Chapter Three

Blog, Creative Writing

Standing in front of the mirror, I studied my clothes, hair, face, and body, the insecurities crawling up the longer I stare at myself. “You’re not pretty, Kalina, your bullies were right. Your hair is too oily and long, your skin is too brown, and you smell like shit. Your friends left you, look at you so crippled with anxiety, a disease that controls your every move, creating paranoia around you, from all the people judging and cursing you with negative intentions.” Letting the tears roll down my cheeks, the tear from the left eye wetted my lips, the first set of tears stained my face and the second set of tears streamed down my neck and teased me. The thick façade crumbled my exterior, rivered through my body and into my inner being, the voices echoing and thundering inside my ears. I rushed my hands to my ears blocking the screeching voices, the mascara scarred face reflecting back on me, laughing, and mocking me. Disgusted by myself, my reflection that is utterly worthless.

I closed my eyes, slowing my breath, allowing the tears to run down my face. My stomach turned in becoming in tune with my deeply inhaled breath, intentionally keeping it in for ten seconds, feeling the inside of my body vibrate and then exhaling the sadness. I inhaled, the anxiousness dissipating and I exhaled, the energy within me renewing, resigning the melancholic feelings. Inhaling and exhaling. Inhaling and exhaling. Inhaling and exhaling.

Opening my eyes, I stared back at myself in the mirror “I feel pretty,” I whispered to myself, the quiet words dying out the screaming of my worked-up mind. Hearing the ping on my phone, I reached for it “hey Kalina, I’m on my way to the gallery now. Let me know when you’re here. See you, Micah,” it said, I grabbed my things and speeded down the steps of the house.

“Ma, I’m heading out. I’ll text you when I’ll be back because I don’t know when the event finishes,” I shouted across the hallway.

“Don’t think you’re going to leave without giving me a kiss. I’m glad you’re going out so, I’m assuming that you have made a friend,” mother voiced, quirked her eyebrow, and slanted a small smile.

“I guess, you can call Micah a friend.”

“I’m happy for you. Stay safe and have fun but not too much fun okay. Use your common sense when you’re out, you’re new to the city and text me when you have reached and when you’re on the way home, I’ll be waiting,” mother sterned.

“Okay, Ma, I love you. Bye,” I shouted after kissing her on the cheek.

“See you later, my dear,” I took the subway to east Harlem, the sun was still out, gleaming and radiating heat through the windows that burnt my skin. I welcomed the heat from the sun, enjoying the lightness and happiness it brought to the streets. Stepping out the station, I walked to the gallery. I saw Micah with a male and a female, my stomach dropped from the unplanned interaction I will be doing, Micah turned around once I’ve reached the group, a smile curling his face.

“Hey, Kalina. What’s up? Let me introduce you to some of my friends – this is Alejandro, he is a musician, he’ll be playing and performing this evening, and this is Aphrodite, she is a poet, does spoken words and is a community activist. Guys, this is Kalina, she goes to NYU with me, studying English Lit,” he started, his eyes big and excited.

“Sup Kalina, cool meeting you,” Alejandro began, Aphrodite smiled at me with a wave, her expression was warm and welcoming. I relieved a small grin in return, somehow feeling comfortable within the group. The four of us went inside, the hall was already packed with people, Micah carried his arm over my shoulder, bringing me closer to him. The floor vibrated under my feet, the music ricocheted through the room, bouncing off the walls, already feeling overwhelmed, regretted saying yes to Micah’s persuasive words. I blindly followed Micah’s body, my head tilted down, trying to gain control of my beating heart and nerves, walking through a narrow hallway, the space between me and the loud crowd distinguishing, I brought my head up to see where we were. Alejandro and Aphrodite murmured amongst themselves whilst Micah and I were walking quietly side by side. Alejandro turned a corner which had now become a wide room, loitered with people. Some were talking in groups whilst, the others were seated silently with their heads down, on their phone, or leaning back with their eyes closed.

“Where are we?” I whispered.

“We’re in the back room with the people who are going to perform this evening,” he casually let out, making it seem like this was normal for him. Aphrodite called out Micah’s name, beckoning him to her and he responded with a nod, dragging me with him. Aphrodite grinned towards us, her gaze staying on me for a while.

“Kalina, I want you to meet the man of the hour, the one who brought the community together through art: Ezra Rashid. I’ve been coming here for a year, I met Micah and Alejandro through this community. Since I have started coming here a year ago, my art had become more refined, I have found the people I resonate with and found a space where I felt like I belonged, I became more confident with my art and myself and met incredible people who are part of the creative world because of the community that has been formed. It couldn’t have been possible without Uncle Ezra,” she let out, her form oozed with gratitude and respect. He returned her response with a ruffle of her hair, he released a laugh, his head going backwards and his eyes sparkling.

“I’m simply a person who had a dream to bring communities together.” He turned to me, regarding me with an intense gaze, I felt like I’m at the edge of crumbling under his orbs, wanting to say something crude in defence.

“Micah says that you are a writer, that you want to be a poet. I have a sister who is a writer and a wife who owns a publishing house, so you could say that I am familiar with the writers and publishing world. This is a great place to discover yourself, find like-minded people, and become inspired,” he voiced, softly. “Welcome to the family, Kalina. I hope you feel at home here.” I didn’t say anything in response, I nodded my head as a form of acknowledgement and averted my eyes in an attempt to lighten the brewing feelings inside me that he sparked by his words. “Alright, it’s going to start now. Micah, go and stand upstairs, you’ll get the best views from there,” Uncle Ezra advised.

“Yes sir, come on,” Micah began. He grabbed my arm and pulled me through the swarms of people crowding over the makeshift stage.

“Why exactly did you invite me here?” I said once we were upstairs, with a clear and centred view of the stage which overlooked the people.

“I wanted you to see yourself in others. We’re all similar than you think, everyone is fighting their own darkness, overcoming their darkness and found the channels of art to express themselves. I want you to know that you are not alone, and to feel a community here. Some of the realest, authentic and creative people I’ve ever met are from here, we created our own family and I want you to be a part of it, to feel the greatness of connection, belonging and humanity,” he earnestly expressed. “You ready to get inspired?”

The words whirred something deep inside the canvas of my soul, I didn’t know what it was, but the emotion that stood out was gratitude and an inkling of joy “thank you, Micah.”

“What are friends for?” he shrugged with a crooked grin.

The crowd cheered, I looked straight ahead to the front of the room, the stage lights highlighted Ezra’s form, his face smiling and his body open and expressive. “Welcome to Tranquillity, we have a great line-up for you today. Are we excited community?” Ezra roared out to the crowd. The cheers boundlessly ensued with whops and cheers, the buzz in the air was infectious. “Thank you so much community for continuously showing out, supporting, and loving those who share their art. I’m so grateful for the community we have built together as well as, the supportive and empowering energy you guys always come out with. The first performer is an activist, an intersectional womanist, and a poet with a few words to share about gentrification. Show her some love,” Ezra boomed. A small smile shaped my face, feeling the exhilarated energy exuberating from the crowd to me, feeling the contagious energy wanting to burst through the seams of my body from the responsive crowd.

“A country, that is home to immigrants, travellers, settlers, and dreamers.

The organisation that brought us to the land, giving us scraps of rights and freedom without the liberation. Without giving us compensation for the mental suffering they had caused the generations of families who were hurt and traumatised. To immigrants figuring their lives from the diaspora, disparity, racism losing their homeland to white supremacy, colonialism, imperialism, wars, and slavery. Taking our livelihood, pockets of dreams, hopes, and home with them.

Feeding it to the rich, whilst the poor scrape by, their bodies tired and old. Fighting to live for one more day. A system that is built to break us…”Aphrodite looked powerful, her dark skin bright under the lights, her body and movements exuding passion, her fluffy, kinky curls fanning over her face and body moving in rhythm with her words, her stance strong and straight, her passionate words reaching every corner and rugged edge of the room. The room silent as they drink in her words, my heart beaten in sync with her words, her words resonating with my soul. Micah was beside me listening quietly, his face was serious and regarding her with reverence as he took in her piece of art. Aphrodite bowed her head once she finished, the room shaking with cheers, screams of support, love, and encouragement, my hands were hurting from my hard-slapping claps.

It took a while for the presenter to calm the crowd after she left the stage, still feeling the corollaries of her art piece. Once they calmed down, the presenter introduced a musician to the stage, his face couldn’t be seen from where I was upstairs. His hoodie covered half of his upper face and the sunglasses hidden his eyes. As soon as the beat dropped, he began rapping, his rhymes and flows slick, clever and clean, he seemed to be in his own world, his body moved frantically with his voice, feeling his voice in the base of my stomach, entranced and mesmerised by his presence, his words and music. Curious at who he is, the curiosity burning under my skin, “you know who he is?” I questioned to Micah, who was bobbing his head to the music.

“No, I don’t. But I know that he has been coming here quite often recently, he usually keeps to himself though. Nobody really knows him since he is pretty much silent and doesn’t mingle with anyone. No-one knows his name either, he calls himself Rico.”

“Huh, interesting.”

“Why, you interested?” he smirked, a knowingness in his eyes.

“No, his music is cool though.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty sick. What the scene needs, real and naturally talented musicians are hard to find now.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, watching his body move with the music, admiring his sound.

Wanted to post a lighter chapter. I haven’t set out a concrete plan of how this is going, nor do I know how it is going. I have imaginations and stories in my head and simply going with the flow. If you see this, thank you for reading it. I appreciate it and it means a lot. I hope to see you again. Kind Regards, Konijja

Solitude is Your Power

Blog, Love

Since young, we knew about love. We see the love between our parents, have love for our siblings, family and friends. To some we love by being dreamers, for our passions, and for our Planet Earth. We are taught about love. We see love. We know of love and yet, we are not taught about self-love. The power and beauty love holds when we make space for ourselves. When we fill our cup and appreciate our own company. Relationships and romanticism are notions that have influenced our social perceptions since we were young. We have created an identity for ourselves when we are in romatic relationships, placing our values in whether or not we’re in a relationship, especially with the pressure of being a woman. As women, we are taught that we are valued, we have a place in this society when we are in a relationship, when we are taken by a man.

Not many are comfortable with being alone. Many of us are scared of being alone, of living our lives alone. Obsessing over the psychological time, think that we are running out of time, and don’t have the time to fall in love or be in a relationship. When these are simply social constructs and have no significant value. Why do we put a time stamp when it comes to finding love? Why are we allowing ourselves to be pressured into finding love? Why do we not celebrate being single? Why is there such unease in being alone?

The power of self-love is being able to embrace aloneness. There’s power in knowing yourself, having a relationship with yourself and being comfortable in your being. The power of self-love is when you’re able to pick yourself up when nobody sees. The power of self-love is knowing your worth and not tolerating men who don’t know how to treasure you nor love you. The power of aloneness is being self-sufficient, independent, and sure of yourself, knowing that you can rely on yourself in the lowest of times. You are able to be friends with your soul and nourish your soul. So, when your lover comes into your life, they’ll flourish your being, your energy and protect it, love will be extraordinary.

The beauty of love is when you and your lover find each other, entering each other’s life the way they’re supposed to. Your love will come, and it’ll be everything you’ve wished for. Patience truly is a virtue.

Love is the source of life, love will come to you in the most unexpected ways. That being said, for the sake of desiring a relationship, for love don’t allow anyone to be in your space. Your energy is valuable. Not everyone can care for it and reciprocate it. You’ll just end up hurting yourself in the process of desiring a relationship, it’s not worth it. There is innumerable amount of power in self-discovery, self-awareness and self-reflection. There is power in healing, in enjoying your own company, your being, feeling comfortable being alone and being at peace with yourself. That is the true beauty of oneness. Being whole and complete with yourself. Being able to remain one with yourself. That is your power, being one with life.

Breaking Generational Curses

Blog, Self

Growing up I always felt alienated from the Bangladeshi community. Not understanding why I felt this way, not comprehending why I couldn’t connect with family members, why I didn’t have mutual interests with my cousins. Not knowing why I couldn’t relate to the norms and traditions of my culture that never made sense to me.

I was that introverted, socially awkward girl who would sit quietly in a corner of the room, surrounded by people but not speak, just observing. Listening to older generations talking to each other, gossiping about each other. Throwing ‘harmless’ jokes at each other, commenting on other people “when are they getting married?” “She’s of age now.” When are you going to have children?” And if you go against the norm you’re instantly ostracised, exiled. Wincing to everything they’d say, never aligning with the ways they were, their beliefs, and values. It was never about belonging, it was the realisation that my life’s meaning, my purpose was different. It was to break the restrictive norms and traditions for future generations. It was to break the norms that society held of girls, of women. It was to heal the generations to come, it was to break the generational traumas and values that had no significant values. My purpose wasn’t going through the traditional route.

Transitioning into an adult, seeing the unspoken traumas, generational unhealed sadness that I realised the norms, ideations that existed never had an essential purpose. It simply confined the people, immobilised us to mind-ego and never seeing the light, the beauty of life. It isn’t just about the traditional route of going to university and graduating, nor about getting married by 25 and having children. It’s the gaps that reside in those spaces of conforming to these concepts. It’s the regret of not doing more in life, not knowing what your purpose is and why you’re here. It’s the pain, suffering they have of blindly following man-made societal norms and projecting the traumas that were created onto the future generations, onto the children. The trauma and suffering repeating like a cycle.

It never was about connecting with my community because that meant I affiliated with the societal norms that were created. It is about breaking the generational curses that controlled, imprisoned them because they never saw an extraordinary life. They simply saw the life of survival. The need to survive. It is my purpose to crack open, and break the generational curses, so the future generations don’t have to worry about breaking norms that limited them.

What Is Her Worth?

poetry

What does her worth mean, when all she experienced was pain. What is worthy when she only encountered hardships. Life leaving her jaded. Her worth means power. Finding her worthiness makes her unstoppable. Her worth will tremble the grounds of onlookers, her watchful enemies. Waiting for her to yield. Finding her worth in words that are used to ruin her, to crumble her will.

Yet, she doesn’t succumb. She doesn’t tremble against the screaming words of men, of a system created to tear her down.

She rises. She rises. Becoming in tune with her power, with her Godsend strength. She rises, washing away at the ashes rooted to bring her down.

Yet, she doesn’t falter, she emerges from the dark tinted glasses, that paralysed her. Breaking the shackles, becoming infinite in her femininity. In harmony with her womanism, her power given from our Mother Nature. They don’t want you to know it. Knowing your power, your gift scares them. But you will see your worth, in your flourishing and decadent being. Her worth is calling out to her, wanting her to take it into the palms of her hands, placing it in her heart and boundlessly bloom. Crushing those that wilted her soul, her worth calling for her to bring it to light, to recognise her power. For her to grab it, cherish it, and wear it.

What is her worth? Her worth gives her power, making her limitless. Bringing her to light, knowing her given power and dwindling the darkness trying to silence her. Her womanly aura and energy is her eternal, everlasting power.

Silence (My Healer)

Blog, Creative Writing

Drip. Drop. Goes the sound of the water. Drips of water that left the hot tap leaving the sink disappearing down the drain. The silence. The silence that surrounds me, the silence that comforts me, silence is within everything. Every living thing, in everything that I do. Silence after I breathe, silence after each footstep. Silence after the madness, pain. Silence in every laughter, every shout of joy. Silence when I wake up, and when I fall asleep. Silence after gushes of wind moving through my body, silence surrounds me. Silence after the intense conversation and nothing to say. What comes after the noise is the silence. Silence lives within.

Every tears, cries ending in silence, Every laughter that I have shared ending in silence, every breath that I exhaled ending in silence. Every voice ending in silence, the noise quietening and silence embracing me. The sharp pain within my chest evolving into nothingness, ending and transforming into silence, into calmness. Into tranquility.

The distant lull of the water hitting the shore, each wave flowing in the rhythm of the gentle, swaying trees with the pelting rain. Every stream of water, every sway of the leaves in trees ending in silence.

Looking out the window, gazing at my view. The moonlight illuminating against the now luminiscent ocean. The sound of the tender waves of the ocean in level with Earth, the serene flow of swooning trees, the gentle and light breeze. Peace. The twinkling stars gleaming within the sky, along the moon igniting, brightening the sky. Radiating the wonderful perfection of this magnificent Universe. My healer.

Pain does not have to be something I have to be accustomed with. Pain is fleeting and emotions move, evolve and shift into abyss. Just lke the wax holding onto the fragrance of jasmine until it cannot anymore. Just like when the rain stops, the rainbow reveals its presence accompanied with the sun. Just like agony, suffering transforming into love and peace and pain turning into joy, into happiness.

I can become one.

“I am okay. I am living. I am breathing” I chant to myself.

Walking towards my bedside, lighting up the candle. The gradual, delicate scent of jasmine oozing from its wax. The sweetness of jasmine streaming into the darkest corners of my room. Warm, toasty blanket of the heavenly scent surrounding me. Refreshing and tingling my senses with its divine aura of healing energies and sensuality.

The rush of emotions pouring over me, the intense sharpness against my chest, reaching into my throat. Intensifying, inflaming within. The tingling sensations writhing against my eyes, the watery substance flowing down my cheeks in freefall. “I am okay, I am alive, I am breathing” I chant to myself, tasting the saltiness of my tears. “I miss him” I weakly whisper in admission, speaking into nothingness. Into silence. The ocean crashing against the shore in sync with me, the rain welting down, fading into the hollowness of the ocean. Inhaling the fragmatic aroma of jasmine, the pleasant scent that soothes, silencing the tones of sadness. Quietly calming my soul and body into a dreamless state of peace. Into silence.

Short Story

Blog, Love, Story

She could hear the waves crashing soothingly against the shore, making it sound like music in her ears, she could smell the beauty of the nature, of the earth tingling her nose. The refreshing smell of air coming through her windows. She had this sudden urge to get up and look out the window, look at the magical scenery.

Slowly, but surely she got out of her bed –  her muscles were not accustomed to movements, She felt as though, being alone was the only way to cope with her grief and sadness, She found it easier to cope with her grief, by pushing people away and isolating herself. It has been 15 years, since it had occurred, and yet, she has not forgotten every single moment of that day yet, what happened that day triggered her and became a barrier to her happiness and joy.

She was walking towards the window, with anticipation. She put her hands shakily on the edge of the windowsill, trying to calm her breathing down (exhaling, inhaling, exhaling, inhaling…..), she opened her sky blue eyes. Trying to catch her breath, however, failing to do so, she could feel her eyes becoming teary, the scenery in front of her was picture perfect. A stray tear fell from her eye, as she didn’t know how to react to the beauty that she was witnessing and the overwhelming emotions surfacing within her – the tension between her heart and mind becoming too much. The waves were still crashing softly and soothingly against the shore, the breeze was calm and was gently caressing her smooth deeply tanned skin. She could feel the tips of her full, plump lips turning upwards to a gentle smile. She looked upwards at the dark sky, feeling mesmerized at how beautiful and scenic the beauty before her was.

She whispered under her breath “how can something so beautiful, even exist in this cruel, dangerous world we live in.”

As she was looking up at the midnight black sky, she could see the stars twinkling, she felt as though she could see her Father and Mother who were scattered in various different places in the dark sky alongside, the other stars. She felt as though, they were there in her presence although, they were not here physically, they were here emotionally and mentally. As she was looking up at the stars, she felt as though the two bright twinkling stars were her Mother and Father, looking down at her proudly and happily, protecting her. The moon was shining brightly, lightly contrasting against the midnight black sky.

She could hear Knox calling her from the bedroom.

“How are you feeling, sweetheart?”

Morgan felt her heart skip a beat like it always does, whenever, Knox speaks to her. She still cannot fathom, why after all these years he still stayed and stuck around.

“It felt like, outside was calling me” Morgan replied with a slight smile.

Knox was looking at Morgan the way he always does with: love and pure affection. His dark brown, honeycomb eyes were taking in every inch of her face and body, although, they have been together for 3 years he still looked at her like the first time he seen her, with pure admiration and wonder. He still couldn’t fathom how wonderfully, beautiful she was.

Morgan was a fragile and a young hearted woman although she was strong minded, she was very compassionate and likable, Her eyes had that raw uniqueness, how at certain moments and certain times, her eyes would change shade lighter when the sunlights hits, the irises in her eyes would twinkle every time she smiles or laughs.

Knox walked towards Morgan admiring the two breathtaking views in front of him. Knox softly says “Today is the day Morg, how are you feeling love?”
Morgan replied “I don’t know Knox. But, I am feeling happy. I mean, in this day I was never feeling happy or calm, just distressed and mourn for my Father and Mother to come back. But, today feels different, I can’t explain but, I feel like I have finally accepted the fact that my Father and Mother have left me, when I was 7 years old and are looking up at me from heaven, still protecting me and guiding me to be the best version of myself.”

The amount of joy Knox and Morgan were feeling, were unexplainable, indescribable even if they were happy for different reasons they were ecstatic. Morgan was feeling happy for, she finally found her inner-peace, the acceptance of her Father and Mother’s death, she felt like she can finally move on from what happened 15 years ago. Yes, she was happy with Knox, she was more than happy with him, however, there was still a part of her heart, that was still at her home, the home where she had both her parents – her family.

Where from that day, her life had changed completely upside down, how everything escalated so quickly, that the situation was uncontrollable, she couldn’t grasp what had happened 15 years ago. How her Father and Mother were held at gunpoint and seeing them die in front of her, was all that scarred and destroyed an innocent 7 year old.

Till this day: their death anniversary, she could picture the scene from the back of her head. Coming from a carnival, a beautiful, happy family who had no idea what was going to occur……. BANG BANG BANG! they disappeared. Morgan can still remember, how her Father and Mother were bathing in their own blood. How an innocent young girl watched the universe take everything of hers in a span of a minute. How she felt so confused and so lost. How footsteps surrounded her, people from the neighborhood rushing in to see the chaos, pushing and shoving to see what had happened. Everything happened so rapidly, the whirlwind of emotions that she went through, that consumed her. Scarring her, hurting her, taking her purity and taking away the perspective of the world that she had.  The police sirens blaring loudly almost deafening the silence the she surrounded herself with as she was in denial, in shock. She didn’t know what to do, she didn’t know whether to scream till her throat ran dry and till her lungs constricted begging for air or whether to cry. She didn’t know whether to laugh since the world was playing a sick joke on her, She didn’t know whether to stay rooted at her spot or to run away from the madness. She just didn’t know…

After 15 years, she let go……