The Silence of the “Friends”

20130402_123957It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on him not understanding                        Upton Sinclair


To those of you have been following my blog for a while, you have probably seen a post or two about my friend Maryam Shahbaz, the Poet from Sialkot, Pakistan – the City of Poets.  For those of you who haven’t there are other posts about her.  I don’t want to bore anyone with redundant exposition.


Anyway, It’s still odd in this new (to me) world of Social Media to have lost contact with her.  We have been working on a project together, Maryam’s first published poetry collection.  The silence lately has been deafening and a bit disconcerting considering her recent activities.



20130402_130441Maryam is a busy woman.  She’s in the final stages of editing and publishing her book, which is all fine.  She’s also been working on the political campaign of Imran Kahn, a reform candidate from Pakistan, which is all to the good also, except she lives in a dangerous neighborhood…Eastern Pakistan where the borders of India, Kashmir and Pakistan merge.  It’s also a bit dicey when a young women gets involved in trying to get elders and especially elder males to consider voting for a reform candidate when she often finds herself having to go through male relatives to communicate with those elderly, more conservative males.  These two gentlemen would be a good example of that attitude.  She told me that her cousin had to act as a go-between when communicating with them.  They don’t represent the modern, emerging Pakistan, but they are a reminder of the cultural and religious barriers which have been in place for longer than anyone can remember.


I’m hoping that all is well with her, and it’s just a case of my friend being busy, busy, busy. It’s as if a friend who lives next door got involved in a tense situation and no longe answers the door when I knock…in this case my “knocking” is in the form of e-mails and blog posts which in the past have been usually answered within a week.


There are other issues at play, of course.  The electricity situation where she lives is one of brown-outs, and sometimes black-outs.  Then, there’s the previous theft of her identity by a hacker who set up internet accounts using photographs and information from her previous social media site.  Her family is concerned over this, as she is, and seems to strongly support her regression from the world of social networking.  That would be a completely understandable reaction for parents and brothers to be protective of a beautiful, young daughter or sister who is exploring a world which they might not fully understand, and have been given reason to distrust.

A Shot of Maryam at WeddingThese photos above of Maryam paying homage at the graveyard where the shrine to Imam-ul-Haq is located is a reminder to me that she comes from a culture I know little of, but am learning about through our social media networking and concerted efforts on a book project.

The reverence that she shows for the holy men and poets of her culture must be mirrored by some reverence and understanding from me, as a novice to the world she lives in and will have to live with.  Her work for a candidate whose campaign gave hope to a changing culture in a changing area of a changing world, I admire.  The conservative, failed politicians of her countries recent history seem to be doing everything in their power to slow, halt, or even reverse that progress.  That can get ugly sometimes.

My well wishes for Maryam, along with my impatience may be conspiring to raise unfounded concerns.

I’m hoping so.

28 thoughts on “The Silence of the “Friends”

  1. […] @ Human Writes  – the title of his blog and the post The Silence of Friends says it […]

  2. […] Writes, has been for a while following and championing the poetry and life of a Pakistani poet, Maryam Shahbaz, who lives in the city of Sialkot. I’ve been following his posts because, frankly, her work is […]

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Thanks for the post. Word is going to get around I’m a nice guy, and then I’ll have to deal with all that fallout. The gauntlet I run, I guess. Thanks again, from Maryam and Char and me…togerher we’re all kind of locked into this weird world of producing “dangerous” works of art.

  3. bluebrightly says:

    More hope here – that she resurfaces soon, or has already. What a strange world it is, sharing this concern with people all over the world, instantly, and yet not being able to contact her…

  4. words4jp says:

    I have been thinking about her, too. I will think positive thoughts – she is lucky to have a special friend like yourself – xx

  5. That’s the problem with social media, it lulls us into thinking that 30 seconds to get a message halfway around the world is the norm, and then when that instantaneous response doesn’t arrive things feel wrong. I do that all the time, then must remind myself that not even ten years ago (back in the dark days of snail mail) waiting a month for a letter from Armenia seemed normal. Having said all that I must agree that I too am concerned for our friend and send my prayers out to her. I think your worries are highly justified. Maryam is facing some grave dangers. But she has a big brother like you and that is important. Please keep us informed if you hear anything from her =)

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Still weird to me to even care about people, let alone someone from the exact opposite side of the world who I’ve never met. Oh well…getting soft in my old age – or more human.

      • yes, luckily we’re the sort that meeting isn’t a requirement for friendship. i must confess i wasn’t totally awake when i started reading this post this morning and my first thought on seeing the word “friends” in quotes was, “oh dear, he’s breaking up with someone.” luckily it was the exact opposite! cheers!

  6. I hope she is doing well and you will keep texting us about her projects and life. All the best to you also!

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Thanks for the thoughts and the comment. She’s a practiced survivor in a world can be rough on independent thinkers, so it’s probably cool…and I’m not following her example. Better straighten up and quit whining. The best to you too.

  7. Yes, no doubt a totally explainable circumstance. My daddy used to tell me half the problems of the world were imagined. Oh, well, I always wanted to ask him about the other half. Big Brother suits you so…

    • coyotero2112 says:

      How that other half lives… The big brother thing is kind of odd. My fambly pretty much thinks I’m a poor influence, and I’ve created one of my own…an Iranian professor of philosophy, a ex-communicated Mormon professor of German Philosophy for co-fathers, a Jewish professor of Literature for a mother, a few well-chosen brothers and sisters, and my cyber-cousins…like you. Thanks for all the amusement and cheer you pass along to me…and that includess the Pack.

  8. mrs fringe says:

    Sending good thoughts for Maryam, and for you. (((Hugs)))

  9. Doris says:

    I know what you are feeling, I have a friend in Bangladesh, when I heard the news about the building collapsing I was very worried, it turn out he lives far away from there. I bet your friend will be ok, she is so pretty, she must be really busy, hope she writes soon.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Thanks. The last big eartquake here people were texting my wife to see if we were OK…and we were in the states ! Too fun. Thanks for the comment.

  10. "HE WHO" says:

    I believe April 14 was Maryam’s last post. Was she traveling? Have you heard from her since then? Hope she is okay.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      She’s been working on her book, going back to finish some classes, and devoting a lot of time doing voter education and encouraging voter turnout for Imran Khan, who narrowly lost the election, but coat-tailed his party into more power in the decision-making process of Pakistan. And the power issues…I’ve gotten e-mails from her in parts due to the scheduled and un-scheduled electricity interruptions. Thanks for thinking of her.

  11. jannatwrites says:

    I also hope it is a case of just being busy. I hope that if she has a a moment, and if all is okay, she can drop you a line to let you know. Praying for her safety.

  12. Your friend is in our prayers.

  13. ioniamartin says:

    I hope that she is okay. I am keeping you both in my prayers. Post when you do hear from her? Such a sorrowful tone to your post. You must be twisted in knots waiting to hear from her. I pray that it is soon.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Me too. Probably nothing to get too concerned about, but since she refers to me as Baray B’hair…big brother in Urdu – I guess I’m starting to think like one.
      Thanks for your thoughts.

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