Sometimes I doubted myself, leaving behind your pre-fabricated, corporate-sponsored temptations. But, ya know, it is what you make it.
Archive for January, 2011
Today is the final day to submit to NPR’s short story or three-minute fiction contest, which is a brilliant prompt and fun little challenge. This year’s contest is especially exciting with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie judging and ultimately reading the winning story. So I confidently began writing my piece keeping her sophisticated accent in mind. Because you know, I play to win. But then. I read the fine print and saw that none of my neighbors are eligible to enter the contest.
4. ELIGIBILITY. The Contest is open only to individual legal residents of the fifty United States who are age 18 and over.
That rather bummed me out. As some commenters on the NPR site bemoaned, it’s not cool that NPR is enjoyed all over the world, however, based solely on the intersection of latitude and longitude under which one’s mum was squatting (or hopefully not forced into a hospital bed) when one appeared on this planet determines whether one could or couldn’t enter the contest. Unfortunate to say the least. (I’m still writing for Adichie’s voice, you hear that right?) Adding insult to injury to my denied neighbors, as a US citizen who is privileged enough to have chosen to live abroad, I am still eligible for the contest even though I live here instead of there. Funny still, Adichie is an immigrant to the US, albeit a legal one. Decisions, decisions. The prompt was really irresistible for me, so I went forward with the writing but agitatedly blew off the other minor details knowing that I would not submit. Though I do adore neologisms. Le sigh. Here’s the text of my Three Minute Fiction and insha Allah I will make a podcast of it next week or so. I don’t sound anywhere near as great as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but might as well finish the project, eh.
During desperately stolen moments, at the end of her tether, Maryam weighed her options, considered her possibilities, hedged her losses and meticulously chose a road believing that she would be its sole traveler. Based on her amateur gauge, Maryam estimated that said path would surely facilitate an arrival at her manifest destiny. She dug out her relic of a basket, gathered her eggs, tied up her camel, cast her net, dotted her “I”s, crossed her “T”s, and then suddenly, but not surprisingly, her son or actually maybe it was her husband or her father or maybe even it was that treacherous woman at Stendahl’s, well, whoever it was, he said, in a long drawn-out whine, that really he was much too old to still be using, he cried “Nooooooo! I want a popsicle.” Or maybe it was a pony or a Porsche that he wanted. Either way, under the grievous weight of the voracious decibels, without any reluctance, she spontaneously buckled, martyring herself by omitting a sheepish, barely audible, “Okay.” And without further hesitation, she threw all her carefully calculated caution into the waste bin.
Solutions, solutions, solutions. Mine is to be a good sister. As in, good to my sisters and brothers. To say “yes” when I rather say “no.” To speak up when it would be much, much easier to be quiet. And to know when to shut up and stand by.
It sounds easy enough, but obviously is not being fully implemented. “Want for your sister what you want for yourself.”
Go do that, like with your hands.
From the back cover:
She was always a little different. “Touched” is how her auntie described her. They all hoped that someday she would calm down and fit in. What they never anticipated was that she would settle down–with one of them –a Muslim man! Now they all know the truth–she really is crazy!
Cover, title and hook, the hard work is done–now who’s gonna write it? Autobiographies will be considered, of course.
By the way, this is my submission to the Blog Carnival: Convert Truths in Shades of Grey.
Early last year a small family fish store opened a block away from my house. Most businesses in Morocco are still family owned and run. It was a cute little place with new glass-covered display fridges and a fisherman motif, you know, plastic seaweed and fishing nets artfully hung from the ceiling. When the BP spilled their oil, I thought about my fish mongers. I didn’t pass by for a week or so and when I finally did it seemed the lights were on but no one was home, literally. Just a few fish sat in the lit cases, the doors were closed.
Around that same time, a neighbor friend commented that there hasn’t been any fish in the souk. It had been a couple of weeks since the spill. I remembered that she is illiterate and unlike most of our neighbors, she doesn’t have a satellite dish. Perhaps her own children had failed to share with her their findings in Le Mondial. In my broken Derijench—(Derija and French)—I pathetically tried to explain it to her, “Oil in the ocean. A lot of oil in the ocean. Boat broken.”
The gates of the shop were always drawn soon after that. We didn’t have a weekend fish-fry for months until we happened past some men at the beach with coolers strapped to their bicycles. My husband bought a few kilos of fat iridescent delicacies from a man who smiled and said that he would have eaten them if we didn’t buy them. He was happy either way.
Yesterday the kids pulled me into a candy store to get 10 cents worth of sunflower seeds. The store is sparkly new and fastidiously organized, unlike the chaotic and dim old dinosaur of a hanoot next door. Brightly colored cellophane packages are stacked behind the counter a little higher than my head. The one large display case, which stands between the buyers and the dealers, tempts with artificial colored, chemical-laden and salted indulgences for as little as a penny each.
The kids are only allowed to buy “salty-snacks” and I suggest they try pumpkin seeds. They get 10 cents worth of those too and I buy myself two rolls of sugar-crusted gumdrops. Clearly a case of “do as I say.”
I wish this all were a metaphor.
God, Please help us all, ameen.