The Moth Occasional Magic

The Moth is a series of true stories that are narrated at The Moth gatherings all over the world. These stories reflect the triumph and tribulations that people go through, but there is always some overarching theme of resilience, determination, and passion. The beautiful thing is that there are a wide variety of people sharing their stories- from an American to a Vietnamese, to a Pakistani and a Saudi.

I personally connected with a lot of stories myself, in particular with those who come from a Middle Eastern/ South-Eat Asia/ Far East culture. Following are the stories that I really enjoyed reading.

The Moth dedicates this book to the stories that give us perspective, clarity and hope.

So Much, and Enough by Anais Bordier

This was a perfect story to lure the readers in. A three-year-old Anais lands in Paris from Korea as she is adopted by her family. She eventually moves to London to study fashion design, when a friend sends her a youtube video of a girl who looks exactly like Anais. She is curious and so seeks to find out more about this girl for she thinks this girl is her twin sister. Despite others around her telling that the other girl is a doppelganger, Anais is determined. Eventually, Anais is connected to this girl over Skype and they talk for hours. The girl is Samantha Futterman, who is an actress and starred in Memoirs of a Geisha. The uncanny resemblance proves too much for Anais and so eventually both the women get DNA testing, and turns out that these two women are actually twin sisters!


Real Men Don’t Rob Banks by Liel Lebovitz

This was a hugely fun story to read. While growing up with his dad in Israel in the 80s, Liel didn’t really enjoy being taught all the macho lessons by his dad. His own father was in turn taught by Liel’s grandfather to “do what you love” and “follow your heart.” While Liel didn’t enjoy his moments with his dad during these be a macho lesson, he secretly admired the Motorcycle Bandit, a notorious robber who was robbing banks and getting away with it on his motorcycle. One fine day, the police show up at Liel’s place and arrest his father. Turns out, his own father is the Motorcycle Bandit! For 20 years the father was in prison, and this gave Liel the opportunity to be the man he wants to be and imparted the same lesson on his own son.


C’est La Vie by Terrance Flynn

This is the story of a young gay man who explores the gay bar C’est La Vie. While in there, he was attracted to a handsome man and attempts to chat with him. This man ignores Terrance and leaves with another man. Terrance is devastated and questions his self-esteem and self-value. He visits the bar again and sees the same handsome man again. He fails to get his attention yet again. Many years later, while Terrance is teaching his students at a university, he catches an image of a man being arrested. The man is termed a serial killer, as well as a cannibal, and had killed 17 young men just ten minutes away from the same bar C’est La Vie. The man was Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious serial killer. Terrance could only thank his lucky stars Jeffery didn’t leave with Terrance those so many years ago!


The Value of Words by Maris Blechner

This is a sweet story of a woman who was an English high school teacher. She married and initially, the couple decided to not have children. When they were ready, she got pregnant. Unfortunately, the baby dies. So the couple decides to adopt a child. Soon after, she falls pregnant and so their biological child is born. She shares this story because, during these moments, she encountered so many words from so many people—and words can hurt you powerfully or lift you up in powerful ways. Maris makes a resolution to live people up with words.


A Moment in Silence by Leland Melvin

An aspiring astronaut is told one day that he can never fly because of medical reasons- loss of hearing. While devastated at not being able to fly into space, a chance encounter with a deceased astronaut’s family years later creates a unique situation where Leland is asked to fly into space in the deceased astronaut’s honor. So Leland finally gets his opportunity to fly into space. He credits his cousin Janette who told him that he will fly one day, and as he was in space today, he remembered his cousin and those powerful words she said to him!


In the Shadow of Fear by Sudhesh Dhad

A memorable and powerful story of an Indian man who caught in the London bombings as he was traveling on the underground tube. His experience of being shaken to the ground and being carried out to safety is scary and unreal. So traumatic was his experience, he had to take days off from work and went to Lake District with his family. The entire trip, he is super scared that something bad will happen. His fear took such control of his life that he avoided traveling on the underground. It wasn’t until when he noticed how is daughter also started to become fearful, so he thought to himself how he could allay his child’s fear when he himself is fearful. So he begins taking small steps to alleviate his own fears to help his child.


Pastels and Crayons by Aleeza Kazmi

A girl with a Pakistani father and Afghani mother faces an issue of race in her classroom. While being asked to draw a self-portrait in school, Aleeza used peach colored pastels to color in her skin. The teacher comes in and tells her that she can’t hang this picture up. So she helps Aleeza find crayons from another pile and a darker color. Aleeza attempts to use the crayons to color over the peach pastel, but the two don’t match and instead of beautiful self-portrait, she ends up creating a mess of her portrait. However, the teacher hangs up this self-portrait. This leads to her realization that she isn’t a peach-colored but a brown colored girl. Today, she is proud of her heritage and her skin color- “I’m brown, I’m brown, I’m brown”- and if asked to do her self portrait, she would use a brown colored pastel!


The Patriots Game by Ali Al Adbullatif

A Saudi student studying in Boston is overcome with fear when commuters on a train accuse him of planting a bomb on the subway (when all he did was plant a screw that had fallen off the panel). His fear becomes so intense that he fears being called in by the police and arrested. He doesn’t leave his apartment and every phone ring or doorbell makes him jump. His friend calls him over to watch the football game, and he resists. But the friend insists and he goes to the game. Turns out the friend has invited everyone over and shared Ali’s experience with them. So they all rally behind Ali, and when he does receive a call, everyone puts on their jackets to accompany him to the police station. Turns out the phone call was a wrong number, but what Ali witnesses is all these people ready to stand behind him and he knew he wasn’t going anywhere for he has found his home.

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