From the Author
In fact, had you told me in my twenties that one day I would aspire to be a writer, I would have laughed at you in rolling generous fits worthy of a tickling war I play sometimes with my children. I did not go about looking to be a writer, in fact I wasn't even thinking about writing. The writer came looking for me, grabbed me by the neck, squeezed hard and commanded ... "Write!" "But, I don't know what to write" I pleaded expecting some mercy. "Just Write!" the writer squeezed harder and I began to choke. Fearing for my life, I began to write down whatever popped into my head.
Let me tell you the story of how I started to write.
After 9/11, I became increasingly frustrated with the fashion that the Middle East was portrayed in the media. I found myself writing letters to the editor of various newspapers, radio stations and magazines. I wrote with corrections, politely pointed out the opposite point of view and attempted to set the record straight. All my letters were courteous, but the intelligent tone hid a quiet and simmering anger. A few of my Letters were published but most were not. I felt even more angry at the futility of my efforts. Angry at an unfair world where everything is upside down. I remember the moment well. I could sense deep ache in my heart. I was sitting in my basement listening to some music, attempting to solve a computer programming problem. After the choking feeling got unbearable I found myself writing my first story. Why write a letter to the editor in response to an article, when I can write the article instead? I found myself asking. I submitted stories to the same publications I had written letters to before. A few of my stories were published, but most were not. And thus, began the blog ihath.com ... a place for all the stories." Sometimes the keyboard is mightier that a cruise missile" was my motto at the time. I had no access to cruise missiles anyway and so the keyboard became my weapon of choice. The writing seemed to flow easily. The ketchup was replaced with hot chilli sauce that I could spoon over my food to both delight and punish my taste buds. Overtime the writing took a life of its own and I left the media activism in the dust.
Like most stories, there is more than one current running through it. There was the noble current that I already described, but also a darker more sinister current--one whose nature is more private and therefore is more difficult to talk about. Two rivers run thought it. Like the country of my origin, two rivers ran through my writing at the time. My writing suffered along with the condition of my heart. I tried and tried to remedy the ailment, but somehow everything I wrote during that phase of 18 months was trash, even in my own eyes. The flow was shut. No more chilli sauce, not even ketchup. I had to subject my taste buds to rawness of what was on my plate with no embellishments. Writing, dancing and painting--all the activities that gave me such joy seemed impossible. The only activity that gave me solace was long walks around the beautiful city of Vancouver. After a five hour walk, when my feet started complaining I would finally sit down and feel fantastic sense of relief. "Ooooo, it feels so good to sit down" I would say after one of my ventures. For a few minutes, life was good again. The lingering pain in my chest would be forgotten with the thrill of relief.
I had to devise a new method for writing. Without cover-ups, my taste buds felt blandness, bitterness and yukiness. Eventually, I learned to start with good ingredients that produced tasty dishes that required no additional flavoring at all.
"No better love than love with no object,
no more satisfying work than work with no purpose.
If you could give up tricks and cleverness,
that would be the cleverest trick!"
The writer came again and instructed me "Write!"."Write what?" I replied fearing the neck chocking would start again. This time his manner was gentle and patient. His eyes looked at me in a loving manner and he said "You already know the answer". Indeed, I did. There has been a character that has been living in my brain for a while. I know that her name is Nelly, I know that she has a recurring nightmare and I know that she must go on a long journey to explore the sources of it. My intuition tells me that if I write Nelly's story and thereby resolve her dilemma I might be able to resolve mine. Perhaps I will first salvage myself and only then be able to finish Nelly's story. Who knows? So the novel starring Nelly began to take shape. It really doesn't matter which one of us will salvage the other.
Today, I write with no purpose. My writing serves no function. I am not trying to change anybody's perspectives, accomplish media activism or impress anybody. When the inner critic raises his harsh voice with" You are stupid, you have nothing to say, everything you write is garbage". I tell him: "You are right! but I will write anyway for the pure joy of it". I do it because I love it. It comes from a place of delight. If others find value in it, then that is a huge blessing. If no accolades come, then that is a huge blessing as well. My reward is in the doing of it. And that can't be taken away. If, however by accident, somebody out there finds my writing meaningful.... well ... that's just hollandaise sauce on top of my eggs.