Love, loss and legacy. Here's what happened when Emma Evans, a Senior Producer from our Arts and Creative team met Hamed Amiri, author of The Boy with Two Hearts - BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week, 29 June - 3 July 2020.
When the Taliban gave an order for the execution of Hamed Amiri’s mother, the family knew they had to escape.
They started what would be a long and dangerous journey from Herat, across Russia and through Europe, with the UK as their ultimate destination.
The family’s arrival in the UK was however only the beginning of a new journey through the treatment and complexities of Hamed’s elder brother’s serious heart condition.
The Boy With Two Hearts is a story of hope, one family’s epic journey and a love letter to the NHS.
It was pouring with rain the first day I met Hamed and listened to him beautifully and bravely describe a deep and personal history to us, two complete strangers.
I remember trying to compose myself, to ask intelligent and considerate questions, I remember a conversation about love and loss, about human connection and about legacy. It was a story I knew immediately that needed to be told.
Hamed was working on a book and as this project developed we continued to talk. As a Producer I wanted to discover the themes and ideas that he wanted most to communicate.
I learnt more about his family and their experience travelling from Afghanistan to the UK and then how they navigated the complexities of his brother’s heart condition with the support of the wonderful NHS.
In October last year Hamed sent me the first full draft manuscript. It really was a special moment for me, to read this book before many others would have the opportunity.
Our work here is all about voice and voices and we want to make work that both entertains and challenges our audiences.
It’s about telling new stories, expanding our worlds, sparking emotions and firing imaginations. For me above everything else The Boy With Two Hearts is about journey, physical, emotional and personal, and it is a great story of hope. I don’t think you can fail to be inspired by it and I can’t wait to take the next step of the journey with Hamed and the team.
December 2018, through fate or maybe chance I get hold of Emma’s email.
Still hurting from losing my brother a few months earlier I am fuelled with wanting and needing to share his story. I emailed Emma.
I think I just needed people to know who he was but also somehow to capture his essence in my life.
Walking away from that famous first meeting, all I recall is walking slowly back to my car, gazing into the sky and wondering how that just happened, it’s the only time rain pouring down didn’t matter to me!
I started to dream about how the play would look, the ending and people in tears but cheering the story, and what it meant to me.
6 December 2019 was a day I would never forget, regular hot chocolate sitting on a comfy sofa as Emma told me about the news of WMC wanting to take the project on, and I remember both of us holding on to our emotions.
I could sense Emma could feel what it meant to me! And my car journey was filled with tears of joy, knowing I had achieved the unachievable.
Call it fate or chance, from meeting Emma randomly over a cuppa, taking a chance on my story, finding time to read my manuscript. It felt unreal to know people like her, organisations like Wales Millennium Centre exist.
Now I am weeks away from people around the world reading my family story and what my brother meant to me. 2021 might feel like a long time away for some people, for me is a chance to share the story with the world on a stage.
The production of The Boy With Two Hearts has been generously supported by local members, Bob and Lindsay Clark.
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