Loudly and Freely
Salma El Banna
Alex Agenda Interview
To those who don't know her, Marwa Rakha is a writer, a relationships expert speaker, a book author, and many other things. She is simply an independent Egyptian girl with lots of unconventional ideas about life and who is not afraid to express them loudly and freely.
We met with Marwa Rakha and had a heart to heart chat and got a closer look at that extraordinary woman:
A.A: After many years how do you see your writing beginnings and having an alias at first?
Marwa: I still smile when I remember that my writing career began with a coincidence; it is as though fate had a plan for me and I just followed the path that I was created for. Being Jennifer Anderson gave me the courage that I lacked; Jenny made me strong, loud, and confident. Somehow writing as Jennifer Anderson has healed me.
A.A: Who are the writers and characters you were most affected by?
Marwa: Danielle Steel helped me capture imagery and feelings in words. William Blake's poetry has always inspired me. Jane Austen's heroes and heroines back in the 19th century remind me of the men and women of our society in the 21st century.
A.A: How do you deal with how the society looks at your independence while still being single?
Marwa: I am no longer the scared little Marwa. Simply I do not care. I am happy with who I am and with my life as it is. I always try to do the right thing and I believe that I did the right thing for me. People always talk; they talk if you are married, they talk if you are not, they talk if you have kids, they talk if you don't, they talk if you moved out, and they talk if you did not … who cares?
A.A: What was the most difficult problem you faced with your readers? and have you ever regretted giving a specific solution for a problem?
Marwa: The most difficult problems are the ones that the person does not want to overcome. All problems have solutions but many people prefer to live in misery than to take an action. I do not like to answer problems where parents are being stubborn, materialistic, or simply ignorant. I face that a lot.
A.A: How do you feel about having an important role in fixing the way society sees and deals with women?
Marwa: It scares me … with power comes responsibility … I am scared.
A.A: Why didn't you think about going to a foreign country where you would find a much closer way of thinking?
Marwa: I love Egypt … there is nothing wrong with the country, the people make the country what it is and this is why I have to stay … I cannot escape. I am neither a coward nor a weak person.
Mother Teresa has a nice quote. She says that if everyone thinks that his contribution to the society is a little drop in a big ocean, and decides not to contribute, then the ocean will be one drop less. My work is a very very small effort in a big ocean but if we all decide to stop then there will be nothing left.
A.A: What about the future of Egyptian girls, how do you see it?
Marwa: Egyptian girls need to believe in themselves; we need to believe that we are smart, pretty, and strong. We need to understand that magic does not exist and that if do not fight injustice and harassment, we will always suffer.
In my book, I wrote that Egyptian women come in four categories;
Wild ducks are fearless spirits, risk-takers, and trend-setters. In the prairie, among beasts they live, yet highly respected and well positioned. No one dares pluck their feathers, tame, mold, frame, or domesticate them. Those creatures are often criticized, rejected, and resisted but it never makes them any weaker or milder. Whether other ducks look up to them or look down on them, they just cannot be as wild or as free. Unlike black ducks, they know who they are, what they want, and where they want to go. Wild ducks end on a plate only if shot dead or ambushed.
At the other extreme, black ducks are outcasts; like their market value, their self esteem, and their social acceptance are low. Their flaw could be related to their physique, social disposition, spiritual inclination, tarnished reputation, or unheard of ideas. Black ducks are sentenced to a lifetime of isolation and alienation – and it hurts them. A black duck wants to be unnoticed, unheard, unseen, and, in a way, invisible. They are the geeks, the nerds, and the pimple-faced teenagers that never grow into anything more assertive. Since the men of this world are not blessed with insight into their souls, black ducks, end up alone or on the plate of an equal male outcast. Being a black duck is a stigma that neither time nor blood could erase.
Going down the ladder, stuffed ducks are a delight to look at and a pleasure to feast over. They are perfect for social occasions and for showing off purposes – each man on the table has a stuffed duck on his plate! Being full of rice, onions, and any leftovers in the fridge, stuffed ducks look bigger and better than other ducks – posh and grand. They lure men by their big bloated over-fed over-exposed over-stuffed appearance only to give them, instead of nourishing meat, a plate full of constipating legumes. Needless to say, one can only handle that much of stuffed fowl. Their mission in life is to look good – and stuffed! Stuffed ducks land on the plate of whoever pays more.
Sitting ducks are pathetically lovely; you can caress them, fondle them, shoot them, cook them, stuff them, or cage them. They are tame, demure, docile, and disciplined. Sitting ducks are anything but confrontational – they will whine, complain, and bitch about something to everyone and anyone but their offender. Sitting ducks have neither flying abilities nor argumentative capabilities; they are an easy catch, a quick dump, and a perfect emotional punching bag. They do not land on a man's plate; they end up in his fridge for use when there is no other food on his table – sitting ducks are always taken for granted and never appreciated.
Our culture encourages sitting ducks, exiles wild ducks, despises black ducks, and craves for stuffed ducks, but pure breeds are rare nowadays; for example, I am a hybrid of wild and black ducks- and that says it all about me. Men drool over the offspring of crossbreeding stuffed ducks and sitting ducks; such ducklings fit all the molds of our patriarchal society. Some men are stupid enough to think that they can turn a wild duck into a sitting duck, or even worse, turn a black duck into a stuffed duck. The most hazardous type is a mix of wild ducks and stuffed ducks; they think they rule the word.
A.A: What are your upcoming projects?
Marwa: More books, more TV shows, more radio shows, and more drops in the wide ocean.