From the Author
The year was 2003 and the US was bombing Iraq, yet again. My employer, at the time, sent me to Washington, D.C. to attend a work related conference. The irony of sending an Iraqi to the capital city of the US at that particular juncture in history escaped my boss. My state of distress was well disguised under the polished veneer of a professional. Smile. Shake hands. Exchange business cards. Give pleasant presentations. I was a corporate girl and I embraced the role with enough positivity as to make your tooth fillings quiver with musical delight. In the evenings, to shake feelings of anguish into exhaustion, I aimlessly wandered the streets like a wraith searching for physical embodiment to pour decades of despair into. It was a Jekyll and Hyde state. Peppy mornings followed by languid remains of a day. On one of these silent howling strolls, I walked into the Freer Gallery where I encountered the Peacock Room by the famous American artist James Whistler. It is a dining room where everything from the ceiling, walls, carpets, murals and fixtures was designed by the artist. A fusion of east and west. A melding of harmony and discord. Beautiful in an ugly way. Gentle in a-- "I am going to assault you and peck your eyes out so that you will feel how terrifying gentility is" way. It is one thing to look at a painting admiring its strokes and a different thing to be enveloped inside a work of art sensing every punch from an unseen physicality. Something inside my DNA changed. Something I can neither explain nor deny. When I woke up the next morning, I heard the voice of a fictional character called Nelly whispering in my ear commanding me: "Write my story!"
I didn't choose to become a writer. I was always an avid reader but my career goal was to develop the next killer app. Writing inflicted itself upon me, like an ambiguous dream you can neither understand nor dismiss back to the magical oil lamb it was rubbed out off.
Writing is an arrogant act. Writing a novel implies that I have something creative to say which somebody somewhere is aching to read. Writing is the stupid, unreasonable and crazy belief that a combination of words strung on a page can somehow make the world a better place. It's totally obscene. On the other hand, in order to write well you need to approach the task with the humbleness of the lowliest of the low. How else will you conjure up flowing compassion for your flawed characters? To become an author, It's essential to become both arrogant and humble in equal measure -- two extremes side by side. It's an impossible task.
"Blah blah blah"
"Blah blah blah"
" Aha! That is nice dear."
Submission became my default pose. Really! what other choice did I have? To conjure up the impossible, one must rely on alchemy. You must open a door and let the tyranny of illogic enter your world. And so it was.
I never understand what it is that I am writing. There is no purpose in the act of it. The meaning arrives in a year or two after the word document has been archived.
At first there was a trickle and then came a flood. Nelly weaved stories within stories which reminded me of the Arabian Nights. Her stories were meant to inspire us to greater heights in resistance to the infuriating obstacle course I had placed along her path. Parallel to her stream, there appeared a darker muddier canal. A shadowy character with shifty eyes was telling stories of doom and gloom. The harder Nelly tried to get him to look on the brighter side of life, the more he was inspired to tell a heart wrenching story that will make you want to give up the act of life itself. At a certain point the stories from one stream began to interact with the other stream producing the most unpredictable results. It's all a mess. One giant explosion. I typed and typed. Clickity clack went my keyboard late into each night. It was all very absorbing.
When I typed "The End", Nelly left. No more stories. Not even her silence. My taste buds, my cells, my sensory receptacles were slammed with an empty absence. She was genuinely gone this time. All that was left --an artifact of 288 pages bound within a colorful cover. Strangely it carries my name.
One day the meaning of this shall arrive. One day I will comprehend why this sequence of events had to happen to me. Perhaps some of you will guide me to those shores.