BW's Treefort 2019 Playlist: Reema Zaman and Writing as an Antidote to Female Silence 

click to enlarge Reema Zaman spoke at Storyfort on March 22.

Harrison Berry

Reema Zaman spoke at Storyfort on March 22.

Once all the doors into the former restaurant space in The Owyhee had been sealed, Reema Zaman started speaking—and even then, only to call for a moment of silence and meditation.

"Here are some suggested offerings," she said. "I am rising. I am still. I am. I am my own."

It was March 22, and outside was the tempest of Treefort Music Fest 2019, but in under a minute, Zaman had complete control over her surroundings, and she began to talk about the people in her life who had tried to silence her, part of her Storyfort talk, "Reema Zaman: A Shared Memoir."

"I wrote I Am Yours to honor the resilience of women," she said.

First, it was her father, who was born into a heavily patriarchal culture. Then, it was the looming presence of a family member whose behavior toward children was overlooked by other adults. There was a faculty member at her high school who stalked her, and an ex-husband. Their abuse, and attempted abuses, all demanded one thing in order to take place.

"For the architecture to continue, it needed my silence," Zaman said.

Zaman is the author of I Am Yours, which she describes as a "shared memoir"—"shared," because much of its subject matter will be familiar to female readers, and other readers from marginalized communities, for whom the stifling of expression is a pillar of oppression.

"I hold a history of wound upon wound inflicted upon women," she said.

A centerpiece of the book, and Zaman's discussion, was her husband, who daily reminded her that their marriage was "for greensies, not for realzies," a reference to her Green Card, and began a "campaign" for her to allow him to have mistresses. During their relationship, she began to write, and through writing and communication, she found the strength to leave her husband and pursue the life she lives today.

"To speak is a revolution, and it was time to ignite mine," she said. "By speaking, I became a fire he could not contain."

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