‘I am who I am’

By Hejin

“I am who I am.” The statement rang true, as she sang it in clear tones and shades. The audience merely stared, in awe of the girl that stood before them. The stage was her world; it was a place she had conquered, leading armies in a charge that would slay the hordes before her. The stage was her battleground; it was the place where she wages war and stands, oh so triumphantly. Her words were trumpets that could grind the highest walls to dust.

As for me, I stand in front of the full length mirror in my home. I stand, and look at a face that seems so alien and strange, clothes that I can’t remember owning, and the vague traces of make-up I can’t even remember putting on. I see myself falling apart, piece by piece; my soul is a sandcastle that crumbles as the tide throws wave after wave at it. My heart burns as the salt seawater spills into open wounds; I try so hard to cherish the pain. I would whisper to myself: “tomorrow, you’ll put yourself back together”, as if the patchwork of scars that line my skin were a puzzle, fresh from the box.

The little girl, deep in the night, would curl up under the bed; a little safe space she has sought out. When she was younger she would be fearful of that dark place: monsters lived there that would terrify little children in their sleep. Now, she seeks comfort in her own fear, and she gives little hugs to her doubts. She lives far from the stage, in an old home that has withered many revolutions, that has seen a thousand storms. Within these walls, she has conversations with memories; hers are short, but the house loves to tell stories of all the things it has seen.

I am drowning in the tears I’ve been unable to shed. And I still shiver under the hands that have touched me; those in consent, and those without. I can taste blood, so tenderly, on my tongue and lips; it comes as I try to speak the words, as I bleed through poetry. My senses are dulled, like an old rusted knife. I try to cut away the pieces of my heart that have died, lest it consumes me.

I have no words, and neither does she; they were left behind, stuck in a bag that took a wrong turn somewhere in an airport. Sent off to God-knows-where, we rush to find the tag to reclaim what was once the only life we had. Perhaps, maybe, If only I could speak again, I could reconquer the stage, and share a moment with a girl that, once upon a time, stood so proud. Perhaps, then, I could learn what I was, all over again.

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