In January 2016, I had my first public performance on TEDx in Riyadh. It marked a significant milestone in my life, and ever since then a couple of people have asked me to publish the script. The story behind it is quite complex, but all references are about the ordeals I went through during my freshman year at university. I definitely think my style of writing changed a lot, and my emotions on the topic of bullying have mellowed down. That's not to say that I don't care - but rather that I found enough meaning and purpose in my life that the past struggles are now irrelevant.
So here it is, for the first time.
At first, I wrote a poem tailored to the art of suffering and self-expression. But then I asked myself,
"Why should pain rhyme?" "& why should we have to find a word that harmonizes with 'public toilet' to describe the place where we had lunch for the longest time?"
Like the reflex of a jerking knee, reactions to bullies are spontaneous. Couple this with miserable social skills & you get a classic freshman. We were much more than that, but almost everything is clearer in retrospect. Sylvia Plath describes the emptiness in having a bell jar over her head throughout her life. It's suffocating, like you know you’re blessed, despite the lack of mental paralysis it takes to acknowledge that.
So the answer came: "Write the poem." And I did.
This is dedicated to every Sylvia Plath out there.
Seventy-six in a rocking chair
A fragile scalp
and patchy, grey hair.
From a past so blue,
my thoughts emerge
with smirks for features
Asking, "Guess who?"
Seventy-six, in a rocking chair
Alone in a room, at the emptiness, I stare
Smoothing the journal of a young lady I drew
a 16-year old that I barely knew.
The youngest in age a family of seven ahead of her stage even at eleven.
I drew and drew a beautiful contradiction,
She was a colorblind hue of reality and fiction. But she was not the only one.
The irony was that she knew she had counterparts'
that existed too.
We were all hungry souls.
All the time we spent in solidarity
memorizing the flow of each breath
and when one night we played our heartbeats on a piano
the music had the saddest notes.
Like maybe if sorrow came in sound waves,
it would be our voices round the clock.
Me, my days were spent fearing the nights and when the moon waved the mornings away
I tossed and turned on a pillowcase that knew more tears than rest.
Our faces hidden behind gadget screens
with the bathroom walls
we shared our greens.
They had friends, we had stalls
emotions sandwiched between narrowing halls.
And every morning
As the sun ripped up the threads of sky past our blinded windows
we carried our hopes off the floor,
not quite ready for yet another battle outside the door.
Its glass partitions begging to be shattered
offering us shards
forgetting we mattered.
Yet some of us did it
put an end to the pain
not one glance at the railway
of a speeding train.
So we wondered
what if school walls heard more suicidal wishes
than the ears behind prison bars?
He never cried
went to bed with arms on each side
his body covered from head to toe
in practice for the thrilling day
when he would eventually decay back to earth.
I told myself that perhaps, out of kindness,
God tried to erase the parts of me He knew I wouldn't understand
Perhaps He used sandpaper on my heart
left its remains in fragility, with fewer parts.
But I wanna say that whilst the hurting may last, life is no bruise or broken bone.
Seventy-six, a grin so wide
no pain in store, no past to hide
this we shall be soon
resting our souls
with no doom or gloom.