Fear is something I recognize. My childhood still tasted of fear; of hours, days and months of fear. Fear of parents, aunts and uncles, of vicars, police and teachers, and of being kicked, abused and insulted by other children. The fear of getting into trouble, of being discovered, and the fear of being castigated, smacked, ignored, locked in, locked out, as well as the numerous other punishments that surrounded everything you attempted. There is, too, the fear of what you wanted, hated and desired; the fear of your own anger, the fear of retaliation and of annihilation. There is habit, convention and morality, as well as the fear of who you might become. It isn’t surprising that you become accustomed to doing what you are told while making a safe place inside yourself, and living a secret life. Perhaps that is why stories of spies and double lives are so compelling. It is, surely, a miracle that anyone ever does anything original.

Hanif Kureishi.

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