Why I write

“But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.”

Lasantha Wikramatunga

“The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one.”

-Lasantha Wikramatunga

A maternal uncle once asked me in anger, “What writer are you?”. Mr.Lasantha Wikramatunga, by articulating his vision for the free world and free media, answers with his life. I hope to answer with mine, by living. Dying is not something I do exceptionally well. I am neither Slyvia Plath nor Anne Sexton.

The United States is truly the ‘marketplace’ of ideas. Like all ideas, some are better than others. My family and I pitched the television set out of our home a long while ago. The reason being that much of what I saw on television was formulaic. While I love fashion, culture and cuisine as much as my neighbor, I find that there is an excessive emphasis on television of the wrong behaviors and ideas. Viewed repeatedly, the ideas, products and services, become the ‘culture’ and there is then no room for individual creativity and innovation. Genuine creativity requires risk and then perseverance in developing and working on the idea. Turning something immediately into a product is making a mockery of the whole process of creativity, education, knowledge and innovation.

As a writer, I am creating. As a technology innovator, my husband is also creating. Like other Malaysians, my family and I have had to leave Malaysia in order to be free to create, innovate and learn. Lasantha Wikramatunga articulates life as a ‘nation’ in the free world beautifully. I wish such an individual had chosen the way out, left his embattled nation so that he could contribute to the world with his precious ideals, without having to sacrificing his life. When my eyes blurred with tears, I asked my husband ‘why?’. Why didn’t Lasantha Wikramatunga take the passage out that diplomats and others offered him. Surely he could be a greater contribution to the nation as a man alive than one dead? My husband had no satisfactory answer to give me but he did say, “The road to freedom is paved with martyrs.”.

This is true. My own mother died silently, a victim of domestic violence and
Malaysian law/police and medical incompetence, but I survive her. Now that ten years have passed, I can answer my uncle’s question, What writer are you? I am a truth teller. The truth often has an ugly, broken, distorted face but once we turn to God and look to Him, there is an outpouring of grace. My own life is a testimony to an abundance of that grace. I shall live and die by the hand of God. I would have taken the way out if I had been Lasantha Wikramatunga. I did. I wish he had.

This is the way I feel about war. I think we can win the war by living. We need the people of the world to choose life. My late mother would have exhorted me to leave the country as quickly as I could and to win my own personal life’s wars by living. She would have told me to hold my head up high. She would not have wanted me to die. I choose life. Again and again I choose life. That is the kind of writer I am. That is my answer to the call of the conscience.

We came to America, so that our son, could have life and live without fear.


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