“It Was Not Just A Kiss” a short story developed for my MA

It was not just a kiss

It was not just a kiss

I wanted to explore the father/son relationship for my MA dissertation. My MA was in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking, and thus the dissertation required two parts: a critical essay and a creative piece. For the critical essay I did a psychoanalysis read for the effect of the father on the death drive of the son. I chose two prose to compare: “The Kite Runner” for Khaled Hosseini where there is a dominant father figure, and “When We Were Orphans” for Kazuo Ishiguro where the father is absent. And for the creative piece, I reflected the findings of my critical read of a father/son relationships across the gender access to develop this short story “It Was Not Just A Kiss”.

The critical work is pretty long (around 10,000 words). I had to read lots of theoretical work. For a father/son relationship, I found no better place to start than exploring the notion of the castration complex and understand the formation of the super ego and the ego ideal. I stumbled upon many interesting findings that would be hard to sum up here in this article. I’d say the main conclusion was reading the castration complex in terms gender imposition, and applying Anna Freud’s theories of the ego’s defence mechanisms against aggression. If we consider gender imposition at a very young age a form of aggression, then that explains the castration anxiety that arises. Aggression, when comes with an authoritative figure, it gets internalized in the super ego and becomes self-inflicted. It continuously fuels the rise of the anxiety levels in the psyche, especially when the super ego is so strong (influenced by a dominant father figure as in the case of Amir in The Kite Runner).

On the other hand, and reading Freud, I understood that the psyche adheres naturally to the Pleasure Principle in order to lower the incremental excitations. That usually happens when the sexual energy is discharged, or when we are hungry and eat. It is the natural feeling of pleasure when a need is met. But what happens when the excitations of the psyche reaches to a very high level that can’t be handled by the normal psyche mechanism of the Pleasure Principle? I could read that the psyche then resides to painful measurements in order to sustain its stability. That’s for me what explained Freud’s death drive. It is the turning point where the human behaviour turns destructive. It is the point that Freud calls “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”.

In his essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, Freud only branches to assume a different set of drives when he fails to identify a compulsion to repeat among the sexual drives. I don’t think that he looked clear enough though. I could read a compulsion to repeat in the sexual act of gender assertion. According to Judith Butler’s theory of Performativity, gender is the continuous stylisation of the body. It is a repetitive process that aims to please the ego ideal. The fact that I could read a compulsion to repeat in the sexual drives that have the same characteristics of the one Freud explains in his essay means that we can go back and assume only one set of drives; the sexual drives that turn destructive!

Instead of an overly dominant father figure as in “The Kite Runner”, I portrayed an overly feminine mother in the short story. The daughter, like Amir, struggles to meet up with the gender identity of her ideal. Unlike Amir, where the values of a masculine society backs up the qualities of his dominant father, the daughter faces an ambivalence of emotions facing a society that loves and hates abundant femininity. In the story, I place the daughter in a situation that heightens her castration anxiety and leads her to fall into the madness of her death drive.

Writing the short story after doing the critical research felt great. It was like having the blueprint to build the characters on. That is the essence of the MA that I did and the wisdom behind combining the creative and the critical into one complimentary course at Sussex University.

When I arrived Dubai’s airport last monday, they asked for my original visa which wasn’t there in the airport. My brother had to drive all the way from Abo Dhabi to hand it in. In the meantime, waiting for more than 3 hours, I thought of checking out the kindle store. I decided publish “It Was Not a Kiss” on Amazon and see how it fairs. It is my first attempt to use the platform and thus I don’t think that I was very successful. A week later, 5 copies have been sold so far. I would say it has mainly to do with the lack of availability of the kindle story in the middle east where most of my audience live.

If you find the notion of the story interesting, and wants to check it out, you can find it here: “A Short Story: It Was Not Just A Kiss“.

and if you find the critical essay interesting and would like to read it, you can email me and I can send you the file.

The kiter runner touching moments

** The Kite runner spoiler **

I cried… I couldn’t hold my tears while reading different moments of the story. Injustice blows me always! I cried for Hassan when he got raped for standing up to Amir. I cried when Amir’s father got diagnosed of cancer. I cried for Sohrab’s attempt to suicide. I cried for Hassan’s loyalty and his devotion. I cried for the slavery unjust life he had to carry. I cried for the cruelty of humanity and the racism we carry in our hearts. A hazara, a shiite, it wasn’t worse in Afghanistan than it is in Jordan today. Different forms of slavery, no? Poor Syrilankis and Eygptians for us, each one of them reminds me of Hassan, and the tough life he had to carry (with a smile!).

At moments, I wanted to grab the pen of Khaled Al Husseni and draw my own lines. That rape scene was so frustrating, where for a moment, I wanted to put in my own hands and push Amir to take action, not only for Hassan, but also for his own sake as well. I don’t know really who suffer the most out of that scene, Hassan for actually getting raped, or Amir for the guilt he carried over his shoulder for the rest of his life. I know that I have lived Amir’s guilt throughout the story. I also still have a feeling of bitterness because of the sequence of events that didn’t allow Amir and Hassan to meet again. Sohrab may, at the end, became a sort of condolences to Amir, but that is not enough of a happy ending to me.

As Khaled Al Husseni said, life is not a Hindi movie. At the end, we usually don’t even know what to classify the outcome of the events of our lives. Good and bad moments come in different set of choices and out of hand events. Injustice, for instance, comes in different forms, whether it is human instinctive fear of rejecting the other, like in the horrible massacre of mazar al sharif, or maybe it comes from lack of actions like the day Amir stood still watching his best friend gets raped infront of his eyes, or even uncalculated mistake like the one Amir did when he told Sohrab that he has to put him in an orphanage for sometime in order to be able to take him to the USA, which resulted in Sohrab’s suicide attempt.

There was a moment where I wanted to scream out. Don’t stone those adulterers!!! It amazes me how inhumanly humans can really act! I was horrified when I learnt about Assef’s buying of little children! I cheered out when Sohrab hit him on his eyes. I wanted to take a knife and cut his throat as well so that he never does it to anyone else.

At the end, the book left me with sadness about the current situation in Afghanistan. 40 years ago, it sounded like a life in west amman. A liberal non-practice muslim father drinking in his own house and discussing religious teaching with his son. The worrisome of what a religious extremist ruling would do to this country is not uncommon in the Jordanian liberal community. It also made me think of how messed up this world can be! The USA, the country who supported the mojahideen in their war against communism, is the same country who hosted the Afghani refugees in the story, and the same country who is fighting Taliban right now in Afghanistan! Power plays change with time, and poor people live to pay the price! This work is a work of fiction, but it may be the closest to the truth than any news we have watched on TV.

The only thing that “The Kite Runner” misses is a stronger presence of women, but it is okay, Khaled seems to address that in his next novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns”.

A short story from "The Kite Runner"

I have finally finished reading “Memoir of Geisha”. While I can’t say that it is not a good read, I can’t say that it got me hooked either. In fact, I struggled at the beginning to keep myself interested in the book because of some strong reviews of friends, and later it took me ages to finish. Nevertheless, the whole setting of the life and culture of Geisha is very rich in the book. It is worth the read!

Anyway, I put “Memoir of Geisha” aside and picked up ‘The Kite Runner” for Khaled Al Husseni. I wanted to read this book for a very long time now. I never managed to buy it, but then got it as a gift last month from a very sweet friend. The book instantly got me hooked! Not just for the style of writing, but also for the amount of information in it, the cultural aspect and the engaging story.

In the very few first chapters, I got touched with this short story written by the main character in the novel. It talks about a poor happy man with a cup that can translate tears into pearls. Since the poor man is happy in his life, he never tears, and thus never managed to get those pearls. He, then, started upsetting himself in order to get those pearls. The more upset he is, the more pearls he got. With time, he became a greedy person, and ended up sitting on a pile of pearls weeping with his slated wife’s body in his arms!

The story hit me hard as I have been facing some stress recently trying to engage myself in different projects in order to be able to gain more money. I think that it had ate from my happiness which is something that I shouldn’t compromise. I know that many people have fall into such pit and lost their happiness in the process. The answer of bringing money may not be of doing more work that eats of your happiness, it can very well be by coming up with a creative smart way to do so. The man in the story could have easily shed tears by using onions instead of going down the lane of making himself unhappy!