I became a storyteller by accident. It all began in Mexico where I attended university and where I learned to accept the supernatural as a normal part of life. From the revered opinions of the local witch, to the preparation of meals for dead grandmothers, I learned to see the world through a surrealist's eyes and I came to understand that things are not always what they seem.
Later, on my way to attend a university in France, I traveled to Morocco. I stopped at a marketplace in Marrakesh and while eating my lunch of dates and oranges, I watched a tattered beggar transform himself into a storyteller. He moved with the practiced gestures and fantastic expressions of his trade, surrounded by a growing circle of people who listened to him with eyes wide open, their own lives forgotten. In another culture, at another time he might have been a rich man, but here he was selling beautiful tales for coins in the dusty marketplace. I longed to be like him, this mendicant from Marrakesh.
Years later, I moved to Tokyo to teach and write articles for The Tokyo Weekender Magazine. Every day I traveled the crowded trains, sharing space and breath with millions of strangers. There amid the crushing humanity, I watched the surreal combinations of east and west in language and life, the painful and beautiful growth that occurs when two cultures collide. I witnessed two public suicides, and felt firsthand not only the temporality of life but also the beauty of a single moment.
The time spent crushed between strangers, doors and windows of the train became a quiet meditative place where I learned to accept life and death. There on that Tokyo train, I began to write novels in my head, while that tattered beggar from Marrakesh, who had captivated me years before, whispered in my ear like a nagging dead man, “Tell me a story.”
K. Ford K. is the author of two novels as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles.