2018:

 

 

100 Word Essay  

By Declan Real


The skies were a glorious blue, the clouds forming the most wondrous creations for any imaginative mind. I stared in awe, my eyes darting back and forth between the cotton-wool dragons and heavenly creatures above. I glanced down and scanned the area around me. I was surrounded by a bustling crowd. There were people of all kinds, ranging from the weird, to the dark and mysterious, to the outwardly normal, all engrossed in their lives. Losing interest in those around me, I looked back at the sky and marvelled at the paintings on the ceiling of the California Grand Casino.  



Control is an Illusion

By Christelle Ilunga


It’s the day before my final physics paper.

At 9:45PM I make myself a cup of warm chamomile tea, making sure to finish it by 9:54PM, because at 9:55 PM I need to kiss my little brother goodnight, all to make sure that by 10:00PM sharp I am in bed ready to dream about my days as an empowered yet hardworking Bachelor of Medicine at UCT. It HAS to be 10:00PM and no later because we ALL know that 8 hours of sleep is essential the day before a test.  

Before I lay my head on my pillow I say the Lord’s Prayer for the first time in 10 years. “I need to be on God’s good side,” I tell myself. I place my granny’s rosary under my pillow and hang a horse shoe over my bed. Because I need all the luck I can get.  

I rest my head, then all of a sudden, I’m hit with a rush of anxiety. Situations that once seemed impossible to me now seem like the most likely scenario: I oversleep and get to school just when the exam is meant to finish. I forget that the exam is tomorrow and I don’t go to school. I end up failing.  

You name it, I thought it.  

My eyes open wide and remain so for what seemed to be an hour. It’s 10:15PM. I’ve lost control.   

I quickly tip toe into my mom’s room and steal a few sleeping pills from her bedside table- a desperate attempt to gain back the control that seemed impossible to reclaim-I only manage to take one. “I’ve got to have control” I tell myself.  

I lie down, pray, and then close my eyes. Still, I cannot sleep.  

Eventually, it’s the morning. 12:40 AM the clock says. I count sheep, I rock myself. But still I’m tossing and turning. I’ve sunken into a river of worries and there’s no way for me to save myself. The more I stay awake, the harder I find it to fall asleep.  

It’s 4:00AM, and I manage to steal a couple hours of sleep. But still I have not regained the control.  

I will wake up at 6 o’clock, eat a healthy breakfast and leave the house on time giving myself a false sense of security to convince myself that everything will be okay. But still I will not be in control.

I will sit at my desk and remember every single thing I studied in an attempt to convince myself that I am still the captain of this ship called life. But still I will not have control.

Then, it’ll hit me. We can never have control. We are not the masters of our destiny, nor are we the Clairvoyants of our fate. No matter what I say and no matter what I do, I will never be able to control my grades, how people see me, or even my health. There’s only so much we can do. The rest is just a matter of how lucky Mother Nature decides to make us.  

We just have to accept the fact that control is the one thing we will never be granted. So we’re faced with this choice. Do we keep chasing an illusion, through balanced diets, vision boards, New Year’s resolutions and daily routines, or do we let go and allow fate to do what it’s meant to do, to control what we cannot?  



Final Thoughts

By Thomas Sharp

I’m certain that a normal person’s final thoughts before they die are something orientated towards the fact they’re going to die or relate to what they failed to do while they were alive - my thoughts are more closely related to “did I leave the oven on again?” or “I wonder who is going to feed my cats” - only at one point do I actually think of the notion of death - being dead is not painful or the part we truly fear - the part we truly fear is the act of dying because in those final moments we must suffer and take our last eternal breath - everyone fears a horrible death but why - after the act of dying is done we’re but a peaceful spirit floating in the endless abyss - then my thoughts go to simpler things - less depressing things - things like puppies - I suppose when the guy holding the gun to my head finally pulls the trigger I’ll miss puppies - those cute fluffy things - I’d miss puppies, not kittens so much - kittens only lead to problems - seriously how long does it take a guy to kill you - like honestly pull the trigger and have it over with - sigh - I must merely sit and wait here.

 


Fired Up

By M.

 

I heard once that addiction is like a Russian nesting doll. Each and every doll uncovered reveals a different type of addict until we reach the centre of it – we all have the potential to be addicts, every last one of us.

We prefer to reserve the term ‘addict’ for wife-beating alcoholics or the weathered faces we see at the robots. We see their placards that profess “50c will be much appreciated” and we judgementally suspect they are spending their day’s money shooting up in dark alleys. However, contrary to popular belief, addiction is not only defined by a person’s dependence on a substance.

They say that some of us are more likely to fall prey to addiction because it runs in our blood, passed down through each branch of a family tree. My first encounter with addiction was when my cousin relapsed a third time into her perpetual daydream in a world of white snowflakes and burnt lungs and many a long night with strange men. My second was when my mother, addicted to working, failed to see that her own daughter was unravelling right before her very eyes, until it was almost too late. My third was when my great uncle, Roberto, lost his family along with his job and every other worldly possession he owned to feed his gambling addiction. To this day, almost every cent he earns is spent on feeding the beast.

Musicians in an orchestra, when watched closely, sit there, eyes closed lost in a faraway land as they feed off the sounds that flow from their instruments. Musicians are joined by the performance addicts, who thrive on the rush of showbiz, yet begin to withdraw the second they don’t have the full attention of the spotlight. Ray Charles, Amy Winehouse, and Michael Jackson – coincidence that their love for music went hand-in-hand with their love for drugs? And what about that kid in high school who’s never seen without his guitar? We assume he spends his down time rolling joints, listening to Jimi Hendrix and jamming to El Maña.

Adding to the list are endorphin addicts and adrenaline junkies. The neighbour down the road who lives at number forty-seven who hit his midlife crisis three years ago. Today he is twenty-six kilograms lighter, runs for twelve kilometres after cycling for thirty-five and obsesses over body-fat ratios and protein content in every meal. He gets high off the endorphins that his body produces at the cost of his fifty-five-year-old joints. He may as well be addicted to morphine. The couple that spends every second Saturday skydiving, rock climbing – without safety ropes, of course, and running up Table Mountain, all while leaving their three-year-old daughter in the hands of a babysitter.

The absolute truth of addiction is that it is everywhere. It lurks in the shadows of our homes, walks in the corridors of our schools and exists between hushed whispers and behind closed doors. Most people have felt the pull of addiction at one point. I admit that I too have found myself drawn in and I have encountered it through friends and family. Addiction is indeed like a Russian nesting doll. Upon unveiling that last doll, the layers of addiction are discarded and we are left with the realisation that we are nothing more than addicts at heart.  



Friday Night in the Highlight

By Sashin Gopaul

 

Friday night: the atmosphere was vibrant and loud with a whirring feel from the bar that was constantly receiving green sheets to turn the venue into a booze cruise. I stood on one end with my mates and the three of us were busy conversing, when all of a sudden an angel seemed to come from the heavens, disguised as a mystically beautiful woman in a red dress. She was alone and it was time to make the approach.

We all stood mesmerised by what might be the lovechild of Cindy Crawford and Julia Roberts. I wasn’t able to resist looking at her; then reality came when Paolo dared me to turn the tavern into 1991. I accepted the challenge and there we were, on the stage playing Smells Like Teen Spirit and The Fly. The climax of the spectacle was playing Salome and boy oh boy, it worked, as there she was. I spectated the damsel, whose name I shall not reveal, swinging down low and shaking it to the rhythym. All in all, the keys needed to say the line, “Give you half what I got if you untie the knot”. It worked and then we were off in my black Mercedes convertible speeding to midnight and destiny. The joy, adrenalin and sense of euphoria were seething through our veins.

The V8 at full roar kept moods high. Asking for more thrill, I gunned it and we felt the AMG power kick in. Soon we arrived at my residence and, in an instant, we were swinging and dancing to the Latin groove of the Hi-Fi blasting Ricky Martin. I realised I was living La Vida Loca. After some 90’s nostalgic grooving, the night blossomed.

You know the rule, what happens in xyz stays in xyz, but I’ll give minimal details so this segment isn’t a cliffhanger: Those 30 minutes were tense and enlivening. Safe to say I was reborn and on Sunday, I wasn’t able to accept the fact she was gone and possibly out of my life, in a streak of lightning, back in heaven.

The idea of thrashing keyboard was surging through my mind and then I sucked up every fibre to express emotion. The email read:

The Dame of Friday (nicknamed Cindy Crawford until a name is found)

I write to you to ask if you were thinking of a possible arrangement to meet somewhere, a destination of your choosing for whatever you think of doing (I give choice before authoritarian decision-making). Anyway, I presume you were highly amused by my Bono impersonations… Either way please leave a response (I know you know my address from 48 hours previously). So once again, leave your details behind this note when finished reading.

Sincerely and cordially

Man on Stage in Tavern

After hitting send, I sat on the console awaiting a reply. None came and the feeling of a hit and run moment hit my head. A sudden moodiness kicked in. Then I heard a notification alert - it was Her. Joy of joys, a reply had come. I wasted no time and got typing. I was thrashing every key as if I were caning a mischievous schoolboy and a conversation began between me and Heaven’s white rose. A lot of interesting information was shared and details of shenanigans were reiterated in font, but it ended too soon. All that conversing and socialisng disappeared right before me and I was on my knees wishing that Friday was longer than what it was.

*****

Monday, and my mundane life returns, and all the colours go black and white, as life is just happening around me. I wish it were the weekend so I could run to midnight with the mesmerising lady in the red dress. 

I guess I’ll never know if I’ll see her again as “she moves in mysterious ways”. 

 

 

I Depend

By Blaise Valentine

  

I depend on my wall, it stands firm and strong,

I depend on my chair; it will not move at all.

I depend on my desk; it is stable and hard,

But I will not depend on you; you are way too far.

I depend on gravity, it holds me upright,

I depend on my blanket; it keeps me snug at night.

I depend on my clothes; they make me look cool,

But I will not depend on you; you turn me into a fool.

I depend on education, for education is power,

I depend on a rose; that beautiful little flower.

I depend on my curtains; they hide me from the dark,

But I will not depend on you; you left me in the park.

I depend on my light; it shows everything for what it is,

I depend on my hair, which falls to my knees.

I depend on my fruit; it keeps me healthy all day,

But I will not depend on you; all you do is stay away.

I depend on my umbrella; it always keeps me dry,

I depend on the birds, those beautiful creatures that fly.

I depend on my books; they make me sound smart,

But I will not depend on you; you only tear me apart.

 

 

It is Important to Say No

By Meghana Manoj


"Bapu Gandhi said, 'All religions are true.' I just want to love God," I blurted out, and looked down, red in the face.” This quote from the novel, Life of Pi, was said by the main character - Piscine Molitor Patel, when he was confronted about following Hinduism, Christianity and Islam all at the same time, and never in my entire life have I related to something this much.

When people find out that I was born to a Catholic Christian dad and a Hindu mom, a question that always follows is, “So, like, what are you?”. And to my answer they all doubtfully reply, “You cannot be both! You have to choose one”. You see the thing is, if I was bought up in one religion from the beginning, my decision would be easy. Instead, from a very young age I went to churches and temples, attended morning poojas on Mondays and morning masses on Sunday with both my parents alongside and never did I ever think this was abnormal.

Exposure to both the religions is one of the reasons why I decided to say no to “choosing one”. I would feel awful if I had to pick a religion, as it’s sort of saying that the one is better than the other, which is not true.

I believe that there is only one god and that, we as humans, have decided to differentiate and give him or her different names. This would explain why a lot of religions share similar values, morals, beliefs and even names. For instance, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism all believe in the concept of Ahimsa, which encapsulates the ideas of compassion, non-violence and forgiveness. The Holy Bible, the holy book Quran and the Torah have a lot of characters in common such as: Abraham - Ibrahim, Jesus - Isa, Mary - Maryam, Moses - Musa and many more. The Holy books also convey similar messages: to follow a set of morals, for example, the Ten Commandments from the Bible, Ten Precepts of the Buddha and the verses from Bhagavad Gita, which preach peace, compassion and respect for everyone. This division into different religions has also created many unique elements within them, like the places of worship, to the way in which each of the gods is worshipped - Buddhist meditate while Muslims pray five times a day.

In a country like India, religion plays a vital role in a person’s identity. This is attested to by the fact that there is even a space on identification documents for religious identification and it is bought up regularly in general daily conversation.

I am sure there will be a lot of resistance to my decision to follow two religions. However, this is what I was born into and I hope to continue in this vein and show others and myself that it is in fact possible to follow multiple religions.



The Smoldering Fire 

By Thomas Sharp


The smoldering fire burns strong  

The loud thump of the war drum  

Innocents sent to die  

And you ask why?  

For honour, for glory  

For love, for country  

A true patriot you appear to be  

A shining knight is all they see  

But darkness hides underneath  

Lies hidden deep beneath  

But still the fires burn  

And still the gears of war churn.   



The Invisible Depression

By Hannah Clement

 

Do you see the boats that float among my tears?

Or the crooked smile I wear like a crown,

Do you see the vines wrapped around my body?

Or the fractured mirror in my room,

Did you see the bee that stung me in my eye?

Or the empty paint can I used to paint my eyes red,

I bathed my face in glitter,

And now my eyes won’t stop sparkling,

Do you see there is an earthquake on my lips?

And the stop sign in my throat,

The lights are flashing,

The beautiful thunder is coming,

Don’t worry you won’t hear it,

Only I will,

So did you see?

I bet you never even looked…

 


Who Do You Think You Are?

By Erin Campbell


Who do you think you are to stand there and judge me like some whore on auction? You’ve known me for all of five seconds and you already think that you know my entire life story.

Well, here’s a news flash. You don’t know a single thing about me or my life. You don’t know about how I cry myself to sleep at night or how I laugh whenever I get upset. You don’t know the way that my nose crinkles when a genuine smile adorns my face or the summer days that tell the story behind the freckles that are scattered over my cheeks.  

You don’t know how my life came to pause at this point in time or how my story lost the hope that had empowered it in the start. You have no grounds on which to build your judgments.  

So when you look at me, and your insecurities tell you that I am the one who is ‘fat’ or ‘depressed’ or ‘unpopular’, take a look at yourself and fix your problems before trying to fix mine with your cruel words and unwanted comments. They mean less to me than the preaching of the pope to an atheist or a drop of rain in a storm, meaning that they hold no value to me whatsoever.  

They hold no power over me because who the hell are you to tell me that I am not good enough? Or that I am not perfect? Who the hell are you to tell me that I am not reaching my full potential as a human being?  

Absolutely no-one.  

So tell me. Who do you think you are to walk around and judge people who you know nothing about? People who have lives that are so complex that a mere glance into their story can only give you three words out of the million page novel that is their life.  

How can you judge others when you don’t want them to judge you? Judge you on your imperfections and your insecurities. How can you expect them not to judge you when all you do to everyone is judge them and the way they live their lives. You are nothing but a hypocrite.  

How can you live with yourself knowing that you have turned into this person who won’t give anyone the time of day just because you don’t like them within the five seconds of meeting them? You’ve become this person who lives in fear of all the things that you don’t like.  

I pity people like you because you miss out on the opportunity of getting to know how special and amazing people can be, all because you can’t see past their ratty clothing and their overly enthusiastic attitude but these are the things that make those people unique. These are the things that make up their stories.  

I feel sorry for people like you because I know what it’s like to judge people based on appearances and what it’s like to lose friendship due to a judgmental attitude, yet I learnt to admire and stand in awe because of the awesomeness that is human kind.  

So I’ll say it once again. I pity you.  

But then again, who am I to judge? 



The Indifference of Being Human

By Milena Hundt


They’re lucky. Their smiles bright with happiness as one passes the other a sandwich. The texture of the crust soft; the bread bending, softly, under the tips of fingers. I can smell it from here - the acidity of the tomato, the freshness of the refrigerated lettuce and the pungent smell of processed cheese. I watch them and their backdrop of winter snow slowly falling from the sky, slowly falling from the sky like frozen tears when passing through the atmosphere and freezing halfway.

They strike the ground in silence and they giggle when one drops onto the tip of their noses. I can feel the cold too. A wetness in my bones. I glance around and see similar scenes of sharing and happiness.

My stare, it lands, on two boys throwing balls of frozen snow at one another. The smaller of the two screeches and flees - faster than a squirrel sprinting behind a large tree to escape attack. They’re running whilst I’m a prisoner, forever unmoving. Never walking, running or jumping high into the sky with joy. Two minutes to someone who can walk is a lifetime of envy to someone in a wheelchair.


100 Word Story

By Zara Hartle


I awoke to the sound of screams. It was my mother.

I sprinted to find her perched on a chair whilst a cockroach roamed the floorboards below. I paused and stared, petrified as it scuttled about, its putrid body turning to me as if to say, “Whatcha gonna do about it?”

My mom broke the silence with a screech, “Kill it already!”

Clutching a heavy book and hefting it above my head, I pushed the unpleasant thoughts of cleaning its corpse aside.

“I shall slay this beast with honor!” I cried.

Then wings sprouted from its foul frame.

“Nope!”