Arad Nik

Arad is a writer, commentator and poet.  He not only writes for the page and online but is an accomplished performance poet.

A Crow’s Scream

His heart feels sad and heavy.
He gazes far away.
Exhausted and lonely
he is sitting on a rock in the camp –
his feet sore and cut.
He was forced to flee his country.
Now he’s forced to stay in a camp –
same as a scarecrow,
on an island very far away
that few have ever thought about.
He waits for a dandelion and a bird
from you to him.
His heart can make it happen.
Ahhhh…
But the bird of politics
with its sharp beak
speaks for government and Morrison
and tears at his flesh, his mind and his heart.
It steals his hope.
He never had a dream!
He’s not Damavand Young*
He is a scarecrow.
Maybe one day
a bird will take his spirt
and set it free.

-Arad Nik

Damavand Young is a big mountain in Iran; a mountain that is very strong, that nothing can shake.
Translated from Farsi to English by Arad Nik and Janet Galbraith

Melbourne Nights.

When you say: ‘I will not tolerate nostalgia’,

I pull the car to the side of the road.

A deep silence prevails between you and I.

How should I explain my heart so that you understand?

Should I beg?

I have no other choice but to leave my country, my home.

 

When I take you to your house you do not lift your head. I cannot read your eyes.

In these three days between, knowing I must leave, and leave alone, I wait immobilised, confused and helpless.

The day before my flight I send you a message:

Tomorrow.

10am.

Station.

You accept.

I dress in the clothes you love and arrive an hour early to this place- the place we first met.

You

are

ten

minutes

late.

‘Choosing a gift has spent my time’, you say.

When you leave I do not hear your goodbye.   My eyes cannot move from the space you have just

occupied.

The wind stops.

The noises of the street are

silenced.

I am blind to all around me.

When I return to myself, the bench we sat on is empty.

I am alone with the watch that spent 10 precious minutes of our meeting.

I feel the sound of your goodbye repeated sharply in my ears.

I cannot fight these living

memories.

– – –

The Melbourne weather is cold.

A rainy night.

The tick tick of the watch awakens doubt in me…

…of this place where I still have to beg.

– Arad Nik

 

Pain cannot be traded
Here, in this land, colour fights with racism
and the boats are tied to the whims of politicians.

Aboriginal people will never accept a foreign flag.
We, boat people, will never accept Nauru.

The history of this land is a bloody one
And a bloody history is being made on Manus Island.

This shameful history is repeated and repeated.
I will not repeat this history.

My words become beautiful
only when I talk with the people of this land.

In Broadmeadows, MITA, Australia continues it’s history of prison camps.
Imprisoning your ancestors as they now imprison your children.

Mother’s from afar cry tears of blood for their children,
just as the mother’s of this land cry for theirs.

We crossed the dangerous ocean with nothing.
Our hopes were with you – the people of this land –
that you would make for us a nest.

We crossed the big sky and ocean
and you kept our hope alive.

Behind your welcoming smile
I see torture and suffering

My world became beautiful when you, the First Nations people, welcomed us,
when you reached out and took my hand.

Your pain is my pain.
How can I trade it?

This land has been stolen from you
as my land has been stolen from me.

They have stolen the sky from me
as they stole it from you.

In your songs I hear my songs.
Your didgeridoo plays my heart.

In the desert the sun where I am detained
each tree and rock is witness of your history.

This is the first lesson I learned here:
I must respect the sun in your flag.

The wrinkles of your face show the heart of this land,

Just as a heart never stops working
so you work for your land, your culture, your language and children.

With you, Australia has history, has meaning.
To the others:

Please don’t ask me again about my pain.
Listen to me:

My pain cannot be traded.

If you want to understand my pain
first you must listen
to the people of this land.

– Arad Nik

Kumar

Ocean of Sacrifice

They search for a place of rest
where their whole self can stay

and calmly abide,
while restless waves sleep.
In our land,
there is no place to remain.
Cruel hills and steep cliffs

push down, allowing no rest,
banishing all to the lowlands.
Forced out of our native realm
for a foreign land
we rub earthly dust onto our chests,
leave our own place     weeping, weeping,
exhausted in the ocean of sacrifice
for no end, for nothing at all.
-Kumar, 2014

 

Behind the fence

Behind the fence
the Boy wonders
gazing through the
eyes of the metal fence.
A question is raised
too far and too faint for me to hear
but it seems he got the answer –
the smile on his face tells me so.
But the mother’s face says something else,
a different story.
I write down every detail
of the curious child
and the mother.
I look down as I write few words.
I look up to write more.
but they’re gone
vanished behind the fence.

– Kumar 2014

 

A dream

There’s a part in my head

where I have a dream

and it’s locked up in a tiny little boxes

of hopes and imagination

There’s a part in my life

where I have a place

and it’s locked up in empty boxes

of thoughts and feelings

There’s a view in my head

where I see the world

through the open eyes beside the empty boxes

of hopes and imagination.

– Kumar

Ahlam

Ahlam is a  poet who comes from a family of poets.  She has been writing since she was young and continues to develop her skills and deliver her work with much grace and power.

 

Born With No Homeland

She says: write of your country’s beauty,

your lands, your rivers, your trees.

My body cells tremble.

Inside me a pain is groaning.

A storm is in my mind.

A volcano sears my heart

but silence controls me.

Dust, wars, dead bodies, weapons and women

with no power, children seeking water fill my mind.

While others extol their homelands with feelings of belonging,

great achievements, spectacular views,

nothing beautiful visits my mind-

not even a smile on a child’s face.

People like me

can’t say a word.

We were born with no homeland.

People like me

can’t recall beautiful scenery.

We were too busy burying dead bodies.

We were born

with no skies, no stars, no moons.

The sun was there

but not for us.

We were born

with no relatives, no neighbours, no childhoods.

Air was there

but only contaminated air was ours.

I write: People like us don’t need pity.

We are strong enough.

We are still alive.

– A.A.M, 2015

 

Soaring birds

To all asylum seekers all over the world; to anyone who has a sadness story in his/her life. Be strong. Be like the soaring birds. Allah (God) never forgets anyone.

I know your crash, I feel your pain.

You want to say words
but you are sure
your words will choke your throat.

You want to sing,
you want to dance.
You want to live a better life but your hands are tied.

You are searching for things to make you smile,
but again and again
in your cheek

a lot of tears.

You sleep nights till morning but you are still awake. Morning comes
but you still see no lights.

I can imagine your soreness, I can draw your sadness soul. I can figure your sufferance.

But let me tell you what I have read:

Feather fall does not mean fall of the birds.

Fall as you want
but stand again and again.
Gather the remaining of your spirit, fight for your dreams, your hopes.

Have faith in your God. No power in this earth can change your destiny.

Come on,
wipe your tears.
Believe in yourself,
believe that there is
no impossible.
Make your sadness your weakness, to be like those feathers.
And you be like the soaring birds.

A. A.M. (written after being released from detention)

jajee

Jajee has been detained on Nauru by Australia for almost 3 years.  Moving from the detention camp to Fly Camp, he continues to write and express in order to tell his story.

 

Tell Me

My lord where am I?

Why am I here?

At least tell me what will happen to me.

Who chose this place for me?
Where should I go from this place?
Every kind of cruelty has been done to me.

At least tell me what will happen to me.

Why do they want to destroy my future?

Why don’t they give me human rights?

I am helpless and they interfered with me.

At least tell me what will happen with me.

Is playing with the lives of humans a law?

Is experimenting on the children?

Any one with answers tell me.

At least tell me what will happen with me!

– Jajee 2015

Maria

Maria is a writer and poet from Somalia. She has been detained off shore and on shore.

 

A message from sweet home (Somalia) to an unknown sweet girl.

Hello child.
I am just wondering where you live now?
You disappeared without saying goodbye.
You used to tell me I was the only place you had on the earth.
Where is that patriotic, brave girl who used to say:
‘I will protect my homeland from anything bad”?
What has happened to her?
Where did she go?

OH SWEET GIRL
You were born inside of me.
Why did you leave me like this?
Have you forgotten my warm nights and bright breezy days?
Have you forgotten lying on my sand with a big beautiful smile on your face
Oh my dear… unforgettable moments!
You were fearless, a strong and beautiful child
playing around with self confidence.
Sweet girl we call to you.
Home is the only place you will be loved and respected.
COME HOME GIRL,
COME HOME,
COME HOME,
COME HOME!

– Maria 2015

Farhad

Farhad has been detained for more than 30 months offshore.  He is both an artist and a poet, coming to poetry whilst incarcerated in our black site on Manus.  Farhad works closely with writer and poet Melita Luck. They exchange poems, assist each other with translations and editing.

THESE LONG DAYS

Distressing, depressing moods move and
Wash like waves
Inside me now
Though I go above
To survey the sea
To gaze at waves
In a wind that makes
Tree limbs dance
And leaves to tremble.
How romantic this should be!
But never now for me
Glaring at Mother Nature from my cursed grey cage
Speaking from my heart
In nothing but the language of complaint.
Then I’m in a jail of grief-dreams
When night surrounds me
With its own particular darkness
Yet still I wait
Even now
For the light
Of Freedom.

– Farhhad Bandash
Edit by Melita Luck

 

Screaming night

I hear screaming within a silent night

The one that you hear, but can’t see
The one that you know is a human voice, but you can’t help

The one whose suffering you feel, but you can’t share their pain

You hear their steps, but you are waiting

for the time they can appear
to talk,
to be heard and be helped.

They are still screaming

It sounds like a storm on a summer night.
Their world is dark and everyone around them

pretends to be blind or deaf, of the reality.
They talk carefully, when they tell their awful past.

This is their story.

It’s part of their history.

This is what is worthy to write.
Screaming

Screaming.

– Farhad, 2015

Five Days Horror Trip

Our first feature story is by a writer who has been a constant active member and support to many.

Thank you to Boush for this story.

FIVE DAYS HORROR TRIP

paper_boats_highdefinition_picture_170925

They were terrible days.

We were travelling. Each one of us carried many dreams, many hopes – thinking of the day we would be safely in Australia.

Unfortunately, all our dreams and hopes were shattered in the Indian Ocean.

We met two men. They were smuggling people from Indonesia to Australia by dead boats. They took us to a secret place in Bogor City in Indonesia and kept us for long days in a place called Villa L. The men promised us that we would move from this place after three days.

We were about 44 Sudanese. They took our money and left us with nothing – just one of them visited every day to bring us food. They told us we must be patient, ‘then you will move soon’. They said to us, ‘we need to prepare some things for the trip, like oil, GPS for directions, satellite phone for emergency and dresses for water’. They left us in the Villa and were gone.

Three days passed – no news.

We waited for days.
We were patient for many days.
No news.
We contacted them, they just said ‘wait wait’.

Like that we spent one month.

Late one night they came back to us: ‘Tomorrow the trip will start’, they said. ‘We have prepared everything for the trip’. At that moment we became happy after such long waiting but our mistake was we did not pay good attention to them.

They lied to us.

They did not prepare everything as we needed. They did not buy the things for us. A GPS and a satellite phone are important things!

The next evening, they took us into cars and we travelled to Bondung Island. It took about 7 hours from Bogor by car. At the time I talked to one of my friends secretly: ‘Hey, I am thinking the things were not prepared. I think they lied to us’. My friend and I were now to go in different cars. He said; ‘If you or me reach before the other we will check as quickly as possible to make sure our boat is prepared’.

I was first to reach the boat. I saw the boat – it was not good.

I saw three people inside the boat. They were boat captains. I asked the first one; ‘Hi man, please show me the GPS and satellite phone’. He said: ‘I am not Captain; I don’t know this’. I tried to ask the second one. He also said ‘I am not Captain’. He said to me that the third man is Captain. While I tried to ask the third man, one of my friends cheered at me and said; ‘Hey B why you ask more? Don’t talk more, let us move’. I said to my friend: ‘Hey it would not be good to go without phone or something to tell us the way’.

They said; ‘No problem. Let’s go forward’.

I said; ‘If this is good thinking, let’s move!’

We started our trip at 03:00am that day. We were on a dead boat. All my friends were happy because of the long waiting, but I was sad. I felt there was something wrong. They didn’t care about it. Our boat was moving well at the beginning and most of us slept. Three hours passed. Morning came. At 06:00am the boat was disrupted. People woke up quickly. We were all afraid asking each other; ‘What happened?’ ‘What happened?’. Two captains were asleep – just one was a driver. I reminded my friends about GPS and satellite phone. Too late they started to ask the captain about those. I said to them: ‘No matter to ask now, it’s not time for asking but it’s time for thinking how to check the boat and repair it’.

Of the three captains, two were fool men – only one was a good driver. He had great heart. He didn’t think about death. He encouraged us forward.

We had stopped and were in the water. We were afraid and the Captains were afraid too but the driver told us: ‘Please don’t worry. It’s a little problem. It just needs I change its oil.’ ‘Death is coming in its time’, we said. ‘Let’s have patience’.

The driver was a little man but strong. The boat moved powerfully jumping side to side, side to side. It could not stop. It seemed to us like we were going to drown. Then the boat settled. We checked our boat and started again on our way to Christmas Island. But the boat could not move fast. It had a problem in the engine. It was like the boat walked slowly, slowly.

After 9 hours we reached a place called Two Islands. This was a terrible place with horror waves reaching so high. When we were at Two Islands, we were all thinking it would be better if we stopped there but not one of us liked to say that. Also, at that moment, the captain told us, ‘Don’t speak loudly. Sometimes here are Indonesian police navy’. He said we must lay down inside the boat and ‘no one look out’. We did that and the boat slowly moved from there.

We were not fortunate – our boat was so bad. It was a dead boat and the waves hit us hard. The waves were so big. They were hitting us so hard. So big, so hard, so big, so hard. We were all afraid and thought of death. The captains were also afraid, the same as us. We all lost our ways of thinking – we were just calling God to save us from the horror waves. Truly it was terrible – we had death’s shadow in our two eyes.

But it was not time to die.

We spent hours struggling and fought with terrifying waves. When we went up on high waves they returned us back again. We went up and they returned us back – smash. Up … and back. Up …. and back. Like that we lost many hours.

Night came.

It was too dark. Unfortunately, we did not have something to light in the night. Our captain had only one bad torch. Its light wasn’t good and the other two captains – they couldn’t drive the boat! The boat was so small and bad and the moon was hidden by clouds. We started to move now slowly slowly. At midnight we saw light from afar. We thought there was Christmas Island but it was not Christmas. It was our death’s shadow. It was a big ship coming toward us. They could not see us because we had no light. It was coming to hit us. We didn’t think it was a big ship because it looked like a hill – dark under and light over it. When we reached near it – about 15 metres only – the captain cried out saying ‘ShipShipShip’. We all cried out the same: ‘ShipShipShipShipShip’. The captain turned the boat left as quickly as possible and the ship pushed water very hardly toward us. The water pushed us out from it and away. We all said the same: ‘Thank you great God for helping your innocent children’.

The ship passed and we lost our way.

Not one of us knew directions. The Captain tried to look at his old tools. Suddenly he found an old bad GPS. We tried to use it but it could not work. The Captain tried to use his compass and tell us our direction. We continued on moving slowly. He said to us; ‘This direction will lead us to Christmas’, but we didn’t trust him. We said to the Captain: ‘You take us and lead us into wherever you like to go but we are fully convinced we will be food for fish in this ocean in the end’. We were all silent. No one could talk to another. We all just thought about our families who we had left. And we thought of death.

Two days passed like that.

On the third day, morning came. We were still fighting with terrifying waves at midday. At 03:00 pm we saw a big white ship cross near us. We tried to cry out to it but they didn’t stop. We forgot it. When we woke again another ship came and crossed us. The captain said: ‘They are all going to Christmas’. We became happy because we now knew the way.

The sun set and night came again with its dark dress. It was a horror day. The captain could not see well and our boat was getting broken. Water entered into little spaces. We started to use a stick to push water out. Suddenly my friend saw a big barrel tied with a long rope coming across in front of us. My friend cried at me ‘Hey, B, tell the captain something is coming toward us – let the captain stop the boat.’ I told him quickly and we tried to stop it. Suddenly he cut the silk of the electric which linked to the engine. The boat suddenly stopped again. The barrel had crossed us. We were there about half an hour. When we started moving – slowly slowly – it was too dark and we lost the way again.

We saw another light far away. It was a ship also. We started going near it. We needed to stop it to help us. They stopped at first but then they ran. They thought we were enemies. They refused to meet us. We forgot them and moved slowly slowly till the sun began to shine. It was morning.

This day we called ‘broken stick’.
There was heavy rain from morning up to sunset. The weather was completely changed. We thought it was Australia’s weather. We were on the ocean moving so slowly – desperately. We suffered from hunger. Our body’s power had been lost. We all became tired from the slow long trip – five days in the boat. Our body’s skin had changed because of the salt. The sun had set down and night came upon us again with its dark dress. We became so tired from taking water out from inside the boat and the stick which we used had broken. We felt afraid. We tried to use an empty bucket to take out water till morning came.

We didn’t know where we were going – just God knew that.

At midday our boat stopped again and the boat could not stop bringing in water. The boat was moving from side to side – crashing from one side and then the other. One side … the other. One side … the other. It seemed we were going to drown. We were in horror.

Suddenly we saw a small boat coming toward us. We tried to stop it. They were Indonesian fishermen. Our captain talked to them and said: ‘Where is Indonesia?’ They said; ‘It’s the way you were going and from here to Indonesia it takes 18 hours’. The captain told us we must go back to Indonesia because the boat is not good and the oil also is going to finish. We were on our way to Indonesia. We moved very sadly. The boat moved slowly, full of our sadness. After a few hours we saw the Two Islands again. We tried to pass it from afar but some of us wanted to stop there and others wanted to go ahead. Finally we agreed and said: ‘Its better we go ahead’.

At 02:30 we reached Bondung Island in Indonesia. All three captains were afraid of the police. They thought if we reach the beach the police will catch us. They said: ‘It’s a big problem for us – not for you – because we are captains.’ We told them: ‘Please don’t worry, let’s go near, there is no way we can stay in the water.’

When we reached near the edge of the island – we were about 20m away – the waves hit us hard and our boat broke. It divided into two parts. We began to drown in the ocean. Suddenly a strong wave came and pushed us out of the water. The three captains escaped quickly. Some of us were injured but no one died.
The police came and took us into immigration detention.

This was a five-day trip of horror.

– B 2013

Arezo

Arezo is a writer who remains detained in Australia’s detention camp on Nauru.

11pm, 11th December 2015, OPC 3, Australia’s black site, Nauru

Take off your clothes.
I have nothing to hide
I carry only my identity card –
letters and number you have gifted
my hand, my psyche, the ever diminishing pulse
of my heart.
Open your legs
Do I exist only as cavities?
Take off your clothes.
Am I a criminal?
Take off your clothes.
I am a piece of meat.
Afraid, I am crying
I am shouting.
They laugh
They mock
Ridicule.
Take off your clothes
‘Violence against women is one of the great shames of Australia’*.
Open your legs, your hands.
‘It is a national disgrace*’.
A female guard steps forward
Forces open my legs, my hands.
Another guard pushes the wand between my legs, lingers there.
Take off your t-shirt and bra
Leering, they laugh
I lift.
Take off all your clothes.
I hold tight
A male guard closes the door.
My ID is in the woman’s hands.
I push through the men.
Push through the door.
Leave.
As I have been leaving for so long.

– Arezo and Janet Galbraith

* words from PM Malcolm Turnbull in the public domain

Boush

Boush is a writer from the Darfur region of Sudan.

After years of being detained in Indonesia he has now been granted Refugee Status but remains in limbo in Indonesia.

I WONDER: for Bashir

Mr. President, I wonder why we hide behind fences and talk about your wickedness? I wonder why you are still president? I wonder if you want to change your way to peace?

I wonder about our country where rich people live and poor people slowly die.

I cannot say anything or criticize you when I find myself around your wickedness, but I can when I feel out side of your reach.

For you there is nowhere to hide but there is for me.

You still teach lies and deal your wickedness to those who never feel free and never feel peace. Is there still human life among your bad mystery?

I wonder why those humans still begging for peace, searching for love, a hug, education and heath care are not allowed to talk on their rights?
I wonder if presidents are always going to be crazy and the world is always going to be mysterious?
I wonder why we can not live with each other, why we can not live with ourselves?

I wonder why we cannot help each other to find a solution to our problems?

I wonder what they would think if we spoke out and organized our words to express our suffering condition?

Would they think it was robotic communication? Meaningless?

I really wonder!

I wonder about those poor presidents who govern rich people and poor, but all live with respect, freedom, democracy and peace around them.

I wonder about my stupid president who is still in a deep sleep, dealing wickedness, lying to us while others bring peace and love to their people!

I wonder, what would happen if we woke you up?

-Boush, 2015