Friday, 19 October 2012

Two Pink Dresses

Malala Yousufzai is a young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban because she was against their idea of banning girls from schools. She wanted to be educated, wanted to go to school. She is 14, and currently hospitalized in Britain after a surgery she underwent in Peshawar. Her condition remains precarious. 

A lot of things are not right.

These are terrible times when we expect political maturity from 14 years old. Children are supposed to have free minds. Not corrupted. They are supposed to fall not in line with any propaganda, until someone comes along and washes their brains, by which time, they have usually matured. Children are not dangerous. They can't be. They learn from what they see around them. And so did Malala. You can't hold her responsible for that. But most importantly, children learn. They can be educated. Old people cannot. There is a certain adage about old dogs and new tricks, but I won't repeat that here.

Malala's blog was her bane. She wrote about the disruption of normal life in Mingora, her town, and living under a cloud of terror. She wrote that "she wore her pink dress to school when the principal asked them not to wear uniforms any more so as to not attract attention."

Farzana is a Kashmiri. She was born last month and abandoned by her parents at birth. Abandoned. Left lying the hospital, just like that. Like a polythene bag they forgot to take back after picnic. She had a cleft lip and palate. Babies that small are busy in a world of their own. If they realised the grief of this one, Farzana would have questioned her parents. And questioned them woefully. But she left the questions and woes to be decided later on. After repeated appeals to various NGOs for adoption, Farzana was adopted by a childless couple two weeks after her birth. It is customary to dress girls in pink. And boys in blue. Some kind people at the GB Pantt, hospital dressed Farzana in pink woolens.


***

I hadn't heard about Yousufzai till she was shot, but she somehow, reminded me of a couplet by Urdu poet Moulana Hali. One of our Urdu teachers in school had a great talent for recalling verses. She'd recite them very passionately too. Once our class room had to be used as exam centre for the Board Exams of Class 12th. She enquired which school had been allotted this centre  and it turned out to be some all-girls school. At once she rubbed the blackboard clean and wrote this verse for the girls who would sit in the class. I copied it down. 


ا ے  ماؤ ،بہنو ، بیٹیو  دنیا  کی زینت  تم  سے  ہے
ملکوں کی بستی  ہو تم ہی قوموں کی عزت تم سے ہے 
تم گھر کی ہو شہزادیاں' شہروں کی ہو آبادیاں 
غمگیں دلوں کی شادیاں ، دکھ سکھ میں راحت تم سے ہے 


(Aye maao behno betiyo, dunya ki zeenat tum say hai
Mulkon ki basti ho tum hi, Qomon ki Izzat tum say hai
Tum ghar ki ho shehzaadiyan, shehron ki ho aabadiyan
Ghamgeen dilon ki shaadiyan, dukh sukh mein raahat tum say hai)


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