Young Minds of Medium Featured Piece #2

Our second challenge of the year for the Young Minds of Medium was themed: What Do You Miss Most During This Pandemic? The young ones came through as they always do and I wish to feature a few from that challenge. This post focuses on the second featured piece which is from one of our most recent contributors added to A Cornered Gurl.

Bebongchu Atemkeng is a twenty-year-old young man unafraid to share his thoughts, feelings, and heart’s work with us. He is a regular in our A Cornered Gurl Six-Word Story Challenge hosted every Sunday and he encourages others by reading their work and responding. He is a joy to have in the publication and I am happy he’s around. His piece, Two Sides of Silence hits straight to the heart of the matter and leaves the reader feeling connected and (un)alone. Everyone, encourage his heart. I am hoping I’ll have him in YMOM for the next five years. He brings such a bright light to our community and I am sure you will feel it as you read his piece.


Two Sides of Silence

Young Minds of Medium Missed Things Call

Feeding goat|Photo by author

I miss the solace within these walls; the peace and quietude that used to reign here was one of quintessence. Those nights with just me, my book and pen, and a warm cup of tea at my study table were truly special. The sight of my bed neatly made up after a long and tiring day at work was enough reason to still find happiness and courage to carry on in a world that drains you of more than it gives; the bed didn’t complicate life—it only demanded that you lay down and rest in its embrace, satisfied to have satisfied you. I miss that comforting silence.

Within this space, I was free to be me. It was just me but I didn’t feel alone—I felt at home. I was free to dream and to explore my being. I discovered the things that made me happy, that sparked that zealous fire in my bones. Writing is one of them. The words always seemed to come easy then. Writing out my truth, I wasn’t scared of the prejudices of the world. It was just me and mini-me writing our souls out hoping that it inspired someone, somewhere, somehow to break the chains holding them down and to live out this passing existence free as the blowing wind—at peace with self and with the world. The tranquility was my source of healing.

That was a different time, a different world; that was six months ago when the world was still sane. The confinement within these walls doesn’t feel all that blissful anymore. Now, a different silence seems to beckon from beyond, from the most unexpected of places, telling of a peace I had but failed to see. The solitude is poisoning; the silence, deafening.

With all the time I have to myself now, I seem to be doing nothing. The bed has grown weary from carrying my weight; she doesn’t say so, but I know. Mini-me keeps reminding me of all that I said I’d achieve during this quarantine but haven’t started. He reminds me of the books I wanted to read—Chimamanda Ngozi’s Purple Hibiscus; Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God; Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas. He reminds me of a zeal grown cold. The stories I have not written haunt me—I want to tell them but the words don’t come easy anymore. WhatsApp has had its fair share of uninstalling and reinstalling. As I fall deeper into this lonely void, I wonder if this place ever really made me happy. Where is that harmony I once shared with life?

Now I realize that there was order in the chaos, poetry in the pain, music in the noise, comfort on another shoulder, and lessons to learn from the mishaps of life. Isolated from the rest of humanity, I am nothing more than walking flesh and bones; my room was never enough of a world. Within the walls of honking cars, boring lectures, singing birds, dancing children, open skies, swaying leaves, humming bees, feeding ruminants, and busy humans is a serenity of its own, a silence more profound. Now I know it was from all these that I found the inspiration to write and the courage to live.

I miss my friends. I miss the long, warm hugs and brotherly handshakes, the heartwarming smiles we shared over a plate of hot fufu and eru, the toasts we raised our glasses to, and the wishes we made over fine wine that our good God would bless us with happier days. I hope that he’s still listening.

What is left of me is emptiness and restlessness. There was an existential equilibrium I failed to appreciate: that between my world and the world. One cannot be beautiful without the other. The interweaving of the two strings produced the sweet symphony of life. I believe that better days lie ahead; I believe that after this pandemic, we would be more grateful for the opportunity to still be alive.

I miss the balance between the two sides of silence.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Quintessence: Have You Gotten Your Copy Yet?

QuintessencePhotos
Quintessence Photo Collage: Issue# 1, Spring, 2020 is here. Don’t miss out!

“Quintessence” is a literary magazine to be published yearly in the Spring. The writers you see featured in this literary magazine are contributors to A Cornered Gurl and have been faithful in their support, encouragement of others, and submitting strong and poignant work to be read freely on the platform. This is the first issue.

A Cornered Gurl Presents QUINTESSENCE: A Literary Magazine of Featured Medium Writers was published on April 10, 2020 (Good Friday), and is ready for your purchase, perusal, and praise. We will take your constructive criticism and pointers too, as we intend to grow each year. I plan on keeping the published writers in each issue to a minimum of around sixteen to eighteen.

In this first issue, there are fifteen writers, including myself. The magazine has three sections: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry. It is an “8 X 11” full-color and glossy print layout, consisting of 42 pages. It includes four of my original photography prints as the images accompanying the beginning of each section. We have sold over forty copies and we are hoping to sell at least forty more. I never envisioned we’d meet that goal, but since we did, meeting another would be quite the achievement. Here’s hoping you will help us do that.

We look forward to your support and your wondrous eyes gracing our work. We hope that you are pleased with our efforts.

Paperback and e-book. USD list prices are $20.00 and $6.50 respectively.


Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Thank you for your support!

QuintessenceCoverArt
My copy: I am a little overprotective of it. Just a little. 

Young Minds of Medium Featured Piece #1

My young ones, our young ones, the Young Minds of Medium never disappoint. They rise to the occasion, responding to challenges and calls for submissions in such a way that leaves me in awe. I have been doing this for four years now and I can tell you that it does not get old. I love this type of work. Over the next three weeks, I will feature three young ones from Medium who responded to this month’s challenge, “What Do You Miss Most During This Pandemic?”

First up, is Mr. Anto Rin. Anto is the first member of YMOM and was seventeen, almost eighteen years old when we first collaborated on Medium together. I have watched this young man soar to higher heights and with each piece he releases to the world, he is growing and revealing more of what he can do with words. His work, The Last Homecoming is our feature for this week.


The Last Homecoming

Young Minds of Medium Missed Things Call

Credit

Sushil turned towards the window and looked outside at a city whose squeals of hustle had eventually died down, inconspicuously somehow, until what could be heard were only the echoes of his own thoughts. It was weird at first — for his ears to not be able to distinguish from the air the sounds that had always been there. What he soon came to realize, however, was that the silence was as deafening as the clamor.

The pandemic separated him from his family. His mother and sister were in his hometown alone. He knew he had to be with them — these troubled times were sure to have them terribly worried. After two weeks of being in quarantine, Sushil finally arrived at a decision.

He concluded that he couldn’t wait a second more.

He packed a bag full of biscuits and water, and he set off. He was going to his hometown, no matter what, even if it meant he had to walk around 400 km.

It took him half a day just to reach the limits of the city, where the highway rolled out like a glass ribbon that seemed to shift shapes under the blinding light of the April sun. For days he walked, eating nothing but biscuits, two at a time. He knew he wouldn’t be able to buy anything until he reached the next district, so he rationed carefully. The heat was stifling — he rested whenever he could in the shades of trees.

His legs began to feel heavy, the muscles lining his shins possibly torn beyond recognition. His ankles were locked as if tightly screwed, and whenever he sat down by the side of the highway, his knees made sounds that would have made a biology student uncomfortable.

The first two days had been the easiest since he was at least in complete possession of his senses during that period. It was a challenge, but nothing a man of his strength couldn’t do. During the third day, after he had grabbed a short nap, he woke up into a state of delirium, not knowing where he was or what he was supposed to be doing. He panicked reflexively and, fearing he might have a sunstroke, he emptied an entire canteen of water, which roused his body to a state of alert that helped him walk the farthest distance yet without stopping.

His sandals were almost burnt after miles and miles of rubbing against the road, and at times, his feet slipped forward from the loosening clasps of the straps, grazing against the simmering tar. It scalded his toes. He had to waste some of his water for treating them because walking with a burn felt to him like walking on molten metal.

His phone died the fourth day, although he couldn’t have known in the state he was in. It would have hardly made any difference to him. The heat had become intolerable, so he stopped moving so much during the day. At nights, he felt lost, the lights from the posts shifting the shape of everything around him for every step he took, the road studs deceiving him with their scintillating lights. But at least, he could walk at a pace and keep to it.

He lost a sense of days soon enough. He couldn’t keep track of when he slept, or when he woke up. At one point, he woke up again in delirium, so much so that he couldn’t even remember going to sleep, or that he had done so in the middle of the road. His body was burning and he was sure that he had a fever. He felt breathless, but couldn’t quite feel his heart. There was a slight pain in his chest, which spread in an outward manner until he could feel it in his ribs.

“What’s the matter?”

Sushil raised a blurry eye.

“Who — who are you? Where am I?”

Sushil could see the faint outline of a woman and kept his eyes riveted to her. Since there wasn’t any reply, he said, “Have I made it? Where am I? Who are you?”

“Why, it is me, son.”

“Mother, is it you? Where’s Shreya? Is she alright, mother?”

“She’s fine. You know I will take care of her.”

“I am not very well. But where are we?”

“You blacked out. You are home, son. Come, put your head to rest.”

Sushil managed to drag himself over to her. His feet were still scalded and felt like they were engulfed in flames. He went to his mother and laid his head on her lap. A surge of cold instantly came over him, and he felt relaxed like he hadn’t in days. An inexplicable tiredness washed over him. He knew he was delirious, but for a second he believed he had made it because there was no other explanation for it.

He closed his eyes deliberately with a sense of relief as if he was finally ready to let go.


*Inspired by real-life events: click here or here to read further.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Quintessence

via Quintessence

“Quintessence” is a literary magazine to be published yearly in the Spring. The writers you see featured in this literary magazine are contributors to A Cornered Gurl and have been faithful in their support, encouragement of others, and submitting strong and poignant work to be read freely on the platform. This is the first issue.

For those of you who have been supportive of this magazine whether by purchasing a copy or sharing your well-wishes and positive thoughts, we are grateful. As of today, the magazine has sold thirty copies and we are anxious to see how well we will do in the next week. On Saturday, May 02, 2020, the discounted rate of $17.00, USD, will be removed and the paperback version of the magazine will be at its standard rate of $20.00 per copy. The e-book version will remain $6.50, USD.

We have one review listed thus far and I am interested in what others think about our first issue. If you have purchased a copy or you intend to, please leave a review for it whenever you can via the Lulu site linked to whichever version you purchased.

Again, thank you so much for your support!

Mindful Musings

ACG Newsletter #1

Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash 

Hello, beautiful people! It is a new month and a lovely new day and we are moving right along here in ACG. There have been a few changes and will be a few more throughout the year. I will share a couple of those changes with you at the end of this letter. Thus far, the year has been great here for our small community. We are nearing the 1200th mark for followers and we are also making our way extremely close to the 200th mark for contributors. A Cornered Gurl is growing and this pleases me greatly. I wish I could express how happy it makes me to be able to work with an amazing group of people, grow with them, and be able to encourage one another regarding our craft.

We kicked off 2020 the right way with an awesome challenge focused on an invigorating and solid poetic form: the nonet with a theme of “Nonet the Night.” The challenge took off swimmingly and I was happy to see so many people try their hand at it. Here are a few of those entries:

Mary Keating

Rachel B. Baxter

Marta Mozolewska

You can view the rest of those responses by checking out our “Community” tab.

We just ended the first Young Minds of Medium challenge for this year and as always, the young ones brought that fire, people. This past month’s theme was What Is Your Favorite Song & How Does It Inspire You? Music is an instant connector — it pulls us together more than it tears us apart. Every submission met the requirements and they were a joy to review and publish so as to share with all of you. Here are a few of those responses:

Niharika Gursahani

Nour

Ameaka

Anto Rin

You can read the rest of those responses by clicking on our “Young Minds” tab.

Due to ACG’s steady growth, I find it important to work on ways to be able to get our contributors’ voices out to the masses. Yes, Medium is one avenue and I also mention and feature writers via the ACG website, however, social media is a demanding force and many people flock to one of the big three in order to get their gossip, good reads, and fellowship fix. I have selected Twitter for A Cornered Gurl and we are now heading out of the dark ages and into a source of ever-evolving light. You can connect with and follow us at A Cornered Gurl. We hope to see you there.

ACG has been up and running as an all-inclusive writer publication for one year and almost two months and nearly up for three years prior to making that change on January 5, 2019. With this in mind, I have decided to make it a point to publish a literary magazine each Spring which will be comprised of ten-fourteen selected writers’ work, included a few of my own as well. This Spring’s issue is nearly done and is entitled: QUINTESSENCE: A Literary Magazine of Featured Medium Writers. I look forward to sharing its essence with each of you when it is complete.

A Cornered Gurl has welcomed a few new contributors this past month and at the beginning of this year. Please help me give them a proper welcome: Simran Sawant, Abdullah I. Shawaf, Sylph Hemery, and nan fischer.

And now, a little music, yes? Cameo: Back and Forth

As always, thank you for your mind, time, and eyes. We appreciate your presence here.

Peace and blessings.

A Cornered Gurl Guidelines.