Connecting to Eternal Truths Through Storytelling
I was born in 1955 in Tanzania to East Indian, Muslim parents. My mother, who possessed no education but held impossible dreams, divorced my father when I was five, and was immediately ostracized by her community. She moved to England and took me with her.
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August 19, 2020
“Emil, why do you carry a tattered plastic bag around with you?” People ask.
If they paid attention, they would notice how often the bag was changed. That each replacement bag bore the name of some obscure emporium from the far corners of the world. It didn’t bother me whether someone noticed or not. It was a game I played with myself. Would this person notice the bag or not ? How many times did I get it right? How many times did someone notice?
What do you think?
“As your marketing team we would like you to write a weekly blog.”
If I have to do this, then let me make it the best possible.
My writing isn’t just story-telling. It captures a philosophy of how I live and the values that are important to me.
I love to entertain, build a ‘prejudiced ‘ view of a person or incident at the beginning of each story and come to an opposite conclusion
Each day I walk along a tight rope separating my past from my present. I’ll see a face and tell myself it’s my aunt come to greet me, then realize that aunt died a decade ago and the face I see today was really the face of my aunt all those years ago. How does that help me to steer through my life today? And pass on values that are priceless to me yet seem archaic to my two sons in their early twenties?
My stories and blogs crystallize what those values and beliefs are. Each story has its own destiny and sometimes it shows me how prejudiced I am when I take those prejudices and treat them as values or morals to hand down to my boys.
A visit to my birthplace in Africa
I last visited my birthplace in Africa six years ago and devoted a chapter ‘ Paradise Unravelled’ to my homecoming.
The story was preplanned in my head. It was to be one of loss of all the people I knew in the community and buildings and shops and tree-lined avenues all destroyed until, in this mess, I found the building my nanima had lived in. There, I found cousins who knew of me but whom I didn’t.
‘Paradise Unravelled’ was to end in a happy reunion. But the ending became totally different. It was in accepting that end that I began to realise I could never find that past. That it lived only in my mind.
It convinced me to write the stories down to pass on to my boys to give them an understanding ofmy values and how I came by them.
To me words are mystical. Each carries its own weight and vibration.
Each story has its own destiny and sometimes
. . .
How many books of others have I read ?
Of all those books, one ending stands out. It’s from ‘The English Patient’ by Michael Ondaatje.
It’s a love story of a Canadian nurse and a Sikh army sapper in the Italian Campaign in World War II. But it was the ending that has haunted me since reading it.
The Sikh goes back to India becoming, I believe, a doctor. The nurse returns to Canada. At the end, she brushes against a glass which falls to the floor. At that very instant, the Sikh is sharing a meal with his family. His toddler daughter drops her fork . As it falls, her father catches it before it hits the floor.
I hope that one impression or a sentence from my writing remains to haunt you for the rest of your life.
For then, my job will be done.
– Emil Rem –
AN ILLUSTRATED NOVEL
by EMIL REM
How far would you journey
to rediscover your past?
CHASING APHRODITE: Chapter One
The Exquisite Shambalaya
He smiled politely at her and nodded, wondering if she’d ever even been out of her village. As a child, summers had always been red banner days for him. He would leave his adopted English family to fly home to his father in Africa. His school exams finished on a Thursday, and by Friday, he was on bus B, leaving Maidenhead for Heathrow: his family had no car. Once at the airport, he was on standby ‘til the very last minute — a privilege of his father’s employment with East African Airways Corporation, endearingly referred to as “Europeans, Asians, Africans and Chaos” by its captains and stewardesses . . .
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