Hello, readers of Write On! Extra. We are Manusha and Blessings, two young writers from the ‘Write Back’ programme. Every week this month, we will showcase stories and poems from our friends, alongside unique contributions from the public.
If you’re wondering what Write Back is, it’s a place where young writers from Barking and Dagenham get to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences through storytelling. We believe every young person has a story to tell and the power to share it! You can find out more about us on our website: www.write-back.org.
This week, Manusha starts the Showcase with a theme: Growth. Have you ever wanted to share with others a reflection about your own personal growth, or your emotional journey? This week’s writers have all done just that…
We hope you like this beautiful piece of lino cut art by Patricia Bidi. It’s a piece titled Landscape With Feeling. We thought it was the perfect introduction to this week’s stories of growth and journeys.
Our first piece of writing is a poem by our friend Harmony.
Symbolic of royalty and prestige,
A power that I’d wish to uphold –
Over the control centre of the body
In a constant state of anxiety,
It can’t endeavour to maintain its stance of sanity.
If I were to paint this illusion,
If I were to draft an image of the ideal mental state.
I’d paint it purple and
The eyes would bleed purple tears.
No red piercing eyes,
No green distorted faces
Or blackened empty false hoods.
Just a lengthened happy solitude.
A period of blissful isolation.
Euphoria encompasses the brain’s state
Happiness is this condition,
At maximum bliss.
My mind will soon become purple
In which there is full control.
Until then my heart remains
Temporarily mended with this crimson band aid,
One day it shall heal itself.
Now I can say.
My heart is fully mended,
My mind painted a vibrant purple!
And I cry, bleed and smile
That of a vivacious purple.
I have full control.
You now answer to me!
© Harmony, 2022
I really enjoyed reading this piece, and hope you did, too. I like the idea of colours resonating with different emotions.
Next, is a story that carries a lot of emotions. Period, by Hazel gives us an insight into the difficulties young girls and women from poorer countries face in finding important sanitary products.
My name is Afaf (which means purity). I belonged to a poor household. I lived in a substandard house with a lack of hygiene.
Like every young person, I wanted to grow up instantaneously…
3 January 2019.
I had my first period and the pain of it was so unbearable, I can’t express it in words. There were no pads for girls, as they were too expensive, so they had no choice but to use cotton or wool pads they could wash and reuse, much like cloth diapers, and I did the same. But I couldn’t tolerate the pain of the blood coming from my body like water. Everyone neglected me, as I was ‘impure’, as it says in the Bible (Leviticus 11:1-15:33): A woman undergoing menstruation is perceived as unclean for seven days and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening.
Every month, the seven days are agonising for me. As the bleeding gets heavier, the pain gets worse and no one cares about the pain I’m suffering. After a long time, I realise the cloths we use for our periods are unhygienic but it’s too late now, as my friend Meerab died of a uterine disease from using unhygienic cloths/pads for her periods. That news broke me, as she was my best friend, my only friend. I was broken from the inside out and felt regretful that I couldn’t do anything about it.
20 November 2019: Relief.
I am vomiting constantly. I have rashes all over my body. The pain is unendurable.
I am covered in my own blood.
Ah…. breathing heavily, a crystal-clear drop fell from the burning eye
She said khuda hafez (goodbye) in her broken voice and received relief from all her pain.
Everyone gets two choices in life: whether to do something, or not. But we don’t always have a choice, and periods are one of them. A girl has to suffer the pain for most of her life, because she doesn’t have another option. So please care for us when we are having our period.
I know we can become frustrated and annoyed during our periods, but it’s fine. Give us a hug or chocolate, and treat us with love, because on those days we need someone who listens and cares for us without saying anything.
Girls, don’t feel ashamed talking about your periods. It’s not a bad thing. I admit that it’s really painful and sometimes a bit inconvenient, too, but be proud of yourselves and that you are a girl. You are special!
© Hazel, 2022
Many girls and women will understand this pain. We need to normalise discussion of such topics, and this story inspires us to do more to support people in need.
The next piece of writing also inspires us to have a growth mindset. It’s called Using My Imagination and is written by Write Back storyteller, Trey.
Using My Imagination
It was three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon and I was playing a first-person shooter game on my console when I suddenly became bored.
I thought, what can I do? Well, I wasn’t quite sure… I got Manga comics for Christmas, so I can read those, but I’ve got homework… Nah, I’ll do that later (meaning last-minute). I could easily have just watched something on my phone, but then it came to me: I had a flashback to my brother saying he had Lego he didn’t want. So, I thought, Lego is about using my imagination and I love shooter games… Well, it wasn’t hard to put it together:
“I’LL MAKE A LEGO GUN!”
I said it out loud – almost too loud – as I laughed to myself.
So, the first part was the planning for the design.
I’m no expert, so how do I do this? I should’ve paid more attention in Design Technology, damn.
I was disappointed in myself, but I wasn’t even close to giving up yet. So, I simply drew what I wanted it to look like later.
Now, it’s the making of the gun, that’s the hardest part, because having to search for a two-by-two rotation flat piece in a box of an estimated size of about 30cm by 17cm and a depth of 13cm, is a bit tricky! But with the help of my phone light and a bit of ‘big brain’ thinking, I found two, or maybe it was three…
The best part was the start of the build. Instead of starting to build the base and handle, I built it from the barrel to the stock, which is completely wrong according to the experts, but it still.
Then, it was done!
Well, not yet. I forgot the important details, like the muzzle suppressor, extended clip, the forestock and the 3.0x Hybrid optic with a red dot switch site. After I did that, I had finished!
WWW: I did it by myself with no help. The ‘big brain’ moments.
EBI: If I had the right tools for the job and the right colours and bricks, it would have been better. Oh well!
But the good thing is that it was a good experience for me and the achievement of it all was wonderful.
© Trey, 2022
The moral of this story seems to me to be that we should always learn from our experiences. In other words, practice makes perfect!
Finally, a poem from Rosemary Cantwell ends our first Showcase. We are so grateful for all the submissions, so do please keep them coming! This poem is called Destiny Calls and we can identify a mother and child’s growth as they sail away and come back home.
Young Lady Marina,
Princess of hearts,
Cradles her new-born.
Rocking, rocking, rocking,
Away into our hearts.
She is spinning,
She is surfing,
Now they are sailing
Abroad across the sea
Away from our hearts.
They are weary,
They are cheery,
New lands they will see
Never to return home
So sorry, so sorry.
Now they come back
Into our hearts
Into our hearts
© Rosemary Cantwell, 2022
I enjoyed the unique flow to this piece. For me, it brought to mind the journey and the growth of the mother and her child. It’s always good to close with a happy ending!
Thank you so much for reading some of the creative, unique writing produced by the Write Back storytellers and the public. We hope you enjoyed them. We’re looking forward to showcasing more stories with a variety of themes throughout this month. Next time, Blessings will be sharing writing on the themes of pain and love. We hope you’ll join us again then.
A final thought from us: Age is just a number! Anyone can be a writer; it doesn’t matter what stage you are in life. Everyone’s story is worth sharing. Everyone’s voice should be heard!
If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to: pentoprint.org/get-involved/submit-to-write-on/
You can hear extracts from Showcase in our podcast. Write On! Audio Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Anchor FM.