The Itch

by Monim Wains

There is a fingernail scratching. Sharp edges carving lines in the back of your skull. Screeching chalk on a blackboard until you press your eyes shut.

Not so quick, as it picks and picks at the wound. The scab has been itching from the womb.

It is a birthmark, cruel and latching. Like a leach, bound to you, human. It is your curse, your shadow, you.

Poor you. So alone. So frailly flung into the world. Torn from your mother – choking – a breath – gasping –

‘Aww, look at youuu. You’re adorable!!!’ they said, as you flailed about confused.

The surgical lights were glaring, loud and blaring. You are a chick flung out of the nest to fly.

Where to? And why? Why?

Who is it who decided this for you? Left you lost and unsure in these woods. The real world. ‘Where should I go?’ you cry.

No answer.

And so, you are left, rummaging through the undergrowth. Walking in the wilderness through the tangles at your feet, looking for some place called Destiny.

But there are no signposts here. Only the footsteps that others have left behind, all as blind and confused as you.

What to do? What to do when you know nothing? There goes night and then day and then night and then day and then death. On and on it goes and runs out. You know nothing but this:

Time runs out. On some day.

What to do? What to do but to scream? What to do but to wail at the sky for the answers? To fall to the floor in faith and beg, beg for a sign. Desperate for some echo of the God who cast you here.

A pickling crosses your path. A little ball of fur with tiny paws and a little beak. It blinks at you with bright blue eyes and hopples around, fluttering its tail in the wind. It pecks at the ground for some seeds before hoppling away again.

If only you could have been so innocent.

But the fingernail beckons again. Scratching. You are cursed with comprehension; shackled with the power of will. Free will. You must decide, human.

You must find your way in this forest, searching out of compulsion. You must bear this curse, this itch, this bewitched incantation in your soul.

Walk on, my friend. Be brave.

Walk into the abyss with me. And when the waves are overwhelming, and the world misunderstanding, and the solitude too loud to bear, take that itch, the wound, the pain, and grin the grimace away. You have salvation to find.

You are human, my friend.

When the weight of the heavens bears down, you stand. You stand because you, of all creatures, have the power to stare right back.

So stare, right into the face of the inferno in the sky. Face the heavens full on and examine them for the truth.

For the unexamined life is not worth living.

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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