In my book, The Other Side of the Mirror, the main character is dealing with an autoimmune skin disease called Alopecia Areata. It causes hair loss on various parts of your body. “Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system mistakes the normal cells in your body as foreign invaders and attacks these cells.” What causes alopecia areata. For my character Volana, she has hair loss on her scalp at the back of her head. Volana’s parents noticed these symptoms when she was in primary school. There were small patches of at the back of her head, but then the hair grew back after a couple months. Unfortunately, the symptoms came back after she graduated university. More hair falls out this time and most of the bottom half of her hair is gone. Her parents, thinking it’s genetic, tells her she is adopted. She has a challenging time dealing with this. As a Queen, all eyes are on her and she is afraid of being ridiculed and embarrassed over her hair loss. She starts wearing head scarfs which is normal in a lot of African countries so no one suspects much. Though, there are some people who are suspicious of her reasoning for wearing the scarves on and off.
Alopecia is not exactly inherited. There may be a parent with alopecia, but it doesn’t mean the child will too. In my story, Volana’s mother also has alopecia and I did that to make the story a little more interesting. Environmental factors also play a part in whether a person will develop it. There isn’t a cure for this disease, but people do try different medications and natural herbs to help with hair growth. Depending on a person’s level of alopecia, they may have total hair loss all over their body, or just in one place. It is possible for hair to grow back. Some people with total hair loss on their scalp wear wigs or scarves/bandannas. For Volana, the third time around, the hair on her scalp doesn’t grow back as quickly as before and she learns to accept herself even without most of her hair.
Next Wednesday’s topic is on Gangs and how they operate for my story, Deeper into Danger.
I’m sure everyone has heard of the movie Madagascar, but how many of you know the people and the rich culture that resides on the island? I started writing this story in high school for my creative writing class. I wanted to choose a country that I didn’t know and could learn more about, so I chose Madagascar. They call America a melting a pot, but Madagascar is a true cultural melting pot with people’s ancestors ranging from Africa, Southeast Asia, the Oceania, and the Middle East/Northern Africa. These backgrounds bring different elements together to create the Malagasy culture. It’s a place I plan on visiting one day.
My story is called the Other Side of the Mirror and it’s about a woman with Alopecia Areata- an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss- who found out she is adopted. Living in Tanzania with her adoptive parents, Volana sets out to Madagascar by herself to find her family and a cure for the disease. Her search becomes futile unfortunately, and she begins to lose hope. She expected to find her parents waiting for her, but that wasn’t the case. What she didn’t expect was to fall in love and become Queen of Fleur Fanjakana (Flower Kingdom) living in a grand castle, being tended to by maids and servants. It sounds great huh? Even with all the wonderful things she has now, Volana is still dealing with Alopecia, and her parents are still nowhere to be found.
Madagascar was a French colony that gained independence on June 26th, 1960. Their official languages are French and Malagasy. They have a thriving culture that is created from various backgrounds. The Malagasy ancestors came mostly from Africa and Asia. Their physical appearances vary with some regions with people who have more Asian features, African features, and/or Arab features. It’s very interesting how this mixture came about, with the different people groups settling on this island and living amongst each other. “Despite racial differences, Malagasy people share a common culture (practised with regional differences) and language.” Our Africa- Madagascar. They have more than a dozen ethnic groups on the island, yet they haven’t allowed their differences whether physical or cultural, stop them from creating a common culture for all to share. The Malagasy language is also very beautiful. It includes French, Bantu, and even Swahili words in it. Their words sound fancy and poetic. I want to use it in my story, but finding a credible translation might be difficult.
I never learned anything about Madagascar in school. Their history is something I would love to learn in school and it should be taught. Learning about a country with this type of history is important. I plan on incorporating their culture into my story and having a proper representation of the Malagasy people. That is the best part about being a writer. I don’t write just to create a story, but to also learn something new.
This Saturday the topic is on Alopecia Areata.
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