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Those Eyes (Short Story) by Elsa Thomas

Those Eyes
by Elsa Thomas

I shot at him twice. After making sure that his fellow gunmen were killed, I walked towards him. His mutilated body told me that he was barely fourteen. The bullet had pierced through his ribs and stomach and both he and I knew that life in him was now a matter of a few minutes. I do not know why, but I stood there watching this boy cry of pain due to the physical ache and the mental agony. For us, he was a terrorist, a jihadist who we had to kill for the safety of the population that were sleeping peacefully with the undying belief that we were awake and alert for their sake, for their safety, for their peaceful existence.

The encounter went on for hours together and frankly I had lost track of time. The forest patch was such that it made the morning look like the evening time. Now back to that teenager who lay three feet away from me. After having shot about three jihads, he was my fourth target. His cries tore my ear shades into pieces. I bent down and I still have no idea why, I put my arms under his neck, supporting his back. My duty told me to do the deed but the human in me asked me to think twice. I should have shot another bullet at him, finishing off the story of another inhuman life who if he would remain alive cause nothing total destruction. I was in a dilemma but I felt my heart go out to this child who seemed to narrate to me an account of his life, a life put to death at an age so tender, a life put to death without having to kill. You may term it cowardice or a gutless act of an officer but I too had a heart which winced every time I heard this child cry out of unbearable pain. His eyes, those soft brown eyes that stared at me with a question for which I do not have and might never have an answer too.

I was sure that he was a child recruit, forced, threatened and trained by the group who decided to make use of him, both as a target and a participant. There might have been a reason for his pathway, a reason that may be laid to rest on his death, a reason that the world will remain unknown to. I wonder if the cause for which he now suffers was understood by him in the real sense or was it just the fear that coaxed him into being one among the many jihadists. He definitely was not doing or thinking and facing what a normal fourteen year old must be doing, thinking or feeling. He was a jihadist! The markings on his person showed that he was previously injured too and that proved that this was not the first time he took to shooting down the soldiers of the state.

I wondered who were that malevolent characters who forced this child into the world of darkness and ignorance; the ones who imparted to him the skill and expertise at warfare; the one who robbed him of the many pleasures of a normal life.  A man of the devil surely, was he to me. The hands that must hold a book and a pen, a mind that had to think of liberation and freedom, a boy who had to express his views to the world, the ideas that brimmed in the mind of a fourteen year old for this world was used at the leisure and convenience of some thoughtless men who never understood that it was time we spoke and practiced peace, understanding and humanity.

The boy kept howling and screaming, his eyes transfixed at mine. He knew that I was his murderer but even then, his brown eyes kept staring at me softly as if telling me that I was not responsible for this anguish. I could feel the turmoil in him. Blood oozed out of his mouth and nose, the holes on his person too let out streams of blood out on the ground. For the first time in my career did I cry at the obvious death of a jihadist! Well, not a jihadist but for a child who was nurtured the wrong way, who was abused to do something which he never comprehended; for a child who had so many more events in life to celebrate, his birthdays, his graduation, his first job, his very own car and so much more of the simple pleasures that he was and will be deprived of.

I could hear some of my fellow soldiers approach and he and I both knew of the torturous death awaiting him had he been caught by them. His eyes pleaded for the mercy that only I could grant; a mercy petition of tears that needed my approval. All of a sudden, he held my hand. I felt some wave of an unknown emotion pass through me. I passed my fingers through his hair.  All I could now do was to make death a little less painful for him for a child who knew not of the charges that he was guilty of. I stood up and walked back a few feet away from him, loaded my gun and granted his wish. This was the least I could do for this fourteen year old jihadist who never comprehended the theory for which he shed his blood, the theory that will remain untold to him.

Copyright © 2015 Elsa Thomas

Young Martyr of the Soil: Stop Turning Children into Terrorists by Fiza Pathan

Young Martyr of the Soil: Stop Turning Children into Terrorists
by Fiza Pathan

child-soldiers

The earth echoes in the years so small like a tiny flame flicker,

Blood so red cut from your tender throat by shrapnel piercing;

Young are you in age but the wrinkles on your brow show the pain,

Aged before time to bleed your loyalty for a cause not your own.

Gun in hand they placed you infront of the line to fire,

Tiny hands smell of gunpowder as the machine guns shoot;

Little one grown you so tall in the eyes of the powerful,

Die you soundless in tears in the soil which turns you into dust.

Tie your matted hair with a green band to justify your cause,

Small & soft are your footfalls upon the sand drenched in blood;

You were taken from your mother’s bosom to tend to the cause,

Young martyr then why is your voice in silence cry out no more?

Ebony is your shiny skin & dark brown are your eyes,

You were meant for the slate to chalk out a future little soul;

Yet here you are gun in hand & cyanide capsule between teeth,

Simple are your coffins that they lay within the dust of loss.

Dirty are your black boots by threading too much in the desert,

Your sister has been violated so she takes up the rifle with you;

They have turned you all into an army of screams & shrieks,

Hear you not the sound of a grenade twisting flesh a burning.

Young martyr don’t rally your forces against your friends,

You are yet a child but fury has turned you into a monster;

Revenge of the avenger carries you along your path of doom,

Then will you return to the earth soulful in your final battle cry.

You use the dagger in your boot to scrap the rotten flesh,

You are burnt but you still want to fire at the unknown enemy;

Young one they have brainwashed you can’t you see with focus?

Red are the wounds of the tiny ones who sleep in the wilderness.

People of Humanity please cease to make martyrs of the young,

Clear out from your terrorist groups the innocent & the delicate;

What shall you gain but the anger of the silent God,

Who cries every time a young martyr is buried in the soil.

Copyright © 2015 by Fiza Pathan

Image courtesy: http://www.ibtimes.com/children-guns-stronger-un-arms-trade-treaty-needed-stop-use-child-soldiers-amnesty-says-1077478

My Woman Cried: Stop the Abuse of Women by Fiza Pathan

My Woman Cried: Stop the Abuse of Women
by Fiza Pathan

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Dear lady of womanhood divine why do you cry?

We worship you sweet lady in our lotus womb of semblance;

Yet you weep to tears of blood depart from our love,

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

They gang raped you magnificent lady within the pit so dark,

I was a witness but turned my eye to the blindness of indifference;

Now in blood soaked you lie tainted on the soil of our land,

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

Molested your sari is tattered into rags upon your flesh,

You veil your scars in black and blue but don’t I see them always;

Speak gentle one within the serenity of a mother’s lost song,

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

They beat you infront of the throng for a crime unfit to blame,

They abort your baby girl from your womb till you bleed again;

I am not a counsel to you dearest of mine heart for I sin,

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

Cover your face in shame and lower your broken self to the ground,

Beg pardon dear femininity but did I see a pearl drop from your eye;

You are kicked in the womb and violated in the cavity of the lonely,

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

Beg not mercy from the Divine for none renders as He,

Comfort your girl child not to wander in the demon’s wilderness;

Bring your girls home to me so that I may pay homage to them,

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

Beggary steals the innocence from your ebony face,

Multiple wounds cry out to me in the dead of pain’s singular moan;

How can I bear to see you naked and mirthless like this?

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

Low caste you say so is violation without consent is final?

You burn in the fire of self-immolation to curse my love for you;

Cover yourself at once for danger lurks in the form of violence,

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

The leprosy of womanhood you do possess in quality,

But evil beings search for your nude flesh in quantity;

You suffer the crucifixion of the race born with milk to feed,

My woman cried because I let her soul die.

Mother darling dove so fair yet there are puss boils upon your back,

Inferior you are to a minority who have not respected your dignity;

To you I vow to die before they will ever make me kneel,

My woman will not cry for my soul one day when I will die for her.

 Copyright ©2015 Fiza Pathan

Image courtesy: Google images

http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/fb925f0040db1d90b9eab9434f2981a1/Centre-set-to-empower-abused-CPT-women-20132508

Children Ace 19-Point Quiz on Reading Classics

insaneowl:

Thank you Ma’am, for featuring my quiz on your blog. Love
Fiza

Originally posted on cozybookbasics:

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Your child’s self image and empowerment can grow because of one young woman’s sharing of her early and lifelong passion for reading good books. Here’s a video clip of the Classics Excellence award quiz at teacher/author Fiza Pathan’s launch of How We Can Encourage Children to Read the Classics. Test yourself to see if you know as much as the kids. It’s a long video, so start watching from 46:30 and then follow to the end.

http://insaneowl.com/2015/02/09/video-of-book-launch-classics-how-we-can-encourage-children-to-read-them-17th-january-2015/

Fiza Pathan’s 19-Point Quiz on Classic Books

  1. Who wrote Alice in Wonderland?
  2. Who wrote The Jungle Book?
  3.  Who wrote Oliver Twist?
  4. Who wrote The Time Machine?
  5. In what book does the main character say, “Please, sir, I want some more”
  6. Name one book by Jules Verne
  7. Name one book by Jack London
  8. What classic has a white whale as its main character?
  9. What classic is narrated by a horse?
  10.  What is…

View original 324 more words

‘To Save a Life, To Save a Child’ Guest Post by Elsa Thomas

To Save a Life, To Save a Child
by Elsa Thomas

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The door bell rang at nine in the morning. My aunt indicated the arrival of her new maid and requested me to open the door for her. It was only yesterday evening that I had joined my aunt and was supposed to leave in the morning once the bank for which I worked, had readied a flat for my stay at Indore, a city in Madhya Pradesh in India. My aunt was a teacher at St. Anne’s High School at Indore. Her husband worked for a private firm. Her daughter’s aged thirteen and nine were students of the very same St. Anne’s. My aunt was kind enough to accommodate me for a day but I had no good opinion of her. She always came across to me as a rude person. Coming back to the door bell which I answered on her request, the visitor was a young girl, aged about thirteen or so, dressed in an oversized salwar kameez . Her hair was all messed up and she looked as though she was starving for days together. I called for my aunt just to confirm the visitor and to my surprise, this thirteen year old was my aunt’s new domestic help.

My eyes popped out. I knew of my aunt’s mean nature but did not think that she would have the audacity to do such a thing. Once she entered the house, my aunt gave her a whole list of instructions. She was to do almost every single chore of the household. I felt the urge to ask my aunt to feed the poor girl some bread but my aunt would not spare a second to even listen to me. The girl quietly listened to all of this. Just then my cell phone rang and it was my colleague who informed me that a place had been readied for me and that I was to reach in an hour. I packed my belongings and left for the flat. Just as I bid a bye to my aunt, I saw the little girl sob behind the curtains. My heart was heavy and I could feel some kind of grief take over me.

After a few days I was asked to baby sit my cousins for a day since both my uncle and aunt had to leave for a function to another city. The girls kept themselves glued to the television. It was on a Sunday so I thought of catching up on a movie on you tube.  At nine, the very old little girl walked in. she gave me a slight nod and smiled at me. She looked weaker than I had perceived of her, the first time she came to the house. She took full charge of the house and all of a sudden things came to life. She started cleaning the utensils, cooked lunch. She rolled out twenty five, perfectly round chapattis and had prepared some dishes for lunch. In the twenty three years of my life, I could not have created such perfect ones.

As she was doing these chores, I felt terrible. She was of the same age as that of the older one from my cousins.  I felt some kind of shame take over my being. What upset me further was an appalling scene. The little thirteen year old girl kept scrubbing the tiles beneath the sofa on which my thirteen year old cousin lay catching up with her favorite television program while munching some goodies. I felt the discomfit of having witnessed such a depressing act. Here was Vidya (that was the name of the girl) who struggled to earn for a livelihood and here was the privileged one, enjoying the comfort of the soft cushions. I wondered how my aunt managed not to feel a bit of shame on having done this! Did she never feel anything when she saw Vidya and her older daughter perform two different chores, one having to struggle and the other enjoy the pleasures of life? The line of division between the privileged and the under privileged was now distinct and clear before me. It was malice at its best.

Vidya, her name suggested knowledge, education, something that she was being deprived of.  I was a spectator to a dirty game played by life on this girl whose dark brown eyes had deep sorrow in them. I could not see the spark, the happiness, the cheer that one often notices in the eyes of a young child. Instead I saw the grief, the helplessness and humiliation in her eyes. Those eyes that should have been bright and curious to know more of this big world was dull. Instead of a pen and book in her bag, there were old clothes and leftover food in them. The heart that should have nurtured the love for knowledge was now a grief stricken part of person.

Helpless or rather clueless of what I could do for her, I returned to my flat and shared my thoughts with my room-mate who at first smiled at my concern and posed a question at me for which I had no answer. She said that there were about 12.6 million child laborers in our country. Some work hard enough to only be able to feed their family and go hungry themselves. She said that these kids took up various techniques to combat hunger. They would tie a wet towel across their stomachs to not feel the hunger, drink a jug full of water and tire themselves to such an extent that they would not feel the pangs of an empty stomach. Was it possible for me to save all those kids? I could do something to save a few but what about the rest? What was the fate of the rest of such population? An even mightier question came across to me was, if children like Vidya would not work, how was she going to keep herself alive?

Well that was indeed a question, what would she do to remain alive if not to work? I did not have any answer to this but I very well knew what to do for Vidya. I knew that Vidya was an orphan and lived alone in a slum area at the outskirts of the city. I arranged for her to be put up at an orphanage in Indore and I am now her guardian. I made sure that Vidya attended school and all her necessities are being financed by me. She performed well at school and made it a point to inform me of her progress. I could now see the spark in her eyes, the spark I wished to see in her a few months back, the spark which had a power in it to live, to nurture the idea of living a better life, to get educated, to make it possible. What makes me happy further is that the branch of the bank for which I work, on having known of this entire episode and on having realized the potential that a single individual could bring about has taken up the initiative to sponsor ten children who have been victims of such cruelty.

Even then, I have a question, a very important question. If these children are forbidden from working, then who was going to provide for their families? Many of them are the children of poor men and women who are either ill or handicapped or not capable enough to fend for their families. These kids are bread earners and are the support pillars for their siblings who are unable to take up any kind of work. What was going to happen to them? What did the future hold for them? It is high time our so called well read, educated breed of thinkers, the government and the upper class think of it. Their resources of all kinds can help bring in a solution. Meanwhile, even if you cannot bring in a big change, commoners like you and me can try putting in a little effort towards rebuilding the broken soul of a little child, help them mend their lives and blossom into a brighter young future. It does not take much of your resources to do so. It is only the matter of a will to do that, to save a life, to save a child.

Copyright  ©2015 Elsa Thomas

Image courtesy: http://ctah.binghamton.edu/krizan/childlab.jpg

We Are Aware: Stop Domestic Violence by Fiza Pathan

We Are Aware: Stop Domestic Violence
by Fiza Pathan

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Calvin was reading the Times of India in his sitting room when he heard the doorbell ring. Folding the paper and keeping it aside, Calvin sauntered to the door, peeped through the keyhole and beamed. On the other side of the door was his old school friend Jonathan with a can of coke in his hand. Calvin opened the door and the two men hugged each other after which they sat down in the sitting room. Jonathan kept on drinking his coke while he narrated to Calvin the happenings at his work place in Mahim. Calvin listened patiently but his hands were longing to hold and get back to his newspaper, especially the sports section.

Just then, a sound of broken glass was heard. Jonathan stopped in mid sentence while Calvin seemed unconcerned. The sound of the broken glass was followed by the sounds of a woman screaming and a man gurgling abuses after abuses. Jonathan dropped his can of coke on the floor in fear.

“What the hell is that?” asked the perplexed Jonathan.

Calvin made a wry face, picked up his newspaper and pretended to concentrate on the contents of the paper.

Jonathan stared at Calvin in terror with his eyebrows raised. It seemed as if the sounds were coming from the flat next door. Jonathan to his shock heard more glasses breaking, a voice of a lady pleading in Marathi and a man upturning the furniture in the flat. Jonathan turned to look at Calvin and gazed at him angrily seeing that his friend was still scanning the sports pages of his newspaper.

The screams of the woman next door started getting louder. Jonathan picked up his can of coke and poured some of the fizzy liquid on Calvin’s face to get his attention.

“What the hell!” Calvin exclaimed, “Why did you have to pour your drink on me?”

“Can’t you see someone is in trouble next door,” yelled Jonathan, “Get up from your stupid sofa; we have got to save her.”

To Jonathan’s surprise Calvin laughed in a hushed manner.

“Come on Jonathan get real…this is their daily routine…”

“Whose daily routine?” asked Jonathan.

“Why…the family next door. It is like this, Mr. Telang after office goes to the pub to have a drink or two; he then comes back home fully intoxicated and starts acting psycho like throwing stuff at her, breaking the cutlery, whipping her, abusing her; Mrs. Telang shrieks and shouts but after a spell the whole situation ends. The idiot Mr. Telang goes to bed and poor dear old duty bound house wife Mrs. Telang cleans the mess in the house along with her scars and bruises…simple.”

Another piece of glass broke. The man next door had now started to hit the woman with something hard and her shrieks rattled Jonathan’s bony frame. Jonathan looked sternly at Calvin and said,

“Dude, this is domestic violence. We have to stop that guy.”

“Dude”, said Calvin, “It is their private matter…they do this all the time. Neither does Mrs. Telang complain nor do the other neighbours. So why should we interfere?”

Calvin wiped the coke stains of his face and went back to reading his newspaper. Jonathan focussed his ears on what was happening next door. In a moment or two it seemed like a table had overturned and Jonathan could hear the woman being kicked repeatedly…Calvin indifferently turned a page.

Jonathan rose up from his end of the sofa, yanked open Calvin’s door and started knocking the door of the Telang’s residence. Immediately the screaming and shouting stopped…Calvin shook his head in a frustrated manner as he watched Jonathan with an ashen grey face enter the room once again closing the door behind him.

The neighbouring flat was silent…Calvin put his newspaper down on the glass tea table and said,

“How did you make them stop?”

Jonathan stared at the carpeted floor his lips quivering in horror.

“Hey man I asked you how did you manage to stop them?”

Jonathan looked up at Calvin, “The room was in shambles; the man was kicking the woman in her private spot and that made her bleed…the dinner table was overturned upon her and her yellow sari was torn…I…I just asked them to keep quiet or I would inform the police and so he…they stopped and I came…came back here.’

Calvin ran his hand uncomfortably through his jet black hair. He then looked at Jonathan in the eye and said,

“You know they are going to do that again tomorrow so why even bother?”

Jonathan picked up his can of coke, took a huge chug of it and placed it on the glass tea table. The sound of broken glass being swept could be heard from the neighbouring flat. Jonathan said,

“Domestic violence is not a family matter…it is a social matter. Maybe I have not acted like some social activist and put that drunkard in jail but I did something that I guess no one in this building has ever done, not even you…”

Calvin raised his eyebrows before he said, “Which is…?”

Jonathan picked up the folded newspaper on the glass tea table. He rolled it up in his left hand saying,

“I made them aware that I knew what was going on is not right…awareness…that is all it takes. It is the first step to every social revolution; be it a nation-wide revolution or your regular family next door.”

Copyright © 2015 Fiza Pathan

http://endviolence.un.org/

Domestic Violence by Suman Simon

Domestic Violence
by Suman Simon

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I am honoured to have this opportunity to be a part of Miss Pathan’s venture to spread awareness about various social issues .The topic I have chosen to speak on in today’s article is that of Domestic Violence. Let us take a look.

According to Wikipedia, Domestic Violence is a pattern of behaviour which involves , violence or other abuse by one person in a domestic  context against another , such as in marriage or cohabitation.

Well frankly speaking, the above is just a pretty way of putting domestic violence. Aching bodies, multi coloured wounds of various types , blood , physical and psychological trauma and in some cases death , that in fact is the real face of the monster called Domestic Violence. Around 70% of women in India are victims of Domestic Violence and it’s observed far openly into the lower strata of people than in the higher strata of people. Almost 53% of women have NO knowledge of the “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act” which is very sad.

Every Morning my maid has her tales from the ‘basti’ she lives in, and every other day she recites to us , how one of her friends was beaten up by her husband or even her elder children . It leaves me wide  eyed and horrified but , Laxmi my maid is rather at ease , she has and so have her friends accepted it  as one of the bye products of being married into the lower strata  of people . On some occasions Laxmi herself shows up to work puffy and red eyed , beaten and rather horrid looking and there are days , when she comes to work , just to get away from the horrid memories of the previous night , only to return to them later the same night . I  have been privileged enough to observe the live of slum dwellers  closely, and I have observed that , the way they live , their attitude towards life and the society around then all seem oblivious to Domestic Violence as a crime or something unnatural but brush it off by calling it “ghar ka mamla ” or a household matter.

Picture this , a small dingy little room , a woman in her 20’s is preparing food and waiting for her husband  to return , the clock strikes eleven thirty pm , and a very drunk man barges into his forty eight square foot home and shouts to his wife to prepare food for him while he changes into his night clothes , and while walking into the house he manages to drop a utensil , which  wakes up  the sleeping newborn , the shrieking cries if the baby irritate him and in an instant his belt is in his hand and he is pelting his wife and cursing her while asking her why she couldn’t put the baby to sleep before he arrived , and why wasn’t his food ready for him to eat and he keeps whipping her mercilessly . Along with the baby’s wailing   , belt on skin and the painful and helpless shrieks of a woman can now be heard throughout the neighbourhood. This goes on till he gets too tired to belt her anymore and then flops down and snoozes off soon enough. The woman after the assault is now bleeding from her back , hands  ,her face is bruised , swollen , her blouse and saree are torn up , she is suppressing her cries so as to not disturb the husband , the pain unbearable ,she moves and taking her crying baby , she feeds it , and puts it back to sleep, the house is still again , the stove still burning , she can’t sleep  , she sits in one corner awake wide eyed with a horror stricken face waiting and wishing that her husband wakes up  in normalcy.

I believe, we are in the hour of awakening, and that NOW is the time to make a lasting impression. We all speak of Women Empowerment, I guess it’s time we put our words into action. The story I mentioned here is that of Savita when she was just a year into her new marriage back in 2009. She lived in the famous Dharavi slum in Mumbai , her husband was  a field labourer for the MCGM and the story is almost identical for the other women in her slum as well. You  must be thinking why didn’t  she leave then and there , well she did leave in the morning while her husband was at work but returned back in the evening , when she went back to her maternal home her mother refused to take her back and explained to  her that there isn’t much they can  do in bettering the situation and suggested that she take better care for the husband and that she try and not do anything to make him mad at her . You see after she has been married off, she is then the responsibility of her husband, after which he can do as he pleases with her and no one will question him . That is the sorry state of women in our country .Let us start here.

Today the very same Savita, is a working mother separated from her husband after  seeking help from an NGO, and after some years of rehabilitation , she now helps other victims of domestic violence to get back their lives and on their feet.

Let us change the way we think, and let us DO the actions as we are meant to as humans. If you hear a story don’t shrug it off, offer help, help them lead the life they deserve, and just maybe because of your help you may save their life.

Let us empower with our Actions.

Copyright © 2015 Suman Simon

http://endviolence.un.org/

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