Thursday, July 19, 2007

A sad poem from the rubble of the Red Mosque

Apologies for not posting much these days. After having spend ten days in Islamabad, Pakistan, I'm now back in Beirut, Lebanon.

As these are sad times, find below a poem, written by what me and my translator think is a 12-14 year old Pakistani girl from the Red Mosque.

I found this poem in the rubble of the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) after the Pak army took control of it.

During my visit to the Red Mosque (last Thursday), I walked through the female quarter of the compound. At one point I was alone in a room. Soldiers were patrolling outside, in the corridor. My eye fell on some notebooks and without thinking I took one and stuffed it into my bag. Maybe not a very respectful thing to do. At the other hand - these notebooks will eventually be cleaned up by the Pakistani government and, most probably, end up in some waste container.

As I had no idea if there was actually anything written in the notebook, I opened it upon arriving at my hotel.

At first, I was disappointed. Only three pages were written on. But after a Pakistani friend started translating the Urdu written pages, my interest grew. Except for her name and some useless words on page one, the following two pages were actually a poem. As my friend started translating, he looked at me and said: "It is kind of a beautiful, but very sad poem."

It is written by a young girl who followed a summer course in the Red Mosque. It seems she was placed at the mosque by her parents in order to study (memorize) the Quran. I have no idea if she wrote the poem during the siege or before.

But although those at the Red Mosque were obsessed with God, the girl does not once refere to God or religion. These are words, from the heart, written by a lonely girl who feels abandoned and misses her family. She doesn't need God - she needs love.

I know the girl's full name, but will only publish her first name here: Nasira. This because I am trying to track her down. This might take some time.

Concerning her whereabouts, there are two possibilities: Either she got out of the Red Mosque alive or she went missing, which probably means she died during the siege / storming of the mosque.

I will post every now and then about my efforts to find the whereabouts of this girl.

The poem goes as follows (original in Urdu, the punctuation is hers):


Oh mother, dear mother,
Why are you so [far] away.
Please tell me the secret, mother.
I am yours so please take me [to you],
And then please embrace me.
Oh mother, dear mother.

Under the shade of your veil,
I have all my memories.
In the shadow of your courtyard,
My stream flows.
Oh mother, dear mother.

It is said, that the mothers heart is very tender.
I am calling for you, so please come.
Oh mother, dear mother.
I am crying here alone.
I am worried, mother.
Make all these walls collapse,
And show me your glimpse.
Oh mother, dear mother.
Your Nasira is alone.
Call her towards you, dear mother.
And embrace her.
Save her from this deceiving world.
Oh mother, dear mother.

I remember those moments.
They make me cry.
I used to sleep in your courtyard.
Call me again to you, oh mother, dear mother.
Whenever I miss you,
It makes me cry.
Embrace me again.
Call me to you.
Oh mother, dear mother.

Poem by: Nasira

Harald Doornbos


Remco said...

It's a sad, sad world sometimes. Luckily there's also beauty everywhere.

Thanks for sharing this.

core said...

voelt beetje ongepast om dit te melden na deze tranentrekker..., maar goed.

In je links verwijs je naar Bureau Belgrado. Deze is niet meer.....het is geworden.

Harald Doornbos said...

ja, en als je bureaubelgrado opent dan zie je vervolgens tien keer een link naar de hetnieuweeuropa blog. Dus dat is een keer doorklikken, niet echt dramatisch lijkt me.

ella said...

I hope nothing happened to this young girl and you will be able to find her and talk with her.
It is very beautiful and touching poem. Thank you for posting it.

Emiel Elgersma said...

Should be a great story if you find this girl! Thanks for sharing, Emiel