SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page

My Pen and I Talked about You by Farzana Alizada

April 18, 2021

Photograph by PJ Gal Szabo

The following narrative is by Farzana Alizada, a student in SmokeLong Quarterly’s creative writing workshop in cooperation with Roshan Learning Center in Jakarta Indonesia, an organisation who provides long-term educational solutions to refugees. 


My pen and I talked about you!

I might think of anything, but your name would be the bright and clear topic to my mind. Whenever I take up the pen, my heart will invite you into my mind first, and it wants me to write about you.

Wherever I am, my mind remembers you, and subconsciously my hand begins to write about you.

Many pages were written about you; all of them, one by one, were scratched, torn, and each thrown in an unknown direction. I want to reattach them and start over for you.

My pen and I talked about you, how much you have suffered, and how you’re still fighting for right and wrong, and yet my pen does not hear you!

Again, I told my pen to write about you and your freedoms, even if it’s not true.

I wanted to seek peace in my pen, but it seemed the word was too heavy. It ignored you once again; how cruel.

For many years I have not smelled your magical perfume, nor I touched your beautiful soil. Thus, this time my pen started writing and drawing unforgettable love about you.

I talked about you and my pen wrote about you.

I drew a dream about you and my pen wrote about our unknown future. I drew freedom in my head about you, and my pen wrote of peace.

O my homeland, when will pens write about you and your peace, and when will the world speak about your freedom?

Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Farzana Alizada

Jemimah Wei: I love this piece so much. I love how writing changes shape through the story, contextualised first as invitation, then as conversation, as conflict, and as betrayal, all the while maintaining a heartbreaking brightness throughout the piece. What were you thinking about, as you crafted the voice for this piece? 

Farzana Alizada: I was thinking about my homeland. From the day I knew myself, I witnessed how my country suffered and yet.

Wei: One of the most striking things for me was how the piece plays with the reader’s expectations with direct address for a second person piece, making the reveal that the narrator is writing about their homeland ever more powerful. I’m curious to know – was the piece always structured as a direct address to a “you” from the moment you started writing? 

Alizada: Actually it depends what you’re writing about! At that moment when I was writing about “homeland” my mind itself guided me how to go step by step to build the process and its structure.

Wei: The way the narrator and pen converse brings to life the idea of the writing process. The writer and pen are constantly engaging with each other, but this also creates a space for misunderstanding, and a gap between what the writer feels and what the pen can articulate. How would you characterise your own relationship with your pen? 

Alizada: Sometimes like a friend, but often like an unfamiliar stranger.


Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

High Intensity Interval Training for Flash Writers with Ingrid Jendrzejewski

Book Now!

Bring a pen, lots of paper, and your water bottle: this is a high-intensity guided-writing work-out designed to kickstart creativity, and push you into new territory, and exercise flash muscles you didn’t even know you had.

Maybe you’re stuck in a story and looking for a way to proceed.  Maybe you’re looking to generate new ideas.  Maybe your inner editor is holding you back.  Maybe you’re in a rut or have writers’ block or are just wanting to shake things up a bit.  This session is designed to tackle all these issues and help you level up your flash fitness.  Writers of all backgrounds and experience levels warmly welcome; come along, roll up your sleeves, and trust the process.