Having reached 65 and having written ten novels, two film scripts, and directed a movie Confessions of a Gambler, I can say that I have achieved a childhood dream – and as a Muslim woman, quite a feat in then apartheid South Africa. I was convinced as a child that I would not like working in a 9 to 5 job in an office and because of my rotten childhood, I scribbled and read a lot not knowing that it was a coping mechanism in those early years. I
The Canadian years
I left for Canada, married an immigrant, where I started to learn many lessons. 27 years I stayed. A crucial day came in my marriage when a publisher in Canada, after examining a draft version of the story I was busy with asked me to make some changes and the book would have a chance. I was so excited, but I was the only one. My then husband said that he wanted me to give up writing. His brother added to it by throwing a quarter on the table and said, ‘thanks for the coffee’.
I kept my name, packed my bags, and left. It was the beginning of my journey as a writer. I have written ten books, written and directed a film as well as playing the lead. I am extraordinarily happy in my life here in South Africa, and then just a month ago was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I was shocked. It took weeks to believe that I had this disease. I particularly feared getting dementia. Yet I am writing almost two to four thousand words a day. My brain is sharp. I eat brain food. I try a little exercise. Sometimes I have to sit for a few seconds when getting out of bed, but that is all right.
Writing to give information
At first when I got the news I was angry with God… then realized what a gift I had received. It was not cancer. It was not my heart. It was all the anxiety over the years that had given me Parkinson’s. For the last few years I have been very preoccupied with God’s gift and what I could do to give back. Surely, I have realized my dreams. I came to the conclusion that I was given the gift of writing to give information – to help someone who is struggling with an illness and could find an answer somewhere. I have a new script that has to be directed, but I am not ready yet to do it. My brother and son tell me all the time to give up this ‘nonsense’ writing and get back to my eleventh book which is only 15 pages long at this time.
Receiving the diagnosis was a gift. I have time to sell my house and, wrap up my business and head for the bright or not so bright lights of New Jersey where I will stay with my daughter and grandchildren and DJ Dirty Harry who is a music producer and a fabulous husband to my daughter for my remaining years. I am a lucky woman indeed. God has blessed me.