Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Lady of Hope: Benazir Bhutto

May her soul rest in peace!

My mother, Mehrangiz Kar, has not stopped crying since the second we found out about Bhutto’s death. She has not left the house. She is writing things and trying hard to type them on the computer with her fresh typing skills…and she cries and cries. I go out, go to work, come back, go to a movie with friends and come back and she is still crying…I say goodbye to her, I greet her and she does not hear any of my words. My words have become hollow bubbles in the air.

I am feeling suffocated by all of this. Looking at the pictures and video clips of Pakistan, I want to scream and just be angry. Crying will not satisfy the anger embedded in my young soul.

I feel I really lack political and I guess in general life experiences. Other than the chaos that we see on TV and read about online and in the media, I cannot predict much about Pakistan’s future. Growing up, I would hear Bhutto’s name at least a few times every night from the Persian section of different international radio stations. Her name was a familiar song to my ears.

A friend of mine called me at 3 am to say that he cannot fall asleep and not think about the lives of millions of people that changed in an instanse by Bhutto’s death. Another friend says, “It was extremely expected and yet catastrophic.”

I am deeply saddened by the tragedy of her death which is going to—and already has—end many more precious lives. I am worried for Benazir’s children. I am worried for Pakistan’s future. I am worried for my dear college friend, Rehan. I am worried for all of those anonymous Rehans in Pakistan. I am worried….

But being worried aside, my mother’s swollen eyes, the sound of her weeping and the furious noise that her fingers make on the keyboard of her computer terrify me. These things terrify me. It is the pessimism that I cannot take anymore when it comes to places like Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the region. It is the pessimism that is suffocating me and is murdering my desire and ability for positive thinking about the current and future condition of the region I call home. I cannot take the pessimism anymore. I almost feel as though I should block the political and historic experiences and wisdom of the older generation; it seems to me that those experiences have stolen hope from their faces.

I almost want to deceive myself with simplicity and lack of experience. I want to feel that if we remain hopeful and work (every one of us in our way) toward a better future, something (even if it is minor) good could happen. I cannot take this pessimism. We, the young generation, cannot let this pessimism conquer our bodies and our minds. I am scared of this hopelessness. It terrifies me!

Is not hope the legacy of our Benazir after all?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Life Cycle of Girls: Womanhood

Last night while I was desperately trying to find the year in which Iran signed the Convention on The Rights of the Child, I came across a number of very interesting photo essays on UNICEF's website. Among these photo essays, one was of my particular interest. As you can guess from the tile of this post, it is called, "The life cycle of girls: Womanhood" and in contains 18 pictures of girls and women in the less privileged areas of the world. I thought you might also be interested in taking a look at these photos. This photo essay begins by the following statement:

" Despite advances, gender violence and discrimination are on the rise, according to the 2006 United Nations Secretary-General's report on achieving the Millennium Development Goals."

Gender violence and discrimination on the rise in the world....
We have a long way to go....

Here is the Photo Essay: (Once you click on begin, it will show you all the 18 pictures.)
Click Here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Iranian Women Dervish Dance and Trance

from filmmaker Aryana Farshad's amazing film of spiritual rituals and visits to sacred locations in her native Iran-- "Mystic Iran" (2002) 52 minutes.



-Who are you expecting?

- Baba!

- Is he late?

- No, he will come soon.

- Where is Mimi?

- She, too, hasn’t arrived, yet.

- Is Leili home?

- No.

- Where is she?

- I don’t know.

- Have you cooked rice?

- No.

- Like always you have forgotten to cook rice for dinner, no?

- Who cares? Don’t stress me out. I still have time.

It is nighttime. It is cold. All day I have wandered around the house. I counted all the pieces of furniture in the house: the brown coaches, our dining table, the Piano, our carpets, our phones, all those paintings and books, my desk, my bed, my parents’ bed, our lights…

- Are you crying?

- No, but I wish I could cry for hours. Have you ever been invaded by the flood of memories? Have you ever felt the pain of the memories that come out of body like pile of worms crawling on top of each other? Look at that corner! My friends are sitting there, chitchatting about cute boys, giggling and laughing. A bit further, Baba is talking on the phone. In the other room Mimi and Leili are talking and drinking tea.

- Do you have a fever?

- No.

- We can’t stay for much longer here in this empty house. It’s late. We have to go. Was this place rental?

- Yes, we had rented this apartment. Now leave me alone. I need to focus. I must remember all of this: the entrance door, my room to the right of the door, on the left hand side the kitchen, a bit further the lounge and the dining room, the piano, the bookshelves, all these books that I was going to read one day…

- We have to go. My god…You are burning in fever.

- No, no. Why would you think that I am sick? Stop telling me that I am not well. I am well, ok? I am well.

- It’s getting late. Come on. We should leave.

- No, let me be. Let me stay and internalize this utter emptiness. This is my last night in this house. I am not permitted to stay any longer and yet you are trying to take away this precious night from me. Go and leave me alone!

- You are coming with me.

- No, stop talking. Do you hear the tic-tac of the clock? I can’t forget this tic-tac. I grew up with this sound. Tic-tac…Tic-tac…Story time! Once upon a time there was a happy family in this house: Mimi, Baba, Leili and I. Four, remember it. The four of us…

- Don’t stand next to the bare window. Since we already removed the curtains, people could see that this house is empty. And here you are, a young girl, standing by yourself in this room, in the middle of the night. It’s dangerous.

- Hey, look! Do you see the mark of the tip of my nose on the window? Every night at around 8 pm I would stand next to this window and wait for Mimi to return from work. After a few minutes I would get tired and lean my head against the window. My nose would touch the soft and cool surface of the window, making me more restless to see Mimi. Right outside the window, there was a plane-tree. It was tall and had lots and lots of leaves. They cut its poor branches, last year. They said that it was going to be good for the tree and that it was going to make it more fertile. They lied. A year has passed and this tree is patiently waiting to grow back its branches. It’s hopeless. They lied.

- God, help us. She is hallucinating. We should go. Let’s go.

- No, no. I have to say goodnight to the crows that are hiding among the branches of all those trees. It’s wrong of human beings to think that crows are evil. They are very kind. They used to tell me stories all throughout the nights when Mimi was in prison, when she was going through chemotherapy. They were there for me. I will miss them. My dear friends, my dear crows…I remember vividly that long night when one of the crows of our street died in pain. That night all the other crows surrounded the dying crow and cried with its moans. I was standing outside the window in my nightgown, watching them cry. Mimi had curled up in her solitary confinement, feeling forgotten.

Oh, my dear crows! Did you see how they kidnapped Baba? And then they claim that human beings are God’s superior creatures. Did you see how they took him? He is gone, my dear crows. He is disappeared. Gone!

- The crows won’t hear you. Come. Let’s go.

- No, wait. I want to lie down on my bed.

- We took your bed. Remember?

- No, look! My bed is there. You can’t see it. But it’s really sitting right at that corner. I am going to lie on my bed and wait for Baba to come and kiss me goodnight. I want him to come, straighten my blanket and whisper to my ears, “My beautiful daughter, sleep well. Sweet dreams. Everything is going to be all right!” He is supposed to arrive soon. Tic-tac…Tic-tac…Let’s count down the minutes together.

- I hope that your father comes to you very soon. But, don’t you think it’s better to face the reality and try not to escape what it has for us? Remember? Your dad is not here. My poor Azadeh, your father is not here. He won’t come tonight. Let’s go

- Leili, Leili. How about her? I remembered just now. She is out with her friends. I will have to wait for her. She will sneak into the house, soon. I will have to stay and hear her exciting stories about her boyfriend and her university. She said that she will be back at around midnight. It’s passed midnight, no?

- Yes, it’s 3 am. Let’s go.

- No, don’t rush me. Leili should be here any minute.

-Get up. Give me your hand. Let’s go.

- Go where? No, I must stay. In fact, you should go. I want to clean the dust on the table. I want to open the windows, so that fresh air comes in. I want to cook some rice. I must wait for Leili. Mimi, too, will arrive soon. If like always her bag is heavy, I will have to go downstairs and help her carry it. Baba should come home soon. He will park the car and wait for me to go downstairs and help him with the numerous shopping bags in the trunk. No, no. You should leave. I must wait for them.


They did not come.

The house was rental. They evacuated the apartment. We did not come. None of us came. They are evacuating the apartment. They are pulling down the curtains, removing all of my poetry and Baba’s paintings from the walls. They are taking our family albums. They are kindly evacuating the apartment.

We did not come. Our home was rental. The walls are shocked. They look pale. The walls are not talking. I could hear them talk, they are screaming in the air. They are crying. They miss us. We did not get to say goodbye. We will miss them.

It is still not too late. We might arrive. ■

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