23 March 2009

arrest & detention as a means to make money

last december, i wrote up the case of two men who were arrested and falsely implicated in the abduction of a 13-year-old girl in bangladesh. in actual fact, the police and others involved in the arrest were seeking revenge for a variety of reasons.

as the case unfolded, i was struck by two things: the absurdity of the events, and the inordinate level of corruption involved. payment had to be made for everything, from paying the police officers to give the food brought from home (no food was provided in custody) to the men, to topping up the lawyers' cell phones, to payments for what should/should not be written in official reports. as someone noted, it was a 'festival to make money'.

the exact amount of money and what it was paid for has now been tabulated in a new report, 'Use of police powers for profit'. apart from this bangladesh case, the report also includes cases from sri lanka, pakistan, the philippines and burma. they all spotlight the impunity that surrounds law enforcement agencies, and how large sections of the population are subjected to arrest, detention and even torture, simply for officers to make money.

07 March 2009


i fell in love with jalaluddin rumi the first time i read his work in cairo. it was perhaps the infatuation of a 19-year-old exploring existence and spirituality. the story of rumi's friendship with shams and subsequent awakening added to my fervor.

it was words such as these that had me enraptured:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

“The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.”

since cairo, i have kept merely the memory of rumi with me. yesterday however, i came across a poem of his that struck me in its intensity and conviction, not to mention islamic principles (i must admit that in university, rumi's islamic origins were almost irrelevant).

On Resurrection Day God will ask,
“During this reprieve I gave you,
what have you produced for Me?
Through what work have you reached your life’s end?
Your food and your strength, for what have they been consumed?
Where have you dimmed the luster of your eyes?
Where have you dissipated your five senses?
You have expended eyes and ears and intellect
and the pure celestial substances;
what have you purchased from the earth?
I gave you hands and feet as spade and mattock
for tilling the soil of good works,
when did they by themselves become existent?”

what an awesome poem. each line is a reminder, a kick in the backside. i have wasted too much time recently in self indulgence and pity. it's time to get back on track. ayaam-al-taabudat is a great opprtunity for renewal. oh, i also need to find my copy of rumi!

05 March 2009

simple, beautiful and true

a few episodes (little mosque on the prairie) ago, rayyan explained her decision of wearing hijab thus:

"you can express your faith in a lot of ways; i chose to wear the hijab... it's not about the part of me that it covers, but the part it shows."

bizzabt! so eloquently put. that girl rocks. as does the show.

04 March 2009

the gift of rain

written by tan twan eng, the gift of rain was a big and beautiful novel. and it came to me at the most opportune time; its beautiful writing and sense of perspective soothed my spirit when nothing else could. i am in awe that someone's first novel could be this rich in detail, history and characters. reading it on the heels of aravind adiga's the white tiger only underlined its beauty (the white tiger had neither likeable characters nor moving prose).

the beginning of the second half of the novel however, had so much pain that i was forced to put it down a couple of times, blinking away tears. also, i cannot say that i fully grasped the notions of fate and destiny described by eng, or the depth of the protagonist's love for his teacher. not that that detracted from my enjoyment in any way. this story of a war, a country, a family, an individual; of love, friendship and responsibility, is one i want on my bookshelf.

some quotes:

"Memories- they are all the aged have. The young have hopes and dreams, while the old hold remains of them in their hands and wonder what has happened to their lives."

"The world goes by, the young and the hopeful all head for their future... There is the miscoception that we have reached our destinations the moment we grow old, but it is not a well accepted fact that we are still travelling towards those destinations, still beyond our reach even on the day we close our eyes for the final time."

"Like a fist, a cloud of thick black smoke punched out of the funnel and then opened into the wind"

"The most rewarding way to see the place one lives in is to
show it to a friend."

"The pain flared like red ink splashed on paper"

"I told him what i could remember, treading water in the shallows of my memory."

"understanding the language, yet not comprehending the patterns of life to which it gave voice"

"When you are lost... remember who you have been and you will know who you are. These people were all you, and you are them. I was you before you were born, and you will be me after I am gone. That is the meaning of family."

"Anger and sorrow walked with me, joining hands with guilt- the three walls of my prison."

"What will damn us will not be papers, but the memories of men"