The Muse’s Art

26 12 2007

Jahandost is back after a long and hectic semester. I have been meaning to write this for some time now but did not get a chance. Some of the old blog friends from back in the days will pick up the symbolism and hopefully some things will make more sense now. The story is inspired from Jorge Luis Borges. And so my story starts.

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The Muse’s Art
by Jahandost

The moment I found out the truth I was puzzled, how could it be. My life was indeed stranger than fiction. I exited my apartment, took a cab to downtown, wasted no time after exiting the cab and ran towards the building where he worked. I took the elevator to the seventh floor where he worked. As I approached the door and reached for the lock, the door opened by itself and man sitting on the desk spoke softy, “What took you so long Elaine? Must have been traffic right? Of course I could have fixed that but that would not have been that fun, would it?” He chuckled.
“Who are you and how do you know my name?” I replied in a rather bewildered tone.
“Now, now, now. You do know who I am. Don’t you?” He replied.
“So I am not real. ”
“You are as real as you want yourself to be.”
“Or is it that I am as real as you want me to be.”
“Well that’s another way to put it.”
“Why did you create me?”
“Don’t be blasphemous Elaine. I did not create you. It is only God who creates. We are mere imitators.”
“Why am I even arguing with you. Are you also putting words in my mouth?”
“Well, its slightly more complicated than that. Elaine, have a seat.”
“You are kind of freaking me out.”
“I do have that effect on people. Would you like to drink anything? Piña Colada, I know that’s your favorite. After all isn’t that your favorite.” And out appeared a glass of Piña Colada from nowhere.
“Let me guess. Here you can do anything.”
“That’s a slight exaggeration.” As said these words he waived his hands and the next thing I know we were sitting in a cafe on the top of Eiffel Tower. Our attire, his and mine, had changed completely.
“Does this cafe even exist in the real world?”
“Does it even matter? Who cares? Anyway is there anything that you would like to know?”
“So who am I supposed to be modeled after? Your sister? Your mother? Your aunt? Your girlfriend? Your friend?”
“None of the above and yet there is some element of truth in all of these statements.”
“So I am the woman you never knew?”
That made him fall silent and the next moment we were no longer in Paris but in the middle of desert.
“But why?”
“To be taken seriously.”
“To be taken seriously?”
“Do you honestly think that people will take me seriously if I said the things that you say.”
“Perhaps not but am I not a lie?”
“Yes, perhaps, may be, no. I do not know. I can live with that Elaine.”
“Right.” For the first time I truly felt some sympathy towards the man who was responsible for my literary creation.
“But since you are such a likable character, I feel ambivalent and perhaps somewhat guilty when people try to relate to you on a personal level given that you are not real.”
“But you just said that I am as real as you want.”
“Yes I did. Its not as much fun as it looks, I mean being able to control or do almost everything even if it is in a fictional world.”
“So it is ok to deceive people as long as it is not on a personal level.”
“No. Yes. Maybe.”
“What happens now?”
“I donno. Perhaps I should ask someone.”
“Perhaps.”
“The good thing is that you won’t remember a word of this discussion Elaine.”





Outrage: Gang-rape victim in Saudi Arabia sentenced!

19 11 2007

There was a time when Muslims stood for peace and justice, a time when the aim of law was to bring justice and not to punish people, a time when the jurists realized that the laws are there for humans and not vice versa. Alas! We no longer live in that era. A rape victim in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 200 lashes. Her sentence was increased when she protested about the original sentence. To the judges, “Do you have any decency left?

Here is the press release from the Human Rights Watch.

Saudi Arabia: Rape Victim Punished for Speaking Out
Court Doubles Sentence for Victim, Bans Her Lawyer From the Case

(New York, November 17, 2007) – A court in Saudi Arabia doubled its sentence of lashings for a rape victim who had spoken out in public about her case and her efforts to seek justice, Human Rights Watch said today. The court also harassed her lawyer, banning him from the case and confiscating his professional license.
An official at the General Court of Qatif, which handed down the sentence on November 14, said the court had increased the woman’s sentence because of “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.” The court sentenced the rape victim to six months in prison and 200 lashes, more than double its October 2006 sentence after its earlier verdict was reviewed by Saudi Arabia’s highest court, the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.

Human Rights Watch called on King Abdullah to immediately void the verdict and drop all charges against the rape victim and to order the court to end its harassment of her lawyer.

“A courageous young woman faces lashing and prison for speaking out about her efforts to find justice,” said Farida Deif, researcher in the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch. “This verdict not only sends victims of sexual violence the message that they should not press charges, but in effect offers protection and impunity to the perpetrators.”

The young woman, who is married, said she had met with a male acquaintance who had promised to give her back an old photograph of herself. After she met her acquaintance in his car in Qatif, a gang of seven men then attacked and raped both of them, multiple times. Despite the prosecution’s requests for the maximum penalty for the rapists, the Qatif court sentenced four of them to between one and five years in prison and between 80 and 1,000 lashes. They were convicted of kidnapping, apparently because prosecutors could not prove rape. The judges reportedly ignored evidence from a mobile phone video in which the attackers recorded the assault.

Moreover, the court in October 2006 also sentenced both the woman and man who had been raped to 90 lashes each for what it termed “illegal mingling.” Human Rights Watch is particularly concerned that the criminalization of any contact between unmarried individuals of the opposite sex in Saudi Arabia severely impedes the ability of rape victims to seek justice. A court may view a woman’s charge of rape as an admission of extramarital sexual relations (or “illegal mingling”) unless she can prove, by strict evidentiary standards, that this contact was legal and the intercourse was nonconsensual.

In an interview in December, the rape victim described to Human Rights Watch her treatment in court:

“At the first session, [the judges] said to me, ‘what kind of relationship did you have with this individual? Why did you leave the house? Do you know these men?’ They asked me to describe the situation. They used to yell at me. They were insulting. The judge refused to allow my husband in the room with me. One judge told me I was a liar because I didn’t remember the dates well. They kept saying, ‘Why did you leave the house? Why didn’t you tell your husband [where you were going]?’”

“Victims of sexual violence in Saudi Arabia face enormous obstacles in the criminal justice system,” said Deif. “Their interrogations and court hearings are more likely to compound the trauma of the original assault than provide justice.”

During the recent hearings, Judge al-Muhanna of the Qatif court also banned the woman’s lawyer, Abd al-Rahman al-Lahim, from the courtroom and from any future representations of her, without apparent reason. He also confiscated his lawyer’s identification card, which the Ministry of Justice issues. Al-Lahim faces a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Justice on December 5, where sanctions can include suspension for three years and disbarment.

Al-Lahim, who is Saudi Arabia’s best-known human rights lawyer, earlier this year had planned to take legal action against the Ministry of Justice for failing to provide him with a copy of the verdict against his client so that he could prepare an appeal. Despite numerous representations to the court and the ministry, he was not given a copy of the case file or the verdict.

“The decision to ban the rape victim’s lawyer from the case shows what little respect Saudi authorities have for the legal profession or the law in general,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

On October 3, King Abdullah announced a judicial reform, promising new specialized courts and training for judges and lawyers. There is currently no rule of law in Saudi Arabia, which does not have a written penal code. Judges do not follow procedural rules and issue arbitrary sentences that vary widely. Often, judges do not provide written verdicts, even in death penalty cases. Judges sometimes deny individuals their right to legal representation. In May 2006, a judge in Jeddah had thrown a lawyer out of his courtroom in a civil suit on the sole basis that he is of the Isma’ili faith, a branch of Shiism. Trials remain closed to the public.





Thus Spoke the Danish Sage (Part I)

17 11 2007

Here are some words of wisdom from the man who taught me to appreciate the absurd, one of the men who led me to the path of a thousand manifestations, the great sage of Denmark. Read and be intoxicated. Interestingly the Danish sage has been compared to the Indian Sage that I often talk about!

“No, not one shall be forgotten who was great in the world. But each was great in his own way, and each in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. For he who loved himself became great by himself, and he who loved other men became great by his selfless devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all. Everyone shall be remembered, but each became great in proportion to his expectation. One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal, but he who expected the impossible became greater than all. Everyone shall be remembered, but each was great in proportion to the greatness of that with which he strove. For he who strove with the world became great by overcoming the world, and he who strove with himself became great by overcoming himself, but he who strove with God became greater than all. So there was strife in the world, man against man, one against a thousand, but he who strove with God was greater than all. So there was strife upon earth: there was one who overcame all by his power, and there was one who overcame God by his impotence. There was one who relied upon himself and gained all, there was one who secure in his strength sacrificed all, but he who believed God was greater than all. There was one who was great by reason of his power, and one who was great by reason of his wisdom, and one who was great by reason of his hope, and one who was great by reason of his love; but Abraham was greater than all, great by reason of his power whose strength is impotence, great by reason of his wisdom whose secret is foolishness, great by reason of his hope whose form is madness, great by reason of the love which is hatred of oneself.”





Ten Thousand Miles (Part I)

11 11 2007

Jahandost: Why must one suffer? Why must one suffer at one’s own hand?
The Danish Sage: How else will you know who you are?
Jahandost: How else indeed. You are right.
The Danish Sage: But you want to know something else right?
Jahandost: Sometimes; There are times when I am overwhelmed by the wickedness of people. Its not just them but others too, I feel this distance. Its hard to articulate. Who am I brother? What do I want?
The Danish Sage: Why do you ask me? By asking the question you give the answer yourself. You put your faith in men, in mere creations, what else did you expect to get out of your faith? How high one goes depends upon how high one puts one’s faith and in whom.