The Writers’ Bloc, Norwich School’s creative writing club, focussed on Syria during February. Daisy Campbell (U5E) wrote the piece below in response to the image below of children gathering sticks in the rebel town of Douma, in Syria:
I had seen birds do what I do before. I never understood why they fluttered so fast with their hearts beating at such a rapid rate, always flustered in a way that seemed unequal to the task at hand. But no, the truth is really what we see. The twigs are their home, uneven bricks. Once, I thought too that all sticks were the same: that their mother tree and protruding shape was irrelevant to their function. But again, now I have an insight to the bird's struggle. They are gripped by fear of time, the seasons and the earth's natural flow: a cruel beauty. I am captured by a fear that stems from violence and corrupt gain. As water hits the homes of the birds, ash and rubble hit my twig fort.
I am angry with my sister, Alaea, she is young and I know I shouldn't be, but it is not hatred I show, instead, it is frustration. She doesn't yet fully understand why the painful droplets fall on her and me, and I am glad of her childlike naivety, but yet I am a child and I had to grow up. She can't see why the jutting twigs are better for walls and why those that resemble the spindly legs of spiders are better for the roof. She hasn't yet learnt to fashion her home, to travel restlessly like a gypsy but without a waggon or to dance for joy and not to dodge malign embers. She is frustrating as she can't carry as much as I and drops salty tears that clean lines in her ash dusted cheeks. I envy her because now we are alone and I am the mother, the father but I have left my role of brother redundant.
We don't play with ropes or pray for trivial matters, we play with our lives and pray for our consciousness. We are the children not of our mother and father in their destructed-wall tombs. We are the children unable to escape, like the captive bird alone in the cage: wire-bone, perch-guns. We sing not songs of joy but of litany and for our lives. We hope that even when our eyes prematurely close for the last time, that there is a more enjoyable scape to join. But yet we cannot fear for what may lie beyond the winner lacking bloodshed: we must prioritise our life and grip it with the desperation that I grip my bundled home with. We travel, not for pleasure or escape but to escape our oncoming end. I am wearing the borrowed clothes of a boy soaked in the riches of security. He gave it to me because he should, yet he is unaware why. My face is one those illuminated screens show every day, so frequently that my horror has desensitised you to my desperate plight and muted plea. You see me every day, yet you don't look. I am just another without a future or a painless past.
So now I move along again, fastening another nest without the beauty of the bowerbird's, but more riddled with the desperation of the crow's borrowed time. My possessions are those of the lost, and the lost are those who I belong to. I live but am yet to have a life. Just forgotten flesh and bones.
Daisy Campbell U5E