Letter to the Abandoned

Today, I’d like to share an excerpt of a project with you, in hopes of sharing the solace I’ve found. It’s called Letters from the Heart. The project lead on this is my best pal and writing coach, Gurpreet. After attending the UK premiere of the documentary ‘Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise’, she had a eureka moment. She realized that so many of us feel so alone in our lives and with our problems, but that there is kind of solace in hearing the stories of others and relating to them that doesn’t exist anywhere else. This is the essence of story telling.

From that realization, Letters from the Heart bloomed into an anonymous projects for writers from everywhere to share their stories to reach out to the world and feel the weight of life, together.

With all that said, here’s an excerpt from one of the letters that really spoke to me. Make sure to check out the full post over the Letters from the Heart site.

Letter to the Abandoned

I saw a friend on the train today. Someone I haven’t seen in eight years. He’s come so far from the little boy I remember growing up with – the cheeky one who used to check out girls’ bottoms through an empty kitchen towel roll and rate them on how ‘delicious’ they looked while wiggling his eyebrows at the other boys. But that was fifteen years ago. He’s in his mid-twenties now and works as a corporate finance solicitor. He looked so handsome in his suit, so smart. It made me think of you.

Every once in a while we see each other, you and I, and, for me at least, things have been awkward when we do. I have so much guilt regarding you; guilt I didn’t realise I had for a long time. When I cut ties with your family, I thought it was just your sister I was leaving behind, but it wasn’t. I was leaving you too. The promise I made to your dad all those years ago wasn’t just about never leaving her, it was about never leaving either of you. I had promised to stay by your side, to always be in your corner, to look out for you no matter what the future entailed. When he died and your sister shut me out, I backed out of that promise – I figured that you can’t be there for someone who doesn’t want you anymore. Now I realise I did so thinking only of your sister.

But it wasn’t just her I grew up with.

It wasn’t just her that mattered.

When we were children, you used to laugh at me being scared of spiders. I remember one incident where you ripped the legs off a rather large one and threw them at me as I tried to get away. I was standing on the bed, screaming, and you were blocking the door so I couldn’t get out. Then there was that Hallowe’en when you deliberately terrified me with the floating pumpkin outside the window, or the time you locked me under the house in the dark. Had that been our relationship in a nutshell, this guilt wouldn’t exist. But we had our good times too. Whether it was playing cops and robbers or baking shortbread biscuits with me, saving me from having to eat any more tofu or even taking me to orientation at university… You were my brother, in every good way and every bad way possible.

But the memory that stands out the most is when you and I were in hospital together the night your dad passed away. I remember standing outside the door and listening to you crying inside, begging him to get up and go home with you. I had never seen you so vulnerable. If I’m being honest, it hadn’t ever occurred to me that you, of all people, who held so much power and sway when we were children, could be so helpless. I couldn’t think of a single word of comfort then and, when it fell to me to say something, all that was running through my head was that you were the man of the house now. You were the one that had to go home and tell your mum and sister he wasn’t ever going to walk through those doors again. You were the one that had to take his place at the head of your family and be the provider, the level head. I saw you at your weakest.

It broke my heart.

And then a few months passed, and you came over. You were a little stronger. Not talking too much, still not laughing or eating more than an apple, but there was still a strength there, brewing just beneath the surface. That’s when I realised it wasn’t just your sister I had left, it was you too. I left you in a house where, often, you were standing opposed by everyone else beneath that roof with no one to back you up. Another few months passed, and another, and another until you were talkative, healthy looking, smart. I couldn’t tell if you were happy or if you were faking it, but I hope with all of my heart it was the former.

I have this dream for you. It’s something that has been in my head ever since the rose coloured glasses came off and I learnt of the atrocities our family was living through. Now, after everything that’s happened, now that neither your dad or I no longer have your back in that house, it’s grown. It was a dream I shared with your dad. With the majority of the family, in fact. We all spoke about it often…

I dream you get out.

I hope and I pray that one day I will see you smiling and know, without a single speck of doubt, that it’s a sincere smile. That behind it is genuine happiness and love.

To find out more about the project go to heartshapedletters.wordpress.com, or to contribute an anonymous letter, contact G.K. Sihat at gksihat@gmail.com.

x

NaNoWriMo 2017

Good day and welcome back to a post about writing!

The last few months, my blog has been Book Review-centric, but I’m finally feeling that little fire burning in my heart telling me to share my writing journey with you. And when is a better time than today, the first day of November!

In case you weren’t aware, November is a month of writing for many, many people. Named National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, many veteran authors and those aspiring to one day have their work published – and really just anyone who’s interested in trying! – set out to write 50,000 words over the course of November’s 30 days. This evens out to be about 1,667 words per day.

In 2016, I launched my blog with the intention of sharing my NaNoWriMo journey with you. I set up my home office and I declared my novel’s title as My Life In Pieces on my NaNoWriMo dashboard. When November came along, I caught a horrible cold which kept me in bed for a solid week, and ultimately resulted in my decision not to pursue to the end of the month, which I talk about here.

Today, on November 1st, I am pledging again, and telling the world: I am participating in NaNoWriMo! As I write this, I’ve already had a full day and I’m sitting on the couch with my husband watching football. And, to my utter surprise, I have already hit my word count for the day. Actually, I smashed it: I finished my writing day with 1,818 words towards my NaNo project.

To keep myself motivated, I am lucky enough to have my London bestie and partner in crime G, participating in NaNoWriMo this year as well. We met last year in October when I not-so-subtly Twitter-stalked her. While I didn’t win NaNoWriMo last year, she did, and I was given the unique opportunity of being a beta reader for her project. For those of you who don’t know, a beta reader is one of the first readers of a manuscript once the writer is ready to show it to others to get feedback. Since the beginning of our friendship, through the beta read, and my current non-NaNo work-in-progress, G has been not only a great friend, but my writing coach and editor. In combination with our friendship, I’ve been written a couple of guest posts for her blog (here and here), I’ve submitted to her author-anonymous project Letters From The Heart, and I’ll be interviewed in her Meet The Writers series this month (which launched October 30th).

I also have the everlasting support of my husband, who is always understanding of my need for writing time. My aunt, who is constantly asking when she can read the rest of my current non-NaNo work-in-progress. And the rest of my family who love to see me doing the thing I love the most: writing!

I’m also planning on attending some write-ins here in Amsterdam, as well as doing word sprints with some of the writers I’m in touch with on Twitter who are also participating!

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the month will bring! Keep an eye out for more posts about my #writerslife as the month progresses.

Stateless: One Man’s Struggle for an Identity by Gerard van Leeuwen

I’ve never really been a fan of biographies. I’ve just not been able to connect with the idea of an author setting out to tell the story of another.  Biography is essentially written with the help of extensive research, both primary or secondary: the former involving talking directly to the source or subject of the work, and the latter being through exploring different documents to piece together a story.

This is something that has drastically shifted since reading Kamal’s story as told by Gerard van Leeuwen.

Van Leeuwen tells us right off the bat in the prologue where he met Kamal, the subject of this biography. We learn straight away how he came to learning the complex, sometimes unbelievable, details of Kamal’s life from birth until their meeting.

Continue reading Stateless: One Man’s Struggle for an Identity by Gerard van Leeuwen

The Road to Memoir

I spend a lot of time struggling to find a way to gather all of these feelings constantly running through my mind.

I spill them like hot tea over the pages of my journals.

I spend a lot time up and down with my moods and the way I look at the series of events that have lead me to this corner of my couch in the home I share with my now Hubsband. Yes I am aware that that is not a real word, and, no, I do not care.

I whimper or weep uncontrollably in his arms when the realities of this post-cancer life feel far too overwhelming.

I spend a lot of time in a tug-of-war with my thoughts and my writing. As I try to navigate their parts and to figure out which parts of my life I want to keep sacred and close to my heart, and which parts I want to share with the world. Continue reading The Road to Memoir

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

Susan Rieger’s The Heirs shares the story of an Upper West Side New York family – the Falkes’ – in the wake of Rupert’s, their patriarch, passing.

It follows the widow, Eleanor, and her five adult children as they work through a strange, Vera, suing their father’s estate, claiming him as the father of her own adult children.

This complicates the grieving of the Falkes family as the image of the husband and father that they seem to have held on a pedestal begins to crumble. Through the progression of the novel, we watch the characters question who Rupert was and whether or not he had had the capacity to lead a secret life.

At first I thought that there were far too many characters – Rupert, Eleanor, their five children and significant others, Susanna, Vera, Hugh (Vera’s son)… I think that’s all – and was expecting to be incredibly confused. However, Rieger’s writing absolutely captivated me. Continue reading The Heirs by Susan Rieger