Born in Trinidad, Pascalle Onika Lewis now resides in Brooklyn, New York. She currently holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Medgar Evers College. Her first published books of poetry entitled, Collections of a See Through Soul - Portraits (2008) and Collections of a See Through Soul – Bardvillian Symphonies (2009), were both written under the pen name Onika Pascal and published by Osbey Books. Since then, she has been working on other projects, a novel titled On the Eve of Goodbye as well as penning a memoir titled, Becoming More Than Just An Orange.
Pascal's talent of turning words into phenomenal stories and pieces of art is one that is infectious. Pascal's publisher, Pam Osbey of Osbey Books, Inc. solidifies this: "With words that pierce your soul and beg you to enter the temple of openness and curiosity for life, Onika Pascal's pen commands your attention at first glance," Osbey explains. "Working with this inquisitive soul whose spirit is unique through a lens all her own, I have been honored to see the progression of a writer who has only touched the surface of her literary purpose."
When she's not writing, Pascal serves as an event coordinator and a youth mentor with the Misunderstood Youth Development Center, a non-profit organization that provides a place for youth to express themselves. It is here that Pascal has shared the wonders of poetry with the teens in her group.
What is writing to you?
Writing is a classical way of expression. I say classical because there’s now a “Lady Gaga” type way of expressing yourself. Writing helps me to unscramble scenes and characters that rest in my mind. In my head they all make perfect sense, but writing them into existence is a challenge. And I love it.
Why did you agree to be a part of the GWave Writing Journey?
I agreed to be a part of the GWave because I felt like I was slipping from the writing world. I was losing my zeal, and the GWave Writing Journey/group helped stir up my hands and story idea.
How did friendship and sisterhood help/hinder your writing during the journey?
The friendship and sisterhood helped tremendously. The constant support, motivation and encouragement played the role of that little “ummph” that you’d need to complete a project. When life took reign, the sisterhood was there to help push you on.
How did the use of GWave help facilitate conversation amongst the group during the journey?
I was introduced to other readers, and the use of GWave helped me to feel comfortable, and see that I wasn’t the only one with some doubts. We were all in this together. When I saw the excitement and pride the other group members had for their work, it was a clear indication that the decision to be in the group was worth the journey. Birds of a feather flock together. Right!
What were some of the successes and or pitfalls that occurred for you during the writing journey?
Success, I started. I researched and believe I have a plausible plot. Pitfall, I stopped. Life happens. It’s the best way I can sum it up. I always say to myself, “I don’t have a writer’s life.” My career is a bit demanding, and many times I have to succumb to it, and my writing gets tossed on the back burner. Though I didn’t complete my journey, it is NOT forgotten.
What did you learn about yourself through the writing journey? As person and as writer?
The journey helped me to learn/see that I am NOT disciplined. That I allow too many incidents to occur and take away from my writing. And I’ll be honest in saying my fear of criticism is what creates that wide enough gap to slip away. But the group helped me see what it takes to get the job done.
Well, supposedly, you wrote during this journey...what do you plan to do with what you've written?
I did write. And though I haven’t finished, I plan to complete it, and take a chance at shopping it around, or possibly self publishing. Writing isn’t about keeping it bottled up inside. It’s about putting it out there for the world to see…a polished product is a proper product. And it takes hard work.
He didn't imagine that his feet knew the way. His mind surely didn't. The Cassandra Hills wasn't one he'd quite known. But fear makes a man do anything. He chased after Cobra like death chased an ailing man. Destined. He was out of control. He was possessed. Demonesqued, almost. He saw his way without guidance. He didn't map his step but somehow knew where he was going. His breathing was fueled by something other than a natural movement. His eyes were wide, glaring, with no sympathy, and somehow shone its own light to the darkened hill top. The trees, grass and creatures once told in folklores didn't seem to matter. All he knew, was that he was on a mission. His target was the only thing on his mind, and he was out to fulfill what needed to be done.
His already ripped used Dockers, barely-there shoes and gray stained with-the-past t-shirt finally took on a new person, when he saw the body movement before him. And in the pull of the trigger, the night air was filled with bellowing shots. Loud. Incandescent. Frightful. Twelve.
After the last shot, he ran cold. His blood stopped pumping through his veins. And as if he too had been hit by one, or more, of the 12 shots he'd just fired, so did his heart. The heat from the Beretta didn’t bother him, but the scent of the gun powder burnt his nose. A scent he’d smell for the rest of his life. He blinked slowly. Not sure what he'd see when he re-opened them, but he did. He looked down and saw Cobra’s twitching body flicker like a fish on land, then coming to a still, stiffened object. There were still had beads of sweat on his victims face, and for a minute the shooter had hoped he’d get up and start running again. He just had too. But the body laid there on the wet leaves, twigs, stones, and worms. His eyes stared at his assassin as if he didn’t want to lose sight of his face. The pistol left the hands of the assailant and dropped to the earth. His hands opened as if to let the breeze blow away his sin. He looked at his hands, and his body shook like the wind was whirling around inside him.
Thick blood flowed from the dead body and touched the toes of the now shaken man. The warmth of it made him jump back into the trunk of the tree behind him. The bats fluttered from their resting spot and danced around the listless body, like they knew he was the one that disturbed them. The fear of what he just did and the bats, all made him lose his manhood for the first time, in a different way. Wet and warm.
He hoped that it was a nightmare. His life flashed before his eyes. A brave man never second guesses his movements and re-opened his eyes swiftly. He opened them and confirmed that he'd be running again. Running from the corpse, running from his own life. He'd be running from everything he had, his family, his home, his way-ward lifestyle, but running as a fugitive.
He'd never killed a man, and never imagined killing one that was so close to him.
He kept seeing the same face, same blood, same veins, but saw a different path in life. To him, he had shot himself. And as far as he was concerned, whatever took over him then, told him that he too was no longer alive. And he ran.
He laid as stiff as the very same dead body amongst the stench, fish nets, bait buckets, and hooks used by the fishermen. He knew at that hour no one would be around and he would be safe until dawn, when the fishermen would return. Right before he felt the twinge of the cramp in his neck from the entangled position he was in for the last 5 hours, he heard the horn of one of the steam ships. And his mind mapped out how he’d keep running. He’d have to jump ship.
The water made a pocketing sound. Cupping the little bit of space between air & the surface of the water to the bottom of the boat. He could hear the fishermen get ready for their day. "Boy, hear nah, if I doh ketch real fish today, my wife tell me doh come home", said one of the fishermen. He couldn’t see who, the position he was in didn’t give him room to make out any one. But the voices were groggy and heavy, and thick with the country’s accent. “Doh come home? My wife cyah tell me dat. Dis fish here is we bread and butter. I ketchin dis here, not she. Bout doh come home! Woman not supposed to talk to man so. NOT in dis day and age. We run tings in de household.” The other was quite stern with his words. The man’s voice alone led Tennessee to imagine his physique. He was tall, strapid, dark, probably bald, maybe a mustache, and with arms like a tree trunk.
In between some hearty laughter & heckling among the seamen, he smelled what his stomach wasn't able to avoid. Food. Smoked herring, probably spread in between freshly home baked bread. Or it could have been placed neatly on the side. He also caught the aroma of freshly grated cocoa as he heard the crunch of one of the men’s thermos opened.
He was reminded that he hadn't eaten for two days, and two days too long. So hungry, he forgot about his getaway. He couldn't move his head far enough to see if the steam ships were there or gone. Last he remembered was the sound of the horn, but uncertain if it had docked or left the pier.
As he closed his eyes to rid himself of the hunger pangs, he remembered why he was there. It was a memory he didn't want to relive. The scent of the gun powder replaced the food. It petrified him. His heart banged on the inside of his chest. Shaking him a bit weaker than he already was.
To calm himself, he bit into his bottom lip until he tasted the warmth of his own blood. As his blood dripped and coated the inside of his mouth, he built the courage to get out of his hiding place without being noticed. He unfolded from his pretzel like position, promising himself to not make a sound with the fishing equipment entangled around him. And like a magician, he managed to slip out from the space and slip under the pier, and hunched over, as to not his head on the boardwalk above him. He stood shivering in the iciness of the water. It’s unpleasantly cold, bitter, angry temperature awoke him instantly. At 4am, the seas water holds a chill, just as the mind holds a dream.
He delicately and smoothly stroked through the waters. Making sure to not wake a ripple, nor splash a sound. The piers and waters of Chaguramas were heavily guarded as it was owned by the Americans. They owned that part of the country as well as the mindsets of some of his fellow African brothers. With the strong tension in the country, getting caught would end his life, just like he ended a brother’s life.
He had to make his way before the soldiers saw him. He no longer had his shield made up of the seamen’s nets and hooks and bait and buckets.
It was time to move on.