“In the storm, stands the white rose, tumultuous waves of destruction abound her.......Be strong little flower, your heart will guide true, and as long as you want, I will always talk to you”.
These poignant lines are from “White Rose” a poem by that endearing child Arfa Karim, who left us all for her heavenly abode. She truly was a rose surrounded by waves of destruction. Undeterred, strong, true and resolute, she left behind so much that shall always talk to us. Accolades, medals and a commemorative stamp to go with it, she would have happily traded these for just a little bit of her in all of us.
Much has been said and written about her many achievements. Aristotle asserted that “a society both influences and is influenced by its role models”. An African proverb puts it this way: “it takes a village to raise a child”. She managed zenith in a system bereft of role models, a system that, unfortunately, rewards people for everything but the good. This in itself is her greatest badge of honour.
It has become a norm that we compromise on principles deeming it necessary for survival. We have created a society whose manipulations control our lives, it rewards those who compromise; condemns those who dare challenge it. Rampant corruption and a dearth of role models have inculcated a deficit of pride in our identities. It has led to an erosion of self-worth and the commitment to strive for the better. It has also created an environment devoid of incentive to invest in society. The absence of local figures that inspire has greatly affected the young. No wonder they ape the unadvisable.
Our generation, at large, has fared the worst. We have failed to inspire and be role models. Hardly a day passes when a supposed role-model manages its fall from grace. What if a child idolised such a person? We betray the future of our children and feel no remorse in doing so. A child’s mind can be one of the simplest things or the most complex. Parents, teachers, friends and society help it be either of the two. Blessed are the children that bloom into an Arfa; we as a state and society contribute almost nothing to the same.
Arfa said: “People say I am a genius. I might be one but I am not the only one. There are many other Pakistani girls and boys like me. All those gems need, is a little bit of polishing and I will do it. That’s my aim”. Such empathy and vision from someone so young is a wake-up call for all of us. It is our duty to provide an environment so all those gems can flourish. We all owe it to Arfa.
The media has played an admirable role to make Arfa a part of us, to be adored and remembered. The media’s reach and impact can play a great part in grooming all those other gems. It can help mould opinion and present a better selection of role models to choose from. As it is the deluge of film stars and alien culture shows greatly influence our young in how to act, speak and dress.
Today the white rose is not amongst us. Arfa in living a life, short that it was, left a lesson for all of us so advanced in years. In living those few years she taught us that ones value resides in what one gives not in what one takes. What could be more profoundly simple, what more could enrich our lives than she did?
When our days become gloomier and nights ever darker, seemingly lost in the banal maze of presidential immunities, betrayal, double-speak, corruption and unaccountability, Arfa Karim’s soulful voice singing “yeh watan tumhara hai – tum ho pasban is kay” shall resonate. It shall help dissipate the mist and gloom that has become our second selves, hopefully transforming our dark today’s into brighter tomorrows.
When Emerson’s first son Waldo died, his grief found words in his poem “Threnody”. A few verses read: “O child of paradise, Boy who made dear his father’s home, in whose deep eyes men read the welfare of the times to come... As God lives, is permanent; Hearts are dust, hearts’ loves remain; Heart’s love will meet thee again”.
The pain of her loved ones, that painful gnawing sense of having had and lost something so rare and precious should find solace in what she left behind for all of us – love and hope; indivisible and unquantifiable. What more could she give, what more could one want? The little flower shall always talk to us.
The writer is a freelance contributor.
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