The Bahari Paradox | Seeking Literary Agent Representation

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 17:46 p.m. EDT, 23 January 2014

Book of Magic, Photo by Catherine L MommsenAgents interested in projects similar to Malika Oufkir’s Stolen Lives will see the potential in marketing my first novel, The Bahari Paradox. This book project grapples with perseverance, survival, and the triumph of a woman journeying to realize her full potential.

Synopsis: She teeters on the top railing of her balcony certain she could jump to her death but unsure as to whether or not she should. Yes, she could end it all; splatter herself and her unborn infant across the asphalt boardwalk below. She envisioned how tourists would scream and retirees relaxing and sunbathing on balconies beneath her would be frozen with shock and fear as her brown pregnant body plummeted to the ground like a dark comet descending from the heavens.

No one in her life would know and perhaps not even care what she'd done. Her husband is missing. Her ordained Baptist mother is estranged. Her younger sister is emotionally distant. Her radical Islamist father lives a continent away. The coroner would scrape a broken, spiritless body from the concrete only to discover there is nowhere to send her remains.

Trying to summon her courage as her toes flirt with the end of the precipice, she remembers a stretch of sand along the Indian Ocean called Bahari Beach -- the last enchanting place she'd experienced, the last place she truly felt alive. Memories wash over her like crystal blue waves, salty, sharp, and sweet.

She recalled a puzzling series of childhood events that occurred in rapid succession: her father joining a radical sect within the Nation of Islam, hastily exiting the United States as the daughter of an Anti-American, Pan Africanist expatriate on the run, traveling cross-continent in a Peugeot 504 wagon from West Africa to East Africa; miraculously surviving a particularly virulent strain of cerebral malaria, and finally escaping back to America with her mother and sister after years in exile—free at last from the torment of the domestic violence inflicted upon them by an abusive, tyrannical father.

She returns to America culturally fragmented and psychologically fragile. Failing in her efforts at acculturation and re-integration with her peers, her mother sent her away to a wildness camp hopefully to heal. While there she is sexually assaulted by an older counselor and begins a downward slide into an alternate lifestyle. Here too she begins to hitchhike up and down the east coast and eventually meets and starts a thankfully brief relationship with a Native American biker the summer before starting her freshman year at college.

With high hopes for living a more stable existence, she enters a small New England college to which she has been awarded an academic scholarship. Unbeknownst to her she is pregnant. Isolated and feeling victimized after opting for a late-term abortion, she could not focus on her course work and the additional emotional distress resulted in failing grades and a year-long sabbatical.

She returns to DC thinking a fresh environment might help her to leave behind some of the demons with which she was wrestling. Here she meets her first husband, a white American with a secret heroin addiction which was revealed when she unexpected found him ‘shooting up’ in the bathroom. A bloody fight ensued, reminiscent of those between her father and mother. This devastating turn of events was compounded by learning that she is pregnant for a second time. In quick succession, she terminates the pregnancy, divorces him and moves to Florida seeking to leave behind her mounting disappointments with her life choices.

In Miami, she meets an Israeli tourist ten-years her junior. They decide to marry and live together five-years. The South Beach environs where they lived accommodated their open marriage and non-traditional lifestyle. Tiring of life in the fast lane, on a whim they move to New York. Here she exercises her option to leave him to travel and to live briefly in Europe before returning to Miami to start fresh, newly divorced and alone yet again.

Nothing if not optimistic and believing that ‘the third time’s the charm’ she meets, falls deeply in love, and marries her third husband, a charismatic German, who runs an import and export business. Their lavish wedding at the Biltmore Hotel was extravagant and elegant even by Miami standards. Then at 38 she became pregnant for the third time and they decide to keep the child.

Their idyllic life together too soon began to unravel as the lies of her past and those of her new husband begin to surface. In truth, he is a member of the German mafia involved in trafficking contraband inside high-end luxury cars. Unexpectedly, as the birth of their son nears, she awoke to find he has disappeared after she took him to the airport, ostensibly to visit his dying mother in Germany. She is devastated. It was only later that she learned that he disappeared after defrauding his business partners and embezzling large sums of money from friends and acquaintances.

Federal, state, and local detectives had been investigating their actions for some time and questioned her to determine whether or not she was an accomplice. Business partners and associates were looking for him and she couldn’t assuage their suspicions. Abandoned, clueless, and alone, she inhabits a prison of an ocean front condo of marble, glass and fine Spanish furniture. Surrounded by the trappings of wealth she finds no comfort as she calls her husband’s phone until the service is disconnected. In a desperate bid to end the pain, to bring closure to a life of false starts and bruised spirit, she climbs onto the ledge to end it.

The BAHARI PARADOX is a 120,000 word creative non-fiction memoir which bears witness to the physical and psychological struggle of a woman trying to make sense of her oppressive childhood, sort through an impaired father-daughter relationship, synthesize her African and American religious and social heritage, and determine if she can come off the suicide ledge and raise her unborn child.

Perspective agents and interested parties may contact me at +1 (202) 499-2287 or via email at ayanna@nahmiasreport.com. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Carrie Mae Weems | Photographer

Carrie Mae Weems | Photographer

"This invisibility—this erasure out of the complex history of our life and time—is the greatest source of my longing. As you know, I’m a woman who yearns, who longs for. This is the key to me and to the work, and something which is rarely discussed in reviews or essays, which I also find remarkably disappointing. That there are so few images of African-American women circulating in popular culture or in fine art is disturbing; the pathology behind it is dangerous. I mean, we got a sistah in the White House, and yet mediated culture excludes us, denies us, erases us. But in the face of refusal, I insist on making work that includes us as part of the greater whole. Black experience is not really the main point; rather, complex, dimensional, human experience and social inclusion—even in the shit, muck, and mire—is the real point." -- Carrie Mae Weems

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The Perspective of Life

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Looking out Window, Photo by Austin PixelAs Mark Twain said, “You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.” Often, if we take the time to be introspective, we will see that our perspective is colored by the experiences of our life which we project onto others and the world.

Queen’s Pawn

Queen’s Pawn

"Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box." ~ Italian Proverb Obvious ways breed obvious opposition. Noisy preparation is the armament of the hubristic man. To defeat an opponent thus self-inflated, a wise combatant, sublimates all hint of power beneath the veneer of the demeaned.

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The Practical Maxim

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We each possess the power to positively or adversely impact our fellow human beings. So, "beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again." ~ Og Mandino

This video was produced by the NGO, Mercy Corps, and it has been featured on the website because of its thought provoking imagery. On the Nahmias Report we strive to present balanced reporting on human rights issues around the globe. In keeping with this mission, inspirational posts are published to challenge our readers to look inward as they look outward, to temper judgment with understanding, and to use every encounter as an opportunity to sow peace instead of dissension.

"One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him." ~ Booker T. Washington

In His Mirror | Nick Vujicic

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 03:46 AM EDT, 15 February 2012

Nick Vujicic, Oman, Photo by Vigor Enterprises

Nick Vujicic, Oman, Photo by Vigor Enterprises

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, it is a cold but relatively mild day.  After months of financial difficulties I have finally started working but it seems as if it has been a little late. But, things never happen early or late but always right on time.  However, when one is in the midst of a crisis such as I and many other Americans are currently facing, we pull in and embrace fear.  It is a hard place to be, to trust in God when one is on the verge of loosing one's home.

When I originally wrote this post I was in a different frame of mind in terms of how I interacted with the universe.  I believed at that time that things happened to me versus my envisioning and creating the experiences that subsequently happen to me.  The idea of active creation does not negate God, in whom I am an ardent believer; however, we must do our part in order for Him to do His.

That is why Nick Vujicic story is so important and why it was selected to be featured on our site.  It is a basic human tendency to teach ourselves and our children to speak about those things that we don't want, to vent and talk about what ails us, and to view ourselves as a victim while others prosper. We have moved beyond the 'Me Gen' to simply "Ego Driven."  We make no pretense at caring about others feelings or needs unless they can further our goals and objectives or assuage a present pain or discomfort.

Vujicic story stops most people in mid-thought because of his physical condition, but then it is his words, his life in action that is what truly captivates and reflects back to us our utter lack of respect for the sanctity of human life and gratefulness for all that we have not been called to struggle with.

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I have so much to be grateful for - in an economy where more than 8% of American are unemployed, I have finally secured a job. I have a wonderfully supportive mother and sister.  My son is healthy, extremely intelligent and beautiful.  I have good friends and after years of struggle I like who I am.

So why was I complaining?  Because that is what we do.  We complain.  It is like a computer virus, one can go on vacation to disconnect from the daily grind and totally recover through the antibiotics of peace, tranquility and centering; but upon return, once we plug back in we are easily susceptible to reinfection.

Our office mates complain, our friends and family complain, the people on the elevator complain, the people commuting on the train complain, the news delivers a stream of complaints and bad news ad nausea; and because human beings are social creatures, it is easier to conform and so unconsciously we comply.

Only through a shock to the system can we return to consciousness. Vujicic is a man who is living life fully on his terms, but not just for his benefit but for the inspiration and improvement of the lives of so many other people. Instead of wishing for conditions other than what he has, he embraces what he has been given and leverages his gifts and abilities to their fullest potential.

His story is phenomenally inspirational and the impact of his life is transformational in a way that other stories of survival though impressive tend fade with time.  I am a big fan of the Discovery Channel series "I Shouldn't Be Alive" and the Biography series "I Survived" because both feature individuals who survive horrible situations and tragedies through sheer will and determination.  It is a feeling that I am intimately acquainted with because I am a survivor.

However, to overcome a challenge over a brief span of time, though laudable and miraculous, it does not equate to sustained accomplishment. Vujicic would appear to have so much less than many of us and yet he has and continues to achieve everything he sets his mind to do, while helping others achieve similar freedom.

Vujicic is a living proof that “everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity.” ~ Viktor Frankl

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My mother often speaks to me about my attitude because she is a firm believer in faith.  Thoughts create reality and what we constantly think about we become or it occurs.  She often chides me about "meeting trouble halfway" and counsels me against this because "it usually dies somewhere in between;" meaning that the solution to far out problems almost always manifest before trouble arrives at ones' door.

I appreciate the mirror that Nick Vujicic's life, presented to me. My reflection in his life has challenged me to continue to be the best, to think the best, and to interact with people and the universe by giving my best. I hope this post inspires you, to attempt "to get up each morning with the resolve to be happy... and to set your own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” ~ Ralph Waldo Trine.

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