• Priyanka Periwal

Black Roses : Intolerance Always Wins

But it can't anymore...



(Via : https://wallpaperaccess.com/black-aesthetic-tumblr)


I was a November child, apparently we're watchful and calm. I always thought to myself why I should use ten words if I could just use one or even none. Perhaps the short afternoons, long nights and the vampire monsoon made me who I am. An inquiring mind and withdrawn, they said - but is that a crime? Growing up at my own pace, taking my own time, learning to empathise and listening to my mum chant human rights! I was never a girly girl, you know? People said I was strange but I marched to the beat of a different drum. I wore studded dog leads around my wrist but I was also old-fashioned. I sat at home in my little corner where I read and wrote and painted and drew.


Eventually, I met a boy! Someone strange, just like me. He was six feet tall and was pale as a ghost but I kissed his face and held his hand while we walked through Manchester. He was perfectly weird and that's why I loved him. We didn't really know what we were but we agreed on what we weren't. We wore all black but our skin was white, we were essentially a silhouette.


He loved that I slashed my jeans and smeared lipstick on my lips. I ripped my fishnets in his honour. Honestly, I looked like I had fallen out of a tree, with my messy hair and banshee makeup. But that was love and that was life. We finally decided to move in together and we felt like grown ups. We were always struggling for money, so we moved into a simple house not grand from any angle, but for us, it was like the Ritz; and moreover, it was our home. Summer months were our favourite, they were easy and effortlessly endless days. We loved going to the park, the ice cream stand by the entrance and the rustling of leaves were perfect for a Friday night stroll - if only we knew what was in store for us that night.


We always knew we were 'different', but what does that even mean? Isn't everyone different? All the skinheads and suedeheads and non believers; all the folkies and ragamuffins; the beggars and trail-blazers and everyone else under the sun is different. The human race is a crazy parade! I never understood why we couldn't live and let live.


We walked past a group of people, I immediately noticed the stench of smoke and alcohol on them, perhaps they were skateboarders? But soon these dark figures materialised, they were a group, a gang, a mob, a pack. I didn't know why they were walking towards us. Did we say something wrong? Did we see something we weren't meant to see? Did they find offence at our piercings? Were they outraged by the way we dressed? We didn't mean to say the wrong thing or see something we weren't supposed to! We didn't mean to offend anyone, we were just being ourselves. Soon I realised that the difference between us is what aggravated them, they couldn't tolerate people who looked like us. And that's when it started. A blow from the right and a kick from the left, with so much fury and rage! They kicked my man and stomped on his skull and then they turned towards me again. The man kicking me, hates me. He hates my hair and my manner. He hates my ways but he doesn't even know my name. The pain was beyond pain. I can't see anymore but I can hear a faint sound of sirens.


I remember waking up at the hospital, attached to a web of drips and tubes. I couldn't believe the bruises - they were like black roses blooming on me. Black roses of self defence and trauma. Of compromise and distress. I remember not being able to speak, I remember vomiting because of the tube in my mouth. I felt sorry for my mum who had to see me this way, branded and stamped. I know I had a tick mark stamped on my face from the attack which was yet to fade. I remember being terrified not knowing what happened to my man but how could I ask? I didn't want him to think that I was impolite if I couldn't say goodbye. Slowly and eventually, I gained some strength. I was able to go see him, but he wasn't awake yet. It's been a month, I need him to wake. They scanned and searched for vital signs and thank the heavens, they found a pulse. It was barely anything to them but it was everything to me. We finally recovered, we gave our testimonies. We were let go, we went back home. We made this known.


P.S. This is inspired by the poem Black Roses by Simon Armitage. It is a case of a brutal attack on a goth couple by a group of intolerant people. The girl, Sophie Lancaster, unfortunately died soon after the attack. The boyfriend, however, made it. He told his story but it didn't have a truly happy ending, so I gave them a happy ending in my imagination.

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