Category Archives: Identity

The Creative Engine


DOHA, QATAR — I quit my corporate job in June 2011 to devote more time to my writing.

In the eight months since, I’ve spent many Saturdays in the library (as well as other days, nights, and even more hours at the dining table which doubles as a desk) honing my craft, getting manuscripts ready for reader consumption. I made a publication schedule and have four e-books to show for sacrificing a full-time salary. Slowly but surely I’m figuring out the vendors I want to use – for an army of designers, editors, and marketing gurus underpin indie authors – and calibrating the Mohadoha process.

In the meantime, during the off-hours, I’m also exercising. Yes, you read that right. Amongst the competing demands of a toddler, husband, students from two universities, fiction, scholarship, and blogging, I’m making at least three hours a week to sweat, grunt, and generally tell the rest of it get lost for the span of 20 to 45 to 60 minutes.

Exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. After all, I’m Indian: think Gandhi as a kid with long hair, and blue, instead of wire-rimmed, glasses…and you have me most of my life. At least the part before I hit my late twenties and a job that had me over 80 sedentary hours at my desk a week. Five years and a baby later, the exercise started about twelve months ago as vanity, pure and simple. While the extremities (arms and legs) were still South Asian-skinny, the rest was not.

Now a little year past weekly workouts, my brain gets a fuzzy feeling on a week when I’ve done everything except let it take a break and give the muscles their turn. Almost like the feeling when I have gone more than one day without writing in my journal. While writing is good for my creative soul, exercise maintains the entire house that is me. I recognize this need for physicality a First World problem: if you’re walking five miles to get the water you need for the day, the likelihood of any spare pounds that need running off like a gerbil on a treadmill is very small.

Yet fitness goes beyond flashing abs no one wants to see on Facebook profile photos. More and more I’m learning about the need for physical as well as mental exertion.   A friend gave me Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. That’s right, he of the prolific, 800+page novels, runs every day. For at least ten miles. We don’t talk about this kind of discipline: the kind that means we look after ourselves as well as everyone else or even at the minimum our cars (which sooner or later get that oil change to keep running). As artists we compare ourselves to people like Hemingway (alcoholic) or Van Gogh (self mutilator) rather than marathon running Murakami.  Which legacy would you like to leave behind? Not just for your readers…but those who really knew you?

And that’s my giving a damn.


Dr. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a well-traveled scholar of literature and a freelance writer based in Qatar. She is a co-founder of the Maktaba project, a Children’s Library concept starting up in Doha, along with being one of the most reliable people you’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing in your life. Follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

More from Mohana:

»That’s “Dr. Miss” to You

»A Rising Comic’s Manifesto

»Seeing But Not Seen

»On-Stage But Off-Camera

Tomorrow is the final edition (for now) of The Daily Damn! See you there, and thank you for reading all of these months!!

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And Then There Was The Kiss From Last Night


Editor’s Note: The author’s name has been changed to protect their identity.

Her lips were soft as could be, and I’m happy I approached her after our eyes met.

Being gay isn’t easy in the uptight community that I’m from, and am still in. But last night, things were different. In a really good way. In a really unusual way. Like, it’s in a way that I never acted before. So forward, I mean.

So the bands finished playing, and it was midnight or so. Some people were hanging around, and I was one of them. The two of my friends who I arrived with didn’t make it to the next day with me, now that it was Wednesday morning. They excused themselves being lame and talking about having to be up early for A-period. I guess they’re more responsible than me. Good for their college transcripts, right? I then locked eyes with her, she was about 15 yards away from where I was standing.

She has brunette hair, much like mine. I think it’s natural, but who can really tell until the roots shout the truth. She’s about two years younger than I, but only a year behind me at school. I hadn’t ever met her before. Juniors and sophomores only mix a little where I attend high school. But she kept pursing her upper and lower lips, like when somebody’s bored, and they’re just looking to make any kind of facial contortion to keep themselves mildly entertained.

I walked up to her after making the first eye contact, which was an amazing connection if I can say so. Then we just had a good, eyes-closed, ten-or-so seconds physical contact. Lips met each other, and it was time I didn’t want to end. Which it kind of didn’t, because for those ten-or-so seconds, time stood still.

Eyes opened up right after, and then we found ourselves outside and talking for awhile. No one else around, it was just the two of us. There are things we have in common, and there is a connection there. One I haven’t felt ever before. It’s both a little bit scary and a lot of bits amazing.

We have plans to see each other this weekend. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep until then.


Aurora lives in the American Southwest with her parents and two younger brothers and maintains a 3.2 GPA at her high school with a powerful love of linguistics and the dramatic arts.

Also from Aurora:

»A Dyke’s Tale From the Locker Room

»I Get My Ass Kicked For Being Gay

Part 6 of Afterwards arrives in three days!  »1  »2  »3  »4  »5

Editor’s Picks:

»Jerks In America

»The Best Shirt Ever

»The Most Important Things You Can’t Live Without

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