Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Passing of Archbishop Paulos

Assyrian children protesting the death
of Paulos Faraj Rahho on March 14, 2008
in Tel Keppe. (
Where were they, the kidnappers and their captive, Archbishop Paulos, after they raided his vehicle and killed his travelmates and towed him away? And who were the kidnappers, why were they there? Were their minds seas of blank static, sizzling in hatred? Were they pressured from faceless superiors to a pointless pursuit, their minds into a quagmire of confusion? What would they gain from the capture or murder of this kindly old man, what could they have asked for instead of his life!

How did they look upon the face of Archbishop Paulos? Did they see the serenity, the spirit of their own God looking back at them? And when they threatened the cleric's life, did their hands shake? Did their trigger fingers fail? Were there beads of sweat, beads of their conscience crying out mercy?

How do we hear, the last moments of Archbishop Paulos? Did he pass away silently blessing his captors? Was he hit when a nervous gunman misfired? Was he killed in cold blood as the captors' conscience ran dry?

How do we hear the plight of his flock?
Which side do we turn to our brethren in Iraq who are overrun in this chaotic melee?
What songs do we sing to greet their murdered souls?*
What effort made to relate their life and ours?
We do not know.

"We, Christians of Mesopotamia, are used to religious persecution and pressures by those in power. After Constantine, persecution ended only for Western Christians, whereas in the East threats continued. Even today we continue to be a Church of martyrs."
--Mar Paulos on November 26, 2007, three months before he was found murdered

*Here's to guys in my company

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Of All Weathers

Le Grande Jungle Hat
Rainy moments and damp moments took turns to march by our sides, and with their own sense of humour teased us for most of the twenty-four kilometres yesterday. When the company paused near Downtown East in the afternoon, there was a poster that said "There's a better way to get wet". And we pointed at it and laughed.

The Route: From Tanah Merah via Changi Village to Pasir Ris, also a popular cycling route.
The Mood: The rain made everyone happy. At least, some people seemed happier in the rain; we jumped into puddles like children, sang the alphabet song, ninety-nine green bottles etc. There is no better way to get wet, so there.
We had a tendency to sing most loudly whenever civilians (esp. pretty young women) walk past. Yea, braggarts we all are.
The Food: We had a good lunch. It's called Nasi Briyani. If we had lunch just twenty minutes later, it would be called Nasi Porridge.
It was during lunch we noticed the Tekong folks unboarding the fastcraft at the jetty. They must have had their parade in the morning.

Then at night the parents came to the parade and rammed our wet jungle hats upon our wet heads. But it was a nice touch that they let Dad and Mom do it. It's like giving them that chance to give us the strategic shove from chao recruit to chao private. Or from boy to man, or anything else along that line.

The Platoon Four Haka
My sisters and I

I don't know when's the next time I'll smile as brightly as that
because everything will get tougher after this and I'll find it hard to catch up.
I think that is about as much stuff as can be said online.

Ah, and I recommend Mou Zongxiao's blog
Armed and Dangerous! 不畏!不恐!不惧!
because life in Tekong is not too different from that in Pasir Ris.