When I was a little girl, like most children I was very afraid of the dark. We lived in the village, in a house with a big garden. My bedroom, overlooking the garden, had a huge window. On hot summer nights I kept the window open. Whenever I heard a noise outside, I got frightened thinking that someone was in our garden. I would hurry to my parents’ room and as always they would reassure me that there was no one in our garden, that it was just a cat. I used to wish then to be a grown up like them so I wouldn’t be scared of anything.
Years went by and I left the village and lived in the city, in Dubai. When I in turn became a mom, my son would come to my room in the middle of the night, awakened by some dream or nightmare, and take hold of my hand and lead me to his room to sleep beside him on his tiny bed.
As time passed and both my children are now young adults, it’s a different kind of fear that grips me now. As the late Ray Bradbury wrote in his book, Dandelion Wine:
“He felt the tremble. But she was bigger, stronger, more intelligent than himself, wasn’t she? Did she, too, feel the intangible menace, that groping out of darkness, that crouching malignancy down below? Was there, then, no strength in growing up? No solace in being an adult? No sanctuary in life?”
My fear of the dark is way behind me now as it is replaced by yet another bigger fear, that of losing what is dear and near to me. The fear of losing that which is the most precious thing in this world to me, my loved ones. As I watch them live their lives I can’t help but wonder what if something happens to any of them. Because life sure slaps us in the face when we least expect it to. There are no happy endings in life. And that fear drives me to write. The fear of the unknown, the fear of a future alone. Simone de Beauvoir when asked why she wrote, answered: “the fear of losing a loved one.” And in the words of Joss Whedon:
“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”
But then at the end of the day when everyone is safe at home and it’s time for me to go to bed, I feel good. I know that I have lived to see yet another day, and that all is okay somehow. To quote Ray Bradbury once more:
“Whatever happened to happy endings?”
“They got them on shows at Saturday matinees.”
“Sure, but what about life?”
“All I know is I feel good going to bed nights, Doug. That’s a happy ending once a day. Next morning I’m up and maybe things go bad. But all I got to do is remember that I’m going to bed that night and just lying there a while makes everything okay.”