Mariam Q revisits Untitled Chapters first event “The Reading” and wished to share her inner thoughts of being on stage for the first time receiting her literary work in public for the very first time
Author’s note: I would like to personally thank my boss and the founder of UC who without I wouldn’t have worked harder and who was always a source of encouragement and support to me. Thank you Fatma and I will forever be indebted to you.
I decided to go to Untitled Chapter’s Reading which was on the 4th of May 2012. At first, I was in a jumble, what should I read? Will they like my piece? Am I up to it? Am I a good writer and worth listening to? All these questions seeped into my mind leaving me in a whirlwind of fear, excitement and confusion. I was going to read my piece, a piece I wrote, to foreign ears that never heard my stories or writings. I wanted to go and therefore I showed my parents that I really wanted to and somehow everything went into place and I got a chance to attend.
Our car stopped in front of Pavilion Downtown Dubai and I clutched my folder closer to me. Yes I felt it, this tingly feeling in my stomach as if it was full of butterflies. I couldn’t register what was I feeling the moment I stepped out of the car and into the Pavilion. I knew no one there except the founder, Fatma Al Bannai, who was with me in a previous workshop. So I was meeting new people and new talents, little did I know that what they presented and showed me was beyond extraordinary and was beyond what I ever imagined.
I entered and met Fatma right at the entrance and she lead me on, to the small and cozy looking stage. They had bean bags instead of chairs, how cool is that?! Oh okay back to the story. It was a movies room, not large or small, a bit average. There was a screen on one side and the cool bean bag-like chairs on the other, facing the screen. First, we got to do the greetings and introduce ourselves. There were Shahd, Hessa, Mariam, Afra, Fatma, Shamma, Amna and I. Then we got to the planning and rehearsing. I sat and looked at the bunch of papers I had, I brought more than one piece: 2 poems and 2 stories. I was still confused and did not know what to choose, so I voted on my short story “Break Free” that had some effect on readers.
Our MC was Shahd who wrote such an amazing poem that she awed me with the way she wrote it, so delicate and poetically smooth. Afra, our awesome miracle worker, did an outstanding presentation of the most fascinating poem I had ever heard. Mariam and Hessa, those two beautiful writers like artists weaving Arabic words and letters to create such exquisite thoughts and poems I could sit there forever and listen to them read it over and over again.
Then there was ambitious Amna, sharing her experiences with us and us learning for her, from the best. Shamma, the quiet one, awed us with her imagination and her remarkable stories. I’ve met these talents, mashallah, and I was a part of a big event, a step closer, to my ultimate dream.
The Big Event
I was fidgeting with my hands nervously, peeking at the crowded road. From where I was I could see Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. Mum was sitting beside me and just her presence with me, made me feel loved and supported. Today was the day, the day I will read my story in front of a crowd of well-known people and families who came to support. As soon as we got there I could feel the adrenaline pumping in my veins and I was dizzy with enthusiasm. I got to the room, took my place and soon noticed I was parched. The event was delayed a bit because of traffic and I sat there my head swimming in irritating thoughts. Suddenly, all my confidence evaporated and was replaced with fear, fear of failure and fear that no one will like my piece. The dread that filled me was indescribable, writing was everything to me and I didn’t want this event to be the fist that will crush the one thing I thought I was good at.
Shahd was all cheerful and bubbly, going through her cards and chatting with me at the same time. I glanced around me and said to myself that I didn’t have to be scared at all. I should be confident that I will evoke my audiences’ feelings that they will react with my story.
People filed in taking their spots, turning their curious eager faces towards us. Shahd got up to do the introductions and then came my turn. I stood first trying to regain my self-esteem and cleared my throat. Standing there was just like a dream; I tuned everyone out and focused on my story. Suddenly, I have finished and I looked up. I was done. I did it and I didn’t screw up. They liked my story and I was glad. I was glad my mother was sitting there looking at me with a proud smile tugging at the corner of her lips. I was glad that we all, the members of UC, delivered an unforgettable night. After we all read our pieces, there was a session for questions. Then the night was over.
I was sad and happy it was over, sad because I was enjoying it and happy because I did it without failing. That day will forever be imprinted in my mind, for it was so special because I shared it with people of my own kind, storytellers and poets. This was a day worth remembering forever.
Author: Mariam Q