Writing short stories in her own language helped this immigrant cope with starting a new life in Canada

posted on January 7, 2022

Dan McGarvey | CBC News | December 24, 2021

Shahitha Maideen’s book is called The Island Of Dreams

Shahitha Maideen fell in love with writing when she was growing up in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

It wasn’t until years later, when she found herself struggling to settle in a new country, that she rediscovered that love of writing as a way to cope with starting a new chapter of her life.

In 2010, she had just arrived in Canada and found herself home alone with a new baby, isolated and falling into a depression. Like many immigrants, she missing her friends and family back home.

“I was sitting at home taking care of my five-month-old baby. You are all by yourself, it was winter, there was snow and no place to go out. I was a bit depressed at that time,” said the Calgary resident.

She started writing a blog, called My World, and then started to write short stories. She says writing was therapeutic.

“When I faced this situation, these challenges, I realized I had to open my mind and I had to express myself.”

Now she’s publishing her first book, The Island of Dreams, based on her experiences of being a newcomer in Canada.

It’s all written in her first language of Malayalam.

“It was a very hard decision for me because I’m a very attached person to my homeland,” said Maideen, talking about leaving India.

Maideen now works for the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, helping new arrivals settle in the city.

Her collection of 40 short stories is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, spanning the time period between 2010 and 2020.

She says some of her stories are based on real life experiences but told through characters and different locations, covering a range of issues experienced by immigrant women.

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