Yes I've attended colleges and universities and have some sheets of papers that have some names of degrees printed on them, gathering dust somewhere in some cupboard that defies a kingdom of termites out of sheer fear of my mother.
But I'm not talking about that education. I'm talking about my miseducation. The one that I could have almost missed. The one that's cleverly hidden away until we look in the unlikeliest of places. It's really like finding a lion in a teacup.
Miseducation Number 1.
Theatre. Had I not been involved with it since an early age, I wouldn't have understood words the way I continue to. I would have been literate but not truly educated. Thank you script, stage, sound, lights and costume. You have been my toys and my weapons and I owe you much.
Miseducation Number 2.
Manooghi Hi. Music is looked upon as entertainment. As a hobby. As a passion. Rarely a job. Never a miseducation. But this band is miseducation at its best. It seduced me, in the last few years to re-examine old theories, concepts, even distorted words, corrupted ideas, birthed sound with a screech that left me cross-eyed between desire and disgust. This band of crazy, wonderful, miraculous, hopeful losers, taught me things about my own job, my beliefs and then rattled every part of my brain into unlearning it. I don't know how and why they do it and how the hell they find the strength and drive that allows them not just to be fabulous musicians but to really educate, teach, impart and colour the world they touch, in the most brilliant paroxysms of sound and word. Thank you Mehnaz, Todd, Ava, Hollis, Jimmy, Jarrod, Kent. You are the actual spelling of Hope and Joy.
Miseducation Number 3.
Teaching India. From a tiny volunteering teaching job to being a guest lecturer at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Hyderabad, teaching is the biggest miseducation of all. We know nothing is a phrase that pops out in particular. The youth, the biggest know-it-all group in the world is a hungry predator and if you're not practising the kill, they'll chew you up and spit you out with their thousands of questions and why nots. I owe them all a debt of gratitude for re-educating me about education and teaching and the courage, discipline and fun that are prerequisites. Degrees are for sale. Those are not. Thank you, Nishrin and all the students. Even the ones who dozed in class or texted behind a book. Yup, I knew. I just need to teach better.
Miseducation Number 4.
Kristin Pedroja. Yes, that's right. One person. When we met. 2003. Number of times we've met since then. Zero. Number of times we've collaborated on ideas, taught, critiqued, cajoled, helped, exposed, trashed, praised and assisted in nothing less than a PhD in 'The Thankless Pains Of Writing.' 987,654,321. A tiny woman who's so tall, it's hard for me to imagine not walking with that shadow by my side as I toil over each sentence, punctuation and character. She is proof that no publisher, no literary agent, no appointed editor can do for your writing what a writer who really loves to write, read and selflessly share her brain, can. Thank you, Kristin. You're really one of my Tall Women.
And thus continues the Miseducation of Miss Kamal for which she's truly grateful. These are not paper degrees nor are they merit badges. They are simply what allow me to find and refine my unique expression. And then try to find a word that's not as un-unique as unique.