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British-Asian author to release book to aid Pakistan flood victims

9 Oct 2022 new By HUBERT VAZ

British-Asian author and artist Shahida Ahmed will release her book – Through Brown Eyes – in Muscat today, all proceeds of which go towards the Pakistan Flood Victims Relief Fund

Juggling many hats though a vibrant career that keeps her on her toes, quite literally, Shahida Ahmed, a third generation British-Asian artist (hailing from Pakistan), has now found new expression for her creativity – she launches her first novel – Through Brown Eyes – at the Crowne Plaza hotel, Qurm, this afternoon.

The book launch has been facilitated by H H Susan al Said and all proceeds of the sales will go towards the Pakistan Flood Victims Relief Fund. The visiting author will present a talk on the occasion and be present to sign copies of the book purchased at the launch.

“This is the first novel I have published. I am a visual artist and have been in education in this field since 1996. My background is very diverse, including stints in radio and TV presentation,” she told Muscat Daily on her way to Oman from the UK.

Shahida is a well know ceramic artist, focusing on Islamic themes, with a vision to stimulate and capture an audience that is able to appreciate art that is endowed with history, culture, and diversity. Shahida’s work is said to be a modern concept of merging traditional Islamic arts into clay forms. Her collections are based on rhythm and movement, the essence of which is also found in calligraphy and geometry.

Her works can be found in the private collections of King Charles III, Downing Street, and Foreign Commonwealth office London, Baroness Saeeda Warsi, VIP Lounge Dubai Airport, British High Commission Karachi, and various other collections. Shahida has also been invited to exhibit around the world in various galleries and for affluent persons. Her recent works are in the Museum of Islamic Art, Australia.

Though Shahida is primarily an artist, she has always sough creative expression for her inspirations in many diverse forms, writing of which is the latest. Born in Lancashire, UK, Shahida says she has always loved entertaining her friends by telling them stories. In fact, her friends have always been encouraging her to write a book and Through Brown Eyes is the first installment of her creative expression as an author.

Having graduated in Visual Arts from University of Leeds and in Art and Design from University of Bradford, Shahida also gained a scholarship for post graduated studies in Traditional Islamic Arts from the Royal College of Art, London, in Community Leadership from the University of Central Lancashire, and in Visual Arts from the University of Bradford.

She currently divides her time between the UK and Qatar, where she lives and works. Throughout her career she has believed that art and creativity is a diverse form of dialogue that brings communities together.

“I have been based in Qatar for 10 years, working in the field of education in Doha College, Al Jazeera Academy, AlMaha girls, Virginia Commonwealth University, and consulting for the ministry of education there. Alongside this, I have been creating various bodies of work for exhibitions and clients,” she disclosed.

About her skill for story-telling, Shahida said, “I think, we all have grown up with stories, and some are related directly to ourselves. Coming from a diverse background with South Asian parents, and born and bred in Lancashire, is a story itself, but each one of us has explored his/her own experience of life. Travel, faith, culture, were rich inspirations in my upbringing from a small town in Lancashire.”

She further said, “I think, some stories which your hear are quite unique. But at times, from your own perspective and understanding, you can, indeed, adapt it to create a new version, if you wish to retell it. A good story teller is one who captures a story to be told and gives it new life. My audience always complete my work, whether its my art or a novel.”

When asked if she herself identifies with the character of Shama in the book, Shahida said, “I can relate to Shama in many ways as would many women as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, etc. The central theme of the book is about ‘inspiration and belief in yourself’. It motivates women to find their own identity and to live their life to the fullest.”

‘Through Brown Eyes’ is a positive book – it is not about migration, as such, but about some challenges and differences one encounters that are true and meaningful from a second/third generation perspective, Shahida asserts. It is available on Kindle as well as in print format.

Roller-coaster of emotions -(Synopsis)

Nineteen-year-old Shama lives something of a charmed existence, indulged by her comfortably-off parents, who are second-generation Pakistani immigrants, and enjoying university life.

Balancing the lifestyle of her Western friends with the strict cultural traditions upheld by her parents is rarely a challenge, as she flits between her weekdays on campus and weekends at home. However, her world is turned upside down when she is invited to accompany her mother on a trip to Pakistan and introduced to the handsome Saleem, a charming, educated acquaintance of her extended family.

Caught up in a whirlwind romance thousands of miles from home, Shama suddenly finds herself facing a very different future from the one she anticipated – a future that when contemplated, triggers a roller-coaster of emotions in the naive teenager, ranging from excitement to fear, and puts her very survival at risk.

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