“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 are some things ‘about me.’
My name is Atiaf, it is the plural for ‘Taif’ which means an illusion, “alwan 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.
When asked “where are you from?” I can answer in many different ways, but I now like Taiye Selasi suggestion: “don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local.” To answer that I’ll tell you I’m a local of Sana’a, Jeddah, Washington D.C., Cairo, Lille, and Tunis. Hence, I consider myself a ‘world citizen’, yet at the moment, my world is focused on Yemen. A country ravaged by war, while it’s people stand strong and smile in the face of adversity.
My illiterate grandmother had the best bedtime stories. The poems, short stories and the proverbs that she memorized were passed down to her from generation to generation. They are 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 am trying to resurrect these forgotten histories.
I’m currently 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 the contents of this blog in 2008, but moved to WordPress February 2016. Since I began the blog, 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 much of what 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 my Linkedin or Academia pages.
Hope you enjoy the blog, and I welcome any comments. (I mean that).
Peace, love and solidarity,