Pawns of Today

By the students of Billabong High

On 26th April 2017, world-renowned Northern Irish poet Cat Brogan visited BHIS to share her experience with young literary-minded students. After an interactive workshop session of two hours, each student shared the lines they came up with to create one collaborative poem, Pawns of Today:

I’m trapped in a circle, running in 360 degrees,

Searching for solutions like the cure to some disease.

Too afraid to go off on a tangent and find a new equation,

I need to have a think and make some revision.

Too much stereotypes kill mentality,

But make a strike and bring back reality.

Give your best and kill anxiety.

Give it a try and do it honestly.

The sun disappeared as if it never existed.

But as time passed it slowly started to break through,

The sun went down, my world plunged into darkness

Because you left, the others but shined brighter:

They offered little comfort, waiting in the darkness

For you to rise again, because even though you’re a million miles away,

You light up my whole world.

Play the game of life like you’re playing basketball.

Win at life and you become a champion;

If only life was easier as it in the cartoons.

My dreams were crushed as a building would be wrecked.

My life is a blank page

That I am too afraid to fill in,

Because once the words come out,

I can’t bring them back in.

Who are you?

What makes you believe what you do?

And who are the others, to dictate what you believe in?

Who are the others, to tell you;

Who you are?

It seems as if the whole universe is living their lives

Around a battery-operated clock; confining ourselves to

The twelve digits we use in a desperate attempt to convince ourselves

That we are in order, we are normal, we live like everyone else.

But why do we glorify uniformity?

What if I don’t want to conform to meaningless digits and live my life through numbers?

People laugh at things that are funny.

Does that include beliefs?

People laugh at things that are funny.

Am I funny?

People laugh at clowns.

Am I one?

To people who create life,

I am their clown:

In the game I play, they laugh.

They say, I am like a clown that plays on the court.

My shots are considered a failed juggle.

Am I a clown? Or is life framing me to be one?

Why am I funny? I just play.

Life gave me its position to entertain.

Why don’t I just be boring? Life wouldn’t make me a clown.

It seems that the world is in a state of hypnosis,

Carving us into fragile statues.

No one bats an eyelash at the coldness,

Even if you were as appealing as a sculpted masterpiece,

Sat in a museum, worth the nation treasury.

It seems as though we need a manual for living and a manual for beauty:

It will tell you the requirements needed to be successful.

Fix your body, they will say,

You don’t look right, they will say,

And I’ll believe it.

Pretty, gorgeous,

Fabulous, amazing,

Hot, they will say,

As if I’m just some microwave that heats up take out I have on a Friday night.

Am I a microwave?

No, I am a person,

And that’s more than enough for me.

My heart took a leap

And it felt like I jumped off a cliff,

And realized I had wings.

My thoughts are pounding in my head,

Feelings rushing through my veins like blood.

Life is not worth living

If people want to change

Who I am,

Or who I want to be.

Stress is a hand choking you,

Preventing you from breathing the fresh air of freedom.

Life is like an exam

You learn new things

You’re expected to fail

But I’m going to win

And I will prove everyone wrong

By bringing back full marks.

Letter From A Tragedy

By Jumana Shahid, 11A

In the wake of the tragic suicide of one of our townsfolk, we recovered a letter from the victim. Her last words are as follows:

 

Children’s laughter was a common sound that echoed throughout the streets. At one point of my life, I thought that it such a pleasant sound to hear; I likened it to the sound of wedding bells.

Years had passed since I first moved here, since that thought first came to me. But, as the years passed by and made my body brittle, the thought morphed into something darker.

It didn’t start instantlybut, like, happiness, it slowly sneaked in, never noticed until it was too late. That feeling of joy grew bitter over time. What used to bring a smile to my face started bringing frowns and tears instead. The very thing that gave me hopethe very thing I wanted the most but never hadwas what was slowly killing me inside. I moved here with my husband, as newly-weds, ready to take on the world together. How wrong I was!

I didn’t notice it at first… but I snapped out of my trance, facing the harsh reality of my life. I could not continue to delude myself to how my husbandwho had professed his love to me with such sincerity beforechanged. I had been blind, and only now was I seeing the real him.

While I waited in the cold house and kept dinner warm for us, he would return late, smelling of alcohol and various perfumes. While I stayed alone, he sought out other company. While I turned away men offering  friendship and help, he left me behind, without a care, to his nightly rendezvouses.

Patient though I was, even I could not keep all my feelings bottled up. But showing my dissatisfaction proved to be a horrible mistake. He lost his temper.

He began with a cold calmness, dismissing my very existence, reducing mehis wife!to a slave. Then  the words grew louder, clearer, the wounds digging deeper. And it escalated to physical violence, leaving my body scarred and bruised.

More than once, I had thought of running away, but I never acted upon it. I foolishly believed this was just a phase. That he would return to being the man I fell in love with. I waited, and waited, and waitedin vain. And I realised I had to do it. I just couldn’t deal with it any more.

At long last, I ran away.

For a whole month I was happy, living without my husband. I made friends. I had an existence separate from his. Yet, all the while, I harboured fear that he would come after me. I hoped that he wouldn’t, but the fear remained. I knew, in my heart-of-hearts, that he was too stubborn to lose something he considered to be his possession.

The day it happened was terrifying. I was drifting off to the sound of pattering rain drops on the roof, lulled to the point of dreaming. Just as sleep descended, I was jerked awake by the sound of the wind, and the smashing of wood as someone ripped the door off its hinges.

What happened next is not something I can bear to recall. Suffice it to say that, by the end of it, I gave up completely… I gave up on him, I gave up on the love we once had, and most of all, I gave up on myself. On life itself.

So I end this letter, with this: all I ever wanted was a happy life as a writer and a mother, faithful to my husband, our child kind and healthy. As it turned out, my existence was a far cry from this dream of mine.

And yet, though I suffered cruelly, I hope someone finds this letter. The picture attached with this letter iswas?my Love. Please find him, and help him. Help him become a better man.


Goodbye, and thank you, stranger.

As a Girl

By Fathimath Imaan Suhail, 9A

As a girl,
You’re told to be soft,
Fragile,
Like petals on a flower.
But, like flowers,
You are destined to bloom.

As a daughter,
You are told to obey,
To keep your voice down.
But you have a voice
That brings the twinkling stars
Out to the night sky, and
You have a voice so powerful
It is capable of moving mountains.
Therefore,
My darling,
You deserve to be heard.

As a younger sister,
You are told to follow the steps
Of your brother.
But you, alone, hold a boundless universe
Filled with bliss,
And many beautiful flowers growing inside you.

As a woman,
You are told
That you are less,
That your work at home could never suffice
Or that your work in the office could never prevail,
Compared to what men do.
But you have strength in you:
All that you will ever need.
You have the potential
To shine;
Do not let your light be dimmed.

Bestowed: Definitions of a Woman

By Aishath Noorain Jiyad, 9B

she is a being of
delicacy, felicity, and
charm.
she reigns her own throne
in her own kingdom.
evidence of womanhood
is displayed atop her waist,
like jewelry,
around her thighs.
but be not at fault
by her honeyed smile
or her fragile body,
as from her lips run
love and excruciating pain,
wisdom, and iniquity.
of men she is most famous,
of women she is most praised.
but twisted,
this peculiar scarcity—
so beautiful and beyond,
is also
every women
who’ve bled and broke,
loved and lost—
concept: so women
you are art, you are life,
for your exquisite empowerment
ceases to fall.
oh darlings,
chin up and
stride tall.

Through the Glass

By Aishath Ahna Ali, 11A

Who are you? Identify yourself.
Who are you? Just a simple answer.
Simple? Think some more.
Who are you? Identify yourself.
Stop looking at the glass.
See who you are, not who is shown.
Man once said, ‘You’re not who you are,
But who is in front of you.’
Who are you? Speak what you desire.
You are held back by looks
Whose looks?
See through the glass; you shall see.
Do you see? Who are they?
Who are you? You say your name.
Asked again: who are you?
Silence follows.
Questions come. Yet again, silence.
Look at the glass; who do you see?
You see the face of another.
Simple question. No answer.
Identify yourself. Who are you?
Are you who you claim to be?
See through the glass,
And you shall see
Your face, body, clothes, voice.
Through the glass
They see you, and you see them.
Once more identify yourself.
Who are you?

Dictator Facts You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

By Humam Ahmed Mujah, 11A

  1. In 2012, a 14-year-old North Korean girl, Han Hyon Gyong, drowned while trying to save portraits of dictators Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Thus, the government named her school after her.
  2. Joseph Stalin’s son shot himself because of Stalin’s harshness towards him, but he survived. Then Stalin said, ‘He can’t even shoot straight.’
  3. Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceasescu banned Scrabble in Romania in the 1980s, describing the board game as ‘Too intellectual.’
  4. Benito Mussolini offered almost $2000 to every couple who named their child Benito.
  5. Idi Amin, dictator of Uganda, has an official title of ‘His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.’ He never received a Distinguished Service Order (DSO), nor the Military Cross (MC), nor a Doctorate, nor even the Victoria Cross (VC).
  6. Kim Jong Il’s eldest son, Kim Il Nam, was the heir to the title of Supreme Leader of North Korea, until he attempted to enter Japan with a fake passport so that he could go to Disneyland.

Language

By Sarah Ali, 9A

One of my favourite things about myself is that I’m fluent in more than one language.
I can slip seamlessly from Dhivehi to English, switching between the two with such ease that sometimes I don’t even realise I’ve done it.
‘Aslutha?’ rests as comfortably on my tongue as ‘Really?’
Words like ‘dhoni’ and ‘kaashi’ and ‘moodhu’—words that, to me, feel distinctly Maldiviannever fail to make me feel just a little bit more at home.
I revel in the convenience of finding the perfect term in English for a experience I can’t quite capture in Dhivehi.
I feel my chest bloom with pride whenever I do exceptionally well in English at school, because I did so well, and this isn’t even my native language.
I feel so proud, and so grateful, because often, I consider my skill at English a privilege, too.
I stroll along this road of bilingualism with ease, with comfort.
But sometimes
More often than I’d like to admit
I trip.
I stumble with my words, and Dhivehi sits foreign on my tongue.
Restless. Fidgeting.
I find myself flustered and ashamed when I can’t remember the word in Dhivehi for something as simple as mathematical multiplication (‘gunakurun’).
My language,
My mother tongue.
The one I was supposed to be born with.
And I feel I do not do it justice.

Untamed

By Zaain Ahmed Hameed, 12A

Have you watched, or read about, Mowgli? Or Tarzan?  Or perhaps you know of the story of Shasta of the Wolves. What do all these stories have in common?

Yes: all three stories are about a child raised by animals. It is not uncommon to see this depicted in fiction, even in myths and legends. People have been fascinated by human-animal interactions, and the ability of animals to bring up human children, for centuries.

The legend surrounding the foundation of the city Rome is proof enough. In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were twin brothers who grew up in the care of a she-wolf. Later on, Romulus founded the Roman Kingdomalthough not before killing Remus.

Throughout history, accounts of wild or ‘feral children’ have captivated the human imagination. A feral child, by definition, is a human child who has lived isolated from any human contact from a very young age, and is therefore someone who has been inadequately socialised. This results in the child having little, or sometimes no, experience with human care, behaviour, and language.

They may be unable to walk upright or use a toilet, and face many difficulties in learning human languages. They often seem mentally impaired, and sometimes do not have any interest in any ‘normal’ human activity. They are also unable to eat cooked food, as most of them are accustomed to eating raw meat.

Historically, there have been many cases of feral children. One of them is the infamous case of Genie.

Geniewhich is not her real name, but a pseudonym used for her protectionwas brought up in an isolated room, strapped to a child’s toilet or bound in a crib. Her father decided to keep her as socially isolated due to his belief that Genie was intellectually disabled. Once rescued, psychologists attempted to help Genie develop language and basic social skills, but she remained severely delayed for her the rest of her life.

There are many other such cases. Vanya Yudin, a seven-year-old boy, was found to have spent his entire life living in a tiny, two-bedroom apartment surrounded by birds. His mother never spoke to him and treated him as a pet; Vanya was thus unable to communicate except by chirping and flapping his arms like wings.

Natasha was a five-year-old girl who spent her entire life locked in a room with cats and dogs, and had no access to heat, water, or the sewage system. When she was found, she could not speak, and would jump at the door and bark.

Oxana Malaya was another such child. For 5 yearsuntil she was 8 years oldOxana Malaya was neglected by her alcoholic parents and lived with dogs. By the time she was found, she was unable to talk, ran around on all fours barking, slept on the floor, and ate directly with her mouth instead of using her hands.

Sociobiologists, or biogrammers, say that the social environment plays little to no role in the development of human behaviourinstead, humans are born with a tendency, or instinct, towards certain behaviours.

Yet, if behaviour is instinctive, then why are feral children so different from other human beings? And when they are brought back into society, why do they struggle to learn and pick up on ‘normal’ human behaviour?

‘Father hit arm. Big wood. Genie cry… Not spit. Father. Hit facespit. Father hit big stick. Father is angry. Father hit Genie big stick. Father take piece wood hit. Cry. Father make me cry. Father is dead.’

The Birthday Present

By Zuhura Ismail, 12A

Marxist

Do #AllLivesMatter?

By Zaain Ahmed Hameed, 12A

In the Trending list on Twitter, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter would be followed, by #AllLivesMatter. A tweet about Black Lives Matter would be sent out, and in no time there would be a tweet back saying it is all lives that matter. One person says, ‘Black lives matter.’ Then another responds, ‘No; all lives matter.’

Why is it this way though? It is because people do not understand what the slogan Black Lives Matter actually means. People tend to interpret it as ‘black lives matter more than all other lives.’ However, the point of Black Lives Matter is not to suggest that blacks lives are, or should be, more important that any other lives.

So what does Black Lives Matter really mean?

The Black Lives Matter movement is an international activist movement founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. This movement campaigns against violence and institutionalised racism towards black people.

The point of Black Lives Matter is to reveal and remind people that black lives are undervalued, and by doing so to put an end to inequality.

What ‘Black Lives Matter’ essentially says is that ‘Black Lives Matter, Too,’ not ‘Only Black Lives Matter.’

In the United States, race and police brutality are closely linked, and have provoked many ethnic conflicts throughout the years. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s is one of the many movements that involved excessive force by the police.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public spaces and ‘banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.’ However, it did not stop inequality and discrimination then, and it still does not stop the violent crimes of racial hatred that occur today.

All lives matter, yes. Black lives are also lives. Therefore, black lives matter. Black lives matter because, just like any other person, it is the life of a human being. And any human, despite their race—whether white, black, brown, or any other colour—should be treated with equality.

‘All lives can’t matter unless black lives matter.’

The Demise of the Romanov Dynasty

By Aishath Faathin Maseeh, 11A

R: Romanovs dictated oppressive rules

U: Until they portrayed themselves as fools

S: Spring blooming with promises*, through their abdication

S: Soon the Winter of Resentment** was to say farewell

I: In the midst of War time, Hope prevalent through the nation

A: A tragic Tsar replaced, muddling Russia, far too well

 

*Rise of Provisional Government (new hope)

**The repression and economic problems Russians faced due to Tsar Nicholas II

Bloody Sunday

By Jumana Shahid, 11A

22nd January 1905,
Released wasps from the hive;
Under the power of Tsar Nicholas the II
The Golden Days nearly came to an end

Shy was he, a timid maiden.
His moustachethe one good thing he had then.
Though almost as dumb as the 16th Louis,
He, at least, didn’t marry a banshee.

He gave his people the Russo-Japanese War:
This was during the fun year of 1904.
He tried to make his people patriotic,
But alas! He just got more idiotic.

Russia was agricultural then,
While Japan was industrialisedsince when?
Enough of that. It lead to starvation.
He blessed all with hunger, and a deadly vacation.

300,000 people and Father Gapon,
Were tired of the Tsar, and became so done,
That they marched to the Winter’s Palace with a petition,
To get back their food, and wages in addition.

Sadly their surprise party for the Tsar
Could not make it so very far,
Because they scared a baby Cossarc
Who shot the people while it was still not dark.

And when Tsar got scared and ran away,
His people’s trust in him began to sway.
Badabim Badaboom, with a Bibidi Bobidi Boo
He started the 1905 revolution too!

How, under one man, came 3 revolutions, I don’t know,
But it’s history; I guess it was just so:
All men start drama worse than a Hindi drama.
Goodbye TV. I’ll read a textbook instead.