Technology Creates Family Divide

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Are the famous words echoed by Albert Einstein.

Interestingly, the dining table which my father had got made for all five of us, with so much enthusiasm, is now only used by my grandparents. My parents and I watch television while eating, in complete silence. All of us live under the same roof but lead independent lives.  I never realised how technology was taking over my life before I was asked to write this debate.

Technology, today, has had an adverse effect on people. We have become so dependent on technology that it is becomes a herculean task to function without it.

I am certain almost everyone present here has WhatsApp on their phones. Such apps only allow users to send messages to each other.  There are times when the one-on-one communication between human beings falls through the cracks and technology can take control over a family. As a result of this, people who extensively use this application, over time fail to communicate properly.

Children and often adults are glued to their smart phones. The family does not talk to each other, but to other people not present there. Communication between family members forms the base of a healthy family. When this base is not strong, the relationship built on it is very unstable.

Children, teenagers and even adults have become addicted to social networking sites. Teenagers always complain that their parents don’t give them their “space”. I think we all lament about our parents being too overprotective aren’t I right? But the same child who wanted their “space” will updated his Facebook status stating where he is going, what he is doing and who he is with.

Social media has created a block between parents and their children. Although we cannot only say that children are culprits of being victims of the trap of technology.

My mother was me telling about how one of her students, when she went home, she was exceedingly excited to tell her parents about how she was selected to be a member of the editorial board. Though, when she finally went home her parents were working on their laptops. She tried to tell them but they were too busy in their work. In a while her excitement died out and she told them the next day when they were free.

We can see how laptops have evidently led to weakening of the bond of family.

Remember the good old days? When there was only one T.V in the house and all the family members would huddle around the small blue screen to watch one movie. I for one find it completely impossible to watch the same shows as my parents. We have three T.V’s in the house. Every night I have to watch one of my favourite shows House M.D. I cannot possibly watch the melodramatic serials my mother watches. You see how the television has separated the family….

Let’s take a journey back 15 years; when children our age had no phone at all. Now-a-days even a six year old has an iPhone. My Aunt and Uncle find it easier to hand their four year old an iPad than rather spend time with him. They are so tired after work they seem to find it an easier alternative. Don’t you see how technology is taking over our lives?

The bond between a parent and child should be given time and nurtured. However, with this rapid increase in use of technology this relationship is becoming weaker.

31st December, on New Year’s Eve, I went for a party with my parents to my cousins house. We were three teenagers in one room. Instead of what you might assume, we were all texting our other friends and checking our Facebook news feed; while the void of silence was filled by the T.V. Our parents on the other hand, seemed to be having a lot more fun than us. They were chatting and dancing to their heart’s content.

Isn’t technology affecting our social skills? Isn’t it overpowering our lives and entangling us in its vicious web?

I would like to end with the words of Dave Eggers said, “Here though, there are no oppressors. No one’s forcing you to do this. You willingly tie yourself to these leashes. And you willingly become utterly socially autistic. You no longer pick up on basic human communication clues. You’re at a table with three humans, all of whom are looking at you and trying to talk to you, and you’re staring at a screen! Searching for strangers in… Dubai!”

© Asavari Singh

Be Careful Where You Tread…….

Be careful where you tread,

The world is not what it was before.

It is a sinister place we live in,

No place for the naïve souls that take birth on this once holy soil.

Evil has taken over the minds of the world today,

It has misled them to do criminal deeds…..

Deeds no one is proud of.

We have turned on our very mother nature

It gave us life,

It gave us food and shelter.

Still we are ungrateful.

The place that is our only home,

We continue to befoul it,

Filling it with disgust.

Wake! Wake from your sleep!

Look at the world around you,

Look at the filth in mind and soil.

Wake to see the hatred!

Be careful where you tread,

The world is not what it was before.

I am Malala

Brief

Narrator: Malala Yousafzai, is a courageous girl who fought for girls’ education, but shot in the head by the Taliban to end her campaign. Even after this tragic incident she continued to fight for what she believed in. She faced adversity with all her might and emerged victorious.

Scene 1: A day at home in the life of Malala before she was shot by the militants

Curtain to remain closed.

Malala: Not many girls in Pakistan go to school, though I was one of the fortunate ones who did. I never fancied getting up early in the morning, but then I had to go to school.

Malala Exits.

Father: Time to get up, Jani mun!

Malala: A few more minutes, Aba, please!

Pause.

Mother: Pisho! Get up Malala you are late for school!

Pause.

Malala: I was initially hesitant on how to write a diary. Every week I would talk to my father’s friend – Abdul Hai Kakar – who was also a BBC correspondent.  He would ask me questions about my day, my dreams and my feelings. I wrote under the name of Gul Makai, so my identity would not be revealed, as it was dangerous to do so otherwise.

Curtain opens

Malala and her family sitting next to the radio listening to the news.

News channel: We should only follow Islam. Women should not be allowed to go outside the house without a male member of the family. Women should wear burqas. Girls should not go to school. Schools for girls should be banned.

Malala: Aba, are we ever going to close Kushal School?

Father: Never ever Jani mun! Education is everyone’s right. It is wrong not to let girls be educated.

Narrator: Ziauddin, Malala’s father’s friend Abdul Hai Kakar was a BBC correspondent. He wanted a female teacher or a girl to write a diary about life under the Taliban. Malala decided to write the diary.

Phone rings. Father picks up phone.

Father: Hello?

Hai Kakar: Hello Ziauddin! It’s been a long time since we last talked, hasn’t it?

Father: Yes, indeed it has!

Hai kakar: How is your school doing these days?

Father: Its doing much better than before. We have five new admissions this month. It is great progress.  I won’t take more of your time. I’ll call Malala. Just a moment.

Father: Malala!

Malala: Coming Aba!

Malala: Hello!

Hai kakar: Malala! How are you today dear?

Malala: I’m okay…. I had a terrible dream…. It was filled with military helicopters and the Taliban. I was so scared! I keep having such awful dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. Another strange thing happened on my way home from school. I heard a man say, “I will kill you!” I was so frightened. In panic I quickened my pace. After I was some distance away from him, to my relief, I realised he was talking on the phone.

Curtain closes.

Scene 2: Malala gets shot while traveling to school

Narrator: Taliban power begins to grow in Pakistan.  Fazullah begins to instigate people to only follow him and not the western world. He condemned the practices of the western worlds.

Narrator: One Tuesday, 9th October 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price.  Shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, she was not expected to survive.

Malala is traveling back home from school in the bus with her friends.(14 girls and 3 teachers)

Shazia: Moniba, the curry your Ami made today was delicious!

Malala: Yes it was! The best I’ve ever had!

Moniba: Thank you!

(Other girls talking to themselves, some laughing, playing games)

Moniba: Oh God! I hate when there is traffic and the bus keeps stopping.

Malala: Moniba, don’t make such a big fuss. We will be home in no time.

Narrator: The naïve girls did not know of the lurking danger outside. Little did they know that two men sent by the Taliban were standing outside the bus.

Men stand in front of the bus forcing bhai jan to stop the bus. Enter the bus. Men have big guns.

Man 1: Who is Malala?

Usman Bhai Jan (bus driver): I cannot tell you such information. It is against the policies of the school.

Man 2: Stop this nonsense of yours! Tell us who is Malala!

Everyone keeps quiet. Children terrified. Even teachers were scared. Some children (3) look towards Malala. Gunman sees.

Men get irritated. One of them firs at random. Gun shot sound.

Girls get shot. Shout in pain and fright. Malala falls forward.

Narrator: Three girls had to pay the price of Taliban’s brutality. Malala, Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan. The three of them were shot by the men sent by the Taliban forces to supress the young youth Malala-the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban.

Narrator: One bullet hit the left side of Malala’s forehead, traveled under her skin the length of her face and then into her shoulder, Shazia was shot in the collar bone and her left hand and kainat was grazed by a bullet on top of her right arm.

Malala: Usman Bhai Jan realised what had happened and drove the dyna- the bus, to Swat Central Hospital. I was terrified at that time. It was like hell had come upon us.

Curtain closes.

Narrator: Meanwhile Malala’s father was at a meeting of the Association of Private schools. He was informed by his friend that a school bus of his school had been shot. Malala’s father was terrified because it occurred to him that Malala might be on that bus. He quickly finished his speech with beads of sweat running down his forehead and then rushed to Malala. Malala’s mother was at home praying with the other neighbours and relatives for the safety of Malala.

Curtain opens.

Father rushes in hospital. Lots of cameramen, tv reporters outside Malala’s room. Two doctors by her bedside.

Father: My daughter, my brave daughter, my beautiful daughter.

Doctor 1: The bullet did not enter the brain so it is less dangerous than we thought it was. For further treatment she will be shifted to a hospital in Peshwar.

Curtain close

Narrator: When Malala arrives at Peshwar Dr. Fiona and Dr. Javid take care of her treatments. When no more could be done in Pakistan, she was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in The United Kingdom.

Scene 3: Malala in UK hospital… starts to interact with international community

Curtain open

Malala with bandage, her nurse in the room.

Malala: I woke up on 16th October, a week after the shooting. I woke up on the way back from a CT scan being taken back to the critical care room. I was a thousand miles away from home in this strange place I had never been to. I had a tube in my mouth to help me breathe and I was unable t speak. I flitted between consciousness and sleep until I finally woke up. I was so overjoyed that Allah had blessed me with a second life!

In the room

Rehanna: Asalaamu alaikam. My name is Rehanna and I am the Muslim chaplin.

Starts praying. Quran plays now.

Rehanna mouths the words of the Quran while it is playing in the background.

Close curtain. Open curtain

Intensive care room in QEH. Green lights.2-3 Nurses. Dr. Javid.

Narrator: Malala was in the intensive care cubical in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The nurses and Dr.Javid were present in the room with her.

Nurse 1: Malala, you will not be able to speak for a while.(hands over notepad and pencil). Use the notepad and pencil to write down your thoughts and questions.

Malala- takes pencil and tries to write on the notepad. Unable to write.

Malala: I wanted to write down by fathers phone number but I could not space letters. My left ear kept bleeding and my left hand felt funny. I could also feel that the left side of my face was not working properly.

Dr Javid: Get a letter board.

Nurse 2 gets the board and holds it in front of Malala.

Nurse 2(reads out while she points): Why have I no father?

Nurse 2: He is in Pakistan. Don’t worry your father and your family is safe.

Dr Javid: Let her rest for a while. Monitor her heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen level.

Malala left for a while. Dr. Fiona comes in. Hands over a teddy bear.

Dr. Fiona: ( While checking Malala) This was one of the gifts you got. There are bags more, filled with cards and teddies and toys! Your parent will be coming in tomorrow. They will be here by noon.

Malala: The few days I spent without my parents and my brother felt more like a hundred days. It was boring and I wasn’t sleeping well. The changing time on the clock reassured me I was still alive. I saw for the first time I waking early, which is not one of my habits.

Scene 4: Malala gets international recognition

Duration: 10min + 5min TED video

Narrator: Malala realised that what the Taliban had done was to only make her campaign global. Their mission of silencing her and her mission for girls’ rights and their education had become a way her struggles were noticed world-wide by everyone around the world. She has told us that nothing can stop her from her mission not even a bullet in her head

Narrator: Today, because of Malala’s efforts, young people around the world have united and in 100s of countries and are working for education for children, convinced that geography, gender, disability and language should not be seen as impediments in achieving global literacy.

Narrator: Malala’s bravery has inspired millions of people around the world. I hope this vibe of positivity has made its way towards you as well!

Narrator: Malala has taught the world about forgiveness and that there is no age limit to stand up for justice. She wrote in her book that even after what the Taliban did to her she did want to seek revenge, she only wanted to return to her home- Swat Valley.

Narrator: Malala has been nominated International Children’s Peace Prize and The Nobel Peace Prize. She has been given the National Malala Peace Prize, The Shakharov Prize and now has also received the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

Play ‘Ode to Malala’ and slide show of snippets from Malala’s life.

*Note: the dialogues of Malala which are italicized and are in bold are[spoken by present day Malala, others are by younger Malala. She is recounting her experience.

© Asavari Singh

Play can be used for educational purposes and performed to honor of Malala Yousafzai and her constant struggle for education of girls.

sand
Oblivion is Inevitable……….. Time and tide are hard to stop. We can try and leave a mark on the world .Become famous and achieve the highest mark of worldly success. Although like our footprints on the sand our achievements will also fade away. One day humanity will be no more. There will be no one to remember us. Oblivion is inevitable. Though, that should not deter us from accomplishing success. It is said that with the right grit and determination no mountain is too high! Even if our story-the story of mankind is lost; we know we have one our best and that is what we should have in mind. We should strive to our best in our lives and the heavens will be kind.

You Can’t Stop Me Now

You can’t stop me now,

I am already there.

Don’t tell me I am less than you,

You know I am not.

Don’t tell me I can’t do it,

You don’t know what I am capable of.

Petty labels won’t bring down a bird soaring high

I don’t need to know what the world will say

I don’t give a damn!

Don’t tell me I am a girl

I am well aware of that

You can’t stop me now

I am already there.

Graffiti

When I first went to Brussels I had to go in a metro to school. There was one thing on the way that struck my eye every time we went past it. Yes it was graffiti. The graffiti had been done by young children. It was an amazing sight to see. In one of the pictures it said “save this wonderful planet”. I really liked that one, it was my favourite picture. Unfortunately there were people with others plans, they destroyed the whole gallery of art work, rude swear words were scattered all round the pictures. I didn’t like that a bit.

Graffiti can help one express his thoughts and feelings in form of beautiful pictures. It also helps liven up a place.

I think Graffiti is a kind of an art form. It is a very creative way to express your feeling. Lee Quinones made a whole dull, old and shabby place come to life by painting graffiti on it. Graffiti makes things come alive, only if it is not rude graffiti though.

The Hair Raising Volcano

It was a thunderous, windy evening. I was resting in my comfortable hammock shaded by coconut laden trees. The sky looked as though God had spilled freshly made tomato soup all over it. There was a terrifying and threatening volcano, desperate to burst, and spill all the lava. In addition, there was a high cliff and an ancient cave. At a short distance, I spotted a gigantic sea vessel proudly exhibiting a flag with a sign of a Skelton. It was a frightful sight.  It sent shivers down my spine. However, my eyes fell upon a pleasurable sight, a doe, a buck and a buckling were pulling the tufts of grass to satisfy hunger and I heard occasional bleats which meant small chit chat. I also saw wild pigs foraging for left over scraps of food.

Despite the unfavourable weather conditions, everyone was preparing for the midnight feast. It was scheduled for today under the illuminating glow of the glinting, glistening full moon. For the preparation of the feast all villagers were doing their assigned jobs. Some were cooking delicious, mouth-watering dishes, some were gathering fresh fruits, and others were collecting drift wood for the humongous bonfire, still others making costumes and masks that would be worn tonight. Everyone was busy with their work.

Breaking the silence of the area, a loud thud was heard by all of us. It sounded as though an enormous sea vessel had hit a boulder. Another thud was heard by us, this time louder. No one knew what it was. We were all confused. There was chaos all over.

BOOM!! It was louder than all sounds I had ever heard. It was the volcano! It had erupted! Fiery lava gushed out of the volcano, scorching everything in its path. The volcano scared the day lights out of us. We were all scared. Everyone ran helter-skelter. The age-old cave came in handy. We all took protection from the burning, molten lava in the cave.

The small cave was insufficient for the multitude of people. It was dusty as it was scarcely used. There were meagre food supplies, inadequate for all the people. The doctors were attending to the injured and bruised, others helping to clean and make arrangements for our stay in the cave.

All of a sudden I realised I had my phone with me. Immediately I called the Emergency Rescue Team.  Unfortunately, as I was in the cave there was no signal! I was frustrated. I was the whole villages’ only hope.  I gathered all my courage, my heart banging against my ribs I stepped out of the protective cave. I was standing on a levitated area near the cave. As soon as I stepped out my phone caught a signal. Straight away I called the Emergency Rescue Team. They picked up in the first ring. I told them about our situation. As I spoke I looked at the people in the cave all of them were grave, sad and some were crying. All I could do is hope and pray the trusted team would find a way to help us. My thoughts were disrupted by the voice of the speaker and the phone fell out of my hand! Oh no! What had I done? Now I had single headedly given away our only chance of survival.

There is always one thing a person should remember: ’Never underestimate a rescue team. They are professional life savers.’

After an hour or so we heard the hum of the helicopters propellers hovering in the air. Reluctantly but with much hope the chief of our island stepped out. We heard a shout of joy from outside. The chief yelled from outside, “They are here! The team is here to save us!”

Everyone in the cave was gleaming with joy.

One by one we were asked to come out and were escorted to a helicopter, which would then carry us to safety. It took us an half an hour or so to reach the closest island which was inhabited. Four helicopters carrying all the residents of Tiber Island reached safe and sound. We all uttered our silent prayers thanking God and asking him to bless all those souls who had helped us escape that atrocious and frightening island. We were brought to Achilles Island where we dwelled in safety.