By Norm Richards
I attended a remarkable event last evening. The Winnipeg launch of A Thousand Farewells by Nahlah Ayed. Just in case you don't know who she is, I'll tell you. I'm a sucker for a pretty woman. I've always been. But I'm even more smitten by a pretty woman with brains. Somewhere during the wars of the middle east and subsequent stories, I watched on CBC Television's The National with Peter Mansbridge, I noticed a young reporter bringing assertive reports to us from the middle east. She spoke very good English and yet she had an Arabic name. The language dichotomy caught my attention. I watched her reports. She seemed informed. She had the inside story and gave solid reports. I was impressed every time I saw her report. I'm not sure when I learned she came from Winnipeg. I never went out of my way to find out but in a way it made sense.
Winnipeg is a city of many languages and cultures, afterall, we celebrate it each summer with Folkarama. I enjoyed Nahlah's reports. I thought if she spoke their language, it gave CBC crediblity for choicing her as a reporter. It gave her a great chance to not only prove she could do the job but to excell at it was great praise to her. I thought to myself, I'd like to know her. I thought I would like to meet her. Well, last night I got to meet her for the first time. I wasn't surprised by the huge reception she received in launching her new book at McNally Robinson Booksellers, Grant Park.
The respect I had for her television work was noticed by many others judging by the big turnout this night. They came and purchased her book and had her sign it. I stood in line for the signing. That's something I'd never done before. I buy a lot of book but usually do it in my own time. She was warm and attentive to those who reached her signing table. It was hot and the line was long. The sun shining through the west atrium made things even hotter.
Nevertheless, Nahlah's parents stood at her side. I got to greet them and shake their hand. I told Nahlah my book was being sold in this store as well. I wasn't as fortunate to have my parents accompany my book signing. They had passed on before my book was released. Nahlah was moved I said that. Earlier, Wayne R. Warren noticed me in line at the same time I noticed him. We both contribute stories at North Roots Magazine. He said he'd be pleased to snap a picture on my behalf when I got to meet Ms. Ayed. I asked Nahlah if she wouldn't mind posing for a photo. She accepted and Wayne was good at making us both smile. Here is the result. I loved meeting Nahlah Ayed. It was a magic moment. I hope you agree?