Sunday, 6 May 2012

My Beautiful Bahrain & ME

Today a dream came true. To see my name in print. Well, yeah I know, being in the newspaper and magazine industry, I have been blessed to write under my own by-line a number of times, but today was different. ‘Cuz it put me in a different league, a league which once seemed out of bounds. Of being a published author.

I know, I know one chapter in a book isn’t much. But it is still freaking fabulous. Oh, in case you didn’t know, today, ‘My Beautiful Bahrain’, a book containing 50 pieces of fiction, poetry and personal stories from 40  different authors, of 15 nationalities was published. All the authors ofcourse have a connection to Bahrain and my piece was one of the pieces that made the final cut.

It has been an incredible journey and one which Robin Baratt set in motion. It was his idea to compile such a book and all credits for all the success belongs to him and him alone. All of us are just candles he lit along the way, and now are shining brightly under the excitement of actually seeing our name in print.

I first attended a Bahrain Writer’s Circle on April 2, 2011, and that too, it was an assignment from the Daily Tribune for which I was a reporter at the time. If someone told me then, that within a year’s time, I would be a published author, I would have given them the look, which meant “yeah. Ok. Riiiight.” But here we are.

I remember when he first sent us an email informing us about the idea. I mulled over it for a while, wondering if it was actually that easy. Easier for me than my job, easier than work. Doing something I love and about a place that is truly my home. Over the years, I have blogged and written about Bahrain quite a bit, but this was an opportunity that was truly fascinating and was screaming at me saying “Grab me, Grab me! You can do it”

The spark of brilliance was first mentioned in an email sometime in August, and by the end of October I had sent in my piece, “Growing Up in Bahrain’. Well, ofcourse I had way too much say, but I chewed on each idea till I had picked what I thought was important and what was not. And excited and nervous, I sent in my piece. Honestly though, it did feel like my very first stage performance or the very first time I spoke in front of a crowd. Head buzzing with the thrill of achievement, a renewed self confidence that comes from completing a goal, the nervousness of response, and the fear of rejection.

While choosing my topic, I really didn’t have a choice. It was clear from the start. It was like the topic picked me and not vice versa. I was born here and grew up here, so that would be the basis. That was a foregone conclusion right from the start. But apart from what I felt growing up, I felt it would be incomplete if I didn’t mention why I, as an Indian, was so attached to this place. So, my chapter is my attempt at telling the story, my story, the story of an Indian, who was born, brought up and looking forward to living on this island paradise.

For me, Bahrain is and always will be home. It is the land of my childhood, the land of adulthood too in fact.

“It is where I first fell and bruised my knee, it is the place where I first learnt my ABC.
Had my first heartbreak here, and learnt life’s lessons.
Childhood, and adolescence spent in a breeze, on this beautiful island,
Hidden away, a pearl, only known to few.
The land of my birth, the land of my dreams,
The land that has inspired many and me.
I love you Bahrain, oh I love you, thee”

Wow. That was a sudden stroke of imagination, not part of what I wrote for the book. And yes, that too I owe to ‘My Beautiful Bahrain’. And thank you Bahrain Writer’s Circle, for awakening that sleepy lazy writer hidden in all of us.

And I must say that thanks to Robin, it never felt like an assignment. He was there, the father figure, the teacher, the mentor, who would just gently nudge us in the right direction. He let us allow our imaginations to flow. No pressure, No restrictions, nothing off limits pretty much. And how fruitful that has been. The book has everything from poetry to fiction to personal stories. An eclectic mix and a thoroughly enjoyable read. 

For us contributors, it was an amazing experience. To see our name in print and to sign copies of the book. I even got to read a passage from the book (see video here). Tonight, we were celebrities and truly revelled in the attention that was being showered upon us.
It was evening of celebration. Of smiles and cheers and applause. Of congratulations and pride. Of achievement and a sense of satisfaction. Reaffirming faith in ourselves and igniting the passion for writing to last a lifetime. I think that’s the thing about achieving dreams, it becomes an addiction. Each dream arouses you to such an extent that you are driven to make the next dream come true.

And for me personally, what this evening did, was to make me believe that one day, I too can have a book, where mine shall be the only name on the cover! It may take a while, a few years maybe, but I now know that it will be done. About what, how, where or when, I am not sure. But sure as the fact that ‘My Beautiful Bahrain’ is now a brilliant paperback I am holding in my hand, it will happen someday.

And dearest Robin, you shall always be there, through it all, because all this would have been nothing but a pipe dream if not for you. Thank you is too small a word to express what the other contributors and I feel, but for now, that is all we have to offer.