‘Your people’ can turn up at any time in your life

Since we got married, my sisters and I have stayed at our parent’s house every year for Eid. The time is always full of joy, catching up till 2am, too much food, presents and the children being spoilt by grandparents, aunties and uncles.

The day of return is always tough. We start tip toe-ing around the idea of leaving again from breakfast onwards. The kids start asking if we can leave a little later than planned, our parents look hopeful and wonder if maybe we will just cancel the plans and stay another night, after all. Even us siblings begin to discuss things that we hadn’t yet had a chance to air.

Eventually, one of us gets up and asks the kids to get their coats and shoes on and says goodbye to everyone and then everyone else says, ‘Let’s go together’ and a frenzied collective effort to get ‘everyone out’ begins.

The drive home is reflective and, once home for a few hours, something feels amiss. Then we get on with the normal routine and by the next morning, our Eid sleepover is a distant happy memory.

I expect that each year. They are my family, my blood, my people who have known and nurtured me my whole life. But, I don’t expect to feel this rollercoaster of emotions for people I met only four years ago!

I am blessed to be 1/7 of #KoyalWriters. We met on an online writing course for Asian writers by #TheAsianWriter, ran by the fabulous publisher of #DahliaPublushing, #FarhanaSheikh.

We met exactly on this day and began a journey that started from hesitantly writing ‘writer’ next to our names and giggling as though we didn’t really mean it. It has taken us through mentoring programmes, having poems and stories published, plays commissioned by prestigious outfits, manuscripts longlisted, novels pitched to agents, books and collections published, winning awards and hosting events, workshops and courses.

It has been the most fabulous four years of my life. I have been able to stop doing my youngest sister’s head in with stories on long drives (she sent me details of this course and got rid of the headache once and for all!) and I have created a body of work-in-progress of which I am very proud of. I am enjoying polishing and sharing some of it with the world. I’m blessed with kind and generous readers.

Today, 6/7 of us met in person and the last member joined us via phone. Some of us even met one another for the first time. Time whizzed by and we managed to hug, eat, share gifts, speedily catch-up and do some work for our anthology.

Yes, we have worked together using our range of strengths and genres and completed enough work to produce a unique, insightful and honest celebration of life as Asian Female artists over a time that changed the world. We began before the craziness hit and our wonderful Travelling Notebook has kept us all tied to the thread of ‘we are in this together’.

Saying goodbye after half a day with this bunch of ‘my people’ generated the same strong physical response inside my chest and belly that rises when I leave my first home. It was eased by the wholesome and long held hugs and plans to meet at least twice in the next six months.

We all know things like love and connection can’t be bought, bribed, coerced or manufactured. It is given by whatever label we like to call it, from universe to God. And words defy us when that happens. Words defy me today, so I’ve tried to tell it in the long way around. I’m sure you’ll understand.

And what will a creative bunch give each other for presents? Of course, books and pretty notebooks and pens. And a candle, to remember we are like moths to fire with the passion that burns inside us to express what would otherwise consume us whole. 🌻💜

Nabeela Ahmed

1/7th of the Koyal Writers

Published by thekoyalwriters

We are a South Asian Collective and totally passionate about writing. We are a virtual writing group. Between us we are authors, teachers, spoken word artists, play wrights, novel writers, flash fiction writers and poets.

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Coffee and Paneer

Tiny stories and random thoughts

Sidra Ansari

Award Winning Author|Creative Writing Workshops|@Ladybirdbooks|@beaconbooks|@penguinwritenowlive|

The Koyal Writers

A Collective of South Asian Female Writers Based in the UK

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