All posts by ericnguyen97

A Late Night in Paris

A Late Night in Paris

Rushing rain runs down the river,
Night sky frowning, night of winter,
People, boats in Paris shiver,
Nights in Paris live for ever.
It isn’t always glamorous;
Congested crowds, the people go
To catch their breath, the wind blow
Across the bridge, and below,
A late night in Paris

Light reflects off river and sky,
Under the bridge the river lie
Of boat people gazing up high
To see Parisians walk by.
It isn’t always glamorous;
Tourists are targets for thieves to rob,
People are poor, there are no jobs!
Deadly riots of angry mobs,
A late night in Paris

Paris is a rainbow, they say,
Romance-filled morning, night and day,
Paris, like laughter, gleeful and gay
In the season of Spring, from March to May.
It isn’t always glamorous;
Menacing weather, sharp and cold,
Rising crime rates left uncontrolled,
Dark myths and secrets left untold,
A late night in Paris



Definitely not my best piece of work but hey, I was tired.


There it was: my first step into a new school. I had been excited. I had relished the new start. I thought this experience would make me a better person.

Now, here I was. I took my first steps into the playground. The kids scattered and ignored me. In an instant, my good spirits evaporated. I suddenly felt lonely and vulnerable and worried that the other kids would see me and notice this. I took a few more steps into the playground. I was trying to look confident but aware that I was failing miserably. Some kids stopped momentarily, looked at the new kid, then went on with what they were doing, as if I did not matter. They all knew each other. They were set in their ways. They did not need a new friend. I wished I could have disappeared right then and there. But I could not; I had a whole day to get through, which would be followed by a whole school year. It seemed hopeless. I wanted to summon the courage to turn the hapless situation around, but I found nothing inside me but the emptiness of uncertainty. At least the start of school would provide me with something to do to ease the agony.

I walked inside the classroom and sat down at a table in the middle of the room. I was one of the first students who arrived. Soon, kids came swarming into the class in groups. I felt dispirited seeing my new classmates set into their friendship groups. Making new friends now seemed like more of an even dire task than before. The tables around me were filled with bright energetic kids chatting loudly with one another. All of the tables, except for mine. One boy came into the classroom late. I saw him looking at the empty table that I was sitting at. He then scanned the rest of the room for tables with kids that he preferred to sit with. This killed me. Seeing that there were not any vacant seats, he approached to my table and sat reluctantly next to me.

I had lots of friends at my school. I found myself missing it, and missing them. I wished I had some of these friends with me now. The lesson provided a distraction from my loneliness. But I could not concentrate. My mind wandered back to my predicament. But then my thoughts took a u-turn. I felt an urge to turn the situation around. I had been popular before, I could do it again, I told myself. Recess and lunchtime would be the times to do it. At my old school I had led and organised many schoolyard games. Now, the best I could probably manage was to attempt to join in. That’s what I would do, join in. If they get to know me, they will have a chance to like me.

The bell rang, commencing recess. I glanced at the kids that were playing in the playground at a distance. Then, my eyes averted to the kids that were playing basketball at the courts ahead. Part of me was wanting to ask and join them, but the other part was making me feel worried that I might be rejected, again. If I did not try, they will not get to know me, and if they did not get to know me, they will not get the chance to like me.

I stepped onto the basketball courts. I saw some of the kids momentarily stop and look at me. I could feel the radiating tension of the uneasy looks that I was given. My face was red hot with a mixture of nervousness and worry. Finally, I came up to them and asked whether I could join them. The boy with the ball looked uneasily towards his friends. His friends gave him a concerning look back. I suddenly felt my hopes frittering away, when all of a sudden the boy threw ball in my direction. I did not react in time. The ball hit me straight onto my flimsy chest. I repelled backwards and landed on my bottom. In an instant, the basketball court erupted with laughter. My eyes burned and strained with embarrassment and humiliation. The tears could not have been restrained any longer as I got up and ran away. I could see my teacher watching the incident from the corner of my eye, but the last thing I wanted right now was to talk to anyone, so I ran to the nearest toilet block and locked myself inside a cubicle sobbing with misery.

Days and weeks of loneliness and vulnerability came and gone. In class nobody wanted to sit with me, and nobody did. During recess and lunchtime, the girls I walked past would scatter and ignore and the boys that I walked by would scorn and laugh. It seemed hopeless. Everything in life seemed like it was crashing to a devastating end.

I did love poems, however. I found myself reading and writing poems all day during school to distract me from my loneliness. Reading poems shifted my mind to the depths of my imagination and separated me away from the worries and concerns of reality. This was why when my teacher introduced the class to this poem, I finally saw a silver lining in the mist of dark clouds that I was in. I opened the sheet of the paper that was laid on my table, and read the first few lines quietly to myself.

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul

I felt every word of these four lines, and a wave of hope sparked within me. Suddenly, it all made sense. It was necessary that I showed might in the face of hardship and adversity. I needed to show courage in the face of haplessness and needed to hold on to my own dignity despite the indignities life places before me. All of which are the messages that this poem is conveying. In an instant, I had good spirits, and was even more determined than ever to turn this situation around.

The bell rang for lunchtime. I did not manage to finish reading the poem, which was quite upsetting since it was one of the best poems I had ever read so far. It did not matter now, however. I took my first steps onto the basketball court. An uneasy sense of déjà vu crept within me. There were the same boys that I encountered three weeks ago here now. At first, I was contemplating backing out; however, I remembered those powerful, inspiring words from that poem “Invictus”.  Courage and might would get me over the line this time. I just had to trust myself.

“Can I play?”

In an instant, sneering and laughter came from all directions. I kept my eye on the ball and sure enough, the ball came flying towards me. Fast. This time, I was ready. I caught the ball and held it with a firm two-handed grip. Suddenly, the laughing stopped. All around me, the kids started to gasp in astonishment. I aimed to the hoop, and took a shot. The ball flew through the air in a perfect arc and landed in the bottom of the net, through the basket with a whizzing “Swish!” There was an eerie silence for the five seconds that followed. Then, one of the boys walked slowly towards me. Initially he gave me a stern look. Then suddenly his face lit up with delight, gently handed me the basketball and told the other boys that there has been a new member to their team: me! Finally, success! My heart filled with satisfying content and joy. Before I knew it, I was running lengths of the court with other kids that soon would be my new friends. I felt something sharp in my pocket and took it out. It was a piece of paper, with a couple of words on it. I was about to throw it away when I noticed it was the handwriting of my teacher:

‘I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.’           

I looked up and there she was at a distance, looking right at me. She smiled, turned around, and slowly began to walk away.    


As Jane paced along the worn-out, cement footpath, she could not bare contemplating about the day that lay ahead of her. Bills, records, letters, paperwork, bills, records, letters, paperwork – she could not even find one silver-lining that was associated with her day-to day job. The sun slanted irritably towards her semi-freckled face as she unlocked the door to her office. As she stepped in, her head immediately retaliated backward as she inhaled a wave of stench accumulated from her newly-ordered carpet. That was another reason why she extremely disliked the city – everything seemed dirty, polluted and unnatural.

But this was the usual, day-to-day life of Jane. She stepped inside, closed the door and fell onto her chair with a heavy sigh. The thought of enduring another day of paperwork was unbearable especially in a room with scarce amount of entertainment. For the last 27 years she had been restrained in the very same, compact office of with the same wallpapers, same desk and same chair. The only difference was that the pile of bills, records and letters would seemingly appear higher and higher as days, months and years flew past. Nevertheless, she brushed these thoughts away and began to start working.

Seven hours passed. Her eyes darted towards the ever-growing pile of bills, records, letters and paperwork. She had no possible idea how, when or if she would ever end this continual onslaught of mundane tasks. Even the utter slightest thought of having to deal with piles of paperwork gave Jane a headache. Her fingers distressingly ran through the strands of her smooth-silk her as she absent-mindedly skimmed through the never-ending piles of paper one by one. She desperately needed another cup of coffee, in order to at least stay awake throughout the remainder of the evening.

She could only wonder, what had gone wrong? When did she get to the point where she was swimming amongst swarms of never-ending piles of paper? It seemed like for years and years she was being restrained in her office; restrained in the imaginary world of paperwork where they was no beginning or end. She was tired, stressed, worn out. A piercing ringing could faintly be heard from the direction of the phone; however she had neither the strength nor the willpower to endure the voice at the other end.

As the hours passed, she contemplated what it would be like not to suffer the stress of an inner city office. She could imagine herself being woken up by the harmonious chipping of the birds, having the freedom to hop out of bed at any time she desired. Perhaps, she thought, she could live by the sea. Nothing too extravagant, only a modern beach-front house where the fresh scent of the pristine ocean mingled in the air. She couldn’t help but think about becoming adrift from a life filled with deadlines and pay cheques.

As another hour passed, she contemplated of the use she had being stuck in a dull office right in the heart of the Melbourne city. She thought, “What is it that is making me keep on working and living in this place?” After minutes of contemplation, to her utter shock, she did not have an answer for herself.

She removed her pencil from the position it was perched in her well-maintained hair and began writing. It was as if she was possessed by an uncontrollable force that she didn’t have the ability to stop.

Her heart beat rapidly. She skimmed the words that she had written on the faint blue lines of her notepad. In her mind it was perfect, the ideal way to make the transition from the hectic bustle of the office to the mellow life of the unemployed.

Her fingers pressed against the keyboard, in an almost instinctive manner. This letter of resignation was her avenue into what she had always yearned for. She watched as the ink spat from the printer to form the words and remembered, in her university years, how she had watched with envy the seemingly unexciting lives led by ‘rural folk’.

She wasn’t even trying now to suppress the smile that lit up her face, and with a sigh she whispered, “Now I’m finally free!”


“‘Shylock is a villain as a result of the way he has been treated.’ Discuss”


The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare depicts a Jewish money-lender, Shylock, as the antagonist and villain of the play. Shylock, being a Jewish man, is victimized throughout the play as a greedy, deceitful individual due to his Jewish heritage. Mistreatment towards Jews was common, especially in Venice as it was an anti-semitic city. Anti-semitism is the opposition to the power and influence of Jewish minorities. They were disliked for having rejected Christ, and accused of therefore not having good morals so they were thought of as depraved and dangerous. The Jewish people, on the other hand, saw themselves as victims of persecution that was unjustified and unfair, and they saw their anger and resentment against non-Jews as understandable and even as necessary for their survival. Shylock is therefore both a villain and a victim. He became a villain as a result of having been unfairly victimized. Shylock redirected the hatred inflicted on him back at his enemies. This essay shall examine the mistreatment of Shylock because of his Jewish heritage. It shall then explore the plays depicture of the cycle of hatred occurring between Christians and Jews focusing Shylock in particular and how thus reveals Shylock to be both a villain and victim.

Shylock is being unfairly victimized due to his Jewish heritage.  Jewish people were thought of as greedy, deceitful individuals who had not good morals, for having rejected Christ, and were depraved and dangerous. In Venice, Jews were forced to wear red hats to signify that they were of that race. This enabled Christians to differentiate between Jews and non-Jews and therefore enabled them to unfairly treat the Jews out on the streets. The mistreatment of Jews throughout the play included being spat upon and being called cruel names. Shylock, being part of the Jewish minority, was therefore mistreated by the Christian community. He was spat upon and being called cruel, nasty names by his Christian neighbours. ‘You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, and spit upon my Jewish gabardine’ (Act I Scene I) describes the unfair mistreatment Shylock and his other Jewish companions have to undertake everyday in Venice. The unfair treatment towards Shylock due to his Jewish heritage triggers the need to act revenge thus resulting in Shylock being depicted as a villain.

Furthermore, Shylock, being unfairly victimized because he was a Jew, redirects the hatred inflicted on him back at his enemies. The play depicts of a cycle of hatred occurring between Christians and Jews. At the beginning of the play, Antonio treats Shylock in a cruel manner, spitting and calling Shylock a ‘misbeliever, cut-throat dog’. Shylock, after years and years of being unfairly mistreated, uses the hatred the Christians had inflicted on him back to them. ‘I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poisonus, do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.’ (Act III Scene I) is Shylock’s renowned ‘Hath not a Jew eyes’ speech. Shylock states that Jews are human beings like Christians. The actions of a Christian should be applied to Jews as well, as both races are human beings. He uses the example of if a Jew harms a Christian, the Christian will act revenge but why can’t a Jew act revenge if a Christian harms a Jew. Shylock is simply applying the insults and abuse by his Christian neighbours as reason for his alleged cruel actions. He is a hated figure and so he deals hatred himself. Prejudice has hardened him when doing business with people. As a result of the way he was treated, he strikes cruel bargains with people when money-lending. This ruthlessness is his weakness and causes enough people to strike against him. As a result of his failure in court, his possessions and Jewish heritage was stripped away from him as he left the court a broken man. As a result of the way he was treated, he applies the abuse by his Christian neighbours in the past and uses the hatred back towards his enemies thus resulting in Shylock being depicted as a villain.

Shylock is victimized throughout the play and is portrayed as a greedy, deceitful individual due to his Jewish heritage. As a result of the way he has been mistreated and victimized, he redirects the hatred that is inflicted towards him back on his enemies, and as a result of that, the play depicts him as a cruel, merciless villain. The play depicts how people who have been sinned against can become ruthless in the treatment of others. Thus, Shylock is both a villain and a victim and is a villain as a result of the way he has been unfairly treated.


Dzhokhar Ameniv lay bleeding to death, hiding under the canvas cover of a boat on a trailer in a suburban Boston driveway. The brother he had looked up to was dead, and he had shot himself in the neck in a frenzy of fear and guilt. He missed. Now he lay there, getting weaker by the minute.

He had experienced excitement so intense that his mouth went dry and his body tremored. He had planted bombs, escaped police, survived a shootout, a real shootout – like in the movies. He had killed. He was a solider of Islam engaged in holy war, about to become a martyr.

He had cried when his brother died under the wheels of his stolen SUV. He had cried great sobs of grief from the depths of his soul. He was lost, afraid, and never more alone.

The whole neighbourhood was eerily quiet due to the lockdown for the manhunt. The Great Satan the United States was sparing no expense in coming for him. The people had bolted themselves in their houses. The streets were deserted. There was no place to escape. He was public enemy number one. If he could hear a news bulletin, he would be on it. But this time he was the news. This was not an action scene on television. This was real life, where bullets were deafening and violently tore through the air threatening death. His own bullets had crashed into human flesh of policemen and left them bleeding. His brother’s body was mangled on the roadside. It did not look beautiful like in a heroic painting.

He had thought he was ready to die. They had enough bombs made to drive south and bomb Times Square as well. But they had not made it there. As he lay bleeding, he found that he wanted to live.

The bombs, the massacre, the murder of the police officer – the mere thought of the deeds that he had done made his body uncontrollably tremor with guilt and fear. His guilty conscious plagued him and made his body viciously quiver right down to his bare limbs.

As he lay bleeding profusely, he began to recollect and re-puzzle the blurry and disjointed events that had occurred earlier that day. It was a gloomy, overcast day when he and his brother, Tamerlan, were walking along the footpath beside the prestigious Boston Marathon. With lethal explosives concealed in a grey-livid coloured bag that he was grasping firmly, they trudged purposefully and stopped as they arrived at the last checkpoint before the finish line. They had walked nonchalantly in single file formation. The area that he had decided to execute the plot was exactly how he had envisaged it to be. They discreetly planted two charged explosives behind the array of national flags. “This is payback”, Dzhokhar murmured, as he and his brother walked away.

The un-ending gushing of blood continued to proliferate from his neck. He began to recall the frantic aftermath. A deafening explosion followed quickly by one other – a surge of uncontrollable excitement rippled through his body as he realized that he had finally became a solider of Islam who had sparked the beginning of a jihad. He had become the initiator of a holy war with the Great Satan the United States of America.

The two brothers easily distinguished from the crowd. While people were aimlessly running to a safe location, they were strolling indifferently away from the scene. Out of the corner of his eye, he felt a pair of eyes fixed upon him. His eyes averted to this source of unease and saw a policeman approaching him. As he was about to signal to his brother for them to run away, the policeman approached nearer and Dzhokhar recognized who he was immediately. It was Officer Sean Smith, Dzhokhar’s best and only friend in high school. Dzhokhar admired him greatly. He was the only person who understood Dzhokhar’s sentiments and feelings towards how this country has unjustly treated him. Sean was the only person who understood him.

“Dzhokhar! Tamerlan! What are you guys doing here strolling, hurry back home quickly!” Sean exclaimed. As he was hurrying past to help other people in the area, he noticed a round, steel object layered in tangled wires perched inside Dzhokhar’s bag out of the corner of his eye. It was the spare bomb that they had not yet implanted. Sean’s eyes widened and his mouth gaped in shock and disbelief. He took a few slow paces backwards, turned around, and bolted off shouting hoarsely in his radio device. Just as the officer was about to disclose the brother’s identities, a sharp, deafening crack followed by a bullet came whizzing past and pierced into the back of Sean’s head. Dzhokhar slipped the Desert Eagle pistol back into his pocket and walked away with Tamerlan closely behind.

Dzhokhar shook out of his thoughts and regained consciousness in the real world. The real world; where he sat hiding under the canvas of a boat on a trailer in a suburban Boston driveway. He looked down. His shirt was saturated with blood. He wanted to live. He wanted to erase everything that he had done that had caused everybody in Massachusetts to be in hot pursuit for him. He lay there in an uncontrollable tremor. He was afraid. Very afraid. He was afraid of being detained by police. He would have done anything to have not been taken in to the filthy hands of American authorities. He wanted to be assured that he could live the remainder of his life calmly, although he knew there was no chance of that happening as he was currently the most sought after man in the United States.

Suddenly, he saw ghosts of limbless and headless men and women in front of him. Dzhokhar howled in horrid fear at the dire sight. He saw dreadful visions of headless men and women with their legs blown off. As visions of dead or critically injured victims limped closer towards him, he would scream louder. He was in a deep hallucination. Unanticipatedly, the figures of his terrifying visions multiplied threefold and as a result an army of limbless and headless ghosts were pacing towards him in the boat. These visions were a source of anguish, guilt, regret and torture for him. He screamed even louder. He screamed louder every time the ghosts took one step closer towards him. He screamed louder in absolute fear and guilt every time he contemplated being found and caught by the American police. He screamed louder every time he thought about the lives of the innocent people he had destroyed. He screamed because he was afraid and screamed as if nobody in the world could hear him.

He was wrong. Powerful beams of torchlight shined upon the boat. His hallucinations abruptly ceased but realized that he was surrounded. He tried to summon his last bit of strength to attempt to make an escape; however the damage he had inflicted on his neck completely inhibited his movement. The canvas was lifted and a configuration of officers with their guns poised was standing outside. He was cornered, caught and completely surrounded by vengeful officers.

“You.” said one of the policemen, “You’re coming with us.”