A Tribute to a Legend

Millions shed many a tear when you departed,

And yet you live in each one of us to whom lessons of Life you imparted.

I know you as the Missile Man who could make India compete with others in any contention,

And yet   spreading the message of peace and love was always   your sole intention.

I know you as the son of the boat  man who walked miles to go to school,

And yet when you addressed students everything appeared attainable, accessible and very cool.

I know you as the  President , Scientist , Visionary, Speaker and a Teacher,

And yet “The  Humanity” in you surpasses all these distinctive features.

On this India’s Independence day,

Let’s take pledge  today,

Work hard, harder and Hardest,

Give him a glowing tribute by becoming in every field the world’s  ablest.

Strict Parenting is the Root Cause for All of Society’s Problems

We look with wonder and happiness when a child first learns to walk by falling many times and learns to talk without any fear or shyness of making mistakes.  The child only learns because he is not afraid of being reprimanded for the mistake he makes.  As we grow older we forget that we only learn from our mistakes and experiences, don’t we? We forget that unlearning and making mistakes is so fundamental to our learning process.

But, a strict parent typically makes unempathetic rules. Rules made by a strict parent simply have to be followed. No objections. No explanation. No reason. And if the child disobeys the rules…unfair punishment. Interestingly, when children have a lot of strict rules placed upon them, they find a quick alternative to avoid punishment – lying. According to The Youth Centre in Canada, children raised in strict households become secretive to avoid consequences. Children, at the end of the day, are not always able to solve their own problems and need parental advice. However, in this case, the child stops confiding in his parent as he thinks he will be punished for his actions. Over a period of time the child develops the habit of lying and may often do it subconsciously. The bond between parent and child becomes weak due to lack of communication. And the strict parent is totally unaware of it all!

If you look closely you will see that a strict-parent and child relationship is similar to that of bully and victim.  A parent is the child’s role model. If the parent yells the child yells, if a parent uses force the child uses force. And the child begins to learn that fear means power. The child will use what he has learnt and use this with his friends and end up being a bully. This will again become a problem for his parents. You see the vicious cycle here?

Self-discipline and responsibility form the base of a well-rounded individual. There is no internal tool more valuable than self-disciplining. However, the child has to internalize the love of limits and understand why they are important.

But, Strict parents deprive children the opportunity to internalize self-discipline and responsibility.  Strict parents  set too many rules to  follow…the child begins to detest control.  None of us like to be controlled do we? And this causes the child to reject limits that are not empathetic.

Strict parents do not allow their child to make decisions on their own.  This can be rather dangerous…The child will not be able to think on his own and thus he may be easily led by others. The child begins to think the person in authority in a relationship should be obeyed without question. Hasn’t the strict parent crippled the child mentally, physiologically and emotionally? He will need crutches stand for the rest of his life.

2011 PEW Research survey  found that “40% of 18- to 24-year-olds currently live with their parents, and the vast majority of them say they did not move back home because of economic conditions. Young adults, who move out then back in with their parents, have led people to refer to them as the Boomerang Generation.  I believe this is due to the lack of responsibility given to children by their parents. The children do not know how to live on their own because they have never been taught.

Strict parenting undermines the relation between the parent and child. Most importantly it creates individuals who do not understand the importance of self-discipline, who do not question authority and stand up for themselves, and it creates individuals who believe force is the only route to get one’s way.

If we look at the animal kingdom, a lioness lets her cubs explore the surrounding and themselves. However, she sets certain empathetic boundaries and restrictions. She decides the age appropriate freedom. In the same way Children thrive on Limits and Age-appropriate expectations, but only if they’re set with empathy.

As Kahlil Gibran says in his poem “On Children”…

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable

This is the debate I spoke in Wisdom World School on 30th July, 2015 in the ‘Inter-House Debate Competition’.

© Asavari Singh

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.