Saturday, 21 June 2008


i found a new blog today (which i've now added to my blogroll) as a result of my post yesterday at the hand mirror. this is the thing i love most about blogging and the internet - the connections you can make with people who don't know you and who don't even know you're reading their words and are extremely moved and inspired by them.

i now feel connected to frida, because she's opened up new things for me. for a start, the work she has done in afghanistan and the photographs she has taken remind of where i want to be. as i read and looked, i felt ever so much more constrained by my responsibilities. responsibilities to my children, more precious to me than anything in the world, and who still need me here to raise them and nurture them.

but somehow i can't wait to break free from here, and be where she is and do what she's doing. i know i've written about this before, but it reiterated for me the fact that i don't want to spend my final days in a comfortable bed reminiscing over my life as it slowly ebbs out of me. i want to be where i can make a difference, a practical difference, to the lives of people who have been devastated by the destruction that human beings wreak on one another every day on this planet. i want my death to be of some use, as much as i hope my life will be.

it's not about making grand heroic gestures, and i know how perilously close that last sentence is to being the last words of a suicide bomber. but that's not what i mean. it's more the peaceful protest, the quiet gesture of defiance against oppression, which creates little ripples and improves the lives of a few people. i'm reminded of a photograph i've seen of a peace protester, a little woman no more than 5 feet tall, standing alone with arms outstretched in front of a tank, at a risky moment in one of the world's most volatile hotspots. what a beautiful moment of courage it was. incidentally, this woman died a year later of lung cancer, in her bed, in her home, in her country of origin.

thanks to frida, i found this speech by j k rowling. even if you've never read one of her books, or have read them and hate them, it's definitely a speech worth reading. and worth putting into practice. i think of my experience of last weekend, sitting in a room full of anger and vengeance, and i know that the thing missing was empathy. not empathy for the victim of course, that is too easy. but empathy for the offenders, which is indeed a difficult thing.

so i'm sitting here today feeling constrained, feeling as if i'm not doing what i want to be doing; but contenting myself with the fact that i can still do as much as i can, in the place where i live, to improve the lives of people in little ways. and there is always the hope that in the future, i'll be able to move to those more difficult places and make a difference there.

in the meantime, there are people like frida to do it for me. thank you.


Deborah said...

Anjum, the work you do with migrant women leaves me feeling humbled. And you do this while rearing your children and holding down a job. You are more than doing your bit to make this world a better place, and I so admire what you are doing in the here and now.

(Not that Frida isn't amazing too. I took a look at her blog - wow!)

Shadia said...

WOW. That JK Rowling speech was magnificent. Profoundly sad, but also uplifting. I like how, in this age of continual buck-passing and excuse-making, she manages to pass on the message of our individual responsibility, even for things that happen on the other side of the world.

Thanks for that link.