A new multicultural fiction tale, ‘Dead: A Ghost Story’
The following is a guest post by author, Mina Khan
I started writing when I was a child and never stopped. It was and is my preferred way to communicate and to make sense of the world. I started out writing poetry and ended up working as a journalist.
Being a news journalist at a daily newspaper is interesting, but stressful. We get the whole story – even the parts considered too graphic for the public. After covering a few domestic abuse stories that ended in death of a woman or a child, I turned to writing fiction after hours to give myself a break. What could be more fun than genie romances, with flying carpets and handsome genies who could grant a woman’s most hidden desires? Yes, they are fun and a wonderful way to let my imagination play.
But you can’t hide from reality. My multicultural short, “Dead: A Ghost Story,” was inspired by the many immigrant wives I met during my time as a business reporter. Oil prices were down, drought continued without a break, and small towns in West Texas were dying a slow, painful economic death. I travelled throughout West Texas interviewing people and collecting their stories.
Many of the motels, even in the most remote West Texas towns, that catered to oil field workers were owned by Indian-American immigrants (the ones from Asia…just to be clear). Being from the same part of the world, not only did I get the interviews, but I was often invited inside their homes and met their families.
I had a lot in common with the immigrant wives: a shared a language (I’m fortunate to be trilingual), the same brown skin and midnight black hair, often the same customs and food, sometimes even the same superstitions. Their lives could have easily been mine.
For the most part these women are invisible to mainstream American society for various reasons – language barriers, isolation, unfamiliarity with their adopted country’s laws and social mores etc. I wanted to recognize them…not just with a friendly hello, kemcho, Namaste or Salaamwalaikum, but by giving them voice, acknowledging their existence in some larger way.
However, when I returned to the office I had to focus on small town economics on the whole. Unfortunately, these women were not actively part of the economy despite their contributing labor to the upkeep of the motels as well as raising a family. Yet they continued to live in my thoughts. And in quite moments between daily deadlines and breaking news stories, this knowledge would rise up like a specter.
Dead is about Nasreen, an Indian-American woman, dealing with her life and death in West Texas. Nasreen represents all those immigrant women. Of course, not all immigrant women are abused wives. In fact, many are happily married. However, because of their invisibility there are also many who are especially vulnerable. I guess what I’m trying to say is that no one should be invisible.
In writing this story, I expanded my creative wings and discovered a different side of myself, a new voice.
I hope Dead does justice to all the Nasreens that exist in the world. This story is special to me because it recognizes my sisters.
Mina Khan is a Texas-based writer and food enthusiast. She grew up in Bangladesh on stories of djinns (pronounced “gins”), ghosts and monsters. These childhood fancies now color her fiction. She daydreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic, mayhem and mischief and writes them down as tales of romance and adventure.
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