Once in every lifetime there’s a terrific moment that grabs your neck and won’t let go.
No matter how you try to shake it from consciousness, the magnitude still shines, living in your field of vision like a sty.
(The musician Sting called it the little black spot on the sun.)
Yet, as you get older, something triggers that thing that you don’t want to look at.
And begs you to.
If you don’t, you can’t live fully.
That’s what it whispers, in your ear.
When that happens, you’ve no choice.
Kismuth, which means destiny, is the unfolding of four decades of my life, starting with a big explosion in the sky, off the coast of County Kerry, Ireland, in 1985.
It’s been written about in Salim Jiwa’s book, The Death of Air India Flight 182.
I finally got up the nerve to e-mail him about that story.
That was quite a big moment.
Like the time when I sat by the Air India memorial in Ath na Cista, or asked the Cork City librarians for the specific microfiche so I could read what the Irish Times had reported, I was forced to face the black spot.
Even as we got to talking, and I asked him to talk to me on the phone, the reporter from Vancouver, BC, didn’t know I, too, had lost someone close to me on that ill-fated morning back in June, 1985.
That I was just one of them. The hordes who’ve been contacting him since 1985.
To find out more.
About what happened.
To extract the “why” that isn’t there.
Just the facts, please
Never imagined I’d write for newspapers and then turn to memoir.
When I was younger, I wanted to write a fiction novel. I wanted a shiny book cover and lots of people to read my words, because I thought “making it” was being a best-seller. Which of course I’m not. I’m a self-publishing, blogging, e-letter-writing person who cares deeply about topics related to death, life, and living to our fullest potential.
Which may explain why, in college, I majored in engineering.
Or maybe not.
Truthfully, I wanted to be a good kid and do what my parents told me to do, since they’re immigrants to the United States and only wanted to see me surpass their own expectations.
But as Dean R. Koontz wrote in Lightning (I really liked that book, and I’m not afraid to say so!), “Destiny struggles to reassert the pattern that was meant to be.” Like the protagonist of that book, I always questioned patterns of being and wanted to know what things might have been like if only one moment could shift. Except in the book, the guy could travel through time.
Maybe writing was my calling, though, because somehow while living in Ireland I landed a job at a startup newspaper. A couple of years there, then a few more at a daily in Seattle got me to a place where I felt like I could do it. Tell a story. Say it clearly. Keep it tight.
I took a long time getting the thoughts organized for this book.
Thirteen years, actually.
At the start, I wasn’t even sure what the whole story was about, but thousands of pages of rewrites and tons of diaries consistently returned me to the same theme. Destiny.
What about if?
The kinds of stories I enjoyed most–Ian McEwan, Superman, the obscure but intriguing indy film Another Earth, Solaris, Gattica, and many more–center around moments where one thing happened that twisted the course of big things in unorthogonal ways.
Why did I like these stories so much?
In writing three volumes of Kismuth, I found out.
And it doesn’t even matter to me that it’s not best-selling.
What matters to me are the people who connect to it.
The international community of people who also care about big questions, the one that’s emerging through the Kismuth VIP list.
A poet from Italy. A couple from Germany. An Australian who hung out with Kush and me in Hoi An, helping me out at a time when my little boy was injured and I just wanted a ten-minute dive alone into the ocean, so we went to the beach.
-that’s what I now care about most.
Kismuth means “destiny”
Volume I. Kanishka tells the account of the loss of Air India Flight 182 from the point of view of a 10-year old child who lost her closest friend. The disaster happened just off the coast of Ireland, where 15 years later I chanced to find myself living and finally had to face the hard questions of my past. We never talked about what happened in my family, and that’s why it was doubly difficult to actually come face-to-face with what people in Ireland experienced, too, but from a whole different vantage. Star Wars-style, Vol. I is the prequel, and hasn’t been published yet. You can get updates about Kanishka, slated to be published in 2015, when you join the Kismuth VIP list here. VIPs will be the first to be able to access the book when it launches in June, 2015.
Volume II. The Elopement takes place 15 years after the events in Vol. I. After my family left Michigan and resettled in a rural part of North Carolina, I grew up through my teen years wondering if there was another alternate reality awaiting. I probably had more existential angst than your ordinary adolescent, given what had happened in 1985, but again, these questions weren’t asked until I actually got to Ireland. That’s where I eloped with my Japanese boyfriend, quitting yet another place I’d spent a chunk of time and leaving my parents behind, too. They simply didn’t like the fact that he’s Japanese. Years of struggle with personal identity, and metaphysical questions around what it means to simply “be” led me quite by chance to the seaside of West Cork. The shift wasn’t easy. This story is about searching the heart, examining a choice to quit home on the mere promise of a fairytale ending, and of love. After more than three years living in Ireland, and writing for a newsweekly there, I began to get to know the place much more deeply than I imagined I could, and have tried to paint a picture of West Cork in these pages.
Volume III. The Dive takes place in Seattle, which is where I lived after Ireland. I thought the Northwest suited me—adequately gloomy skies fit the mood of having run around the world wondering what on earth I was still here, breathing, for when my old childhood friend had suffered in the tragedy of Kanishka. Yet when something profound took place after a heartwrenching medical diagnosis of my first-ever pregnancy, I began “the long, loose dive.” This is ultimately is a story of mercy, budding parental love, and self-forgiveness. So far, people who’ve gone through some kind of loss in their family, not just the kind described here, have told me it’s been a great comfort to them. A true story of what a thirtysomething couple experiences when forced to make a painstaking decision about a first-ever pregnancy. How does it feel to pit ethics against love? How do you decide what’s “the right thing to do?”
Volume IV. Flight of Pisces, a book that’s taken 12 years to complete, is set in the two-year period just prior to Vol. II The Elopement. That’s because the gravity of the parental clash isn’t obvious until you read this book. As a young woman of 23, I traveled India solo, much to the chagrin of my conservative parents who didn’t want anyone to know about that. What kind of person would people think I was? Worse, what kind of parents would people think they were? It’s a coming-of-age story about rebellion, falling in love, and of questioning your heart. But unlike the previous three volumes, Flight is an uplifting story. Literally. “Who am I? What does it mean? Why does it matter?”
Stay connected to read how Kismuth unfolds
Always questioning, wanting to seek, Kismuth asks big questions about life, love, humanity, and the heart. Each month a themed set of four emails is delivered on Thursday mornings to your inbox.
Here’s what Kismuth VIPs are saying about being part of the community:
MP: I love reading your emails, they are so colorful…
AB: Hi dear, love to read ur blog about your travel.
NS: Hey dipika. I really enjoy reading all of your e-mails. I just love how you do what feels right. Something different compared to all americains. Not live your life thinking “what if?”. The world offers a new perspective about life. And I think if Kush already has all this culture knowledge at such a young age, he’s gonna grow to be a great and kind person.
CC: Fair play taking to the roads like this. Your sense of adventure, of life, is wonderful. Travel well and safe and I’m looking forward to hearing your tales.
AB: I really love to read every thing u write. Now about karma…