Written by Hajra Aslam Motiwala
Why on earth did I agree with Amina Khursheed that I would write something special for The Truth too? Oh, why did I use the word special?
"How are you going to make it 'special', just how, when your story is utterly un-special?" I questioned myself.
You see, last week I was chatting to Amina Khursheed and I came up with a lousy (that time brilliant) idea that she and I would write about how we became short-story writers and she readily agreed (could she not refuse?) Now, I didn't know how to make a story out of it, let alone special. This word was freaking me out already.
That's me … Freak-a-Dee.
I grabbed the cell phone and started tapping, "Hey Amina... let's forget this idea. Don't you think the word special is a little outdated? So let's just leave it, huh?"
I clear the text and write instead, "Have you started the story yet?"
Her reply is an hour late and she says, "No, but I plan to start tomorrow."
Well she may start tomorrow, but I know myself. If I leave any story to be written tomorrow I will never get it written. Amina's tomorrows may come but there's some mix-up in my nature cause my tomorrows never come!
So here I am, scribbling. I am using my special (outdated word?) sequined pen willing it to release its power and make me write something special (ugh).
Can you see the 1st picture? It is a page from my first diary or did the publisher not publish it? Look at my handwriting and my English… It was pathetic. I was in grade six yet I had English and writing style of grade 1. My first credit of story writing goes to my habit of writing a diary.
I love reading, I have read hundreds of novels and books. Without books I can't breathe. At first, reading was fun but I don't know when my reading style changed from fun reading to serious-observing. I started to notice the way all the writers explained a particular scene in a different manner and how they built up their stories. Very soon, I wanted to become a writer.
Which explains my first letter to The Truth. I had written:
"Thank you so very ice-cream- topped-with-cherry much for publishing my story 'Give and Take'. One day when I will be a novelist, I will tell everyone that The Truth was the first magazine for which I wrote."
I subscribed to The Truth in 2006 or 2007 only because of my mother. She wanted me to read religious stories but until the start of 2011 I never read a single page. All the 4x48 mags went unread and unseen by me straight to our storeroom.
In 2009 I started a novel "Maera" and wrote 78 pages in a few weeks. Unfortunately, I lost the register and I am still upset about it. I have written many uncompleted novels with my favorite being 'In The Middle' which has reached 95 pages but I've still to complete it.
In 2010 I wrote 3 stories, 'Pebbles and Jewels', Nepal: an Enchanted Country' and 'Love Your Books'. I sent them to The Truth but they never received them. I sent them again in 2011 and they got published.
I didn't know The Truth would publish my stories, so when my first story got published as the cover story I couldn't believe it! Now, it has been a year and a half since I've been writing for truth. 32 stories of mine have been published and 8 stories are waiting to be published as on 2nd April 2013. More than half of the stories are true and you will be surprised to know that "Language of Love" is a story of my house, completely, except for the ending. The story of mine I hate the most is, "Meat Treat" (because I messed it up BIG TIME) and "My Monthly Test Disaster" though I don't know why I hate it. I just love my story, "Summer In the Cold" it is a 100 percent true. I regret writing the story "EID Celebrations" because I let down Nepal and I think hurt the feelings of my maternal family in Nepal as I said that Eid in Nepal was boring and dull when in fact it is the opposite. The Truth rejected eight of my stories and I am trying not to be upset about it. The editor never used to reject my stories and most them used to be cover stories but I guess I have changed somewhat.
Now there is one more word I freak about, "change"
I don't want to change.
I also write for other mags regularly, my second priority being the Radiance monthly magazine which is also like The Truth and I am its Co-editor, but I have this 'TRUTH' feeling. It is my first magazine and will always be my priority. I wish my readers could read my those stories too.
Can you see the picture full of mags? They are the mags in which my stories have been published, Alhamdulillah. My favourite pastime is to arrange all the mags in different orders and admire them (do I sound crazy?) I count them and re-read them.
I would like to thank all the readers who contact me in different ways. It all started from Mariam Khan. I didn't know her and she was a stranger to me but then one day I received a message on facebook from her:
OMG! I am in love with your writing! I read The Truth and I am your fan! Can't believe I found you on facebook *eeek* :-p
The word 'fan' shocked me. Did I really deserve a fan? Wow! I am not a vain person but I was pleasantly surprised and at first I thought she was a friend of mine joking around.
Then there's Abeer Mudassir (cousin of Tooba Hussain) and Tooba Hussain herself. Both of them are really very nice. I have also added Shaza Khawar and Bint-e-Jalees but haven't gotten around to chatting with them. Amina and I have made Truth page on facebook. Do like it. "The Truth International" and group "Truth Tellers".
One day I got a request from someone named 'Amina khursheed' out of the blue, and we are quite good friends now. When I didn't know Amina, I was little green-eyed of her. Just a little bit, and that too because she is a well known writer and a very old writer of The Truth but now we share what we are writing and she is like an elder sister.
Since everything has up-and-downs, my story has few downs too. At the start when my stories used to get published, I would buy 5 of that issues and gift them to my friends, what hurt me and still hurts me are a few comments from my own true best friends,
"My hubby says The Truth only publishes your stories because you are the daughter of Aslam Motiwala. He didn't find anything special in your stories." I stopped giving her the magazine.
Wherever I used to go I would take copies of The Truth with me and show everyone my stories, but you know what? No one glanced at them. There was the day when my school friends were all getting bored in the class. I took out The Truth and showed them my story and they were like, 'Achcha na, baad me dekhengay' and kept the mag aside. I stopped taking mags to the school.
There was no-one with whom I could share my passion of writing. It seemed as if everyone was busy and no one was interested.
There is one thing about me, I never give up that is why the co-editor once called me 'iron woman' hehe. If anything keeps me going, it is people's negative minds. I love to prove them wrong and I don't care what they think thus I end up writing more and am never discouraged. Another thing is that I love challenges. So one evening I asked the Co-editor when the 14th August was going to be published and her reply was, "It is ready and going to the press tonight." I was like, 'No! Don't say that." I told her that I will write in a few minutes and mail her but she must publish my story in that issue. She said she would wait but for a short time.
I ran upstairs to my computer and for the first time wrote directly on the keyboard instead of a paper. My mind was whirling and I ended up writing the article 'Bitter and Sweet'. I am not usually allowed internet at home so I saved it in a USB and called a friend Ambreen Usman. Ambreen and her sisters are true friends and it is because them that I am able to write for Truth and become an editor of radiance magazine. I told Ambreen that I am sending her a USB and she will have to mail it ASAP. She readily agreed. Now, the problem was, what reason would I give my mother to send my driver over to Kkhadda Market (where my friend lives) because my mother is okay with me writing stories but she doesn't like my madness about it. It is surprising how miracles happen!My dad called me to bake chicken puff pastries and its dough is only available at Khadda Market. I called my driver and asked him to buy puff pastry and drop USB to my friend's.
I was relaxed but Ambreen's text came, "Hajra, my laptop's charger is not working and so my laptop is not opening."
"What?" I screeched.
I told my driver to buy a laptop charger from a near by shop and that I will pay him later.
He found a charger of 15000 rupees. God knows if it was a charger or not. I made him return it and come back home. I sat dejected and was texting co-editor to go ahead without my story. Just then Ambreen's text came "Why don't you text me your whole story and I will copy paste and mail it from my mobile."
That's exactly what I did and the Co-editor's reply came, "I can't believe you did it! Bravo, iron woman."
I am honored in being called that. I have faced many such challenges which I handled crazily, driving Ambreen and her sisters crazy.
So nothing scares me except Allah and maybe freaky words like, 'special', 'change' and 'marriage', hehe.
I learned not to care about discouraging people, I wrote and wrote and I will keep on writing. I believe in the power of the pen and writing is my passion. Sometimes when I am writing, I laugh, sometimes I cry… although I write for teens and kids, but still I forget the reality and wander into the depths of my mind. Writing takes me to the unknown world of my thoughts which I didn't know existed. Do I sound a little poetic? Well that's maybe because I write poems and call myself a poetess too. I have written over 70 poems and all of them have been published in an online website. My school teachers still don't believe that a silly naughty girl like me can write. Lol!
Now I can't wait to read what Amina Khursheed ended up writing in her journey-of-writing story as mine seems to be a mix-up. I hope my idea wasn't really lousy.