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.