Recently I had the pleasure of reading ‘On two feet and Wings’ , (this book was published in the USA in 2008 under the title 'The Little Man') an immensely heartwarming story of a 9 year old boy’s journey from Iran to the UK. I couldn’t help but remember the oft repeated quote from Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility” but the 9 year old shows “With great responsibility comes great power” and that too with so much positivity and presence of mind.
This book is the author’s true story. Just close to his tenth birthday Abbas has to leave his parents and flee Tehran. The Iran-Iraq war has reached its bloodiest and the age of recruitment in the Iran army has been reduced. If Abbas doesn’t leave soon he will have to go to war. His ultimate destination is to reach London for which he will have to go to Istanbul to get a visa. On reaching Istanbul, Abbas shows exemplary courage and has no other option but take charge of his life and do the job he has to do. He has to learn difficult things-how to live on his own, how to make his way around the city and most importantly, how to judge who he can trust and who he cannot.
A story that will tug every mother’s heart and make every child believe that they have it in them to surpass all obstacles that come their way.
The Book Lovers blog posed a few questions to the author on his debut book. Here is what he said:
The book’s journey from being called ‘The Little Man’ to ‘On two feet and Wings’ –
I have to give my Editor Vatsala Kaul Banerjee a lot of credit for this change. At first I was resistant but once I thought about it, it seemed to make a lot of sense. The Little Man is much less evocative, and the new title gives that message of the boy being on his own and small in a big world and yet still gives the message that it was miraculous and full of hope all at the same time.
It was a huge responsibility to shoulder at such a young age, how did you manage to stay so positive throughout?
I think it was my naivete that kept me positive. If I had to endure the same experience at the age of 16, it would have been much harder for me. There were serious low points, don’t get me wrong…like constantly missing my parents and feeling bored and lonely…but as a child I felt like I was there to get a visa and that is what would happen. I was not old enough to constantly think about the negative and the “what ifs.” So I guess the answer is that ironically it was my lack of sophistication that kept me positive!
Did you at any point feel robbed of your childhood? Any regrets?
Yes, all the time. I still feel like I am dealing with that today. By the time that I had abnormal drama in my life I was eighteen. That was the first time I had time to look back and contemplate what I had gone through…and that was the first time I felt sorry for myself. It was not a good time in my life. I knew that this would be a downward spiral and I took action to stop this pattern of behavior. At eighteen I took a year out between school and university and went to teach underprivileged children in Malawi (which at the time was the second poorest country in the world). I lived in a hut with no running water or electricity for 6 months, got malaria in the process and yet it was the one most useful experience in my life. It put my history in perspective. I went home as a different person. That is not to say that I do not feel sad about what I had to endure as a child (like I said, I still have to deal with it) but it made it easier. There is always someone out there that has had it worse.
You handled multiple roles while you were in Turkey, you continue doing the same even now! Besides being a writer you are also a lawyer, actor and producer. How do you manage to wear so many hats?
I have a personality that does not allow me to sit still…sometimes to my detriment. I always have to be doing something. I like to be creative and I am always thinking. I have a pad and pen with me at all times and when ideas come to me, I write them down. I just have a character that once I get an idea in my head, I had to follow through with it. I get tunnel vision! Once I start writing, I do not stop till I have finished. That way I tend to get a lot of things accomplished. But if I am being honest it is my way of coping with a lot of issues…if I am busy, I do not have time to think about them.
I am sure many of the readers who have read the book would be curious to know how ‘the little man’ managed to handle his life in the UK and beyond..
Well, there very well may be a sequel or a whole new book that tells of my life in the UK when I arrived there. The story actually gets more dramatic if you can believe that! The next book will deal with an insensitive guardian and being homeless at a very young age.
Have you signed a movie deal yet for your story?
No…I am still waiting for an offer!
Are you working on another book, could you share more details?
As I mentioned before I will start working on the next book shortly. It will be showing how I survived living a double life, a life of contrasts, one during the day and another at night.
Any message for your young fans.
First and foremost thank you so much for caring and reading my story. I really appreciate anyone who takes the time to read about my story. Second, I just want them to know that irrespective how hard life may seem, if you stick with it and do the right thing, you will get the most from life… just be patient and positive.