Monday, October 20, 2014
by Sabeen Mahmud
Twenty-four years ago, I fell in love for the first time—with a Macintosh Plus computer which profoundly altered the course of my life and was significant in shaping my anti-establishment, anti-war, pro-freedom worldview. It became an invaluable portal into myriad subcultures, from beat poetry to the Yippies, fuelled by the dark meanderings of Pink Floyd.
After college, I spent the next several years developing multimedia products, exploring the intersection between technology, art, literature, and music. But, by the mid-2000s, I was getting increasingly restless. Karachi was a cesspool of chaos. People were leaving in droves, our politicians continued to make promises they had no intention of fulfilling, and the country lurched from one military dictatorship to another. It was a depressing time and my first moment of existential crisis. Disillusioned, I agreed to an offer to move to Delhi.
Whilst waiting for my visa to come through, I started fantasizing. What would it take to create a space that espoused liberal, secular values through its programming and projects?
The next day, the conversation moved out of my head and onto a whiteboard. I sketched out a fantasy space: a large open courtyard for theatre, dance, spoken word and improv performances, readings, talks, and film screenings. All around the courtyard would be smaller rooms for workshops and events, a bookshop, a coffeehouse, studios for artists and designers, shops for artisans to showcase their work, and a bed-and-breakfast that would pull in some income to subsidize operations. With Rs. 12,000 (about US $113) in my bank account, I ran a check on the cost of land through my estate agent who gave a ridiculous, astronomical figure which paralyzed me into inaction for months.
Toward the end of 2006, I was walking up the stairs to my office and the penny dropped. I realized that the grownups were right: I should start small, test, and iterate. So, trained by those key people in my life – my mother Mahenaz and my mentor Zak, I took a leap of faith and relinquished my Dehli plan to cater to my lofty ambitions settling on an 1800 square feet office, with an open(ish) on the second floor of a building.
Finding some money
I had decided that this little social enterprise in the making was to be a not-for-profit venture and with that model, raising capital from investors or getting a bank loan approved was not an option. We had Rs. 1,000,000 (about US $9,400) stashed for my grandmother's health fund. With her consent, I used the money to get things going.
In January 2007, we christened The Second Floor (T2F). After some quick consultations and brainstorming, PeaceNiche was born and T2F became its first project.
The target launch date for T2F was set for May 2007.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Justin E. H. Smith in his own blog:
There was a war here not long ago. Mass graves were filled by the bodies of people whose loved ones, the survivors, are still walking around, selling vegetables and bus tickets, huddling and smoking. This war was the expression of a sort of popular will, and it was part of a process of geopolitical realignment that ought to be of significant interest to self-identified Westerners, yet is not. Neither Samuel Huntington, nor Sam Harris, nor Bill Maher, nor anyone even lower among the pundits whose reptilian lobes do not just kick in in moments of distress, but whose careers in fact depend on the continuous buzzing of these lobes: none of these people, I note, ever care to acknowledge, in their professional performances of Islamophobia, that what is perhaps the most Americanophile country in the world is also a Muslim country.
Books by disillusioned physicians reveals a corrosive doctor-patient relationship at the heart of our health-care crisis
Meghan O'Rouke in The Atlantic:
For someone in her 30s, I’ve spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices and hospitals, shivering on exam tables in my open-to-the-front gown, recording my medical history on multiple forms, having enough blood drawn in little glass tubes to satisfy a thirsty vampire. In my early 20s, I contracted a disease that doctors were unable to identify for years—in fact, for about a decade they thought nothing was wrong with me—but that nonetheless led to multiple complications, requiring a succession of surgeries, emergency-room visits, and ultimately (when tests finally showed something was wrong) trips to specialists for MRIs and lots more testing. During the time I was ill and undiagnosed, I was also in and out of the hospital with my mother, who was being treated for metastatic cancer and was admitted twice in her final weeks.
As a patient and the daughter of a patient, I was amazed by how precise surgery had become and how fast healing could be. I was struck, too, by how kind many of the nurses were; how smart and involved some of the doctors we met were. But I was also startled by the profound discomfort I always felt in hospitals. Physicians at times were brusque and even hostile to us (or was I imagining it?). The lighting was harsh, the food terrible, the rooms loud. Weren’t people trying to heal? That didn’t matter. What mattered was the whole busy apparatus of care—the beeping monitors and the hourly check-ins and the forced wakings, the elaborate (and frequently futile) interventions painstakingly performed on the terminally ill. In the hospital, I always felt like Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party: I had woken up in a world that seemed utterly logical to its inhabitants, but quite mad to me.
Shougat Dasgupta in The Caravan:
Who speaks, and who is being spoken for, have always been loaded questions for postcolonial novelists. If a nation is, at least in part, imagined into being through feats of storytelling, the storyteller acquires a kind of authority over the soul, such as it is, of the nation. For a certain kind of postcolonial novelist—say, VS Naipaul—the novel must remain an unfinished business: the protagonist cannot develop beyond a certain point; he is stunted and half-formed, like his nation. For another kind of postcolonial novelist—say Hanif Kureishi—it is the former imperial centre that seems half-formed; no longer cocksure, forced to cede ground to the immigrant, or at least to the immigrant’s children, to reconcile itself to a new order. For Naipaul’s failed nationalists and doomed Third World intellectuals, emigration and self-exile is necessary penance; for Kureishi’s first generation Londoners, the baggage of their parents’ histories, the baggage of the ‘home’ country has to be sloughed off so that a new kind of English person can be created. Other postcolonial novelists writing in English have also taken up the theme of finding, creating and claiming a place in new national communities.
Ideas of home and belonging are hardly particular to postcolonial or migrant literature. Novels, from Don Quixote on, have been preoccupied with the radical act of leaving home on journeys and quests, followed by a return; the protagonist fundamentally changed, matured by having lived a little. Home and away: you need the one to recognise the other. The English novel developed in the eighteenth century, alongside an empire expanding ever further afield. Englishness was confronted by foreignness, and the outlandish travel narrative was among the most popular literary genres of the time. Stories, Edward Said wrote in Culture and Imperialism, “are at the heart of what explorers and novelists say about strange regions of the world; they also become the method colonised people use to assert their own identity and the existence of their own history.”
The novel has been a way of asserting and establishing individual and national identity, of making coherent what seems incoherent, of answering (or failing to answer) essential questions: Who are you? Where do you come from? What is your place in society? For a writer like Salman Rushdie, the loss of home can be assuaged by restoring the past “whole, in CinemaScope and glorious Technicolor,” as he wrote in the essay ‘Imaginary Homelands,’ and by creating “Indias of the mind.” Rushdie, for a while, offered hybridity, the double perspective, as a happy alternative to Naipaul’s baleful gloom.
Sophia Nguyen in The Point:
In the dog days of August, two books about the Ivy League landed comfortably on the New York Times bestseller list. One was William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep. The other was Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land. Despite their disparate genres, the nonfiction tract ends up in fantasy, while the escapist entertainment roots itself in reality—and both are invested in the drama of gifted children.
Heavily quoting emails and essays from his former students at Yale, Deresiewicz’s higher-ed polemic takes down elite colleges and the adults they produce—zombies with status anxiety where their curiosity and humanity used to be. Rather than challenge students with a rigorous education, Deresiewicz argues, the Ivy League and other elite colleges now promote a narrow notion of success. It begins with admissions offices, which have become inhumanly ruthless sorting machines further stratifying the upper class. Having selected for a certain breed of strivers, the schools then encourage their students to become a conformist herd, seeking meaning in credentials. Failing to find that meaning, the hunger only intensifies.
By contrast, the Magicians trilogy is a fantasy series about young wizards. Its protagonist, Quentin Clearwater, attends a magical college and later discovers a land he’d thought was only imaginary: Fillory, a magic kingdom from his favorite childhood book. Over three books, Quentin gains and abdicates a throne, meets a dragon, learns how to wield a sword and brings his first love back from a fate worse than death. But he is also the ur-sheep: a standard-issue, passably polymathic high schooler who does nothing more or less extraordinary than gain admission to an exclusive college. Amidst all the defensive noise made by Ivy Leaguers rebutting Deresiewicz with their personal stories, the Magicians trilogy furnishes him with a kind of confirming anecdote. It may be pure coincidence that the two were published within a week of each other, but they are symbiotically linked—and so are their fates.
Ali Mobasser in lensculture:
Afsaneh was born on the 28th of March 1957 in Tehran, Iran. She grew up with her parents and her older brother Afshin (my father). Her father was an army general who had been Chief of The National Police between 1963 and 1970 and had proceeded to become Head of Civil Defence and Deputy Prime Minister of Iran until 1979. The children lived a happy and privileged life, going to the best schools and spending their holidays in their villa by the sea.
In 1979, The Islamic Revolution of Iran changed the course of their lives forever. Their properties and assets in Iran were seized by the new establishment and my grandfather went into hiding to avoid capture and execution. Afsaneh had returned to Iran from London where she was studying to be with her mother who was dying of cancer. My grandfather, risking his life, made a visit to his wife's hospital bedside to say his final goodbye before fleeing Iran. She passed away three months later at 47. Afsaneh joined her father in the United Kingdom where they were to seek asylum. Neither were to ever return to Iran. My father arrived in London in 1983 (having separated from my mother). In the summer of 1985, at the age of eight, my mother sent me to London from Mission Viejo, California where I had been living. Afsaneh and my father raised me in Afsaneh's two bedroom flat in Putney, south-west London where I was to share a room with my father until leaving home at eighteen.
Noam Scheindlin in Warscapes:
The 17th Century Kabbalist, Nathan of Gaza, speculated that before the world came into being, there were, in the endlessness of existence, two lights: the one, active, thinking, with the impetus to create; the other passive, concealed and full in itself. When the first light contracted itself to make room for creation, the second light resisted and remained unmoved. It is this second light that became the force we think of as evil in the world. In this new poem by Meena Alexander, which, she tells us, was written during the recent bombing of Gaza, while she was reading the poet Nellie Sachs, nothing seems to hold still, as unity and becoming vie for the world.
When the instruments of war are melted into fish hooks,
When the factories of death are finally stilled
When evil is swallowed up in a hot wind
That strikes our names into the base of the uncharted sea,
A garden fed by the streams of longing will rise up.
In limestone crannies the forget- me- not takes root
And how quickly the sky- blue agapanthus,
Flower of all love, restores itself.
Search for the laurel -- tree of flight and metamorphosis,
Bruised alphabets are cut into its bark,
They shine with red resin, glow in the dark.
In the shade of that tree you will find your child.
His clothing wet with sea salt
He crouches, picture book in hand, utterly bewildered,
A kite string tangled in his hair.
Go find him there, Beloved, wordless, waiting.
The Men Who Wear My Clothes
Sleepless I lay last night and watched the slow
Procession of the men who wear my clothes:
First, the grey man with bloodshot eyes and sly
Gestures miming what he loves and loathes.
Next came the cheery knocker-back of pints,
The beery joker, never far from tears,
Whose loud and public vanity acquaints
The careful watcher with his private fears.
And then I saw the neat mouthed gentle man
Defer politely, listen to the lies,
Smile at the tedious tale and gaze upon
The little mirrors in the speaker's eyes.
The men who wear my clothes walked past my bed
And all of them looked tired and rather old;
I felt a chip of ice melt in my blood.
Naked I lay last night, and very cold.
by Vernon Scannell
Saturday, October 18, 2014
In a series of dispatches from this tantalizing world of “more or less,” Gottland chronicles the history of the Czech Republic in the twentieth century. Each of its seventeen chapters focuses on one or more individual figures—Tomáš Bata, a self-made billionaire; Lina Baatová, an actress who became the lover of Josef Goebbels; Karel Gott, the wildly popular crooner who lends his name to the book’s title—all of whom were caught up and tangled in the unfortunate net of their country’s history. During the last century, the Czech Republic was occupied first by the Germans, then by the Russians, and now by the specters of those years. In his nuanced portrait of a nation, Szczygieł poses questions as critical to literature as they are to history: how should one act when oppressed? To what extent is compromise necessary, justified, or cowardly?
The Czechs compromised; like many small nations, they had very little choice. The alternative was annihilation. “This we know,” Szczygieł writes, “in order to survive in unfavorable circumstances, a small nation has to adapt. It has carried this down from the days of the Habsburgs and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.” The Czechs, Gottlandtestifies, have proved to be remarkably resilient—Hitler is said to have shouted in a rage, “The Czechs are like cyclists—they hunch their upper bodies, but pedal below!”—yet adaptation has had its price, and its scars are no less painful for being invisible.
According to Teachout, however, it’s much worse than this. Our current Supreme Court, in Citizens United, “took that which had been named corrupt for over 200 years” — which is to say, gifts to politicians — “and renamed it legitimate.” Teachout does not exaggerate. Here is Justice Kennedy again, in the Citizens United decision: “The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach. The government has ‘muffle[d] the voices that best represent the most significant segments of the economy.’ ”
You read that right: The economy needs to be represented in democratic politics, or at least the economy’s “most significant segments,” whatever those are, and therefore corporate “speech,” meaning gifts, ought not to be censored. Corporations now possess the rights that the founders reserved for citizens, and as Teachout explains, what used to be called “corruption becomes democratic responsiveness.”
Let me pause here to take note of another recurring peculiarity in corruption literature: an eerie overlap between theory and practice. If you go back to that “censorship” quotation from Kennedy, you will notice he quotes someone else: his colleague Antonin Scalia, in an opinion from 2003. Google the quote and one place you’ll find it is in a book of Scalia’s opinions that was edited in 2004 by none other than the lobbyist Kevin Ring, an associate of Jack Abramoff who would later be convicted of corrupting public officials.
Clive James has always written with verve about poetry, and though much of his latest book is drawn from articles already published, the material was well worth collecting. Poetry Notebook may not have the idiosyncratic range of his Cultural Amnesia (2007) but it has the same knack of entertaining his readers, even those inclined to disagree with what he says.
Reflecting on the influential critic Ian Hamilton, James remarks: “Hamilton was strongest where he found weakness”. That is not his own purpose here, except perhaps in his account of Ezra Pound’s followers, of whom I shall have more to say. What he wants to explore is the intensity of language that enables certain lines of poetry to lodge in the mind even when the rest of the poem has been forgotten. He finds these in Shakespeare, naturally, but also in Robert Frost, WH Auden and Richard Wilbur. Philip Larkin is an important presence throughout, being exemplary in his ability to write a resonant line that miraculously carries significance without contortion. There is also a whole chapter on Michael Donaghy, a thoughtful tribute to a much-loved and talented poet, who spoke all his poems by heart and died far too young.
Stassa Edwards in The New Inquiry:
Grigori Rasputin’s dick is on display at the Museum of Erotics in Saint Petersburg. Housed in a jar of formaldehyde, the member, which the museum’s owner claims he obtained from a French antiquarian, is quite sizable. Actually, it’s enormous for a human penis: Wide and meaty, it measures about a foot long. According to the museum, just gazing on the preserved member can cure a range of problems, everything from infertility to a humdrum sex life. But the specimen isn’t a human penis. It more than likely came from a horse.
It wouldn’t be the first time something inhuman was passed off as Rasputin’s dick. An earlier version circulated after Rasputin’s 1916 murder, legendary for being long and difficult: an initial failed poisoning, followed by multiple gunshots, a beating, and finally a drowning. Legend has it that in the midst of the horror show the man in charge of the grisly plot, Prince Felix Yusupov, somehow managed to castrate the mad mystic. Rasputin’s penis was supposedly scurried out of the country and ended up in the hands of Russian émigrés in Paris. There, his dick became a kind of religious relic of their vanished homeland, a potent piece of a vanished social order.
Susan Stewart in The Nation:
Writing in 1930 with Baudelaire and, subsequently, Goethe on his mind, T.S. Eliot took up the question of what it means for a poet to possess “the sense of his own age.” While it may be true, he noted, that Goethe was the representative Enlightenment dilettante, pursuing his scattered scientific and aesthetic “hobbies,” and Baudelaire a “theological innocent,” writing as if the problem of evil had never occurred to anyone before, Eliot nevertheless concluded that “they are both…men with restless, critical, curious minds and the ‘sense of the age’: both men who understood and foresaw a great deal.”
Is there any poet in the postwar period who was driven by a sense of the age—its archaisms and barbarisms, its new looks and new media, its corollary fears and hopes—more intensely than Pier Paolo Pasolini? Born in 1922—the same year as the American poet Jackson MacLow, a year younger than the Italian poets Andrea Zanzotto and Maria Luisa Spaziani, a year older than the French poet Yves Bonnefoy—Pasolini seems of an entirely different era from his long-lived contemporaries. He is fixed in the amber of the 1960s and ’70s—not only because of his early death (murdered on the beach at Ostia on November 2, 1975, at the age of 53), but also because in his poems, films, novels, plays, journalism, criticism, drawings and paintings, he continually took the measure of his time.
Emily Anthes in Mosaic:
At first my meal seems familiar, like countless other dishes I’ve eaten at Asian restaurants. A swirl of noodles slicked with oil and studded with shredded chicken, the aroma of ginger and garlic, a few wilting chives placed on the plate as a final flourish. And then, I notice the eyes. Dark, compound orbs on a yellow speckled head, joined to a winged, segmented body. I hadn’t spotted them right away, but suddenly I see them everywhere – my noodles are teeming with insects.
I can’t say I wasn’t warned. On this warm May afternoon, I’ve agreed to be a guinea pig at an experimental insect tasting in Wageningen, a university town in the central Netherlands. My hosts are Ben Reade and Josh Evans from the Nordic Food Lab, a non-profit culinary research institute. Reade and Evans lead the lab’s ‘insect deliciousness’ project, a three-year effort to turn insects – the creepy-crawlies that most of us squash without a second thought – into tasty, craveable treats.
The project began after René Redzepi (the chef and co-owner of Noma, the Danish restaurant that is often ranked the best in the world) tasted an Amazonian ant that reminded him of lemongrass. Redzepi, who founded the Nordic Food Lab in 2008, became interested in serving insects at Noma and asked the researchers at the lab to explore the possibilities.
The Food Lab operates from a houseboat in Copenhagen, but Reade and Evans are in the Netherlands for a few days, and they’ve borrowed a local kitchen to try out some brand new dishes. I, along with three other gutsy gastronomes, am here to taste the results.
Jane Mulkerrins in The Telegraph:
“I thought Housekeeping was far too private a novel ever to be published,” says Marilynne Robinson. “And with Gilead, if I had gone to my editor and said, ‘I have a great idea for a book, about a minister dying in Iowa in 1956…’” She trails off, laughing. “So, when you discover that these stories, which seem borderline incommunicable, actually have reception and mean things to people, that’s very, very gratifying.” Robinson’s novels do not merely “have reception”. Her first, Housekeeping, published in 1981, was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; 24 years later her second, Gilead, won the same award; with her third, Home, she scooped the 2009 Orange Prize.
...Vehemently non-dogmatic, Robinson upholds the basic Christian tenets of tolerance, kindness and forgiveness, and has no time for hardline Christian conservatism in America. “It bothers me enormously. I hate to call it conservatism, because they are not conserving anything. It’s just a claim to a superior patriotism or something,” she says, shaking her head. “There’s a lot of complexity in the Bible, but there’s a great deal of simplicity in it,” she continues. “‘I was hungry and you fed me; I was naked and you clothed me.’ This hardline impulse is very disturbing and I don’t understand it.” She also refuses to be drawn into simplistic debates that pit religion against science, and has, at times, been an enthusiastic reader of tomes on cosmology and quantum physics. “When people try to debunk religion it seems to me they are referring to an 18th-century notion of what science is,” she says. “And I’m talking about Richard Dawkins here, who has a status that I can’t quite understand.” She has also called him “an animal anthropologist” in the past. “The us-versus-them mentality is a terrible corruption of the whole culture.”
NOW sing: the guards howling
beat him with obscenities.
......But he did.
His legend is
He was singing
when they shot him.
Even for them, it was too much
The killed him,
they couldn't kill him enough.
who'd held out with bloody stumps
by James Scully
from Poetry Like Bread is for Everyone
Curbstone Press, 1994
When the socialist politician Salvador Allende dramatically won Chile’s presidential election in 1970, a powerful cultural movement accompanied him to power as folk singers emerged at the forefront proving that music could help forge the birth of a new society. “Venceremos” charts the development of such a cultural phenomenon from the years before Allende’s victorious campaign to the brutal U.S.-backed military coup on September 11, 1973, which ousted his presidency and imposed the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. The bloody repression that followed would claim the life of Víctor Jara, a key singer-songwriter, but could never put to rest the lasting power of his songs nor the movement he personified.
Victor Jara Story
David Dobbs in The New York Times:
Of Christine Kenneally’s father’s father — a man neither Kenneally nor her father ever knew, a man who did the deed requisite to reproduction and promptly vanished — she asks, “Did he leave anything more significant than the loud bang of a door shut down the generations?” Of course he did. He left his DNA and a granddaughter determined to draw from modern genetics and hard-won family history a coherent account of her roots. Kenneally’s own heritage is only one of the mysteries she pursues in “The Invisible History of the Human Race,” a smart, splendid, highly entertaining look at how DNA, increasingly visible to us since we first sequenced the human genome in 2000, can “open up tracts of human history that had been entirely obscure.” While DNA may now be visible, however, it remains more hint than history. Kenneally, a journalist and linguist, shows that just as a gene usually delivers its genetic message only in conversation with an incoming chemical messenger, so our DNA tells its tales most fully only in light of the history of the people who carry and interrogate it. It takes all those threads to get the whole story. And Kenneally wants it all.
“If everyone had his DNA analyzed,” she writes, “and that information were linked to everyone’s historical information, it would be the nearest thing to the book of humanity.” She backs up this claim beautifully, showing how genetic analysis can be combined with skillful mining of historical, social and cultural information to solve fascinating riddles of ancestry.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Dan Pashman in Slate:
Thrasymachus: I see, Socrates, that you believe it permissible to cherry-pick your favorite ingredients from a snack mix.
Socrates: I do. Should I believe otherwise?
Thrasymachus: You should. The snack mix is a delicate balance of components. To target certain ones is to deprive others of the desired experience. It is unjust.
Socrates: So do you believe, then, that the purpose of a snack mix is to bring together ingredients in a prescribed ratio?
Thrasymachus: I do.
Socrates: And would it not stand to reason, then, that the Eater should compose each bite in that ratio?
Thrasymachus: It would.
Socrates: How then should the Eater ascertain the proscribed ratio?
Thrasymachus: Well, I think it plain to see, Socrates. Survey the mix and judge the proper ratio based on its appearance.
Socrates: But, Thrasymachus, do not different components have different weights, such that some components may be found in greater abundance at the top or bottom of the mix?
Natalie Angier in the New York Times:
For the tallest animals on earth, giraffes can be awfully easy to overlook. Their ochered flagstone fur and arboreal proportions blend in seamlessly with the acacia trees on which they tirelessly forage, and they’re as quiet as trees, too: no whinnies, growls, trumpets or howls. “Giraffes are basically mute,” said Kerryn Carter, a zoologist at the University of Queensland in Australia. “A snort is the only sound I’ve heard.”
Yet watch giraffes make their stately cortege across the open landscape and their grandeur is operatic, every dip and weave and pendulum swing an aria embodied.
To giraffe researchers, the paradox of this keystone African herbivore goes beyond questions of its camouflaging coat. Giraffes may be popular, they said — a staple of zoos, corporate logos and the plush toy industry — but until recently almost nobody studied giraffes in the field.
“When I first became interested in giraffes in 2008 and started looking through the scientific literature, I was really surprised to see how little had been done,” said Megan Strauss, who studies evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota. “It was amazing that something as well known as the giraffe could be so little studied.”
Rohini Mohan in Guernica:
Cowering behind the tree’s foliage, Mugil thought of her husband Divyan, who would be on the field somewhere, driving the cadre around. How he could be working she didn’t know. No one seemed to know whether they were coming or going. Several Tiger high commanders had surrendered to the army, and it was nerve-wracking to keep track of who was trustworthy and who was playing double agent. The counterattacks, too, seemed vastly disproportionate. One time, Mugil counted the army shoot sixty rounds in reply to a single round of fire from the Tigers.
Her parents were still in PTK. She had been meaning to find out if they were safe; they were also looking after her two sons, whom she hadn’t seen in weeks. Maran was three and wouldn’t miss her, but Tamizh was barely two. He would bawl if she were gone for more than a few days.
How much might these girls’ parents worry about them? Mugil could still hear them screaming and there was nothing she could do. Through the rain-drenched leaves, she watched an army boy snap off the girls’ cyanide capsules from around their necks. Another shorter man rammed the butt of his rifle into a girl’s hip. As she clutched it and crumpled to the ground in pain, he kicked dry leaves and sand into her face. The front of his boot hit her nose. Writhing in pain, the girl folded her hands toward him. But he was already unzipping himself and pushed her on her back. Mugil looked away. The girls were only as old as she had been when she joined the Tigers, perhaps younger.