A Bangladesh-born author, actor, and speaker tells the story of her search for self-acceptance and a life lived across continents.
Zaman grew up watching her brilliant, college-educated mother fold in on herself “like an origami bird.” Her father, a Zamindar from a politically prominent Bangladeshi family, expressed his love harshly and bullied her mother. He moved the family from Bangladesh to Hawaii and then Thailand in pursuit of his career with the United Nations. From him, the author learned that men dictated what women could and could not do. From a male cousin who went unpunished for trying to molest her, she learned that men could sexually abuse women and not face any consequences. Zaman eventually rebelled by cutting her hair short, becoming anorexic, and sleeping with men of her choosing. She left for college in the United States, studying theater and women’s studies, and then went to New York with aspirations to become a stage actor. Meanwhile, her mother, who had procured a career of her own, divorced her father and remarried a man who respected her independence. The author married as well, but her husband was “unkind and often dangerous,” just like most of her old lovers. She divorced him and began mending the difficult relationship she had with her father. Cautious of involvements, Zaman fell in love with a self-help guru who believed that an “alpha [male]” should never let a woman “feel too secure in his affections for her.” After leaving him, the author went to Oregon to live with her mother and stepfather and “get myself sorted.” Within the space of the loving family she never had, the author let go of her inner disciplinarian and began writing to understand—and ultimately release—the self who had been her “imaginary best friend.” In this candid book, Zaman not only celebrates her quest to define herself and her voice, but also to find health, self-love, and wholeness.
An eloquently searching and intelligent memoir.