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     Volume 7 Issue 27 | July 4, 2008 |

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Writing the Wrong

The Monster in My Cupboard

Sharbari Ahmed

I was given permission to share something so I will. The other day a new friend and I met up for coffee. I was a bit nervous as this was a friend I had made in April and we had been involved in something that was a bit of a rarefied situation--the Tribeca Film Festival and all emotions were heightened and fueled by adrenaline, nerves and the prospect of bumping into Robert De Niro and not being escorted away by security for doing so. Because for a moment in time all of us struggling filmmakers belonged.

Anyway, she and I met up to talk and I wondered if we would still like one another out in the real world. I was getting ready to lament to her how slow the industry executives we had met were in getting back to us about our projects and the rejections that I had already had. I was very ready to talk about the rejections. As a writer, filmmaker, and well, human being I am on an intimate footing with rejection. Lately, it seems, rejection has moved into my house and appears to have been going through my refrigerator and cupboards. In the past I feared her and built her up to be a Goliath of epic proportions. She was green, scaly, and had sharp teeth that bit through bone. But she was never unpredictable because she showed up only when I conjured her. My fear of her gave her her strength. But she has, as I mentioned made herself at home in my home. And I tip toe around her but have not tried to usher her out the door and when my friend arrived and told me her story, I suddenly understood why.

I am beginning to maintain that there are no such things as coincidences. There is a Plan, and actually we have more control over it than we realise just by our thoughts and actions. The rest, the stuff we have no control over is the stuff that drives us all mad. That is the stuff I am starting to clear out of my head. And I believe that as soon as one wakes up and starts paying attention to their life or life in general, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, Aphrodite, whoever you want, shows up and starts energetically helping you out.

So my friend arrives. I feel shy and as a result immediately put my cheek out to be kissed, I know, I know, I am contradictory, and she ignores it. She is preoccupied. So I retract my cheek. She orders a beverage and says to me. “I did something very wise yesterday.”

No hello, what's up, how have you been? Just that, the above statement. Now usually that sort of thing goes like this: “I did something incredibly stupid recently.” At least for me (on a regular basis) so she had my attention at once. But I also thought that was a very conceited statement as well. Nonetheless, I was intrigued.

“Please tell me,” I said. “I need wisdom.”
“I fell in love with someone who doesn't love me back.”
“Yesterday?” I said, baffled. Like was she walking down the street and boom, she fell, in love, and the guy kept walking past her?
“No, no,” she said, laughing. “I fell in love ages ago, but realised it two months ago, told him, he rejected me, I lost ten pounds, and my metro card and then yesterday…” she trails off.
“Yes? What? What?”
“I let it go. But it's not so much that I let it go. It's how I let it go.”
“Drugs, Vodka, cheesy R and B? What did you do?”
“Sharbari, you are so impatient,” she said. “Are you going through something?”
“I'm always going through something,” I said.
“Yeah, well that's what happens with talented people,” she said.
“You think I'm talented?”
She rolled her eyes at me and didn't answer. “So this is what happened,” she continued. “I told him flat out. I love you, I am in love with you.”
“Well, him, not so much.”
“Is he retarded?”
Thank you for that,” my new friend said.
“No I mean it. Maybe the elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor ya know what I mean?”
“Not the sharpest tool in the shed?” she said.
“Yeah, one sandwich short of a picnic,” I said, enjoying myself. We riffed like that for a while and then I said. “Is this helping?”
“Oh yes, sure, but I don't need help. Yesterday, I did my Om beads.”
“Okay,” I said. I know I sounded judgemental.
“I counted 108 beads on a string and said Om to each bead. It's like a chant.”
“Is it mesmerising?”
“Yes. And then suddenly, it happened.”
Oof! I wanted to say. Get on with it. But we screenwriters, we hold out until the third act and then we hit you with the climax and pay off, so that's what she was doing. I can totally understand that.
“I realised that I loved him and that he didn't have to love me back. I stopped and enjoyed the feeling I had for him. I was happy that I knew him, that he was alive, that he was healthy, and beautiful and smart and funny“
“He aint that smart,” I said, cutting her off.
“No he is. He has every right not to love me back. I am lucky I can feel like this, Sharb. I wish he loved me back, I do, but he doesn't and I can't make him do it but I can celebrate how I feel about him.”
The way she was talking reminded me of how one talks of someone who has passed and I said as much.
“Yes,” she nodded. “I can't be his friend right now, but I will be soon again. And I am just honouring how I feel and actually reveling in it.”
“Soaking it in, like sunshine?”
“Yup. And it will soon be a part of my past and I can put it away.”
“Media rejected Raisins,” I said suddenly.
“I'm sorry.”
“I wish I could celebrate my love for them and the passionate pitch meeting I had, but I just want to throttle them,” I said.
“Cheeky,” my new friend said. She took my hand. “I was nervous about seeing you today.”
“Me too. So?”
“So nothing. I got rejected, so did you.”
“Yup, rebuffed,”
“I like that word.”
“Me too,” I said. “But you know what? I'm not there yet.”
“You would need to be loved back?” she said.
I nodded.
“Really, Sharb? Really? Because one of the first things I noticed about you that first day was that you were basically fearless.”
I was shocked by that statement. I am always surprised, it seems, by the way people perceive me, good or bad.
“I am not fearless,” I said.
“But I don't think you really fear rejection. If you did you wouldn't ignore it and keep going, none of us would.”

When she said that, I pictured her, rejection, green, scaly, bears a striking resemblance to Medusa in Clash of the Titans, rifling through the pantry, sniffing things, and you guessed it, tossing them aside, and I thought, she can stay there. She can do whatever the hell she wants because I'm not moving out, as corny as it sounds. I have chosen a specific path in life and like any path; mine is strewn with obstacles, debris and casualties particular to that journey. Rejection features prominently on this path and I better get used to her and she damn well better get used to me.

“Can I write about this?” I ask my new friend.
“Sure. Just make sure you mention that I look like Salma Hayek.”
So folks, my new friend, she looks like Salma Hayek.

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