creative non-fiction origins

Burning a Diary

'No one is proud of who they were at 13.' Amina Razzack goes through the transformative process of burning an old diary.

by Amina Razzack

I found it while clearing some of my things, words written by me eleven years ago at the awkward age of 13. And it was awkward, the entries were brief but fixated on the usual drama faced by a 13 year old girl. School, exams, friend drama, an embarrassing fixation on a boy I had liked for maybe two weeks.

This diary had been stuffed into a corner of my closet for years and every time it showed itself I tucked it back further in the closet and deeper into the back of my mind. As a History student, all documentation was important and telling, but imagining the inexperienced words of my former self falling into any other hands gave me anxiety. If I ever died, this was not what I wanted to be remembered by.

There was only one way to properly dispose of it.

I pulled out a box of matches from my closet, where they were hibernating since my scented candles had run out. I pulled the written sheets out of the diary and lit them in batches and dropped them into the sink.

“The pages were fully aflame now, curling into smoke and ashes.”

The fire wasn’t catching fast enough and I didn’t want to leave the pages half burnt to be found by curious siblings. I gently fanned the flames but they rose quickly, filling the unused kitchen with thick, toxic smoke that made my eyes water. To make things worse, Mom had just gotten home and it would be only a matter of time till she smelled the smoke. Only slightly panicking, I quickly emptied out a green ceramic pot that was holding some unused shells, collected from beaches over the years. I dumped the smouldering sheets and took them to the roof.

This was a better location, the sky was a clear blue and the lightest breeze was blowing, helping the fire catch as I set the pot down.

It wasn’t unpleasant to sit there for a little while, on a cool November afternoon. The pages were fully aflame now, curling into smoke and ashes. I could still make out my coloured ink words on the page, but as they became incomprehensible, I felt relieved and lighter.

No one is proud of who they were at 13. We outgrow the worst parts of ourselves if we learn from our mistakes. I can call myself a better person now, even though I still have a long way to go. As the fire burns, I think about how fire is a symbol of transformation, a purifying force.

By the time the fire is gone, I wonder if this was about the diary at all.


Amina Razzack | @AmiRazzack @razzack_kid 

Amina Razzack starting adulting a little late, but she isn’t in any rush to grow up. She travels whenever she can and somehow never stopped reading fairy tales. One day she’ll get around to writing some of her own. 

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