The day she cried…

She cried
For souls lost
Love forlorn
And tombs in gold were cast

Like flickers of a lamp
The tiny hearts they beat
Fading slowly I wonder
Is their pain the same as the one she feels

image

When did innocence die
Was it the cold November day
Or has it been dying
Since He left us to wander astray

She cried
Wondering where the brother went
Sighing about how without a fight
One loses a best friend

How do we walk on
Paths laid out by those who rest
How do we smile
Across shrouds of souls thus blessed?

This little angel
In my minds unnerved eye
She cries today
As the processions pass her by

How many more sons
How many brothers
Must walk this cursed path
She wonders

And then in a breathy sigh
She walks back through the rusted doors
Wondering does he play here still?
Are those his footsteps on the floor??

Age of Treason

We are a hypocritical culture. We have always been one. And by that I do not mean our country. Somewhere in our evolution since the “Early Man” days we have suddenly developed the urge to point fingers and blame people. So because we continue to look to blame, we end up being paranoid.
Few days ago when the Boston bombings happened, a handful of messages were sent to my relatives in or near Boston wondering if they were ok. Minutes later a journalist in Times of India chided the Indian government and the media for its behavior during an act of terror and hailed America as a country who has learnt its lesson and now conducts all its investigations in a fair manner. A couple of days later, the New Yorker posted an article on how a Saudi Arabian 20-year-old student who had gravely injured himself in the blast had his apartment ransacked; he was questioned for hours at end. Everything he did post the blast like running away from the blast site where considered incriminating enough that the Fox News eventually asked his roommate “Did you know you were living with a killer for years?”
 So, Mr Talking-Terms, America has not learnt its lesson. It will continue to harass innocent people from guilty countries, like we continue to blame Pakistan without looking at our own failures. All over the world the result of a terror strike is the same that of blaming a country and hoping the people of the country do not see the gaping holes in the intelligence systems. They fail to see the deeper more complex issues facing these countries; they do not see that in most cases terrorists recruit the Kasabs of the world not with religion but with the hope of a better life and a promising death. America, of all the countries, should be the first ones to understand that it’s not a country but an organization led by a few individuals either for profit or to settle their sociopathic tendencies that causes the carnage of the likes of 9/11. They have been waging a wasteful war, destroying two countries (one of them simply to help a son avenge his father’s embarrassment) for years now. Ironically, they attacked Afghanistan with the intent of capturing one man, eventually ended up killing him in a country that is a supposed ally. Isn’t that the very clear lesson to the country that it is not the country that causes actions but a group of individuals?
We, as a nation, for example, love to chide our leaders at their “soft” stance with our neighbors. We fail to understand that in Pakistan, things are much more complex. The middle class is struggling to stay afloat and keep its kids out of the streets because they know what they are exposing them to. No one in the country talks of the Human Rights violations and breach of ceasefire by the Indian Army during the Kargil war. What we do remember and constantly remind the world of are the mutilated bodies of our soldiers. It was a war. Both sides did things they were not proud of. Yet instead of hating the war in itself and condemning the violence, we look to hate a country when we ourselves have met people from that country far more peaceful and understanding than us. We brand them as exceptions: The “good” Muslims as Obama pointed out. And we hail America for not pointing fingers publicly instead ransacking a young students apartment quietly. This post is sort of why we will never find peace irrespective of the country we are in. I hate to be the Gandhian, but the world is going to be blind soon and the “we” would have done nothing to stop it.

Three Cups of Tea

The idea that appealed  most to me when I saw this book was the subtitle : “One man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time” Here comes a story I have never heard of before. In fact had somebody narrated it to me I wouldn’t even believe it. It breaks past stereotypes of all kinds and makes you realize that if you want to help anyone at any part of the world all it takes is one good heart!
Greg Mortenson is ahead of his time always. He is a new picture of America, a picture I’d like to keep. One of humanity and kindness. And one of humility.

This story is far away from the images we have of Pakistan: The “madrassas”, where maulvis “train” children to become terrorists and how every village has a Kasab born in them.

We, Indians, are generally very shallow. We take everything exactly the way it is served and forget that there exists a world where such battles exist, where a walk to school could maim you or even kill you. Greg Mortenson goes to such a world and comes back victorious. He talks of a tangible permanent solution which we could use against all forms of terrorism (and god knows we have fought our demons too many times!) He answers the question everyone is now asking regarding the Maoist “situation” in our country. He answers it with one word : education.

A part of a team of mountaineers, scaling the difficult terrain of K2, Greg was lost and spent a terrible time surviving the grueling cold mountains of Karakoram till he was found and taken care of by Haji Ali a local village chieftain. There is a sweet moment in the book when Haji Ali shows him the local school, or the place they call a school. The village has no teacher who’d come this far everyday so on the days without a teacher, the little boys and girls sit in an open ground writing on the sand with sticks. Haji Ali says, the one thing I wish for is a school for this village and Greg overcome by the desperation of the kids to learn puts his hand on Haji Ali’s shoulder and says “I’ll build you a school”.

What starts with one school goes on to become a revolution. The one thing the author writes about is that the moment you meet Greg Mortenson you start thinking “What should I do? How could I help?” and this emotion is not just on the meeting. I found myself going through the Three Cups of Tea website and clicking on the How To Help section, the moment I finished the book. The story is simple enough. The man had no money, no job and just had a simple dream to build a school for a bunch of Pakistani kids he had only met once.
The best part of the story would probably be Mortenson’s humility. He’s bad with compliments the author says, he just blushes and mumbles I just got lucky. And he did, the story has a lot of other heroes as well. But for Mortenson’s desire and relentless will, these people would have never known how exactly to help.

For the first time I saw the Kargil War from the other side and actually went ahead to apologize to my counterparts across the borders. We all really do have the same problems : corrupt governments, uncontrollable armies and social issues. I wish Mortenson would realize that none of the Indians knew about the injustice done in Pakistan during the war.

The book is a must read for inspiration, kindness and most of all for humanness. I think we are innately human and want to help, we just have to believe in our convictions and take that first step and make the resolve. With you all the way Dr. Greg 🙂

P.S: The next book has been published and talks about the next piece in the struggle and is called “Stones into Schools”. Mortenson has now moved on to Afghanistan with the resolve of building schools for the war ravaged country.