Written and presented by Raheel Raza to WOMANVOICE, hosted by UrbanArts on Dec 6, 2004 to celebrate the International Day of Action for Violence Against Women and to commemorate the 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnic in Montreal.


From the ashes of Afghanistan
Where you bombed my home and trapped me in a tomb of dust 
 I am the woman who has risen up like the phoenix
Protected by my burqa - which you see as a symbol of oppression
This tattered cloak - is my only protection 
from the mortar and shells 
that you gift to my land – as you turn it into a living hell
I shatter the bonds, reach out my hand and 
gather the wounded and weeping women of my nation,
Stepping over the blood of our children 
as I teach them to say “no more”
No more - will we be pawns in the games of political power
No longer will we cower
I’ll find ways to alleviate our ignorance 
and build walls within which we can learn


I am the woman from a village in Pakistan
Where they threw acid in my face because their honour was at stake
Battered, bullied and bruised  – I suffered great pain
But the damage they have done has only fired my resolve
To never let them make MY honour, THEIR gain
I forced the courts to hear my case and took others like me
Caught in the vicious circle of male violence and frenzy 
in trying to dehumanize us
My disfigured face has empowered me; the cries of my sisters 
have given me strength in my own strength
I won’t be cowed down by cowardly acts
I have found my path and will never return to the fetters of slavery
I ask for no accolades for my bravery


I am a mother from the Middle East
Step-by-step trying to build bridges of peace
Surrounded by bloody hell
Where every shell
Has the name of an innocent bystander
I am Christian, Muslim and Jew
I bleed the same as you
I am wife, sister, friend and daughter
But our lives are devoid of any laughter
When our children leave home, we are uncertain
If they will ever return


I am a woman of the street where I am forced to sell my body 
part by part 
to the highest bidder – like a commodity
to those masters of the flesh trade who don’t know
that we are women – we have a heart
and a soul that is torn apart
when we are used and abused like pieces of flotsam
set afloat on the sea of time with no end in sight
We are a statistic on the pages of her-story
Not for the unequal wages we were paid
Or fighting the laws that are man-made
But - for being the principal victims of AIDS


I am the Muslim woman who came to this land
Many moons ago
I couldn’t speak the language, I’d never seen snow
I was alone and afraid with nowhere to go
for help, for advice about my woes
they scoffed at my head-scarf, my faith
my accent and the colour of my skin –
I felt forsaken
Yet I weathered all this on my own
I cried but I survived – thankful to be alive
In this land of the free
But are we ever truly free?
Today I am a victim again –after the terror of 9/11
My windows shattered, my mosque desecrated
It’s ironical - but I am told this turmoil is created
by the very people who wish to liberate me


Most of all I am a woman like the rest of you
Privileged for the chance to share in solidarity
As I build the courage to stand up and speak out 
against atrocities heaped upon us
Breaking the bonds of cultural and social fanaticism to forge
a special bond with my sisters
In breaking the silence, I reach out across barriers of
Race and religion – in the one cause that binds us together
Our feminine souls intertwined with the souls of 14 others
They were women - therefore they died



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The ties of blood 
are as fragile
as the waves
that wash ashore
and then are seen no more;

Brother, sister, you and me
a few empty words
that's all they are -
just a brief refrain 
of hurt and pain;

But there was a time
not long ago -
when we were close
and cared for each other
me, you, sister and brother;

Though time will pass and
all will be well - 
wounds will heal
but only time will tell
whether the ties will gel
Once again..........

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When will it end...this massacre and carnage - the blood
sweat and tears of our young and old?

When will we learn to live without fear...embedded deep
in our soul - with blood turned cold?

When will we stop destroying each other...victims of the enemy
who has become bold?

When will we say...peace in my land - I want to go home?


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For me the sun will always shine,
the birds will always sing
for I've found something 
more precious than life
something close to my being;
I have what others strive for
and try to find here and there,
I have what others would care for
yet know not how to share;
It's the spice of life - a gift from God
It's a commodity that's very rare
It's a basket full of spring flowers
It gladdens the heart and lays it bare;
It makes me sing when I walk
It makes me skip and want to dance
It's a feeling of gladness - a taste of joy
that others can see at a glance;
What is this quality that gives me hope
and reinforces my faith in humanity?
The greatest joy of my life - 
Friends simply save my sanit


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The night is dark but
not as dark as the loneliness that
creeps up and engulfs my soul;
The darkness scares me not
as much as the fear in 
my heart that completely drains
my whole being and leaves me numb,
bereft of feeling -
feeling - that comes with love
and warmth;
feeling that makes the hardest people melt
I have no feeling left
only a bottomless pit
of remorse and guilt - and 
an inherent sadness for 
what could have been


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There is a spice in life
so live it to the fullest;
It may be full of strife and
struggle - but it's yours
just one - to be happy or to be sad;
for laughter or for tears;
let there be no tears or woes
let there be only joy - 
that you spread among friends
and foes;
joy - that consists of care,
love and warmth - joy that 
abounds and is there for you
to share;
touch a hand, say a kind word
smile at someone - spread your 
wings and fly free as a bird;
soar high in the sky but come
down to earth before you lose
sight of all that life is worth;
you will find shadow and sun - 
so too are lives are run
don't wilt in the shade or
scorch in the sun;
be as open as the wind,
twinkle like the stars
that hide in the light
and shine bright at night


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The touch of your hand, your kiss on my brow
the tinkle of your laughter - that is how
I'll cherish your thoughts forever and ever....

I hear the sound of your voice
Full of warmth and loving care
I call out - but you're not there
Only the echoes of your voice forever and ever....

They say that time heals all pain
But this ache you have left will never heal
Time will pass and as long as I can feel
You and your love will stay beside me forever and ever....


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An arrow from the war has struck the dove of peace
in its breast,
drops of blood that splatter all over the earth as
it is laid to rest
aren't black or white, nor Arab nor Jew
they are red
like the blood from me and you....
the world had been shattered and 
loyalties put to test
it was always said that East is East
and West is West
and so they will remain
enemies at best


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When parents die you feel so sad
you think of the times you were bad
or the things you didn't get to say
and the times you didn't obey

this is why I pen these lines
to thank son - for all the times
you came to me and held and my hand
and supported me when I couldn't stand

from the day that you were born
till the time when I have gone
my son - my son you've filled my days
with joy and laughter in many little ways

your stubborn will and your persistence
were the life and breath of my existence
you had your moods - your ups and downs
how I loved your anger and your frowns

I have no complaints - you did your best
as I leave now, my soul is at rest
I want you to be happy and feel no guilt
that why I told you how I felt

so wipe away your tears, smile and be brave
do not sit and weep beside my grave
I shall look upon you from the heavens above
and always envelop you in my maternal love
My son.....my son


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A feeling of emptiness, no
no affinity with time, is
how this life of mine
seems to be passing by;
all thoughts of yesteryear
I have cast aside like pebbles
on a beach;
in the sea of time they are
out of my reach;
tomorrow and the days 
to follow
may bring I know not what
so I allow myself no pleasurable
imaginings of the future
and no regrets for what I sought
I exist for the day - no less
for the here and now
that's all that matters
I don't know why or how


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My soul soars way up high
out of the reach of material things..
my soul is rooted in spirituality
and little pleasures life brings.

I find peace and spirituality...
In the dazzling smile of a child,
a golden flash of sunlight,
flowers in colours oh so bright

My soul knows no boundaries
of nations, time or space;
it reaches out to everyone
irrespective of color, creed or race;

I find peace and spirituality....
in the touch of a hand
a kind word when in pain
a mother's face full of love
counting my blessing again and again


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Once again I am 
Once again because I am woman; 
In the walls of my own making. 
Once again I hear the words "sorry" 
But they are empty 
Bereft of feeling 
Once again I am left on the edge 
Of a precipice 
Once again I am powerless 
Like all the other women I know 
Once again I want to cry out, run away 
Once again I can't 
Because the children are mine.


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