“Tell me about yourself,” is a 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 the 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 Washington D.C., Sana’a, Lille, Cairo, 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 grandmother had the best bedtime stories. Though she can’t read or write, the poems, short stories and the proverbs that she had 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 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 university lecturer and researcher focused on social movements, gender, and the intersection of Art and politics. 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.
Peace, love, and solidarity,