Monday, 9 November 2009

Dear Diary

When I was 15, I had a diary. I decided to get one after watching ‘Now and Then’, the 1995 movie starring Demi Moore and Christina Ricci amongst others. The movie centers around four friends and vacillates between their past together and their lives in the present. I guess I was sufficiently intrigued by the narrative of the movie and it spurred me on to try the whole diary gig.

Anyways, so I remember writing in this diary every day; nothing prophetic…just teen angst-y stuff. It didn’t even last a couple of months. The problem was that every time I came across a previous entry, or re-read older entries, I would cringe and want to die. I hated reading my own words the way some actors hate watching their performances on screen. My words irritated me and I often thought, “Gosh, I’m a fucking idiot”. Worse still, I was terrified that someone was going to read my idiotic daily entries filled with juvenile secrets and I eventually ripped the whole thing to shreds and had it incinerated in the fireplace.

For some reason, I didn’t learn the lesson and found the notion of a personal diary very romantic and appealing a few years later. And again, my words nearly gave me an aneurism and paranoia reigned, and eventually, it was ripped to shreds too and joined its sister in diary heaven. For some reason, I don’t mind verbalising things but I have issues with inscribing them on paper. There’s just something about seeing the words in print that’s so tangible and real, that it sends me off the deep end.

The only writing I won’t kill is letters, only because it’s sent off never to be seen again. Even my budget scrawled on a piece of paper has to be obliterated because I can’t stand the idea that someone may look at one of my doodles someday. It’s like a window to my soul and I feel exposed, naked in public. I would have made an awful cave-woman because I would have probably etched those figures of cattle on the rock and then removed any evidence with a hand-made chisel.

It is some kind of wonder then, that I manage to blog without giving in to the urge to delete everything every now and then. For me this blog has become the diary I never cremated. But I’m acutely aware, that it’s only because while I’m completely honest in my ramblings, I still manage to with-hold. So you’re only ever getting 90% of me, the other 10% is censored and rendered private – accessible only on those days I don't seem to give a fuck about the world or propriety, or to those that I deem trustworthy and choose to let into my life. A blog entry starts with an overwhelming urge to type...the words spill out like vomit, for real.

I was reading Shafinaaz’s post on writing. And being the beautiful generous ‘Butterfly’ soul that she is, she’s always encouraging me, and basically everyone else, to publish. Shafinaaz to me is like a rare gem, a testament to raw talent…talent that emanates without even really trying. But Shafinaaz isn’t the first to wave the writing wand; I’ve always been encouraged to write. Thing is, I don’t see myself as a writer – ever. At best, I could be a columnist and even then I’d have to resist the urge not to conclude every argument or piece of advice with fire. Arson, no matter how tempting, is never a solution (unless you catch 'him' cheating on you).

But if I ever wrote a book, it would be an Auto-biography because if there’s one thing that sets me apart from most people, it’s that I’ve had one fucking extraordinary life. I’ll be able to re-count the wackiest details of my life…like that time I was held up by 12 men from the Nigerian Mafia along with some of my colleagues and the SA swat team were called in to get us out, because they (the Mafia) thought that we were spying on them when we were actually spying on someone else connected to them. Or that time in 2002 when I had a real life stalker, a guy who followed me to work and class for months, who knew everything about me…my schedule, my route, what I wore every single day, what I ate etc. etc. And what about that time I went to have tea on the set of the movie ‘Breaking and Entering’ because I was allowed on set, and I got the entire crew including Juliet Binoche and Jude Law to stop mid-filming because they were in my way and I was running to catch my bus (and they were so nice about it too).

I’ve got thousands of real-life stories to tell, some of them weird, others hilarious…all of them sure to entertain. My sister asked me if I’d ever write fiction and I told her that I don’t think I could. Everything I write, I draw upon from my experiences. All the joy, pain, anxiety, frustration, insecurity, anger, you name it…every single emotion and experience I’ve ever had is immortalised when I narrate my escapades. These are experiences I’ve had to endure personally, and for some reason I don’t think I could write about experiences and emotions I don’t know. However, sometimes my stories will have fictional elements…maybe change a name or location or something of the sort.

Whatever my writing capabilities or inabilities, I cannot deny that there were specific people that have contributed to the literary evolution of Azra, people who have been instrumental and indirectly responsible for what you read today. They are (in ascending order):

1. My Father: I have yet to meet someone who can tell a story with as much animation, passion and vigor as my Dad. His theatrics and flair for drama can magically transform even the most boring details into the saga of the century.
2. My Mother: Instrumental in expanding my imagination with those infamous words “What shit is this? (on TV) Why don’t you do something constructive, here read this book”.
3. Mrs. Klonarides: My Greek English teacher in high school who, much to my embarrassment, used to photocopy my compositions from every exam and hand them out to everyone as an example of how they should aspire to write. She was an inspiration and always encouraged me to new heights.
4. Marian Keyes: The famous Irish fictional author whose books are so real, honest and hilarious because she draws on her real life experiences too.
5. T. S. Eliot: Because his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was shoved down my throat and nearly drove me fucking bonkers throughout my first year at University, to such an extent that it only intensified my detestation of poetry and made me swear that if I ever wrote anything, it would be so far removed from that shit.

Yeah, this blog is definitely as close as I’ll ever get to having a real diary.


  1. "But if I ever wrote a book, it would be an Auto-biography because if there’s one thing that sets me apart from most people, it’s that I’ve had one fucking extraordinary life."

    That did it for me! Superb writer and awesome lady... I wait for the day... but then again, ur already a published author thanks to Mrs K your Greek English teacher :)
    Thank you for your kind words as always... I know sugar is real when it comes from an incredible lady as you are! Much appreciation, love, S

  2. ...erm, in all honesty, not everyone else... sure i think everyone should write... and everyone should blog... but i dnt think im qualified enough to comment on who should publish, so i stick with the REAL talent; like you and saals, and well a few others :P

  3. Diaries - or just saving things you wrote in previous years - may be scary, but it's also a good self-marker; to show you how far you've progressed (or regressed) from the point you were at.

    I've kept my stuff from the past few years, and even though I barely ever look at it nowadays, I treasure those pieces of paper - because it's my personal record of my life - little glimpses into the past, which helped get me to the point I'm at today.

  4. wow! what a life! you make mine sound as if i have been locked up in a convent - all my life.

    jeez! and wow!

  5. Your exploits leave me tickled whenever I read them. I would buy 'Azra's Adventures - the autobiography' :D
    I can't believe you interrupted a set though :P Woah! That must've been fun :) The mafia thing would have scared me, but it was probably quite exhilarating!

    I used to keep a diary when I was too young to know any better.
    It was filled with the most embarrassing thoughts. I couldn't believe how ridiculous I was. I ended up making a bonfire in the garden.
    The bonfire included letters between myself and a friend, now in hindsight, we wrote silly things, but at that age, we really thought we would get into trouble (it was about boys, ok! :D ) with our parents. So we burnt it and even did a little dance around it.

    Even today, I keep deleting blogs because I don't edit, I just type and publish and end up wincing a few months down the line thinking, 'what crap did I write?'

    Hurrah to you Azra, keep on blogging :)

  6. Shafinaaz - Thanks for the faith in my writing skills. We'll see what happens InshaAllah.

    dreamlife - I don't think I need a diary to measure my progress, especially since I live very consciously and I'm always over-analysing. Diaries or even Journals written by me really do make me cringe :)

    Prixie - It sounds more glamourous that it is :P When these things happen, its like you can't believe it. Like I can't believe I was standing there, right in front of Orlando Bloom looking into his eyes and I can't believe that in my excitement, I just took a pic of him and blinded him with my flash...then apologised profusely, but continued to assault him. When I think of it now, I can remember the excitement, but it feels like a dream, like it didn't really happen at all ;)

    Fatima - Thanks :D They were so cool on set that they all just laughed as I was wailing at my bus, I must have looked so stupid :p