Perito: Welcome to Episode 3 of the Perito Prize Podcast 2020, a special Podcast series all about celebrating the writing and creativity for this year’s Perito prize and anthology. In this episode we are pleased to be joined by Fatema Matin, who entered her short story “The Little Black Stool” into the Perito Prize 2020 and came third. Fatema’s story can be found on the general section of the Perito website. Hiya Fatema.
Fatema: Hi thanks for having me James.
Perito: (0.26) Well it was great to have you on the Podcast before we kick off though let’s get a warmup question out of the oven for you, what appears in your opinion more important ambition, talent or opportunity? Put luck in brackets there.
Fatema: I think it’s a combination of all three, the way I see it what happens to us how and why it’s such a complex phenomenon, I mean I believe that God is the best of planners in the religion that I follow but at the same time God doesn’t change the conditional of people who don’t change themselves you have to take action and make an effort, we have another saving that tells “you shouldn’t leave your camels free to roam and trust blindly in God to keep them safe”.
Perito: That’s a nice saying.
Fatema: Yeah definitely, you should tie your camel up and then trust in God more wisely, it’s a delicate balance of hard work and faith. Sometimes things happen for you and sometimes they don’t, that doesn’t mean that you do or don’t deserve them it’s the will of God so I have quite a religious outlook but it doesn’t really answer the question I’m afraid but sometimes life’s like that, it’s about the questions as well as the answers.
Perito: (1.42) What made you enter the Perito prize and how did you find out about it?
Fatema: I done a search for writing competitions based in the UK to participate in because I really enjoy creative writing, I came across the Perito prize and I really related to the theme because inclusive it’s just not an important part of life practically but it’s an important value as well, we should include people whoever they are and make them feel included.
Perito: (2.11) Some people may not have read your story yet, but I really liked the way it showcases inclusive technology so well, tell us what “The Little Black Stool” is all about.
Fatema: I think on the surface the story is about a little black stool and about how technology for accessibility it is this whole range of equipment that sometimes needs to be state of the art but sometimes it can be as simple as a single moulded piece of plastic, on top of that it’s about the everyday frustrations that we might experience when things aren’t accessible when perhaps they should be and coping with feelings of being different.
Perito: (2.45) Brilliant thank you very much that is very nicely said. Now as you know the Perito prize is dedicated to inclusion access and inclusive environments. Did you find the topic difficult to write about?
Fatema: Actually, yes it was very personal to me, I think it was a bit of a raw emotion because I don’t like feeling different to everyone else, it’s not a part of myself I ever like to talk about or even really think about, it’s as if I can ignore what makes me different then I can pretend that those differences don’t exist. It was also a little bit difficult because I have quite a determined streak if I can do something by myself I will even if the technology to make it easier isn’t there because I hate to depend on other people because I don’t want to put them out. I remember once bringing a Carrom board home by myself on the bus, if you haven’t see one before a Carrom Board is a game played on a square of wood about 4’ by 4’ so it’s pretty much as tall as I am but when I got home my family were just like how, how did you bring this home but I’m just that wilful so I found a way.
Perito: (3.55) What’s the most valuable thing about going through this process for you?
Fatema: I think the most valuable thing about this writing process was it encouraged me to be more grateful about how accessible the country that we live in really is because I know that it’s not the same across the world unfortunately everyone doesn’t have a friendly and helpful attitude to people who are atypical, that appreciation of each person and that it isn’t universal so it’s something that I really should be thankful for.
Perito: (4.27) Your story is already a great example of how even the small things, well designed, fit for purpose can make an amazing impact on people’s lives but has the prize made you think any differently about how inclusive and accessible like you mentioned about the UK but how we can go about changing the rest of the world or helping the rest of the world to become more inclusive and accessible?
Fatema: I’m not sure about whether it’s made me think differently but I think it’s definitely brought to my attention the impact that accessibility technology has on people’s lives, some people use it for certain tasks only and other people use it every day for operating other reasons but however it’s being used this technology is an important part of people’s’ lives, writing the story’s made me think about the significant impact that even the simplest of tools now for example, I’m a School Librarian and I recently put together a small section of Dyslexia friendly books. To someone who doesn’t have Dyslexia it may not look very different, the colour of the page is very subtly different and we may not think twice about the font but for someone who is struggling with Dyslexia that might make a really big difference to them so it’s really brought accessible technology to my attention in that way.
Perito: (5.52) Do you come across Dyslexia a lot when you’re, as a Librarian?
Fatema: Unfortunately, I haven’t had that personal experience with children who have Dyslexia because the Coronavirus Pandemic it kicked in just a matter of weeks after I started so my role now there’s not much face-to-face contact and there’s not much physical contact on resources as well that has kept to a minimum so I don’t have as much experience than maybe I’d want.
Perito: (6.27) As a Dyslexic I think everything that schools can do to aid this is brilliant. Finally then Fatema any recommendations or tips for people entering next year?
Fatema: I think I’d like to give encouragement rather than recommendations, I mean I don’t envy those who had the role of picking the winners, that must be such a hard decision to make I don’t think I could do it but just have a go at expressing yourself, even if it feels like you don’t have any idea just jot things down feelings, words, thoughts, any other ideas that a feeling brings to mind then you can start to see the links and connections between them and you can bring them together into something more solid.
Perito: (7.06) I think that is brilliant and I like the idea of the encouragement angle as well. Well it’s been brilliant to find out more about you and your story but now it’s time to sign off and tell listeners about the anthology which is available from Amazon around the world and as well as the audio book which will feature Fatema’s work alongside a variety of other entries from the 2020 competition. This will be available on Audible and other audio book sites, thanks again to our special guest Fatema Matin author of “The Little Black Stool”.
Fatema: Thanks again for having me it has been a pleasure.
Perito: It is an absolute pleasure as well Fatema now you’ve been tuning into the Perito 2020 Podcast special edition thanks for listening everyone everywhere.