Zumorrodah

- I Became a Creative Writer -

It is such a beautiful feeling to become a creative writer. Writing is a beautiful art that is full of joy. It is an art of narration, venting and expression of feelings and emotions. A writer’s text does not necessarily reflect events that she actually encountered. To the contrary, it could be pure imagination. I have deserted writing for a very long time, probably since I graduated college. Since then, I have found writing again quite difficult. During this training, I managed to hold the pen again. I got hold of the primary keys to creative writing. I need a strong motive to keep writing. I need more time to master this art and I really do want to continue.

As the end of this training is approaching, I feel deep sorrow. I have lived one of the best months of my life. I have learned so much and moved between mixed feelings and amazing experiences with my peers where we ended up creating a comic story. It was a difficult challenge, for it is not easy to form one team with one soul in spite of our differences. At the end, we created one opinion under one goal, which was the creation of the story. This is something I am doing for the first time in my life. I have worked with teams in the past and I have never had difficulties. What is new here, however, is the characters we created and whom we fell in love and empathized with a lot. It is a piece of work and a dream that is growing and becoming real before our eyes. It will see the light soon. On the one hand, I feel happy and proud. On the other hand, I feel sad and melancholic as I already miss this. I do not want this training to end. It was quite exceptional.

Goodbyes make me cry. I hate goodbyes and final moments. I cannot wait to read our comic story at home. I cannot wait to see the readers’ reactions. I pray to God that this experience happens again and that it evolves into a series of useful and exciting work. Why not? The ten of us can do this with our massive and diverse energies. Our collective work has made us discover energies and talents that were buried before. These talents and energies will find their way further as we continue to work.

- My Friend’s Story -
A Short Story from An Interview

Today, I want to write about this wonderful friend of mine whose face radiates beauty and innocence. She is almost 20 years old and she also comes from my hometown. She is displaced with her family in Sana’a, just like me. She has calm deep eyes despite her young age. She does not look a lot like her sister. She is serene and does not talk much, but when she speaks, she is light years beyond her young age. She has big ambitions and dreams that make me expect a bright future for her with full faith that she will accomplish her aspirations. She is true to herself and she knows what she wants and how to work towards it. She aspires to become a famous writer whose work is translated into many languages. She knows how big the dream is and how much work it will take for her to get there.

She enjoys a high sense of self-value and pride. She does not settle with compromise. Sadly, life is not always like that. She may have to be more pragmatic. She is now in her first year of college, studying nutrition. She did not want that major at the beginning. However, she is really enjoying it now. She writes from time to time. She writes short stories and studies so hard. She brings a lot of joy to her mother’s heart especially that she worked so hard for her and her siblings.

Have you recognized the friend I am talking about? It is Zainab Ba-Sultan.

- Dahes and Al-ghabra 1 -
Corresponding Thoughts to the Story Collection Titled “Blouza: The Blouse” by Reem Mohajed

To me, this war is another Dahes and Al-ghabra. War is ugly in all its names , meanings and forms. War eats everything does not exclude anyone. Despite all of this, there are those who still benefit from war in their own ways. Some people’s catastrophe is others’ opportunity. Warlords and arms dealers make so much out of the continuity of this war. We have seen wonders throughout this war. We saw those who used to own nothing and now have capital and properties. We saw those who used to be wealthy become poor and short of basic necessities.

I choose here to write about theft and robbery of houses during the war.

This collection of short stories that we read in class was extremely painful and made all war scenarios pass before my eyes like film footage of the most painful memories of my life. It made me relive the details all over again, all the cruelty, the agony, the horrifying sounds, the bombardments, the destruction and all the screams that shook our old neighborhood in Taiz.

I remembered the houses that burned and fell apart only to become homes for ghosts after their owners had to flee the shelling that used all types of weapons. These houses did not survive the brutal looting. We heard the noise and saw belongings being taken from neighboring houses. These were the belongings that people left behind with hopes to come back, expensive belongings whose fate changed just like that of their owners’. None of us saw any of this coming. We lost our loved ones, our families and friends in this damned war. We suffered so much and struggled with a lot. War is a fire that burns everything on its way. Nobody is safe. Those who survive death, end up living with wounds that even time cannot heal.

I still have faith in God’s mercy upon those who try to survive and struggle to stay and start from scratch every time.

[1]Dahes and Al-ghabra is a war that took place for 40 years around one century before Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. What started as a dispute over commercial interests and routes, ended with a 4-decade war. Dahes and Al-ghabra became a reference, in Arabic, to often describe pointless brutal wars.

- On 19 Days of Creative Writing -
Thoughts on the 19th Day of Creative Writing

I honestly do not know where to begin and what to write. I have so many scattered thoughts that go back and fourth in my head along with mixed feelings. It is not easy, but I will try to put my thoughts in order and write.

This training was a big challenging adventure for me. After all, this was a writing training and writing has always been the hardest and most draining thing for me! I have always hated writing. I hate holding the pen to write. This has always been an issue for me since childhood. I hated writing classes at school. The hardest thing anyone could have possibly asked me to do throughout my life has been writing or expressing myself through writing.

When Hana’a called me from the British Council, she gave us a preliminary date in Ramadan. Even though it was not a good time for me, I still confirmed my participation. I asked her about the trainer and when she told me it was Sarah, I felt excited as I met her two years ago when she interviewed me before I took the Springboard program at the time. I wanted to be trained by her.

Sarah called me later and gave me further details and information. I asked her: “What about those who do not know how to write?” She told me then that she did not believe in that and that writing is a skill that anyone can learn as long as they want to. What she told me opened new horizons for me. It brought a lost hope back to me. I felt overwhelming joy and kept thinking of who else will be participating.

I have participated in many training before. This was different and unlike any other previous experience. This experience was full of emotions, events, excitement and diversity. It was a big dream that came true as we built it up together step by step.  I am so eager for our work to see the light, for it to be public and a concrete reality instead of a dream. What we did was huge. It brought back my confidence in my abilities and myself. It brought back confidence that I used to have before I went through unjust and difficult circumstances. The time has come for me to dust away all what I went through and find my strength again the way I used to.

I am so happy and grateful, Sarah, for this training. I am grateful to God for granting me this chance and experience. It was a new experience that is too hard to describe. We learned a lot and exchanged ideas and experiences while working as a team. Above everything, the fact that I am actually writing is my biggest accomplishment!

I have benefited so much to the extent that I want to continue in any possible way, through any activity that can bring us together again in any form. I do not want our work to end up being just a memory. I do not want to go back to unemployment again, to that void. I want work that brings us together. I want productive challenges. Every time I think of how this training is coming to an end soon and that I will go back to my old boring routine, it feels as if a heavy nightmare is waiting for me.

I push these thoughts away so that they do not spoil the lovely times we still have left, and the beautiful feeling such times will bring me. I decided to live in the present without allowing anything to ruin that for me. Beautiful times pass faster than lightening. Gloomy times pass so slowly as if they would never end!

- Six Images from Memory -
Thoughts that Followed a Walk in the Neighborhood

On Tuesday, 3rd of July 2018, at five in the evening, Sarah asked us to go for a walk and explore the surroundings of the training location. I left for the walk while feeling completely exhausted. I was late to the training that day, for I spent the whole day looking for a job.

I decided to walk alone. I left through the back gate and began walking. I saw exhausted dogs drinking from still water on the street. Suddenly, children began to throw stones at them while the dogs remained to drink out of extreme thirst. I was furious enough to yell at the kids: “Why are you doing this! These dogs did nothing to harm you!” I was heartbroken when I watched the dogs fleeing before being able to drink more water.

I continued my walk while looking at trees and birds. The weather was nice and good for a walk. I saw a place selling women’s clothes. I walked in to look closer at a pretty white blouse that had beautifully coordinated patterns. I asked the salesperson about prices then sizes. They did not have my size. I looked quickly at the rest of the clothes and found my way out as soon as I heard the sound of birds, especially what I recognized as a curlew. I followed the sounds and found the source. It was a tobacco store that also sells pets including the curlew I heard. I spent some time staring at the hamsters, the pair of ducks, the birds and that gorgeous blue and white curlew. All praise to God! I love animals and birds so much, especially birds. The sounds of birds always haunt me. I cannot pass by without stopping. Sometime ago, I used to have hamsters. When I saw the hamsters in this store, I remembered the ones I fostered and gave to our neighbor’s kid. I have a lot of birds, too, including a curlew.

I left the store and walked in the other direction where I found a wedding hall that I heard so much about but have not seen until my walk that day. As I walked further, I saw a place that sells kitchen closets. I liked one of them, but it was more expensive than what I can afford.

I saw the bus ticketing office that Sarah told me about when she called me the first time to inform me about the training and describe the address. I did not know where the office was at the time, nor the park she also described. During the past days, I kept taking the easiest and only familiar road I know. As they say, all roads lead to Rome.

I went to that park. I saw a lot of women. Some were chewing qat while their kids are playing around. They were playing with the few games made out of wood and rooted in the park’s dry ground that had no trees. I decided to rest and play with the swings, but they were all occupied. I asked a boy who seemed to be about five if it was possible for me to play a little, but he said no. I tried convincing him and it only worked when I told him to count to 30 while I play and then after 30, he takes over the swing again. He counted in a joyful Tihami voice. When the count was over, he approached: “Your turn is over.” I asked for a little more time, but he refused in his Tihami accent: “You are a cheater!” I immediately got off the swing and told him: “No, it is fully yours as promised!” I thanked him and left so that I am not late for the training. Oh my! I forgot to ask about hisname!