Saturday 13 October 2012


A river streamed 
through my room.

It scared me
It broke my wardrobe
Scattered my clothes
It released my dresses
from yesterday's bond
It made me wear them

I wore it
and it wore me
Reminded me...
Oh God, it was my love's 
favourite, this dress,
and this waistband
and all these things...

A river streamed
through my room
And my room
became a garden.

Some years ago I watched a documentary called Syria's School. For me, these occasional glimpses into the lives of my younger sisters across the globe afford precious viewing. The documentary offered the girls at school the opportunity to write, and present poetry, to some of the leading literary minds in Syria. One poem captured my heart, moved me so deeply, I rushed to find a pen and scribbled the poem (above) from memory. The poet's name was Nour Aibash. I wonder where she is now, and if she is still writing. Last year, I watched a documentary on Gaza's children, and a little girl called Amal tugged at me, so I wrote her a poem called 'Crossing Borders'. She has shrapnel buried in her brain, behind her eyes. You can imagine how this affects me. I cannot think of Amal without my eyes blurring with tears but I hold her in my thoughts. Across the globe, the fierce courage of Malala Yousafzai is less unknown....
Gunned down just three days ago, Malala takes our breath away because she is still fighting for her life, knowing her worth, knowing there is a greater battle awaiting her for the rest of her life. Awarded Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize, this lovely 14 year old has already witnessed beheadings, public floggings, and is the recipient of constant death threats. This violence has been countered by her lucky fate of being born the daughter of a poet, and educational activist, who has inspired in her the stubborn, feisty spirit of boldness that I recognise in myself - a father who is proud of his daughter, and tells her so openly from a young age, plants a seed of belief that no other man can destroy.
Malala means 'grief-stricken' in Pashtun. The thing that Malala's father feared the most has come to pass, but recognising the face of this kind of courage, I feel sure Malala is glad it is her and not her father who stood before the bullets. Aung San Suu Kyi is the perfect example of this face of courage, of a daughter determined to live the life of a beloved father cut short in his heroic prime. It is a good time to be a woman, Malala. Despite the adversary trying to convince us otherwise, you are the greatest proof of it.

(A wonderful documentary called Class Dismissed about Malala in 'her' Swat Valley was filmed by Adam B. Ellick in 2009 should you wish to know more.) 


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Shaista, the story of this girl hit me so hard - I also wrote about her a few days ago (Because I Am a Girl). I applaud her, and every word you have written in tribute to her fierce spirit. I want to scoop her up and bring her to safety, but cannot. I am so glad to learn her father is enlightened - her intelligence and courage had to come from somewhere - yes, a father's belief sets the path of one's life, when one is fortunate in their fathers, as are you and Malala.

RNSANE said...

Oh, Shaista, I haven't seen you in awhile. I have just celebrated my 68h birthday here in Jaipur in my 4th month. I return to San Francisco in a month.

These stories of brave young children - and they are children, really, are so sad. As a nurse in the area of women's health and treatment of rape and child sexual abuse, I hear such horrible stories & they have left their imprints on my heart. We, as women, must offer our support in any way possible to these heroines who inspire all of us.

I am happy to see you again, you, also a crusader and one so brave.

Ruth said...

It is a simple a request, so why must it be so hard?

Your poem is a wonderful vision. She is planting a garden in our hearts around the world with her courage. As has Aung San Suu Kyi. As has Shaista. Your courage against lupus is buoyed by these, I think.

Andrew said...

Thank you for the post, and the video.

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

Dear crusader for good,
I love that. Warrior on, dear one.
writing from my beloved Chiang Mai.

Click to leave a comment