Destiny is a neutral party in all our lives, no matter where we fall on any spectrum. It’s an unbiased witness to our universe. One who has seen it all and doesn’t have a stake in lying about what they’ve observed.
In light of this I felt that Destiny could have a stronger impact in sharing the refugee story in A Land of Permanent Goodbyes, particularly because the tale is told through divergent angles and many different characters – the refugees, the helpers and the hunters. Destiny touches all our lives whether it is for the good or the bad. We can’t avoid her and therefore Destiny can’t evade us either. She’s also a witness to our history. Every generation believes that we are the greatest that the world has seen and at the same time the worst it has seen. Destiny knows humanity better than any historian who reads about our past because she’s witnessed it. She’s seen how our own ancestors were once the refugees of war, poverty or oppression. She has then seen the descendants of some of these people turn around and become the oppressors.
At first I was afraid to use Destiny as the narrator for A Land of Permanent Goodbyes, but once I started writing the book I realized there is no better entity to tell the story. In life, for some people it is very difficult to put oneself in another’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. It’s also challenging to share your struggles with others who you feel would not understand it, or even judge you for them. Each and every one of us also has thoughts and secrets that we are afraid to express. In terms of this novel I think that Destiny could be that voice for each character so they don’t have the opportunity to hide behind the protective wall all humans construct.
In my first novel The Secret Sky, I had three different characters and told each of their stories in a first person narrative. For that novel I figured that was the best way for the reader to really put themselves into the village in Afghanistan it was based in. But for A Land of Permanent Goodbyes the story takes place beyond just one town or village or even country. The refugee crisis has tentacles that spread everywhere and across time, particularly in the story I’m sharing. I did consider narrating it in the third person without Destiny but I truly believe she is a reminder of our humanity and the consequences of our actions as individuals and as a global community.