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Fiction

Who Am I?

I’m sitting on my favourite riverbank. It’s a quiet, small area on the outskirts of town. I came here to think — clear the chaos in my mind — nowadays I spend more time thinking than engaging in life. A boy wanders to the other side of the river, momentarily snapping me out of my thoughts. He’s far but close enough for me to see the details of his face; green eyes, light brown skin and slick, black hair. What’s his name? Why is he here? What is he like? I’m now remembering how often we as people share spaces with a number of different strangers, not caring who they are, what they do, or what they’re going through, and recently, I like to watch people. They fascinate me. I love to sit and watch them, imagining their life stories.

I give him a name. Akhil — meaning whole. All humans are unbroken to a certain extent. I don’t notice I’m staring until I see Akhil looking directly back at me, then awkwardly averting his eyes to the ground. He begins to walk even further away, finding a shady area near the riverbank. He starts collecting pebbles, carefully throwing each of them onto the surface water. Most of them sink immediately, but some successfully skid over. After a while, he gives up and makes his way home, I assume. He’s out of sight and I’m thinking again. Who is Akhil? I picture him as two separate entities; Akhil ‘A’ and Akhil ‘B’.

Akhil ‘A’ is an eighteen-year-old only child who enjoys music more than people. He spends most of his time reading science fiction novels and watching conspiracy documentaries. He’s quite the music snob, strictly listening to artists like Lenny Kravitz and David Bowie. Fortunately, he finds it easy to maintain his impeccable academic average and has only been in trouble with his school once — when he corrected his English teacher on the difference between assonance and sibilance…the difference lies in the ‘s’ sound, apparently.

Akhil ‘B’ is a parent’s worst nightmare. He’s the stereotypical rebellious teenager. With divorced parents and more step-siblings that one can count on a single hand, he escapes from the world by engaging in arts. He’s the most amazing painter the world has seen since Claude Monet, he religiously listens to early 2000 rhythm and poetry music and occasionally writes fictional novels. Because he’s driven solely by art, he cares little about his school work. Often skipping classes and spending time on shopping mall rooftops alone, he has few friends and even fewer people who understand him.

All though they seem like paradoxes, both Akhils have one thing in common — they’re lost. Akhil ‘B’ goes through a continuous cycle, where his lows are so low death doesn’t phase him, and his highs so high, he sees little universes in everyone he meets. Akhil ‘A’’s strengths play to his advantage in school, but he has absolutely no direction in life. All though he acts like he’s on top of the world, he finds it difficult to fit in with society. He tries to hide his constant fear by burying his nose in books but at the end of the day, when he’s confronted by his thoughts, fear sets in.
Suddenly, I’m snapped out of my thoughts by my reflection in the water. I see my green eyes, my light brown skin, and my slick black hair. It’s Akhil. I concentrate more on the reflection, trying to distinguish which Akhil I’m looking at, ‘A’ or ‘B’?

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16 in South Africa

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