IN the midst of a worldwide pandemic which has changed the way we work, connect, communicate and recreate, we could all use some comfort right now.
Motivational speaker and author Caron Asgarali is working on a collection of stories that will have the same comforting effect on readers as a hot cup of cocoa on a rainy day.
The anthology of short inspirational stories aptly titled Hot Cocoa on a Rainy Day: Stories to Warm your Heart is written by Asgarali and other local contributors.
“Readers would be treated to an explosion of warmth and fine-fla-voured (pun intended) writing that will touch their hearts on a literal and figurative rainy day,” says Asgarali.
Asgarali knows only too well the healing power that words can have. She has authored two books From Lion to Lamb: A Spiritual Journey and Bounce Back Better in which she shared the principles that helped her to heal after she was the victim of a violent attack on her life back in 2013. She also founded the programme “Raising Awareness of the Ripple Effects of Gun Violence” (RARE) with the intention of promoting awareness of the devastating consequences of gun violence. Her personal mission to educate young ones about the effects of gun violence on individuals, families and communities has earned her international recognition. In 2018 she was selected as one of BBC’s 20 Outlook Inspirations and she received an award for determination from the Amway Corporation in Dallas, Texas in 2019.
Encouraged to tell their stories
Being vocal about the trauma that Asgarali endured has given people the courage to open up about their own life experiences. Many people who approached Asgarali with their own stories of survival expressed an interest in getting their stories out - but didn’t know how to go about doing so. That motivated Asgarali to do a collection of stores that would give male and female writers from various upbringings and backgrounds the opportunity to share their experiences on paper.
“I wanted to limit the stories to writers living in T&T because I felt that the stories needed to capture and reflect the warmth and resilience of our people. I don’t think we as a people realise just how resilient we are,”adds Asgarali.
When it came to deciding what the book’s title would be, Asgarali settled on Hot Cocoa on a Rainy Day. Stories to Warm your Heart fairly quickly.
“I don’t think there is a country or culture that doesn’t understand the feeling of comfort that a hot cocoa can bring on a rainy day. The stories are meant to inspire readers even if it’s raining in your heart,”she said
Asgarali opens Hot Cocoa on a Rainy Day with a heart-tugging story “Together we are Powerful’”which is set on a cocoa estate in Ecclesville, Rio Claro. It’s of a woman who had challenges from birth but was able to overcome them all. Today she advocates for the rights of those in the cocoa community. The stories are simply told and cover a variety of issues; one writer shares his experience helping people who live below the poverty line in Marabella, another writer opens up about how she overcame health challenges. Included in the book is the story of one person’s experience with deception in the workplace. There is the gut-wrenching true story of one woman who was undergoing cancer treatment when her daughter was violently assaulted. And another writer reveals the effects of child abuse on their personal and family life.
Each story is a tale of survival and resilience. Putting their thoughts and emotions in writing was a form of therapy for the contributors themselves, says Asgarali.
“Personally speaking when I first started writing, I never looked at it as therapy. But then I realised that writing allowed me to put down certain feelings on paper that I would not tell anyone else. Writing may not be for everyone but there is scientific evidence that suggests that reflective writing - which is writing and constructing your words in a meaningful way, can help you to heal,” she says.
Hot Cocoa on a Rainy Day: Stories to Warm your Heart will be published soon. Until then, Asgarali is sharing video trailers of each story on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/setforlifetraining