The South Bank Review Winter 2017 | Tortured Soul
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Tortured Soul

Image credits (L to R): Daniel Kainz, Shttefan, Bui Bao, Kiwihug, Greg Rakozy

Where do I begin? How do I feel? Am I ok? I can’t explain this feeling, nor can I write them in my journal, or talk to those closest to me. So here I am pouring my heart out to you. Yes, you. After what feels like weeks of hibernation, my hands have stop shaking, no longer numb and I’m ready to share. So here I am at 4.52am trying to figure out how I got here. How did one thing define this whole year? How did everyone I hold dear breakdown at the same time?

My mother is drowning in her tears and losing weight from stress. My father is two seconds closer to a car accident, overthinking about the future of his daughter. My brother no longer feels like he is a part of us. And my sisters… what can I say about them? One’s lost in grief yet holds a smile and is the life of the party, whilst feeling like a corpse inside. The other is worried and anxious about the future. And the youngest, she pretends to be deaf to the misery, she acts blind to the mess around her and she’s nose-blind to the storm brewing within this house. Me? I’m stuck in a routine that is slowly taking away a part of me, I once knew very well.

I wish for the grief to disappear, that uneasy feeling when you sense an unwanted creature in your presence. I wish for all the dishonest people to change and accept their mistakes. I wish the cowards would come out of hiding and look us in the eyes. I want everything that once made us feel at home but turned to stab us in the back, to show the knife they carry. I yearn for the day, the man in the shadows, stops lurking and brings the light back to our life. I want all those who broke our hearts, tore us apart… to find a glue strong enough to piece our hearts back together. I need the people that call themselves family, to draw out their blood and show us if the loyalty matches. I wish the people we call our friends would stop whispering and connect themselves to a lie detector. I wish for society to take off their blindfolds and paint us a true picture of the world. I want my anger to simmer down and wait for snowfall to cool me. Because I am awake, I see colours I’ve never seen before, it’s no longer a simple rainbow but a spectrum I’ve never witnessed before.

I feel as if I am lost in a crowd, with no escape. The walls seem to be closing in on me. My hands ache to hold on, but I am truly lost. My tear stained cheeks are proof enough that I feel. Yet I cannot understand the war inside me, this whirlwind of emotion or lack thereof. I’ve lost my smile. I can’t hear my own laughter. I was a girl who was known for both. Now I stand before a mirror and that girl is no longer there. My cheeks ache from smiling and my throat closes up when I try to laugh.

These thoughts haunt me. What is true and what is false? At times I feel overwhelmed with emotions, I can’t seem to contain and other times I feel as if I am desensitised from feeling anything at all. I feel out of sync and disconnected. I know now I’m wired differently, the things that once entertained, makes me feel ill. We all wear masks but I think it is time we all strip out of our costumes and show our true selves. But I don’t know if this is my true self. Am I pretending or is this genuine?

The life within me feels as if it is slowly slipping away. Who is this imposter? This lifeless body no longer feels like home. I could be surrounded by loved ones, both family and friends, yet my mind is somewhere far, far away, I’m almost a blur, unfocused and distant. I’m losing my energy to keep up. There’s not a glint of mischief in my eyes, nor a tingle in my fingertips. This can’t be the real me.

My phone is a reflection of what I have become. What use to be buzzing with messages and people to communicate with, now only holds skeletons of conversations. Why can’t I hold a conversation? Why can’t someone find me? Why can’t they try to stay? The old me would hold on to every string, and check that the knot hasn’t come undone.
Now that I have let go… I stand at a distance to see who reaches for me, who checks up on me. No one. There is no one. I am the shore that waits for the waves to hit. And it does hit, long enough to take a part of me… but it also never stays.

I am stuck. I am lost. I am awake.

I have hope.

I know one day I will wake up to see my mother looking healthy. My father no longer carrying worry lines on his forehead. A brother who feels peace at home. A sister who has true happiness and love running through her veins. Another, that no longer lives in anxiety over the future but instead embraces the present. The last to finally see the bright sun through the open curtains, hear the birds singing and to finally smell the fresh air. And I will see myself, my true self. The one that smiles and laughs, the ones that cares and loves unconditionally. And a world just made for beings that love wholeheartedly. This is how I imagine it. This is my wish. And if death takes us there, I guess we’ll have to freeze and see where the wind drags us.

I am carefree. I am liberated. I am me.

I am asleep.

Tasmina Akhtar

Tasmina Akhtar is a twenty year old hopeless romantic and a sucker for tragedy, currently in her third year at university. A girl that fell in love with books, since the day her father took her to the library at the tender age of 6. Her writing idol will always be Nicholas Sparks, an author that continuously makes her fall in love with far too many book boyfriends. And, if the book makes her cry at 3am, its a winner. Hence the reason why she's often known as the ultimate bookworm, making it look like a chore, rather than a pass time. It's either trapped in her kindle or her nose is wedged deep between a paperback. Books are an escape from the ugly world she lives in. It was her love for reading that made her want to become an aspiring writer and publisher. It was only during sixth form that she began to find a passion in writing her own stories. Opting to take creative writing instead of English literature for her A-levels, was the best decision she ever made. As she fell into a routine of writing story after story, creating hundreds of different unique characters, and being able to control what she wrote... Tasmina's eyes finally opened wide and she was able to witness a whole new world, that she desperately wanted to be a part of.