It was an unusual mix. Two priests, a nun, two devout Catholics, and me, a heathen. We cooked and cleaned and shared small tasks, and important for me, I paid a rent of only eight pounds a week. I was never sure on what criteria I had been accepted into the ‘community’ but as I was working my way through university, I was happy to accept. We lived in the Catholic chaplaincy of Liverpool University, just opposite the Students Union Building. Living smack in the middle of campus also meant I had no transport costs.
There was no way my schoolteacher mum and government servant dad, could pay for their son’s overseas education, so I was on my own and money was always tight. I worked weekends, holidays, and evenings to pay for my student fees and my keep.
For celebrated Bangladeshi photographer, writer and curator Shahidul Alam, a just world is a plural space where many thoughts can coexist. His latest show, Embracing the Other, opens in Dhaka on May 8
“If you?re not making certain people uncomfortable by your presence, you are probably doing something wrong.? Bangladesh?s best-known photographer, writer and curator Shahidul Alam, 61, has lived by that adage, which, by and large, sums up why he does what he does.
For Alam, who has been actively involved in the movement for democracy in Bangladesh for over three decades, photojournalism was a corollary of being an activist on the streets, seeking to see himself on the edge, so as to constantly ?feel the heat?, questioning, going beyond the obvious, not settling for safe options.
In Bangladesh, Alam is credited with many ?firsts?: Among other things, he set up Drik Picture Library, the country?s first picture agency, in 1989; Pathshala, its first photo school in 1998; and the first email network in the country in 1994. He also founded the first photo festival in Asia, Chobi Mela, in 2000. Continue reading “Embracing the Other”
Awake, quiet, in the deep of the night
I dread the sound, you bleating tonight
Your tiny toes, tied tight with twine
Your tiny body, pinned by people fine
Children circling, in fright, in glee
Butcher with knife, crouching on knee
You’ll struggle in vain, a muffled cry
Blood spurts on floor, who questions why?
Is someone out there, a baby even?
Who wants just you, cares not for heaven?
What God needs blood, as proof of love?
Who swaps money for blood, for life above?
A shopping spree, stars on TV
What’s one goat less, for you and for me?
It is quiet again, respite from heat
The sound remains, I’ll remember your bleat.
Original 12 September 2016. Edited 31 July 2020
POETIC VOICES of the MUSLIM WORLD
I am a Muslim:
The rose is my qibla.
The stream my prayer-rug,
the sunlight my clay tablet.
My mosque the meadow.
I rinse my arms for prayers
along with the thrum and
pulse of windows.
Through my prayers streams
the moon, the refracted
light of the sun.
SOHRAB SEPEHRI (1928-1980, IRAN), FROM WATER?S FOOTFALLTRANSLATED FROM THE FARSI BY KAZIM ALI WITH MOHAMMED JAFAR MAHALLATI
The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@ tribune.com.pk
The passing of the first death anniversary of?Neil Armstrong?last week is an opportunity to reflect on our own connection (admittedly flimsy) with the first man on the moon. Two years before Armstrong landed on the moon, Ghulam Abbas wrote?Dhanak, one of the best satirical short stories (The short story has been ably adapted by Shahid Nadeem into a play named?Hotel Mohenjodaro) of all times, and unnervingly prescient. Written in 1967, the story begins with the first man landing on moon, not Armstrong, but a Pakistani PAF Captain, Adam Khan. Local and international dignitaries gather on the rooftop garden of the 71-storied Hotel Mohenjodaro in Karachi to listen to Adam Khan?s message from the moon. His brief message is, ?I am Captain Adam Khan. I come from the district of Jhang in Punjab ? I have landed safely. All praise to Allah ? Pakistan Zindabad.? Continue reading “The Dark Side of the Moon”
Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God. I HAVE been a?practicing?Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention?s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be ?subservient? to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. Continue reading “Losing my religion for equality?by Jimmy Carter”
SUPREME Court lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, 39, initiated a writ petition immediately after the violent attacks of September 29, 2012 when innumerable Buddhist monasteries, temples and houses in Ramu, Cox?s Bazar district, were set on fire, pillaged and looted by Bengali Muslim men, mostly youths. The attackers included both locals and outsiders, angered at the news that a picture defaming the Holy Qur?an had been discovered on a Buddhist youth Uttam Kumar Barua?s facebook account. Investigative reports reveal that the allegations against Uttam were manufactured since the picture had been tagged to his account; credible news reports also reveal that the attacks were pre-planned and pre-meditated, a view subscribed to by both the ruling party and the major opposition party, who, however, blame each other for the attacks.
Jyotirmoy Barua returned to Bangladesh last year after completing his Bar-at-Law; he lived in the UK for nearly nine years, partly financing his studies as karate instructor. He has filed the writ on the basis of being personally ?aggrieved? since he belongs to Ramu. It challenges the ?inaction? of the police; hearings have begun.
The interview is based on transcripts of recorded conversations held with Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua on four different occasions totaling more than fifteen hours. I am grateful to him for having taken me into his confidence, for having gone through the draft and suggested modifications.Continue reading “Communal attacks in Ramu: of family feuds and corporate culture”