Who am I?

Poem by Samadhi Jayasuriya

I am a 12-year-old Year 8 student at the Australian International School here in Ho Chi Minh City and I was inspired by the article Two Families Apart by James Pham in the recent issue of Oi Vietnam magazine (January/February 2017).

In my English class, we are currently studying the novel Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. This novel (told in poetic form) is also about a character whose family needed to leave Vietnam due to the American War. So, I was inspired by these two pieces of writing to write my own poem, (following the style of Thanhha Lai) about my current life here in Saigon.

Who am I?
Who am I?
A question I’ve asked myself,
over and over.
I am a girl.
A girl
foreign to the country I live in.
I am a girl
who people stare at,
whenever I walk pass them.
It’s true though.
It creeps me.
I hold on tighter to my mother’s hand
and look away.

I look like a Toothpick to my Sister
I have a confession to make.
I am as skinny as a toothpick.
My younger sister
Calls me
Toothpick Akka,
meaning Toothpick Sister.
It is embarrassing when she says it.
in front of a crowd.
What can I say.
You can’t deny the truth.
But I have to admit,
it is funny sometimes.

Every morning
I wake up,
just on time to see
the sun rise
and shine it rays on
Thanh Pho Ho Chí Minh City
Sometimes when I wake up,
all I see is a dark blue blanket
spread all across the skies.
It scares me.
What if today isn’t a good day?
I tell myself,
Aal iz well. Aal iz well.
A quote from a movie.
The character Rancho explains,
This heart scares easily.
Sometimes, you have to trick it.

Every day is the same.
Sometimes I ask myself
Am I stuck in a loop?
A loop that preserves the last hundred
and sixty-eight hours?

Mondays to Fridays
I go to school and
end the day off with my ASA’s.

Saturdays and Sundays
are probably the best days of the week.
I get to sit inside a car
and let my earphones block out all the

Once I hit the PLAY button,
I have no idea what is going on around me
In the car,
or out of it.

Freedom was nothing but just a chance
for me to be myself.
My idea of freedom
Running until I come to a dead-end.
Acting on a huge stage,
with a large crowd
in front of me.

Of course I’ll have that freedom.
In my head.
For now.
Who knows?
Maybe in a decade or so,
I’ll be able to
snatch that

I love the clouds.
I love the clouds here.
They’re like
Cotton Candy.
Cotton Candy
that changes flavors
every few

I wonder if it’s edible?

Maybe I should become a Cloudorian.
Is that even a thing?
Maybe I’ll be the person
who creates that profession.

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