Occasionally I write not-so-shallow articles. This week my essay The Library Agrafa was published in The Aleph Review a Pakistani journal for creative expression. Here is an excerpt:
This story was anathema to me. It lacked the necessary romance and love that I would read about in the novels that I would buy from the newsagency on my way home from the one-room children’s library, arms laden with books borrowed and books bought. Romance to me was a meeting of two people who share a feeling of intimacy, desire, a visceral connection. Marrying for a business transaction, the joining of two large herds, lacked spark, lacked the necessary frisson of a dramatic coming together.
You can read the whole essay at this link: https://www.thealephreview.com/post/the-library-agrafa
Dr Javaria Farooqui approached me and asked if I had any writing to submit for the journal as she was guest curating the digital edition for the month of July. Her special edition is focused on popular romance fiction and includes a variety of original and republished creative pieces, many of which are excerpts of upcoming novels. Dr Farooqui’s essay introducing the various pieces she selected for publication is in itself a contemplation on the meaning that popular romance fiction brings into our lives and she says that “Popular fiction cannot feign aloofness like literature, it embraces its closeness to the pulse of the readers’ dreams, and does not undermine the power of a knowledgeable escape” It is this closeness that I examine in my essay, perhaps it is even an ontological exploration where I consider how my personal life and ancestry guided and framed my research despite not being integral to the thesis question.
Though this essay is published 18 months after my thesis, I started thinking, researching and writing this essay in 2014 and briefly considered making some space for it in the thesis – a flirtation with autoethnography that was quickly dismissed.
As with most things in life, writing does not occur in a void. Thank you to my lovely friends who gave me the time and the feedback I needed to develop this essay to the point of submission: Rachel Bailey who rejected my first version and approved of my second version. Jo Butler who was sending me constant encouragement and who edited my submission for me. Katerina Toraki from the National Technical University of Athens who answered my questions and guided me in my use of Greece’s national archive. My friend Monica, my thesis supervisor Hilary, and my sister Vaia for reading through the essay and for their suggestions. And of course, my fabulous husband John who is my constant idea collaborator, vetter and admirer.
As for the photographs that I chose to use: these are my own, scanned from the originals taken in 1994 on an old Kodak (or is it a Konika???) camera my dad bought in 1977. I had no idea how to use it, and I continue to not have any idea on how to take wonderful photos. Though I felt that I could have asked family or even strangers on the various social media sites to use their instagrammable and beautifully conceptualised photographs, I chose to just go with my poorly framed, poorly focused photos. They give me great comfort and a closeness to my essay topic. And here is one more photo from my 1994 trip.