The Rahma Diaries was first established in my head, a coping mechanism in those early days where all I was doing was sitting, feeding, feeding and sitting. There was this yearning and need for something else, like I wasn’t useful enough as a lactating milking machine, always on hand, the indentation on the sofa claiming me for hours on end. The only way to rid myself of the yearning was to contrive small snippets of writing in my head, jotting it down mentally, storing it in the pages of my mind to be perused and read later.
But for a year, I carried her, waiting, planning, watching. And when she was ready, when she had grown and reached maturity, she was born. She didn’t come clamouring into the world like a baby, she came stealthily, slowly and under the cover of night. No one knew. It was just me and her. Until I clicked a button, cut the cord and released her into the world. I did it with my eyes open, knowing what I was doing, but I didn’t think people would read. I didn’t think people would follow her. It’s intimidating. It’s like I’m Boo Radley and I’m exposed to the world, the pale skin of my innards laid bare in the glaring light of the Internet.
I saw the few modest hits I had, I saw the few clicks and comments and I panicked. I took her offline for 24 hours; it was all too much. Even 10 people reading was too much exposure, like I had sent private, illicit messages to those people and they could see inside of me. I didn’t just feel exposed, I felt pressured. Pressured to write, pressured to perform and pressured to share more and more, to keep people reading. I always joked about fortune and glory with my husband, but when I saw that people were actually reading what I wrote, panic seized me. I wanted to snatch the words out of their heads. My words. They were mine. They were hers.
Last night, as I tried to avoid tossing and turning so as not to disturb the baby. I realised something: I write for me; my audience is me. If others read it, then so be it. If it doesn’t meet someone else’s literary standards, then so be it. I chose to release her into the world as away of letting her go; cutting the cord, allowing her independence, but that doesn’t mean I need to feel performance anxiety, like a bridegroom on his wedding night, nervous, anxious and shaking with anticipation. I don’t need to edit and censor and adapt to suit my readers. I write for me. I write because I need to. I write because it needs to be written.
Although my Boo Radley moment has passed, for now, there is no predicting when he’ll be back. But for now I’ll write. InshaAllah. I’ll write for me. And for her. Until I want to stay inside.
I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time… it’s because he wants to stay inside.”
– To Kill A Mockingbird