Cries from Syria

Published April 30, 2016 by sidmary

Four years later and still… #AleppoisBurning

portfoliopassionsandpurple

Syria Children of Freedom Syria Children of Freedom (Photo credit: FreedomHouse)

For once, I have no words for what is happening. Is it medieval times, or dark ages? Is it ancient customs of physical hate, or the primitive nature of brute men? What is happening? Where is the world going? Is it the new Holocaust? When will this end? When will the strife and the perseverance, the strength and the patience bear results?!

Children don’t die! They are the symbol of life! If they can carry their flag, and with it their dead: they will win… Nasr-um-min-Allah-wa-Fat-hun-qareeb!! (Help and victory from Allah is near!)

It’s the dead waiting to be buried. The hands and the burial grounds are wailing and exhausted…Young and old, men and women, children: the martyrs call for peace…Its a call from the wild… When children die, they shake the heavens… Humanity cries… They are children!! Are we to have a holocaust…

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No Apology

Published June 19, 2015 by sidmary

Mehreen Kasana

On my way to class, I take the Q train to Manhattan and sit down next to an old white man who recoils a noticeable bit. I assume it’s because I smell odd to him, which doesn’t make sense because I took a shower in the morning. Maybe I’m sitting too liberally the way men do on public transit with their legs a mile apart, I think to myself. That also doesn’t apply since I have my legs crossed. After a few seconds of inspecting any potential offence caused, I realize that it has nothing to do with an imaginary odor or physical space but with the keffiyeh around my neck that my friend gifted me (the Palestinian scarf – an apparently controversial piece of cloth). It is an increasingly cold October in NYC. Sam Harris may not have told you but we Muslims need our homeostasis at a healthy…

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For the Love of Learning

Published March 4, 2015 by sidmary

Who among us has never seen or experienced the early morning frenzy that seizes the households where everyone has to leave for some place or the other and reach before a certain time? School students, college students, university students, office workers…it is a routine unmanned by occupation. However early you get up, and however fast you get ready, the clock in the morning ticks at an unparalleled speed trying to make you late.

What if in this situation, in the time it takes you to hear the horn, open the door and move out, your van leaves? What if, even as you stand at the gate, you see the receding behind of the indomitable vehicle mocking you in the face for the one second delay? At least once in a lifetime, this has happened with most of us.

But wait…! What if your wish or need to get to school, or college overpowers the misery and seething anger you are feeling at the situation? What if you get into your car and drive across half the city to reach the institution, only to realize that you are one minute late and cannot enter the premises? Blam! There goes the world crumbling around you; one more morning incident to fire your nerves and heat your blood. You go quickly over the schedule of the day in your mind weighing how important attending classes today was…and you comfort yourself with the conclusion that you will get notes from your friend and all will be fine. Then you go home and plop on the bed, making up for the sleep you lost last night making an assignment you had to submit today.

What a comedy of errors! Or maybe a tragedy? Who knows? However, there is one very important aspect to this not uncommon scenario that it would a tragedy to not explore: the policy of educational institutions to send students back home even if they are half a minute late. Yes, just thirty seconds worth of delay.

Let us look first at the reasons for this strict policy. It is majorly because institutions want to instill the value of punctuality in their students, and maintain some decorum in the school that such strict policies are made; and yet one is forced to question: is all fine with this?

The early schools which were the centers of learning and research were homely places where all were welcome. They were institutes from where learning developed and advanced, and the forbears of the educational institutions we have today. They developed the sciences which are taught in our schools today, but what were their salient features? These were schools which remained open at all times. It was sin to close the doors of learning on those who sought them. Knowledge was sacred, and withholding it from the seeker was blasphemy.

In the modern day, when education has been institutionalized, rules and policies are required to be stricter. Students are and should be expected to adhere to certain norms of behavior, but the strict policy and rule making should follow some rules too. Humans are not sheep- all to be herded indiscriminately by the same stick, and education and learning is not a child’s play to be taken lightly and undervalued by the centers of education themselves.

To instill punctuality in students and maintain the decorum of schools and colleges, penalties are and should be issued to those who undervalue the importance of learning and those who are religiously non-punctual, but to send students home who are late once in a blue moon and with genuine reason is blasphemy! What educational institutions encourage this way is students going home and sleeping the productive morning hours away. Along with the student, they are equally to blame for the loss of precious time and perhaps more for not understanding the value and importance of one whole day of learning.

It is about time that educational institutions make policies with practicality and the objective of learning in their minds. The effort of one who wakes up in the wee morning hours, gets ready and travels a good half hour or more to get to school or college should be appreciated and respected, and more than the clock’s face should be considered when sending one back down the same path they took to learning.

Open-Book

–Sidra Maryam

Storm

Published February 12, 2015 by sidmary

THERE

On that hot summer’s day, the woman was was dragged out of her house. The area was deserted but for this group of people- and it was day. It was so hot, one could barely stand being out in the sun- and it was desolate.

The woman had a baby in her arms to whom she clung as if her life depended on it. A look of naked terror and horror adorned her face- and yet she was brave.

They led her to the center of the wide lane beyond the house where the ground was coarse and burning under her feet. Dust and sand settled on it for there was no wind.

They took the baby from her, and she tried to hold on, pleading and screaming. The baby was crying too now- writhing- extending his arms towards his mother, and bawling in the fierce grip of the men. His face was soaked, and her tears fell readily to the ground. One wondered why leaves did not sprout where they fell- but tears are salty…

They held her by the arms and pulled her away, and it took three men to do so. She looked at the angel’s face, then looked away. She looked up at the sun which glared down upon her without mercy, and she looked at the sky which was blazing white, and hurting her eyes. She then looked to the horizon, where far beyond the line of her vision, there were other people and other children.

She then looked at the ground and fell on her knees, covering her baby in his royal mantle from heaven by her body.

Somewhere afar, seas, and crimson blood, and rain and love and pain washed ashore in wild, furious and passionate waves that reached deep into the earth and high up to the heavens. The sun suddenly dimmed, as if a switch had been turned off, and the waves slowly receded, losing their tumult in their mournful sorrow.

HERE

“How very tragic,” said Saima, scanning the newspaper at the breakfast table and simultaneously dipping a piece of toast in her tea.

“What darling?” her husband looked up distractedly, sounding vaguely concerned.

NOW

Saima went to the office after sending her children to school. She had a long wearisome day, and came home late in the afternoon when her children were quietly playing in the playroom, attended by their nurse.

She washed up and fell into bed, thoroughly exhausted, for a long nap.

As she slept, dark clouds gathered on the horizon far far away.

Occasionally, a passerby would stop and look up towards it, a frown creasing his brow, before he would busy himself again. A few television channels and even news-reporters did a short report on the weather condition, assuring the people that there was nothing to worry about. Some of the newspapers too published a short column on the conditions the next day. When Saima saw them at the breakfast table, she said again: “How very tragic!” and her looked up, a frown creasing his brow, vaguely concerned.

LATER

The storm brewed and brewed, and the clouds darkened, and no one knew how, but suddenly they were upon the city, darkening everything.

It was not a storm- it was apocalypse.

The sky tore apart in flashes of bright, white light, and the sky fell onto the earth- but it was crying from more than anger- it was crying from hurt too…and it was as if it was not the sky pouring down, but the sea- and yet, leaves did not sprout, because it was the city, and all the paths were graveled.

The wind howled in every ear, and they all heard- probably for the first time ever. People came out of their homes, and for the first time, they saw too.

Saima gathered her children in her arms, and ran towards the closest, widest expanse of plain land: the mosque. There were already so many people there, one could almost be sure it was apocalypse.

She looked about her, the terror in her heart peeping at the world from behind her eyes. These ran now over many words plastered on the walls. Disjointed words leapt into her visions- words that said “faith” and “brothers” and “body” and “pain”1. Words that said “haraj’ and “bloodshed” and “bloodshed”2.

She closed her eyes, but the mist gathered and her face was wet. The ground shook beneath her feet and she held her children to herself in a vice-like grip. Her eyes were still closed and her children held onto her in terror.

The sky still raged, the wind still howled, and the ground still shook. They reminded one of the seas, and crimson blood, and rain and love and pain, all washed ashore in angry tumult…

–Sidra Maryam

First Hour

Published September 14, 2014 by sidmary

At what fortunate hour

Did the clock if Life

Begin its tour?

.

Was it yet dark

When life began

With the singing of a single lark?

.

Or was it day

bathed in golden light

By the sun’s first foray?

.

Was it as the sun’s descent began,

That trees first breathed

Upon new-born man?

.

Or did stars twinkle in their hold;

Young and smiling, as they watched

The magic of Life unfold?

.

Alas! sad Truth!

We cannot know!

We cannot know for sure!

.

But if I were

To make a guess

Upon the hour

.

Then I would say

It is the time

Of launch of day!

.

It was I think, at first light.

The purple blend of coming day

And going night

.

That man first breathed

And clouds first swam.

Trees first stretched

And birds first sang.

.

And God above,

looked down and smiled.

And life began.

–Sidra Maryam

Boundaries

Published July 21, 2014 by sidmary

When I look up at the sky

I look for clouds

That will rain,

And blur the boundaries

of countries

fears

selfishness

hatred

comfort

and pride.

.

Because across them brethren,

We are one.

.

But for now-

As bombs rain down on you,

demolishing mosques,schools and homes,

tearing apart limbs and families,

Orphaning infants,

drawing excruciating screams from mothers,

And only raising your spirits further-

I writhe and scream in pain,

And shed tears from a ripped and tortured heart,

Handicapped

by boundaries.

.

Bombs rain down on me

Leaving no landscape unchanged.

I see my limbs tortured and spread about me,

Each aching and screaming.

.

Because beneath the fences,

The land is one.

.

We look up at the sky,

For clouds

That will rain,

And smudge the boundaries

Into one terrain…

–Sidra Maryamchild

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