Novel chronicles family's struggles
Burnaby's Rahela Nayebzadah was always told her parents had a story to tell.
"Ever since I was a kid, my parents have told me 'we have a story, we'd really like it if one of our children would write our story.'"
Like most kids in that situation, Nayebzadah wasn't interested.
And like many children, that interest eventually emerged during adulthood.
"I felt really bad I didn't pay attention earlier," she said.
It was while she was struggling with unemployment after completing a master's degree in women's studies that the Edmonds-area resident decided to tackle the family story by writing a book.
"I got really depressed, I had nothing to do so I locked myself at home and wrote it."
The result is Jeegareh Ma, or My Love in Farsi, an autobiographical novel being published Thursday, Oct. 4 by The Key Publishing House Inc.
Nayebzadah, 27, said it's a true story, although all the names except for her own and her brother Rasool's, have been changed, and dialogue and other details had to be created.
The basis of the story is the upbringing of her Afghan parents and how they met. She explained that her mother came from a wealthy family while her father did not. They met as immigrants in Iran and "somehow they end up married with five kids. My dad had a lot of pride. He refused financial support from his in-laws."
Much of the story is about her mom. At family gatherings, her father would share stories while her mother would stay quiet. After doing two days of interviews with her mom, Nayebzadah found it was her mother who had the most to tell, about the difficulties of being a wife, mother and immigrant.
The family came to Canada as refugees when Nayebzadah was two.
"A lot of immigrants believe when they come to Canada, their problems will be solved, but when they come, their problems aren't solved."
Also central to her family's story is the day 18 years ago when Rasool, then five, was hit by a car while he was jaywalking with two sisters across Kingsway by Central Park. He suffered brain damage and partial paralysis.
Nayebzadah was 10 at the time and was the only one of the three not hurt—at least physically.
"I'm the only one so affected. It's 18 years ago and I'm the only one that can't get over it. I still can't drive."
She can't even remember much of the incident, having to reconstruct it through interviews with her siblings.
"We were trying to cross the street and buy candy. All I remember is my money falling everywhere."
Nayebzadah wrote Jeegareh Ma in five months and has another book in the works, Monster Child, this time a work of fiction.
"My No. 1 goal since I was a child is to be a scriptwriter. I never thought I would write a book and get it published. I wrote it with a script in mind."
Despite the excitement of having her book published, Nayebzadah is bracing herself for the reaction of her family to seeing their story in print, especially her mom.
"I just hope that she's happy with the final product."
Jeegareh Ma will be released Oct. 4 and will be available at local Chapters bookstores, Chapters.ca and Amazon.ca.
Rahela Nayebzadah will give a talk about the book at Burnaby Public Library's Tommy Douglas branch on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.