westside â€˜07 heroes &villains
westside â€˜07 heroes &villains
Produced by BYDS A Westside Publications Project
Published by BYDS, PO Box 577 Bankstown NSW 1885, Bankstown Arts Centre, 5 Olympic Pde, Bankstown, telephone: (02) 9793 8324, website: www.byds.org.au No part of this magazine may be published without the written permission of the publisher. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. ISSN: 1441-712X Westside 07, Revised Edition First Published 2007 2nd Edition 2011 Copyright 2011
Acknowledgements This year’s writers and artists have been a key group carefully selected and mentored. Accessing the work has been a difficult and long journey. I’d like to personally thank Tim Carroll for all his wonderful support and advice; Roslyn Oades and her new beautiful baby boy, Reuben, for the moving and evocative cover; Ivor Indyk, whose work in PYT’s Western Sydney Writers’ Project has enabled us to access an amazing group of emerging writers and writing; Aline Mansour, for her work with various schools in the Culture in Diversity Workshops; and finally all the funding bodies, contributors, artists, photographers and writers who have made this publication possible.
Michael Mohammed Ahmad Editor
Credits Editor Michael Mohammed Ahmad Sub Editors Lachlan Brown, Aaron Galea, Felicity Castagna and Miran Hosny Original Design Jamie Curnow Revised Design Nadine Beyrouti Front Cover Image Roslyn Oades Back Cover Art Tin Pham Images Tin Pham [17, 25, 39, 41, 43], Neil Trindall [9, 12, 29, 31], Bill Reda [22, 28, 37, 45], Pranjal More [26 â€“ 27], Abel Do , Michael Mohammed Ahmad , Sandy DeLuca , JMSC  Special Thanks Tim Carroll, Roslyn Oades and Ivor Indyk
Contents Introduction........................................................................................................ 8 Michael Mohammed Ahmad How to Write.................................................................................................... 10 Andy Ko This is How We Say it in English..................................................................... 13 Andy Ko Die Once, Live Twice......................................................................................... 14 Tania Hoang Mob Breakdown................................................................................................ 16 Riem Derbas The Lonely Cowboy and Outlaws.................................................................... 19 Fabio Giompaolo Camping Holiday.............................................................................................. 21 Tim Carroll Little too Late................................................................................................... 23 Gloria Ahmad Dear Music........................................................................................................ 28 Aisyiyah Prahastono Schizophrenia.................................................................................................... 29 Aisyiyah Prahastono Shadows ...........................................................................................................30 Nukte Ogun The Diet Starts on Monday............................................................................. 32 Tamar Chnorhokian The Awakening................................................................................................. 36 Funda Yolal Stories from Our Children............................................................................... 38 Aline Mansour - Introduction Rashid Eid - Hero Ibrahim Mourad - My Hero Elizabeth Peachey - My Cat Rabeah Warraich - My Story Imogen Klein - Freddy McJunior Ahmad Elbatoory - Superguy Nouha Chami - My Hero Anonymous - Money Sockets .............................................................................................................41 Arda Barut An Outlawed Love............................................................................................ 42 Louise Lamella Bridge to Awareness........................................................................................ 44 Reem Mourad Containing the Crisis of Democracy...............................................................46 Pranjal More
Introduction I received my first fifteen minutes of fame when I was twelve years old. A short story I wrote was published in a new magazine produced by BYDS called Westside. That was some years ago. And since the year 2000, we had not seen another publication from BYDS that celebrated the writers and visual artists of Western Sydney. Growing up I loved Westside Magazine and all the people involved in its creation. I always wanted to continue writing and would often ask Tim Carroll, (Arts Officer at BYDS, but I’ll refer to him as Our Hero from this point on) about the magazine and why it was no longer being produced. He would say quite simply that there was nobody available to commit to the demanding work involved in constructing and editing the publication. Still thinking purely about an opportunity to publish my own work, I bit my lip, shrugged and mumbled ... “Can I do it?” May 2006 saw the birth of the new series of Westside. We stayed true to the essence of the magazine but tried some new things too. Rather than simply having a collage of diverse and brilliant art, we gave Westside a theme, and had artists collaborate in an educational, personal and insightful publication. It recognised the writing, artwork and photography of the very gifted and talented individuals living in and around Bankstown and Western Sydney. Westside 06: Corporate Exploitation, Materialism and the Heroes who Fight united artists, actors, writers, politicians, musicians, teachers and their students for the greater good. The magazine’s launch featured a documentary, performing artists and guest speaker, federal member, The Honourable Darrel Melham. I learnt many memorable lessons working with the wonderful team of artists involved in the project and send my gratitude out to Tim Carroll, Roslyn Oades, Arda Barut and Pranjal More, whose continued support and advice inspired and helped create the new series. I’d also like to acknowledge that among those most valuable learning experiences, despite my original intention being to publish my own work, is now being able to see the need to step aside as a writer, and honour, furthermore enjoy, the position of Editor of Westside Magazine. For the ultimate joy in producing a Westside is not in what you can write for Western Sydney ... but what Western Sydney can write for you. This year I’d like to think of Westside 07 not as a separate issue to last year’s publication but rather a continuation of the learning experiences and themes addressed in Westside 06. Selecting a theme for 2007 was not an easy decision. I had much to consider regarding what we’d already begun and where we were headed with the future of the magazine. I loved the idea of so many individuals coming together for a cause greater than themselves. I saw heroism in their sacrifices as well as in their stories. Though I had many expectations of our artists, the little recognition, little financial and public benefit made me question why most would bother. I began to consider fictional heroes and why they bothered. Why not rob a bank or rule the earth, why not use your gifts for your own benefit rather than the good of others? To me the hero is more than a symbol of sacrifice. After all that is given up for the greater good, he or she is a truth; an acceptance of the world we live in, and a submission of love and compassion. Why do they fight? Because if they don’t we will be lost, with no place to go, with no guidance and no peace. They protect us. And they lead us. They pave the way for a future of hope and joy. They do so at the cost of their entire lives, and they do so without jealousy or selfishness. As the editor of Westside I saw this in our artists. And it brought me back to what a close friend once told me … That we don’t need fictional heroes because we each have the capacity to be heroes ourselves. Rather than just producing a publication of black and white heroes and villains however, I wanted to trigger some thought, some emotion, some conversation, even some debate. These stories are straight from the heart. They are personal, honest and written with both fear and love. Some will make you laugh, others make you cry. Look for the hero inside. Look for the villain if you dare. Try, at some point, to look for the person in between. But most of all look for you. Try and discover who you are, if that’s what being a hero truly means … With special thanks to all the heroes (and even some villains) involved in the creation of this publication, and dedicated to a love whose secret identity will be revealed when the world is finally safe ... I give you Westside 07: Heroes and Villains.
Michael Mohammed Ahmad Editor
10 Andy Ko
How to Write Start at the beginning. Start at the end. Start in the middle of something. Start anywhere. Start somewhere. Mark something. Make that first movement, that first disturbance, and that first flicker of a ripple. And start it going. Because it all started with a bang. Combinatorial explosion of quantum gatherings and waveform functions. And it swirled in chaos. And then it danced. The fundamental law of gravity pull upon the pieces, throw them into patterns, and then toss them into shapes. There poised upon Planck time, halfway between information and matter, the patterns that became the law were laid. And then it emerges, like a tree marked with scent of Dog and scratches of Love, like a taco shell too close to the likeness of Christ, or a field of corn with directions to Mars and beyond, pointing to the space and time where it had all begun. It is in beginning that everything in turn happens. It is in beginning that sets things in motion. It is in beginning that all things begin. But it is beginning that is difficult. For it is at the beginning that anything can happen. Anything. Everything. All possibilities. All perfectly formed from the slight of blankness, that small imperfection re-forming itself into semblances of an elegant world. For it did not begin with the word. The word is the process of being; the process of becoming; the process of ending; and the process of happening. It is the process, set forth by the beginning. The fundamental law of attraction draws these words together, and then all other laws build upon words with words. It always starts somewhere, somehow, some way. Call it an accident if one must. It was all a mistake, an elegant error, a question seeking answers, in an all-too-brief and bold beginning, in these lines that keep flowing, explaining it all,
brushstroke after brushstroke of a mad, ingenious concoction celebrating where it came from, why it spoke thus, how it became so, and now what to write next. But now what? Now that we have begun, should it be that much less frightening to go on? Or does the prospect of emptiness shake us? Is it so unbearable, of knowing that one has no more to say, no more to do, no more to become? Now that it has begun, why should it end? Why should all the aggregations of thought and matter just lay there dead-echo still? And what if we begin, not again, but in addition to: Beginnings to support the beginning, sparks to jump the fuel, pulses to pump the fluid, a chain of coming to being as was the first beginning ... And yet the question remains: What to write next? These spectres of silences rise towards infinity into a vastness unforeseen by its humble rhythmic origins, for an all-too-human encounter with sky-lit introspections of the quietest rhythms within; of re-formed gestures and re-served manners, on letterheads and postmarks, upon hidden walls and concrete paths, in all these limitless possibilities, all these violent generative acts; and all these questions just seeking beginning, waiting for the mark to fire, asking for all its pertinent preparations, printing and pressing in block-type variations, so as to write, to write, to write.
13 Andy Ko
This is How We Say it in English This is how we say it in English: An audience arises and applauds for an apologetic arm again blithely boasting of brilliant blunders borne abroad, with collateral commentary of careless casualties and the decisive destined deaths of despots and dynasties and dreams. Elided is the exodus, the expatriation of families forced to flee (and then only those with the fortuity of flotation or flight) glossed over by the gush of gunfire glory and grand ground-breaking gazetter grabs. How horrid to hear of such historical homelessness iterated through an inured incessant illness of an inexcusable international insult to intelligence. What joys do justify those junk-ship jet-lagged journeys but the kinds kept only for kinship. The lessons to learn from this lot in life, from musings and memories of maddening media moments, is to know that nothing could be nearer a naked naivetĂŠ than officious ostentatious offerings with the persisting patterns of promise and prayer placed in the persuasions of people past and present perplexed by the precisioned periods of peace that passed into the pyromanic prerogatives of perpetuated presidencies and papacies penned and palmed and pandered to a pacifiable populace unqueried and unquestioned, quietly and without quarrel, qualified by the quickness of relief to remove all registrations of regret and remorse so as to satisfy a self-made sense of assuredness of the teleological teachings of turf-war triumphs and tolerable terrestrial toils. Unashamed of this unsettling, unaware of the ubiquity of unity by eulogy, of the valency of victory marches and versions of valour where the ways were wrought with woe, and were expressed in xenolalic crossfire, existing under the yoke of yearly celebrations of terrors yet to arrive that only yielded to the runaway zymosis of the zealotry of nations ... This is how we say it in English.
14 Tania Hoang
Die Once, Live Twice The photographers had no reason to empathise with the man, nor did they show any sign of relinquishing their apathy in the wake of his painful sobs. For it was with valid reason that Elliott Jeffery had been feeling great anguish for the past few minutes. He had mercilessly dropped to the dirt-beaten ground to release all emotion in the hope that they would sink into the earth and reduce the numbing sensation in his body. Nothing mattered, not even the reporters who surrounded him or the cameramen poised to capture his next action. They didn’t know what it felt like to have lost all, to be in a state of limbo where one has emotionally left reality but has not quite reached a plane to think lucidly. Given a week ago, Elliott would never have guessed that a widower such as himself would end up with a parade of paparazzi breathing down his neck on the side of a barren highway leading directly from Brisbane to Sydney. But that was where he was now. He hiccupped, trying to hold back tears of anger and frustration, of fatigue and worthlessness, to no avail. It was as though the bottle holding his inner feelings had smashed, with the contents spilling out in torrents down his cheeks. A myriad of memories imprinted themselves before his eyes as though to remind him as to why he was here. His first born child, Alexander, had been delivered from his mother who had died during an extensive Caesarian operation. Elliott could see the doctor approaching, blocking his first glimpse of his child, only to take him aside with a sombre expression. Elliott remembered watching the doctor as she told him that Alexander had gastroschisis, a condition where the abdominal organs protrude outside the body. He recalled the shock he had felt, the sense of denial he had experienced. With not enough money to pay for the drastic surgery, Elliott made an unusual decision – provoked by insanity or intelligence, he couldn’t tell which – to walk on foot from Brisbane to Sydney in the hope of attracting sponsors to donate funds to save his child. A tear dropped onto Elliott’s hand where it stung his skin. He glanced down to see the cuts and abrasions that had marred his treacherous walk and mused over how they came to be. The first few days of travel had been surprisingly pleasant; the Australian landscape stretched beyond the limit of his sight; the sunsets varnished the surrounding rocks dusty red and pink. He had no company, and despite the flock of reporters and cameramen cruising alongside him in cars to capture his “Father Walks to Save Child” story, the only deliberation that kept Elliott going was the thought of Alexander reaching his first birthday. It was on the third day that the harsh surrounding began to take its toll on his body. Insufficient food rations downgraded his energy and blisters ruptured inside his shoes; the back of his throat parched as each intake of oxygen dried it a bit more. But still Elliott ploughed on. Each day proved more difficult than the next, a true test of his stamina and determination. Was fate making his walk bitterly uncomfortable to teach him a lesson? Selfsacrifice in exchange for an infant life? Such injustice was too much to bear. The horizon that before had been his navigational medium of a better future was now nothing more than a cruel and taunting line, unable to be reached. Even the incandescent glow of the sun reverberating hope, that which seemed to have existed in the beginning, had now been extinguished like a candle with no flame. As though God had sensed his spiteful resentment, the news that reached Elliott’s ears the following day brought his sense of renouncement to its utmost peak. The reporter had come bounding out of her car, had run up to fall into step with Elliott’s stride, only to stop and face him with the same poignant expression that resided in the face of the doctor who had told him about Alexander’s condition. “Your son,” she had said, “Just passed away.” Elliott sank into the ground, crying out in rasping gasps, clenching the dirt in his fists to try and stop the overwhelming pain. He had suffered too much; been exploited, exploited for fate’s own entertainment! A life for a life! Why couldn’t it have been him? Why? The injustice seeped through him.
The paparazzi streamed out of their cars to shroud Elliott in flashes of camera lenses, and Elliott died … died in the heart from painful and agonising tears. How long he crouched there, he did not know. A photographer to his right shifted her leg. Elliott came out of his reverie. He could not go on, he would not go on. It would be uncharitable to continue with his son’s death in his wake. Was this it? To journey all this way, battling the four elements to excruciatingly crumble internally? Is this what life is about? Somehow, Elliott thought otherwise. He lifted his head to momentarily look at the reporters. They remained motionless, inhumane souls programmed to capture moments and report stories. No emotions, no regrets. That was their job, nothing else. And it just so happened – as soft zephyrs bore with it the sand and grit of the highway – that the man crouched before them had been reborn amidst tears of credence, not repentance.
16 Riem Derbas
Mob Breakdown Chapter I – The End So many thoughts buzzed through my mind. So many memories. So many ideas. They seemed to be leaping out of some vortex and into my head. My mind felt like a busy intersection, but no thought was prepared to give way to another. I knew I needed to ignore some, but how could I? They were relevant. I needed them to survive. I had done a good job of shutting out my life, my family, my friends; everything that once mattered to me meant absolutely nothing anymore. I had no social life. Heck, I had no life anymore. All that existed in me now were my thoughts, but even they weren’t the me of old. They were the new me. I cared for nothing but preserving these thoughts. They were the sole purpose of my existence. I do remember how I came to be this way. How I became nothing but a mere fragment of my old self. It was after the great heist of 1996. What a great year that was for me and my men. So many crimes we had committed, never did the cops even come close to catching us, that good we were at covering our tracks. They knew it was us, they always knew, but they could never prove it. We were the most feared and sought after mafia gang in the country. That is, until FBI agent Jonah Callum arrived on the scene. She trapped us in her first week. She hunted us down and got the evidence she needed to put us away, to clear the streets of ‘scum’ as she referred to us. She became the hero of the country; no criminal was safe with Jonah around. Chapter II – The Heist of ’96 That was a day that will never leave me. It will be forever embedded in my mind as the beginning of the end for my men and I. It was a grim and rainy Saturday night. We were cooped up in Tony’s garage, playing our usual Saturday night poker with the boys from Jim’s mob. They were down almost a grand before they decided to call it a night. Once they’d left, Jesse came to me and told me of a heist he and the others had been planning for the past three months. “Tony,” he said to me, his eyes lighting up with excitement, kind of like a child choosing which flavour of ice cream to eat. “Me and the boys, we been thinking, we ain’t done a lot o’ stuff lately, so we came up with the greatest heist of all time.” I remember sitting there and just listening as the great and obviously well-thought-out plan came pouring out of his mouth. We were to hold up the three greatest banks in the city: The Bank of New York, the Bank of America and the World Bank. They had been planning for months, it helped that we had contacts on the inside but that was just the beginning. It took us six full months of rigorous planning; learning everything from the cracks on the wall to the names and numbers of all the employees. If I had known we didn’t stand a chance from the beginning, I would have stopped it before it even started. Chapter III – Agent Jonah Callum Jonah Callum was forty-three years old. She had never married but had been engaged twice before. She joined the New York FBI branch two years ago, but had been working with them for the past twenty years. She had worked with partners in the past but they never worked out. She found she was much more efficient on her own; worked faster and stopped more crime. She lived alone and she worked alone. It didn’t take long for her to realise that she was meant to be alone. She never forgave her parents for calling her Jonah, having been mocked all her life for having a guy’s name. She figured having held a grudge against them all her life filled her with the kind of anger that made her good at her job. She was called in from Chicago to help take out the greatest mob in the city. She was the best they had, bringing down many of the greatest criminals in Chicago, being dubbed the hero of the century many times in her long career.
When she came out to New York she knew it was to help bring down the greatest mob in the history of the city. She didn’t think much of it at the time; she had brought down mob members before, mob members who were considered the greatest, the most feared and the best. When she got to New York, however, she knew she had her work cut out for her. The FBI had literally nothing on them. Their men had always been killed when they went in undercover. Somehow Andy found out they were cops and they were done for. They always knew that Peroni’s mob were behind the thefts and murders, but could never prove it. The crime scene was running amok in New York and the FBI was literally helpless to stop it. That is, until Jonah joined the team. She thought like no other and found the solution they had all been looking for. Chapter IV – Taking Down the Mob Everything was set. Everyone was in place. Freddy was at NYC bank, Tom was at the Bank of USA and George was at the World Bank, all they had to do was wait. At five-thirty the guards would change, the night shift sentries would have started their shift, and we would have just to say the word and be on our way to Mexico with millions of dollars in cold hard cash. The FBI was set. Everyone was in place. It was by chance they had found out about the heist. A rookie named Vince Morgan was out on his first job. He was following a mob of a lesser worry than Andy’s but still trouble, nonetheless. He picked up his phone to dial in to the office and found himself listening in on a conversation between Andy, Peroni and a guy who called himself “JB”. Vince could not believe what he was hearing. He had to be the luckiest guy in the world. He held all the information they needed to bring down the mob once and for all. Vince may have been the one who stumbled on the information, but it was Jonah who organised the catch. Sentries were called and changed, managers were replaced with FBI agents, and customers did not exist. Everyone, everywhere was involved with the FBI, there was no way Peroni would get out of this one. The guards changed, everything was in order. I sent in my rookie nephew, Jeff, to get us into NYC Bank, Joseph was our entry to USA Bank and Carl got us into the World Bank. All at precisely the same time, all using the same line as they passed the guard: “Chris, it’s been ages, where you been hiding?” and entered with a group of mobsters in tow. They just had to get them in; the rest was set in stone. The plan was so simple nobody thought it would work. Nobody believed it did work – get them in, trap them. If they had weapons, which they would because the deal was the guard would frisk but take nothing, they were prepared. In we went. I had never been so excited in my whole life. We were going to do it. The plan was so simple yet so complex. I couldn’t believe how easy it had been. All we had to do was go in for the arranged meeting with the manager and take the money. We were so close I could almost feel the money in my hands. They were in, all the members, trapped in three of the greatest banks in the city. They didn’t know it yet, but they had just ended their careers as mobsters and started new ones as prisoners. Jonah was at the World Bank, she knew Andy would be there and she wanted the pleasure of catching him herself. They went in, sat for their meetings with managers and pulled out their weapons, ready to start the thefts. It only took a second, but that was almost too long. The doors came crashing down in the three banks at almost the same time. The FBI pulled out their weapons and it was over. They couldn’t believe it had been that simple and they had never been able to control them before. It was finally over. The reign of crime and terror on the city finally came to almost a complete stop. It was so simple it was almost embarrassing. They were given a heros’ parade and all were dubbed heroes for life. That was it. That was the reason I became this skeleton of my old self. All I have are my memories and thoughts. I can’t break out, but that doesn’t stop me thinking of ways I may be able to. My life revolves around these thoughts and the memories of my men and I. If I ever get out of here, I will be sure to pay Jonah Callum a very well-deserved visit.
19 Fabio Giompaolo
The Lonely Cowboy and Outlaws Now my fate is of the early years when the centuries were new There were cowboys, outlaws and a sheriff in the wildest The land was hot and dry. Coyotes roamed around in the desert and howl at the moonlight I was walking, just walking alone through this old Texas town My feet firm on the ground Looking up at the sky My heart loving and caring I’d never cheated and never lie I entered the saloon Sits at the table and talks to someone who doesn’t have a clue Then I will have another drink It’s the only way to think Saddens by the emptiness inside and my solitude surrounds me It’s amazing how to survive. I own the guns and black leather boots and a guitar I saw a cowgirl dancing near the piano Her pretty face caught my eye I know now that I can fall in love Her hair is long and brown I walked over to her, we had a feeling glance I’m wondering would I have a chance For her to be part of my life? And it’s then my heart starts pounding Then I ask for her sweet name She tells me Kate She has a friendly beautiful winning smile She was a lonely cowgirl I am a lonely cowboy! We held each other’s hands and gazed into each other’s eyes. We shared a magical beautiful kiss and we rode away towards the glowing sunset. We rode into my ranch where I grew up. This is where my family died. Their lives were taken by ruthless outlaws on that faithful warm Sunday afternoon. I will always give my love to her She shows me kindness and joy and her beauty and her sweet singing voice takes my breath away. She brings the beat in me She has become my guardian angel. The sheriff is woken by the outlaws robbing the bank and trying to break into the safe. The sheriff was shot dead trying to protect the safe His wife lost a great husband and father She was a hard working mother A wanted poster was placed all over town to catch these outlaws I rode through the mountains and ranges without a trace and sound I will not rest until I will find them when I awake every morning I ride around the ranges looking for these outlaws. I will bring them to justice for killing the sheriff.
A Lonely Cowboy named Fabio
21 Tim Carroll
Camping Holiday The radio call he did not want to receive came through at 02 .04 and 24 seconds pm according to his log sheet. As he prepared to leave the station, a second call came on his number two mobile. There were only a few people who had access to that number and they were all from other institutions that were involved in enforcing the law or mopping up the damage after a law had not been enforced. In this case he recognised the number immediately as belonging to one of the local ambulance officers, Corie. “Yes mate,” he answered to the chiming tone. “Corie here mate.” “I know. I’m on my way.” “Is there anyone else on duty who can come, Pete? There is a big mess here, a really big mess. It’s a five car and definitely three dead, two are kids and it looks like another one will go, or lose a leg at least. It won’t suit you at all mate.” “There is no one else, Joe’s on holidays and the Nowra guys are at another accident on the hill.” “Well, be prepared mate. I really don’t think you will like this. Even Jonno had a spew. Ring your missus right now and let her know what you are coming to. She needs to be prepared as well.” “I’m on my way.” “Ring your wife … please.” He flicked the handset off and found himself in auto pilot, grabbing gun, camera, hat, phone, jacket, keys and notebook ... All of the cop paraphernalia that he would use over the next few hours of purgatory was his and only his responsibility. He thought about, but did not ring, his wife, who was then hanging out the washing and listening to a radio report about a big accident on the highway. He kept moving towards his car as he heard the phone ringing behind the shut door. His wife left a message about him looking after himself as he jogged down the stairs towards the four-wheeldrive that was his familiar companion. He radioed for more details as he headed towards the highway, siren cutting through the clear morning air of this small town that he loved and loathed in equal measure. His daughter had left a Wiggles CD in the player which came on as he started the car. Big Red Car blared through the speakers for exactly one chorus. It was like a portent. Weirdly, he knew that one of the cars in the accident was going to be red. He had to drive along the road’s verge from even a kilometre away, with the siren and lights flashing. All of his senses were ablaze with foreboding, he could smell his own acrid sweat over the top of the shower that he had only an hour before. His mind moved into its professional work mode as he approached the scene. Nearly twenty cars had stopped here and there, volunteers directing the traffic effectively and others doing their best to render help where they could. Many other useless people just hung around. Two cars had virtually fused, the red Magna, blending forcefully into the unidentifiable sports car, other vehicles less damaged but still clearly undriveable. He recorded statements from those who could speak through their tears and charged the sports car driver with neg driving for starters. He felt his anger rising when he saw that the man who had caused all of this was from the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.
22 Over the next hour he spoke with and helped the ambos, negotiated with the tow truck drivers and nearly lost it with the man from Shell Harbour, who he saw pocket a bloody mobile phone from the dead people’s car. “I was going to find the owner mate,” he sadly defended himself when the policeman held out his hand for it. He scrolled through the address book in the dead woman’s phone and called two people: Dad, and Sam, both for whom he left messages. He received the call back on his phone within ten minutes. It was the woman’s father, who he mechanically explained the situation to. The father had been trying to ring his daughter for the last hour. She and the kids had been due at their house in Ulladulla and not arrived. Her husband Sam was at work, blissfully ignorant. He asked the dad to ring the husband. He secretly begged the old man not to ask him if the kids were okay and heard his gasping intake of breath when he passed on the fact the grandchildren were also dead. He rang his own wife when he had a moment, responding to the six calls that she had made to him. He told her that he was okay and hung up. She already knew the worst from the radio and the ambulance officer who had also rung her, warning her of what her husband had had to contend with that afternoon. Finally, everything except the paperwork was over. Even the WIN TV crew were satisfied, despite his refusal to comment for them. He headed back to his town, his mind trying to protect itself from the horror that had consumed him, and would continue to play itself out, maybe forever. He arrived back to the station, left a message for the area commander in Wollongong and turned on the kettle and computer. He rang his wife again to tell her that he would not be home for a few hours. He made himself a tea-bag tea and opened a packet of biscuits. As he opened up the ‘car accident involving death’ template on the computer, he refused to cry. He realised that he was very tired and knew that he would not sleep that night.
23 Gloria Ahmad
Little too Late My Dear Carrie - If you’re reading this it means I’m nothing but a memory to you. I’ve watched you grow from my baby girl to the beautiful image that reminds me of your mother. Though you may change, you will always be a part of me. And I will always be with you. I love you. “Higher Daddy, higher!” Carrie looked up at her dad with such enjoyment. “You’re getting way too big. I don’t think I can carry you anymore.” He swung his precious daughter down to the ground. “Oh please Daddy, just one more time?” Carrie lowered her lip in sheer disappointment. “Okay, but this is the last time, one day you’re going to be carrying your old pop.” He picked his daughter up from the floor, lifted her in the air and watched her tiny innocent face light up against the clear blue sky. “You’re my hero, Dad.” Somehow in her father’s strong arms Carrie knew she would always be safe. ~ Carrie sat silently in the rubble of dirt looking up at the light blue sky. She still couldn’t bring herself to look down at the tombstone that lay in front of her. She fixed her eyes on the sky and watched the clouds move by without going anywhere at all. She would usually sit for hours wondering about life and the moments that changed everything. Carrie knew it was getting late. She stood slowly, picked up her blue canvas bag, kissed the top of the tombstone and followed the track back down to the path that led her to school. ~ “Dad, I’ll be home late and don’t wait up for me, I’ll be fine.” Carrie pulled a jacket over her strapless dress, smudging the immense amount of lipstick she had on. She quickly made her way to the front door. “Not so fast young lady. Where do you think you are going? You know perfectly well Saturday nights are spent at home.” Carrie’s dad watched as his fifteen-year-old daughter stood near the door with a look of unconcern slapped on her face. “I don’t see what the point of being at home on a Saturday night is.” Carrie opened the front door and slammed it shut without even a last look behind her. ~ The last bell had finally rung for the day. Carrie was in no rush to get home. Home? she thought. “Is there something I can help you with, Carrie?” Mrs McGraham looked at Carrie with concern. She started to approach her. Carrie looked around the room and noticed that everyone had left. “Oh no, I’m fine. Just day dreaming.” She picked up her books and set off once again that day to the only place where she felt at ease. ~
24 Carrie’s dad waited eagerly for his daughter to come home. It was past midnight and he couldn’t sleep until he heard her footsteps creak through the hallway. What if something has happened? What if she has gotten into trouble? He picked up his keys and without another single thought rushing through his tireless head, walked towards the door and slammed it shut behind him. ~ “You’re home late again this week! Now just because you get your way with your father doesn’t mean you’ll get your way with me.” Carrie ignored the meaningless words that sprung out of her aunt’s mouth. She ran up the stairs before she had to hear questions that she couldn’t answer. “I’m not finished talking to you young lady.” Carrie’s aunt stood near the stairs waiting for a reply. “I’ll be down for dinner, got plenty of homework,” Carrie screamed out from her room just in time to shut the door before she could hear another word. ~ Carrie made her way home feeling tired and almost falling over with the high heels that barely fit her. She felt dizzy. She had lost track of time but felt too uneasy and out of control to even realise. She could feel her stomach tear up inside. She leaned forward, and felt the sickening sensation of vomit release from her body. She steadied herself after a moment’s breath, turned the corner and quickly made her way home. She opened the door with her weak hands almost as silently as planned. Good, he’s finally gone to sleep, she thought as she made her way to her room feeling the cold breeze move towards her from the open window. ~ That night Carrie ate her dinner silently, listening to her aunt talk endlessly about rules and guidelines. “Now I know you got your way with your father, but things won’t be like that around here.” Carrie’s aunt waited for a response so she could begin another one of her rules. “Yes, Auntie,” Carrie mumbled. She felt sick at the sight of food. “No one has asked me if I’m alright.” Carrie tilted her head down as she felt the first tear stream down her face that week. Carrie’s aunt remained silent for the rest of the night. Just before making her way upstairs she pulled out a letter and placed it on the table near Carrie. ~ He had driven around every corner, knocked on every door but could still see no trace of Carrie. He watched as a group of teens made their way along the footpath. “Carrie!” he screamed. The group of teens looked in front of the car with a puzzled expression. He could see no sign of Carrie or the truck that was making its way towards him. ~ As her aunt made her way to bed, Carrie began to fiddle with the letter in her hand. Her fingers shook uneasily. The writing on the front was definitely her father’s. She held the letter in her hand a long time. I can’t read it, she thought. What if it says how much he hates me? She had to know …
Dear Music When I hear the screaming sound of an electric guitar, I come alive. My heart opens up and yearns for more. I am lost inside the resonance of the melody. It could be angst or it could be pride. Whatever it is, I go crazy. The room is filled with psychotic stars that shoot across the ceiling. But it all changes when that deep piano sound seeps in. The mood is flipped around so quickly. The stars I see are now dripping down my walls. And now my heart is full of melancholy; or maybe it’s just anticipation, just me longing for a better frame of mind. I am powerless. My anatomy is subscribed to music. Hurt & angry – heavy metal will seduce me. Happy & playful - electronica is my playground. I could go on forever listing the partnerships of music and my feelings. However, I’d like to share that with you when we get to know each other better. In the meantime: Here’s to music: A hero without even trying.
Schizophrenia Interrogated. Violated. Fucking isolated. By her own conscience. Anxiety attacks, head spins, voices. She’s through with it. Beg for no more pain. Don’t want to talk to them about anything. They are not her mates; just emotional thieves, That take away every meaning of her life. Eradicate the mind tricks. She’s through with thinking she’s lost it. A daily struggle to find a way out. She hasn’t a clue where she’s heading. Where she will end up, only time will tell. Bullets. Shrapnel. Body parts. She can only hope for no more pain. Destiny is calling. A ringing in her ear. Deafening screams and killer voices. A war in her own mind. A war against herself. A fight for freedom. And a riot for release. No way out. No way out. Nobody sees it. But she does. The beast ready to devour her mind.
30 Nukte Ogun
Shadows It was only five, yet the afternoon light had darkened. He let himself into the house. A quick glance around the living room revealed his father sitting with his back to the door. Only a small lamp was on, barely reaching the first couch, the second not at all. This was never a good sign. Matthew raked the hair out of his eyes. His father laid his right hand on the couch’s dark leather surface, slowly tilted his head and uttered into the air, reeking of cigarette smoke, “Yine gec kaldin. You’re late.” His voice husked of too much whisky. The smell sickened his son. Matthew waited, he didn’t know how to answer. As always his father’s voice was dripping with menace, accompanied by a deep, seething hatred. He didn’t know for certain whether or not his father wanted an answer. What he did know was that he wanted a fight. He always wanted a fight. Matthew remained silent. His father turned to face him, features contorted, neck veins throbbing. “Why are you giving me that blank stare? Cevap ver!” he spat. So he did want an answer. What Matthew wanted was to melt into the darkness. To fade away. He was tired of the same song and dance. Tired of existing. Maybe if he stayed silent for long enough … “Terbiyesiz ve simariksin!” his father continued. Matthew let the words drift over him, through him, as if he were a shadow. He focused on the shadows, watching them flicker in and out of existence as they approached the light, watching them grow stronger in the deeper corners of the room. If only he was a shadow. He could draw strength from the darkness. God knew, there was plenty of darkness. “You’re just like her, ve beni igrendiriyorsun.” Matthew snapped to attention as every muscle in his body tensed. His voice dropped. It let out a low chuckle. “I know I disgust you.” Matthew didn’t wait for his father to reply. “But I’ve never been able to understand why. You don’t know enough about me to be disgusted. You don’t even know that I’m a senior in high school!” His face became stone cold. His voice icy. “You don’t know me. You don’t want to know me. It’s easier for you that way. It’s easier to hurt a stranger.” He stopped for a moment, composed himself, then resumed in a calm tone of voice. “Someone you don’t care about.” It was just the two of them, had been that way for a long time, ever since his mother left. No one heard his cries, shared his anguish, there was only ever loneliness. His father grabbed his arm. Locking eyes, “You can’t speak to me like that,” he said, tightening his grip like a vice. His deathly stare pierced Matthew. “Let go of me,” he muttered through clenched teeth. “Sen saygi gosterene kadar birakmam.” “Respect?” Matthew asked. His body tensed. He knew what was coming next, but he had to say it. “It has to be earned,” he said wryly, his feet firmly planted on the ground. He would not move. He did not want to give his father the satisfaction of seeing him step out of the way. His father punched him so hard that he stumbled backward and fell, and hit his temple on the wooden floor, his head nearly exploding. Matthew didn’t get up. He held his breath, praying. The pain was unbearable. He didn’t want to make it worse. Experience had taught him it was best to stay still. Silent and still. A cruel voice seeped through his agony. “Watch your mouth!” it growled, just before a foot caught his ribs. Matt gasped for air, desperately tried to inhale it. To capture it. His eyes watered. He tried to push himself to his hands. It was hopeless. He couldn’t breath. Forget it, he told his hands and rolled over as the cruel voice became fainter … ~
He clambered over Matthew’s still body. The lean frame didn’t take up much room. He stumbled into the darkened kitchen and began rummaging through the wooden cupboards. Where was it? He inhaled the faint smell of ozone as it wafted through the kitchen window. It wouldn’t be long before the storm broke. Not that he cared. At last, his fingers made contact with the bottle’s smooth surface. He let out a sigh of relief, grasped it tightly and poured himself a tumbler of whisky. Neat. Tumbler in hand, he returned to the couch, and tossed down the contents. They slid down smoothly. As always, the whisky worked its wonders, weaving its way through his body, letting out the knots of tension. He sighed again and fell back into the couch, lighting a cigarette. His muscles relaxed. His fingers traced the thin edges of the empty crystal tumbler. The delicate design, which laced its way along the side, was exquisite. It was even more striking when the tumbler was full, full of the rich liquid. No matter, it would not be empty much longer. Once more he turned to face his son’s twisted body. It looked hurt. It was in need of toughening up. He couldn’t stand weakness. He despised it with every fibre of his being. He would not accept weakness. He would not accept weakness, yet he himself felt weary. His body slowly gave way to the overwhelming darkness as it blanketed his mind. He let the room dim, still frame and all. He would not accept weakness. ~ Matthews’s eyelids began to flutter, telling him to waken. Eventually the muscles ceased twitching. He opened his eyes. The surroundings were blurry. His mind groggy. Yet even his groggy mind knew what had happened. Knew where he was. He was at home. Always at home. The wind had died. Still night bathed the room. Silence and darkness were left. He tried to sit up, but could not. He tried once more, only to fail once more. The attempts were futile. Instead he lay back down, letting his head swell to the inferno within. His fingers tentatively traced his brow. It was no strain to imagine what it would look like by sunrise. He tried to stand once more. He was overcome by a wave of nausea. Bile burned the back of his throat. Finally he stood. Swayed, but stood. Cigarette smoke oozed out of the walls. It was in every room, every corner, every crevice. His home was polluted. Always. He staggered through the vile, humid air, trying to get away. Away from the incapacitated mass on the couch. Still fighting nausea, he began the climb up the stairs. He stopped once he found himself facing the small bathroom mirror. A familiar sight looked back. The basin pushing against his aching hips, he turned on the tap. The water was icy and stung as he splashed his face. Blood and tears mingled and coursed down his skin. He watched the droplets of red hit the white ceramic basin, splattering on impact. They were almost beautiful, artistic. He smiled sadly. Strange, he saw beauty in the most peculiar places.
32 Tamar Chnorhokian
The Diet Starts on Monday Jessica looked at her. Her legs were curvaceous and silky, her waist small and petite. She wore a short denim skirt and a tight cotton top. She had a cute button nose, almond shaped, emerald green eyes. High cheek bones, smooth skin and full lips. She looked about a size ten or twelve. What a lovely figure to go with that gorgeous face. Jessica felt envious. When she snapped out of her gaze, she wondered what it would feel like to walk into any shop and try on whatever she liked. To shop till she dropped, just as she was holding a million and one bags in her hand. To try this on and to take that, knowing everything would be a perfect fit. Jessica glanced at the model with contempt and then rolled her eyes. The model caught Jessica’s look, but before she had any time to react, Jessica had hastily turned around then softly muttered, “Lucky bitch.” With Jessica’s back turned, the model continued to stare at her. She couldn’t help but look; she had never seen a butt that big before. Jessica finished the last of her ice cream, wiped her face and threw the tissue in the bin. She could feel her heart beating fast. She hadn’t even walked that far. For a split second she felt regretful about her over-indulgence. It was Wednesday and she had started her diet on Monday. She thought she was doing pretty well up until that chocolate ice cream. But she could swear it was calling her name. No matter how hard she tried, she knew she could never resist it. After all, what’s done is done. Summer was in full swing and the holiday season had attracted many in Liverpool to the air conditioned Westfield. There were people everywhere, busily pushing past to reach their shopping destinations. Irritated by the noise and the crowds, Jessica began to make her way out of the mall. On her way she passed a number of clothing stores: Portmans, Ice and Sportsgirl. Just the sight of them made her skin crawl. The mannequins behind the glass windows seemed to jump out in front of her. “Look at us, look at us. You could only wish to look like us,” they teased. Suddenly she felt hot. She knew her face would turn red from rage as she was overwhelmed with fury. The last time she felt such anger was when she lashed out at Michaela Simons. Michaela had called her a Heffalump in front of the one boy she fancied – Frankie Sileno. Frankie was what Jessica called a Chubb star. He had a round face and a solid build, like a cute teddy bear. How she wished he was her teddy bear.
Teasing Jessica had been a big mistake … her school friends did not know exactly what she was capable of up until that very moment. In the school yard, in front of her classmates, Jessica grabbed Michaela by her scrawny arms, flung her on the floor face up and then without hesitation sat on her face! “Heffalump hey, you skinny little bitch. Well here you go, feel Heffalump’s big fat rump on your face,” she screeched. The image was so shocking that her peers did not know whether to laugh or not. She didn’t care either, the only reaction that mattered to her was Frankie’s and he was laughing uncontrollably. Jessica smiled at him and then began to laugh with him, whilst Michaela was attempting to rescue herself from suffocation. Caught up in her thoughts of the past, she didn’t realise she had ended up in front of Woolies. It seemed like her legs had taken on a life of their own. They had led her to this last pit stop before exiting the building. Mmmmmmm … Maltesers pleases, was echoing in her head and in a flash she found herself standing in the confectionary aisle of Woolworths. Her eyes were beaming as she stood in front of numerous shelves of chocolate and lollies, stacked closely together and up high. The packets of sweet sensations were hanging in perfect rows. The colourful packets of foil were like jewels shimmering under the strong lights of the store. This was Jessica’s favourite place to be. She had often dreamt of being locked inside a supermarket. Spending the night with a store full of food was the sweetest dream she ever had. She grabbed a packet of Maltesers. Then her naughty hand reached out for a packet of chocolate bullets while its disobedient partner grabbed the Cadbury Chocettes. Soon she was in the express check-out fondling her chocolate lovers. She grabbed the shopping bag, quickly dived inside for the Maltesers, burst open the packet, took one and slipped it into her mouth. The smoothness of the chocolate felt delicious against the roof of her mouth. Her cheeks moved up and down as she crunched hard into the malt. Chocolate and saliva swirled together left a sweet taste on the tip of her tongue. By the time she reached the bus stop, she’d eaten half the packet. Jessica was enraptured. She always felt this way after consumption, like she was flying high. Jessica looked at her watch. There was still twenty minutes for the bus to come. She sat uncomfortably on the bench and waited. She was glad that nobody was standing behind her. Hipster jeans weren’t meant for fat people. It wasn’t a nice sight when your arse crack was showing as a result of tops these days being made way too short. Her spare tyre was bulging out and she hugged it like she had a pregnant belly and smiled. Tearing open the packet, she popped a few chocolate bullets in her mouth as if she was swallowing Panadol capsules. The rich flavour of the dark chocolate and the bittersweet taste of the liquorice centre made her mouth water. As she chewed away she could feel pieces of liquorice stick between her teeth.
34 After five minutes of raiding the bullets, the most peculiar thing happened. A cute boy was standing next to her. Jessica could feel her cheeks begin to burn and something funny started happening to her hand. It was frozen in the packet of chocolate bullets. A cute boy always stands right beside me when I’m pigging out. It’s moments like these I need … Paranoia took over. What was she to do? Be hospitable of course. “Would you care for a bullet?” she asked. The cutie was caught off guard. He had cute little dimples and big blue eyes. He was tall and lean. “Oh,” he sung out as he giggled. My what a cute giggle he had. Of course Jessica joined in the chorus. “Thanks,” he said as he extended his hand into the bag. He had olive skin and his fingers were long and slender. He had clean hands and his nails were nicely cut, they were just the right length. She felt like reaching for a hand and placing it in hers. “Take some more,” she insisted. “I’m cool,” he replied. Jessica ate another one then placed the remains in her bag. Silence. He didn’t say anything. She was about to break the ice again, but the bus beat her to it. He got up and walked toward the bus, his ride was waiting. He hopped on the bus like she didn’t exist. Jessica was surprised by his actions. How rude, he could have at least said bye or smiled or something. There are some weird people out there who have no manners. The boy disappeared down the aisle and sat down. He was relieved his interaction with the overweight and overfriendly girl had ended. He couldn’t help but think, if only she had a thin body to go with that gorgeous face. Then maybe the conversation could have progressed further. The boy cringed when he realised that Jessica was getting on the same bus. As she got on, she noticed a laminated sign which read: ‘No eating or drinking on the bus.’ She flashed the driver a cheeky grin as she paid the fare. Rules were meant to be broken. She struggled down the aisle; she could feel her large butt brushing against the seated passengers. She brushed past the cutie with her big butt, he stared at her awkwardly. Jessica quickly dismissed him from her mind. She was good at that. Her friends called her ‘The Bridge’. She got over things easily. She’d get the shits in the heat of the moment and then would think ‘whatever’. She wasn’t one to hold a grudge for long. Like this one time, Mr Muscat, her PE teacher, told her to use the large trampoline instead of the small one during sport time. She glared at him so viciously that he didn’t know which way to look. At the end of the day, she passed him by in the corridor.
35 She came up to him and gave him a friendly nudge on the shoulder. “Oh Sir. You know you’re still my favourite teacher right?” She meant it so sincerely. He looked at her baffled. “Thanks Jessica,” he replied awkwardly. She made her way to the back seat. She had more important things at hand. Like her Cadbury Chocettes. The poor things were being neglected. She sat in the back seat of the bus and hid in the corner. Slowly she removed the packet of Chocettes from her bag and opened them with as little fuss as possible, then quickly popped one in her mouth. These balls of milk chocolate were delectable. She looked in front of her. Passengers were busy with iPods, books, staring out the window or chatting to others. The coast was clear to indulge in those balls of sugar and cocoa. Huddled in the corner, she quietly devoured the Chocettes. After each one she glanced up to check on the driver but he had no idea. She loved the game she was playing. Outside the sun was shining. Inside the passengers were oblivious and the driver was clueless about her mischievous behaviour. “Yesssss.” The Chocettes and her were winning. Now she knew that victory was sweet.
36 Funda Yolal
The Awakening I was unaware then; more I think, than I am now. It wasn’t a particularly sweet or disturbed ignorance, instead I was caught in a simple sort of limbo, a middling dreamless slumber, yet to be roused and yet to arise of my own accord. Perhaps the first step, the tiny shift of the first eyelash becoming unstuck and the gentle beginning of the sleeper’s realisation, came with the family holiday down to Sorrento. “We’re going to Sorrento,” said Mum. I didn’t mind because at that stage my whole existence was a rolling unconsciousness of play-dough and stories and toast and socks and butterflies. So it seemed. We put our clothes and our crayons and our toothbrushes in our little red bags and our parents called to each other as they packed the car and we were on our way. I sat staring out the window humming with the rhythm of the engine, my head half-buried in my pillow, which smelt old and comforting. There were streaming images outside; sort of earthy-red and black marked with white like a long gravelly scratch, and floating cottony clouds, and blue like someone had stuck sparkles on it. The House, Mum called it. I can see it now through a stifled bleary drowsiness which must have been my eyes, or maybe just my dozing memory. It was cream on the outside, musty terracotta within. Two armchairs were pushed together for me to sleep in but I couldn’t get up there by myself. Apart from that, there was a withering carpet with giant dingy fading flowers on it, threadbare in places, and the thickset bottom drawers of the bedroom chests, and a towering coffee table, and adult feet. There were a lot of people in The House. Mum’s brother, my smart and balding Uncle Mehmet and his wife Sebiha who was good and kind and clever and going to have a baby; my grandparents, who had grey hair and coloured plastic chains on their glasses; my Uncle Adem, who was not as worthy as my Uncle Mehmet, my Aunty Aysel and their tiny daughter Dilara and their big indistinct clanking boxes. I remember small things. Grandma stepped on a bee in the garden and it stung her foot and hurt her. My Uncle Adem sat in a chair with his eyes all dark and sleepy and went into the kitchen often. On the beach the air was flat and hot. Underwater I came face to face with my little cousin Dilara who was being held by my Auntie Aysel and looked like a small chubby blowfish with her cheeks all puffed out and her eyes wide open with surprise. My Uncle Mehmet tried to splash me with water and I shrieked and skipped and then ran out onto my towel and stood there dripping. Children pranced around under the heat of the sun shining upon them. As I walked forward I felt my feet sink into the golden sand. The waves crashed ashore, sweeping away my footprints. The water was spotted with people and everybody bopped up and down at the same time. I had sand everywhere, even in my hair and in my ears. Sometimes it hurt. In the morning Mum tied my hair in pigtails, but I noticed that now they were really loose and my hair was really messy. I licked my lips and it tasted funny. One night Mum came into the room where my little sister and I were sleeping and woke us both. I had been dreaming. I knew this because I could see things on walls that weren’t really there; flickering lights and fugitive phantoms and cowed metal and hot glass and blood that was crimson and seeping. I could hear a thwacking sound that bounced and mimicked over and over and a sort of prolonged tormented yelling. In twisted ropes I tried to break free and force my eyelids open to escape the noise. It was quiet though. Mum didn’t turn the light on and it was black and the lace at the windows was pale and milky and all the shadows had silver edges. Mum’s face was cold when I touched it, which was strange because I felt warm covered only by a sheet. “Your cheeks are wet, Mum,” I said. She said, “Yes.” I didn’t know that mothers could cry. She took us out to the living room where Grandma was sobbing in a sort of empty, painful way, and she was holding my sleeping cousin Dilara very close and my Auntie Aysel wasn’t there. My Auntie Sebiha was whispering into the phone like she was afraid of what might come out. Mum made us sit on the couch and not make a sound and she put a blanket over us but I was too hot and I wanted to know why everyone was so sad and scared.
No one would tell me. I sneaked barefoot to the backyard. My feet made a pitter-patter noise and the tiles were sticky. It was getting dark outside; the shadows representing giants, giants of great power and rage. The overcast sky was glowing yet dull like light through a thick quilt. The wind stirred and ruffled the grass. Crimson reds peeped over the dark clouds and violent blood started to trickle down from the sky. Cicadas chanted violently and leaves crackled from their dryness. The sky was turning darker. As the blanket of cloud drifted over The House, it burst apart sending deformed liquid blobs like silver pearls plummeting downwards. Pelting rain danced on the rusted tin roof, echoing like a beating drum. The worn rocking chair creaked slowly, pushed by the sweaty body of my grandpa. He wiped his brow and sniffed, peering out onto the beach. I could see the rain trickle down his leathery sunburnt neck. I know now that my Uncle Adem got drunk that night. That he reeled blindly through obscurity, followed by my Auntie Aysel. That he climbed into his car because he wanted to drive, to see the impossible world and float high above the summits and pinnacles of mountains and skyscrapers. That he slapped my Auntie Aysel because she tried to make him stop. That he saw a man crossing the road illuminated and white in the headlights, too late. That he tried to brake and my Auntie Aysel went smashing through the windscreen in a cascade of glittering fragments, and that then there was nothing but blood and love and life smeared in a violated mess all over the road. There was a time when I lay unaware and heavy with sleep, moaning and moving in the half-light as dreamers do when they have no dreams. Yet children grow by knowledge, throwing off the shackles of blankets and illusion and reaching upwards and outwards, ready for the morning’s orange juice. Perhaps, as we rise, we linger at different levels on an infinite scale of consciousness. I guess the house on the beach in Sorrento taught me a lot. As I now observe each precious wave on the beach, my life mirrors before me. I realise that life is like the ocean of waves; each one of us part of the mysterious sea. As we all come into the world, we start as nothing, like the water waiting to be lifted by the breeze above with the rest, and we all finish our time in the world as nothing, sunk back down to the deep blue – some crashing down more harshly than others. But in the middle of our wave of life, we rise. We take in all the water underneath us and bring it back with us on our ride, because we are the strongest and most powerful of all, our existence high above the rest and noticed by all around us. For some, this moment is temporary, it is over as quick as a wave curves through the rippling water. Each person rides their own wave through life, some strong and successful, others weak and drowned out by another wave in its path. But, no matter how high or how low we travel on our wave of life, we all start anxious and ready to live, creeping towards it, and we will all eventually finish as the calm foam spreading onto the beach and ready to live our wave again. I guess Sorrento was the first step. I don’t know how far I’ve come, because in awakening we are ourselves and we have no place to hide.
Stories from Our Children Superman, Spider-Man or The Silver Surfer? Who is your favourite superhero or villain? On May 22nd, 2007, Mohammed Ahmad and I held writing workshops for students from schools throughout Sydney, as part of the Unity in Diversity event held at Bankstown Town Hall. It was an amazing day as we discovered the real heroes were our participating writers. Each student submitted a short story based on their favourite superhero or villain. Skilful writers were discovered and it was really refreshing and special to hear that for many writers, their favourite heroes were actually their family or friends. So to all future writers; up, up and away ...
Aline Mansour Workshop Co-facilitator
Rashid Eid Hero My mother is a fantastic cook. She cooks up a storm every week. If there is a mess, she cleans it in one swipe of her sponge.
Ibrahim Mourad My Hero My hero is my stepdad. He is always there for me and always keeps me company whenever I feel bored. He always takes me places and takes me fishing. He always treats me like his real son. I feel that way about him.
Elizabeth Peachey My Cat My cat is fat and slow. He is lazy and sleeps all day. One day the phone rang. I picked it up and heard, “Meow, meow, meow, meow,” and I was like, “What?” A week later I got a phone bill. All the cats in the neighbourhood’s phone numbers were on the list and the bill was two hundred dollars! I wonder what happened.
Rabeah Warraich My Story Mumoliable was walking on the street without her costume on. Then she spotted her enemy walking without her costume too. They both looked at each other with envy but didn’t want to fight in front of civilians so they walked away.
Imogen Klein Freddy McJunior Once there was a super baby named Freddy McJunior. There was also a villain named Baby Stinky. Baby Stinky was so stinky he made three people and one monkey faint. Super Baby Freddy McJunior bought a stinky garbage bin to stink out Baby Stinky and the day was saved. “Yay!” yelled all the people that saw it happen.
Ahmad Elbatoory Superguy It’s a bird. It’s a plane. NO: It’s Super Guy! He’s punching his enemy The Dark Super Guy. Super Guy wins after another epic battle!
Nouha Chami My Hero My mum is my hero. She is my hero because she provides me with everything I need. If I am ever in trouble or need help from someone ... I always look up to my mum.
Anonymous Money Joe liked money. He loved to swim in it. He never spent it.
Sockets Rose walked into the surveillance room and placed her hand on Adam’s shoulder. “He still not moving?” she asked him. Adam looked back up at her and replied with a simple nod. There amongst several terminal screens, in the second row, third from the left was an image of Nemo, backed up against the right hand corner of his room. Nemo was sitting with his arms around his legs and his forehead hidden behind his knees. He had been in that position for hours, motionless. His mouth was crisp, on a desperate drought that conflicted his body with his mind, and the drool on his clothes had long since dried up. The echo of distant footsteps reverberated through his ears. Rose walked to Nemo’s room with a food tray in her hands. As she entered, the intensity of the white room caused her to shield her eyes. She waited until her eyes adjusted to the white, and then crouched in front of Nemo, placing the food tray on the floor. “Nemo?” Rose’s voice echoed. “I brought you some lunch.” Once again she received only the reply of her voice rebounding off the walls. She opened her mouth to speak, but hesitated. The creases on her forehead formed a mixed expression of concern and frustration. Rose was determined to make progress this time. She had read the report and seen all the photos, but it was different when she was with him. “Nemo?” she pleaded. Rose placed one knee behind her foot and held on to her shin with both hands. She stared at Nemo until she got cramps in her neck. She rested her chin on her knee and waited some more. Hours passed, and the walls around her seemed to be slowly expanding. First the texture of the walls diminished into a flat whiteness. Then the corners of the room faded away as they became more distant, and finally the ground beneath her feet receded until it completely disappeared. An eternal white surrounded Nemo and Rose. Nemo’s head began to rise and Rose’s stomach sank with dread. He lifted his head until he faced her. She covered her gaping mouth with one hand and looked away. Nemo had no eyes in his sockets. They were empty.
An Outlawed Love A young woman stands centre stage pondering, asking for guidance from the audience. She ends up downstage. A young man sits on a chair, his back half facing the audience. Most of his body and face are shown in profile. There is immense distance between the man and the woman. What should I do? I really need your help! What do I say to him? (Beat) He won’t listen. He’ll only push. I have to tell him. It’ll get worse and I’ll end up doing something I regret. (The young woman pauses downstage to gather her thoughts and steps into a ‘doorway’ where it cuts to a young man who is sitting stationary downstage left) You wanted to see me, why? I can’t do this anymore. It’s eating me. Okay. You deserve to know the truth. I’m consumed by you. My mind is filled up with … you! Every thought pursues you. Don’t you dare get heated with me. It’s your fault this is happening. (Young man stands to meet the young woman in a caging embrace and fights her close to his body) (Young woman struggles to push him away) I can’t go any further with you … I can’t. Don’t you understand? It’s not that I don’t want to. Listen! Listen to me! (Woman wrestles him away and argues) I couldn’t hug you. I didn’t want to come close. I pushed you away ’cause I had to. Why? (Beat) (Woman confesses) I couldn’t bear to look into the most precious eyes I’ve ever seen and wonder what everyone else was thinking: That he has a wife. To look at their faces and feel convicted! To feel truth about what’s really going on. I’d have to live with the guilt. So would you … and your poor wife, she married the unfaithful! I wouldn’t want it done to me. (Shouting) Get away from me! Leave!
44 Reem Mourad
Bridge to Awareness As the doors closed behind me and all my friends and family’s faces disappeared, something inside of me also disappeared. I felt a sudden rush of tears flooding my eyes. I carried my heavy handbag over my shoulder and with warm tears running down my face, I retraced every memory that I could remember: The good times and the bad. As I trudged down the corridor of the airplane I imagined what my new life was going to be like, what new experiences awaited me, what kind of people I would meet. I sat back in my seat and all I could think of was how this was going to be one journey that would be life-changing, extraordinary even. The plane took off and as I looked out of the window, my heart ached and I knew there was no turning back. A new life awaited me, one full of unexpected hurdles and obstacles, both negative and positive that I would have to get through step by step. Twenty-three hours later the seat belt symbol flashed. The plane skidded down the runway and I suddenly realised that the day I had been waiting for had arrived. My dad and other relatives were anxiously waiting at the entry gate. I will never forget the way my cousin and I embraced for the first time, sharing tears of joy. I was too excited to talk and as we made our way to the car, Lebanon’s air filled my lungs; I was relieved to be there. On the way to our new home I looked around me and witnessed things that I had never seen before. Although I had built a certain image in my head, as I looked around none of the features of that image were there. The rain drops that slipped down my window suddenly washed away my dream image of what Lebanon would be like. As I looked up above, I saw the war-torn buildings and from that moment on the image altered. When we arrived home I saw something different, my building was beautiful and at least ten stories high. Inside, the smell of new furniture filled my nose and it had a ‘homey’ feeling to it. I did not know what to expect of my new lifestyle, everything had changed; I knew no one and didn’t even know what street I lived in. The next few months were hard as I had started school. The language was different. The students and teachers were different. To them I was different. I was confused at first but as the weeks went by I started realising that things were not as easy for the people of Lebanon as they were for me. The various socio-economic classes, as in all countries, played a major role in how the country was divided. Before leaving Australia, I did not even think twice about living at times without electricity or clean water. However, as soon as I arrived and experienced it, I became aware that people do take the simple things for granted. My friends at school all envied me; I could flee the country at any time if war broke out. Although Lebanon is full of life, the political tension in the air built a barrier between certain people. It was sad to see people on the streets begging for money. It is rare to see beggars in the streets of Sydney pleading for even a dollar. However, not all parts of Lebanon were of low economic status. Beirut, where I was living, was full of life. Somewhere amongst the smiles however, I could see that people were not as happy as they seemed. My journey had taken a massive turn, I started becoming homesick. Even though I was enjoying my new life, I felt like an outcast. People would stare as if I had come from another planet. My dress sense and the manner in which I communicated with people varied greatly. Ironically though, in Australia, during certain circumstances, I also felt like an outcast. As a Lebanese-Muslim-Australian, it was hard to find acceptance in particular areas of the world. I was yearning for a sense of belonging and a stable environment but this was too much to ask for. Even after seven months I had no sense of real identity. So far I had gone through a roller coaster of emotions. It was not until I visited my village in the south of Lebanon that I finally understood that I was a modern young woman, a Lebanese-Australian whose identity was about to be formed by witnessing the emerging clash of genders in the village. It took two long tiring hours by car to get there. The scenery was breathtaking, the beautiful mountains and waterfalls were like nothing I had seen before. The cultural aspects of village life greatly opposed city life. As we slowly drove by men in dirty clothing fixing cars and women on verandahs hanging out the washing, it occurred to me that life in the village, in terms of gender stereotypes, was the same as it had been fifty years ago, where men went out to work and the women stayed home to cook and clean. Generally, in the city and even in Sydney, women were given much more independence and they did not have to rely on a male counterpart to help them survive. Even though I was living in one country, it felt like I had travelled back in time. When I crossed the bridge over the Litany River and entered the famous historical city of Tyre, I realised that Lebanon too, had gone through a journey, a journey full of war amongst the beautiful landscapes where the snow, sea and the mountains intertwined. As I crossed the bridge, I concluded that, like myself, many different cultures
had also crossed the same bridge and invaded the city of Tyre. I was an outsider compared to the locals and so too were the various cultures which had also journeyed through this great city. To me, the bridge symbolised my journey. The beginning of the bridge represented the uncertain feelings towards that journey. The crest of the bridge symbolised the climax and experiences and feelings I had gone through. The end of the bridge represented the final process in which I slowly developed understanding of the people and circumstances presented to me on my journey â€Ś it resulted in awareness â€“ an awareness that helped me find my identity as a modern woman with goals and aspirations for the future. My journey has not ended because as long as I am growing and learning, then the journey to awareness is one that never ends.
46 Pranjal More
Containing the Crisis of Democracy Amidst the terror and bloodshed ensuing in the Muslim world, as it dies under the weight of the West’s payloads, Australian Muslims are ordered to appreciate their democratic freedoms by finding the humility and obedience of their fellow citizens to become the passive spectators of this horrific tragedy. The systematic criticism hurled at them for expressing their resentment at this Western aggression as they helplessly watch the daily slaughter and humiliation of their fellow Muslims, reflects the ignorance and subservience Western media aims to instill in their country-men and women. In a sense, Muslims have found themselves next on the hit list as the powerful public relations industry hands them the tragic role of villains for the apparent threats they pose to democracy and freedom everywhere. Whatever democratic virtues and freedoms upheld in this latest assault on inconvenient public opinions remains a mystery, and amongst countless similar incidents, a testimony to the West’s brutal commitment to maintaining a social order that will forever serve power and privilege before human needs. These striking and perverse features of the West’s intellectual and moral culture have enormous human implications and must therefore be faced dispassionately – a difficult task for any enlightened citizen, given that to even begin to do so requires dispelling the awful imagery summoned upon hearing words like ‘Bush’, ‘Blair’ and their heroic ‘war on Iraq’. Images of torn and tortured bodies amidst wails of mourners as they watch their nation sink into lifelessness. Their grim fate never qualifies as any meaningful discussion or concern in the West as it ponders over Bush’s plaintive question: “Why do they hate us?”… when we are so good? 1 These images however are not isolated to Muslims – as their egocentric attitudes lead them to believe – but part of a systematic pattern of terrorism unleashed over decades across times and places by the very leader of today’s ‘War on Terror’. Silently buried in the annals of history – for those who have the humility and concern to look – are the gruesome reminders of this forgotten past. They tell the horror of supporting the torture and mutilation of tens of thousands of El Salvadorians and Guatemalans, the dying malnourished children of Nicaragua (courtesy of America’s success in reversing the accomplishments of the Sandinistas), the hideous mutated foetuses in Vietnam (from Agent Orange), and countless other unanswered crimes from which the West so easily avert their eyes when they themselves are the agents of misery and despair. All of which, in a disturbing irony, translates into a stern warning to those who dare to be free. Educating the masses out of this ignorance and moral numbness demands foremost a critical analysis of the historical circumstances that have come to shape much of the West’s governing structures and their attitudes towards the local and global community. These structures have greatly matured in the twentieth century. The twentieth century has seen the rise of three politically significant developments: The growth of corporate power, a growth of demands for a people’s government and the growth of corporate propaganda to combat this phenomenon. Concerns over these developments were voiced by classical liberals well before the contours of this modern society could properly be discerned. Fears that the newly rising ‘banking institutions and moneyed incorporation’2 of seventeenth century America would – given the freedom – destroy the hard won freedoms of America’s revolution. Becoming the foundations of a ‘single and splendid government of an aristocracy’3 were first voiced by Thomas Jefferson as he observed the unfolding of America’s democratic experiment. They were remarkably prophetic words, considering the splendid US government of today emerging from and working within a ‘technocratic insulation’ from the annoying public, at a level far exceeding his worst fears. The first democratic revolution in Seventeenth Century England brought to the fore the fears of governing elites that continue to influence policies and attitudes in modern times: What to do with the ‘rascal multitude’ whose newly found arrogance – democracy – forbids them from submitting to any higher classes, and thus challenging – what Adam Smith describes – as their ‘vile maxim’4 of ‘all for ourselves and nothing for other people’5. The higher classes according to Smith were society’s ‘merchants and manufacturers’6 who in his day – like today – were the designers of policy so their interests were ‘most peculiarly attended to’7 regardless of their consequence on others. The problem of governing the masses so that they have the humility to submit to civil rule has since been mysteriously solved in the West. So mysteriously and efficiently that it intrigued David Hume to enquire in his
First Principles of Government about ‘the easiness with which the many are governed by the few’ and ‘the implicit submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their ruler’. ‘When we enquire by what means this wonder is brought about’, he concludes, ‘We shall find, that as force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. `Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments as well as to the most free and most popular’. From these sketchy observations one sees the fundamental incentive for a sustained propaganda campaign to keep the masses distracted from the real issues of the day. Despite the seriousness of Muslims’ plight today, the majority of their institutions have rarely encouraged reason and passionate inquiry into understanding why or how Western powers so successfully instill in their citizens this permanent state of ignorance and amnesia to the true terror unleashed in their name. Furthermore, commonly discouraged discussions and debates into the origins and inner workings of the powerful Western institutions now confronting Muslims, denies them hope of dealing effectively with the true, complex problems facing their communities. The introverted Muslim communities that emerge as a result are no different to the broader West’s: Vulnerable to propaganda and indoctrinated into an overly simplistic, Manichean world view where past and current affairs are reduced to the level of ‘good vs. evil’ and ‘us vs. them’. From these sentiments spring forth the bigotry and suspicion on either side that has added to Sydney’s racial tensions and made reconciliation in general so difficult. In response to these facts, the Islamic community should in a spirit of enlightenment take the initiative of promoting a much needed critical conscience that rises above speculative conspiracies into a penetrating rational force. The truths that Muslims believe define the moral and political issues of the day must become dependent on facts largely outside human control inculcating the necessary element of humility that has for too long been absent in much of their discourses. When this check upon pride is installed and protected they will be able to take the necessary leaps in bridge building amongst their non-Muslim community members.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Bush, G.W. (US president) 2001. Address to Joint Session of Congress and the American People, Media release, Office of Press Secretary, The White House, viewed 17 July 2007, <http://www. whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html> John F. Manley, American Liberalism and the Democratic Dream: Transcending the American Dream, Policy Studies Review, Vol. 10, No. 1, Fall 1990, pp. 97-99. Ibid. Smith, A. 2007. How the Commerce of the Towns Contributed to the Improvement of the Country, in Wight JB (ed) Wealth of Nations, book III chapter IV, Harriman House 1st edition. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.
If you are in trouble with the police and under 18, call the Legal Aid Hotline on 1800 10 18 10. If you are over 18, call Law Access on 1300 888 529. A Community Legal Centre might also be able to help you with your problem. Macquarie Legal Centreâ€™s number is (02) 9760 0111 or go to www.macquarielegal.org.au
Complied by Tim Khoo, Youth Education Project, Macquarie Legal Centre