Wanting To Go Back

I’ve never really stopped wanting to go back. I’ve just kept running from the knowledge, hiding it from myself and everyone, because that’s what you do when you move forwards – leave the past behind. You craft a new narrative, one of pioneering bravery, surmounting difficulties, and ‘making it work’. What was before is simply a notch on your belt you no longer need, you’ve grown past it. It’s history.

I’ve never really stopped wanting to go back. How can you when something buried inside, so deeply even you yourself don’t realise, yearns to be reunited with that touchstone of safety and solace. The misty lanes, peat bogs and implacable mountains of Ireland are in my blood. I may no longer have an accent; I may know little of the doings of men on that soil through the ages, but it’s a part of me nonetheless. I can no more excise it from my being than I can tickle myself. The mould that makes you shapes you forever.

I’ve never really stopped wanting to go back. The winds gently lifting the lattice outside my window, teasing twisted vines and huffling the shreds of the old swing-chair canopy, have they swept through the outstretched arms of the trees standing guard around the place of my birth? What message do you have for me wind? What message from my friends?

I’ve never really stopped wanting to go back. I’ve lived in many places; many streets have grown familiar. But none graft themselves onto my soul, cleave to my heart. I’m not bound to a culture or ideology. I’m tied to a craggy, wind-whipped rock somewhere in the chill mists and timeless waves of the brash and burly Atlantic Ocean. This is ancestry. I carry not only memories but the sod and sediment of my birthing in the very cells that make up this wistful, fair-skinned nomad living out her life far from home.

I was eight when my family emigrated but even now, in the shadow of night, the clench of loss still dampens my pillow. So, I guess I’ve never stopped wanting to go back


the mould that makes you shapes you forever


By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.

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