Home 9 Issue 9 This Is Our Time by Sriya Bandyopadhyay

Sriya Bandyopadhyay, age 16


Through the WriteGirl workshops, I had the opportunity to listen to the stories of young writers around the world, and it inspired me to share my own stories through poetry. WriteGirl encouraged me to capture the story I see through my eyes just as much as the story I feel inside me. Hence, recently I wrote this poem after my experience at the EXPO 2020 Dubai event (held October 2021–March 2022). That was where, after a long time, I felt the borders inflicted by the coronavirus had been lifted. I try to express the adrenaline I felt while walking through this enormous World Fair, and making relationships with people worldwide. Toward the end of the poem, I zoom into the feeling of liberation as restrictions on masks and distancing are being eased out.

This Is Our Time

My friends and I
crowd around my phone.
I place it facing upwards
down on the floor
and set the timer.
3 … 2 … 1 … click.
I bend down to retrieve
the captured memory,
and as I look back up,
I hear Latin music blasting
from the speakers.
The rhythms and melodies
have a hypnotic way
of taking control of me –
one can’t help but dance.
Sometimes I struggle
to understand the
colloquial phrases,
but I don’t see
why language should be a barrier.
After all,
language is simply a representation
of culture,
so why not
allow music
into the realm of intellect and learning?

Being the clutz I am,
I connect to my culture multiple times a day.
I drop the special
EXPO 2020 Dubai pen
handed to me.
I gently touch my
forehead and heart,
since pens carry the
the ink of knowledge,
and knowledge is god.
When I touch my forehead
I feel my ring graze against my skin,
the small diamonds score me.
I wear this ring every day –
a ring my mom gave me.
It doesn’t form a complete circle and
has a gap in between.
There is a short line made of
rose quartz and a
circle made of carbon
in its most pressurized form.

The song ends,
and the chatter of thousands of
global citizens
resonates through the
corridors and Al Wasl Plaza.
As we begin our walk through the
pavilions of each nation,
we collect a stamp from each one.
Every hour starts with the
same theme song:
Follow me
One voice, one family
The world as it stands,
In the palm of our hands it’s
Our time …
Followed by around
five more verses.

Seven hours pass,
and the glaring sun has drained us.
My friends interrogate me,
asking how I maintain perfect posture
after such a taxing day.
They say I walk with power.
We move closer to the gates,
and I see a dome covered in
flora and fauna
with a bright sign reading
“Singapore” in the distance.
It holds a special
place in my heart:
A home,
an entire story
left behind,
but I carry it with me.

I hear the sounds of
school buses arriving,
impatiently waiting.
As we enter the buses,
I smell sandalwood
somewhere nearby.
An elegant smell that surpasses
the odor of raging fuel
and reminds me of my great-grandma,
who loved burning sandalwood incense.
As the sky grows grey
with hues of a flame-like orange,
I find a seat with my friend
and listen to what’s around me.
I think I’ll listen
to a couple of adventures before
imparting some of my own.

As we return to school,
our guide makes a
considerable attempt to
bring our attention to
reflecting on the trip.
My mind wanders between
conversations and his recap.
I absorb parts of both.
After today’s trip,
I’m sure you can all see how
EXPO 2020 brings to light
innovation from around the world,
in hopes of developing
and mobility.
The bus rides over a speed bump,
putting everyone in disarray,
and my mind switches gears.
I can’t believe
Coldplay, Christina Aguilera
and Prince William
are coming to Dubai for EXPO!

When we get off the buses,
we head back to class.
I fill up my steel water bottle
that rings with the noise
of pouring water.
The cold water enters my system
with a feeling of euphoria,
an addiction that
poses a threat to my voice.
I get to class,
find a chair,
and push my hips down.
For once,
I let my posture go,
screw on the cap of the bottle,
close my eyes
and breathe.