KIDSBOOKS | THE MAJESTIC MARKHOR

In the great Himalayan and Karakoram ranges
There lives a brave herbivore
He scales the sheer wooded cliffs
The beautiful, agile Markhor

His name is a hybrid of two words
Mar: the snake, and Khor: the eater
Despite the fierce legend he wields
He’s quite the gentle barnyard bleater

He’s known for his dexterous climbing skills
And is also a fabulous forager
He’ll search for grasses and for leaves
He’ll roam like an adventuring voyager

He looks like an interesting mix
Of both a boy and a girl I’ve heard
Sporting a lovely russet coat
And also a spiffy little beard

He also has tremendous horns
Like five feet long corkscrews
Weapons to keep bullies at bay
And to dig up clumps of grass too

The Markhor is the national animal
Of the south Asian country of Pakistan
She’s quite iconic, a logo classic
Even featuring in puppet shows in Afghanistan

And there we leave this regal Capra*
As he walks with grace, his head held high
Master of all that he surveys
Majestic horns spiralling into the sky.
* The markhor was one of the 72 animals featured on the World Wide Fund for Nature Conservation Coin Collection in 1976. 

* Markhor marionettes are used in the Afghan puppet shows known as buz-baz.

* The markhor has also been mentioned in a Pakistani computer-animated film known as Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor.

* The Markhor is present on the logo of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the intelligence agency of Pakistan.


* CAPRA: a genus of mammals consisting of goats, the markhor and ibexes.
Featured

FEATURE|LETTER FROM AN AFGHAN GIRL TO HER TALIBAN CAPTORS

This is a tribute to all the women in fact who are oppressed, reduced and shamed in the name of religion, and who still find the strength and dignity to go on another day.

O Talib*, O ye self-professed Learned One,

I have something to say to you.
You can whip up monsters from the air and call them your Shariah*.
You can torture and mangle “your” women, break their spirits and their bodies and call it the Word of God.
You can wear your imperious lungee* and as it swishes around in the wind, you imagine the very angels dancing around you.
You grow your hairy beards, and hide your malevolent grins behind them.
You rumble and you roar and that is your devotion.
You maim and you kill and you call that Divine intervention.

But then secretly you also glance at your reflections and you see what we all see: imperfect, angry, reviled men trying to validate their existence in the only way they can - by wiping the planet clean of the scourge of the Double (H)Ex*. But then you pause with the greatest effort known to the Men of God and you think:
How can we annihilate this evil, garbed in soft flesh if we are to propagate and procreate? How else are we to add to the rank and file of Allah’s soldiers?

The conundrum is excruciating. So you continue to brutalize and ravage just short of pushing her six feet under. Just so you can crush her under you instead and make her pay for staying alive. To bear and to beget your many sons. To nurture and feed your rabid army of the Men of Allah.


O Ye Men of Allah,

I have something to say to you. Hear me.

I am the Daughter of the Universe; the Yin to your Yang, the ultimate balancing act of God’s will gone wrong in your hands.

Hear me. We will be who we are: the proud women of Afghanistan. Our honour lies serenely, supremely, completely in the depths of our own eyes, not in yours.

Look at me. Don’t hide behind your fragile male bravado.
Look at me. Don’t turn your suddenly shameful eyes away.

Look at me. Look at me.

Look at me as I rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you kicked aside.
Look at me as I look at you.
Look at me and see what you have become.
Look at me as your heart Drains … Shrivels …. Breaks …. Burns in its own hell.

Hear me, my voice will echo through my sisters even if mine falls silent. You will Hear me.

Look at me, even if it is at my corpse as I go to meet my Maker. You will Look at me.

For Allah hears me. For Allah sees me.

Allah stands behind me as we both look at you. As we both await you.
* Double (H)Ex: Word play on the double X chromosomes that all female mammals possess.  Hex is a spell or a curse.

* Talib: Scholar; Learned one.

* Shariah: Islamic law derived from the teachings of the Quran but mainly from the Prophet Muhammad. It is not a list of rules but rather a set of principles on aspects of life, including marriage, divorce, finance and rituals such as fasting and prayer.

* Lungee: turban/ cloth worn around the head.