“It Was Not Just A Kiss” a short story developed for my MA


It was not just a kiss

It was not just a kiss

I wanted to explore the father/son relationship for my MA dissertation. My MA was in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking, and thus the dissertation required two parts: a critical essay and a creative piece. For the critical essay I did a psychoanalysis read for the effect of the father on the death drive of the son. I chose two prose to compare: “The Kite Runner” for Khaled Hosseini where there is a dominant father figure, and “When We Were Orphans” for Kazuo Ishiguro where the father is absent. And for the creative piece, I reflected the findings of my critical read of a father/son relationships across the gender access to develop this short story “It Was Not Just A Kiss”.

The critical work is pretty long (around 10,000 words). I had to read lots of theoretical work. For a father/son relationship, I found no better place to start than exploring the notion of the castration complex and understand the formation of the super ego and the ego ideal. I stumbled upon many interesting findings that would be hard to sum up here in this article. I’d say the main conclusion was reading the castration complex in terms gender imposition, and applying Anna Freud’s theories of the ego’s defence mechanisms against aggression. If we consider gender imposition at a very young age a form of aggression, then that explains the castration anxiety that arises. Aggression, when comes with an authoritative figure, it gets internalized in the super ego and becomes self-inflicted. It continuously fuels the rise of the anxiety levels in the psyche, especially when the super ego is so strong (influenced by a dominant father figure as in the case of Amir in The Kite Runner).

On the other hand, and reading Freud, I understood that the psyche adheres naturally to the Pleasure Principle in order to lower the incremental excitations. That usually happens when the sexual energy is discharged, or when we are hungry and eat. It is the natural feeling of pleasure when a need is met. But what happens when the excitations of the psyche reaches to a very high level that can’t be handled by the normal psyche mechanism of the Pleasure Principle? I could read that the psyche then resides to painful measurements in order to sustain its stability. That’s for me what explained Freud’s death drive. It is the turning point where the human behaviour turns destructive. It is the point that Freud calls “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”.

In his essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, Freud only branches to assume a different set of drives when he fails to identify a compulsion to repeat among the sexual drives. I don’t think that he looked clear enough though. I could read a compulsion to repeat in the sexual act of gender assertion. According to Judith Butler’s theory of Performativity, gender is the continuous stylisation of the body. It is a repetitive process that aims to please the ego ideal. The fact that I could read a compulsion to repeat in the sexual drives that have the same characteristics of the one Freud explains in his essay means that we can go back and assume only one set of drives; the sexual drives that turn destructive!

Instead of an overly dominant father figure as in “The Kite Runner”, I portrayed an overly feminine mother in the short story. The daughter, like Amir, struggles to meet up with the gender identity of her ideal. Unlike Amir, where the values of a masculine society backs up the qualities of his dominant father, the daughter faces an ambivalence of emotions facing a society that loves and hates abundant femininity. In the story, I place the daughter in a situation that heightens her castration anxiety and leads her to fall into the madness of her death drive.

Writing the short story after doing the critical research felt great. It was like having the blueprint to build the characters on. That is the essence of the MA that I did and the wisdom behind combining the creative and the critical into one complimentary course at Sussex University.

When I arrived Dubai’s airport last monday, they asked for my original visa which wasn’t there in the airport. My brother had to drive all the way from Abo Dhabi to hand it in. In the meantime, waiting for more than 3 hours, I thought of checking out the kindle store. I decided publish “It Was Not a Kiss” on Amazon and see how it fairs. It is my first attempt to use the platform and thus I don’t think that I was very successful. A week later, 5 copies have been sold so far. I would say it has mainly to do with the lack of availability of the kindle story in the middle east where most of my audience live.

If you find the notion of the story interesting, and wants to check it out, you can find it here: “A Short Story: It Was Not Just A Kiss“.

and if you find the critical essay interesting and would like to read it, you can email me and I can send you the file.

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My last day in Brighton


Brighton's beach

Brighton’s beach

It is my last day  in Brighton. When I first arrived, a year ago, I was kind of excited about doing my MA. Few days after my arrival, I was homesick and crying in my room. I don’t know why, but I was very stressed out back then. There were several things that I had to take care of but couldn’t figure out immediately. I had to complete my registration, open a bank account, figure out my classes schedule, figure out transportations to the city, buy a new laptop, get a phone card, and configure the internet connection on my phone and ipad. Everything felt so damn difficult, and not knowing anyone, I felt very lonely.

I thought that things would get better once I start attending my classes, but it actually got worse. I was there, sitting in a class of psychoanalysis with around another 14 students. They all looked young, European, and smart! They all had a bachelor degree in English Literature whereas mine was computer science (from Jordan’s university long long time ago). I never studied Literature, and had no idea what ‘critical thinking’ means. I was excited about the creative, wanted to read and write fiction and improve my writing skills. I didn’t really understand the nature of the course before joining, and I take full blame of that. It is split between the creative and the critical. Now I see the importance of it. But at that time, when I started reading different critical essays, I used to understand little, and in class, I used to stay silent, trying to understand the course of discussion and the different accents of the students. The fact that they could read different dimensions of a text which I could barely understand its meaning used to scare me out. Even the silent ones, whom I initially thought were less smart (like me), felt to be brilliant once they spoke up!

Two to three weeks down the line, I remember sitting there thinking to myself. I left my family, my friends and all the people who I love. I left my comfortable life, the sense of achievement I had back then after the success of Aroos Amman, and my well paying job. I left all of that to become a student again, at the age of 34 walking down the campus around 18-22 students and some postgraduates in their early twenties! I thought that I left everything for nothing as I became convinced that I am not getting much of the course and that there is no way that I could make it and pass. The thought of withdrawing from the course and the scholarship crossed my mind.

I was wrong. I learnt a lot. I had to endure several months till the end of the first term to gain back some confidence in my ability to make it. I enjoyed reading psychoanalysis and utopian/dystopian novels. I enjoyed the discussions that took place in classes even though I remained shy from participating in them. I thought that I had done a good job for the term papers and was happy to pass. On the personal side, I started to develop some friendships and became less lonely. I figured out everything I needed to live here and felt less stressed. Still, for few months, I used to open up my eyes at night hoping to see myself back in my room in Amman.

My visits to Jordan helped a lot. I went back for few days in late October to participate in Seven’s play. I went back for a month on Christmas holidays and another month for the Easter holidays. Those were refreshing times where you realise that things are still the same back home and that I haven’t lost anything. Though now it feels the year has passed very fast, the first couple of weeks felt like years for me.

I am usually a happy person and I don’t indulge myself in stressful thoughts. That’s why I couldn’t understand the way I felt at the beginning of my arrival here. I fought for this scholarship for many years. I dreamt about doing my MA in the UK. I was bored after many years of working and needed a break. I loved reading and writing and was looking forward to a year full of it. It was everything that I wanted. But it also turned into ‘be careful what you wish for’, and all I wished for was going back home.

Fast forward, I am going back home tomorrow, and I am happy about it. Things have gotten much better here for me. I developed some good friendships that would last for life. I met some amazing people whom I’d always love and remember. I learned many things; I could feel an improvement in the way I think, talk and write. I am not sure if I could say that Brighton became to feel like a second home, I do love this place now and I know that I am going to miss it. But what I am pretty sure about, and can say it in a full mouth: there is nothing like home 🙂

I am happy for getting done with my MA and returning back home. I am gonna miss so many people here, but excited to see lots of other waiting for me.