The sun was high up in the sky, shining with all its warm glory. I was sitting with my legs crossed on the floor of my room right under the air conditioner, reading. This amount of heat was not a unique sight during the month of June in Delhi. An ideal summer. What else would a just-turned teenager be doing in her summer break? Here I was, enjoying the last of my summer vacation, unaware that my life was about to be changed, entirely. Before long, the sun had started moving to the west and I decided that this was a good time to go cycling with my sister. My sister is younger than me by four years but we are each other's best friends. While I do have some really close friends from school, none have been with me as long as her. After about three quarters of an hour cycling around the neighborhood, I tediously dragged her back to the house. Usually we would have stayed out longer, but not today. Today papa would be returning early and I had to make some serious plans with him. Of course, I couldn't tell this to my sister because then it wouldn't remain a surprise when it was actually her birthday. As anticipated, our dad came back early. It seemed that he was just as excited as me which was a little rude since it showed that he liked my younger sister better. But I let it slide this time. He took off his shoes and was getting freshened up; with me waiting outside his door as a person who really wanted to use the washroom would. As soon as he was done changing, I took him to his room and began flooding him with ideas for what we could do on my sister's birthday. Only he (politely) shut me down immediately. Huh! Had he already made the plans without even including me? I thought. In a still excited tone he said “Calm down, we'll talk about this later. I need to tell you guys something. Let's go out in the living room.” He had to tell us something? But what? Curiously, I followed him. My mom was busy preparing the dinner and my sister staring at the television. My dad went ahead and retrieved some papers from his office bag. He went into the kitchen with me still following him at his tail. He asked my mom to join us outside to which she replied “I am not done with the dinner yet. Can this wait?” Apparently, it couldn't. So, there we were, the entire family sitting in the living room. My dad handed over the papers to my mom and she read. Now me and my sister were both baffled. We tried peeking over our mother's shoulder but before we could get a good look, my mom let out a loud gasp. What was happening? Our parents rejoiced while we just stared at them. After about a minute of this, our dad told us. “I have an interview at our bank's headquarters in Kolkata. They believe that I have been performing really well and now that I have cleared promotional exams, they really suggest I should give the interview.” Okay, so they were just excited about his promotion. I was expecting something more eventful but this could work too. My dad continued “and if I get selected after the interview phase, we could potentially be transferred to Hong Kong.” Okay, what!? Now it was me and my sister's turn to freak out. We could live in Hong Kong? We who had never even set foot outside of our country? This was surreal. I didn't even know that papa's bank had branches in places besides India. My sister and I hugged our dad so hard that we almost knocked him over. The rest of the day (which was only a couple of hours) was spent as we would on a festival. Soon enough, it was time for our dad's interview. We think he had prepared really well for it but wished him lots of luck nevertheless. He returned after two days and informed us that he thought he did well too. We had gotten our hopes up really high and it was not futile. He received the letter days later informing him that he had been selected to work at the Hong Kong branch for his bank and that we had to leave in a month. I don't think I had ever been so sad and excited all at the same time. On one hand, I was getting the opportunity of living outside of India and gaining so many new experiences. On the other hand, however, I had to leave behind so much and so quickly that it made my heart ache. Although I would have my family when moving to a completely new place, I would be leaving behind my two best friends from school (quite possibly the best people I have ever met so far). Throughout my childhood, I had moved from city to city and had to build my whole social life from scratch every time that happened. The thought of going through that one more time overpowered the dopamine rush from hearing such good news. I went through some serious brooding and heartfelt goodbyes after a crazy last month but it wasn't all bad. I constantly reminded myself that I could keep in touch with friends here and make new friends in Hong Kong and that everything will be fine. Turns it out, it was true. To gain something means to lose something else. It just depends on how you look at it.
A few days ago, I was writing a story. A story about a boy. A boy, whose best friends were agony, despair and grief. A boy, whose behavior would often be called “weird”. People would not accept his idiosyncrasies; they would instead find it better to ridicule him and his lack of social skills. His childhood did not deserve to be called a childhood at all. I felt a connection to that story. It was remarkably relatable. Although even I had had very few friends, I had had a lot of pleasant escapades too. Yet, I scraped off that idea and tore my page into a million pieces. I was about to throw them all in the bin when one of the smaller ones caught my attention, and all of a sudden, I was nostalgic. 25th May 2015. It was evening. I was sitting on the couch of my Meemaw's house, reading a book, and I was beaming with delight. After all, my birthday was just around the corner! All of a sudden, I felt an itch in my right ear. Lazy as I was, I did not want to get up and use an earbud. But I was worried about my hygiene too. I couldn't imagine using my own finger to remove my earwax. So, I tore off a bit of paper from the last page, and put it in my ear. As funny as it sounds, it really was effective in removing that itch. The problem arose when I started to enjoy a bit too much. I was holding it with the tip of my finger and inserted it far too deep; and then, I lost my grip. The paper got stuck inside. I panicked. I did not want my parents or my grandparents to find out about my stupidity, so I got up and rushed to get that earbud. Unfortunately, I did not realize that the earbud would not remove that paper; rather it would push it even further inside. I just kept hoping for the paper to attach to the earbud with adhesion, which was practically impossible. The paper, even after this struggle session, was still lodged inside. I decided to forget about this incident and acted normally that night. The next morning however, while eating my breakfast, I felt a searing pain in my ear. I could no longer afford to keep this incident a secret. I confessed everything to my parents. They were shocked at my idiocy; but they knew they had to get my ear checked. Unfortunately, most of the ENT specialists whom we knew about were closed that day. We spent the next 2 hours surfing the internet, but weren't able to find even a single doctor close to us. That was when my mom recalled that she had once been to a doctor, who used to keep his clinic open all year long. “Maybe to earn more?” I deliberated with myself. We got into our car and drove to him. His clinic was present in a really secluded area. He did not have an assistant, and it became obvious to us that he had not had patients in a while when we saw him playing candy crush on his phone in his working hours. He first looked into my ear with a concave mirror and a torch. He could not spot any piece of paper, and was going to conclude that it might have fallen out; when I told him about my pain. That was when I saw him turn serious. He looked more carefully, and this time, he spotted it. He requested my parents to leave us alone. He might've guessed that the love of my parents for me had made them astonishingly soft-hearted, so they might not be able to see me cry. When they left, he warned “Son, you will feel a slight pain in your ear. But your parents told me that you are a brave boy. Once I take that paper ball out, you will be good to go”. I nodded in approval. He put his sharp instrument in my ear. That searing pain returned to me. I wondered why he had not given me any anesthetic. The deeper he went, the more it hurt. It was like having a hundred wasps sting me in a very small periphery for a very long time. I must've gotten lost in my own thoughts, because I remained motionless even after he had taken out the paper from my ear. It was only when he shook me that I came back to my senses. He pointed his finger towards that dirty nasty paper covered with my disgusting earwax. I went outside and saw my parents waiting anxiously. “The operation was successful!”, I exclaimed with delight. My voice startled them. They turned around, only for me to witness my dad gasp in shock and my mom choke a sob. I innocently asked “Why are you crying mom?”, but before she could answer, I felt a drop fall on my neck. “Is my ear bleeding?” Her sudden surge of tears answered my question. While walking towards the bin, I wondered if I had partially lost my hearing. This was one question whose answer I did not want to know. My introspection was interrupted by my mom's voice, “Son, which girl are you dreaming about?” Embarrassed, I replied, “I am not dreaming about any girl mom!” “Then go and do something productive. And remember, don't start thinking about girls again!” We chuckled.
As 2020 began, I had high hopes that it would follow in 2019's footsteps and be a great year. I was wrong. I was supposed to go to college this year, but I don't see the favors coming over my side, because the government has cancelled most of our competitive exams. This new disease, COVID-19, has flipped our worlds upside down from these last few weeks. At first, when I heard about this virus, I didn't pay any attention to it at all. I told myself that it was only a small disease and that it would stop soon. But in the end, it was the other way around. Months went by and the infection got worse. I started to realize the impact it has on human life and the importance of taking care of myself, to protect not only me but also others. As the media and government told us, it is important to stay at home because we can spread the virus without knowing it. Typically on a Monday, I would've been up at 7 am, going to study in my coaching classes from 9 am to 5 pm. Then after I used to spend some chill time with my friends or just take a walk in the local park. I always have something to do during the day. Many people think I'm pretty crazy for always having such a jam packed schedule but that's just how I function. Now on this Monday morning in quarantine, I woke up at 10 am, looked through social media for 45 minutes before I got out of the bed. And it would be great to say that, I've been studying for my classes and finally started that intense workout plan I've always wanted to do. It would probably be great to do all the tedious tasks that I've put off doing because I simply “never had time”. But now that this quarantine has granted me so much time, I haven't. I haven't done much of anything. Since the lockdown, I've had trouble finding motivation in doing anything other than getting out of bed and begrudgingly logging onto my Zoom classes. My thoughts on online classes? I was never a fan of online classes, never thought I would, but look at me now. In the midst of writing this, my teacher updated my math grades! How lovely, my grade is currently at a B… guys. Besides my math class, how am I supposed to take my other classes? Physics? Chemistry? At the same time. This quick transition from having in-person classes to now online classes is such an overwhelming feeling and I haven't even started. I'm pretty sure when I wished that i had some break for relaxation from the hectic schedule, this is definitely not what I had in mind. There's only so much Netflix and YouTube I could watch before I go crazy. Typically, I don't really watch that much Netflix because I always have something to do, so this transition isn't so easy. After the first couple days of being home and not being allowed out, I got sick of watching TV or browsing my Instagram, Twitter, and Whats-app and repeating it over and over again. I really want to be active. But I'm annoyed by scrolling through social media. Everything on YouTube is boring to me right now. It's so weird that whenever I pick up my phone, I involuntarily go to Instagram or Twitter to mindlessly scroll. I then get back to my room and take a nap. Afterwards, I grab something to eat. This is currently my daily routine. I think I should gain weight before ever catching COVID-19. I decided, instead of looking at people doing their own home/work routine, I would actually do my own routine. I recently joined an organisation which focuses on building Service leaders and Entrepreneurship skills. I'm also learning animation and doodle art, made few videos on YouTube out of them, got a pretty good response. And to be honest, I'm really liking this change. Simple actions such as going out to see your friends or hanging out with them, are now out of the question. Heck, even buying a pizza seems taboo nowadays. Over the past week or two, I've lost count of the days at this point. I've asked myself how to cure this seemingly never-ending loneliness. And like my most recent math test, I'm left with a lot of blank answers. I'm not even sure how long this quarantine will last, or how long I will last quarantined in my place, but all I know is that I'm trying to keep calm. I feel that in this time it's essential for all of us to adopt an optimistic point of view. The situation at hand is stressful, but life is still going on, and it's just as beautiful as it was before all of this. I'm taking the time to enjoy the little things, as well as try to improve on my poorer habits. What we need to remember is that this quarantine isn't going to last forever. We will be able to enjoy the things and the people we love in due time. Right now it's important to stay inside and do our part for the benefit of the world. So sit back, relax, read a book, or call a friend. We will get through this together, standing 6 feet apart, but together nonetheless.
It is rightly said that it is the first few blows on the anvil of life that give the human weapon the mindset and temper that carry him through the life's battle and it is very important for us to understand the locution's worth. It means that the first few experiences of life build the mindset and temperament of a person which carry him through the other phases of life. We know that life gets harder as we grow up. So, the phrase wants to tell us that the type of things we learn and experience in our childhood builds our temperament and gives us the mental readiness to face the upcoming years of our life. The type of decisions we take in our life to overcome those hard years of life depend upon the kind of grooming we had in our childhood. We often see a person not taking bold decisions and try to adjust to what he has; it means he didn't get proper experience in his childhood and because of that he doesn't know how to overcome the problem he is facing. This, in turn, doesn't give him the mentality to solve his problems, but if a person has received proper experience in his childhood, he will have the mentality to fight and overcome his problems and will know the shortest and best technique to overcome his problems; which in turn gives him success and as the famous basketball legend Michael Jordan, who was axed from his high school basketball team, but he refused to give up on his dream, once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” It has been seen with many successful person's life too! Let it be with President Lincoln's life or Colonel Sanders's ( Founder of KFC) life. We fail to accept the fact that, Success goes to the Most Deserved Person! We need to understand the fact that, adversity in our life teaches us many important lessons of our life! It does not come to break us. Rather, it teaches us to survive in our tough times!! The great Indian scholar, strategist Chanakya once said, " Learn from others mistake!" Maybe, he wanted to tell us, how to make smart decisions, without wasting your time and other resources. Yes, we need to be smart to learn lots, within a short period to stay ahead from others, by remembering others failure stories and designing your innovative path crafted on your own life's "Experience Anvil" to reach your goal!
It all started when I finished high school. At that time, I did not have a concrete plan of what I should do ; I just studied well so i can study medicine in the UK. When I look back now, lots of things led to me being here. In 2015, after graduating high school I started contacting universities in UK ,but to no avail and time just flew by; one year passed while trying in all possible ways to study medicine there until a staff member of a certain university told me frankly it's hard to be accepted in medicine in UK and it was extremely expensive for me as well .A year passed by which was devastating because I had this thought that I should apply right after high school like all other students ingrained in my mind. I started to think differently that I wanted to be satisfied with what I am doing, feeling fulfillment by helping others. Something that by the end of my life makes me think like ‘yes I've spent 100000 hours doing this job' so I decided to study medicine in turkey and I became even more confident about what I want; I applied to a university and was accepted ,but then my father had a financial problem so later by the help of my mother I applied in another university which i believe now is better. I was the type of kid who was very dependent on her parents' money to study in school and university; don't get me wrong I am not spoiled or anything i was just raised like that; i was young after all and I was never pushed to the edge as now to start working and earning my own money ,to stand on my own two legs. I always wanted to be independent financially ,but not like this; I had a robotic way of thinking of getting my degree first then start to depend on myself. After graduating from school, I took two gap years, two years of anyone's most precious time “youth”. When I finally started university I was 21 by then, the emotions I went through those two years were horrible; I was really depressed seeing everyone from school going to universities except me; it left a huge impact on my personality, for some people this might look trivial ,but for me it was my future; it was everything on stake simply because there was no other way for me to study medicine unless i travel abroad and to study medicine in a private university which is not cheap. I started thinking will i even start studying in a university; I did not want to study in my country because that would mean I'll just study business and stay in my shell. I wanted to travel and experience everything that comes with traveling from depending solely on my self to having new friends, new encounters, meeting people with different views on life from different cultures which eventually happened. In my teens, I used to watch lots of Turkish dramas which made me want to learn Turkish language and go to Turkey as a tourist ,but never thought of coming here as a student. In the two years, I had taken a Turkish language course; it was a nice experience to learn Turkish which helped me later on when I decided to go to Turkey. In 2017, I finally started university and yes my financial problem was not yet solved not even till now, but somehow the ship sailed although I still have debts to my university. Now I should be in 3rd year, but that's still vague because my financial problem got worse; it's this year that I started to think out of the box when the pressure inside was too much for me to handle. It's these kinds of situations that actually make us who we are and know how to tackle our problems. This summer because of the pressure of the makeup exam which if I failed would mean I lost another year and the money problem; I had decided to start working already.One thing led to the other; in my gap year I used to read comics and novels so I thought why not start writing and publishing a novel online myself; I started entering contests such as this one and I also started my own comic with a collaboration with a comic artist which I hope will be published soon. Yes, I accept what is happening with me, but that doesn't mean I should give up; It only means I should try harder until I get that degree. Indeed moving to another country now after I settled here is not easy furthermore it was hard for me to be emotionally stable because as much as I wanted to travel abroad, in my first year reality hit me hard and I started missing my family and I even regretted coming to Turkey ; I was very depressed, but that all subsided now; I became more independent; I have friends who stood beside me and made me feel as if they were my second family here. As I am writing this ; it strikes me how much I've changed through these last couple of years into a mature, strong-willed woman from just an indecisive high school girl, so if someone is reading this who went through a bad experience don't worry, you're not alone and always remember it's all for your best because believe me you will flourish into something really beautiful and remember everything happens for a reason.
Tossing the phone on the bed, I walked away to the balcony connecting to my room. Looking up, the night sky was decorated with glowing lanterns you could mistake them for stars. The scenery in front of me taking me back to the memories that I've tried so hard to forget. I never expected for this outcome, I should have but it never occurred to me that it would take place. With so many different paths, you would think that I could've avoided it. A sigh escaped my lips as I stared at the night sky, hoping it would take me away from all the pain in my heart. The sinking feeling drowning my being. Tears begin to spill from my eyes, as my surroundings blur over and I find myself wiping the salt infused tears, I look away, walking back into the room where the memories and loneliness overtakes me. His ringtone breaks through the silence, as I just stand by the bed tears caressing my face as they fall.Why, why does the bad guy have to be me. Crouching into myself I feel my walls break, chip by chip, falling off as the ringtone still plays in the background. I loved you, why couldn't I reach you. The song stops as I look up towards my phone. The thoughts running inside my mind a million miles a minute. The what if and if only. My personal favorite, if you were, haunting my very existence day in and day out, today not being any different. The pain subsiding enough for me to catch my breath. Looking over to the side of the room I see myself on the floor with tears on my face staring back at me from the mirror. Disgusting, failure, unwanted, not enough, useless. The words sticking to my body as I'm just watching from afar. Letting the words engrave themselves in my head. Not being able to stand the sight of myself through the mirror, I turn away and climb onto the bed pulling the sheets over myself. Hoping to run away from myself, I close my eyes, pressing my nails into the palm of my hands. Trying to put all the pieces of the wall back into place, one after the other with pieces still falling off. Fighting the urge to just destroy the whole thing and let everything crumble. Anger slowly crept in distracting me from my own sadness and self hatred. The anger running throughout my body, and my nails dig deeper, and deeper until I feel my life running down my hands. The covers are stained, my clothes and my face. The tears finally stop, and the anger subsides and it's easier for me to put up the walls again. Piece by broken piece, this time staying in place as I layer the glue that will keep it together until the next time it breaks again. Pushing myself up from the bed I walk towards the balcony for the last time tonight. Opening the doors I feel the night air as it rushes past me trying to see the damage that had occurred only moments ago. I glance towards the sky once more, the lanterns seemingly brighter and the moon now gracing my presence with its beauty. The memory rushes back to me reminding me of the times where I was stronger. That moment in time where we glanced at the night sky together, wishing and praying that those memories would stay the same for the rest of our lives. Not knowing the change that would destroy that wish a few days after. It was a similar night like tonight, the wind blowing softly, the moon and the stars watching over us and him, standing behind me holding me like I would disappear in a heartbeat. The promises that were said that day still burn my mind and my eyes begin to water again. This time only a tear fell as I leaned over to watch the world underneath me. A bitter smile placed itself on my face, as I watched the world around me move on without me. Raising my head up at the sky, I see their brightness again as a sense of comfort and twinge of pain fills my heart. One last wish falls out of my lips as I close my eyes and let the wind take over. “Can we watch the lights turn to stars?”
It was a summer evening and we were near dinner time when the phone rang. A family, who were old acquaintances with us, had called to ask a rare favor. They inquired if their teenage sons could be allowed to borrow our horses and trails to go crossbow hunting. My mother, who is the farm manager, told them that it was not something that we generally allowed. However, she said that if I agreed to accompany and supervise them that it would be permitted. So it was that we scheduled one of the most memorable rides of my life. The boys showed up in the late evening after dinner a few days later. We groomed, saddled and tacked up the horses and made sure they were properly suited for the ride. A little before dusk we rode up into the trails and began our search. I learned within the first hour that of our ride that crossbows are not easy to use. Two hands are needed. One to hold the front and the other to pull back the string and arrow. To handle the crossbow at all while on horseback, one needs to be a very skilled and balanced rider who can hold the reigns and one part of the crossbow in one hand at the same time. Many horses are startled at the mere sound of the twinge of a bow or the sight of arrows flying through the air. So, to have any chance at striking their mark, a person must either have a very experienced and docile horse or be very skilled in controlling their steed. Such takes time and skill and this was a one-time only riding-hunt experience for the boys. Also worthy of note is that our woods are very dense in the summertime. Deer can easily hide within five feet of the trails without being seen or noticed during this season. The arrows also have to be shot in a manner so as not to hit any trees or bushes between the path of the hunter and his prey. Thus, crossbow hunting on horseback is certainly not an easy thing to do. We split into two groups so as to be more silent and have more of an opportunity to cover the approximately 90 acres in our domain. This increased our sight of game and we hoped that it would give us more of an opportunity to catch our prey. Despite the terrible odds against us our little troop nearly hit the mark several times. Yet, time was against us and the sky was quickly darkening. I was responsible for bringing everyone safely home. Since we had split up and spent as much time as possible hunting, we now had very little time to regroup before returning to the stables. As a result of this, I agreed to let the boys do something which we almost never let riders do on our farm. I gave my consent for them to cantor and gallop the full extent of the trails. One who has never been to our farm might not be able to imagine why this is a big deal. I will therefore explain why such is not usually allowed. Our trails are not flat but similar to a rollercoaster; going continuously up in steep inclines and down in rapid declines. Sometimes we allow experienced riders who know well how to keep their horses in control to go fast up the hills. Yet, we rarely allow anyone to ride their horse quickly downhill because of how dangerous it can be between loosing balance, stumbling or hitting something suddenly. I made the rare exception for the boys because I knew them personally for many years and trusted their horsemanship and abilities as I don't many other riders. So it was that for the next 15 minutes or so we cantered and galloped the trails until we regrouped with the rest of our party. Then we made our way as quickly as safely possible to the flattest part of the trails in the open part of the property. Within a few minutes of exiting the forest, the darkness reached its peak and we could hardly see just a few feet in front of us as we rode. If we had been in the forest still it most likely would have been pitch black and getting back to the barn would have been much more difficult. Even as experienced riders, we most likely would have had to dismount and walk our horses back on foot in order to avoid mishap. Though our arrows had not managed to hit any of our targets, it was a great experience. It was like going back to a time in the medieval ages when men had to hunt with more simple means. This ride was one of the most memorable of my life, and I hope that one day such experiences will become again more common in our society.
My motherly experience I'm an addict, there's no doubt about that. But, I'm not a bad mother; I swear. As I sit in fetal position on the floor with a wailing toddler next to me I think, “am I dying?”. That's the last thing I remember. I awaken to the noise of glass shattering all over my kitchen floor. I stumble out of the bathroom of my small studio apartment to see my half sister starring at me with eyes of vexation. If I wasn't dead I'm sure as hell dead now. “Why weren't you answering your phone?!” Gabby yells through the other side of the now empty window hinges. “What are you talking about?” I questioned, my voice scratchy as if I've been smoking cigarettes back to back. Or maybe I have been.. The last thing I recall is walking over to Dandfords; my local bar that's 10 minutes walking distance. Dandfords graciously pleases me with a good morning when I wake up everyday. I remember meeting up with Mandi and a couple of her girlfriends and yes, of course I was with the baby. I wasn't going to leave him at home alone; what kind of mother would I be? I had a couple drinks. Ok, maybe I had one too many drinks. And well, I went home. Apparently a lot of mishaps went down when I arrived. I miss out on my life constantly because of my addiction. Half of my life is a blank sheet of paper. You know when you print a document and you run out of ink? The document comes out blank? Well that's my life summed up in one. My arrival was followed by a phone call to my half sister Susan. I killed the conversation by her interpreting my words as “goodbye I'm going to kill myself and the baby”. So, for the past thirty minutes, Gabby has been banging on my door with no response. Police were notified and neighbors were petrified by the news. It was a whole commotion. While I was just passed out drunk on my cold tiled bathroom floor. It could be worse.. I take it back, that was the worse day of my motherly experience. Two years and a magic pill later, I'm in recovery. I'm an event photographer, a mommy blogger, and a super hero to my three year old. I'm also a daughter, a sister, and a wife who has some issues to resolve. I'm still in a quandary over what to do with my life. All in all, I'm only twenty-three. I don't know what lies underneath the ocean. I don't know if the boogie man exist. And I don't know if Pluto is really a planet. But, I do know I am a great mother.
RHYTHM OF ANCIENT SONGS AND BEAT OF AFRICAN PRAISE POETRY My birth is a metaphor of bullet-traces and the ironic verse of Leninist style-songs for black liberation that reverberated the grey-mist clad red-mountains of home – Zimbabwe. My birthing was a stitch between the thud of war-time guns and a heave of pungwe jives. Young women of my mother's age were volunteer maids during the traumatic but zeal-oiled Chimurenga times, cooking and washing for the cadres of liberation. Chimurenga songs sung by these war-ironed peasant mothers and bullet-toughened collaborators in the red-hills of Wedza. These Mother-guerrillas endured the hard throbs of grenades and the thrash of midnight-rains in those village hills alongside bushy male combatants. They learnt the soprano of the gun and the tenor of death.These were heaven-echoing struggle hymns. On the day of my birth, heavy rains rattled the winter-crusted red-earth. Rivers sobbed with heaven's tears and sorrows of war. That grueling night, swarms of collaborators were moved from one base to another, my earthly goddess was among those pilgrims of war. …her heartbeat thrilled my tender ears and her blood-ripples lulled my faint soul to sleep. And somy foetus spirit rode along with waves of echo and beat of verse. Ingenuity. I am the blessing of the trip, the child of war song and rain. A mystery. I am a child of song. I was birthed during the exodus. That rebel's war was characterized by death, wailing, stampede, bravery, shallow-graves, song and continuous walking. A trailblazing Africa reality show. My earthly goddess was a dedicated collaborator, volunteer and songstress. She carried freedom in the sacred cave of her womb. After their strange overnight long walk to freedom base of Mbirashava – rains ceased fire, war-drums paused and their echoes got trapped into the blankets of early day mist. Then came my birth cry they say like an exclamation engraved on the yellow-disc of the smoke-bruised African sun. Claws of dawn caressed the sorrow-soaked red-hills. My goddess wriggled in a thick volcano of red-clay mud, ochre-red blood and dead grass. Her womb groaned from labor pangs and suddenly the wind was cold. June dared the earth and everything in it. Cold-winds whined ferociously to disobedient flora and delinquent vultures. Winter, fast clicking a pause button to the jungle's daily festivals. I was born. Cadres and collaborators dribbled a liberation jive for my homecoming. They called me Gandanga. I was initiated into this earth by the alto of howling winter-winds, baritones of barking-baboons and the ease soprano of hooting-owls. A child of song. I was introduced to the festival of sounds, loud and low, good and bad, discordant and beautiful. Upon arriving at the village homestead, the earth trembled, the air got electric with ululations. My paternal grandmother fervently recited a traditional totemic praise poem. “Chirasha, Chikandamina, Weshanu uri pauta, Mavsingo a Govere, Vari Zimuto, Mukwasha waMambo, Vakafura bwe rikabuda ropa” A lone drum thrilled them into the audience into another dancing routine. The echo of the tinkling drum resonated with the beat of my grandmother's recitations. They said that my eyes winked in response to their merriment. Even up to this day, I beat my chest with pride to that ceremonial reception performed by an elder qualified to be my ancestor. My old singer-grandmother usually bundled me behind her old but steely back. Lullabies caressed me into dreamland until my goddess returned from her daily errands. I was raised by extraordinary songs, sweet and mellow to every infant's senses. I enjoyed the ear-tickling ancient poetry. They say I slept to the rhythm of that beautiful lullaby. My grandmother was Gogo in African – she would fall asleep too. Mother returned from the red-clay fields to find us under the watch of spirits and snores. After some weeks my umbilical cord wilted and fell. They buried it under the hearth near the main fireplace. Thus how we are bonded by our departed clan spirits. And so I grew up in a highly strict African traditional clan. My father and fellow clansmen brewed ceremonial beer for traditional rites. They supplicated to ancestral gods to end life-tormenting ailments, ravaging hunger, abject poverty and bad omen. Their usual incarnations, totemic praise's performances cultivated the griot in me. Praise and protest poetry became my official language. After my umbilical cord rites, my father gave me a name. He named me after the most powerful battalion of Tshaka Zulu, a battalion that never lost even a single battle – Imbizo.
What comes into your mind when you heard or read the word “Maturity”? Do you possess this kind of characteristic? Are you mature enough? If yes, how mature are you? These are quite few of the many questions that we might ask in the matter of maturity. For this word could mean many things. One of which is that it covers one's overall development of different aspects of personality and capacity as an individual. Through the years, we commonly perceived that the older we get, the more mature we become or it's a must. Well, sometimes this is true but oftentimes this is a common misconception. In what way? Come to think of it. For instance, you meet a 40-year-old man who still acts like he's 16; an adult in age but young at heart. Conversely, you meet a teenager who acts more than his age; a teenager with an old soul. Pretty weird right? However, we can indicate that the maturity of the two different person you've met is more likely to be a delayed and an advanced one. This just appears that maturity may or may not hit a person regardless of his/her age and time can't tell either when. Distinguishing mature ones from a diverse group people is quite difficult. It's not an easy task because we can't judge a book by its cover as per say. But, I think we can all agree to the fact that those people whom we feel to have a high level of maturity seemed to possess a breadth of life experience in dealing things with responsibility and acceptance. “Experience is the best teacher”, right? Thus, no doubt that we all have the opportunity to become more mature with more life experiences that we can obtain along the way. Still, are these opportunities can really help us to become more mature? Yes! If we were to turn them into reality by obtaining each experience along with the reflection. As we may know, reflection occurs when we tend to pause for a while and do some realizations in life and put our thoughts into careful considerations pertaining to this and that. Simply because the experience alone doesn't produces maturity. As a matter of fact, some people are still relatively immature even though they have already obtained several years of life experience; gaining different levels of educational recognition, working many jobs, dating different people, traveling the world, trying new things, and many others. How come they are? It's because they may lack reflection in obtaining those life experiences, making it significantly useless without practicing reflection simultaneously. In line with that is the saying that says, “maturity is not when we start speaking big things. It is when we start understanding small things”. I do agree to that citation because being mature means you appreciate and understand both big and small things, and if you don't understand the latter how much more the former, right? Maturity comes when one has a wider perspective in life and sees things in a larger picture. It is optimistic that it finds opportunity in every difficulty and humble enough to admit that he/she commends fault and say, “I'm sorry”. Mature and grown-up people find pleasure in waiting and believers of delayed gratification. They don't rush things out and wait for the right moment instead. Another amazing thing about maturity is that if you possesses it, you hold the trait of calmness with strength. You concede defeat, face frustrations, and accept criticisms, unpleasantness without complaining. You are tranquil enough to control your emotions and wrath within yourself. Instead, you understand first the situation, put yourself in the shoes of others and be consistently grateful. Likewise, you know how to act childish and an adult when situation force you to. Mentioned above are just few of the many characteristics of people who possess the marks of maturity. How about you? If you are to assess yourself, are you one of those mature people? Or just like me and many others out there, are you the kind of person whose level of maturity changes depending on who you are with? I am immature, so are you. We are all immature in nature, until we learn how to neglect it and embrace change in our lives. However, along of searching it, we may not always forget the essence of knowing, understanding, appreciating, respecting and loving ourselves first better more than anybody else. Lastly, embracing maturity and living life in peace with the things that we cannot change, the courage to change the things that should be changed, win or lose, the wisdom to speak words with humility, the dare to make a difference and just being ourselves are definitely the best options that we could start with or continue to. For again, maturity does not matter in the age that we carry. It's indeed a choice, the sensitivity, the manners, how we react and accept things in life. As what Mr. Edwin Louis Cole says, “Maturity comes not with age but with the acceptance of responsibility. You are only young once but immaturity can last a lifetime”.
It was happening when I lost my believed in love and miracle but my present boyfriend appeared like a hero in the movie.At first I was hard to get his heart open but after a few month the miracle happen he started to love me more and more and than he try to learn how to deal with a girl.He made me cried again and again but I tried my best to teach him how to deal with me and vice versa.Even if he was bad in love matter,he got more experience life than me. After hearing my whole story,he told me that what I did was wrong.All of these time I was just trying to please others without thinking of myself and just went with the flow of the people around me.He told me that I should not try to change how those people act toward me or even try to impress them. He told me to be myself,try to change myself to become better rather than changing how people think toward me so people will change their view of me and also their attitude toward me. He said that this is the only way to become an independent person.At that time I didn't believe what he tried to tell me and still acted as I always did. Even all of those hard times with my family and school life that he had to get through with me,he still stayed with me all the time that no one could ever do.He supported me with everything he got and finally I passed my high school exam.I expected that after I step my feet in this new life as a college student,I would have a better independent and a bunch of new friend that could walk with me through these four years of college life.But my boyfriend still told me that finishing high school doesn't mean life will become easier,each phases of life that complete will replaced by a new hard one.The only thing that can makes us feel it is not as hard as it seems to be, is to become a stronger person by ourselves.Everything got harder and many assignments were standing up a row to put their pressure on me. I started to understand what my boyfriend wanted to tell me, so I tried to study even harder and got many good results that really satisfied me for just a moment. At school,I tried to become friendly as much as possible and sometimes I acted as a funny person to get more attention in the hope of getting more friends and experience a new happier life than I was in high school. Despite the fact that I tried this hard, I got more haters than friends.I still got abused at home and still feel that I got no place to go beside my boyfriend. Whenever I felt upset, I always wanted to meet my boyfriend and he was always there by myself.Each time I met him I always told him everything that happened recently. I told him that even if I tried this hard, but my life still gain nothing in return. If it was not for him I wouldn't have any reason to live anymore. He hugged me and told me again to be just myself and real friends will come into my life.By got affected of his influence, in my second year of college life I started to do as he told me step by step and the result was incredibly great. I found many new friends that I had never got to feel anything like this before. They showed me what true friend is and how to enjoy life at school even it was hard to get through. By getting help of my boyfriend I won in a writing competition as rank 10th and got some rewards from the owner of the competition and my university. I became many teachers' favorite student and no one in class got jealous of me like before. My parents started to change their attitude toward and acknowledge that I had become more mature and started to accept my opinion more than before. I started to understand what my boyfriend tried to tell me and I was really appreciated for what he had done for me this whole time. I told him that everything had become better now. He said that he was really happy that he was the only person that I could lean on whenever I feel helpless. He wanted to be selfish too but it would be unfair for me. I am a human being so I deserve to be more independent in life and got many counteraction with many people. I will be got less time to spend with him but he was still happy that I found my own happiness and new goal in life beside just depend on him alone. He told me that even if he will be with me forever but he won't be with me all the time. So he wanted me to become an independent person and can depend on other people beside him in any situation. Thank to him that showed me what the true meaning of Independent and happiness. Even if it is not going smoothly as I want but it still going slowly and step by step my future will be a bright place that I couldn't imagine that I could get in to this stage if compare to what I had done and met in the past. Don't try to become someone else just for a purpose of going along with the flow of people around you. Try to be yourself as much as possible! Real happiness will come into your life with the real you. And that is the time that you can know that you can become an independent person as what you wanted to be.
Life is a journey and yes, I'm fully aware that this is not the first time you've heard it. When people say "life is a journey", there are a lot of different things he/she could've meant. Life is a journey because we face many challenges in life, life is a journey because we will see new things each day and meet new people every so often, life is a journey because life is an experience. From the day we open our eyes to the world, that is, from the day we start living, we meet a lot of different people. So when we start this journey, the first group of people we will meet is Family. These people are the people that will stick around from the beginning up until the very end. These people will guide you and help you to choose the correct path to move forward until the end. They will genuinely care for you and love you. They will be willing to help you anytime of any day. So with your family by your side, as you go further in this journey, you will meet Friends. Friends are the people who will make our journey special. They are the people who will make every step of this journey memorable and some of them, just like family, will guide you and help you to choose the correct path as you move forward and they will always cheer you on. Sometimes, a group of people called Foes will accompany you in this journey, pretending to be your Friends. It will be hard to instantly distinguish Foes from Friends. They will pretend to help you in choosing the correct path but will actually convince you to choose the incorrect path and therefore to go astray. The best way in which you can distinguish Foes from Friends is to see how much they're willing to sacrifice for your sake without expecting anything in return and how well they have proved that they will always be by your side, no matter what. Foes will also help you in this journey, even though it's unintentional. The way in which Foes will help you is by giving you an experience with different kinds of people with different personalities. You can't expect to meet only honest and true people along the journey of life. Meeting selfish and fake people is also an important experience gained by the journey of life. It will help you to distinguish Foes from Friends more easily in the future and it will make you wiser and stronger for the journey ahead. Currently, all of us are humans walking the journey of life. The Family, Friends and Foes you will meet are Fellow humans who are walking their own journey of life and in their journey, you could be Family to them, a Friend to them or a Foe to them. Sometimes the most crucial decisions in life depend on the people we surround ourselves with. Sometimes we can't walk this journey without those people. My message to all of you is that, your journey of life isn't completely identical to anybody else's journey. The path each and every person walks in is different from one another. So don't compare your life with anybody else's life. Be your own person and surround yourself with the people who will accept you for who you are (Family and Friends) and don't be discouraged by Foes. Be motivated by them, to become a better version of yourself. Let every failure make you stronger and walk this journey of life with Family, Friends, Foes and Fellow humans.
We, human beings, tend to build intimate and emotional connections towards various things we encounter and places we visit. If our relationships with these things or places come to an end; we may well mourn their absence or go through an experience of remembrance. This emotional and existential remembrance could include our past experiences, actions, places we have been to and people we met. This is what we could define as Nostalgia; the emotional yearning for the past, for places and things that we sentimentally associate with. We could find ourselves often trapped in the past, be it pleasant or unpleasant. In such a situation, our remembrance and nostalgic feelings could be evoked by different external stimuli. Even the slightest stimulation can incite nostalgia. In this sense; a scent, a scene, a person, a voice, an action or a place have the ability to stimulate a tape of similar experiences inside our heads. As an international student abroad, I would argue that people would vouch that it is quite natural to be nostalgic, experience homesickness and potential loneliness. A foreign country, a foreign culture and a foreign language, it is indeed obvious that I'm highly likely to miss home. However, the feelings of nostalgia could be relatively different from person to person. In my case, I do not miss the physical place or people per si as much as I miss my past experiences with them. As a Muslim female student, I would say my presence is constantly received as an accumulation of ideas held and interpreted differently by different people. Yet, my true self is always concealed and never received. In my culture, that is highly conservative and sometimes unfortunately sexist, I'm required to live according to the norms of the society, fulfill certain rules allocated to me as a female and prohibited from certain activities that are the monopoly of men. According to their beliefs, I'm not required to have a strong and independent opinion because, by and large, I'm expected to be a ladylike, decent wife and mother regardless of my values, and thoughts. Living under this canopy of rules always tortured me and silenced my entity in fear of being rejected by the society. On the other side of the fence, the situation is not significantly different as a veiled Muslim student abroad. Namely, a lot of people do receive me as a representation of a barbaric, oppressing culture and a terrorist religion. I, frequently, see frightened and hate looks on the faces of people. I try to fit in but the cultural barriers are always a major hurdle. I'm, thus, never received based on who I am or on my thoughts, but rather on my appearance and gender. All these unfortunate experiences made me constantly pressured and nostalgic to the past, to my childhood and teenage years, where I used to be independent, dreamy, strong-willed. I never imagined that my life would take this critical turn and become caged in the so-called world of stereotypes held by others. An influential experience which incited a sudden nostalgia took place in my first Yoga experience. When I arrived at the location, I immediately got a soothing homey feeling due to the warmth of the room and the gentle waft of the incense. We sat down around a beautifully-lit candle in the middle, held each other's hands and listened to a soothing meditation music. I and the instructor held hands, At that particular moment, I had strange feelings of warmth and compassion. Feelings I only used to know when I was younger; when I used to come back from school or sports training, play with my cat, watch my favourite animation on tv, swim in my imagination to be like one of the imaginary animated heroes in the show, and wait for my mother to come back from work to tell her about my day, adventures, my dreams and how I look forward to making them true. I had a sudden flashback; a recreation of the past in front of my eyes, my tears uncontrollably fell down afterward. As soon as the session finished, I realized that it was time to get back to the real world; the world where I'm no longer that strong dreamy child. The instructor looked me in the eyes and said “you will be alright”, I felt she was looking at my heart and that she sensed my sentiments and the overflow of emotions through my skin. I still experience the after effects of my first yoga session because it was utterly nostalgic and a sudden reminiscence of the past. It was like a psychedelic experience of feelings and memories. It is, indeed, enchanting how a single experience stimulated countless feelings and memories through a vivid flashback. All in all, it is terrible that people in both cultures treat me as an embodiment of social and cultural representation instead of a person with an independent entity. Nevertheless, one thing I learned from this existential experience is that we should effortlessly fight for who we are, our dreams and voices.