Essay: The festival that nearly didn’t happen1 min read
by Marion Molteno
Easter Sunday in Lahore, Pakistan – families out for a day in a park … then the world changed. Yet another set of tragedies, for a society that already has had so many. People don’t know what to do with their anger. My friends’ FaceBook pages echo their misery. Don’t pray for Lahore, says one, fight against hateful religious ideology. Someone puts up a photo of a little boy – her child’s son, gone. Another is visiting the children in hospital, struggling for their lives. She is giving them toys her friends have donated; hugs and smiles in amidst the suffering. There’s a photo of young men crowding a hospital entrance, wanting to give blood.
Five weeks earlier I was in Lahore for a literary festival, along with a hundred thousand other people. Now, when we remember it, it will always be in the shadow of what came after. But I am putting up the reflections I wrote about the festival as a tribute to the remarkable people who created a space for tolerance and debate, and will continue to do so. I am posting it just as I wrote it before that bomb exploded; including the prophetic words from the poet Faiz with which the blog ends.
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