This week at Write On!, we are celebrating the beginning of Black History Month. As a magazine that defines itself by providing support and a platform to writers and creatives of all backgrounds and communities, we are fortunate to be spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting masterpieces by immensely talented BAME authors to publish.
Showcase is no different and I am thrilled to share two very touching pieces this week.
The first is a poem by Mabel Joshua-Amadi, Autumn Days, which is perfect for this time of year. While many of us had to stay inside more than we would have liked this summer, the UK enjoyed some wonderful weather. But it will not have gone unnoticed that the days are getting shorter, the leaves are losing their colour and the trees are starting to rustle as the winter winds creep in. There is no need for despair, though, as Mabel’s charming poem paints a delightful picture of the new season and the beauty of nature at this time of year.
I am extraordinarily grateful for our second entry this week. The Theme Tune To My Life is a piece of prose by prolific author Juneha Chowdhury. Juneha has contributed to Showcase previously and is a former winner of the Pen to Print Book Challenge Competition (2018). In this short story, Juneha gives us a deeply personal account of her experience losing her father to cancer. The setting and emotions are touching, the poetic verse inspirational, and I thank Juneha for her bravery in sharing this with us.
Keep on writing!
Dan (Associate Editor)
Autumn Days by Mabel Joshua-Amadi
Autumn days are here to stay
As seasons come and seasons go
A time of harvest ingathering
Rich in colour and fruitfulness
Autumn days of ember months
Robed in yellow, orange and brown
Like golden sunset down in west
Halloween bonfires and treats
The fresh veggies of ember months
Lettuce, cabbage and Brussels sprout
Kale and carrots so plentiful
With pumpkin carving, centre stage
The late bloomers of autumn days
Aster, pansy and marigold
Chrysanthemum in rainbow shades
Brighten the gloom of longer nights
The cooling start that ends in snow
As trees shed leaves for compost food
To nourish soil while nature rests
From summer rains and green foliage
Wild autumn winds wrestle with trees
Where squirrels hide from gathering nuts
While hedges moan that roses die
And nature sleeps to wake again
(C) Mabel Joshua-Amadi, 2020
The Theme Tune To My Life by Juneha Chowdhury
Hovering between both worlds and staring into a vacant place, he lays there motionless, an unfamiliar outline of a man, once so familiar.
As I enter the room, his lips move a fraction, not enough to be a smile, but just enough to acknowledge I am there.
“We were talking about you? Dad was just saying how plump you’d become.” My brother’s arms open wide to exaggerate my size.
“Ha.” I hug him and take a seat on the stool opposite.
On a mission to lighten the mood, and as desperate as I am for just one word, one sign, he carries on.
“Ask him if you don’t believe me? Isn’t that right, Dad? Didn’t you just say, ‘Who’s that woman?’ when she walked in, and when I told you, you said, ‘No! You can’t be serious! What’s happened to my daughter?!'” He points to me, repeats the arm gesture and winks at Dad.
I try to play along but I struggle to remember the last time I heard him speak.
The dreaded lump forms in my throat and, in an effort to disguise it, a fake smile plasters my face.
“See, Dad, she knows it’s true, that’s why she’s so quiet, she’s got nothing to say for once.”
I mumble. It’s not a word. It’s a cry.
After several failed attempts at recycled humour, my brother gives up and, exchanging a sympathetic look, we both gaze at him, still hovering between this life and the next, less than half in, more than half out.
I look away. It’s hard to watch him when I can’t hear him.
Silence swiftly seizes the room and, like him, it’s as though we are also only half there; static, yet dangling in a bubble of nothingness. That’s what the C-word has done to him, transformed his each and every beat. The regularities have vanished, there is nothing within our grip we can cling onto or find solace in. That’s all we’re looking for. Loud and proud, laughing and joking Dad has been redefined: the man before us is nothing like the original, in appearance or sound.
Emotions fully charged, a tune, a rhythm and some words coordinate in my head.
I title it, on the spot, The Theme Tune To My Life. And I hum it as I stroke my father’s hand and pictures of my Abba and me form a gallery in my mind. The chorus runs on a loop. Like an addiction, I want more. So I sing it louder, straining every word. This might be the last he will hear me. I have to make it good.
I wasn’t wasting my time,
Junking up more of my life.
Clicking away just to find moments that captured our love,
But I’m glad we’ve been there, I’m glad we’ve done that.
Cos there’s no turning back…. there’s no turning back.
With every last snap, there’s no turning back.
There isn’t. My tears flow. My make-up smudges, but, like a massive hug from my family, a song has reached out to console me.
Now the tune rings heavily each time I remember him, and, after reliving memories, I smile and say, “Goodbye, Dad”.
(C) Juneha Chowdhury, 2020
Juneha was the 2018 Pen to Print Book Challenge winner and is a regular contributor to Write On! Magazine. You can follow her on her Twitter: @junehachowdhury.
If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! ‘Showcase’, please send your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more fiction, poetry, interviews and author advice in the latest issue of Write On! Available here
Our First Line Generator Competition Is Now Open. The best two ‘first lines’ submitted will win a copy of The Organised Writer, by Antony Johnston.
But I’m glad we’ve been there, I’m glad we’ve done that. Cos there’s no turning back…. there’s no turning back.