30 Aug 2012

Dear Friends,
So much has happened since I left the UK and came back to Kuwait. Became a lecturer in law at Kuwait University – school of law, I love my job, the students are pleasant and intelligent, I do get the odd careless one who comes to class half an hour late and without so much as a pencil and answers the exam with a pink inked pen, but other than that one, they are lively lovely and interesting, my colleagues are mostly men, interesting but a bit smug, as law lecturers and law professor usually are. I painted my office red! The only red office in the whole university, people pass the corridor and stop for a second to admire or be shocked, I enjoy the attention, sometimes I buy white Lilies and Sungazers and put them in a huge vase, against the shocking red wall they glow, and on a sunny day, which is often and all the time here in Kuwait, my office feels beautiful, warm and fragrant.  I always try to keep my lectures stimulating and I love to make my law students laugh, I once attended with a toy bushy mustache and massive wacky toy glasses, they laughed for the first 15 minutes, and laughed some more when the Dean suddenly decided to drop in and see how I was doing, it was fun!
I live in a lovely bright apartment overlooking the sea, which is always azure blue, calm and inspiring – I'm still trying to find the time to take photos to show you -  the place is filled with positive energy, and although I hardly have the time, I do try to write when I can and have recently gone back to painting, which is a great relief because I feel very agitated and unhappy when I don't write or paint. Jori is growing up beautifully and is so funny and clever and is happy in school and learning all kinds of interesting things and has endless questions about God and heaven which I often find impossible to answer!
Other than the positive stuff above, I have had some problems with the law! Yikes!!
Back when I was in the UK I tweeted on very controversial issues doing with the corrupt government and corrupt rule in Kuwait, my tweets were too honest and explicit to be ignored, I was called for questioning at the Kuwaiti embassy in London two months before leaving the UK, after the questioning I wasn't asked to come back again and I thought that was that. But I was prosecuted again last month, they came knocking on my door one night (11 pm) and told me I had to stand before a prosecutor the next morning, I wore my best red shoes –as you do- and stood tall and proud and answered all the questions, I was let out after paying a bail of 1000K.D (the equivalent of 2000 British pounds) They took my laptop and took my photo (mug shot) from profile and from front like a true criminal – not my best photo, but there you go!  I still don't know whether I will be sentenced to prison, for some reason I am not afraid! Obviously I would not want to be away from Jori, that would be terrible for me and her, but somehow and I sometimes think prison might actually be a good experience! Think of all the time I will have to read and write, I'm guessing they'll allow me to bring in some books, not a computer though, if they do put me in prison it will not be more than 3 months (Max), that’s the worst case scenario, but my law colleagues have been supportive and told me that I have a good strong case and that they would help me fight, if things take to a bad turn, I sometimes fancy I could write my best work in prison like e.e.cumming's  "The Enormous Room"! But I'll probably cry and cry and wish I could hold Jori and think of everyone I love… but to imagine, being shut out of everything, all eyes, all sounds, all mouths… to feel the absolute silence of everything and to be completely and wholly with oneself, skinned from all life's demands and continues engagements and meaningless courtesies, but I also understand how terribly lonely and frightening it can be, the social stigma I will have to face and live with afterwards, and will I be able to get back the job I love? Not to mention the food must be ghastly in prison and they most probably won't let me wear my red shoes!
My country's opinion of me – rendering me as criminal for simply speaking my views and my opinion is both sad and laughable, I am a criminal because I said the government is corrupt, I must be put behind bars, I am dangerous and my ideas are dangerous thus I must be stopped and imprisoned, and punished and scrutinized and analyzed! This hypocrisy makes me laugh, it makes me laugh at this fake society that I live in, at the fake people who run this fake society, it makes me gag with disgust that people would rather live a lie than to see or speak of the truth. It also makes me feel strong, if they do lock me up, my rebellious ideas will still be in my head, in my body, in my blood, they cannot take them out of me, they can only shut the container away temporarily, shut the mouth away, shut the door, but only for a short amount of time, then the doors will open again. I imagine this makes them feel very weak and crippled; how to skin the mind from its own ideas? They can't and this makes them feel helpless.

More trouble with the law!

Since I was studying in the UK, I was constantly following the very unjust and unfair and cruel problem of a minority of people living in Kuwait called "Stateless" or the Arabic word for them "Bedoon". The "Stateless" are a group of people who have been living in Kuwait for as long as anyone can remember, they look like us Kuwaitis, speak like us and carry the same believes and ideas and culture, they dress like us and have the same values, they know no home land other than Kuwait still they are denied the right to citizenship in Kuwait and due to this injustice they are deprived from other rights, political, social and economic. It is a very sad situation from which thousands suffer and is shameful for Kuwait, it shames me as a Kuwaiti. I have –since coming back to Kuwait- been protesting with them and for them, and in one of the protests I tried to stand between one stateless man and  the police man who was trying to oppress the protest, I stood between them and got hit on the stomach! The physical pain was not bad, but emotionally it was awful, I've submitted a complaint the next morning and the case of "Miss use of force" by the cop is now being investigated, but without me having any marks, bruses or scars on my stomach to prove the incident and the stateless man being too afraid to testify against a cop, I don't have a very strong case.
Through my continuous work with the "Stateless" I've gathered information from government officials and recorded videos of their poor lives, poor living conditions, poor schooling, poor health services and wrote reports and made a short film that shed much light on the issue, I was interviewed on television and my film was played on the show, the program yielded much interest and many people sympathized and rose to help by giving money and other kind of support. I've been approcahed by the Kuwaiti Society of Human Rights and they've asked me to prepare more reports on the issues of "Stateless" to present to the Human Right's Convention, at the United Nations' next meeting in December in Geneva, which I'm very excited about and working very hard for. My last resort was poetry, I wanted the "Stateless" to write in poetry and prose what they feel, all the injustice they experience, all the sadness they carry, and guess what? It was a success, I put out a creative writing competition and called it "Roots" with a tempting financial reward, poems, prose and short stories came flooding in my e-mail, it was extremely heart breaking to read in their words all the suffering they experience, however it was extremely rewarding too. For the first time, someone took interest in their feelings, in their views, in their art. After two months, the results were out (I judged the competition) three winners from the children's category (8 – 17 years old) and three winners from the adult category (18 and over), I organized a beautiful but simple ceremony at the "Kuwaiti society of literature" where the winners were honored and given their prizes, I also collected all the entries in a book (an anthology) and called it "Roots", printed 500 copies and sold 450 ! all the revenue from the anthology is going to poor and disadvantaged Stateless families in Kuwait. Everything was a huge success; the book, the celebration, the winners and me were in the papers the next day.. felt such an enormous peace and such beautiful satisfaction, but I want to translate "Roots" in English and send it to all of you in the UK, it will be so wonderful to hear views and feedback…
There is still so much I want to do before I die, so much poetry, so much art, so much love, so much passion.. I want to start performing my poetry again and have started looking for venues where I can start my own poetry performance night, will keep you posted...