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mardi 14 août 2012


I had begun this journey from the Reservation of Omaha Indians of North America, which took me, either on airlines or countries which were mostly Moslem: Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Dubai; and also Cambodia and England. And also, I received a fair bit of correspondence from Iran and Cuba.
Tomorrow I will end my journey at a seaside village in Brittany in France, to reflect this journey.
The highlight of the trip was certainly Indonesia, since I came face to face with people who are trying to do something about the imbalance in this world.
Whether you are an American Indian, or an Asian working in Brunei, Malaysia, Qatar or Dubai or living in poverty stricken Cambodia, one thing is clear: the daily life of oppression that they have to put up with. No Pakistani or Bangladeshi would willingly sacrifice his freedom as he has to in Dubai if he can be guaranteed a good income and a job in his own country. Filipinos by the thousands who are porters, bus drivers, Kerala people driving taxis or selling peanuts, Burmese hotel maids, Vietnamese and Chinese selling duty free goods, every single one out of place.  All had one thing branded on their faces: we are slaves and we know it, we are here for the money and nothing else.
What word in our language would describe their plight? Oppression? Lack of Human Rights? But a more appropriate word would be Impotence. And who can express in words that particular impotence than the poets from countries that suffer extreme violations of human rights? Such as Iran or Chile under Pinochet?  All of us love our beloved Pablo Neruda for the voice he gave to the poor, and the master poet of Liberty is none other than Ahmad Shamlou 1925-2000 from Iran.

I attach a poem by him sent to me from Iran and I have been able to download a documentary about him called Shamlou: the Master Poet of Liberty.

in a land unknown
at a time yet not arrived.
Thus, I was born
within the forest of beast and rock.

My heart
in void
started beating.
I abandoned the cradle of reiteration
in a land with no bird, no spring.

My first journey was a return
from the hope-abrading vistas of thorn and sand,
without having gone far
on the inexperienced feet of the fledgling that was I.

My first journey
was a return.
The vast distance
taught no hope.

I stood on the feet of the novice that was I
facing the horizon ablaze.

I realized that there were no tidings
for in between stood a mirage.
The vast distance taught no hope.
I learnt that there were no tidings:
This boundless
was a prison so huge
that the soul
hid in tears
from shame of impotence.

Read the poem slowly, enjoy the imagery, imagine the desert of despair our fellow human beings are living under the Arabian skies, Malaysian Hypocrisy, The Bruneian arrogance, the Burmese rigidity and the corruption that plagues all the countries of South East Asia.
When I was in Dubai during my stopover, each and every person I met whether from Kerala, Philippines or India or Nepal or from any one of the countries that provide this labour, I would greet them, talk to them. I want to convey to them wordlessly, I know what they are going through, and in the few seconds allotted to me in this conversation, what could I do to bring a little happiness into their lives?
How do I know? I will never talk badly about my second home, but let me assure you that I am not insensitive to the suffering and the impotence of the people there.
We all love to travel, but let it not be from or to stages of Impotence, but to improve our dignity as human beings, to live to the fullest ability of that which has been allotted to us.
In my travels, I saw many Iranians, and I felt like telling them, you have the look and feel of birds released from their prisons and cages. Enjoy..
Thank you Ahmad Shamlou!   Chashm..