities honoring our land of the free? A tumultuous day in Emerald Isle, North Carolina changed all that, ingraining a painful memory that cannot be erased, but is vital when one asks about an event that made you “stronger”. In other words, this day defined me in more ways than one, as well as opened my eyes to those around me and see that not all help is in the forms we think it to be. The sweltering heat made my mouth dry and my throat itch, but we continued to trek along the narrow, sandy pathway between the dunes to the beach. I would much rather be at the beach house with my mother, we would have been perfectly content sitting by the pool at the house, maybe reading and drinking a cool glass of lemonade. Wisps of loose hair from my ponytail began whipping my face in the seemingly increasing strength of the winds. Aunt Suzanne commented on how this weather is likely due to the approaching tropical storm expected in a few days. The waves, almost as if agreeing with her, concocted an exceptionally large wave that came crashing down on my cousins who attempted to ride it into the shore on their boogie boards. After attempting a short nap by covering my head in my towel, and getting mediocre results, I decided to ride some of the waves with a boogie board. I was the only cousin who hasn't gone out yet, and they have all just returned to eat and rest from the rough current that had depleted their energy. I went out by myself, but not too far, always staying in sight of the beach should the waves pick up their attack. The sun was beginning its descent beyond the horizon, showering small shadows every which way as the orange and red hues gave off a cozy light. I follow my cousins out as far as I could, but in comparison to the rest of them, I'm rather small. I went as far as my legs could go without lifting my feet from the bottom unless I had to leap over a wave. I saw a large wave coming, looking larger than the rest and decided maybe it was time to call it quits for the day. In my attempt to flee, I rode a wave in but failed. The wave and current took me down farther along the stretch of beach. I resurfaced, but then realized that more waves were coming…and I can't touch the ground. I kept pushing forward to the beach, but panic slowly started to seep in. Almost as if a switch had been turned on, the waves kept coming, but at a more powerful impact and the current was rougher than before, pulling me back into the depths of the ocean with newfound vigor. I called out for help, but everyone at our little beach camp was turned away in a deep conversation, as well as being too far away for my pleas to be heard. The beach I was on was practically deserted with no beachgoers, and no lifeguards either making it all the more dangerous. I still have the boogie board attached to my wrist and am desperately struggling against the treacherous current trying to make my way back to shore. My feet dig into the too-soft sand beneath me, to get some form of footing. After another wave crashes over me as soon as my head resurfaces, I realize the only way I'll get out of this is if I fight my way out of the current and back to the beach. The pain and fear inside me reside and are replaced by the distinct survival instinct in which everything else around me is tuned out until I am safely in knee-deep water. I don't stop though, because in my mind I could still be swept away if I give up at this moment, and so I carry on until I collapse at the edge of the water, visibly out of breath. When I come back breathing heavily, I explain as best as I can what happened. Much to my dismay, a shocking majority of my cousins and aunts move on quite quickly from the event. Maybe I expected them to be a bit more sympathetic, considering they almost lost me. I start crying after the whole event finally settles in my head, which in turn makes my mother get teary as well. She tells me that they only had their heads turned for a second, but so much happened in that time frame. We start on our way home and I turn around for one last look at the ocean for the day, seagulls soaring over the ocean waves as they crash against each other, creating a calm lullaby leading one to believe the waves aren't as dangerous as they seem. Who would have thought that the day we as a nation proclaimed our freedom, it could be taken away from me so suddenly? I learned the lesson that to find your inner strength, there are times when you can rely on those around you, but eventually, you will need to fight for yourself and that at times only you can be the one to save yourself. Sometimes I think that God may have had a part in my survival, halting the waves and current just for a moment to allow myself to flee. There isn't evidence or any way I can prove it, but that evening, my mind couldn't help but wonder if He did help me out, and if He did, I am forever grateful to God.
I went to the most beautiful clothing program twice in past two years! It was called Dress for Success. The staff is so nice! I received big tote bags of the most beautiful designer clothing.....purses, jewelry, sunglasses, high heeled shoes, boots, makeup, and more. I wrote a few really cute poems for them in gratitude that they will publish in their newsletter. I received dresses and pants and blouses. I traveled two hours each way, and Dress for Success was open and saved the day! The travel was worth it. The staff greeted me with open arms, and also offer a personal stylist and free classes and school. When in doubt, wear something nice and go out! I am so grateful for the new items they gave. I feel comfortable and confident. I'm a little too grateful. lol! When in need, new clothes will feed. Where are the perfect clothes, when you need them the most? Dress for Success passed the test!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you ask any South Asian kid what their least favorite food is, you will always get one of two answers - karela (bittergourd) or khichdi (a rice dish made with lentils, resembling Italian risotto). Traditional Khichdi does not have the richness or sophistication of a risotto, reserved solely for sick days when a child has the flu or a bad cold. It's usually a soggy mush of lentils and rice, tinged yellow with turmeric and seasoned with salt and pepper. Seems like a far leap from the rich curries and vegetable dishes associated with Indian culture, right? But, at my house, Khichdi was never a boring affair. My mother was raised in a tiny village tucked away in the shadows of the bustling metropolitan city of Kolkata, called Shantiniketan. Bengali cuisine, if you're unaware, is known for the sharp taste of mustard oil, setting your palate up for the tantalizing flavors of fresh fish and vegetables simmering in the most luxurious broth. Any dish is incomplete without small mountains of fluffy white rice, adorned with a small teaspoon of clarified butter or ghee and a dollop of fiery red pickle. I would watch as my mother would stand on her tiptoes, her silver anklets jingling softly as she tried to reach the far back of the wooden cabinets. She was too short, and would call for my dad with a “soon cho?” (are you listening?) instead of his name. I have never heard my mother refer to my father by name, and true to her call, he always listened. He would put down his newspaper and walk into the kitchen, silently retrieving the tarnished container of lentils, with the special type of daal reserved for sick days. She would reach into the container with her bare hands and grab fistfuls of the tiny yellow grains, adding them to a pressure cooker with short-grained basmati rice. He would share a look with her, probably reveling in some kind of inside joke, as she asked him to put the container away. She would giggle, swat at him and tell him to get out of the kitchen. Maa would wash the mixture three times, until the cloudy water would run clear, and fill it with fresh water to the top. She would then reach for her trusty jar of turmeric and add in heaping tablespoon to the concoction, along with some salt, and I would run away as far as possible. I hated the sound of the pressure cooker, the huffing and puffing seeming like the world's worst steam engine, building up to the dreadful moment where the steam would escape with a loud whistling noise. I would count in my head every time the whistle made me want to jump out of my skin, one… and when I least expected it, two. It always made my mum laugh, and she would gently smack my head saying, “beta (child), it's just the whistle.” I would follow her to the kitchen, and watch as she chopped up some red onions and tomatoes into small cubes. It never made her cry, unlike my Dad who would start sniffling while peeling the skin. She heated up a small pot with mustard oil, waiting for the right moment to add the mustard and cumin seeds, freshly plucked curry leaves from our small garden and freshly ground spices. It was my favorite part, I loved watching the spices bloom in the oil - bright red chillies, black pepper and earthy coriander blending into the most wonderful symphonies of flavor. She would add the onions and tomatoes last, barely cooking them so the onions were still translucent and had a slight bite to them, and the tomatoes retained their fresh tart flavor. She would then open the pressure cooker, greeted with a cloud of hot steam as she poured the mixture into the rice-lentil concoction. The colors would change; the khichdi would go from a dull and boring yellow to a vibrant vermilion shade, studded with onions and tomatoes and curry leaves. It had to be served steaming hot, on the nice ceramic plates reserved for guests, adorned with a heaping tablespoon of ghee. It did not matter what ailment you were suffering from, neither did it matter if your head felt like it was stuffed with cotton, or your body was burning with a fever. I've been sick a lot of times in the past few decades, with friends and lovers offering comfort in the form of their home remedies. I have been fed comfort foods from all over the world, be it Arroz Caldo from the Philippines, Italian Pastina, or bright red Borscht. A past boyfriend would make me chicken soup from the can, boiled in a saucepan with a dash of pepper and a generous pour of sriracha. My best friend makes the best rasam, a fragrant soup originating from the South of India, flavored with fresh tamarind and tomatoes. Yet, every single time I wake up with a bad cold or when life seems to get the best of me, I reach for the container of red daal at the back of my kitchen cabinets. I make it just the way maa would, relishing in the warmth of a hug that has traveled through generations of Bengali women to reach my little kitchen.
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