Burnt Words

Poetry is Hereditary

“I’ve wasted so much time
So much emotion
Looking behind high walls
Treasures told an ordinary
Horde
I failed to see
Treasures untold are far more
Than gold
And what resided in my heart
Was beside my misguided soul
No words of gratitude
No words of remorse
I’ve wasted so much time
Unknowingly away from you
You were my hidden treasure –“

I finished reciting my poem and looked big-eyed at how my friends and teacher would react. After all that had happened, I expected “booing” and the clichéd tomatoes being thrown at me. After all that had happened, I expected all of my peers to laugh loudly at me. After all that happened, I expected nothing from them. But… they were smiling. They were literally mouthing “W O W” with their mouths.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. They liked it? No, that can’t be possible. That shouldn’t be possible. Why are they smiling? Why are they all standing up and commending me? Is my poetry really… worthwhile?

Let’s rewind here a bit.

Oct 5, 2014

I am 12 years old. Sitting in my lounge watching a Barbie movie when the first revelation came; I felt a sudden surge of energy run through me and I run to my room to write the holy words out. That is when I wrote my first poem, which was never to be seen again. My mom thought it was a scrap of paper and she had thrown it away. I didn’t pay much attention to it at that time and let it slide on the prospect that it wasn’t that good. I was an obedient child, still am; hence I could never have imagined the prospect of lashing out at my own mom.

I should have paid more attention then.

Feb 11, 2015

I was in the washroom. Peeing. The angels came and once again whispered in my ears words of wisdom. Half naked, I ran outside and opened my drawer. Took out a pen and paper and wrote the revelation out. I still remembered what had happened previously and I did not want to repeat that incident so this time I made sure to hide the “scrap” of paper.

Feb 12, 2015

My drawer’s lock was broken. What was missing? The “scrap” of paper. Everything else? Neatly placed?

I do not want to imagine if that is true.

March 21, 2015

Our spring break homework consisted of us writing a poem. I do just that and at the end, to check it out I go ask my mom if she likes it. She reads it and then:

Hiss Hiss

That’s the sound that I hear seeing my mom shred the piece of paper into tiny bits. Was it that bad? Should I re-write? I silently go back to my room and write another poem. I go to my mom again to get it checked. Once more, she tears it apart, this time even more furiously.

I can’t bear it anymore. I go back to my room. Turn on my laptop. Write my third poem and print it out innumerable times and take all the copies to my mom.

She burns them all.

I do not understand what is happening here. Does she not like them? Am I that bad at poetry? Should I never write poetry again? I do not know.

I do not have the courage to ask my mom why she is doing what she is doing. This is too much for me to bear but I still love my mom. I go to my room and silently shed tears. The river stops after the sun had chosen to show it’s face again.

Nov 30, 2015

It’s been 9 months since my poetry incident. I have never written another word of poetry or even thought of writing one again. The teacher gave us homework to write a poem. I do not write anything.

I can’t write anything.

My mom inquires if I got any homework. I do not reply.

Dec 1, 2015

The teacher asks us to recite our poems. When my turn comes, I simply state a “No” and sit back down. They all wide-eyed stare at me. I, Fatima, hadn’t done the work. The overachiever hadn’t like always come out on top? What was happening here? The teacher called me up front and asked me to recite a poem. I said, “I can’t.”

“You write beautiful poetry. I already have a sample of yours.”

My eyes widen by the second as I see a scrap of half-burnt paper come out of my teacher’s hands.

“If you aren’t going to read it, I shall.”

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