“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Three unrelated events from my past circled back together recently.
The first happened when I was a recent college graduate and in Dhaka for a few months. I bumped into an editor visiting my father’s office – Mahfuz Anam from Bangladesh’s leading English language newspaper, the Daily Star. We started talking and he asked if I would be interested in contributing to the paper. I wrote a weekly arts op-ed column for several months until I went abroad to work on my first film and all that came with it, namely non-disclosure agreements. And there ended my brief stint contributing to a national newspaper. This was in 1995.
The second was that I started working on a novel in 1998.
The third is tied to the fact that I have the kind of memory that makes people pause and tell me I’m scary. This happened when I met a woman, Munize Manzur, at a party in Dhaka in 2009. I saw her and said, “Hey, I know you!” and she said that I did not. I said, “But I do, look!” as I whipped out my iPod that carried all my photos and scrolled to a photo of her and me with a mutual friend taken in 1992. Munize looked at me, paused and declared that I was scary. Then she swiftly moved as far away from me as possible.
Forward to near-present day:
I attended the Hay Festival in Dhaka, where I met Munize again. She had a collection of charming short stories, titled Voices, that was debuting at the festival and she was on a number of the panels. I (naturally) remembered her. She overlooked that I was scary and we exchanged numbers.
She became the new editor of the Literature page for the Daily Star. And she generously became interested in the novel I started writing in 1998, and asked me to write a column on the process of writing this book. “It could help other writers understand the different ways we write,” she said.
Munize is warm, astute and quick to the draw, with the sort of wit that’s razor sharp but never mean. She gives great advice and I pay attention to what she says. She would be a good person to write for.
“What say you?” Munize asked, not quite in those words.
I start my monthly column in the Daily Star Lit section today. Here it is.
Morals of the story:
1) Life, sometimes being more circular than linear, can give us another shot at valuable opportunities.
2) Even as many of us skip around the globe, I am always assured that those who matter somehow always reappear in my life.
3) It’s okay to have a scary memory.
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” ― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
“This is all about the circles we’ve found. And through the ups and downs it goes round.” Transport yourself back to 1984 and listen to Spandau Ballet sing ‘Round and Round‘.
Just when you think it’s all behind you… watch The Debt, directed by John Madden and starring Helen Mirren, and close the gaps of the past.
“And hoped if she kept the dream hidden and frozen/She soon would forget that she’d never been chosen.” Character vignettes come together in David Rakoff’s novel in anapestic tetrametre, published posthumously following his untimely death from cancer. Read the moving and darkly funny Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish.