My grandmother always started stories by saying “Long time ago, there was and there wasn’t”. My grandmother never said” in a faraway land”. Her stories were rooted in Iraqi folklore and to her they were an extension of her immediate identity. Stories from One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), stories of the Arabian prankster Juha and stories of the exiled prince Abu Zayd were weaved together like an intricate tapestry that would leave us mesmerized for hours. As a little girl, whenever my grandmother began a story, the TV, game consoles of different shapes and sizes and even my prized collection comic books all faded into the background and lost value, next to the experience of entering the magical world of my grandmother’s storytelling. My brother and I would beg and plead: “please tell us another story”, attempting to make the cutest faces our childish selves could muster, hoping to coax out another gem. My grandmother was illiterate in her own language; she didn’t use fancy words nor eloquent expressions. However, there was an intelligence of a different kind in her joyful face. She lived and died in Iraq.Had you asked me a few years ago to define myself, I would rattled off a long list of labels: I am a mother, an Iraqi, I live in Canada, I am a computer programmer, I speak 4 languages, I have a university degree (B.Sc. in computer science from UBC, in case you need to know the specifics), I self-published a book titled “Don’t Shoot! … I have another story to tell you”, I am a flamenco dancer, I read lots of books, I am a woman, I paint with acrylics, I lived in Kuwait, Scotland, Algeria, Palestine, Israel and Czech republic and I reside in a pink house in Vancouver, BC. All the above statements are true, but today I stand in front of you declaring that none of it identifies me. There is a something underneath all the labels, personal history and circumstance that is unconcerned with these details. I simply mention them here to all those that need the facts so that they can easily place me in a neat box in their mental map of human categories. There is a something inside me that desires to write, paint and dance. Neither logical, nor emotional. I can sense the truest and most genuine expression of my non-identity through it. I started this blog with the simple intention of writing stories from my life. Over time I branched into fiction and currently I am writing a novel. I found myself drawing illustrations, making videos and creating my own choreographies to dance. Write, dance, paint …each one of these activities inspires the rest. They started as separate adventures, each one bringing mountains of joy into my life and now they are beginning to merge. My goal is to be a storyteller for the Web 2.0 generation. I don’t yet know what that means, but stay tuned as I experiment and figure it out. I have a feeling that something exciting is about to emerge. And I am always eager to hear your suggestions and ideas.
Inspired by my early childhood experiences, I am in constant pursuit of weaving a story for the modern age that might bridge the gap between labels. I attempt to root old classics with a sense of contemporary immediacy; always hoping and praying that a fraction of my grandmother’s intuitive intelligence has rubbed off.