“Haven’t you ever given it serious thoughts? To be a writer?”

It was December 29, 2014. We were making our way up the steep walking path on Alcatraz Island, playing tourist again. We walked at our own pace, minding our business and distanced from the bustling crowd. It was a gloomy Monday, but the beautiful view of San Francisco city skyline from here was a pleasant surprise. I pondered over her questions for a few seconds, letting the words sink in and taking my sweet time to gather my thoughts when in truth, I knew full well the answers to those questions.

“It’s not… that I’ve never thought about it. I have. Of course I have. And to be honest, these days I think about this more seriously than I used to. Because when I had a hard time last year, it was writing that saved me, you know? And I love my blog, but lately I keep feeling like I want something more permanent; to be properly acknowledged as a writer.”

I paused.

“But the thing is… the truth is, there’s only one story I want to tell. It’s the story, the only one, that if ever I were to be published with my real name on the front covers – it’s the one I can’t write about. Their story. Writing under my real name, wanting to write this specific story, means outing ourselves and owning up to what happened. It means tracing back to decades worth of our – their – personal histories. Going back in time to moments that were rich and so, so interesting- but I write creative nonfiction, that’s my niche. None of my stories are fiction. Everything’s real, they happened. I just… I can’t do that to them.”

“Because before I’m an engineer and a writer – I’m a sister, a family member… a daughter.”


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