I’m going to be interviewed on Shelagh Rogers radio show The Next Chapter tomorrow. It’s on CBC, which stands for Canadian Broadcasting Company and is national.

It’s not the first time I’ve been on her show.

But the first time was a different show. Years ago, when she was host of Sounds like Canada she was doing a piece on the largest school in Canada, Thorncliffe Park P.S. and she had me on.

Thorncliffe Park is full of immigrant kids. I’d actually say that South Asian kids are the majority there. And the ambience of the place is phenomenal. The teachers are so friendly, the librarian is amazing, I’ve always had a fantastic time when I’ve gone to visit.

I got to meet her and her staff there in the revamped library and I read my book The Roses in My Carpets on air.

It’s funny how things lead one into another.

A lady, driving her car, heard me telling the story on air, she told me later she had to pull over because she was crying so hard.

She just happened to belong on the board of a local branch of Toastmasters, you know that public speaking group. Well she managed to convince them to give me their annual International Communication and Leadership award.

It seems fitting that tomorrow I’ll be talking about a book that grew out of The Roses in My Carpets.

It’s Wanting Mor  that I’ve been invited to talk about.

Shelagh read it and apparently loved it and will be asking me all kinds of stuff about it.

Yes, I’m nervous.

But I heard one storyteller say that being nervous is actually a good sign.

It means you respect your audience.

But you know what? I’m not *too* nervous.

Easier said than done, I know.

When I first went on T.V. and radio, my nerves would often get the better of me. I’d stumble over words, I’d feel the hot lights, so many times I had the terrible sensation of having a very dry mouth and yet needing to pee at the same time.

I was deathly afraid of making a complete fool of myself or being ambushed.

When I was growing up, there’d be times in the classroom, when someone would say something, often a pretty innocuous comment, and the smart alec, the joker in the class, would turn it around to be an insult at me.

The teacher would be helpless to stop the guffaws as everyone stared at me, laughed at me, and pointed their fingers at me. I would burst into tears and run from the room.

It would happen about once or twice a year. Of course the teacher would give them a stern talking to and detentions, but I guess the jokers thought it was worth it, because they’d do it again.

Ever since I decided to get published and promote my work, including public presentations, my worst nightmare was a scenario when people were ganging up on me. When they were laughing at me and there was nothing I could do.

A few years ago, my worst case scenario came true. It was on a local channel on a kind of talk show. The host was a bit of a loose cannon. I’d been on the show a few times and this time the issues being discussed were about Afghanistan. I assumed they were calling me because of my book The Roses in my Carpets.

The producer even told me, “Don’t worry, it won’t be confrontational.”

I was the only Muslim on the panel. And it ended up to be a show on the transgressions of the Taliban.

I was called upon to defend every atrocity that had ever been committed against women, in the name of Islam.

And the worst thing was two of the ladies on the panel were also South Asian but they had some kind of bigotry against Islam and Muslims and even as I was answering their charges, trying to explain Muslim perspectives, they were snickering and giggling, laughing while I was talking.

And during the commercial breaks I kept turning to the host saying, “I feel like I’m under attack!” He just smiled and said, “Nonsense. You’re doing fine.”

Even the driver, who drove me home after the ordeal, said he’d been watching it all and had called it bad form and felt sorry for me.

It was my worst nightmare.

But what it taught me was that I survived. And I had held my own. I had not buckled under the pressure.

My heart had been palpitating, my breath had been coming in shallow gasps, but I had survived.

I’ve always been a firm believer in the old adage that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission.

And I felt certain that this whole scenario had been conducted in a very unprofessional manner. They had acted shabbily. I had not. Under the onslaught I had simply held to my principles irregardless of the fact that this was not the venue that would lead to any kind of understanding or intelligent discussion.

The next day I called up the producer and I told her, “I thought you said it wouldn’t be confrontational!”

She had nothing to say, and suddenly I felt a little sorry for her. I thought she was embarrassed. It probably was a spontaneous thing her loose cannon of a boss decided to do on the spur of the moment.

Then I told that producer, “You know, if you’d told me I’d be called upon to talk about every atrocity that’s ever been committed in the name of Islam, I still would have come. But at least I would have prepared myself.”

Then I hung up the phone and every time they’ve called me to come back on that show, I’ve refused.

But in hindsight, it was a blessing.

It’s powerful to think that I experienced my worst case scenario, and I survived.

I believe the outcome of tomorrow’s interview is already written. I believe that the first thing God created was the pen and he ordered it to write everything that would ever happen.

Not a leaf falls, not a bird sings, except that it is recorded in a book.

So why should I worry?

If tomorrow brings good for me, then that is God’s will. If it brings harm to me, then there’s no way of avoiding that either.

But really, Shelagh Rogers is no loose cannon!!!

She’s as nice as they come.