I Wrote It for You All

by Mark Chmiel

June 24, 2015


I gave you, yes, you, and no one else, a copy of my magnum opus three years and a month ago.

My novel is due out next week and I want to say something about the dedication page.

Well, I’ve already started by trying to connect you and Zeina. The page reads:

For Lubna Alam, Zeina Kiblawi, Layla Lavasani, and Anjali Oza
Who sparked the beginning
And for Magan Wiles
Who saw it through to the end

Lubna audited my class in fall 2002; Zeina and Layla were in the same class; Layla told Anjali she had to take it, and so she did in spring 2003. They all graduated that year. Lubna is a lawyer, Anjali and Zeina are doctors, Layla a PhD in Public Health. Anjali lives in Chicago, the other three live in DC. Layla, Lubna, and Zeina went to the fall 2002 National Palestine Solidarity conference in Ann Arbor (it was their Social Justice project). When they came back they were so pumped and quite taken with the ISM, which planted a seed in me in October 2002; a year later I was in the olive groves outside Nablus. I called Layla after a pretty stressful day in October 2003, and she reassured me by saying, “Don’t worry about a thing, Doc; the people there are going to to love you!”

Magan took my class in spring 2004. She put on My Name Is Rachel Corrie spring 2006 before she went to work with ISM. She performed in her own play about Palestine, Beautiful Resistance in 2008. She got MFA in theatre and now lives in LA. But she “saw it through to the end,” because after Neil Munjal turned me on to Bee Minder. com, I asked Magan to hold me accountable for working on my revisions for 12 minutes a day. If I missed, I had to write a check to a charity of her choice (Drama Club NYC). Started in October, went through early April. She often sent supportive and exuberant emails in response to my daily reports to her about my progress.

Of course, all six of you inspired one or more characters. In the novel, Layla says in the last chapter, “That’s the best love letter I ever received.”

So, the novel is a love letter to you six, and some others (Randa inspired some of this as well) I have been blessed to know.

I don’t care if the activists trash it or ignore it, or if the Buddhists complain I don’t understand dependent co-origination. I didn’t write it for them.

I wrote it for you all, the dearest of the dear.




 Nima Sheth, photo by Dr. Neil Munjal