The Raven

2016

Autumn

Snowflakes in her Ginger Hair

Thomas Earnshaw, Year 9

I sat at the back of the train carriage with my head in my hands and the sounds of torment travelling through my weakened ears.  My younger sister Mabel lay next to me grasping her teddy bear in her frail hands.  The train slowly came to an end in its voyage and the guards slid open the doors forcing light upon the many eyes. Stumbling out, my boots indented the white snow beneath my feet as I helped my sister off the decaying wooden carriage.  Cold winds caressed my shivering body.  The guards demanded young and old to walk towards the large compound in the distance.  I held my little sister as she wept in my arms.  The fields surrounding the building were overgrown with dead trees and bushes, each one unique in form.  The building itself was decaying as each brick was no longer its bright orange colour but tarnished brown with signs of erosion along the roof tiles.  Power lines and fences entrapped the entire building.  A railway ran along the frosty ground beneath us towards it, with dirty snow trapped inside the perished wooden tracks.  Rubble, burnt bushes and rusty cans lay along our path.  Our footsteps were loud in the barren wasteland as our group treaded across the rails.  Snow began to fall and cover my sister and I with white snowflakes.

“Aaron,” whispered my sister in a soft voice.

I gazed towards her agitated eyes as she stared back at me.  She lay in my arms, her ginger hair covering my sepia coat.  Snow glittered over her pale face.  “Where are we?” she continued.

“I don’t know, Mabel,” I explained to her as I observed our surroundings.

The group made their way towards the gate walking over the rubble and the snowed-in tracks.  As we treaded across the wasteland, German guards started appearing on the roof of the building, each with guns strapped around them and the Nazi sign on the side of their sleeves.  The doors swung open.  We all entered not knowing what would happen.

“Heil Hitler!” yelled two officers as they came together.

The taller of them both turned to face the group.  He was an old man with blue eyes and freakishly large ears.  Deep wrinkles ran down his face and a jagged scar marked his left cheek.  He was wearing a dark green suit with polished shoes and an arrangement of army badges on his jacket.  Perhaps he was the superior officer.  He glared at the crowd and patrolled along staring into the front row, turning to his coworker and whispering in his ear.  They turned back to face the group and nodded to the guards surrounding us.  The guards grabbed all the men and pushed them to one side.

Then they came to me.  Still holding my sister, they forced me to the ground and seized my sister out of my arms.  Screaming and crying, she struggled in their grasp, yelling my name and reaching for me.  The men covered her open mouth and muffled her squealing.  Throwing her to the ground the men behind me grabbed my shirt and hauled me up onto my feet.  The guards had separated the group into two sides.  On one side were men and on the other elderly women and children.  I could see my sister; tears stained her cheeks and she was scratched along the palms of her hands and elbows.  The guards surrounded both groups as the officers moved in front.  The superior officer summoned the closest guard and whispered in his ear.  The officer then turned back to face the crowd and we were escorted away, leaving my sister behind.

The group of men walked through the towering doors into a large warehouse.  Inside, hundreds of young men were at hard labour, working amongst the haze of smoke rising from the raging furnaces.  Each man was skinny and starving.  Many were exhausted and at the edge of death.  Everyone was wearing blue and white striped uniforms and each had a number on the side of their shirts.  As we walked past the toiling workers many of the men didn’t look up at us but simply kept working with their greasy hands and tarnished tools.  Our group stumbled through the intoxicating fumes to the other side of the building.  A long table lay covered in dust with piles of uniforms lain out in disarray.  The guards escorting us stood on the other side and stared into our eyes.

“Setzen die Kleidung auf!” shouted the guard on the far left of the table; his face grew red and the veins in his neck became visible.

Many of the men in our group couldn’t speak the German language and were unclear about what the enraged man had said.  My father was German and had taught me some of the language.  I had no idea why the man was so angered because he had simply said to put the clothes on.  He furiously took out his handgun and fired a single bullet into the roof.  A large sound shot through the air as small shards of dust fell from where the bullet had pierced the roof.  The men working behind us didn’t react to the sound and continued working.  Knowing what to do, I quickly pushed forward through the crowd to the table and took one of the uniforms.  Nervously, the crowd behind me also came forward and chose a uniform.  I slowly got undressed, taking off my clothes and replacing them with the striped garments.  When the entire group was dressed the guards pushed us towards the work area, threw us into the lethal mist and forced us to work.

Walking out of the building my arms shivered with cold.  My body yearned for nourishment and I feared starvation.  I could feel my ribcage protrude out of my chest, large bags sat under my eyes.  The moon had arisen and the skies were black.  Lamp posts lit up the glossy snow and dirt paths.  It had been almost three days since I had arrived and I hadn’t seen my sister since.  I missed her familiar blue eyes and pretty ginger hair.  She was all I had and I was meant to protect her.  If anything was to happen to her…

Walking back to my dorm, which was at the far end of the camp, I noticed a small light in the distance behind the rusted fence.  As I came up to it, I saw five men digging a large pit; each one wearing the same uniform I was wearing.  They were interrupted when an officer came by.  He pointed at each one of the men and then gestured at something out of sight.  Each man then walked over to where the man had pointed.  Observing quietly I slowly moved closer to the fence.  The men came back carrying something lifeless in their arms, each one then throwing it into the pit.  One man turned and faced me.

I saw the snowflakes in her ginger hair as he threw the body into the hole…

Something out of Place

Charlie Bevan, Year 8

It just stands there.  Puzzled.  Wondering how it got there.  The people of Paris buzzing around like ants in an ant nest.  Going off to their jobs and families.  They occasionally bump into one another or have to jump out of the way to prevent it.  Missing trains, rushing to see people or God knows what else they are doing.  Some of them walk right past it, look directly at it, in fact, and yet still they don’t notice it.

The general hum of everyday life acts as a constant tune being played over and over.  People talking, departure and arrival calls being blasted out of speakers and trains squealing on the tracks.  Either on their phones, texting or clutching onto their phones as if they are as precious as their own lives.  Even when the elephant triumphantly raises its awesome trunk in the air and blasts a high-pitched roar, still, no one bats an eyelid.

The endless ceiling of the train station is as high as the sky.  An old clock hangs from the ceiling, suspended in mid-air by rusted steel support beams.  The clock reads 8:32am.  The station’s vast walls spread out for a hundred metres, the eroded limestone bricks turned a shade from white to a pale yellow.  The huge stone columns supporting the ceilings look like something from a Greek temple.  The ground riddled with aged bricks, which display a confusing pattern, with the occasional one covered in strange substance.  Presumably chewing gum.

The trains are lined up like runners on their starting blocks.  One of them has already left, leaving a gap in the perfect structure.  All of them have a label on the side that reads Eurostar.  I see people piling onto the train on the far left when it starts to move from its docking bay.  A squealing sound screams from the train as it leaves the station and into the world beyond.

The stupendous elephant’s thick grey coat makes it look unstoppable, along with its sharp ivory sprouting from the elegant beast’s mouth.  It probably stands around three metres tall, which is enough to bulldoze anything that stands in its way.  I now really understand why it is named the biggest land mammal on the planet.  Its enormous feet look as if it could squash a human as if it were a bug.  Its large ears flap like it is trying to swat something out of the air.  Its one metre long trunk dangling into the air, ready to blast another roar into the busy station.

Despite all this, the elephant looks scared.  Afraid.  Wanting to go back to where it came from.  I can see it in its eyes.  A feeling of emptiness sweeps across its body.  I can see the nervousness in its body language.  Its territorial appearance has now diminished away to the confidence of a small creature.  It’s almost like it knew that it just lost a war and is surrendering to the enemy.

Just when I was about to come to the conclusion that I was having a hallucination, a young man, of only about 25 years of age, with an olive complexion and brown hair, catches my eye.  In some way, he seems different.  Then I realize that he doesn’t have his nose in his phone.  That he is looking around the train station, admiring the beautiful designs of this historic place.  He carries around an iconic backpack.  He is a backpacker. He looks happy, excited almost.  Ready for the journey that awaits him, despite leaving behind his old life.  Just as he passes some traffic, he stops abruptly in his path.  Mouth open, eyes wide.  He can see it too, I think, I’m not crazy.

He looks around at everyone else to check if they see what he sees.  To see some reassurance that this is just an act.  But no.  Nothing.  He turns around and asks the same thing to anyone he sees, “Is that elephant an act of some sort?”  All of them dodge out the way and give him a disgusted look.  “Don’t touch me.”

“What elephant?”

“I’ve got to go.”

“Are you crazy?”

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“Sorry, I can’t talk.”

They all give him the same uninterested reply.

Eventually, he just gives up and walks away, only looking back at the elephant once before hopping onto his train.  In response, the elephant blasts another roar from its trunk.

And even after all this time, still no one notices the elephant.  They keep walking, keep texting and keep doing whatever they need to do.  I have a thought to myself and can’t help but chuckle from the seat I sit in on the balcony of the cafe.  Doesn’t anyone notice the elephant in the room?

Sexism: Is a Thing of the Past in Australia

Ben Marshall, Year 9

Apparently Women Don’t Watch Sport in Australia

Is a horse better than a woman?  Why not?  Horses are majestic creatures and as ABC coverage of events would suggest they should and do receive more news coverage than all combined women’s sport in Australian broadcasting.  As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) makes vicious cuts to women’s sport as if it were “a sacrificial lamb” in the words of Australian Basketball centre Lauren Jackson, it speaks to the notion that sexism is indeed alive and well thanks to the lack of coverage of female athletes.  After all, people would rather watch horses race than females play sport.

Before anyone tries to argue that this is not a recent problem and things have become better even if they still aren’t good, take a quick glance at the percentage of female sport covered.  Right now it sits at around 8%, a shockingly low number.  Yet even as broadcasting companies increase in wealth, the percentage was 11% a decade ago.  The most gut wrenching thought behind this entire catastrophe is that women’s sport does have a market in television and can be successfully covered.  Just take Netball Australia.  With advertisements such as the ‘play like a girl’ they have managed to gain some resemblance of the coverage that men receive.  This is an essential step in solving issues of gender equality as through having widely broadcast women’s sport, issues of a lack of female role models and decreased salaries can be addressed.  This is not to mention that women are already more successful on an Olympic stage anyway.

Most people would acquaint success in a professional sporting environment with winning, yet not Australian National Broadcasters.  As the ABC chops the so-called ‘unwanted’ W-League (women’s soccer) and WNBL (Women’s National Basketball League) they do not rid themselves of the losing teams: men’s teams.  Believe it or not, despite all the buffoonish hype around the Australian Men’s Soccer team and A-League games being televised, the Australian Men’s Team is ranked 67th globally.  There are, in fact, 66 teams that are better than ours.  Meanwhile, the Women’s Team (The Matildas) reached the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup, meaning they are within the best 10-15 teams globally.  Perhaps the ABC, for example, doesn’t see it this way, but to those who can comprehend basic numerical values, 67 is more than four times lower than 15.

It’s not just in soccer where women out-shine the men.  The Southern Stars (Australia Women’s Cricket Team) recently won the highly coveted Ashes, a national pride.  This compared to the bitter losses of the men’s team by significant margins on several occasions.  Basketball is likewise – the Opals (female Australian basketball) holding high hopes for Rio this year and claiming Bronze in the last Olympics, whilst the men reached a clearly over-whelming and god-like seventh, not making even the semi-finals.

Even with this success, women shouldn’t have to win to be blessed with simple coverage by broadcasting companies.  Currently in Australia, women and young girls alike are without the standout perfection which many male athletes receive from younger generations.  In order to stem the flow of sexism younger women must be able to see proud female athletes to whom they may aspire.  Presently this is sorely lacking through any type of coverage so whilst boys are taught they can be brave and tough like an Australian Football League player, for example, with 60 high quality cameras touching every inch of the MCG on Grand Final Day, girls, if they’re lucky, and live around Canberra where it is broadcast, may catch a brief glimpse of a player whose name they can’t remember while a meagre team of four cameras covers a Canberra Capitals WNBL game.  Even this small luxury will soon be stamped out though – don’t everybody panic – by the cuts the ABC is making.

Finally, many before have touched on the large gap in pay between men and women.  Guess what?  This is another reoccurrence in female national sport.  But wait, how could the good old broadcasting channel such as the Aussie true blue ABC have anything to do with paying athletes?  That’s not their job, they don’t have to do that.  As the bearer of bad news we must regretfully inform the ignorant that the ABC and other broadcasting companies have everything to do with the pay.  If sport gets coverage, it gets attention; if sport gets attention, it gets sponsors; if sport gets sponsors it gets money.  As one would then expect, women’s sport money is drying up thanks to the friendly push of broadcasting companies to erase all existence of Australian female sport.  If we once more visit the Matildas we see the average pay is $21,000.00 per annum.  Hold on, that seems like an okay payday, until realisation hits that Australian soccer star Tim Cahill receives $27,397.00 a day and the average wage is $34,000.00 per annum.  In fact, Tim Cahill makes more money in a day than even the Matilda’s captain.  Of course this means that these fiercely trained women must work multiple jobs to scrape by, not to mention most athletes having families with hungry mouths to feed.  So whilst these women work tirelessly to maintain their skill as well as their livelihood, the men roll in money.  And this all points back to one key factor – broadcasting and game coverage.

But as the future darkens and darkens, we can still see a few slivers of hope.  With the previously mentioned success of Netball in Australia managing to find a foothold in the vicious downfall that is sport’s coverage, many channels and companies seek to do the same.  Over the past summer the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League has seen pleasing numbers in attendance and viewing.  The Jillaroos test match also cashed in with over 100,000 viewers.  The AFL has additionally come in on the action with a women’s league planned for 2017.

Of course this coverage can only work with the support of big broadcasting companies as well as the most important factor of any sport, Us, the viewers.  If we can make a change simply by turning on our television whilst lying on the couch with a cold one, or even attending a game, we can force Australia to disregard its outdated and ignorant sexist views.  It isn’t even hard, as clearly females and now possibly males alike can behold the spectacular sporting phenomenon that is Australian female athletes.

The Lost Brother

Kerry Miller, Year 11

It’s early in the morning yet the Mumbai heat is already starting to set in, the sun and humidity is taking effect and making me feel dreary, like taking a couple of pain killers.  I go to pick up the daily Dainik Jargan to catch up on current affairs on my way to work.  Making my way to the underground station I start scanning through the paper.  One of the titles catches my eye, “Winner of W3B Under Investigation”.  I continue reading on to find out who even won the money; it is one of my favourite TV shows after all.  It reads, “Ram Mohamed Thomas”.

The world seems to freeze around me; I just stop in shock dropping everything in my hands.  It’s not until my bag squishes my foot that I am brought back to my senses.  I have finally found my long lost brother.  A wave of emotion sweeps over me, bringing me to the ground with tears of joy.  As this notion wears off I begin to realise the sort of trouble he would be in, assuming he is living in a lower socioeconomic part of society.  Even if that’s not the case I have to go and at least meet him, although I will have to prepare for the worst.  I rush down to the police station with a slight hesitation.  I want to meet Ram, but if I barge into the police station will they even let me through or even acknowledge what I have to say?  I would also have to consider my own position.  Going up against the most viewed television show in India and standing up for my brother who has just won a billion rupees will attract a lot of attention, attention that could have me drenched in acid. However, my brother has taken a risk for me so I will do so for him.

Arriving at the police station with my clothes drenched in sweat, I run past the guards knowing that they would never let me through to the cells if I just asked them.  I barge through the door to the holding cells, the sun still at my back, but now at least it doesn’t feel like it’s burning my skin.  As I take in a breath, I feel as though I’m about to be sick from the overwhelming and disgusting fumes.  There is a heavy scent of raw sewage or faeces mixed with the heavy scent of chilli paste that burns the inside of my nose and works tears out of my eyes.  I try to find Ram in the darkness but I might as well have a blindfold on as I can barely see anything.  I can only make out the faint general shapes of objects.  I glance over to what I think is Ram but, if so, it looks likes he’s been strung up like a dead animal.  I look over at the inspector and he’s looking at me as though I’m some sort of circus act like one of those monkeys that does tricks for others’ amusement.  That suddenly changes.  His face is filled with so much anger and frustration it looks like he wants to kill me.  He charges over with wires, which I can only hope aren’t live.  But that was quickly disproven when he suddenly stopped in a daze and electrocuted himself with the wire.  From this distance I can smell his disgusting odour; it nearly competes with the smell that fills this dungeon. However his breath nearly knocks me out from the immense concentration of paan leaves and areca nuts.  He shouts out, “Who the hell are you, bursting in like this?  Can’t you see I’m busy?”

He nearly deafens me in the process and I try to remain calm and collected and simply reply: “My name is Smita Shah.  I am Mr Ram Mohammad Thomas’s lawyer.”

The inspector looks so stunned it’s as though he’s just seen an animal talk.  Placing my hand over my brown bag I stop my hand shaking from not only my nerves but also from anger.  Anger that not only me, but all other women in India who are treated like possessions and not human beings.  Although this is slowly beginning to change, it is nothing like Western Europe; here it’s quite normal for a woman to have acid thrown on her or be molested and have nothing done about it.  I command the standard codes for these instances, demanding that they immediately release Ram and stating the sections of the law they have knowingly violated.  The inspector scurries back to his supervisor like the lost dog he truly is.

My eyes have finally adjusted to the light and I am able to take a good look at Ram.  I first look at his face.  He has passed out; however he seems weary and nearly on the edge of death, but at the same time he looks relieved.  I look at the rest of his body; he is covered in small dark brown patches with blisters at the centre of each one.  I assume this could only be a result of multiple electric shocks from those wires that the inspector was holding.  There is also a wooden stick covered in what looks and smells like faeces with chilli; the very thought of what happened nearly makes me collapse.  The inspector has also managed to strip away all of Ram’s dignity by stripping off all his clothes and tying him from the ceiling like a carcass.

The inspector comes back again, disgruntled.  He pushes past me, then unties Ram and leaves him on the floor.  He just throws Ram’s clothes at me and leaves, allowing me to restore some of Ram’s dignity and get him somewhere safe and somewhere where I can talk to him.  For his sake and mine I can only hope that he has a truthful explanation for all of this.

Necrose

Lewis Weeda, Year 11

There’s a discordant harmony; an artifice of tune,

Piercing my ears with blasts of a long-told tale;

Notes and coins rip at hearts, its pleasures, betrayal,

And pluck people from their friendly commune;

Oh!  While we listen to its deathly croon

Nature chokes, roadkill beside our current trail;

We dig Her graves of coal and oil, stock exchanges fail,

To Money’s cutting claws we are hewn.

But, She, the nurturing deity, Demeter’s role;

Indifferent to money, learning, religion and that

Warmth of Her sun will make me whole;

My melody is the sounds of the ocean’s scat,

For She is the shining North Star to all;

She has made me realise!  Money is as insidious as a blighted rat.

Ciblée

Daniel Buchhorn, Year 9

Bullets firing, the sounds deafening, the dead lay twisted, civilians running for their lives, using anything as a blockade.  Casings litter the ground, revealing all, hiding nothing.  The shores of Lake Kivu wash red with blood.  The Congo is at war.

The chaos across the Congo hits global news hard, with the world in shock.  Headlines like, “Congo is Nightmare of Horror” and “First World War of Africa”.  It was no wonder that the situation was extreme.

“Joseph, don’t stare!  It’s disrespectful!”

“But why is he lying like that?”

“Leave it.  I’m sorry you have to see that.”

Kabare, a small village in the hinterlands of South Kivu, lay straight in the middle of the war.  Kabare was a constant site of indiscriminate killings and constant human rights abuses, with the vicious dictator, Mobutu, wanting access to Lake Kivu, the RPF invasion, militia groups like Teramosa and Misrata running rampant and the UN trying to hold it all together.

“Mum?”

“Quickly child, your brother’s waiting for you.”

“It’s fine, I’m old enough.  I can make it to school myself.”

“Oh darling, please, it’s not safe.  Stay with your brother.  Just go.”

Joseph stubbornly walked out the bullet-riddled door, questioning his mother’s concern.

“Quickly Joseph, we can’t be late, the group is leaving.”  During the war, the school kids would go to school in groups with safety in numbers as it was much too dangerous a journey to go alone.

“Okay Regis, but please don’t be so grumpy.”

Mama hurried the boys to go.

“What do you think we’ll be doing at school today, Regis?  I hope we have math today as it’s fun.”

“I don’t know, I haven’t seen Mr Banemy at the market for a while.”

“Why, where would he be?”

Regis shook his head at the innocence of his younger brother.

After the Rwandans shot their father, Regis took a fatherly role in the household, looking after his brother and his mother.

“What’s your favorite subject at school Regis?” asked Joseph.

“None, I don’t want to be here, I should be out fighting for my country.  I’m wasted here, what’s the point?”

“But Mama forbids it,” Joseph looked wide eyed at Regis.

“Well, what would you do without me anyway?” said Regis jokingly.

Joseph sat down at his rickety desk reading the words on the blackboard, “Mr. Banemy is away today. Today you will have Mr James.”

Regis sat down, also reading the board.  “Maybe Mr Banemy is at home.  I mean he is quite old, he must get tired having to teach all day?”

Regis just had his head in his arms; he couldn’t believe that another one was gone.

Mr James strode in, his spine sticking out of his unnaturally arched back.  “Quiet!  We must start; we have no time to waste!” he said with his thick accent.  The wrinkly old man bent over to pick up a chalk duster.

“Sir, what are we doing?” pestered the same boy.

Mr James didn’t reply, ignoring the child.

“Sir, what happened to Mr Banemy?” asked the same boy.  “Sir, is he gone like the others?”

This time Mr James responded.  “Now don’t you dare say that!” barked the disgruntled teacher.

The boy sat still in fear, just looking blankly at Mr James.

“Regis?  Where do you thing Mr Banemy is?” asked Joseph.

The truth was that Regis had witnessed the death of their elderly teacher.  Walking through the street he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, a small black figure, lurking in the shadows, brandishing a weapon.  Startled by this, Regis dropped to the ground, getting covered in mud.  Suddenly, a spray of bullets flew across the street, smashing windows and ricocheting off the tin roofs.  People urgently ducked for cover, covering their heads, shielding themselves with whatever they could.  Ping!  Ping!  Ping!  Bullets flew everywhere.

Regis was still in shock, having nightmares every night.  How could he tell his young brother that his teacher was murdered this way?

“Quiet! We must start,” crackled the old man.

“Do not worry about Mr Banemy, we are not in danger.  We have received news from the police that the perpetrator has been caught and arrested.”

“Perpetrator?” asked Joseph. “Is Mr. Banemy dead?”

“This is not a topic you should be involved in.  There is no danger; they would not target us!”

BANG!  Gunshots rang out.  Everyone ducked below their desks, covering their faces.  Mr. James dropped to the ground wincing in pain.  The bullet pierced his heart, blood trickling out, onto the floor, the thick smell of death hovering in the air.  A window shattered and shards of glass fell to the ground, cutting whoever neared the befallen teacher.

Shots rang out.  A group of men stormed the classroom holding their guns up, firing to the roof.  “If you move, we will shoot you!”

Mr James lay limp on the ground, eyes wide open.

Joseph whispered to Regis, “Teramosa?”

Regis nodded slowly.  In a rush, one of the gunmen fired next to Regis.
“Shut up, or I’ll kill you both!  I will not put up with this!” The man shouted with derangement.

“Bang!”

Mr James was wrong.  There is always danger, especially when you are in the Congo.

The Kid in the Wheelchair

Lewis Miller, Year 9

The stairs loom above me.  My worst nightmare.  Endless stairs.  The stupid wheels that I am confined to make this nightmare impossible to avoid.  The kids pushing past me aren’t going to help.  My bloody wheelchair restricts me from many of a ‘normal’ person’s daily activities.  Normal.  What does that mean?  That person laughing as he walks past and slides the cynical comment, “Have fun…”.  Is he ‘normal’?  Is that girl who cannot help but stare at me classified as ‘normal’?  I don’t know.  If they are ‘normal’, I honestly don’t want to be normal.  And I am not what they call ‘normal.’  I’m ‘the kid in the wheelchair.’  That’s me.  Not the always smiling, constantly happy person, but ‘the kid in the wheelchair’.  Because I am always happy; externally, anyway.

Back to the stairs.  How can I solve this?  I know there is a ramp around 200 metres away, but that would make me late, and my excuses are running bone dry.  I couldn’t just blame the wheelchair.  Nah.  Last time that caused a whole orchestra of jeers from those idiots at the back of the class.  They struggle to keep their verbal diarrhoea in check longer than ten seconds.  Don’t worry, I’ve timed it.  Thirteen seconds is their all-time best.  Yeah, I’m that kind of person.  The not ‘normal’ kind.

Stairs… stairs…. stairs…. How can I conquer the villain of my plot: the stairs?  Ah!  I’ve got it!

“Jane!”

Jane is also classified as not ‘normal’.  She is extremely brawny; one of the most muscular girls in the year.  She has OCD, however, which makes her only slightly not ‘normal’.  And she is also one of my closest friends.  “Jane, could you give me a hand, or should I say leg?”

Jane just grunts.  She is a bit like that.  She prefer to converse with her fists, not her mouth.  Jane is amazing.  She grabs my wheelchair and lifts if off the ground.  Her massive hamstrings then push us off the lower level, on to the first step.  Then the next.  Then the next.  Then the next.  Sooner than I thought possible, we are at the top.

“Thanks, Jane!”

She grunts and walks off.  A burst of jealousy smashes through me, a familiar feeling.  I wish I could do that; walk as if there is nothing to it.  Feel my muscles flexing with every step.  That would be enjoyable, those every steps.  But only if I have legs.  Which I don’t.  Nobody really comprehends how important legs are.  Well, I do.  I long for the chance to feel the ground, to be free on the empty fields, to run wild with the freedom of legs.  But no.  I’m the kid without the legs; “The kid in the wheelchair”.

Tears under Darkened Skies

Tom Krantz, Year 11

And only then did I realise,

The true depth to the crackle, To

The leaves so brilliantly dry

Their noise afoot ripped through my melancholy.

Porous, yet textured they lay,

A bittersweet reminder

Of things best yet not forgotten,

A gentle prompt of reassurance.

Ever felt was the lazy,

Brooding sun, a vivid cloak on

An already pressured day, adrift

Were clouds, strengthening their shadows.

 

However my guilt was too much,

To ignore such an incessant

Blackening, an inherent corruption,

Of my once pristine surroundings.

Once loved, once beautiful, once.

An inept but necessary title,

For such a senseless action.

The black too much to ignore.

To their merit, the silhouettes,

Still stood tall, as if by their need

To remain the same, but they remained

Only cracked with the loss of their hosts.

Their hearts stood, burnt, not burning,

Their tears ran dry, not falling,

The red flames remaining offering

A sheen darker than any shade.

Dear Companion, How must you

Weep with the vile decimation?

Dear Companion, How must I

Reassure my bitter emptiness?

Dear Companion… Your beauty seems

Caked, consumed, killed by this treachery,

How must you ache… alone… betrayed?

 

No longer do my legs seem

Willing in this futile persistence,

And so detail clarifies my

Cries, dampens them to a whimper.

For upon the stalks lie

Blacker twigs, yet upon these,

Lies an impossible, yet

Prodigious sight, arisen

From the sombre surroundings.

A radiant amber, so vital

And hardy to my desperate,

Longing eyes.

 

Dear Friend, How can you be

So faultless?

 

My eyes weigh heavily;

Not a vile and foul vulgarity,

But rebirth, pure and steadily

Undiluted in impeccability.

And only then did I realise,

The true depth to the crackle,

The implication of lies,

Hidden in tears; not truly shackles

Youth of the Year Speech

Tom Gooch, Year 12

Good evening judges, students and parents.

It’s 11pm.  You have had a rigorous day, exhausted from the chaotic classroom and the after school sport, and then the homework!  You have just hit the hay until, mmm mmm!  It’s a message, or it could be a notification, or it could be a snapchat.

What do you do…Leave it?  Of course not!  This is the impact technology is having on you.

Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube to name a few.  These sites are dominating our life.  Think about it.  How much time would you spend on these sites per day?  I followed this up and asked ten Year 12 students at Scotch College and the average time among them was four hours.  One-sixth of a day!  On social media!  That’s about as long as a conversation with your parents about sex and drugs!

Think back to the 1980s, prior to this entire indoctrinating Internet.  Days consisted of school, sport and socializing.  With acquaintances.  Not with apps.  Studies have shown, according to The Australian Communications and Media Authority, that Australian teens now access these apps more than 72 times per day!

Mobile phones connect, yet isolate.  Yes, they are extremely useful for enhancing communications, yet they seem to take people away from vital aspects of life, one being the ability to make conversation, as now, it is not mouths that do the talking.  It’s thumbs.

Due to the constant use of social networking, many teens now lack what Richard Louve describes as a vital ingredient of human life.  A connection to nature.  Resulting in the Nature Deficit Disorder, further leading to a wide range of behavioural problems.

This has made me consider the future of Australian children.  Will they ever get the exposure to the picturesque landscapes we possess in Australia, in person?  Or simply see it through the screen of a smartphone?

Generation Z is witnessing the detrimental impacts of technology.  It takes over.  It empowers.  It… causes…havoc.

For those who have Instagram, yes, I do too – do you recognise how exotic life is?  Each post seems to portray a sense of freedom and disregard to the real life regularity.  This glorification has one true goal.  Escapism.

This escapism can create CLMs (career limiting maneuvers).  When people go out they don’t DTRT (do the right thing), they end up with a tainted public profile that they DW (don’t worry) about.  Until the boss tells them to CYE (check your email) and then they find out they won’t BRB (be right back) to work.

Technology also has an impact on family dynamics, as I’m sure you are all aware.  I know many families that rely so heavily on technology, the dinnertime discussions are bound by a screen.  Many families have to enforce rules such as time limits and competitions to see who cannot use technology the longest.  Does this not ring havoc?

Albert Einstein once said, “The technological process is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”  He is right.  It is more often used to kill, rather than to chop wood.

Maybe if Einstein had the ab-sol-ute privilege to a Facebook page his thoughts might have been different.

The use of technology is being used in many different ways, and, yes, it is extremely efficient and beneficial in many ways.  However, as a generation growing up in a time where technology is progressing faster than we are, we need to step back from the whirlwind and realise there are a lot more important things in life than diving into the blue f.

TY TY

Sein [His] Auschwitz

Jack Banfield, Year 9

He stood behind the counter of his old shop in Munich.  The sun shone its rare brightest as the children played in the street.  Their laughter filled the air as his wife turned, smiled at him opened her mouth and …..  The scream of “Aufwachen [wake up]” tore him from the dreams of the family he was without.  His brother lay unstirring next to him.  “Bruder [brother],” he whispered as he shook the under-fed shell of a creature.  That’s all they were by now, mere shells of creatures.  His brother did not rise or even acknowledge him.  He felt for a pulse, but there was none.  He stared at the corpse, feeling little of what he would have a few months ago.  The baton came slamming down on his back and he lay there in stunned agony until he was dragged outside to join the other husbands, brothers and sons who were little more than corpses themselves.

He stood in the frozen winter landscape awaiting the completion of the morning namentliche [roll call].  The thin rags he wore protected little from the harsh winds and searing cold.  The thin wooden sandals allowed the biting frost to eat at his feet.  The man standing two along from him fell forward to the icy ground.  As the poor Jew was dragged away and beaten, the snow was stained crimson with the blood of a once proud race, reduced to numbers on a butcher’s list.

Later that day, as he shovelled coal into the huge furnaces, he felt the strain on his malnourished, overworked body.  Looking to see none of the officers were watching, he stopped to wipe his brow.  “Jederschwein [Jewish pig]!” roared the officer who had turned to see the slave Jew pause in his work.  “Please, Herr!” he begged.  “You are not worthy of my sympathy!” spat the soldier.  The Jew stood and accepted the abuse levelled at him, for why fight it?

As he attempted to eat the meagre rations of mouldy black bread that evening, he could not stomach it.  He was not able to eat the food that was not fit for rats.  How could anyone hate someone enough to feed them this?  The very thought of such a man was disgusting to him.  He threw the bread away, resigned to the cramp in his gut that made him unable to sleep, and he lay awake that night in despair.

As he was lined up the next day to be one of the next inmates sent for a shower in the new block, he felt uneasy and distrustful of the grinning face that announced his name.  As he was led to the newly constructed shower block across the camp he felt a sense of relief that he was about to have his first shower in months.  He was ordered into the showers, and waited for the water to come; instead a gentle hiss was heard, and he felt his lungs burning.  He wondered, would it be worse to die, or to live in hell enclosed by a barbed wire fence?

All Stops to London

Andrew Burvill, Year 11

Amidst the rolling hills of green,

The shining beast charges away,

Blemishing the picturesque scene,

Her horn blasts all night and day.

 

Her carriages filled to the brim,

With lonesome crowds and timid stares,

Ill prepared for the urban grim,

Oft crossed upon unawares.

 

Oh how the city yearns and lusts,

For the cool kiss of country air!

Lungs and minds surrender to rust,

Caged by a cruel, smoggy snare.

 

As the iron horse flees the hills,

She’s ushered through the furnace doors,

Desires and dreams, dwindle and still,

As fresh bones join the pile on the floor.

I Promise

James Schweizer, Year 11

It was a dream.  Living in a bungalow that keeps you warm and cosy like a cocoon that radiates comfort.  With lots of food and space, I had untold happiness.  Papa was a renowned scientist, an astronomer who taught at the campus we lived on.  But now all that’s gone.  After his discovery was stolen, his daily Scotch turned to two, then six, until he was showing up to his classes sporting a hangover.  He now works as a sales assistant in a clothes showroom.  Like a needle gradually piercing your skin, I can tell it’s gradually killing him.

All the money we’ve saved up, gone, in hopes of finding new jobs and now we dwell in a chawl.  It’s like nothing I’ve seen, nothing like my home.  The walls are paper-thin and when it rains, you can hear every drop hit the tin roof and like a drum, it fills the room with noise.  It’s music to my ears when the people make the chawl as loud as a parade.  You can hear your neighbour’s every move and every word but worse you can smell their every action.  It’s all my life now.  There’s nothing to do but carry on and do what you can.

Life in the chawl changes people for the worse.  It’s changed my family; it’s changed me.  “You are my moon.  You are my Gudiya, my doll”.  These words haunt me forever.  They invade my dreams.  They poison my thoughts.  They infect my mind.  That night I would have ended it all if not for my neighbour in the chawl.  Through the hole in the wall he held my hand.  Comfort in my greatest time of need.  My life was over.  At least I wanted it to be, but the boy next door gave me a promise.  A promise that he would never let that happen again.

And he kept it.

*      *      *

For years I’ve tried to find him.  He disappeared, vanished from my grasp through the rotten hole in the wall.  When the police arrested a boy with the name Ram Muhammad Thomas, I didn’t hesitate.  During these years I have become a lawyer, still new but already respectable.  Ignoring my reputation, I throw on anything I can find around my home and depart immediately.

Like a flash I arrive at the police station, awaiting the warm welcome of an old friend.  Life never ceases to disappoint.  As I walk in I am assaulted by a foul stench that fills the room.  The darkness pierces my eyes as I walk from the glaring sunlit day, to the under-lit, decrepit room from which he hangs.  For years, I’ve run through hundreds of scenarios in my head, ready for that warm welcome that I’ve been expecting, but never was I prepared for this.  I’ll never forget the sight of him, the sight and state of the room.  His body, stripped to the bone and hanging like a carcase from the rafters.  Not a single mark or scratch but looking like a bag of bones.  The tools, as intricate as that of a dentist, but as gruesome as that of an abattoir and the man in the room, whose breath reeks of whiskey as he yells at me in deep confusion.

I muster every detail of every situation I was taught in Law School and expel a gale of information upon the unsuspecting man standing below Ram’s dangling body.  He’s helpless from the hurricane of Articles and Codes I hurl at him.  The expression on his face says it all.  With his tail between his legs he runs off to the Commissioner to seek instructions for a situation he never could have expected.  Upon his return he is still flustered by my arrival and can do nothing but allow me to take control of the situation.  Ram passes out and I have no choice but to take this newly found power over the police and use them to help me get Ram into the car.  With every single officer giving me a glaring look of disgust, we scurry off to a safer place, my home.

Driving back I could only consider one event of the entire fiasco.  I saw Ram’s nude, skeletal, suspended body dangling from the rafters.  I saw the man torturing him and the tools used for his torment, his torture.  The one thing I could never prepare for was Ram’s look of surprise and confusion when he saw me.  From the moment I entered, his expression of astonishment ceased to change.  Even after all these years, it shatters my heart that he doesn’t know it’s me.  Of course, this will guide me to the truth.  My experiences and his story will be the key to his exoneration. I will fight for him as he fought for me.

I promise.