The setting of the dream was a small village, surrounded by nothing within a visible distance. The village was arranged as a portrait canvas with a large divisive road separating two columns of houses. Each house was primarily white, though adorned with hints of electric blue, like the houses in Mykonos on a particularly bright day in summer. At the end of the village, or top of the canvas, stood a hill that seemed awash in the powdery light that spilled from the eternally semi-veiled sun. The hill boasted a magnificent castle decorated with four evenly proportioned windows and a large portal. The King who lived in the castle was notorious for the parties he threw at the end of each month to celebrate the life of his son. Upon arrival, each guest at the party would be bitten by the King’s half-beast spawn and poisoned, subsequently transforming into the creatures from I Am Legend. They would return to infect the rest of their respective households and once the entire family had fallen victim to the Son’s disease, the King’s garden would extend to incorporate the contaminated family’s land. My house was located near the city entrance, a large door that had been sealed for as long as anyone and their great-grandfather’s fathers could remember. During the past few months I had noticed the town becoming quieter, the bustle in the streets dimming to a hushed whisper from the remaining local vendors and the fleeting noise of rats retreating to their hidden homes. Even the rats were frightened, it seemed. It was Sunday morning in late December and my house’s invitation to the King’s party was due today. I had warned my parents about the party, but they had looked askance and shot my advice down with disdain. They viewed the King’s Invitation as a sign of recognition and respect from village’s highest authority. In their eyes, I was being ungrateful. Their dutiful trust in the village authority and fervent village-ism (village equivalent to nationalism) rendered my efforts futile.
As I began to settle into the dining room’s largest armchair, officially reserved for my father, but mine when he was away, I heard a loud knock on the front door (the electricity did not work as my parents had not paid the bill). I peered through the peephole and saw a burly man, perhaps in his early twenties, staring back at me intently. I opened the door, he handed me a slip of paper, turned around and disappeared without a word. The invitation contained two simple lines typed in cursive script and embellished in gold Victoria Damask. Simple and to the point. Pity the underlying significance of the invitation was not so straightforward. I returned to the house and placed the invitation on the dining table. By eight o’clock that night, my house was as silent as little children on Christmas Eve, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa. Each hour crept by tediously as I dreaded the return of my family. It was not until two in the morning I heard several rapid knocks on the front door. I did not move. No more than five seconds later, the front door lay shattered on the floor and I was running for my life. They chased me around the sinuous contours of the house and through the tunnel that ran beneath the village. As I sprinted I had to make a quick decision. Would I stay and become infected or jump over the city walls into entirely alien territory? I jumped. Upon landing I gazed at the infinite stretch of marble floor around me. I was completely and utterly alone.
“Power is shifting—from large, stable armies to loose bands of insurgents, from corporate leviathans to nimble start-ups, from presidential palaces to public squares. It has become harder to wield power and easier to lose it, and the world is becoming less predictable as a result. As people become more prosperous and mobile, they are harder to control and more apt to question authority.”—Moises Naim
I connected each piece as I thought it had been The sharp ridges aligned with the closest of its kin, Yet there was no synthesis for I did not assume my original shape.
Fumbling over blunt edges, I tried desperately to make the sides click, Click, like the sound of a lock when opened. Opened, exposed, a fading deer pierced by the inert thorns of its own antlers. Is it cannibalism when the predator is already dead?
As the fragments gathered in their personal purgatory anticipating the rewards of their entitlements, rays of light introduced the night, black as the charred remains of a partially burnt panther whose ashes serve as the nesting ground for waxen worms mocking their way through life and death.
A rich trailer mix of cat’s carcass for the crows to feast upon when feeling inadequate. The rationale: What better to boost self-esteem than a prey twice your size?
The heart, a swollen bulb of haughty autonomy, a facetious shell masking the filament inside alight when ablaze yet the fire turns to ice In the ravaged chaos of the crow’s feast
A rancid stench emanated from the room. A labyrinth of timeless injustices, the cries of the strong crippled under the weight of false mercy, the silence of the weak sealed the fate of the mistaken route.
Anaemic laughter rattled the dormant pathways, an acrimonious derision of exposed veins directing the persecutor through a rough city plan of human deception.
The impenetrable jigsaw consisted of pieces that did not correspond, the single solution to defile every piece into a forced union of incongruous splinters. Each erosion with the glass file betraying the concealed malice of the price for a damned perfection.
Graduation tomorrow. This is a bittersweet ordeal. 14 years in a place I’ve grown to call my home, despite the barrage of obstacles my class and I have faced.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has had a profound impact on my life.
Imaad, Tanya, Sorrel, Janik, Bharat, Sara, Brandon, Paul, Keisha, Damien, William, Ms. Snyder - I wouldn’t have made the choices I did and developed into the person I am today without the reassuring guidance and advice (often fluctuating in usefulness) you provided me with.
I love cross-rhythms, history and palimpsests. I love when remnants of the past are combined with the endearing promises of the future. I believe in reflecting on one’s behaviour to decipher an appropriate path for the future. I believe in perseverance of objective but variation of procedure. I am fascinated with the way every entity, from fox to faun, undergoes a process of maturity. I am awed by the beauty of both the untamed potential in puppies and the wise disposition of my faithful Labrador. I shiver at the hop, skip and bounce of jazz music and the way the pedal causes every note to linger beyond its time for emphasis.
I am amazed by the aesthetic appeal of alliteration and the role of subtext and connotation in the wholeness of language. I find it amusing that meaning can be lost in translation and that the prevalence of diversity may be an impediment to communication. I am strongly against the idea of a universal language for I believe that unity in diversity exists not in conformity, but in the acceptance of differences. I laugh at the fact that certain phrases, such as l’espirit de l’escalier, French for formulating a comeback just a little too late, have not been coined in the so-called universal English. I love the bustle of Tokyo just as much as the beachy complacence of Trincomalee. I long to traverse where the sky meets the sea, but know the horizon will scorch me.
I wish there were book exchanges on busy streets shaped like red telephone booths where adolescents and adults alike could pause for a moment and flit through novels by John Milton, Orhan Pamuk and Yukio Mishima. I play devil’s advocate not to provoke, but to inquire. I do not think I’m right, nor do I think anyone else is either. My opinions are effervescent, changing with the tides and the acquisition of knowledge. But I do think that together, as we weed out falsities through questions and healthy debate, we can inch closer to the truth.
I understand that religion exists not to create distinctions, but to direct humanity toward a single goodness of morality. I smile when I see my Syrian friend sitting on the shoulders of her Israeli boyfriend in the iridescent glow of yet another minimal rave. I have memorized the entire central line of the London tube from West Ruislip to the Eastern remoteness of Epping though I am not English. I am enthralled by the beauty of differences, the splendor of culture and the joy of acceptance. I believe that identity is created and to grow I must open myself to the infinite world of possibilities. I must not be afraid to venture into the unknown with the equal potential of returning with a scar or a souvenir. Either way, I return with an experience.