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What it means to be free in 2020

Editor’s Note: The Forward is featuring essays, poems and short stories written for our Young Writers Contest. Today’s entry was written by Kayla Nickfardjam, a 17-year-old student at Miliken Community School in Los Angeles. You can find more work from our young writers here

What it Means To Be Free in 2020

Today I lay
And gaze up
Not at a sparkling sky.
But at the white expanse
Of my ceiling

Today I lay
Sandwiched amid four walls of steel and wood
And yet
I am free

Freedom does not reside outside
Frolicking in golden meadows
Roaming in the feverish bustle of the city
I do not have to venture to find it

Nor does it seek me out
Knocking at my door
Seeping through the crevices around my bedroom window
Freedom lives ​within​ me

It lies in my choices
I feel it when I choose
To listen to the songbirds’ symphony in the morning
To savor the spicy, sweet taste of cardamom tea
To relish in the warmth of the Shabbat candles on my palms
To cherish the laughs of my family members like notes in a cheery song

The world is riddled with chaos
The raging pestilence looms over us
It troubles me
And shuts me indoors
But sorrow will not confine me
My freedom

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