Monday, June 30, 2008

Saroo: Why you?

That day you asked me – “why me?”

I’ve already told you – why you – in that “last time” email – remember?

I’ll add something more to it –

I’d literally give you thousands of reasons –

You know – I’m like “molting” – “sloughing” – my liberalism – my liberalistic garb, avatar, mask

(like the the outer layer of the skin of a snake, which is cast off periodically) (proper scientific term is ecdysis)

because of your influence. I’m becoming more and more religious everyday. And, this radical change is from within – not imposed, enforced.

You follow the true religion – you’re sincere and truthful in word and deed.

You’re like my mother: Most pious. Most Righteous. Soft-hearted. Etcetera.

You’ve brought me “into light from darkness” –

You’re my Lightning Bug.

I love you so much. And, I want to marry you.

I know it’s Destiny.

I’m praying. And, I’m patient -- and, it’s like holding a burning coal in my hand.

I love you so much, Saroo. I want to see you once – just a glimpse – before you go away – I don’t mind if I lose my eyesight after that – I don’t mind if I go blind after that. I just want to see you once. Just once. Just once. Just once.

You know -- I don't want anything more in this world -- now: I just want you. I just want you. I just want you. Nothing else.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Islam-QA: The importance of being truthful

Praise be to Allaah.

Being truthful means speaking the truth and also saying things that reflect reality.

Being truthful is one of the necessities of a human society, one of the virtues of human behaviour, and brings great benefits, whilst lying is one of the major elements of corruption in human society, and the cause of the destruction of social structure and ties, one of the most evil features of bad conduct, and causes widespread harm. Hence Islam commanded truthfulness and forbade lying.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Be afraid of Allaah, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” [al-Tawbah 9:119]

Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said (2/414): “It means: be truthful and adhere to truthfulness, and you will be among its people and will be saved from calamity, and this will make a way out for you from your problems.”

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“… if they had been true to Allaah, it would have been better for them.” [Muhammad 47:21]
‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘You must be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man will keep speaking the truth and striving to speak the truth until he will be recorded with Allaah as a siddeeq (speaker of the truth). Beware of telling lies, for lying leads to immorality and immorality leads to Hellfire. A man will keep telling lies and striving to tell lies until he is recorded with Allaah as a liar.” (Reported by Muslim, 4721)

This hadeeth indicates that truthfulness leads to righteousness (al-birr), an all-embracing concept that includes all kinds of goodness and different kinds of righteous deeds. Immorality is basically an inclination towards deviation from the truth, and the immoral person (faajir) is one who is inclined to turn away from the path of guidance. Hence immorality and righteousness are diametrically opposed.

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “I memorized from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): ‘Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt, for truthfulness is certainty and tranquillity, whilst lying is doubt and confusion.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2520; al-Nisaa'i, 8/327; and Ahmad, 1/200)

In the lengthy hadeeth of Abu Sufyaan describing his meeting with Heraclius, Abu Sufyaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “[Heraclius] said, ‘What does he [meaning the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] command you to do?’ I said, ‘He says: worship Allaah alone and do not associate anything in worship with Him, and abandon that which your forefathers did. He commands us to pray, to be truthful, to be chaste and to uphold the ties of kinship.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1/30 and Muslim, 1773).

Hakeem ibn Hizaam (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Two parties to a deal have the option of changing their minds until they part; if they are open and honest, their deal will be blessed, and if they conceal and tell lies, the blessing of their deal will be diminished.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4/275 and Muslim, 1532.)

Truthfulness includes being truthful towards Allaah by worshipping Him sincerely; being truthful towards one’s own soul by making it adhere to the laws of Allaah; and being truthful with people in one's words and by keeping one's promises, and in dealings such as buying, selling and marriage, so there should be no deceiving, cheating, falsifying or withholding of information. Thus a person should be the same on the inside and the outside.

As regards lying, it is highly forbidden, and is of varying degrees of abhorrence and sin. The most obnoxious form of lying is falsely attributing things to Allaah and His Messenger, because this involves fabrication about the religion and is an act of outrage against Allaah. Hence one of the characteristics of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is that he truthfully conveyed that which Allaah commanded him to convey. So Allaah said (interpretation of the meanings):

“… who does more wrong than one who invents a lie against Allaah, to lead mankind astray without knowledge. Certainly Allaah guides not the people who are zaalimoon (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.)” [al-An’am 6:144]

“And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allaah? Such will be brought before their Lord, and the witnesses will say, ‘These are the ones who lied against their Lord!’ No doubt! The curse of Allaah is on the zaalimoon (polytheists, wrong-doers, oppressors, etc.).” [Hood 11:18]

Equally bad is lying about the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), as he is reported to have said in the mutawaatir hadeeth: “Whoever lies about me deliberately, let him take his place in Hell.” (Agreed upon).

The basic rule with regard to lying is that it is not permitted, but there are certain circumstances in which Islam permits lying to serve a greater purpose or to prevent harm.

One of these situations is when a person mediates between two disputing parties in order to reconcile between them, if reconciliation cannot be achieved in any other way. Um Kalthoom (may Allaah be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “He is not a liar who reconciles between people and conveys something good or says something good.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2495).
Another example is a man’s speaking to his wife, or a woman speaking to her husband, with regard to matters that will strengthen the ties of love between them, even if that is accompanied by exaggeration. Asma’ bint Yazeed said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Lying is not permitted except in three cases: a man’s speaking to his wife to make her happy; lying at times of war; and lying in order to reconcile between people.’” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 1862; he said: it is a hasan hadeeth. See also Saheeh Muslim, 4717).

One of the most important forms of both being truthful and lying is in the area of promises and covenants. Being truthful in promises and covenants is one of the characteristics by which the believers are known. Both promises and covenants involve saying something about an issue to confirm that you will do it, especially with regard to one's duties towards Allaah. Allaah says, praising some of His slaves (interpretation of the meanings):

“Those who are faithfully true to their amaanaat (all the duties which Allaah has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts, etc.) and to their covenants.” [al-Mu’minoon 23:8]

“… and who fulfil their covenant when they make it…” [al-Baqarah 2:177]
“Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allaah [i.e., they have gone out for jihad (holy fighting), and showed not their backs to the disbelievers], of them some have fulfilled their obligations (i.e., have been martyred), and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed [i.e., they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allaah] in the least.” [al-Ahzaab 33:23]

We ask Allaah to make us sincere and truthful in word and deed. And Allaah knows best.

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Islam-QA: Characteristics of the Victorious Group: Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah

Praise be to Allaah.

It is the Muslim’s duty to follow the truth and to join the victorious group, the people of Sunnah and Jamaa’ah (Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah) who are followers of the pious predecessors (al-salaf al-saalih), loving them for the sake of Allaah whether they are in his own country or elsewhere, and cooperating with them in righteousness.

The attributes of the victorious group are related in a number of saheeh ahaadeeth, for example:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “My ummah is an ummah which carries out the commands of Allaah; those who let them down or differ from them do not harm them and they will keep adhering to this path until the Day of Judgement.”

Mu‘aawiyah and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with them) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘A group of my ummah will continue victoriously adhering to the truth until the Last Hour begins.’”

Al-Mugheerah ibn Shu‘bah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) say: “Some people of my ummah will remain victorious over the people until the decree of Allaah reaches them.”

‘Imraan ibn Husayn (may Allaah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A group of my ummah will continue fighting for the truth, and will prevail over those who oppose them, until the last of them will kill al-Maseekh al-Dajjaal (the Liar or Anti-Christ).”

From these ahaadeeth we may understand the following:

(1) The Prophet’s words “A group of my ummah will continue . . .” indicate that this is a section of the ummah, not the entire ummah. This also indicates that there will be other groups and sects.

(2) His words “those who oppose them will not harm them” indicate that there will be other groups who oppose the victorious group in the way they practice the religion. This also concurs with the hadeeth which describes the ummah being divided into seventy-two groups or sects who oppose the one group that is following the truth.

(3) Both ahaadeeth offer glad tidings to the people who are following the truth. The hadeeth that speaks of the victorious group speaks of their victory in this world.

(4) The words “until the decree of Allaah reaches them” refer to the wind or breeze that will come and take the soul of every believing man and woman. This does not contradict the hadeeth “A group of my ummah will remain victoriously supporting the truth until the Day of Resurrection,” because that hadeeth means that they will continue to follow the truth until that gentle breeze takes their souls just before the Day of Resurrection, when many other Signs of the Last Hour have already manifested themselves.

The characteristics of the victorious group

From the ahaadeeth quoted above, and other reports, we can derive the following characteristics of the victorious group:

(1) They follow the truth. They are described variously as “following the truth,” “following the commandments of Allaah,” “following the true religion,” etc.

All of these phrases indicate that they are adhering to the true religion with which Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent.

(2) They obey the commandments of Allaah, which means:

(a) They are distinguished from the rest of mankind by carrying the banner of Da’wah towards Allaah.

(b) They undertake the mission of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.

(3) They will be victorious until the Last Hour.

The ahaadeeth say that “they will be victorious until the decree of Allaah comes,” “they victoriously support the truth,” or “they will be victorious over those who oppose them.”

This victory includes:

Being open and not hiding: they are well-known and prominent and have the upper hand.

Adherence to true religion, righteousness, following Allaah’s commands and fighting against His enemies in jihaad

Victory by defeating others

(4) They are patient and resist others with patience.

Abu Tha‘labah al-Khashani (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “After you there will come days of patience, in which the patience required will be like having to hold a burning coal in one’s hand.”

Who are the people of the victorious sect?

Al-Bukhaari said: “They are the people of knowledge (the scholars).”

Many scholars said that the victorious group is the scholars of hadeeth.

Al-Nawawi said: “It is possible that this group is scattered among all types of believers. Some may be brave fighters, or fuqahaa’, or scholars of hadeeth, or ascetics, or people who enjoin good and forbid evil, and other types of good people.”

Al-Nawawi also said: “It could be a group of different types of believers, including those who are brave and skilled in warfare, faqeehs, scholars of hadeeth, Qur’aanic commentators (mufassireen), those who enjoin good and forbid evil, ascetics and devoted worshippers.”

Ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy on him, explained the matter as follows: “They do not have to all be in one city; they could be gathered in one country or dispersed across the world. They may be gathered in one city or in a part of it. It is possible that one group may exist, then disappear, then be replaced by another group, and so on, until the Day of Judgement, when all will disappear except for one group in one city, who will disappear when the breeze decreed by Allaah comes.”

The scholars’ discussion of this group does not specify one type of people, or one city or country, except for the last group, which will be in al-Shaam (the territory comprising modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine) and will fight the Dajjaal, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said.

No doubt those who are involved with the sciences of sharee’ah – ‘aqeedah, fiqh, hadeeth and tafseer, studying and teaching – are the people who are most qualified to be called the Victorious Group, and they should be at the forefront of da’wah and jihaad, and enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and refuting the people of bid’ah, all of which must be accompanied with sound knowledge based on the Wahy (Revelation).

We ask Allaah to make us among them. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad.

Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Islam-QA: Can he tell lies to his parents in order to increase their good deeds?

Praise be to Allaah.

The basic principle concerning telling lies is that it is one of the signs of the hypocrites, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he is entrusted with something he breaks that trust.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 32; Muslim, 89.

But there are some instances in which Islam permits lying, if that serves a greater purpose or wards off a greater harm:

These cases include the following:

1. When a person is intermediating in order to bring about reconciliation between two disputing parties.

2. When a man speaks to his wife, or a wife to her husband, concerning matters that will increase the love between them.

3. War.

It was narrated from Umm Kulthoom bint ‘Uqbah that she heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “He is not a liar who brings about reconciliation among people, conveys good words and says good things.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2546; Muslim, 2605

It was narrated that Asma’ bint Yazeed said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Lies are not appropriate except in three cases: when a man speaks to his wife to please her, telling lies at times of war, and lying in order to bring about reconciliation between people.”

Shaykh al-Albaani said: it is hasan.

What you have mentioned is no excuse for telling lies to your family. If you are honest with them they will never be deprived of the reward for spending on you. And you can combine your family’s spending on you and their giving in charity to the needy by encouraging them to spend for the sake of Allaah, with no need to tell lies about buying stuff when you have not done so.

We ask Allaah to correct your intention and set your affairs straight, and to reward you greatly for your desire to benefit your family.

And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A

My Comments: Obituary: Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Your spirit isn't dead, General, sir. It'd never die. It's in us -- in our blood.

Jai Hind.

Obituary: Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji ''Sam Bahadur'' Jamshedji Manekshaw MC, who crafted India's greatest military victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, died in a military hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu late on Thursday night.

In a long career spanning nearly four decades, Manekshaw rose to be the 8th Chief of Staff of the Indian Army in 1969 and under his command, Indian forces concluded a victorious campaign during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

Manekshaw was the first of only two Indian military officers to hold the highest rank of Field Marshal of the Indian Army (The other being Field Marshal K M Cariappa). His distinguished military career spanned four decades and through five wars, including World War II.

When Indira Gandhi asked him to go to Dhaka and accept the surrender of Pakistani forces, Manekshaw declined, magnanimously saying that honour should go to his army commander in the East (Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora).

Manekshaw said he would only go if it were to accept the surrender of the entire Pakistani army.

A shrewd tactician, Manekshaw meticulously planned the Indian attack on Pakistan on both fronts -- East and West.

While the Indian forces captured the then East Pakistan in the eastern sector, the army made heavy inroads in the western sector going up to Lahore.

Adopting a mature war strategy, he masterminded the rout of the Pakistan Army in one of the quickest victories in the recent military history to liberate Bangladesh.

Born on April 3, 1914 in Amritsar to Parsi parents who migrated to Punjab from the small town of Valsad on the Gujarat coast, Manekshaw rose to be the Eighth Chief of Staff of the Indian Army in 1969. The year of the General's birth was around the time when the First World War broke.

During World War II, Manekshaw saw action in the Burma campaign on Sittang River as a Captain with the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment.

Manekshaw was leading a counter-offensive against the invading Japanese Army in Burma. During the course of the offensive he was hit by a burst of LMG bullets and was severely wounded in the stomach.

Major General D T Cowan spotted Manekshaw holding on to life and was aware of his valour in face of stiff resistance from the Japanese.

Fearing the worst, Major General Cowan quickly pinned his own Military Cross ribbon on to Manekshaw saying, ''A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross.'' But luck was on the young Captain's side and he survived to be one of India's most popular Army Chiefs.

Manekshaw became the 8th Chief of Army Staff when he succeeded General Kumaramangalam on June 7, 1969. His years of military experience were soon put to the test as thousands of refugees from the erstwhile East Pakistan started crossing over to India as a result of oppression from West Pakistan.

The volatile situation erupted into a full-scale war in December 1971 and the rest is history.

During the 1971 war, Manekshaw showed uncanny ability to motivate the forces, coupling it with a mature war strategy.

The war ended with Pakistan's unconditional surrender, and the formation of Bangladesh. More than 45,000 Pakistani soldiers and 45,000 civilian personnel were taken as POWs.

This led to the Shimla Agreement, which opened the door to the creation of the nation of Bangladesh as separate from Pakistan.

The Field Marshal's wit was legendary. Once on a visit to his unit as Commanding Officer he asked what action was taken against a man who contracted veneral disease and when he was told the man's head was shaved off, he roared. ''Shaved off? Dammit. he didn't do it with his head.''

After completing his schooling in Amritsar and Sherwood College (Nainital), he joined the first batch of 40 cadets at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun on October 1, 1932. He passed out of the IMA in December 1934 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Indian Army. He held several regimental assignments and was first attached to the Royal Scots and later to the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment.

Having recovered from those near-fatal wounds in Burma, Manekshaw went for a course at Staff College, Quetta and later also served there as an instructor before being sent to join 12 Frontier Force Rifles in Burma under General (later Field Marshal) Slim's 14th Army.

He was once again involved in a fierce battle with the Japanese, and was wounded for a second time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Ching: Book of Changes

Twinkle Khanna

Yeh Jo Chilman Hai . . . .

yeh jo chilman hai dushman hai hamaari (2) kitni sharmili ho kitni sharmili dulhan hai hamaari yeh jo chilman hai

doosra aur koyi yahaan kyon rahe (2) husn aur ishq ke darmiyaan kyon rahe darmiyaan kyon rahe yeh yahaan kyon rahe, haan ji haan kyon rahe yeh jo aanchal hai shikva hai hamaara kyon chhupata hai chehra yeh tumhaara haaye yeh jo chilman hai

ho aahaa

kaise deedaar aashiq tumhaara kare (2) rukh-e-roshan ka kaise nazaara kare ho nazaara kare, ho ishaara kare haan pukaara kare yeh jo gesu hai baadal hai kasam se kaise bikhare hai gaalo pe sanam ke ho yeh jo chilman hai

rukh se parda zara jo sarakne lagaa (2) uff yeh kambakht dil kyon dhadakne lagaa haan dhadakne lagaa, haan bhadakne lagaa dum atakne lagaa yeh jo dhadkan hai dushman hai hamaari kaise dil sambhale uljhan hai hamaari ho yeh jo chilman hai dushman hai hamaari

Saira Banu

Pray for me :( Sulk

Been really demoted. Salary slashed. Stern warning. :( Sulk!

Serious crisis. Real SOS situation. Extremely distressed.

Pray for me, Saroo.

I love you.


Thursday, June 26, 2008


For the wild dolphin, 'Fungie'
Irish dolphin, swift and single,
Dwelling off the coast of Dingle,
Choosing now and then to mingle
With the flipperless and glum,
Bringing wonder and elation
To our jaded human nation,
I present you this creation
Of my fingers and my thumb.
PRINCIPALS (professional performers)
PERIANDER, Tyrant of Corinth
ARION, his young court musician
CAPTAIN of the ship
CHORUS (community performers: adults, young people and children)
Scene I
Corinth. A courtyard under the stars. Arion is lying asleep on the
ground beside a couch. His dreams are troubled and he wakes with a start.
PERIANDER shouting from offstage:
Arion! Arion!
Arion gets up hurriedly, adjusts his clothes and stands behind the couch holding his lyre. Periander marches in with his guards.
Arion! What's all this I hear about your wanting to go to Sicily for some music festival?
Well --
I won't have it.
ARION: But --
Do you think I don't know what is going on behind my back?
ARION: I only thought --
Don't interrupt! And don't deny it either.
ARION: But I didn't --
You cannot go, and that is that.
Arion begins to strum the lyre.
Arion, Think of my court, of Corinth, and of me.
ARION: I do, my lord.
Yours is the only home that I have known
Since I was a boy, parentless and alone.
I do not gladly leave it empty of song.
Sir, let me go to Sicily.
I will be back before long.
I'll sing more freely when I'm free.
What? Do you talk of tyranny?
Go! go!
I do not know why I should love you so.
I have two sons, one is a dolt, his brother
Hates me and flees me, claiming I killed his mother.
The rabble hate me, blood clings to my hands --
The blood of this, the blood of many lands.
My silent mentor used his stick to lop
The tallest stalks of corn from every crop;
So all of any weight or excellence
In Corinth have been killed or driven hence.
Do you not fear me, Periander, Tyrant of Corinth?
It is the dearest of my aims,
My lord, to quell such wild and unjust claims.
In Sicily, my lord, all men will know
Your greatness, for my songs will tell them so.
Let me take part, and let me spread your fame,
Lord Periander, when I sing your name .
And are you sure you'll win? If not, you'll die.
Go, go. Leave my court in silence.
As Periander leaves, Arion looks up at the night sky.
Bright stars, bring comfort
To those who dream.
Bright stars, guide me to fame
By land, by sea --
So that my form and name
May rest among you in the sky --
Bright, constant stars,
That I, like you,
May never fade or die.
And you, dark, restless sea
Be gentle on my way
From Greece to Sicily.
Scene 2
As Arion sings to the sea, the Captain and the sailors appear, and
begin to sing; and the scene changes to shipboard.
Dark, restless sea,
Blue, green, grey, black --
Be gentle on our track
And grace my crew and me.
Poseidon, bless my ship
That we may rise and dip,
Sailing with rapid clip
From Greece to Sicily.
Dark, restless sea,
Black, grey, blue, green --
Our decks are scrubbed and clean --
Our ropes run strong and free.
Fair winds, fill out our sails --
Bring us no gusts or gales --
Keep us from sharks and whales
From Greece to Sicily.
Let's hear you sing!
Sing for your supper!
Dark, restless sea,
Blue, green, black, grey --
Be gentle on my way
From Greece to Sicily.
May no storm shake the sky,
Or seagulls wheel and cry,
But dolphins dip and fly
Beside my ship and me.
Well, with a voice like that, I'm not surprised Periander did
not want to let you go. How did your tune catch up with ours?
I care about time and timing, Captain: it is the heart of my
That's true for us as well. You'd make a good sailor.
I'd make a terrible sailor -- ninety-nine oars pulling one way,
and one in the other.
CAPTAIN laughs and takes his hands:
Those hands would grow callussed too quickly anyway.
You're best doing what you do, Arion. In your profession, if
the risks are greater, so are the rewards.
What rewards?
Why? Aren't you rich? Hasn't your singing brought you
In my own right, this lyre is all I have. And what risks?
Well, Periander has threatened you with death if you lose in
the Sicilian festival.
Periander --
He is an unhappy man.
Well, he certainly doesn't have much of a family life.
He is alone, and at a fearful height.
But many people are alone.
And you, Captain - do you have a family life? Or is your crew
your family?
My crew lead a hard life.
They care for silver, bronze, and when they get it, gold.
I care for them, perhaps they care for me.
I work them hard, they never mutiny.
I think I know their ways.
For more than half my nights and days
They are my family.
But what of land, of Corinth, towards which you often gaze?
You read my heart, Arion, through my eyes.
I have a house on shore
Not far from Corinth harbour, made of stone:
A laurel bush, some flowers, olive trees;
And there, when this good ship is on the seas,
My wife and my three daughters live alone
For many months, for years,
In peacetime and in war.
When I return, my wife is at the door.
I wipe away her tears.
I soothe her fears
With gifts and practicalities.
My daughters laugh to see me.
I chase them and they flee me.
The weeks fly by; then trade or battle draw
Me once more down to shore
To take sad leave of my sad wife and daughters
And change untrembling land for trembling waters.
Have you no son to help you on the sea?
CAPTAIN giving Arion a conch-shell:
Arion, keep this shell.
It is a gift from me,
So guard it well.
It will make music in your ear
Whenever you choose to hear
The ocean's surge, its rustling harmony.
Arion, keep this shell.
Be well, be well.
The days have passed in talk, and now I see
The distant citadel,
The crags of Sicily.
Scene 3
As the ship approaches Sicily, or Sicily the ship, a crowd of Sicilians
-- villagers and petty tradesmen - appears on shore, singing an idiotic
SICILIANS: Si-ci-ly, Si-ci-ly,
Such a pretty, gritty, witty co-un-tree.
Si-ci-ly, Si-ci-ly,
Won't you buy a little souvenir from me.
What is the meaning of this silly ditty?
Where's the official welcoming committee?
Your boat arrived early. None of the officials is awake yet.
Pre-festival festivities.
So who've you got on board that's so important anyway?
The winner of your festival, for one.
What do you mean? Who do you mean?
Arion - he'll teach you Sicilians how to sing.
We've got good musicians too, you know. What do you think
this is, a backwater?
No, no, far from it.
Welcome, Arion of Corinth.
Of Lesbos - he's from Lesbos.
Nonsense. He's from Corinth -- his patron is Coriander.
The one who killed his wife?
Or so they say.
He's here to represent Periander.
Well, he'd better be good, then -- or else he'll be for the chop.
He's from Lesbos. Ask him. Go on, ask him.
Ask him yourself.
SICILIAN: I don't need to. Welcome, Arion of Lesbos.
ARION sings beautifully:
Thank you, citizens of Sicily.
The Sicilians are enchanted, and applaud him.
Arion, I must go now. I will return from Italy in a few days to
take you home. Till then --
ARION: But the competition -- the festival -- will you not be there? Will
you not hear me sing?
Some other time, my friend, some other time.
I'll hear you sing when I have leisure from my trade.
But now it's business before pleasure, I'm afraid.
Farewell. Picks up his lyre, forgets the conch-shell.
Your shell. Do not forget your shell.
It is a gift from you,
I'll guard it well.
He does have a nice voice.
Let's take him off to have a good time in the town.
Wine, women and song -- off to the tavern with him.
A proper booze-up!
Wonderful! Wonderful! A wonderful idea!
But what about practising for the festival?
It's in two days -- just two days.
Oh -- there'll be plenty of time to practise --
But now it's pleasure before business, I'm afraid.
Laughing, the Sicilians take Arion off to have a good time.
Scene 4
And now, my lords, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you
Arion of Lesbos, Chief Musician at the court of Periander of
Corinth, master of the lyre --
Applause. Arion does not appear. General consternation.
Arion of Lesbos, poet, singer, voice of Apollo incarnate,
discoverer of the tragic mode --
Desultory applause. Arion does not appear.
Etcetera, etcetera - but where's the singer?
Oh, he got drunk - he's probably sleeping it off
That sleep will cost him his head.
And he didn't practise at all!
Too much wine and women, not enough song.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, for a learned and
discriminating audience like yourselves, I present the singer of
superb salutations to the royal ruler of cultured Corinth, the
tender but tenacious Tyrant --
laughter and jeers from the audience
-- I introduce to you Arion of Lesbos, lyricist of lugubrious
lushness, fleetly flying on fluent feet, whose delightful daring
with Dionysian dithyrambs has captured and enraptured the
courts and colonies of Greece -- who will now sing a song of
praise to his munificent and magnificent patron, the puissant
and paternal Periander- Arion of Lesbos!
A Sicilian points out Arion, who is sleeping off his revelry behind an olive
tree. Arion, awake, looks troubled and afraid. He takes up his lyre, but
puts it down again. The audience variously splutters its ridicule
and mutters its disapproval. He covers his head with his hands. He tries
again, but all that comes out of his mouth is:
ARION to the tune of the Si-ci-Iy song:
Pe-ri-ander, Pe-ri-ander
which he repeats helplessly.
Then, panicking at the thought of the future wrath of Periander, he
fumbles for another tune:
Bright stars, bring comfort --
but he can get nowhere beyond this line.
How pathetic!
According to the rules, Arion, two false starts is all you get.
Sing one last time, and then no more.
The third start is the last. Then he is doomed.
Oh gods! My art deserts me. Untrouble my heart -- fill with
your inspiration my empty shell --
At the word, he thinks of the shell the Captain gave him, grasps it, and
puts it to his ear.
Sounds of the sea are heard, and grow louder; the cries of dolphins too.
He begins to strum his lyre,first slowly, then faster and faster until he
is lost in a frenzied song of virtuosity and emotion.
Sometimes he blows his conch, sometimes he thumps it. The words he
sings to are mainly fragmentary phrases, cries like 'Aaaaah', and
nonsensical syllables. Most of them have to do with the sea, but form no
coherent structure.
He is crazed. Stop him.
No, no, no, let him sing --
The gods have blessed him with their madness.
The audience have risen and are singing, dancing and stomping around.
At the end of the chant, Arion is the winner by acclamation.
Gold coins and gold dust rain down. Gold gifts and other precious
objects are offered to him. A golden lyre -- a golden robe. An adoring girl
touches him and gives him her golden chain.
Arion is delighted, and beams at the pile of gold glittering in the centre
of the stage.
More! More! Another song!
Sing, Arion, sing once more! Sing for us once more! Stay in
Sicily - stay with us for ever. Or at least sing us one last song
before you go.
ARION picks up the lyre and sings in a quieter strain:
Dark restless sea,
Black, green, grey, blue,
Over whose waves I flew
To sing in Sicily,
Accept my weight once more
As gently as before.
Bear me to Corinth shore
Alive, and safe, and free.
Scene 5
The ship at sea. It is night. The stars shine above. The gold glitters
below. Arion is on the afterdeck. He looks up at the stars, smiles,
stretches and yawns, then falls asleep. The sailors emerge from the
shadows and gather round Arion's treasure.
Look at that -- look at that gold --
And all that for a song.
A single song.
A single song
Gave him more than we earn our whole lives long.
CAPTAIN who has been watching, unseen:
Enough of this --
Tell me the reason why
We who bore him across the sea
Should not share in his fortune equally?
That's right -- why not? --
2ND MUTINEER stepping forward:
That's fair by me.
Without our help where would Arion be?
Without hard hands could soft hands strum the lyre?
Look at the gold dust glittering like fire.
Give us that gold --
-- or we will mutiny.
You rogues -- this gold has bent your brains.
He won it by his pains.
What pains? A single song?
A single song
Gave him more than we earn our whole lives long
With sinew and with sweat.
Captain -- do not forget
You have a house, and we have huts and shacks.
This gold will help to paper up the cracks
Through which the wind knifes through
In hard midwinter, piercing us, not you.
But join with us, and you can share this fortune too.
I will not touch that gold for anything.
Here, Captain, here's a ring.
Not on your life --
If you don't like it, give it to your wife.
CAPTAIN flinging it away:
I ST MUTINEER snatching a sword from the pile, and holding it to the
Captain's throat:
Captain, be reasonable. Do not die.
I'm sure your wife would wish you to comply.
Her golden-dusted dreams are all about you.
What would she do without you?
to the sailors
Let's take the gold
And stack it in the hold.
The Captain stays inside his room on board;
And when the gold is stored,
We'll deal with other things --
Arion sings out in his sleep.
Listen -- Arion sings --
What of Arion?
-- Death.
Captain, save your breath.
Think of your family.
I cannot bear the pain
That they should wait for me and not see me again.
I ST MUTINEER shouting to the sailors:
Take the gold!
Led by the mutineers, the sailors break open Arion's treasure and start to
divide it among themselves. They sing the earlier words of the mutineers
to justify their actions.
Gold . . . the glittering gold . . .
What shall I do?
What can I do?
It's not the gods
But our own hearts
We need to fear.
The evil starts
Against all odds
Not there but here.
Arion appears. A sudden silence.
Captain, you are ill. What's happening? You look pale. What
is all this?
Arion, you must die.
Arion laughs, then realises that the Captain is serious.
Captain --
We much regret, Arion, that you must die.
What is my crime? Tell me the reason why.
You are too rich. Your prizes swell the hold.
Spare me my life. I'll give you all my gold.
When we reach Corinth gulf, the tides will shift;
You will retract your promise and your gift.
A forced gift is no gift --
Here, take this shell.
Your gift once saved my life; it served me well.
May it remind you of our earlier trust
Before that love was buried by gold dust.
It's not my will. I have to mind my crew.
And seal my murder?
What else can I do?
I ST MUTINEER: You heard him.
Kill yourself at once.
If you want us to bury you on shore.
What else can I do?
Let me sing one last song before I die.
Arion goes up onto the afterdeck; the sailors all move forward to hear
I do not wish to die. I fear to die,
To sink in the reflection of the sky,
At such a fearful depth to be alone,
To merge with shell and coral, slime and stone,
By tentacles caressed, by green fronds curled,
To drown myself in such a silent world.
My voice was loved, myself I cannot tell.
A hollow voice cried out from every shell.
Those who gave friendship I least understand
Who, when I needed love, let slip their hand.
But so it was, and I am glad I leave
No friends to mourn, no family to grieve.
O world so beautiful, grey olive trees,
Green laurel bushes, tempest-troubled seas,
I shall not see you or the clouds at night
Or the bright stars or sunset's golden light
Or smell the hyacinth or hear the cry
Of eagle or of wolf before I die.
His singing has an unsettling effect on the sailors. Some are deeply
moved, others not. They start arguing. The scene becomes a riot. One
sailor rushes to guard Arion with an oar or a sword, others attempt to
charge him, only to be held off.
Spare his life . . . Stop up his mouth . . . Throw him overboard
. . . No! . . . Smash his lyre! . . . jump -- and die. Ad lib.
At the height of the clamour and chaos, Arion leaps off the ship into the
Scene 6
A sea-change -- a sudden silence -- Arion is in the sea, sinking with
his lyre -- he is under the waves --
The stars disappear above, the moon disappears. The blackness is
He is drowning and struggling and choking.
Dolphin sounds. Phosphorescence.
The beautiful swift trails of sea-beasts, including dolphins.
He is buoyed up by dolphins, danced and played with; and carried
along (holding a fin, riding on a dolphin's back) at a
wonderfully rapid rate.
Dolphin sounds: joyous.
Arion believes that this exhilarating experience is death.
The dark forgetful river
That bounds the dead for ever,
Transport me to that shore,
For I fear death no more.
Death was not hard and slow
But soft and swift. I go
Calm to that under-land
Now joy has seized my hand.
The dolphin sounds become clearer, and among the clicks, cries, bubbling
noises and so on are heard a few broken words, at first incoherently, then
with high but clear articulation.
Oh, no, no . . . no, no . . . [clearer] . . . musician --
You are not . . .
Not? I am not.
. . . are not dead.
Not what?
Dead. Not dead.
I am not dead? Why not?
Dolphin. Dolphin.
You are dolphins, yes, I see that . . .
Music. Music.
You want me to make more music?
Music. We came to near . . .
To hear me sing? On the boat?
On the boat. Then you leaped. And we saved you alive. We
saved you alive. Alive. Alive.
Please don't repeat everything. It's hard enough to take it all
in once. You say I'm alive?
DOLPHIN delightedly:
Alive. Alive. Alive.
I'm very grateful.
It's good of you.
Forgive me. I'm in shock.
Alive . . . you are alive . . .
ARION: And the ship?
Sailed on, sailed on. We took you away. They did not see.
They think you are dead. Your name, musician?
The dolphins sing the name's long vowels. They appear to like it.
You dolphins seem to be susceptible to music.
Very susceptible. Came to the ship. Lovely music. Saved a
musician. Arion. Excellent dolphins.
Excellent dolphins!
But aren't there evil dolphins too?
Like the ones who tried to kidnap Dionysus the god of wine
and sell him into slavery?
Oh no, no, no -- they were pirates, they were turned into
dolphins. Bad as men, as dolphins good.
Their descendants are good dolphins, and proud of their
ARION aside:
How smug.
A song. Listen.
He turned himself into a lion of gold
And round his head his golden eyes he rolled.
Ivy entwined the ship, and flutes were heard.
The oars, turned serpents, hissed each double word:
Sleep, sleep,
Deep, deep.
The babbling pirates, leaping overboard,
Were smoothed to dolphins at a fluted chord
A conch is heard.
The conch!
That's the ship
From which you leapt.
We have overtaken it
And we will be in Corinth long before
The shell sounds on that shore.
The shell, the gifted shell
That once was mine may be their supper bell.
But now it's time for supper here as well.
There is a feeding dance as the dolphins catch and pass and share and eat
fish -- more like play than supper.
Raw fish!
DOLPHIN dancing around in delighted attendance:
Would you like some prawns? We could manage that. And
sea-spinach. But not eels, I'm afraid. My aunt died of a surfeit
of lampreys, and we've never had them on the table since.
Perhaps you'd like --
A turbot,
A burbot,
A plate of plaice.
A dab of dace.
A ling, a lobster, and a loach.
A roosterfish, a ray, a roach.
A chub, a char,
A grunt, a gar,
Three pilchards and a pound of parr.
Fish give us a sufficiency
Beneath the sea
As you can see.
We eat with great efficiency
Beneath the sea
As you can see.
Like other good cetaceans
We scatter good vibrations.
We harry herring happily
And swallow salmon snappily.
Our skins are smooth and rubbery,
Our bulky bodies blubbery.
We harry herring happily
And swallow salmon snappily.
With unspecific gravity
And sinusoidal suavity
We harry herring happily
And swallow salmon snappily.
With aquabatic levity
And aerobatic brevity
We harry herring happily
And swallow salmon snappily.
And doesn't anyone wish to eat you?
Certain sharks try to get at young dolphins, And some
people -- in the Black Sea, mainly. They salt us and eat us
later. And fishermen don't like us on the whole. We eat
their catch. And they kill us for that. Or we swim with the
shoals and get caught in their nets.
That makes me doubly grateful that you saved me.
You're not the first man led by us to shore.
Why, there were plenty more.
Tell me about another.
DOLPHIN: Icadius, Iapys' Cretan brother,
Shipwrecked, was guided by
A dolphin to Delphi;
And from that dolphin Delphi got its name:
Apollo and the dolphin were the same.
Or when Enalus saw his lover slung
Into the sea to calm the waves he flung
Himself into the waves that they might be
United constantly.
A dolphin saved him, and its mate his mate
From their too-fluid fate.
You need to learn about our life and lore.
As your after-dinner task
Forget the world you've left and bask
In the warm rhythms of our dolphin masque.
An entertainment, a sort of masque, is laid on: scenes from dolphin life
and lore, including some of the following:
Dolphin pairings and pods.
The dolphin life-cycle.
The dance of the dolphin midwives.
Conservation, pollution, netting, the killing of dolphins and other
sea-life by man.
Hermit-dolphins who live apart from other dolphins.
Ambassador dolphins who make contact with humans.
Dolphins in the mythology and folklore of different cultures.
Dolphins as psychopomps, leading the souls of the human dead to the
Defence against sharks: dolphins ram them with their snouts.
Dolphin sonar: dolphins close their eyes and can still catch fish.
Sleeplessness: dolphins never sleep since they need to come up to the
surface for air; half their brains rest at a time.
True stories from around the world of humans being rescued by
The other sea-creatures also appear and act their parts in the masque:
fronds, anemones, sharks, globefish, abalone, corals, conches, herring,
salmon, sea-horses, electric eels, plankton, whales -- perhaps a friendly
jellyfish, who likes touching other beasts and can't understand why he's
The dolphins perform a joyful dance for Arion.
Round and round, round and round,
Leaping up and plunging down,
Fins and flippers flying free,
We dolphins dart around the sea.
What joyful lives you dolphins lead
Both when you mate and when you feed.
Compare it to my own condition --
A poor, unhappy, flipperless musician.
Oh,no --
You interest us, we interest you.
And we can tell who's who.
And we like music too.
We have our ancient musical traditions.
That's why we are susceptible to musicians.
Perhaps we should sing together after supper.
You take the lower part, I'll take the upper.
They sing a duet, the dolphin singing open vowels, Arion doing the same
as well as playing the lyre. Soon the voices of dolphin and human are
wonderfully intertwined.
I love Arion, and would like to be
Bound to his voice and him eternally.
The other dolphins leave one by one, and Arion and the dolphin are left
swimming towards Corinth.
The days pass one by one.
I feel my life has only just begun --
And, for the first time, I am having fun!
In air and water both, our voices part and blend,
And I/you, who never sought a friend
Have found one in the end.
Scene 7
Fisherfolk gather on the shore.
Look -- look -- in the Gulf --
A dolphin and a young man with a lyre --
They'll get caught in our nets --
Save him --
No, no -- they've swum under them --
It is Arion.
Let's inform the court.
Let Periander know.
They go off to inform Periander.
Now, Dolphin, you must go,
My part is here above, and yours below --
I where the winds, you where the waters flow.
It must be so.
How sad I am that I must part
From the dolphin of my heart!
With you I will remain --
For if we part we'll never meet again
And I would die of loneliness and pain.
This I maintain.
Periander and his guards arrive.
During this scene, the fisherfolk, quite delighted with the dolphin,
prod it with their oars out of interest, and keep it apart. The dolphin is a
little bewildered and frightened.
Meanwhile, Periander draws Arion out of the water.
Arion! Arion!
My lord, my friend the dolphin --
What is this?
Arion, you're alive. You won?
Get that dolphin away --
But, my lord . . .
When did you return?
How did you fare in Sicily? What did you sing?
Where are your prizes?
My lord, my friend the dolphin saved my life.
What do you mean?
Don't speak in riddles.
Come out of there. At once. You're cold and wet.
Where's the ship? The Captain?
They saw my gold and forced me overboard.
The dolphin saved me, fed me, brought me here.
And now insists on staying on, my lord,
Unawed by fate, by foreignness, by fear.
I see. Where are the Captain and the crew?
Speak, speak at once! How can I credit you?
I never heard of anything more strange
Than your strange history of chance and change.
Prove, prove your clever story if you can.
The Captain is a highly trusted man.
I trusted him, my lord - and half my grief
Is for my lost belief.
It is the bitter truth that I have told.
I won in Sicily. They stole my gold.
Where is the ship? Where is the crew?
Where is my proof?
My lord, what shall I do?
You say the dolphin wishes to remain.
How would you know? Explain at once. Explain!
We spoke, my lord --
Spoke? Spoke? Spoke to that wretched fish?
Then let it speak again. It is my wish
The dolphin speak. Command it so to do
That I may hear this dolphin language too.
If the beast speaks, throw it a mackerel.,
I, Periander, wait. Speak now! Speak well!
Speak! Speak!
The dolphin does not speak.
Periander becomes more and more suspicious.
Suddenly he turns to the guards and indicates Arion.
Arrest him. Take him away!
But, my lord, what about the dolphin?
Oh -- do what you like with the dolphin --
The guards drag Arion off.
The fisherfolk turn the dolphin into a sort of circus act. They force it
through hoops, make it leap for dead fish, collect money for it.
Roll up, roll up, roll up, and see the dolphin play.
Free for the under-fives. Half-price on Saturday .
Scene 8
Arion wakes up in his prison cell. Through the bars he looks up at the
night sky. The messenger enters.
Arion of Lesbos, I am required by Periander, Tyrant of
Corinth, to inform you that the dolphin is dead.
Arion starts. There is a look of horror on his face. The messenger
The dolphin wasted away
From day to day . . .
It glutted and it groaned.
It squealed; it moaned.
'Arion . . . Arion . . .' all day long
It seemed to say -- a high, pathetic song.
Into its misery the creature sank.
Ringed by dead fish it stank.
Arion groans with misery.
PERIANDER who has been standing outside:
Ah, how I grieve
That I kept them apart. It is too late,
And I have earned his endless hate.
He enters the prison cell.
Arion -- forgive me --
You did not feign that cry.
Forgive me that the dolphin had to die.
You are free. You are free. Open the prison gate.
The dolphin's tomb will be erected by the state.
Periander marches out. The guards remove the bars from around Arion.
ARION who has taken in nothing of all this:
Alone am I, and sad that you are dead,
That you are dead, not I --
That you were kind to me and that led you to die.
When all is done and said --
When all is said and done,
You were my friend, the only one.
Scene 9
The full chorus (everyone except the Captain and the sailors) enters
in candle-lit procession. A tomb is built for the dolphin, beneath a
dark, starless sky.
Now the sun is setting
And the night is near,
Look down on our city,
Keep us safe from fear.
Till the hour of sunrise
Let our labours cease.
May our sleep be dreamless.
May we rest in peace --
Farmers in the mountains,
Sailors on the waves,
All who suffer sadness,
All who rest in graves.
Now the sun is setting
And the night is near,
Look down on our city,
Keep us safe from fear.
Day follows night, night day.
Try as I wish, I cannot keep away.
Night follows day, day night.
I watch myself mourn from a distant height.
I sing in my own voice, but in the end,
The voice is yours, my friend.
Why did you have to die?
Why? Why? Why? Why?
I ask, I ask, and there is no reply.
Till the light of morning
Let your mourning cease.
May your sleep be dreamless.
May you rest in peace.
Arion sleeps, exhausted, behind the tomb. The distant sound of a conch is
The Captain and sailors come up from the shore, bearing flaming
Periander comes forward.
Welcome, Captain; home at last, I see.
Thanks to your lordship's prayers to the gods --
Though I have yet to see my home and wife --
The gods, yes, yes; a happy voyage, I hope?
We carry merchandise from Italy --
Detailed in full, of course, at the customs house.
Excellent, excellent. But where's Arion?
He won at the Sicilian festival.
All present praised him, and he gained great gifts --
But midway in our voyage came a ship
That claimed to go to Lesbos, and he too,
Longing to see his native coast once more,
Transferred his gold and sailed away from us.
Why do you weep that he was fortunate?
I weep because I must.
My gentle Captain --
Swear on your mother's womb that this is true.
Swear on the dolphin's tomb that this is true.
Swear that you do not lie.
Swear, that you may not die.
Swear, all of you.
What dolphin's tomb, my lord?
This tomb that it has pleased the state
To raise. Swear, swear. Why do you hesitate?
The sailors swear, placing their palms on the tomb. The Captain cannot.
Arion awakes. The sailors see him and are struck dumb with horror.
They tremble, and try to run, but are held by the guards.
The Captain turns around in amazement. Torn between relief and
shock, he moves towards Arion and says, with unmistakable joy:
Arion --
The gods be praised.
I have been thinking of you night and day.
Arion turns away from him.
Those nights and days
I have not slept
Upon the sea.
Your voice has crept
Through my heart's maze
To torture me.
It's not the gods
But our own hearts
We need to fear.
The evil starts
Against all odds
Not there but here.
Take him away.
Tyrant, my ship is like your city.
I sacrificed, suppressing pity,
An innocent man. I was to blame.
You. Tyrant, would have done the same.
I've heard enough.
Put him and all his ruffians to the sword.
Let them go, my lord.
Arion, do not raise your voice.
They compassed death. I have no choice.
Defer their sentence for a day --
An hour, my lord -- and hear me play.
Perhaps my words will draw your bitterness away.
Play, then, Arion, and sing.
I, who have caused you grief, am listening.
Arion turns to the Captain and in a gesture of reconciliation takes the
conch-shell once more and holds it to his ear. The sounds of the sea are
heard, and the cries of dolphins.
I hear your voice sing out my name by night,
By dawn, by evening light.
I mourn for you, yet, Dolphin, to my shame,
I never asked your name.
Your element protected me, but mine
For you proved far too fine,
Dolphin, it was from your marine caress
That I learned gentleness.
May music bind the sky, the earth, the sea
In tune, in harmony.
Dark sea, protect all voyagers whose home
Rests in your ring of foam.
Warm earth, teach us to nourish, not destroy
The souls that give us joy.
Bright stars, engrave my dolphin and my lyre
In the night sky with fire.
The northern constellations of Delphinus and Lyra appear in the night sky.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Little by Little: A Writer's Education / Jean Little

Little by Little is an extraordinary autobiography by one of Canada's most beloved writers. Jean Little painstakingly provides readers with an insightful--and equally delightful--look into her past, appraising her childhood in Guelph, Ontario, and taking readers up to the publication of her first novel for children, Mine for Keeps, in 1962. While first and foremost the story of a writer's life, Little by Little also powerfully and poignantly explores the author's struggle as a blind child in a sighted world. She openly shares with readers the devastating cruelties of the classroom and playground and her overwhelming need to find a way to belong. It's also the story of a warm and loving family (her portrait of her parents is especially memorable) as well as the great teachers and loyal friends who little by little helped Jean discover her inner strengths and find the courage to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. In her exploration of being blind, Little is never maudlin or self-pitying; instead she focuses on how her not being a sighted person helped make her a writer. It's Little's honesty and gentle good humour that most touch readers as she plots the path that led her to writing books for children. A sequel, Stars Come Out Within, follows her career as a writer, teacher, and role model.

Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton is known to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet few beyond her close friends and family have ever heard her account of her extraordinary journey. She writes with candor, humor and passion about her upbringing in suburban, middle-class America in the 1950s and her transformation from Goldwater Girl to student activist to controversial First Lady. Living History is her revealing memoir of life through the White House years. It is also her chronicle of living history with Bill Clinton, a thirty-year adventure in love and politics that survives personal betrayal, relentless partisan investigations and constant public scrutiny.

Hillary Rodham Clinton came of age during a time of tumultuous social and political change in America. Like many women of her generation, she grew up with choices and opportunities unknown to her mother or grandmother. She charted her own course through unexplored terrain—responding to the changing times and her own internal compass—and became an emblem for some and a lightning rod for others. Wife, mother, lawyer, advocate and international icon, she has lived through America's great political wars, from Watergate to Whitewater.

The only First Lady to play a major role in shaping domestic legislation, Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled tirelessly around the country to champion health care, expand economic and educational opportunity and promote the needs of children and families, and she crisscrossed the globe on behalf of women's rights, human rights and democracy. She redefined the position of First Lady and helped save the presidency from an unconstitutional, politically motivated impeachment. Intimate, powerful and inspiring, Living History captures the essence of one of the most remarkable women of our time and the challenging process by which she came to define herself and find her own voice—as a woman and as a formidable figure in American politics.

Bahut Shukriya . . . .

Bahut Shukriya Badi Meherbaani, Meri Zindagi Mein Huzur Aap Aaye, Kadam Chumlun Yaa, Ke Aankhen Bichadun,Karun Kya Yeh Meri, Samaj Mein Na Aaye,Bahut Shukriya...

Karun Pesh Tum Ko, Nazarana Dil Kaa,Nazarana Dil Kaa..Ke Ban Jaaye Koyi.. Afasana Dil Kaa,Khuda Jaane Aisi Suhani Ghadi phir,Khuda Jaane Aisi Suhani Ghadi Phir,Meri Zindagi Mein Palat Ke Na Aaye,Bahut Shukriya...

Mujeh Dar Hai Mujh Mein, Gurur Aana Jaaye,Lagun Jhoomne Mein, Surur Aa Na Jaaye,Surur Aa Na Jaaye, Kahin Dil Na Mera, Yeh Taarif Sun Kar,Kahin Dil Na Mera, Yeh Taarif Sun Kar,Tumhare Bane Aur Mujeh Bhool Jaaye,Bahut Shukriya..

Khushi To Bahut Hai Magar Yeh Bhi Gam Hai Magar Yeh Bhi Gam Hai Ke Yeh Saath Apna Kadam Do Kadam Hai Magar Yeh Musafir Duaa Maangta HaiMagar Yeh Musafir Duaa Maangta Hai Khuda Aapse Phir Kisi Din Milaaye

Bahut Shukriya Badi Meherbaani,Meri Zindagi Mein Huzur Aap Aaye,Kadam Chumlun Yaa, Ke Aankhen Bichadun,Karun Kya Yeh Meri, Samaj Mein Na Aaye,Bahut Shukriya...

Sarra Manning

This is the official blog of Sarra Manning, writer of Guitar Girl, Pretty Things, Let's Get Lost and the Diary Of A Crush trilogy. This blog willl have regular postings from Sarra, answers to your questions, sneak previews of her forthcoming projects and a lot of ranting and raving about her current obsessions from The OC and Veronica Mars to the new Belle And Sebastian album.

Diary of a Crush: Sealed with a Kiss by Sarra Manning

Edie and Dylan are finally a real couple, and to celebrate they’re off on an amazing road trip across America. But nine weeks on the road in a foreign country is a long time—and a real test of their feelings for each other. Will it bring them even closer together, or break them apart forever?

Diary of a Crush: French Kiss by Sarra Manning

When Edie and Dylan first see each other in photography class, an instant attraction draws them together. But true love never does run smoothly—the two spar as much as they can’t keep their hands off each other. Then comes the college trip to Paris: Edie’s willpower will be tested to the limit! In between furious arguments and trips to the Louvre, the two share some passionate moments—but will it last?

Rebellion . . . .

Rendezvous . . . .

Dilip Kumar, Star Legend of Indian Cinema : The Definitive Biography / Bunny Reuben

The most authoritative and exhaustive biography of one of the all-time greats of Indian Cinema
Dilip Kumar, whose career spans almost six decades, stands out as a colossus in the field of Indian cinema. Undeniably the most imitated actor in Bollywood, he has adapted himself (and remarkably well at that) to the changing times and the new age innovations and techniques, while maintaining his stamp of individuality. This biography, by a renowned and seasonal journalist, delves deep into the life and times and the new age innovations and techniques, while maintaining his stamp of individuality and into his relationships with the film fraternity. It beings out in graphic detail how an introverted and inhibited youngster metamorphosed into a thespian par excellence by the sheer dint of his determination, perseverance and capability.
Beginning with his childhood years in Peshawar (now in Pakistan), the contents go on to describe the experiences of Dilip Kumar and his family as they moved to Deolali and then to Bombay. The author recounts Dilip Kumar’s crucial meeting with Devika Rani (the then reigning star) in the early 1940s, which was the turning point in his life, in that he bagged his first film assignment (Jwar Bhata, 1944). The rest is history. Dilip Kumar’s oeuvre covers a wide genre of movies including social dramas, historical romances and light-hearted comedies. He has several prestigious awards to his credit including the Filmfare Best Actor Award (eight times, a record), the Padma Bhushan (1991) and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1995). He has also been decorated with Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1997).
This comprehensive study turns the spotlight on not only Dilip Kumar the actor but also on Dilip Kumar the human being – as a son, a brother, a lover a husband and above all a friend. In the process, it not only traces the vicissitudes of his career but also reveals the man behind the image – his strengths, his foibles, his passions, his romances.
Bunny Reuben took to film journalism in the late 1940s. From the 1950s to the 1970s, he was an in-the-field reporter and writer of feature articles for the Indian Express group, Filmfare and Star & Style. He was also the founder-editor of Cine Blitz in 1975. Bunny Reuben has several books to his credit including the biographies of the legendary Mehboob Khan and the `great showman' Raj Kapoor. This biography is the result of more than half a century of association with Dilip Kumar and other members of his family.

Five Past Midnight In Bhopal / Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro

It was five past midnight on the night of 3 December 1984 when a terrifying cloud of toxic gas escaped from an American pesticide plant in the heart of the Indian city of Bhopal. Killing between sixteen and thirty thousand people and injuring five hundred thousand more, it was the most murderous industrial disaster in history. With compelling and vivid prose, Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro put faces to the masses that were killed or injured.

Hundreds of characters, situations and adventures are telescoped into this fresco full of love, heroism, faith and hope. Lapierre and Moro introduce individuals from both the slums and the teak-veneered offices of Union Carbide, conveying with disturbing clarity the despair and dignity behind the news headlines. An Indian peasant's family driven from their land by a swarm of ravaging aphids; Western engineers determined to rescue the Third World from its famines; a poetry-loving workman, who unleashes the apocalypse; heroic doctors who die giving victims mouth to mouth resuscitation and a young Indian bride who escapes the flames of a funeral-pyre because of a small cross round her neck.

This is a real tragedy of crucial relevance to our times, a warning to all those sorcerer's apprentices who threaten the future of our planet. And the people of Bhopal are still suffering. The authors of the book estimates that even now one hundred and fifty thousand people are chronically affected by the tragedy; breathing difficulties, recurrent fevers, chronic gynecological problems to name but a few. No court of law has ever passed judgement on Union Carbide for the crime committed in Bhopal and Warren Anderson, its then chairman, disappeared ten years ago to avoid being indicted for the crime. In Five Past Midnight in Bhopal, Dominique Lapierre continues his crusade for the forgotten poor of India.

Dominique Lapierre's has an incomparable gift for telling the human story, which first came to international acclaim in The City of Joy. He and Moro have triumphed again with this beautifully written, moving account of the night that forever changed the heart of India.

Demoted . . . .

I've been demoted! Salary slashed -- warning letter! LOL


I'll program our Access Control System to "mousetrap" her -- overnight! (Evil Grin)

Nothing happened -- really. COO didn't say anything.

Let's see . . . .

But right now, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and I love you soooooooooooo much Saroo!

Navajo: The Blessingway

Haya naiya yana,
I have come upon it, I have come upon blessing
People, my relatives, I have come upon blessing
People, my relatives, blessed . . .

From there Dawn comes,
She comes upon me with blessing
Before her, from there,
She comes upon me with blessing
Behind her, from there,
She comes upon me with blessing

Behind her, it is blessed,
Before her, it is blessed,
I have come upon it, I have come upon blessing . . .

John Douglas: Criminal Profiler

John Douglas

Legendary head of the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit

He has hunted some of the most notorious and sadistic criminals of our time: the Trailside Killer in San Francisco, the Atlanta child murderer, the Tylenol poisoner, the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, and Seattle’s Green River killer, the case that nearly ended his own life.

He developed the first psychological profile of the Unabomber, but found the FBI wary of his pioneering techniques. His aggressive plan of action was ignored.

He has confronted, interviewed, and studied dozens of serial killers and assassins — including Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Richard Speck, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) and James Earl Ray — for a landmark study, to understand their motives and motivations. To get inside their minds.

He is able to become both predator and prey. He examines a crime scene and creates profiles of the perpetrators, describing their habits and predicting their next moves. Ultimately, when his work has helped snare the criminals, he can help build strategy for interrogating and prosecuting them.

He is Special Agent John Douglas, a legendary figure in law enforcement and the model for the Scott Glenn character in The Silence of the Lambs. (He was also the original choice to play the role.) As chief of the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit — the team that tackles the most baffling and senseless of unsolved violent crimes — Douglas is the man who ushered in a new age in behavioral science and criminal profiling. Now, after 25 years of service, he has retired and can finally tell his unique and compelling story.

Expanding on his national best sellers, Obsession, Mind Hunter and Unabomber: On the Trail of America’s Most Wanted Serial Killer (all co-authored with Mark Olshaker), Douglas’ lecture program delivers a fascinating inside look at some of the most intriguing criminal cases of our time. His most recent book, The Anatomy of Motive, analyzes such notorious criminal minds as Lee Harvey Oswald, Theodore Kaczynski, and Timothy McVeigh - and helps us learn how to anticipate potential violent behavior before it’s too late. Drawing from his long and extraordinary career, Douglas takes us inside the cat-and-mouse struggle between his elite squad of investigators and a chilling rogues gallery of assailants, a sort of surreal chess game with life-and-death consequences.

In the Minds of Murderers: The Inside Story Of Criminal Profiling

In the Minds of Murderers: The Inside Story Of Criminal Profiling / Paul Roland

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two / Joseph Bruchac

Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years.

But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians.

Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls


Lulu Dark is the anti-Nancy—a chic, tough-talking city girl who never meant to get involved in a mystery.

But when her favorite purse is stolen during a Many Handsomes concert, Lulu knows she has to get it back. After all, it was one of a kind—and the lead singer's phone number was stashed inside! Lulu dives deep into the fray along with her friends Daisy and Charlie, and discovers a twisted mystery involving a rock star, a rich socialite, a loony landlord, and a serious case of mistaken identity.

No Good-bye . . . .

He did not say good-bye. There is no word for good-bye in Navajo.

-- Code Talker / Joseph Bruchac

Suspended . . . .

I've been suspended -- not terminated yet. I'll have no option but to surrender to the Police if I'm fired. "Surrender" sounds like -- I'm some popular, controversial, firebrand Political Leader! LOL

Friday, June 20, 2008



I've lost my job. I've been terminated.

I can't pay my credit card and bank dues.

I'm going to surrender myself to the Police on Sunday.

I love you.

Khuda Hafiz

Maqsood Qureshi
Abu Dhabi

Monday, June 16, 2008

Let's go to the movies: The Last Castle

Three-star General Irwin (Robert Redford) was a prisoner of war in Vietnam and a revered hero in the Persian Gulf and Bosnian campaigns. Now, he has been court-martialed for disobeying orders and he is sentenced to serve time at The Castle, a maximum-security military prison run by Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini), a hard-nosed disciplinarian. A battle of wills soon emerges between the two men, as The Castle's prisoners and guards find themselves drawn to Irwin's natural leadership abilities. As Irwin inspires the prisoners to find the dignity and pride that they have lost, he threatens Winter's strict regime, leading to a conflict that can only have one winner. From Rod Lurie, West Point graduate and director of DETERRENCE and THE CONTENDER, comes this intense dramatic thriller featuring battles both psychological and military. Stars Redford and Gandolfini, joined by gifted newcomers Mark Ruffalo and Clifton Collins, Jr., give excellent performances as a group of very different military men thrown together into an ugly situation. Filmed on location at the now-closed Tennessee State Penetentiary, THE LAST CASTLE is a hard-edged tribute to courage, honor, and loyalty.

Short Stories: Vikram Aur Betaal

That’s Catch-22.

That’s Endless Loop.

Sounds familiar eh? :-)

That's love! That's life!

Vikram Aur Betaal

The legend says that King Vikramaditya, in order to fulfil a vow, was required to remove a corpse of betaal from a treetop and carry it on his shoulder to another place in silence.

Enroute, the spirit of Betaal (in the corpse) used to narrate a story to the king and after completing the story Betaal would pose a query that if he (The king) knew the answer, was bound to respond lest he will break his head into thousand pieces.

But if he does speak out, he would break the vow of silence and Betaal would fly back to the treetop, leaving the king inches short of his destination! The king would go after the vampire and start all over again. And so on and on.


The stories of Vikram and Betal, originally written in sanskrit, have been an integral part of Indian fairy tales for many centuries. Legend has it that King Vikramaditya (Vikram), the emperor of Ujjain promises a monk to bring Betal, the vampire as a fovour promised to him. The condition is that the king should bring the vampire in complete silence, lest Betal, the vampire will fly back with the corpse to its abode. As soon as Vikram attempts to fetch the corpse in which the vampire Betal was residing, the vampire starts to narrate a story. And at the end of every story it compells king Vikram to solve the puzzle of the story, thus breaking his silence. The stories thus narrates by Betal, the Vampire forms an interesting series of fairy tales.

The introduction shows the setting for the stories, and conclusion shows what happened after King Vikram fulfilled his promise to the monk.

Soooooooooooo -- are you Betty or Veronica? :-)

Soooooooooooo -- are you Betty or Veronica? :-)

Tell me, Dummy!


Veronica Lodge

Veronica is gorgeous, sophisticated, sexy and very RICH. She is also ambitious and would someday like to run Lodge Enterprises. She’s confident about her appearance and ability to get things done. She plays the electric keyboard in The Archies band and sings. With her beautiful, long black hair and her incredible appeal, Veronica has no problem with the boys, except maybe Archie. She is forever trying to win Archie’s affection over Betty and uses her looks, brains and money to do so. Veronica has an outrageously expensive and beautiful wardrobe and always looks like a million bucks. She is very conceited, usually fickle, and extremely flirtatious; she has Archie wrapped around her finger…or does she?