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Volume 5

Fall 2009


Written by
Arien Elerina

Arien Elerína is not a poet. She is just someone who really likes colours and shapes and textures and emotions. Which would lead you to suggest that perhaps she should have been a painter instead. However, she is absolutely rubbish at painting. Therefore, she prefers fooling around with the written word: whenever she has lovely pictures of crabs or moons or bereft vampires in her head, or wild emotions exploding like fireworks in her soul, she likes to describe these things by writing down the first words that occur to her. As you can imagine, it is most unfortunate when she is in a bad mood and the pictures in her head involve violent uses of kitchen appliances and the first word that comes to her is one you could never say in front of your mother. Thankfully, Arien is not too lazy to forego editing her work before you can read it. (Actually, she is. Which is why she'd just like to take this opportunity to say: "Many thanks to Osman Khalid Butt and Afia Aslam for their patient and insightful e-mentoring.")


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Writer’s Block


Writer’s block cannot be described.

And yet, rough sketches are often attempted by hapless wordsmiths suffering from the condition, aided by crude and wholly inadequate metaphors. I have heard, for example, that it is like watching for rain on a cloudless day; or being snowed in all winter and waiting for spring. But meteorological observations such as these, I feel, do not nearly do justice to the intense discomfort – no, discomfort is far too mild a word – the spiritual agony that writer’s block entails.

I find, it is more like being pregnant and going into twenty-four hours of labour, with each hour feeling like ten hours of exerting every ounce of your strength to push out an as-yet nameless, faceless baby whose father you don’t know and doubt you’ve ever met; a baby who does not seem at all keen to emerge from the comfortable mystery of the womb.

It is like the first-time high-diver who tiptoes to the edge of the diving board and then retreats, comes to the edge, retreats, comes to the edge again, and stares into the blueness below, fear prickling the skin, muscles completely and unequivocally unwilling to function. I can’t do it, I just can’t. Retreat.

It is like the tears that will not come, even though your insides are bleeding from grief; the sneeze that nestles itself like an obstinate little cloud in your throat, feigning stage fright; like a slice of orange you squeeze with all your might but manage to get no more than a few drops of juice.

It is like when you feel a strong attack of nausea, and you’re bent over the sink, in a state where there can be no ease of existence, waiting and waiting for your stomach to hurl its contents and deliver you from the turbulent condition of containing something that must come out. The cold bathroom floor, the surreal lighting, the sting of the bile that periodically rises up your throat. The long, peaceless wait.

It is like suddenly learning that someone you had dinner with the night before has died in a car crash, and your brain ceases to process words or thoughts. It is that moment, frozen for an eternity in which you just do not know what to say or feel. It is like being asked for sound advice on a day when you have far too many pickles of your own. An entire ensemble cast of soap-opera pickles, so many that the world doesn’t make sense anymore, and other people’s worries can only be heard, not solved. If you try to think, you know you will go mad.

But I have seen that, more than anything, it is like staring at the bolted door of a secret room. A forbidden room. A room where, instead of walls and a ceiling and a floor, there are only mirrors – mirrors everywhere. A room you dare not enter because you are afraid of what you will find. Because you are afraid of coming face-to-face with yourself, and all the scars you bear.



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