Crucified freedom-in memoriam Mashal Khan and many other unknown victims of bigotry

A painfully lucid analysis of brutal chain of events in Pakistan and India. But how far are we from this? How did we end up with a Europe that is ruled by mediocrity and where the ugly face of fascism is rising again, winning places in national parliaments, generating “exits” from a the union of nations?
If there is something to mourn these days of holy days, then I feel that this time its Humanity that we should mourn. We silently crucify our valuable ideals, we hammer the nails of fear, prejudice, bigotry into the hands of our hopeful Future. We build walls instead of bridges and we hide in mindless fear and hate behind them. Where are our dreams and love of freedom, when we build prisons for ourselves inside those walls?
As this brave and wonderful young man writes in his piece of thought below, silence is not an answer.Silence is acceptance. Here you can read his point of view:

“Recently, Cow Vigilantes murdered Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer over suspicion of cow slaughter. Now, over allegations of blasphemy, students murdered Mashal Khan in his own university. The first incident occurred in Alwar, India and the other one happened at Khyber-Phakhtunwala, Pakistan. Both incidents occurred in broad daylight.
Most people only speak when it hurts their community and remain silent when their own community is the perpetrator. This is hypocrisy at its worst.
Lynch Apologists say- “Killing is wrong, but one should not hurt the sentiments of the people”
By saying that they indirectly hold the victim responsible for his own murder. People should learn to take offense and still keep violence out of their response. Killing is wrong there is no ‘but’ to it.
Moreover, If your religion does not allow you to eat something, draw something or say something, don’t do it nobody is forcing you to, but don’t impose your own views upon others.
Some add, “These are the extremists, most people of this community are peaceful”
Killers of Pehlu Khan include an accounts’ teacher, a school physical trainer, three students, and one nurse. Killers of Mashal Khan were his own colleagues from his own university. In both incidents, perpetrators were not poor, uneducated or connected to any terrorist organization.
Which is responsible for it now? Lack of Education? Poverty? Radicalization? Or blind adherence to faith?! Or incredible zest to impose tenets of one’s own faith on others?!
One cannot rationalize one of these incidents without legitimizing the other. Those who ask for Sharia Law should not cry foul when Manuvadi Ram-Rajya befalls them. Both of these incidents are mirror images of each other. India is quite behind Pakistan in intolerance, but we are catching up fast. We should be wary of it.
Muslims should condemn Mashal Khan incident in the same vein as Alwar Lynching. Silence is not an answer. Silence is acceptance.” ( Azhar Khan)

 

Those of you who have not heard of Mashal Khan, here’s his last poem written shortly before his brutal death:

“”I am lost
It has been several weeks
that I filed a complaint before police
I go to police station daily ever since
and ask the station officer
Any clue about me?
The sympathetic police officer shakes his head in disappointment
He says in his shaking voice
That I found no clue about you
Then he consoles me
One day
you will be found
unconscious
on a roadside
or critically injured
in a hospital
or dead
in some river
I get tears in my eyes
I leave for the market
to welcome me
buy some flowers from a flower shop
for my wounds
from the chemist
some bandage
some cotton
and pain-killers
for my funeral
a shroud from the shop near the mosque
and for remembering me
some candles
Some people say
when someone dies
candles should be not lit for them
but they don’t tell
that when the apple of some eye goes missing
where do you get the light from?
If the lamp of a house goes missing
what should they burn?”

No one should end up lynched. No one should be lynched for his ideas and ideals. No one should remain silent when such horrors occur. Because the moment we turn our heads and look aside, we open the door to murderous madness…. the one that sooner or later will set the whole world in fire the way it did too many times.

We owe to the memory of this young man, Mashal Khan to not let it fade away. We owe this to us and to the next generations. The time to speak up is now. The time to act is now.

 

SHE RAINS….

She is walking in the rain, barefooted and aimless, hands clutched on her umbrella. Devoid of love, her world has lost its boundaries. The grey, shimmering surface is stretching indefinitely. She walks the long boulevard that comes from nowhere only to keep running into the nothingness.

She keeps walking slowly, her pink toes splashing the sheen of water…She’s raining. Inside. A heavy rain is pouring inside-outside her, in a steady flow. Dripping from the edges of the umbrella, the bits and pieces of her soul are washing over her silently. She’s soaked in the incessant pain, she’s draped in a cloak of void. She walks and she rains…Her feet dip into a pool of rain and she stops for a moment, crouching over it. For à fraction of a moment she can glimpse in that tiny silver mirror a patch of blue sky inside herself.

She stares at that mirage of happiness while her petals of soul keep falling…drop by drop….drop by drop…reverberating in endless circles…

THE PATHWAY

The pathway took off and boldly emerged from the morning mist. We were both a bit nervous as we have left the group and we were heading to an entirely different direction. I could feel the disapproving glances in my back and the murmur of reprobation was carried by the wind to my ears.

We live on a planet of pathways and roads. Each of us has a personally tailored one, a pathway both alive and active, just like the person generating it. The colorful landscapes are crisscrossed by the traces of recent or rediscovered roads; you can find anything from the narrow footpath to the large boulevards, depending on the number and the personality of the pathway-carriers that walked the surface of this special planet. I’ve spent most of my life leading my pathway side by side with others of the thousands of inhabitants of the megapolis,walking day by day between its soaring , fantastic buildings. We didn’t have too many options and we were not making much difference in the turmoil of the city. Still, living here was both safe and comfortable. Oh well, maybe a bit too comfortable for the well disguised rebels we were, me and my pathway. Few of the city dwellers had ever tried to venture outside the perimeter of the buildings. The ones that tried, usually reached the grassland and inevitably turned back in the arms of steel, concrete and glass of our town.

The grassland outside the city was stretching for miles, delving into the blurred horizon where the dark silhouette of a forest was trembling in the light. None of my friends or acquaintances had ever ventured that far. Telltales of dangerous dark depths and monstrous creatures were passed for generations from one another but I was skeptical about the truth of their content.

As I said, my Pathway was just as bored and boisterous as myself. This lukewarm anonymity was becoming tiresome for both of us, so we decided to run away without saying a word. The chosen morning proved to be a cooling early autumn one, with strands of mist crawling lazily in the streets. There were only a few people passing by, still some of them turned curiously after us. The street we had chosen was leading….nowhere, as much as they knew. But for us, it ended abruptly facing a nacreous wall of fog. We both stepped forward, brushing the high stemmed grass and shaking the dewdrops pending on their tips. The Pathway trembled in excitement under my feet and sprang ahead. We were outside the city and inside the unknown.

Moments later, the rising sun hopped higher in the sky, sipping the last scintillating drops of dew. The scenery cleared and filled with sizzling colors. Under the warm touch of the sunlight the silver-green of the grass blades was gradually turning into golden yellow, the grass-ears releasing their tiny grains to the ground while grasshoppers were caught in a frenzy of somersaults. Birds were singing in the skies and under the seemingly endless blue dome, we were running like two crazed spring-bucks. For awhile I wasn’t sure even that my feet were touching the ground as I was riding the speedy ribbon of my Pathway as he was heading towards the towering wall of the forest.

As the day was descending into afternoon, the heat of the sun tempered and the shadows of the trees were leaning more and more towards the field. It wasn’t just a shadow but a constant flow of cold breath emanating from the deep-green, almost black vegetal thick. The forest was growing taller and taller as we approached it, until its silhouette engulfed the last corner of blue sky. The spidery fingers of the trees were pushing the autumn azure away from our reach.

The Pathway stopped abruptly on the rim of the wood. It seemed impenetrable. I was baffled by the fact that I couldn’t find even a faint weed-covered trace of an old pathway passing by. Nothing. All I could see was a dense wall of huge trunks connected by the darkness between them. The canopy was sky high. Baffled and slightly uneasy, we both stopped, pondering if we should follow our way or try another way round. But the wall of vegetation seemed to stretch from left to right indefinitely; the only possible way was through the woods. And it was already getting too late to go back to the city; so we decided to trying our luck walking through the gap opened between two trees. The Pathway moved boldly forward , carrying me as we punctured the barrier of darkness.

Surprisingly there was a faint bluish light inside the forest and for a moment I felt I was under the water. What light could pass through the dense fabric of the canopy was falling in slow motion, dispersing and undulating around us. You would’ve expected a school of fish to emerge behind a tree or to catch a glimpse of a whale swimming gracefully above us.

Looking around, I realised that the forest was not shutting out only the light but it was muffling also the sounds of the outside world. Still, it wasn’t entirely silent. There was an almost imperceptible whisper, surging, receding, surging, receding like the breath of an enigmatic living creature. The more I listened to it, the more eerie it became, sending shivers down my spine. Even my Pathway was feeling nervous, its delicate senses connected to me. I took a deep breath, sending him some reassuring thoughts. Anyway, my curiosity was stronger than my fear.

We jumped over the fallen branches on the forest floor, over the moss covered trunks and the puddles of water soaked fallen leaves. I took a sip of air: it tasted bitter -sweet, like almonds. After awhile,the ground was sloping towards a shallow valley inside the woods. Here, the distance between the trees was becoming wider, lifting some of our anxiety caused by the confined space. We breathed out in relief. Confident, the Pathway sped up and soon, we made our exit into a clearing.

It was a perfect circle on the ground continued by a clear-cut hole made by invisible hands in the dome of sticks and leaves of the canopy. You could see the darkening sky filling with stars. Night was near so we decided to stop here and sleep till the next morning. The Pathway retreated and relaxed at my feet. Curled up on a heap of grass I fell asleep easily. The murmur of the forest was dimming into a lullaby and the air of the night was warm enough to rest comfortably. We were not concerned about wild beasts roaming the place; the forest was visibly devoid of any kind of animal life and you wouldn’t have expected trees to un-root themselves and move away while we sleep. I closed my eyes and drifted away with the waters of the dream….

I jumped from the ground, awakened by a sharp cry that soon turned into an ear-piercing veiling. Uncoiled from its rest, the Pathway was trembling at my feet. Above us, the Moon was turning gradually red; it was the night of the Eclipse and the installing of the Blood Moon was bringing the forest alive. In the thick, honey-like light the shadows of the trees were undulating, pushed from inside by an ancient, long forgotten rhythm, shaking their spidery fingers towards the orange glow above. Caught in the frenzy of tremor, the leaves were cascading on us menacingly. Carried by a sudden wind raised by the twist and turn of the entire forest, the torrents of leaves were pushing us aside, swirling, jumping in the air then falling again towards the forest floor in high speed, like furious vegetal dragons. As the eclipse was reaching its peak, the veiling turned into howling and the whole forest was crying out its pain and fury to the night skies, to the bloody eye of the Universe. So, my friends, if you were wondering where those mythical beasts did disappear from the forest, I tell you: they didn’t. In fact, the Beast was right here all the time, sleeping its thousand years dream. It was this particular night that brought him back to life, shaking off his moss-covered dreams, letting him once again weep over his solitude. The sorrow of the stranded alien, the Forest washed over me and I stumbled, stepping on the roots of a tree. It was slippery and I grabbed the trunk to stop my falling. The touch of bark felt like a lizard’s skin and in a split of à moment, the vegetal giant turned to me….

The Pathway saw it coming and took off , jumping ahead through trees and bushes like a bullet. I crouched and let him carry me, hoping to escape from our pursuer. We smashed into twigs, leaves, branches, thorns and shreds of moss but we kept speeding ahead. We’ve lost the count of minutes and we didn’t even realize that the night was over. The eclipse was long gone and the forest had fallen back under the thousand years enchantment. The shrubbery was thinning before us and light was reigning again beyond the rim of the woods. My faithful companion slowed down its run and we both checked each-other, trying to asses the damages. Surprisingly, we got off this harrowing adventure with only of few scratches and a slightly shaken confidence. But then, we were seeking adventures, weren’t we?

Stopping at the edge of the forest, we watched for a moment the wall of bright light outside. It was almost painful to look at it after so much time spent in the shadow. I’ve sent an encouraging smile to my Pathway and once again, he flew us ahead, puncturing the brightness. We landed on a grassy slope and rolled down chuckling. The veil of warm air was undulating in the valley below but the shimmering contours on the horizon were holding promises of new adventures. We both laughed and stretched our limbs in expectation.

The Pathway jumped forward, carrying me into the light.

Reading “ Estelle’s Tattoo” or Why did We end up with Rape?

     Reading Paul White’s short story “Estelle’s Tattoo” is a shattering experience. As you reach the final line, it’s hard to find the proper words to leave a comment. This piece of writing is food for thought and fuel for attitude. It has haunted me since yesterday and it stirred something inside me.

   This morning I suddenly realised that Estelle’s tattoo is engraved in each young girl almost from her birth. When you are born a woman, your life stands under the shadow of being a potential rape victim. As a girl born and raised by two women, this mark was all too familiar, even if we never discussed it openly. But this status of “potential victim” was hanging in the air and became one of the main reasons for disliking my femininity. And I was not living in a war zone.

  In fact, I was born and raised in a quiet and peaceful, less complex and complicated society, with a low rate of criminality, a place where my Mom could come home from her night shift at the newspaper, walking all alone the streets at 3 am. Still, my mother and my grandmother were watching over me and protecting me as I was growing into a teenage girl from that possibility of becoming the victim of a man. So I’ve learned to watch my back, to walk in broad light and main streets, to hurry up if I a man was following me, to learn to read their glances, smiles or smirks and keep out of trouble. I grew up learning that I can be a prey so I’ve learned to avoid the hunters. This “survival kit” has grown into me without being fully aware of it. Luckily, I am an optimistic person so I didn’t become paranoid about men. In fact, I seldom gave a thought about this, once I became an adult. Until yesterday when I’ve read this heart wrenching story about rape and the life under its permanent threat.

You might dismiss this topic as an exaggeration. “Come on, this is not happening here…We are not like this”. I beg to differ when I see how the community of my fellow citizens reacted at the news of a collective rape happening in a Romanian village. Half of its inhabitants were blaming the girl for luring the boys into having sex with her, despite all the proofs that this was a premeditated act of two of the perpetrators who lured the girl into a friendly meeting, then called in their friends for the …fun.

   You might suggest that women should take defense technique training. But why would they? I for instance, I’m a non-conflicting person despite my strong opinions; I dislike any kind of aggressivity. And for what reason should I train myself in fight? Do I live in a jungle? Is that the real face of thousands of years of civilisation? What happened to us? How did we drift this far that a person has to live her life carrying that shadow of threat simply because she was born a woman? How did we end up losing the count of “Estelles” who have died and keep dying all over the world?

    We keep reading about such cases or hear about them in the media. For days we keep debating…then another shocking event sends the rape case into oblivion. Sometimes we dismiss it because we think that this is something happening only in less civilised areas. Wrong. The fact that a rape victim has tremendous difficulties to report what happened to her is the best proof that in all kind of societies there is something deeply wrong about how we think about women.

   When you learn that in all too many cases/places the victim is first to blame, when you learn that there’s “corrective rape” against lesbians, when you learn that women need to “learn their place” and so on, then you come to realise that rape is a socially/historically ingrained habit that emerged as a byproduct of human civilisation. You won’t find rape at our close relatives, the Bonobo chimps. We share with them a lot but rape is our own cultivated flaw. THIS is something to think about. The fact that rape is a cruel and criminal act performed nowadays not only against women but anyone vulnerable (Gay, Transgender or children) only puts this act in proper light.

   We need to educate this out from our human inheritance, we need to educate mutual respect and we need to cut off from the long forgotten conditions that had lead to this act.Each time when a  “ NO!” it’s disregarded, each time when someone forces itself on another one because it can, it’s à rape and and the life of the victim is brutally changed, if not taken away.

It’s a long way out of this dark shadow and the moment to start is now. We live in the dawn of a new century. We cannot let the “Estelles” to keep dying and to die in vain. We owe them that much just as we owe to our daughters, sisters, mothers, girlfriends to give them the chance to live their lives in freedom and dignity, and not as potential prey/victims.

Paul White’s “Estelle’s Tattoo” is à Must Read. You can find it here : https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com/

Don’t scroll down easily. Let’s break the habit and let’s erase rape from our long term inheritance!

Copiii si protestele

Prezenta copiilor la proteste este o lipsa de responsabilitate si o lipsa de consideratie fata de copii din partea parintilor. Regret ca atat de multi parinti tineri cu un nivel de scolarizare ridicata nu vad cum un astfel de gest face parte din indoctrinare.
Nu folosesti copilul intr-o activitate care ii depaseste nivelul de intelegere. Nu intereferezi in lumea inocenta a copilului tau cu probleme ce tin de responsabilitatea ta de adult, cu atat mai mult, nu-l aduci intr-un loc in care nimeni nu-si asuma raspunderea pentru siguranta ta si a copiilor.
O astfel de implicare a copiilor ridica serioase semne de intrebare din punctul meu de vedere cu privire la nivelul maturitatii respectivilor parinti cat si a celorlalti protestatari carora nu le-a trecut prin minte sa-i trimita acasa de la proteste.
Ce facem? Folosim copiii in luptele politice? Chiar atat de greu e sa realizezi ca un astfel de gest se revendica de la indoctrinarile staliniste, fasciste sau cele bigot-religioase? Chiar aveti impresia ca ati facut un gest de educatie? Eu zic sa ma reflectati. Copiii vostri nu va apartin ca sa faceti ce vreti cu ei; copiii vostri sunt responsabilitatea voastra. Ceea ce e cu totul altceva decat implicarea lor in proteste politice.

MEMORIES

The Sun hopped over the row of hills guarding the shore and the light showered the sea, wiping off the last shadows of the night. The water was quietly rippling, gently touching the soft, silky sands.

It was a remote shore, calm and serene, one that offered the long sought intimacy to the romantic dreamers. In the fresh light of the morning, the row of footprints was glistening in the sand. They seemed to come from nowhere and they were ending just as abruptly….But the shore knew them well, just as she knew the one they belonged to. She gathered the nacreous grains around the imprints, holding them lovingly, shielding them from the boisterous wind or the curious fingers of the waves. She has already lost a few of those precious memories so she was hanging desperately to the last ones remained. She wasn’t ready to let him go…her poet…the young man with eyes full of stars that used to walk her sands and sit there, dreaming his wonderful dreams, writing with a finger his poems into her wet cheeks….He had become her daily guest and she had grown on loving him. Now he was gone and she felt lost and deserted. She was afraid that she might forget him, as wind and water were robbing her day by day from the last remembering imprints. The shore shivered from inside, rolling the tiny grains of sand…Oh, why was love so beautiful and painful altogether?

 The sea kept rocking from side to side, leaving intricate laces of ephemeral foam on the rim of the shore. She was aware of the torment her friend was going through….She knew how love and loss can tear into the heart. Her deep, translucent one was carrying its own scars. She sent ahead a soft little wave and touched the shore…

“ Let him go, my dear…let him go….Let me ease your pain and I promise you that he will be remembered by the sound of my waves and the song of the wind…”

 The wave rose and caressed the white sands, smoothing the surface, washing away the footprints…The echo of the shore’s last sobs died in the wind and the world regained its balance.

 

THE DREAM OF THE TREE

When the last November rain died out in the grey and chilling world, autumn closed the door behind her. Brought on wings of heavy blizzards, winter finally set in, reigning upon the land with an iron fist. The cold breath of the earth gradually blurred away the thin line separating the glittering ocean of snow and the morose, ashen dome of the skies.

Crushed under the armor of thick ice, the river was only a faint whisper. The riverbank was buried in the deep snow. The old tree wasn’t sleeping yet. Though his ever thinning sap, retrieved from the web of arteries was now hidden bellow till springtime, he was unable to relax and delve into the three month of dreams. For the first time, he realized that he was too old to endure the harshness of this season.

His cracked and weathered bark was like an old and shabby coat, wrapped around a fragile, vulnerable body. Even his tiniest twigs and branches, his fingers reaching for the sun, were getting old and friable. The tree was tired. His mind was wandering, finding solace in the memory of the summer….Oh, how wonderful his coat of leaves was! And how much joy the bunch of little sparrows used to bring him! They were such a boisterous, lively gathering and they seemed to love to rest and play inside his crown of greenery. He could remember almost every new chick hatching in the tiny nests cradled in his branches…The tree smiled inwardly at those memories.

A gush of chilling wind rattled his empty branches and he suddenly came back to reality. He felt a pang of his heart; he was missing his little friends but he knew they were gone, finding shelter closer to the village and the homes of humans. The wind increased his push and under its merciless grip, the old tree was painfully cracking. He closed his eyes and tried to shut down his mind, hoping that it will lessen the hurt. As the blizzard rose around him, his spirit was drifting away, falling slowly into a void of never-ending calm.

A soft pricking of his thumbs of sticks halted his spiraling for a moment. He opened his eyes with difficulties; the storm has stopped and his branches were full of fluffy balls of grey-brown birdies. The sparrows were paying a visit to their good friend. The tree sighed and his spirit rose in joy once again. Up in the skies, a clear azure window opened in the clouds, and the sunlight poured through it, warming up the old joints of the tree.

-Thank you….-he whispered. I’m so happy you didn’t forget me…Now I can sleep more easily!

The sparrows took flight towards the patch of blue sky, carrying with them the soul of the tree…higher and higher. The old wood relaxed and cooled gradually but deep down, hidden in the labyrinth of roots, a young sprout was dreaming of the warming sun that will call him to the surface….The dream of the tree, carried away on wings of birds was flying free towards the light.