Why I write

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Fatema Ahmed

headshot of Fatema Ahmed
Fatema Ahmed

The process of writing for me began through the simple gift of a diary from my father when I was around seven or eight. The significance of the dates and months that marked each page was beyond my child’s comprehension for I had no accumulating appointments to jot down, but that did not impede the medium itself from becoming a confidante. It was something I could resort to when I wanted to remember an incident that impacted me in some way.

Despite the confessional nature of the writing, it was also a process that nurtured the formation of the individual giving voice to issues that are conceived through personal relevance. Yet, the craft stands on its own in the finalised version that the author ends it in.

The act of remembering became increasingly important with time since I ended up living fragments of my life in different countries, namely, Kuwait, Burma, India and Bangladesh (being the nation that I hail from). Added to this was my education in international schools, which were the meeting grounds for a host of students from all over the world, where we came to understand the value of difference just as much as we learned to converge into the indecipherable and indiscriminating sea of humanity.

It was while I was traversing somewhere between the pillar and the post that I realised that I did not know who I was in essence, if there could be such a thing. Now not knowing who you are may not be such a terrible thing, unless you have a myriad of people trying to tell you what it means to be you, where the older you get, the more you become the trappings of other people’s imaginations.

I made the penultimate decision in 2009 to return to Bangladesh from India where I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in English Literature. I took to writing to negotiate the conflicting assertions of the heritages and lifestyles that I rationally and emotionally lay claim to. I have lived most of my life as a migrant, attempting to engage with a shifting landscape. That is why I write about the diaspora, culture and women’s issues, because each criterion reflects a facet of my evolving personality.

You, Your Story and the World

You, Your Story and the World: Writing the Migrant Experience was a collaboration between Writers Victoria and the Ecumenical Migration Centre made possible thanks to the generous support of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.