Copyright © 2019 Nur Hassanain. 
All rights reserved.

TEDx

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.

‚Äč

 

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.