**Many contributions to be found on Instagram under the hashtag #bookedoutsundays. The ones below are mine (first of each) and those that have a private profile on Instagram. You can click on their names to find them on Instagram.
I have a secret
By Lubna Khan:
It was very early in the morning, the streets were deserted and the cold wind slapped against my ears. I was walking home at a brisk pace, my hands firmly tucked into the pockets of my coat. The effects of last night’s debauchery were wearing off and I groaned in the anticipation of that damned headache. Few more minutes. I pulled out a cigarette, lit the thing and blew out feeling my lungs quiver as if the unwanted arrival of nicotine disturbed the rugged absorption of the sharp cold air.
“Aye hen, geez a draw eh yer fag.”
Startled, I looked to my right. A junkie in all his customary dress-up limped towards me with a wide-toothed smile. Three or four rotting-toothed smile. I shrugged, what did I have to lose and so the delicate balance of risk and reward remained untouched as I handed over the lit cigarette. He stumbled two paces forward and one backwards, his blackened fingers squeezing onto the butt of the cigarette. I started to walk. “Cheers, hen! Ye cannae be stoatin aboot! Aye that’s right, walk faster” I walked faster.
“Aye look! Look! Geez a look!”
I looked back and saw him hobbling towards me, putting out the cigarette with his fingers and sticking it behind his ear.
“Geez a look. I have a secret!”
Crumpled papers, finished fag butts, a button, a marble and some lint on his palm. He separated a stick wrapped in dirty paper and carefully replaced the rest back into his pocket. “I have me a joint!” I watched him as he put it between his lips as if a real joint and suck at it with gleaming eyes. He stumbled away, stick in mouth, “I have a secret. I have me a doubie! HAHAHA!”
By Rasna Razak:
The hollow wind carried a tiny tale along its course of journey. Like wind chimes clanging to its perception, the tale brought people’s lips together in hushes and whispers, compromising its very integrity.
It longed to be hidden, but there was no convincing the inhumane folks, to pursue the shredding of something more mundane than the tale that longed to be buried. Reluctantly retreating into the dark, trying to escape the wandering, chasing eyes of those whose ears were filled with careless whispers and added narratives, the tale sighed, aching to prove its ambiguity. But the time was far gone.
No. It was mine to tell. I have a secret, but now, none will know.
Where could closure or authenticity be found in this unkind world, where feeding off of other’s flesh was normalized, where things to be kept untold was shouted out, where stories about unhealed wounds, heartbreaks and confidential matters were tea time propagandas. Whatever happened to secrets being kept well-sealed in treasure chests, to be opened when the owner wanted to revisit and reflect over proudly about how far they made it, rather than hastily shove the carcasses of happenings into tight mind spaces lest they wither away only to be mercilessly prodded by many? Chivalry died, and along with it, true tales.
By ND Seno:
I was really fat as a kid and was taunted by other kids for it. I was made fun of, and even more, because it made me get really mad and say something back to them. And I thought everyone was mean. I remember praying every day ‘Please please please please please I wanna be thin I will do anything!’ Every day, without fail.
When I was 13, I started playing with the kids from the neighborhood for a few hours each afternoon. Then I was gifted with a music player by my mother and I would dance to peppy songs with my headphones on. It was a spectacle – me throwing my limbs here and there – like I just didn’t care. I didn’t really. I was 13. At 14 I joined a coaching class where the class started at 3 PM. I came home from school around half past 2 and I remember gulping my lunch down in a hurry only to run out of the house and attend the tuitions. At 15 I had my first breakup. There was a song by Taylor Swift, ‘Fifteen’, and ohmyGod that was my soul song. And then from 17 onwards, the plethora of things that happened to me spiraled me down to what one might call, not so clinical, but seasonal depression.
I always had my friends with me, thankfully, we were all growing up together in a small town. I have been an ass who constantly ignored her family so when at 19 I once visited my not so distant relatives after a very long time, they told me I looked like a skeleton and sneered. It came as a surprise to me. I had always loved eating. But now that people commented on how less I was actually eating I realized it was all happening involuntarily. I grew up thinking I was fat and ugly. My childhood was gone and so was the fat but because I was told for a very long time I was fat and unattractive I believed for a very long time that I was. And now I was being called extremely thin.
So basically I am hanging somewhere in the middle now. But I do not focus on my flat stomach…I focus on my huge thighs. The insecurity is still there. I cannot say this to anyone, because then they scream at me and compare their bodies to mine. I believed for a long time that I somehow changed and became the way I wanted to be. It took me even a longer time to realise I already was what I am. I didn’t do anything, per se, voluntarily, life happened and I happened with it. I was me all along. Now I look at my old pictures and I think, damn, what was I even worried about? I looked like a cute carefree chump. But I remember what I felt like. It was not very cute. Not carefree either. At the age of 10 I had cried myself to sleep because somebody had called me fat over and over that day.
I can never really get over that. And because I didn’t voluntarily work for this body, I constantly fear that I’ll lose it. I am constantly worried. I joke and tell myself that I’ll get seasonal depression if I get fat and that’ll decrease my weight again…and now that I think of it, that’s probably what’s been happening to me for years. That, or I sold my soul to the devil at 10 while praying and I can’t recall it now. I won’t lie, I like being thin. I have just started loving myself after hating myself for a very long time…and this love might be put to test when I am overweight again. (And that time will come, because God knows how much I love to eat.)
But I also know there’s a chance this love might win even when I weigh a bit more because somehow I realize now I’ll still be me. I am insecure, I am scared and it’s rooted deep in my mind like a secret. But I think I realize it now, that despite everything, this is me. And I gotta give myself some love.
By Hejab Fatimaa:
Every night, as I get ready to retire to bed, like any other lawbreaker ready to commit a crime, I make a mental note of the steps I ought to take, my heart racing uncontrollably. “Okay, quick. They’re turning the lights off in the lounge. Mother is gathering her bedtime books and her portable lamp back to the room. Dad is already snoring. The brothers have gone upstairs. I can finally work on it now. I’ve waited all day.”
I go over all the steps in my head and then wait some more before taking my shoes off and tiptoeing outside, the cold marble soothing my cracked heels. I quietly lift a stool and place it under the linen closet. Standing on it, I wince as it creaks and cries, scared that I might wake someone up. Terrified that they might discover my secret. I open the highest cabinet slowly, steadily. I can’t afford any commotion or clatter. Not now. My secret is too fragile, too frail.
I take it out. My masterpiece, still in the making. It’s huge and heavy, too cumbersome to carry. I pull it down with all the force inside me, specks of dust falling on my face as I bite the tip of my tongue to stop myself from sneezing. No one must know. My secret is too fragile, too frail.
I stare at it ceaselessly, caressing the borders that I’ve carefully stitched over the years, sewing and pressing rows of ideas, choices and outcomes I couldn’t explore. I’ve used fabrics patterned with many ideas of a perfect future, threads bringing together countless opportunities I had to turn down and a batting of lies I told myself to curate my secret quilt- A secret quilt of secret dreams, woven seamlessly, in the dark and quiet hours of the night. When no one’s around to look at me or worse, judge me. When I’m not interrupted or advised or simply stopped. A secret quilt of secret dreams I’m not allowed to chase.
Every night, before I retire to bed, after spending hours feeling the unexplainable warmth that my quilt brings me, I fold it lovingly, albeit with a heavy heart. I lift it up with whatever little force is left inside me and once again, hide it in the highest cabinet in the closet. For I can’t show my secret to the world. Not yet. It’s too fragile, too frail.
By Georgia Carroll:
I have a secret,
I carry a weight that is invisible to see,
Pushing down on my head,
Sitting heavy on my shoulders,
Like lead chains dragging behind my feet.
I hold a loss in my hands,
Torrents of sorrow spring to me eyes,
Silent dispair runs in waves through my heart.
I have a secret,
I have this burden to bear,
And only I can dream of how it would feel to hold you,
I can only dream of the colour of your hair.