Memoir Excerpts: Anita Nahal

Book Excerpt: ‘Smile, Breathe & laugh Off a Layoff’


[Precarity of my life was not unique, so I decided to share in case someone would benefit.]

I have often thought of writing my memoir. Somehow, I keep putting it off, believing folks might not wish to read the memoir of an unknown literary figure. Or, unknown any figure! Don’t I need some national and international awards? Don’t I need accolades and throngs interested in absorbing eagerly all I share about my life…the lulls, the climaxes, the runs, the holding on to peace? Also, each time I write a poem or story, or my just completed novel, the words, lines, paras, stanzas and pages carry snippets of me, maybe in bits and pieces, but I’m there. Still, of course, these are fictional by definition.

However, circumstances compel us occasionally to share our own life, as is, without masking, alterations or transcribing, with the innate conviction that sharing would not only be cathartic, but it might help someone in a similar situation.

Between July 2011 and January 2012, in a short span of six months, I was laid off twice from Howard University, Washington DC. First from my position as Acting Director of International and Women’s Studies Programs. When this happened, I’d been at the University for nine years. Just prior to joining the university I had made the gigantic decision to resign from my tenured professorship at one of the colleges in the University of Delhi, and left India with my young son in search of a better and peaceful life for ourselves. The first lay off came as a huge shock…another ginormous change to respond to and handle.

Jacket of the book
Then, a crazy turn of fate brought me back to the university a couple of months later in November 2011 on a much-elevated position and much higher salary as the Assistant Provost for International Programs in the Provost’s office. I felt valued again. Secure again. Told my anxious son, not to worry…things will be okay again. And then only two months later, in January 2012 when the Provost who hired me resigned from the university, everyone he had brought back from the first lay off, or hired directly, were laid off. For me it became my second lay off. I was broken. I wallowed in self-pity. I cried. I felt lost. Especially since moving from India ten years earlier had already taken a heavy toll on emotional well-being, not to mention financial stability. However, I had no choice but to get past this as well. I wasn’t going to vegetate and fall or fail miserably and stop being a strong woman, a brave single mother role model for my son and many more. So, I wrote a small book called, Smile, Breathe and Laugh Off A Lay Off. I shared it and shared it and gave free copies to whomsoever came along my path, employed, unemployed or having other problems confronting them. 

On each page there is a tip on how to uplift oneself and there is a quote on each page too from a well-known person. Also, on each page, I wrote either, SMILE, BREATHE OR LAUGH…epitomizing, repeatedly, the title of the book.

It was not easy writing this book as I was putting out my vulnerabilities not knowing how people would respond. But I inherently believed, I was putting out my strength as well. Here are a few pages from the book:

And so on. Some things mentioned in the book are specific to the Washington metro area where I lived at the time. Folks can substitute with those from where they live. Primarily, the objective of sharing this book was that life is precious and yes, changes happen, however, as long as we and our loved ones are healthy and safe, all else…broken marriages, lost jobs, change of homes, and so forth, can be dealt with, if we so chose.

Here is a link for the PDF of the book:

And a link to an interview in Image-in-Asian: 

Bio: Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP is a poet, professor, short story writer, flash fictionist, children’s books author, and D&I consultant. Currently she teaches at the University of the District of Columbia, Washington DC. Besides academic publications, her creative books include, two volumes of poetry, Hey...Spilt milk is spilt, nothing else (2018) and Initiations (1988), a collection of flash fictions, Life on the go-Flash fictions from New Delhi to America (2018), and three children’s books: I love Mummy and other new nursery rhymesWhen I Grow Up and other new nursery rhymes and The Greedy Green Parrot and Other Stories (1993-1995). Her poems and stories can be found in national and international journals including, Aberration Labyrinth, Better Than Starbucks, Aaduna, River Poets Journal, Colere, Setu, Poetryspective, and in a number of Medium publications in the US, Confluence in the UK, Lapis Lazuli in Asia and The Burrow in Australia. Nahal received an honorable mention in the 2017 Concrete Wolf Chapbook competition. Nahal is co-editor (with Roopali Sircar Gaur) of the anthology, In All The Spaces-Diverse Voices In Global Women's Poetry (2020). She is also a guest contributing editor for aaduna journal and is co-host of the monthly online creative series, Tan Doori Gup Shup. Nahal is the daughter of Indian novelist and professor, Late Dr. Chaman Nahal, and her mother, Late Dr. Sudarshna Nahal was an educationist, author and principal of a K-12 school. Originally from New Delhi, India, Anita Nahal resides in the US. Her family include her son, daughter-in-law and their golden doodle. For more on Anita: 

No comments :

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।