Goodreads Book Giveaway

From the Capital with Love by Daawy

From the Capital with Love

by Daawy

Giveaway ends April 14, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

About A Smile



 My first writing that got published in an anthology :) 

Genre: non-fiction
Theme: children

Eight years ago, I went to Mali on a humanitarian trip organized by my school, ‘Institut Le Rosey.’ My diary was lost somewhere in my old classroom to gather dust, and the pictures I took from my disposable camera were never returned to me. But what I retained, even with these unfortunate circumstances, is far greater than any recorded writing or an album filled with snapshots. The experience completely took me by surprise and changed my whole perspective on life. There is no wonder why, years later, even as a mother of two children, I still persistently urge my family to travel to Mali, although I know the answer will always be ‘no.’
                I remember how fortunate I felt to have the opportunity to go to Mali and teach their children English in a developing school called ‘Le Rosey –Abantara’ in Bamako, the bustling capital city of Mali. The vaccination they gave me to prevent yellow fever seemed like a tiny compromise despite my huge fear of needles. My disgust towards insects appeared insignificant. I fell in love with the greater cause, my mission. It was a dream of mine to teach children and who better than thirsty pupils in dire need of education? Little did I know that I was going to be their student, since the children of Mali provided me unintentionally with the greatest lessons possible― the lessons of life.
                It was dry, dusty, and very hot during the ‘Fasting Season’ of Ramadan. I was fasting with them. I never felt the heat and the drought, as my determination quenched my needs; despite the hours teaching English and playing soccer during recess. Their burning desire to grasp all the information we have taught them was very revitalizing. They spoke in French and I had to translate a lot of words from English to French for them to be able to understand; but like a sponge they absorbed it all in no time.
                A group of girls in the school gathered around me in a huddle. They touched my hair in fascination! My long silky tresses stood apart from their midnight black masses of curls. Their thick intricate braids, woven with delicate hands and creative taste, were tied with colorful ribbons, often wrapped with a scarf wound around their heads. They were surprised to learn my real name and I was astounded that my name is more popular in Africa than in my own country! Their school’s promoter also brought his first wife to me― just because she and I share the same name! Their amiable qualities and their social skills made me smile and forget that I was standing in one of the world’s poorest countries. I felt ashamed for the countless times I grimaced and flashed
my face with crumpled smiles, when I had everything I need to lead a comfortable and content life.
                Their classrooms were filled with kids ranging from the age of seven to fifteen. Some of the students were lucky to be educated at an early age and others were not that fortunate. The walls were bare and dusty. Book shelves positioned at the back of the classroom were filled with charitable books donated by our school. The floors were packed with wooden tables and chairs. Every little space available was precious. Every little space available saved an illiterate child. It was daunting to realize that these poor children in front of me, with all their modest and humble belongings, were considered ‘privileged!’ At that moment, being a student myself, I felt that with all the resources available to us in our own school, we should not be satisfied by merely passing. We owed it to ourselves and our parents to pass our classes with flying colors!
                Although the very poor wore tattered African tie-dyed and batik fabrics― if they were wearing any― their eyes were filled with glimmering hope and their faces lit up with honest smiles. They smiled with lightness and ease, since they owned the cherished gift of satisfaction; a wealth so great that many of us lack, no matter what background we come from and how much money we have. At that moment, it did not matter to me that the only greenery I noticed was the grass we walked on before I entered their small but impressive ethnographic National Museum, or that the green buses, called “bâchées vans,” we rode had ropes for doors; or even that our decent hotel, with all its air-conditioned spacious rooms and marbled floors, lacked ketchup!
                Every morning for a week, I would go to their school and teach the children a new lesson in grammar, some vocabularies, and would instruct them to write short sentences in their notebooks. Then, I and my fellow peers would chant the songs we scribbled on the chalkboard. Our students would sing along with us with their soft sweet voices. The dim classroom would suddenly feel vibrant and colorful, as though we formed a choir― performing angelic songs―touching our hearts before our ears.
                I blush every time I remember the day I instructed my own English professor not to write all the letters in capitals on the blackboard, because I was trying to teach my Malian friends that only the first letter in a sentence and the proper nouns start with capital letters. He kindly agreed and erased all that he had just written. I was flattered. For the first time, I felt like a real teacher, and that my students and professor took me seriously.
                The days passed quickly until it was time to bid my students farewell. Tears were streaming down their once cheerful faces, while their smiles, now drenched with tears, remained intact like a rainbow,
strong and powerful amidst showers of rain. The girls started to remove their own African trade beads and accessories, which they bought from the artisans in The Market. They handed them to me as a thank you gift before my departure, along with tiny scraps of paper marked with their home addresses. I did not want to take their jewels! Meeting them was more than enough! However, it would have been rude to return their thoughtful presents, so I accepted them with a shaky voice and smiling tears.
                As I reminisce the years that passed like sand cascading from an hourglass, the memory of attending a mask event at night suddenly came alive before my very eyes. I could not focus on the huge artistic costumes and carved wooden elaborate masks the performers skillfully wore. My whole attention shifted to a little boy called Ibrahim, who was not much older than my own son now. He was standing in front me and I, without thought, embraced and showered him with kisses. The next day, little Ibrahim came to search for me. He did not know that I would rather have the Earth devour me, than spend any time dancing publicly, but I gathered all my strength and courage and twirled with him along with other friends and children. We danced to their traditional music and the sounds of their “Tam-tams” or drums, reed flutes, and stringed gourd instruments. I did not want the boy to feel left out. For the first time, I did not care how silly I might have appeared or how poorly I performed my dance steps; I actually enjoyed myself!
                Not to forget the time I went strolling pasdes a pink sandstone village shaped into rock faces, when a little bewildered child spotted the flash of my camera. Within minutes, he had called all the children from their low, mud-walled houses and they climbed a tree! They stared at my camera and pointed at it, as I took more pictures. Their smiling faces beamed luminously up at me in fascination. A simple flash for these children was entertainment. Their excitement and enthusiasm was contagious as it streamed through my veins― providing me with genuine comfort and peace of mind, I never felt elsewhere. The photographic memory of that special day portrayed itself in my mind, whenever I see beautiful trees decorated with the freshest finest fruits; I smile, as if to say: “Nothing can beat that wonderful tree of children!”
                A sincere mom pulls out a brown leather handmade folder she bought eight years ago from Mali that holds most of her profound memories within. The latch comes off and curious, chubby hands fiddle the remains of a scarred past. I inhale the scent of oiled leather and dust and smile at my own son― a smile that hides a million tears underneath. “Baby,” I say, “someday you will come to appreciate all the little things in life―a sweet smile, a new word, a game of soccer, and a flash from a disposable camera. Someday you will learn that a kind smile is also charity and value the power of your little smile!”

Monday, July 2, 2012

About Me

Since I was a child, I had three dreams I wanted to fulfill. My first dream was to study law, which I have already completed. My second dream was to be a teacher. I did tutor kids and still teach my younger siblings all their subjects in depth. My third dream was to be a writer and publish at least one novel in my lifetime. This dream grew bigger in me each day until I finally decided it was time to step closer into changing my last and greatest dream to reality. 
I often imagine myself facing a dramatic incident or having a touching or serious conversation with someone and think of ways I would respond to that particular incident. My imagination grew and soared into another world, oblivious of those around me. Writing years of thoughts, dreams and experiences would certainly make me feel better and make it all worthwhile. 
Furthermore, I wish to write since there are few writers from my background and country who have written romance novels in English. Perhaps with determination, motivation and your cherished advice and guidance, I will be able to bridge between the English and Arabic worlds. I also hope to correct any misconception about our thoughts and customs by introducing ‘real’ and ‘unbiased’ behaviors of many modern United Arab Emirates’ individuals. I would use my writing to discuss foreign concepts in the lightest and fairest way possible by introducing characters that one could relate to, no matter what background or race they come from. 
I have been carrying a story in my mind for more than a year and I hope to transform my mere thoughts into writing and wish that it would someday become a published novel.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Welcome To Daawy Blog

Welcome To Daawy Blog . . . . . . . . . !