It was a mid-term result day of my three kids, a few months back. I went to their school to collect the result cards. I had a little conversation with the kids’ teachers about their performance and the results, and then I left the school. No sooner did I arrive home that I got a call from the school asking me to go back to the school as the Headmistress wanted to talk to me. I wondered what could possibly be the issue. I suspected my son Moazzan might have done something as I already had been called upon to hear a complaint against him. Anyways, I went and met the Headmistress. She said she had received complaint against Moazzan. “Here we go, as expected.”, I said to myself. She told me that Moazzan had brought a condom into the class (my eyes rolled); he gave it to his friend and told him that it was a balloon. The kid took it home and his parents found out what he was carrying. When asked where he got it from, he told them that his friend at school had given it to him. The parents came to the school and lodged the complaint. The headmistress then advised me to keep our personal belongings away from kids’ reach, and we should know what things the kids were bringing to school.
All the way during her talk I tried to control my laughter, but at the same time felt embarrassed when she said to keep personal things away from children. However, I apologized and told her how Moazzan really got his hands on ‘the’ balloon.
Here is how he got ‘em:
It so happened that we had returned from a visit to our village only a few days back. Our village is very small, say with a fewer than 70 homes and all the villagers are related to each other in one way or the other. Literacy rate is 50% for men and 5% for women, the primary business of men is agriculture, while all women are housewives. There are small shops which sell groceries for everyday use and confectionery items for kids. At such shops, the cheapest rubbers in town are sold to the kids as balloons. The people in the village are familiar with the purpose of the raincoats though, but they are least concerned about these being sold as balloons to the kids. My son also bought a few johnnys and brought them with him here to Karachi. I didn’t know that till the time I was told by the headmistress.
And then I told my kid to never play with those balloons again. :-)
For reasons of health, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia’s illustrious Nobel Laureate for literature, has declared his retirement from public life. He has terminal cancer and sends this letter of farewell to friends and lovers of literature.
If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.
I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful l of all I say.
I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.
I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.
I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.
If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.
To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.
I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.
To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.
I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.
I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life.
I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.
Say always what you feel, not what you think. If I knew that today is the last time that that I am going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.
If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say “I love you.”
There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never forget you.
Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.
Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,” “thank you,” and all those loving words you know.
Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them.
Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.
Send this letter to those you love. If you don’t do it today…tomorrow will be like yesterday, and if you never do it, it doesn’t matter either, the moment to do it is now.
For you, with much love,
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
While we read stories about heinous crimes committed against women in our part of the world, it hardly occurs to us that such and even worse crimes are committed across the globe, especially in what we call ‘developed’ and ‘civilised’ countries such as the United States of America.
Lest we forget, let’s remind ourselves once more that patriarchy and hypocrisy are unfortunately a universal phenomena.
Take for example, the instance of a girl who belonged to a middle-class family in the US. Like any other ambitious teen, she wanted to graduate from her dream school, the prestigious Duke University in North Carolina, free of debt. Her family had already suffered a significant financial crisis and so, she wanted to finance her education herself.
She turned to acting in adult movies.
In February this year, when she returned to college after Christmas break, she found lots of friend requests on Facebook from random male students as well as a Twitter following from a student in her class. This, of course, was not unusual.
But what followed hit her like an iceberg.
She was bullied, harassed, called a slut and even received threats of violence and death. An online campaign was circulated to shame her and a thread even appealed to the management of Duke University, asking them to expel this freshman and save the university’s name from disgrace.
It was then that she realised that her secret identity had been revealed by a male student who had seen her on the internet and she was dismayed because he had promised her that he wouldn’t disclose it to anyone.
Her crime was simply that she wanted to get an education from a renowned university and had been forced by circumstances to pay her tuition fee by acting in adult movies.
Her name is Miriam Weeks and in the dark world of internet pornography she is known as Belle Knox.
While defending her decision to act in adult movies in order to finance her education, Miriam said,
“I couldn’t afford the $60,000 tuition fee and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I absolutely loved.”
She went on to say that the internet didn’t dictate her life and that acting in adult movies didn’t somehow mean that she owed an explanation to the world about every choice she made. Pointing out the society’s hypocrisy, she said that while a porn consumer is celebrated, a porn actor is considered shameful and immoral.
Even more ironic is the fact that Thomas Bagley, the freshman who ratted out Miriam as a porn star, spent $1000 a month on the subscription of a porn site.
Unfortunately, this two-faced social predicament is universal. No eyebrows are raised, nor are any fingers pointed and neither is shame brought to those who drive the success of a billion dollar industry – its consumers. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can watch inappropriate content and love adult movie actors but they just can’t stand such an actor pursuing education at a top university; they can’t digest an adult movie actor working at a renowned organisation.
Simply put, they just cannot bear to see her in any role of life other than the adult movie industry.
Although I don’t agree with Miriam Weeks’ decision to turn to the adult content industry to finance her education since there were other options available such as college aid and scholarships, my point is that she made a choice and she is happy with it.
In no way does this make her unfit for any college.
I suppose an even more two-faced scenario would be if a university had given admission to a prostitute. Parents might never throw their children out of the house for watching porn but they would definitely take their children out of such an institution as a gesture of sanctimonious behaviour.
It’s no secret that there exists a certain Pecksniffianism when it comes to the subject of sex. Sex is always considered to be positive for men; something that should be celebrated and something that all men should strive to achieve. A man who has a number of affairs is celebrated as a playboy or a Casanova, whereas a woman who has affairs is demonised as immoral and depraved.
Pick any TV show or movie today and you’ll see the male protagonist as a charming playboy who has an affair with every woman he lays his eyes upon. Never will you see the female lead in such a role. According to Jean Kilbourne, an author and speaker on Advertising’s Image of Women, women these days are expected to be ‘experienced virgins’, that is, women are expected to be beautiful and overtly sexual but must somehow retain their innocence and purity.
Although Miriam Weeks decided not to return to college because of the threats of violence, rape and even death, she recently said that she’ll continue with her education.
And I say, good luck to her!
Previously published on The Express Tribune