Aisha A Elahi
Aisha A Elahi

Bits 'n pieces

I have taken a selection of questions from fans and replied below.  So, this is like a mini Q&A with me!  

 

What was the toughest part of writing Shackled Sisters?

 

Well there were numerous.  To begin with, listening and reading the stories was pretty heart breaking.  There were a couple of the stories that took me twice as long to complete purely because I could not contain my sobs.  I found myself on a train to Sheffield for a business meeting one early morning and thought it a good idea to do a bit of editing.  Bad idea!  Cue a hysterical woman, sat at the back of carriage B, sobbing uncontrollably and desperately looking for tissue to wipe her nose with.  The other difficult part was writing the stories in a way that allowed the reader to delve into a different world as opposed to a direct word for word translation- that just sounded like a formal court document being read out!  I eventually wrapped the stories and details into a friendlier reader context and the individuals loved them.  My biggest worry after that was ensuring I had captured all of the emotion being felt by the person particularly when some lacked the language skills to convey those emotions to me.  Thank fully they all loved it!

 

Why did you write it?

 

I became angry at how little people really knew about the community and the complex, multi layered problems individuals, particularly women, faced.  I have a personal counselor, I have had one since being a teenager and recommend everyone to have one because it is such a great way of bringing everything together and, as much as I loathe the term, a fantastic way of touching base.

 

  My counselor and I have spent hundreds of hours talking about the intricacies of the community, the shame of being ostracized and the double life most women lead and I count myself as unbelievably lucky.  Lucky because my counselor has spent a serious amount of her life, as a Caucasian female, wanting to and succeeding in understanding these complex issues.  Helping me immensely in my own life to make sense of things around me.  It also made me realise how I am the person I am because of my own journey of self discovery made possible only because of the years of therapy.  Hundreds of thousands of women in similar positions to me just don’t have that luxury.  Where they want to go and talk to some one, the practioners who understand the area are just not there.  There are some great charities out there who offer a sympathetic ear to girls who break free from lets say, a forced marriage but, so many end up returning to an oppressive existence because the right sort of therapy is not available to them.  It’s not as easy as a counselor saying ‘Your parents were awful to do that to you, you would be mad to return.’  There needs to be more.  Often the female needs a lot of work on her own self esteem, her own self worth to understand and more importantly accept, that what happened to them was wrong.  More often though, we have females who come forward because they feel whatever happened to them was indeed wrong but they still can't shake the feelings of guilt that tell them they did wrong by disrespecting their parents, elders or the community.  These feelings are embedded from years and years of being told and shown their worth, it will take years to undo all of that.

 

It sounds like writing was something you fell into..? Is that right?

 

Well I have always enjoyed writing but I went down the path of Sociology at University before gaining my Masters in Education- You can't be that creative with essays and dissertations but I wrote short pieces for my own amusement whenever I had time.  I used to write my friends’ English assignments for them during High school simply because I enjoyed it.  The teachers never knew…until now I guess!  Writing Shackled Sisters has reawakened my love of writing and the feedback I am getting has just been so overwhelmingly positive that I am planning on a second and third book.

 

Can you tell us anymore on the forthcoming books?

 

Only that if you liked Shackled Sisters then you will LOVE then next one….

 

What do you do in your leisure time?

 

I enjoy going to the gym where I do strength training- ladies do not overlook the importance of using weights for working out instead of staying on the treadmill for hours- it works so much better and you DO NOT get bulky!  I also enjoy spending time at home with my lovely partner and the fabulous Mr Munch- our spoilt cat.

 

Are you Asian?

 

Indeed I am!  Although I have a very mixed heritage, I do identify as being South Asian

 

x x 

 

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Tweets from Aisha a Elahi @Elahiaisha

"At times I found myself smiling as each woman's individual character is beautifully captured but ultimately the book opened my eyes to how frustrating and complex it can be for them. Her final chapter 'letter to my sister' left me stifling sobs."

"Shackled Sisters is an attack on bigots who believe that women in these communities are suppressed and weak, revealing instead how strong they are in actuality. At the same it is a scathing attack on the forces of patriarchy and pervasive conservatism."

 

 

"Shackled Sisters is a candid portrayal of how archaic elements of Asian culture still play an overbearing part in the lives of British Asian women today."

 

"Aisha Elahi vividly and empathetically illustrates how pungent cultural values still flourish at the expense of women."

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