A FEW weeks ago, I launched my first book at an MPH bookstore in Kuala Lumpur. It was an amazing day for me, a closet writer for many years with many “manuscripts” that were written but never came to be.
The book itself was a product of two years’ work. It began as scraps of stories, things that I was struggling to understand as I went through my twenties. Eventually, the plots were strung together to make anovel, a story of a girl who was dumped by a man a day before her birthday. Hence the title of the book, “Dumped: A Journey of Lessons through Breakups, Mishaps and Misadventures”.
As I stood there in the crowd of people to celebrate the publication of the book, I reflected on how a story of a dwindling relationship could generate almost a decade’s worth of narration. I wondered how the broken heart could inspire so many forms of ar.
IT STARTS WITH A BROKEN HEART
One night, on a humid Kuala Lumpur evening so many years ago, I sat across a friendat a hawker stall under harsh neon lights.
He had just broken up with someone he had loved dearly for two years. As he sat there, toying with the ice chips in his glass of teh o ais, he told me what had unfolded with teary eyes.
I was very young at the time and although I had a boyfriend in high school, I had never truly experienced such heady emotions before.
So I watched this friend — a boy who played soccer, loved watchingaction movies and would never admit he ever shed a tear — cry because of a broken heart.
It was strange. I wondered about this thing called love that seemed to be able to move people, change their lives and affect them so strongly.
I went through many years dwelling on this fascinating observation. Today, I write a column about this subject in this paper, and it’s so layered a topic that one can never really stop talking about it. How can a concept of love, so seemingly unequivocal initially, become such a mystery to so many?
And as I finished writing the book, I wondered again how I, and so many other writers, are able to explore this subject for hundreds of pages, over and over again.
What I’ve come to learn is that relationships are fascinating because they are a huge part of each of our journeys. If we look back on all our decisions, we’ll realise that a lot of them were driven by, in one form or another, love.
We choose to settle down at a particular location because home is where our loved ones are. We sometimes make career choices derived from wanting to sustain a relationship with someone else. We consciously or subconsciously pick up new interests influenced by a partner.
We marvel at somethings in life because they remind us of someone we love. And eventually, all these things become the pavement that builds the journey of our lives to where it is today.
WE’RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT
In the weeks since the book hit the bookstores, I’ve received emails from readers, all with their own stories and how they were able to relate to the book.
Relationships are also fascinating because at the end of the day, we are all in the same boat. We may have different stories, different social standings and different circumstances, but ultimately the pursuit and the lessons are the same.
In many ways, writing this book has been more of a blessing for me than it is for anyone else. It allowed me to achieve the best premise of writing – to help cope with struggles in life and connect with others through literature. It is an amazing reminder of the common thing that binds us together in the end — love — and how it changes our lives in the most wonderful ways.
* The book is available at MPH and Kinokuniya bookstores in Malaysia and Singapore.
A GEOSCIENTIST BY DAY AND ASPIRING WRITER BY NIGHT, AMAL GHAZALI
PONDERS ON EVERYTHING, FROM PERPLEXING, MODERN-DAY RELATIONSHIP DILEMMAS TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING. ALL DONE OF COURSE , WHILE HAVING A GOOD LAUGH. READ MORE OF HER STORIES AT BOOTSOVERBOOKS.COM