How Writing YA Novels Helped Me Find the Forgotten Parts of Me, a guest post by Sabina Khan

I was probably 10 years old when I watched my first Bollywood movie and I’ve been hooked ever since. Most of my friends made fun of the cheesy dialogues and musical numbers, but the dazzling outfits, stunningly beautiful heroines and haunting lyrics had me completely hooked from the first moment. I became an undiscerning consumer of Bollywood films, waiting impatiently for the time when the latest movies would become available on VHS, since they weren’t allowed to be shown in theaters in Bangladesh when I was growing up there. At the same time, I watched Hollywood movies with equal enthusiasm, eager to learn about the lives of ordinary teens in America.

Fast forward a decade and a half and I was living in the US in the 90s with no easy access to Bollywood films and no real representation in books or other media. It was very lonely, feeling as if no one could see the real me. Instead, I presented a version of myself that was easy for my neighbors and acquaintances to accept, someone who wasn’t too foreign, but just enough to seem interesting. I was trying to build a life with my young family and that seemed to be the right way to fit in at the time. But I missed the unannounced drop-ins of friends and relatives, the dinners that lasted for hours and the week-long weddings when aunts and cousins ​​descended upon one relative’s home and we all stayed up late into the night, laughing and singing preparation whiles were going on. I missed the melodrama of Bollywood movies which was sometimes not that different from the real life drama of our families. There were times I was desperately homesick, even though I also loved the new life I was building.