Bonded to brick kilns: A song for revolution

Published: December 12, 2011

“That was the darkest decade of our time. Women were considered half-the-man. Workers were as suppressed as slaves. Artists and poets were not allowed to create. Killing in the name of Islam began in that era. And those who resisted either had to face lashes or ended up in the Kafkaesque prison cells of the Lahore fort. Thus, everyone was oppressed except the religious clerics and those who surrendered to the worst military dictator. That was the 80s, but things haven’t really changed yet…”  (Mussarat Aziz)

These are the words my mother wrote on a birthday card she gave me a few years ago. This card contained the most precious gift I have ever received; a piece of poetry my mother wrote in the 1980s during her radical struggle against the law of women’s Aadhi Gawahi and workers’ exploitation.

Haq kabhi rehta nahi.n Zair-e-Naqab

Kis sey rukta hai Tulooh-e-Aftaab?’

(The truth can never remain concealed

Can one stop the rising sun?)

My mother’s poetry of love and revolution has always provided me with strength and hope even in the most nihilistic phases of my life.

Today, I’ve given her words a melody. I’ve changed this poem in to a song and sung it with the band Laal. We dedicate this song to the struggle of the one million bonded workers in the brick kilns of the country. There are over 20 million  bonded labourers in the country and more than 60 million in South Asia. All attempts for reforms that could possible provide them with some protection have failed. Their exhausted bodies and tired minds await a new dawn – a people’s revolution. This song celebrates the hope and struggle for that dawn.

ammar.aziz

Ammar Aziz

An independent filmmaker and political activist who teaches film theory at NCA. He blogs at ammar-aziz.blogspot.com and tweets at @ammar_aziz

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nandita.

    Your mother comes across as an extra ordinary, courageous and Liberal/tolerant woman who had the sense to teach her son to distinguish the right from the wrong ! If only all the commentors on ET had similar mums at home !Recommend

  • Ather Ahmad

    http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/img/chars/char3209.jpg
    Taimur Rehman? You decide.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    @Nandita,

    “Nandita. 10 hours ago
    Your mother comes across as an extra ordinary, courageous and Liberal/tolerant woman who had the sense to teach her son to distinguish the right from the wrong ! If only all the commentors on ET had similar mums at home !

    Yes, other moms were teaching their sons and daughters to enslave workers, beat people up, rape and beat women and torture people. I always wonder about this stupid equation: liberal=tolerant. Many Indians at ET called themselves as liberals but see them cheering for Modi and his ilks. Recommend

  • Seher

    Zeeshan,

    It is SO 20th century to bring this Indian-Pakistani phenomena everywhere.
    The content of the video and write-up has absolutely NOTHING to do with this; why would you bring up this instead of talking about the actual issue here?!
    Indeed it is so sad to see people diverting the issue from the objective realities of our region.Recommend

  • frank

    Ammar aziz – “We dedicate this song to the struggle of the one million bonded workers in the brick kilns of the country. There are over 20 million bonded labourers in the country”

    I know logic and reason aren’t exactly strong points of Pakistani liberals but surely you can do better than this. As always apparent liberal humanitarianism is in actual fact little more than a mask for shameless self-indulgence.Recommend

  • Zaki Khalid

    So you sing songs, make videos, spread “redness” and that’s how laborers are served? :pRecommend

  • http://www.marxists.com.pk Comrade

    @Zaki Khalid

    No, they sing songs, make videos reflecting real life and spread awareness. That’s how they advocate about the labor issues and educate folks like yourself. Recommend

  • http://www.marxists.com.pk Comrade

    @frank

    This is not “liberal humanitarianism”. THIS is SOCIALISM; this is an art work depicting socialist realism. Have you seen the video? They have not advocated ”reformism” (the liberal agenda) but a people’s revolution. Because the people who have made this are NO liberals. They are Marxists, belong to the Communist Party. Recommend

  • frank

    Comrade, the only places you can find marxists nowadays is in museums, mental asylums and the NCA.Recommend

  • http://www.marxists.com.pk Comrade

    Frank,
    Frankly speaking, you really need to have at least a little bit factual knowledge before commenting like this. The left is reemerging, not only in Pakistan, but all over the world. Even in the post-Soviet Russia, which is considered as the graveyard of communism by people like yourself, the Communist Party has registered its vital presence in the last two weeks. And this is not mine, a communist’s imagination, this is what even the capitalist media has admired and talked about:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/05/us-russia-election-communists-idUSTRE7B40KL20111205

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16122524

    Moreover, the capitalism is decaying day by day. The occupy movements is necessarily a leftist resistance against capitalism. We are a majority in the Latin America. We rule the largest growing economy in the world, China. We have continued a legacy in Cuba. We are ruling Nepal. We are in Vietnam.

    In Pakistan, we have led the successful movements of the landless peasants in NWFP anf Punjab. Our struggle is getting stronger every day; we are getting united every passing moment. Pakistan has seen all the phases; there’s no other way except for the people to stand up and revolt against injustice.
    We are regrouping!

    http://www.newint.org/features/2011/09/01/whats-left/Recommend

  • http://tiffany-jewelery-company.com/ the Tiffany & best quality

    From the lyrics I could tell how bitter that era should feel. No one would like to go back to the life ever torturing our soul and body. Treasure what we’ve owned should be the best way to memorize the ever misery. couple braceletsRecommend