“Tell me about yourself,” is a frequently asked question that I always struggle to answer. How much should we share in such circumstances? What kind of information do we reveal? To respond, we often polish ourselves, resurrect dead behaviors, carefully selecting sought-after traits to appear desirable, pleasant, approachable, and of course unique. We hide the traits that we despise and we convince ourselves that this is reality. We do this so often, until it becomes part of our psyche, an alter ego of sorts. Nevertheless, here is some information ‘about me.’
My name is Atiaf, it is the plural for ‘Taif’ which means an illusion, "al-want al-taif", means colors of the rainbow. Some Psychologists have researched the idea that names may influence their carriers. In my case it certainly feels so. I appreciate color, without it a room feels sad and lonely. Any white wall looks like a canvass to me, waiting for someone to paint over it, or mount a photograph. Like an illusion, I often live in my head. Analyzing or overanalyzing situations and other times imagining stories and dialogues. I often find myself in embarrassing situations, but I tend to embrace them and usually share these stories afterwards. They can make excellent dinner conversations, brightening the mood or breaking the ice.
I have lived in five different countries and visited over twenty. When asked “where are you from?” I can answer many different ways, but like Taiye Selasi suggests, ‘don’t ask where I'm from, ask where I’m a local.”
I love story telling, and I like to hear stories being shared in great details. Story telling has been a big part of my family. My illiterate grandmother possessed the best bedtime stories. The poems, short stories and the proverbs that she memorized were passed down to her from generation to generation. These proverbs for example carry with them stories of love, of war, of famine, of farming, of family dynamics etc. When the oral customs began to fade, these stories did as well.
Today I write to try and resurrect these forgotten histories. I’m working on a historical novel set in Yemen. The novel tells a story of the evolution of society through the lives of three generations of Yemeni women during and after the uprisings and wars that swept their country.
I started this blog in 2008, and since then it has become a mix of random rants, short stories, academic papers, articles, photos or reflections related to Yemen. It is basically a diary collection of everything I write, whether it merits publication or not.
I am also a researcher focused on social movements in Yemen, in particular in relation to women, workers, and youth; in addition to social justice, political developments and international policy. I have published a number of academic, policy and media reports on the above subjects. For a list of these papers, you can visit Linkedin.
Hope you enjoy the blog, and I welcome any comments. (I mean that, and I'm not just saying that to be polite.)
Peace, love and solidarity,