Linen

To those girls going through hard times, you need to understand that suicide is NOT an option. Be strong!

Linen.

Purple linen robes; once mine,

Torn to pieces, covered in blood.

I manage to open my eyes to the slurred view of my bloody hair.

Fear.

I reach for my back and it’s bare; but my legs are clothed.

I manage to slip back into my dress slowly, with a sinking ache in my heart

With fresh tears left on my cheek.

Blurry.

A cloud of sadness blurs my vision.

The striking pain between my legs overwhelms me.

I look at my fingernails,

At my broken index fingernail

I feel his touch again, but he’s not here when I turn back.

With music—sad orchestras stringing a harsh pattern of notes into my ear,

I move my brown hair out of my face and again, I feel his presence.

His traces are all over me.

I wonder how.

I look up, out of my mane of hair and all that’s above me is darkness,

All that’s below me is darkness; nothing in between.

Again, I feel the excruciating lash of the whip between my legs.

Again, I see my linen robe burnt in my face and my heart sinks again

As I manage to pull my hands away from my hip, covered in blood.

With barely anything in sight, I try to push open a door—

The door that’ll take my right out of my misery

But the cloud of pain that once guarded my heart,

Stiffens my fingers

And I once again,

Find myself breathless,

Almost completely blind in a place I cannot identify.

Finger in my mouth, brain spinning in every direction possible,

I push my way through the weight holding me back.

I know we’re on fire.

It was all going well until this—

This one thing I thought would bring me pleasure.

 

I cannot piece together what I’m going to tell father; don’t want to phantom mother’s reaction.

As I pull the other hand from my hip,

I feel the weight of the blood stiffen it half-way.

I just wish someone would barge in and make it stop.

Suddenly overcome with rage—rage as though it feels regretful,

I let out a shrill cry

And it pushes me closer to the door.

I can feel my breasts slip out of my dress.

I smell him on my hair,

I push the door until it flings itself open.

My legs, stiff as dead weight—

Much like my broken heart

Stubborn enough to that continue to search for the love—

The love that put it in this desperate position every time.

All I use is my arms—

My two weak arms,

Covered in blood,

Faithfully pull me out of my despair as my nails—

The ones that aren’t broken, sink into the leather

And they pull; pull me out of my agony,

Into a darker shade of depression.

I hold on to the only thing I can and manage—

Just manage to pull myself back onto my feet.

All I feel is the aching pain between my legs even more,

The wind violently flings my hair across my face, in a way it never has.

Even nature disrespects me now

My dress feels like I’m not worth its presence anymore;

It tries to run off

But I hold it back as the only ounce of dignity I have left.

Walking barefoot through the roughage,

The thick glass piercing through my skin as though it’s trying to travel far enough to end me.

The hot coals suddenly appearing to burn my wounds until they cannot heal anymore.

The enormous weight of my two breasts on my chest almost sinks me to the ground.

My eyes—my eyes were once so beautiful

But I see my reflection in the muddy puddle and I see darkness.

The kind of darkness I’ve never seen overwhelms my soul and takes over my body,

It rips my balance from my feet.

I fall to the ground, with the weight of the world hung on my shoulders.

With my knees bruised even worse than my feet are. All that is around me is pain.

I manage to make my stiff legs push forward

Then the pain weighs me down again.

My heart stops at the horrific sight of her.

She was so beautiful, with her red hair and her beautiful green eyes.

Her eyes still open, her innocence shining brightly against my darkness as Light through a magnifying glass melts an ant.

Her dress sits well on her skin—her heels don’t mock her weight.

Her hips are so little, her legs still so perfect and untouched.

I look at her and I look at myself in the miserable twilight that laughs at my guilt in comparison to her innocence.

I shriek away from her as her perfection wishes me away

I observe her stillness, her peace of mind, her satisfying tranquillity.

Those parts of life I have no hope of retrieving.

A sudden weight rips my heart out, pulling it against my striving lungs.

My fingers stiffen against her cold body.

I want to assume that it’s just the cold of the night but that’ll be dishonest.

The tears barely roll down my cheeks as much as my mind wanders back—

Back to when I first met her.

How everything changed since then,

How she dragged me out of my former misery,

Until I pushed myself into this deeper state of dissatisfaction.

My happiness had a name,

Christa.

But Christa’s lying still,

Death overshadowing her innocence.

Her cell phone in her hand,

Her father on the line.

Poor man must be scared to death.

But who wouldn’t be?

I hang up.

As much as the loss of Christa hurts me,

As much as it anchors my heart down to these shingles,

I must leave.

My heart searches for him,

And I must find him.

I need to get away.

Goodbye Christa.

 

I walk past him and I scream.

I scream at his blue eyes left open,

Or is it the hole in his chest;

Or maybe his bloody face,

His beautiful smile,

Hidden by his haggard lips.

Too hurt to take in any more agony,

Too scared to trust again;

There’ll be no one to cushion my poor heart.

Because my comfort had a name,

Cobi.

Cobi saved me,

He resurrected Christa,

He made a house out of my burnt ash;

The brother I never had.

Dare I confess it?

Dare I express it?

I hold my lips from leaking our secret;

Father never fancied my feelings—

Never supported my sharing them with others,

Thought it wrong.

Knees sunk into the wet glass,

I stare at Cobi—

The distance between his right leg and his hip—

I don’t mean to joke,

But it moves me.

Burlesque.

Disgusted, I find myself lying in his blood.

My poor heart trying to pump it round his body—

My hands try to get him up again,

My brain ready to support his.

Lying in the mud like he is,

Chest with my shattered heart against the cold ground

But Cobi’s dead.

Face reality.

All that comforts me is, Cobi and Christa,

Their love, I’m in love with;

Will forever rest in their hearts in paradise?

I want to leave him behind,

But it’s too much to ask of me.

Too much to sacrifice,

But I must find him—

Wherever he is,

I have to.

I don’t want to go,

But this had to happen one day,

There was going to come a day when we would exchange goodbyes,

We thought at graduation.

We thought it would be Universities that would rip us apart,

Not death,

But he awaits me.

I turn away from my beloved friend.

Goodbye Cobi.

Chest remains on the glass,

Dragging my breasts through it all,

Scraping through with my ripped skin,

Regardless of what may become of me;

My dress, barely worth being called clothing anymore—

Proves to be stubborn,

But if it wants to leave, it can go.

I’m used to being left naked in a crowd.

But I know my skin will stick to me, the way it always does,

The way no one else does.

Tears escape from my eyes,

These black and white re-runs escape from my mouth;

But I have to find him.

I cannot leave him to die.

My love too has a name,

And that name is Dwayne.

I see him moan in the moonlight,

And all sense of pain escapes from me.

Awareness of nakedness escapes as well.

I run over to him;

Knees crash into the glass,

I pull his head onto my laps

And he smiles.

I know he wants to reach for my face

But he’s losing too much blood;

His eyes are becoming dreary.

I can’t just watch him die,

But the environment stiffens me

And he tells me he loves me.

I can’t even bare to write any more about him,

But I will regret it, if I don’t remember him in my old age.

I look into his eyes,

Evergreen.

His smile, still planted firmly on his face.

Even as he dies in my arms.

Even as my tears trace a steady path,

Down my face,

Down my chest,

And onto his.

He doesn’t like to see me cry,

He says it one last time.

He tells me to stop.

He gestures for me to come closer.

Who am I to deny him his last desire?

He doesn’t regard my nakedness,

He kisses me,

For the last time

But it didn’t last.

Half way through our most beautiful kiss,

I was left with a corpse rotting between my breasts,

Dead bones in my arms.

But my heart bled that night—my heart bled profusely.

My tears nearly washed his face clean;

My cries almost louder than the wolves nearby;

Than the dogs that would soon lick his wounds;

Like the wild animals that would completely end him,

As though the car crash wasn’t enough to stop his heart beating.

This cruel life.

Didn’t even leave me Dwayne.

Mother won’t understand,

Father would only curse me.

They won’t care to try.

Relatives will only judge

And in anger, I will admit it to them,

‘Yes—’, I will say

‘Yes I lost it to him; a few months ago.’

And they will beat me

But I will not regret it.

They call it being deflowered,

But I know for sure,

I bloomed in his arms,

More so than I ever did with dad.

To think he thinks he’s helping me,

To think he believes he’s taking good care of me.

When will they understand?

Or when will they try?

Nothing feels better than Dwayne—

Nothing in this wicked world.

So now, what’s worth living for?

The police officers, I can hear their sirens.

I see the lights.

But I feel my anger more.

There’s nothing I can do about it.

There’s nothing I can do.

We didn’t have any bad motives, I swear it.

It was only prom.

Nothing was inappropriate.

No one was drunk.

But the car was.

I cannot tell where we are.

I cannot understand the situation so quickly,

But I feel the pain in my heart,

Not only as it shatters at the loss of all I care about,

But my demons won’t leave me be.

They push glass into my heart until it stops beating,

Until I fade into the twilight,

Left to drift with the spirits of my friends,

Ended like everyone else.

Ended.

Life was a rush,

A rush of pain,

Hours of depression,

Years of purposelessness

After losing the game of love,

After losing friends,

After losing my dignity,

All done too many times,

I have nothing to live for.

Now, my spirit is confined to this dreadful highway.

The signboard, I remember its words as I do the back of my hand.

The happy man whose face, I will spend eternity staring at,

His smile fades.

It just fades.

I need comfort.

I need Cobi,

But it’s been so long since then.

I was too young,

Only 17—

Or was that only mentally 17?

Maybe really 14.

As young as 13,

Barely even turned 14,

And death didn’t hesitate to pull me in,

As the glass ran straight through my veins,

Ripped up my heart muscle.

Heart muscle.

How it ironically makes the heart seem so strong,

How reality defies the supernatural,

Or is it the other way around?

I would never know;

Was always confined to the fore walls of my house.

Father didn’t fancy letting us leave,

And the kidnappings did nothing to improve his opinion of the neighbourhood.

My childhood, not nearly over;

Never would be.

It isn’t for my sisters—

Approaching and beyond 30 years of age,

Still noble,

Still covered in linen,

Much too old to bloom now,

Or is that just my opinion?

What jut surprises me is that they remain,

Yet too hopeful for future happiness.

Not like they’d understand me,

Though we’re birds of the same feather,

But age is much more than just a number.

Not that they can’t,

They don’t try.

Much like how every teenager feels.

Rejected.

But I’m not like the others,

I feel—

Ended.

Linen, the most uncomfortable fabric that touched my skin,

Maybe because I’m allergic.

Yet it’s most honourable,

So society drives me to wear it anyway.

My habits,

Most acceptable to others,

Yet burdensome to me.

Beauty hurts, I know.

Society judges, I was once a victim.

Probably still am.

Death itself doesn’t stiffen gossiping tongues,

Doesn’t heal broken hearts either.

First ideas,

Always the most creative.

Scarred words,

Scattered sentences,

Put together in crooked lines,

Or poetry as I was taught to call it.

Never understood it.

Never thought I’d write it.

People have obviously changed me since then.

Peer pressure,

That’s what adults call it.

How it makes me laugh,

Them thinking that labelling our problems will help solve them.

It’s the rush we love.

The inspiration we get,

From people who make us feel loved.

How crooked my lines are,

How I want to start all again and erase it all

Yet I want to keep record of my baby steps for the future,

But I want to keep them hidden from my peers.

That rush.

That rush that came with Dwayne.

The beat of his heart,

Though I gave myself away too quickly,

Though our love died instantly,

I secretly love the pain.

I don’t regret it—

But I regret getting caught.

I’d do it all again to be loved

Because father does not understand,

A girl wants to be loved,

She doesn’t care how.

Especially when she’s neglected by everyone.

Love stands on top of her shopping list, maybe right next to chocolate on mine.

Swaying to the music that forever moves me,

Keeping his heart intertwined with mine,

The voices that keep my gaseous heart beating.

Not giving up on him.

I haven’t seen him since the accident.

Couldn’t even manage to look at his body at his funeral,

My heart couldn’t carry the burden.

My first love,

Dead.

Gone—

Forever.

And Christa,

Christa and Cobi.

How they must have been happy to be together,

If not separated.

Peculiar,

Their love was peculiar.

My admiration turns to anger again.

The drums beat a Latin tune.

Big words, strong vocals, soft song.

Anger.

It all burns me down to the ground.

The realisation that I’m still alive,

And that no one cares about me

Still miss Dwayne.

I’m still their puppet.

They call it training,

But I’m convinced,

They don’t care about me.

They think it’s a phase.

I think it’s been here too long to leave.

He gets it,

Chris gets it.

For some reason.

But I think I should stop—

NO!

A painting, they reject.

Music, they condemn.

Novels, they rebuke.

Whatever this is, I’m writing, they don’t have to see it,

Because it’s everything I feel that they don’t want me to express artistically.

Hard to believe, Chris understands it all.

He’s older,

He’s probably lived it all through again and again

But that’s not the point—

So many people get it,

But they don’t care enough to help.

I don’t want him.

Not sexually.

I don’t want anyone,

And I don’t think I ever will.

I look around,

This pitiful state of Africa.

The boredom and grief that once again consumes us.

Most of all, the urge to make something out of the rubble—

It used up all the food I eat,

Or is that just my bleeding heart?

My trans,

This song.

The only thing that puts me in my place,

Will soon start to irritate me.

I sigh.

My life, in a nutshell.

Soft, slippery,

Harsh to the skin,

Plain,

After being imprinted on by so much—

Linen

 

By, Similoluwa Aluko.

Year 9.

26-28/05/2014.

Leaders

What is a world without law? A haven for the delinquent—a world where true prosperity, based on sincerity and aptness is non-existent; where justice is overshadowed by felony, and the livid flames of offenders are fanned. Chaos is all that can arise from lawlessness, with true happiness completely exhilarated.  The world is a field with diversity amongst cattle as we have the sheep, the goats, the cows; we have the predators, the prey and the crops. Therefore, we imagine that as our ‘food chain’ is complete, that we are complete. However, we must all take into consideration that the law is useless, without a party to enforce it. As a result, we do not need any more subservient parties but, amongst our prosperous flock, we need shepherds.

Leadership is neither a burden nor a prison, as it is often misconceived. However, it is the basic ability to guide, direct and influence people in order to achieve a certain goal. Therefore, one can easily observe that a world without leaders is a world coming to a certain end. It is easy to deem a leadership role as tasking or stressful, and to distort its significance. Therefore, our leaders are outrageously outnumbered by their followers and appointed an absurd amount of responsibility. I put it to you that leaders are not born, but are made through hard work, perseverance, and a passion that pushes them to unimaginable heights. Take for example, the fact that Barak Obama was not born in the white house, but was groomed to live there. The same way an architect is trained in the art of technical drawing, a leader must be taught to perfection. Therefore, I stand strong on the grounds that anybody can become a leader, with the appropriate mentoring. I urge you to remember to handle leadership carefully, not fearfully.

I believe the most difficult part of leadership is the transition in the early stages. The need to change one’s lifestyle is inarguably difficult, but also worthwhile. The vast majority would advise one to turn deaf ears to negative criticism and gossip but I believe that criticism is a factor which can greatly improve one’s leadership skills as a lifestyle which leaves no room for any true criticism is one which we can deem perfect. To further buttress, living a life which the Bible describes as ‘blameless’ and ‘pure’, is the fundamental to leadership. In addition, a leader needs some sort of ‘drive’ in order for to make any significant changes. This should be a passion, an interest and/or a factor in the environment which needs to be changed. After all, when one is determined, nobody can stop them. In Physics, when we describe motion, we often use the word ‘thrust’ to describe this drive, with the opposing force often being friction. When the thrust on a body is greater than the friction, the object begins to accelerate. In the same vein, when one’s passion is genuine, no amount of gossip and discouragement will stop them from making progress. All in all, a leader must have an appropriate lifestyle, a passion and a purpose.

One must consider the fact that becoming a leader is barely the beginning of the path to excellence. True leadership follows. In my opinion, what defines a true leader is their ability toinfluence their followers and convert them into leaders as well. For example, there is no point in building a house if nobody is going to live in it. In the same vein, there is no reason why one should impose any trend on society—even if it is positive, just to have it abandoned in their absence. Therefore, it is best to find a way to integrate the changes one must into the followers’ lifestyles as making a change to one’s way of life can be rather disorienting and uncomfortable. Furthermore, the way in which a leader interacts with their followers is also important as one must fully understand the people they are leading, in order to draw up a plan to improve the society. For example, it would be absurd to work towards buying a cradle if one does not have a baby! In addition, authority and all the perks of leadership should not be the main goal of a leader—unity, peace and progress must be prioritised. I am certain that if true leadership is established in a community, its path to excellence will become obvious.

What we all dream of is true satisfaction and I am certain that with the right leaders in the right places, we all can achieve it. Countries like the United States of America have found the balance in their leadership and the obvious fact that Nigeria has not, saddens me. However, I can confidently say that although the students of West Mills can become superior to any contemporary leading force within the next decade, if they are willing. Therefore, I urge you to stop complaining, and start leading.

-Similoluwa Aluko.

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