What I Want To Be When My Son Grows Up

Posted on April 1, 2012



Friends and acquaintances seem to believe that I have in me what it takes to come out with a book. That is, to make my mark as an ink-slinger of the established sort; an author.

Ego had me toying about with the idea, but the day dream was dismissed quite quickly, for which I have my reasons:

(a) I just don’t buy it. That is, that I possess the literary prowess to churn out a repertoire of published titles; let alone those that will be well-received.

(b) It seems like an awful lot of work (the process of getting published included).

(c) I wouldn’t know what to write about/of [minor setback, I know].


Just the other day though, I was talking books with a friend I’ve known for about a year when he oh-so-casually dropped a game-changer on me.

Speaking of authors, you must have heard of Rayyan AbouLeila*?

Why yes, I had heard of this Orange Prize nominee and The New York Times recommended authoress, why did he ask?

Oh, have you?” he confirmed ever-so-casually. “Well…she’s my mum.”



For someone whose idea of celebrity keepsakes worth gushing over are autographed titles from favourite writers, this piece of information had me bowled over. Think Perez Hilton discovering that Kim Kardashian’s secret lovechild was a member of his editorial staff – only more refined.

It took me what seemed like a whole five minutes to realize that my wide eyed-gaping-mouth combo might not be the most distinguished of facial features with which to represent. That too to someone who I had decidedly just elevated in rank from just a friend, to the-friend-with-author-mother.

Naturally I wanted to know everything!

What was/is it like, being the son of an author? What is she like? How did she get about to writing? When would she write? How did she know what to write about?

I was firing them out faster than the poor chap could keep up with. Yet fuelled by my barrage of interrogation, he fed me tidbit after tidbit, smiling wider and wider every time I’d acknowledge each response with an overwhelmed (and unashamedly fawning) ‘Oh wow.’

All this time, and you tell me now?” I demanded.

He shrugged “You just seemed like someone who’d be interested.


At that point in the conversation the attention I had directed to receiving the answers to my slobbering questions, was diverted instead to observing a son’s reserved, yet undiminished pride in his author-mother. Call me mad, but it was lovely to watch really.

With no intention whatsoever of milking the glory that came with it, it appeared he preferred to unveil this preserved identity to only the most deserving – whom he deemed would be truly appreciative of this secret nugget of information.

He had her latest novel on his list of reads for the year – not just out of obligation, but because he genuinely loved her writing. He spoke of her literary accolades as if they were his, and at the same time recollected her dedication in churning out written material when he and his siblings would go to school.

He bore no grudges in being over-shadowed (at the time at least) by her popularity, nor did he stake pompous claims to it.

It is a rarity to find a 25+ year old man speak affectionately in public forum of the woman who bore him, and I was inexplicably smitten with the scene. As a result, I only ended up fuelling the conversation further. Not so much to quench my own curiosities, but just because I didn’t want the show to end.


So that right there was my turning point. If as the saying goes, ‘a thousand wild horses couldn’t drag me…’ to the undertaking, this would be the one thousand and first that pulled me through.

For if not for anything or anyone else, I would at least consider that book just for this.

In the hope that one day I too will have my 27 year old son casually mention his author-mother to an appreciative friend, knowing fair well the worth of the identity he had so affectionately safeguarded. To have him recollect fondly at how he was raised, proud and not bitter that he was surrounded (not enforced, mind you) by the love for reading, writing and all things literary.

It would be rather quixotic of me though, and far too romantic to suddenly want to use this as my excuse to immediately get started on those pages. I still don’t truly believe I have it in me, and from what I’ve gathered from most authors I’ve spoken to, writing-publishing is excruciatingly tiresome. More importantly I still don’t have a semblance of a narrative in mind.


But while still faced with the many negatives, I now have with me the one antidote with the potential to counter them all. For for all the reasons I have not to write, this is this one reason I have NOT not to.



*The real name of the author mentioned in the post above has been changed – for purely selfish reasons.