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2012 BCC Youth Week Writing Competition


BANKSTOWN imagine. create. inspire.

BANKSTOWN imagine. create. inspire.

2012 BCC Youth Week Writing Comp



Produced by BCC in association with BYDS

Published by Bankstown City Council (BCC) in association with BYDS for Youth Week 2012. Street address: Civic Tower, 66-72 Rickard Road, Bankstown NSW 2200, Australia Mailing address: PO Box 8, Bankstown NSW 1885, Australia Phone: (02) 9707 9999 Website: No part of this magazine may be published without the written permission of the publisher. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. ISBN: 978-0-9853202-0-1 Copyright 2012

Acknowledgments BANKSTOWN: Imagine. Create. Inspire. has been made possible through the ongoing support and encouragement of various individuals and local services. Bankstown City Council (BCC) thanks Youth Week for the exciting projects and opportunities provided for young people each year. Thank you to Westside Publications for running the 2012 Youth Week Writing Competition, for the compilation of this publication and for the mentorship offered to young writers of BCC’s Youth Week events. Westside Publications is a literary program of BYDS that is devoted to sourcing and mentoring established and emerging writers of Bankstown and Western Sydney. In particular, BCC would like to thank Westside Publications Chief Editor, Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Westside Publications Education Officer, Felicity Castagna. Thanks to the Youth Week Planning Committee for creating a wonderful annual program of events and activities for young people that showcase their talents and increase youth participation. Their support is very much appreciated. Thank you Bankstown Arts Centre for supporting the annual BCC Youth Week Writing Competition and for providing spaces and resources for the project. Finally, BCC would like to thank all those gifted writers who entered this year’s competition. It’s their ongoing contributions that make these wonderful projects possible.

Edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Felicity Castagna Coordinated by Justine Foo and Michael Mohammed Ahmad Illustrations by Jennifer Bradley Design and Layout by Melinda Cootes Proofread by Mariam Chehab, Samantha Hogg and Fiona Wright

Contents Introduction by Felicity Castagna................................................................................................... 7 Westside Publications Education Officer

The Alleyway Perv by Ushna Bashir............................................................................................... 9 1st Place (14 years)

Farewell, City by Ushna Bashir......................................................................................................11 1st Place (14 years)

Canterbury Road at 3:35pm on a Tuesday by Peta Murphy...................................................13 2nd Place (20 years)

Your Local Supermarket by Brooke Mansell..............................................................................16 3rd Place (16 years)

29th February by Anita Grassy.....................................................................................................20 Highly Commended (16 years)

My Lego Addiction by Filip Stempien...........................................................................................23 Highly Commended (15 years)

Stories About Josh by Isabella Whitcher.....................................................................................24 Highly Commended (13 years)

My Love for You <3 by Vincent Soo.............................................................................................28 Highly Commended (13 years)

Paper Collision by Joanne Ters......................................................................................................30 Highly Commended (13 years)

An Unloved Paradise by Izabella Risteski...................................................................................32 Highly Commended (14 years)

A Masterpiece by Rayanne Elhgar................................................................................................35 Highly Commended (17 years)

The Old Woman and the Old Man: A Bankstown Romance by Naz Elbasha....................36 Highly Commended (15 years)

Sweet Sorrow by Kree Hawkins...................................................................................................41 Highly Commended (16 years)



Introduction Felicity Castagna

National Youth Week is the largest celebration of young people in Australia. Thousands of participants aged 12-25 all across the country get involved each year. Youth Week encourages our young people to share ideas, to have their voices heard, and to celebrate their contribution to the community. This is my third year of judging the Bankstown City Council Youth Week Writing Competition with Justine Foo and Michael Mohammed Ahmad. This year we’ve had our strongest entries yet and I think it’s primarily because we’ve required that entrants write about Bankstown. What it meant to ‘write about Bankstown’ was different for everyone we’ve published here. Some writers like Filip Stempien and Joanne Ters, take the reader to the inside spaces of their houses where Lego fortresses are being built and endless sheets of paper are being filled with words and patterns. Other writers, like Peta Murphy, take the reader out to the street where we’re invited to laugh at ‘sixteen-year-old boys with home job tattoos/trying to impress fifteen-year-old girls.’ Ushna Bashir in ‘Farewell, City’, gives us a wide-angle shot of this community that takes in everything from kids at McDonald’s to the Turkish kebabs outside the local shopping centre. Rayanne Elhgar zeroes in on the painting she tries to convince her mother is a ‘masterpiece’. Vincent Soo and Naz Elbasha show us that our connection to a place can be shaped by your romances with the people who live there. Isabella Whitcher’s story explores a different kind of love, the love felt by her as she watches her autistic brother play with his Thomas the Tank Engine. Izabella Risteski explores the lack of love she feels when she is alone. Through the common act of eating toast for breakfast, Brooke Mansell shows how the people of Bankstown aren’t that different from anywhere else, while the heartbreaking specificity of Kree Hawkins’ story about Brandon Asiata’s death at Bankstown Station proves there are stories about this place that couldn’t exist in other communities.


Thank you to our contributors for all the wonderful insights youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve given us into this great community â&#x20AC;Ś Bankstown.

Westside Publications Education Officer BYDS A: Bankstown Arts Centre, 5 Olympic Pde, Bankstown NSW 2200 T: (02) 9793 8324 W: E:


The Alleyway Perv Ushna Bashir

She is twisting the bottom of her shirt around her finger over and over again. A nervous habit. I’ve seen it enough to interpret it. She sneaks looks at me every so often. Not looks, discreet glances. It’s like she dares herself to peek when I’m not looking. But I catch her every time. Now she lets the shirt go, but it’s already stretched out. She’s self-conscious, I’ve learnt. Aware of her figure, aware of the flaws she possesses and how they draw her out of the norm in Bankstown. Another quick glance. More twisting of the stretched-out material. Her pose is awkward; she’s a stranger in her own body. She towers above her company, and slouches to reach their heights. Moulds herself to be like them. To be them. They catch her glancing at me. Accuse her of being attracted to the perv. The alleyway perv. I had acquired a name. Laughs and jokes are thrown around, rather harshly. She twists the shirt even more and dismisses their taunts. But I can see the creases forming. She’s a sensitive one, like her mother. Damn, I don’t want to mention her mother. Had she kept me under the roof, I wouldn’t be a stranger. I wouldn’t be observing my own daughter from the sidelines. I can feel the tension stretching over the distance setting us apart. She wonders, I know that. She hasn’t dumped all yet. It’s 5pm. Bankstown springs to life. Some passers-by throw grimy change from the bottoms of their wallets into my hat before resuming their shopping haul. I’m too occupied with the sight of her to nod in gratitude. A handful of boys are making a beeline for the group she’s huddled in. She reacts by slouching even more. As if willing herself to somehow, reform. The other girls embrace the new arrivals, but she’s held back by her insecurities. Whispers echo and my concealment is stripped from me as the girls point their perfectly painted nails in my direction. She peers from behind the macho men and reacts instantly. No, no, he’s just a homeless man. He doesn’t do anything. Just … don’t worry about it.


Although, sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s touched by their concern. The concern expires. I regain concealment as quickly as it had been stripped of me. The smell of youth stretches across the brightly lit streets. Groups of them hang around, letting time crumble away. They laugh and bicker. She watches me. I watch her. They mingle and mix. She watches me. I watch her. The discreetness has become a thing of the past. She knows. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not just the alleyway perv. What was once the past, my past, was now a living present. I would watch her forever.


Farewell, City Ushna Bashir

It had been a long time since she had felt the coolness of the breeze. Her lungs filled with fresh air, giving her renewed vigour. The sun was in its final phase before it drowns, and it was almost dark. She took in the scenery, watching the orange glow of the sky and waiting on it to metamorphose into the dull grey she had seen so many times in her childhood. She smiled slightly as she looked at the city lying before her, Bankstown. This is where she had spent her whole life, sixty-seven years to be exact, before the illness had spread through her body, stripping her of any form of joy. This city was her joy. She counted the lights slowly turning on in response to the descending darkness, a peaceful sight, and wished she could freeze the moment, then and there. Tranquility and silence seeped into the atmosphere granting her the moment to reminisce. There was nothing but the sound of her fingers quietly tracing along the windowsill and the occasional sound of the odd car driving around restlessly at this hour through the wet streets. Looking out across the city, she could still hear her neighbours, the good people who had called the ambulance when she had dropped like a broken branch in the front lawn of her home. She could still feel the lively atmosphere of the shopping centres, where she and her chums would join their pocket money to buy something valuable, once upon a time. She could still hear sounds of the careless youth at the local McDonald’s, their useless bickering and laughing that she now would smile at, for it had been her once sharing in the ecstatic laughs. She could still sense the tranquility of the library, the sound of the turning of the crisp pages of thick new novels. She could hear her late husband, Tom’s voice, as he spoke to the neighbours every afternoon, then came back inside with plates of Lebanese, Greek, and sometimes, when Mrs Khan from across the road was feeling friendly, Indian food. She could still even taste the Turkish kebabs from the little stalls lined up near the shopping centre that she had spent her childhood gobbling down, and then had scrunched her nose at upon hitting adolescence. Subtle tears moistened her eyes, a result of mere nostalgia. She blinked until her vision was clear, regaining a clear image of the city she besotted through the window. Others found it quite silly that she held such an infatuation for a city. It’s only a suburb, only Bankstown. They would pronounce the word ‘Bankstown’ with such


mediocrity, that she could not help but question them. But weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve grown up here. This city, the people, the places, they shaped us. Our thinking, our ideologies, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve all been influenced in some way by this city. Every street holds vague memories and experiences. How can we simply neglect the foundation of our beliefs, our childhood, our memories, of us? But they failed to understand. Ultimately, she held resentment for this sickness that had promised to part her from this, forever. She sighed heavily, her breathing slowing down and letting her take calm deep breaths, a break from the usual wheezing sensation she experienced, suggesting only the magic of the city. She took one last look at Bankstown resting in front of her, and let the last tear drop across her feeble face and into the endless black, before turning away with a smile.


Canterbury Road at 3:35pm on a Tuesday Peta Murphy

We fell into each other in Ancient History, the Hyksos and Nubian wars formed a solid ground. Smokers outside the hospital gates proved more interesting than Blade Runner and Frankenstein. Preliminary biology never stood a chance.

We watched the crowds, laughed at sixteen-year-old boys with home job tattoos, trying to impress fifteen-year-old girls with more makeup on their faces than I had in my entire possession, we sat comfortably on our high horses in Paul Keating Park.

We made plans, the sort of plans you can only make when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re seventeen, and painfully suburban, on your fourth cappuccino wearing a pea coat and beanie in 35 degree heat.


His boots dwarfed my feet; laid on a lounge room floor, long given up any pretence of propriety. With his front windows open you could hear school kids and cars, the ceaseless hum of Canterbury Road.

He said it was like planes or trains or anything else. When you were around something for too long, beautiful or painful or loud or too close, whatever it was, you stopped noticing.

Our world in flux, small, intricate, with infinite proportions if we ever got around to having a proper look. Ripe, dripping and ours for the taking the bones just below the surface and skin ready to split.



Your Local Supermarket Brooke Mansell

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859) “All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful: but the beauty is grim.” Christopher Morley, Where the Blue Begins (1922) “Bankstown is like a spider web in the rain, droplets running this way and that, brushing against each other, colliding, engulfing. But never understanding.” The man in the flat above you (3 minutes ago). He’s working at the supermarket for now, trying to get by. He wants to be a writer. Didn’t you know? (2012)

Chapter 1 You might think a supermarket job would be mundane. Pedestrian. Routine. You might think it would be a mindless, repetitive job with little reward and less pay. You’d be right, of course. But you’re only seeing the surface. The tip of the iceberg. The skin of the orange. There’s more. There’s so much more. There are sounds and smells. Colours and textures and heat and cold. There’s the crash of glass as a jar of pickled onions is knocked to the floor. The hum of the refrigerators, the flickering of the fluorescent lights. The rancid stench of an apple that was overlooked, left to lie under an aisle shelf for far too long. But most of all, there’s the people. Each person to pass through this store is a character in a story.


Each has their own chapter, where for ten or so pages they are the protagonist. They each have their own nemesis, be it a rival journalist or the Capitalist Machine. They each have their own dusty, back-of-the-shelf-prequel, the backstory to the smash hit star of Chapter 39 of your train journey the other day, to tell you just why the man with the straggly beard was crying over his decaf-skim-milk-half-strength macchiato. But this chapter – Chapter 1 of the newly released soon-to-be-bestseller, Your Local Supermarket – isn’t supposed to be about them. It’s supposed to be about me. It’s meant to be about my day-to-day happenings. What I do and how I do it – why I do it. They gave me ten pages, to write my story. Ten pages is the average chapter length. I told them to get lost. I can do it in two. If a story is too long, no one will want to read it. As Poe said, ‘The length of the writing must equal the intensity.’ 108 lines, in particular, for a poem like The Raven. But this isn’t The Raven; I assure you, my small chapter is nowhere near as captivating. There is no hidden meaning, no riddle to unlock. No dénouement towards which we rush with all the thrill of wild anticipation. No Gordian knot for me to pick at helplessly with my words. My story is no sabre with which to defeat kings.

I digress. This chapter is about my life. My life is about the people. Therefore, this chapter is, in a roundabout way, about them. The People.


See, I’m beating the system.

The people are the heart of the city. They are the nucleus. The cogs. The subatomic particles that make up the atoms of our lives. They are the foundations of society. You do not see this. You see crowds, and people in your way. People who make too much noise, or stand in front of stairwells. People bumping you, or jostling you, or dropping their shopping on your feet. You do not understand the people around you. You do not see individuals. Don’t be angry. I’m not insulting you. You are no different to anyone else. I wish to show you what I mean. Let me open your eyes. Come, stand around here with me on the other side of the counter in my private viewing room, from where you can observe, and learn. Come. Let me show you what I see. Imagine you are me. Imagine you woke up at 5.30 this morning to the sound of your cat shredding the flyscreen on your window. You wanted fresh air. You paid the price. Imagine you had a long shower, with shower gel that smells of mint and tiles that are starting to crack. The hot water didn’t run out though, don’t you worry. Imagine you had a piece of toast for breakfast. What’s that? You did? We have something in common. You, me, and the other 43% of Bankstown who ate toast this morning. Did you think about them, as you butter coated your tongue, and as the jam made


your mouth sticky with the overbearing sweetness of preserved fruit, and as the crunch of perfectly browned bread filled your ears like autumn leaves crackling underfoot? Of course not. They do not matter to you. Besides, you take honey on your toast. Imagine you are me. Imagine you stopped, halfway through your piece of toast, to think about the individuals. To think about the woman in the flat below you, who just returned from her early morning shopping. She returned home; six bottles of soda water, three plastic bags, and two itchy wrists. She’s allergic to the bags. She has peanut butter on her toast.

She doesn’t even know I live here.

Imagine you spent the next forty-five minutes or so like this, lost in reverie. (This is why I wake so early – I don’t start work till ten o’clock, you know). Imagine you only stop thinking like this because your cat decided to sink his little pearly whites into your leg. A cat’s gotta eat, after all. That was just a fragment of my morning. Yours was more condensed. You ate toast with honey. You see only what is inside your bubble. You are like everyone else in this city. Bankstown is like a spider web in the rain. Droplets running this way and that, brushing against each other, colliding, engulfing. But never understanding. Perhaps I could use those eight pages …


29th February Anita Grassy

The rain is pouring down outside I hear it faintly, like footsteps on the rooftop They speak in waves; a crescendo around me And ever so quietly she puts pen to paper

Numbers fill up my page in colours of boredom I watch her; she is concentrating What she dwells on, I do not know But the form of her hands, the way she stares, The intensity cannot be for anything of numerical value Nor work of any kind in this institution

I let my pen drop onto my page The paper filled, my work completed Hers continues She is tracing patterns on the paper Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a language I cannot understand Perhaps I never will, or maybe it will get better some day

Her name is called and she turns and smiles


Her page is left there; inviting I search it, looking at lines so unfamiliar The lines that flow differently to how I write The lines that I have been told can take you places Far off lands, imaginary planes – Home … She glances back towards me and my eyes widen I am caught; I have been prying She asks me something but I shrink back I hide my weakness in plain sight; she flaunts it on paper But throws it away when no longer needed When they all leave I retrieve it, smoothing out the creases

It was the first piece of writing in this strange land that I wanted to read And after so many years, I understand her intensity I speak her language now – the creative language She was the one who taught me

The rain was pouring down outside I heard it faintly, like footsteps on the rooftop They spoke in waves, diminishing into the distance And ever so quietly, I put my pen to paper.



My Lego Addiction

Filip Stempien

Ever since I was a little boy, I always played with Lego. In my opinion it is one of the best and simplest inventions in mankind’s history. Who would have thought a little plastic brick could become one of the most popular toys on the planet? Every time I went to a shop, I quickly ran to the section of the store with the Lego toys. I would stand there, analysing each colourful box carefully. I would happily make my decision and choose what I liked. Every car trip home was spent with eagerness and excitement. I couldn’t wait to assemble the toy. When I got home I would sit in my room for hours constructing it. Brick by brick the toy would take form. A special part here, a coloured brick there and so on until it was finally finished. Although building according to the instructions was fun, building whatever I wanted was a lot more fun. Firstly I imagined what I was going to build. Then brick by brick, construct it. Sometimes I had to demolish some parts because it didn’t fit or look good. After a few hours of hard work I would proudly show my mum and dad my latest creation. I made all kinds of things: cars, spaceships, houses … I remember once I built an entire city that covered my whole bedroom. It was so big I could no longer reach my bed. I spent my childhood happily building Lego stuff. It really upsets me when I hear about seven-year-olds addicted to violent video games. They don’t even realise what they’re missing out on!


Stories About Josh Isabella Whitcher Josh at School Because Josh was autistic when I started school, I wanted him to come with me to St Christopher’s Primary School in Panania. All the other kids would say how their brothers or sisters would be coming next year. I used to get upset because they would all be sharing burgers, buying ice-blocks and teasing each other as a joke. I really wanted to do all those things but I couldn’t because it was better for Josh to go to a school with other disabled kids from out of our suburb. I remember when I was little drawing a picture of me and Josh at the same school. I was really upset that all the other kids were having fun and helping their younger siblings while I just watched. By Year 2 almost everyone’s sibling was coming to school. They would be having so much fun together playing around. I was pretty upset and I really wanted Josh to be doing that sort of stuff with me. I always thought it would be funny to make fun of teachers with him, humiliate mean kids, do pranks on teachers, help with homework, interfere with his handball games, mix up lunch bags and write on pencil cases. I would always think what Josh would sound like talking normally instead of using his funny voices. I used to walk home with Dana and Victoria and their sisters, and it was funny to talk about which boys they liked and how cute Bethany, Dana’s younger sister, was. It was fun to buy them all lollies and make jokes with each other. Everyday I used to think what Josh would’ve said if he wasn’t autistic and went to our school. I still love him just the way he is, but I felt a bit sad. At least I could pretend to have a younger sibling with Vee and Dana.



Thomas Drowns When I was four, I remember sitting in the car with a red long sleeve shirt underneath my small denim dress. Josh, who was only two, was playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine toy. He had a whole collection of every train. He brought them almost everywhere. Mum and Dad were talking to each other about something I can’t remember anymore. We were on our way to Lambert Park at Picnic Point. It’s only five minutes away from our house. When we went there, we would usually walk along the path until we reached a small tree. Josh and I would climb up, and then we would start to head back. We parked at a special spot in front of a park. It had two swings, monkey bars, a slide and a ladder. They were all connected to each other. It was so colourful: red, yellow, blue and green. I wanted to play there, but Josh was off onto the path, and I had to follow. We went through a tunnel of trees with a wooden pathway beneath our feet. There was a tiny beach, where Josh and I played. I made a sandcastle, while he twirled around, making funny noises like, ‘Eeeyaa Eeeyaa, Ayaah,’ while his Thomas toy was in front of him. Mum and Dad just watched us, and talked, and watched, and talked. I had just finished my sandcastle, and Josh wasn’t watching where he was going, so he stepped on my sandcastle! We stayed at the tiny beach for ten minutes. Then we kept on walking through the path. We saw awesome houses with so many stairs and balconies. They looked really huge and I could see every curtain behind every window. They looked so decorative, and expensive, since it was near the water. We walked through the path, and over weeds, and we were very close to the tree, when Josh just looked at the water, then at Thomas, and then he threw Thomas into the water. Plonk. Water splashed as we saw Thomas floating around in circles. We were all so stunned by what had happened, and we were worried because we didn’t know how to get it out! We watched the toy swim around. We looked around at each other thinking, How are we gonna get it out because Josh may want it back soon. A man with a grey beard and a chequered shirt was fishing. He saw the toy and asked us, ‘Hey, do you want me to get that Thomas out for ya?’ in an Aussie accent. 26

‘Sure,’ Mum replied, ‘But only if you can.’ ‘Nah, it’s no problem really.’ So we all watched the man fish out the toy with his rod, except for Josh, who was climbing a rock. The first time, the toy hurled in close, but it didn’t reach the hook. Then, the hook reached the back of Thomas’ engine, and we got it! Mum put it in her red purse. We started to head back, and I walked past my crushed sandcastle looking sad. It had been crushed and forgotten like a castle destroyed by knights in the olden days. I kept on walking until we got in the car. Because I was little, I killed myself laughing and saying how Thomas drowned. When I went into preschool the next day, Revesby, I told everyone and we almost died laughing. We thought it was so funny!


My Love for You <3 Vincent Soo

Love is like a snowflake: hold it too tight it will break, hold it too loose and it will fall.

If I was to give you a hug every time I cried your name, I would hug you every day of my life. From what I am today, you have changed me to this, and for once in my life I feel great about it.

If you ever asked me if you were pretty, I would say no. If you were to ask me if you were fat, I would say yes. Because you are not pretty, but beautiful, and a fat full of love.

Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re soft, with your warm hands. Enlighten my delightful heart, times we stood up for one another, enough now, that we should be more than friends.



Paper Collision Joanne Ters

On a scorching summers’ day, I woke up to the alarm clock that buzzed at five o’clock. The reason so early was simply because today was the day I hung up my marvellous portraits. I am an artist like no other, my skills and techniques are amazing; however no one seems to notice. I am a private and unique one who loves to draw anything. I ran downstairs to say ‘goodbye’ to my girlfriend Joujou Blu. ‘Hey Joujou, aren’t ya excited about me hanging the portraits, eehh?’ I asked. ‘Nah no, they’re horrible, no offence Billy Jane but please don’t put them high even though you are tall and slim, just don’t, I will die!’ she replied. She’s just jealous I am an artist and she is a tall and fat teacher lol, I thought to myself. I headed off to the basement to get the portraits. On my way I woke up Lazy. ‘Hey wakky wakky Lazy, I know your name is Lazy doesn’t mean you have to be LAZY! Hahahah!’ I joked. I started hanging the portraits up one by one, making sure the position was perfect and the angle was correct. Just then I heard a screeching noise like fingernails on a blackboard. I couldn’t believe what was happening, the two drawings of funny men started to peel off the paper and come alive! Was it just me that could see them because you could also still see them on the PAPER! The drawings never spoke because I never drew them a proper mouth. They had pocketsize brains and enormous eyes. Their arms were as long as a snake and their feet were as short as a dog’s tail. I was so shocked to see them that I got carried away when they ran out the door. So I had to chase after them so they wouldn’t get into any big trouble. They ran down the long wide street and into the town. It was hard to keep up, especially when they ran from angle to angle and everyone was staring at you run at nothing because they couldn’t see them. The first thing they did was destroy the corner shop. The owner screamed, ‘Hey you, what are you doing?’


‘It’s not me, it’s the paper,’ I replied. But he couldn’t see them so I had to clean the mess and pay for the damage. I ran down the town. Where could they be? I thought. I spotted them jumping on cars. I ran and stopped them however embarrassed myself. Joujou was taking her class on a day out and they couldn’t see the paper, they thought I was crazy. Joujou looked mad. I’ll have to deal with her later, I thought again. What will I do…? I decided to get the portraits I hung to see if I could get the drawings back in. After hours of chasing them and cleaning the mess, I managed to catch them. I tried putting them face-to-face with the original portraits but it never worked. The drawings got away but luckily they were trapped between me and the paper shredder. I tried it again headto-toe hoping the painting wouldn’t rip and it worked. The drawings went back inside. ‘What a relief!’ I screamed. When I got home Joujou never believed me, neither did anyone. So I just wrote it in my diary to keep as a memory. The only person or animal that would believe me was Lazy because strangely he was following me all day and I never realised it and he has never walked before. So it must have been true …


An Unloved Paradise Izabella Risteski

Am I still asleep? Or have I awoken from a beautiful dream? A forest stands before my eyes, This abandoned sanctuary holds no lies, The eerie loneliness fills my heart once more. The light streaming through the Banksia trees casts an odd shadow upon the wall, The leaves on their branches have returned since last fall.

Yet the vines entwined against the trunk of the old towering tree have not differed in any way, The violet flowerbeds are once again, still on display, The grass dances as the soft breeze blows, But, the thorns have already greedily consumed a whole red rose. Why has this oasis turned into a pitiless pain? Nothing much happens there, Except for the endless pouring rain, I have heard many spectators say, That the nature and beauty of it all, Has faded away. At first when I saw it, I could not believe my eyes


Even though, many people say that they despise, The forestâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gloomy atmosphere, But to me, the woodland is very dear, My love for the empty world is overwhelming, The forest looks isolated and confined. The oddly shaped bushes had not yet been touched by mankind. I had dreamt of this place many years away, But never dreamt to look upon it today. I feel sympathetic towards this unloved paradise, But sympathy is not the key to advice, People speak of this place with appall, Yet, my thoughts are a lot different than them all. I see elegance within its hollow heart, But this is only the beauty of visual art. The artist of this painting is said to be unknown, But I have already found it a home. Away from the dull monotonous art gallery, I will keep it beside me. A lovely treasure that I can hold, Until the day I die, When I am old.



A Masterpiece Rayanne Elhgar

A masterpiece. Simply a masterpiece. It’s a fusion of bright, of contrasting, of ‘effect-making’ colours. Bloody wonderful, that’s what it is. Standing amidst it is an experience in itself, I’ve been told. The outrageously coloured – fluoro orange, deep purple, vomit-ehem-olive-green – papers covered with black permanent marker are what grab anyone’s attention. Artistically written formulas are scrawled across the paper; and they are not to be deciphered. A yearly planner is pasted opposite to these papers, its cardboard texture softened by the generous amounts of yellow highlighter seeping through it. ‘Half Yearlies’, ‘Trial Exams’ and finally, ‘HSC’. This, of course, creates the general effect of … what? Stress? No. Organisation? Perhaps. But without getting into too much analysis of the hidden depths of such fine decoration, the next most noticeable, eye-catching sight is the elegantly draped pieces of material across the furniture. Colours – burgundy, peach, black, navy, mauve – everywhere. Colours in big square holes, colours gracefully thrown around by some kind of genius, colours scrunched into little balls on the side and in corners and mostly, colours thrown one on top of the other. Yes, it is fabulous and a sight that should never be altered. It creates a person, a personality that seeps through each and every texture and material. There are fat solid textbooks, approximately eight, which stand and well, look pretty. An array of yellow, green, red, orange. The letters H, S and C are repeated – a pattern perhaps. Sometimes, very rarely, there appears a lone exercise book wedged between these textbooks. Sometimes the textbook pile reaches halfway up the first shelf of the white desk it has been placed on. And my mum tells me to ‘clean’ my room. But how can I clean this work of art?


The Old Woman and the Old Man: A Bankstown Romance Naz Elbasha

‘Hello darling,’ is what he says to me every time we meet, his voice sounds so familiar to me, yet it remains a part of my distant memory. It’s a mystery to me. If only I could remember where I’ve heard that voice before … Bingo Hall in Bankstown is where we met and it is where we meet every day at 5pm. I’ll be meeting him there in a few hours but first I must find my best dress. It is time to leave and make my way there; I begin to walk taking the same route I always have. I pass Paul Keating Park and get a tea on the go from Mimi’s Cafe. I continue walking alongside Bankstown Station until I finally reach my destination. Waiting for me outside Bingo Hall is him, holding a rose as red as a ground cherry in his hand. As I approach him he hands me the rose and in the most romantic manner says, ‘There you are, Elizabeth.’ Could this be his declaration of love for me? I take the rose and we make our way inside to be seated for our game of Bingo. ‘54, 23, 16, 2, 84, 21,’ yells out Benjamin ‘The Bingo Man’. I look down at my card to see that it is still empty and as I am looking, I hear ‘his’ voice scream out, ‘BINGO!’ As he is getting up to claim his prize, ‘BAM!’ he goes into cardiac arrest and collapses. Immediately I rush to a payphone, dial 000 and ask for an ambulance. It isn’t long before they arrive and drive him straight to Bankstown Hospital. It is a dull place in the waiting room and eventually I fall asleep until I am woken up by the doctor. ‘Excuse me ma’am, are you Elizabeth Jane?’ he asks. ‘Yes, that is I,’ I reply. ‘The patient would like to see you, please follow me,’ he instructs. As I open wide the green door to David’s room, I see him lying there on the bed with a smile on his face. I take a seat beside his bed. He holds my hand and tells me to look inside his eyes and asks, ‘Do you remember me, Liz?’ It is in this moment that my memory comes back to me and I am taken fifty years back to the summer of 1960.

We were high school sweethearts, he was David Lion the School Captain and I was just an average girl, Elizabeth Jane. We were the couple of the year and our dream was to start a life in Bankstown where we would be a part of the community and have a friendly neighbourhood. We would raise our children in Bankstown and they would raise their children (our grandchildren) in Bankstown and our whole family unit would be born and raised in Bankstown. Before I can think anymore, I shake my head and look into David’s eyes and I say, ‘Yes, of course I remember you.’ We hug and soon later he is discharged from the hospital and we go for a stroll in the park. We speak about everything: the past, the good times and the present. The thing we find most odd is after we separated from high school neither one of us got married. We decide that it isn’t too late to make a part of our dream come true … We set off to the gardening store and buy a packet of seeds to plant a tree in the middle of Bankstown. We get approval from Bankstown Council and begin planting the seed. We are planting a seed of hope for the future generation of Bankstown – hope that we will be remembered forever and hope that Bankstown will continue in its glory of being a city of passion, a city of knowledge and a united community for children to grow up in. We call it David and Elizabeth’s Tree of Hope. We hope it stands tall and proud for many years to come.

Sweet Sorrow Kree Hawkins

All I saw was a sea of red, flowing throughout the station. A large silver pole, covered in red bandanas, letters, flowers and candles shaped into a rectangular frame with pictures placed inside of it. The mourning of those around me made me want to comfort each and every one of them. We were all experiencing the same pain, some maybe more than others, but it was a feeling I did not want anyone to go through. The death of my friend, Nunu, took a toll on me, not only me but his family and friends. I myself couldn’t handle the pain and heartbreak. I’d break down and think about what I could have changed, or what I could have said and done to be nicer. He made me feel safe, whenever he was around. Someone who believed in loyalty, someone I will never forget. I suppose that’s the irony about life, we often, too late, realise what we could have done and never think about life ending for some too quickly. His death united everyone in Bankstown. At the station, I could feel a sense of everyone coming together and their love for one another. “We lost a priesthood holder, not a gang member.”

– Rest in peace, Brandon “Nunu” Asiata.

You can also read this and other awesome publications online. Check out Youth Week and Westside E-Readers at the BYDS website

Contacts Street Address: Civic Tower, 66-72 Rickard Road,

Bankstown NSW 2200, Australia Postal Address: PO Box 8, Bankstown NSW 1885, Australia Phone: (02) 9707 9999 Website:

Justine Foo Community Development Officer for Youth

Street Address: Bankstown Arts Centre 5 Olympic Pde, Bankstown NSW 2200, Australia Postal Address: PO Box 577, Bankstown NSW 1885, Australia Phone: (02) 9793 8324 Website:

Tim Carroll Director

Street Address: Bankstown Arts Centre 5 Olympic Pde, Bankstown NSW 2200, Australia Postal Address: PO Box 577, Bankstown NSW 1885, Australia Phone: (02) 9793 8324 Website:

Michael Mohammed Ahmad Chief Editor


Bankstown: Imagine. Create. Inspire.