What a fine idea - it seems completely appropriate and an extremely positive initiative.
Alas, I am stuck here in Oxford, busy too for the start of term, so you will have to accept our support from here in spirit, rather than presence! I am so pleased that it is an award that is trans-sub continental as we must rejoin the citizens across these borders - and also delighted that it includes Maldives where there has really been a revolution, of a kind. I am not sure I would ever get there but finally I feel I could conceive of it.
So, from Oxford, from Balliol, we really wish the first launch of this new initiative every success — a fitting memorial indeed. And promise to keep us all informed of the progress of this work.
(Professor Paul Flather, Oxford University, UK)
What can I say.
Today is Meeto Rani’s brithday. She was as much a part of my life and heart as yours. I have known her from her nursery school days and Adu and I have so many photographs of those times. I remember how Meeto used to organise all Chhotu’s brithday parties with so much love. I remember the bacchas going to their first camp at SPV, and the excitement. And I remember when they all first danced Spanda at Sirifort. You and I were sitting together and we both, emotional Mama’s, were clutching each other’s hands and weeping to see our babies, now lovely young women, dancing so beautifully. So many many memories....
You brought her up through so much emotional difficulty, always smiling and laughing. From you she learnt the values that she then lived out in her own work and life— respect for all human beings, dignity of all life, freedom, honesty, courage.
You have thought of a beautiful way to honour Meeto’s memories and all that she held most precious.
And you are right, dear Kammo... Meeto is so present for all of us who knew her.
I will surely be there on 14th, remembering, sorrowing but also rejoicing in this new way that Meeto has found to live again in all our lives and in the hearts of young people who will be inspired by her own goodness and brilliance.
I love you dearly, and I’m with you in all you go through
(Vidya Rao, is the mother of meeto’s close and childhood friend Aditi Rao, and a close friend of Kamla’s. She is an eminent singer, scholar and feminist activist)
Thanks for sending this to me. What a meaningful way it is to celebrate Meeto’s dedication to justice, her artistry, and her really beautiful spirit. These qualities, that were so intrinsic to who she was, will continue to inspire other young people. Kamla, I do not think you could have given Meeto a more exquisite gift of remembrance that will be celebrated each year with loved ones and others like her, making that circle ever larger. Meeto will continue to be the crux of this circle of love, meaningful endeavour and idealism.
(From Jael Silliman, Meeto’s senior colleague from Ford Foundation, New York)
My dear Kamla,
I have just checked my email after a long break and read through this. Once again I am deeply moved, and very admiring of, your capacity to turn so much sadness and grief, so much loss, into so much strength and forward movement.
It is a beautiful, expansive idea, and does justice in its form to such a beautiful person and her way of moving in the world.
I would like to have sent you this email at the time of the inaugural event on the 14th but am obviously weeks behind. But I send it to you now, with love.
Rahul mentioned some time ago that you had asked him to be one of the selection committee. I am glad - his deep degree of sensitivity and attention to detail is, to me, unusual.
Still grieving with you.
(Alice Wright, was a student with Meeto at Oxford and a very close friend)
I still can’t understand that is has been 3 years since our dear Meeto left us, though she is present in our hearts and minds. Every time I see our film from Beijing 95, which I showed some students one week ago, she is there in a short clip, dancing, looking at me and filling my heart with both sadness and joy. Joy, when I remember the times we have had together, when she was filming with us, laughing, singing or just being around us. Every time Nasrin and I sing Goliam maryan we think of her. It was one of her favorite songs.
I think it is a wonderful idea to have this award. Please let me know how we can support it - where to send our support. The criteria for the award are wonderful and that it is for a south Asian wo/man. Matters of peace and justice are really what link us, no matter where we live on this globe. I so wanted to be there on the 14th but it is not possible this time. In our hearts we’ll be there on the 14th.
Lots of love
(Eva Warberg is a Swedish feminist film maker, song writer and singer and she teach at the Women’s Folk High School in Gothenberg, Sweden. Meeto assisted Eva and her colleague Nasrin, an Iranian feminist, while they were making a film during the Fourth World Women’s Conference in Beijing. Meeto attended this conference and performed Bharatnatyam dance in the youth programme)
That’s a really lovely idea. We will certainly do anything we can to help. I remember Meeto well; her grace, her reticence and her intelligence; the burden of self doubt.
Her’s was a brief but very bright flame.
(From Dame Hilary Blume, Chairperson of Charities Advisory Trust, UK)
For a second when I read remembering Meeto my heart stopped. It is so difficult to remember she is not here.She was our precious child and the idea is as all youe ideas re brilliant. I think to rotate the event around in South Asia is a good idea. As you can see from all the responses, this fulfils an emotional need of ours and it is good to recognize and honor young people who are working with integrity. Meeto was beautiful and brilliant and brought so much joy into the lives of those she touched that this is a good way to celebrate her life and show our gratitude for having shared her however briefly. So go ahead and thank you for having thought of this and having had the courage to bring it into being.
(Vasanth Kannabiran is a feminist activist, scholar, writer, based in Hyderabad, India)
as you can see from all the positive feedback you are getting, this is a wonderful idea !
i am sure that all of us who loved meeto and miss her so much have often wondered how we can best keep her memory and her joy of life alive within us and within the movement in south Asia. and now you have come to us with this beautiful idea that celebrates so many things about us and about meeto - the artsy side of her that loved to dance and listen to music and light deeyas and have exotic and colourful household objects, the scholarly side of her that delved deep into areas of our existence that really bothered us, the south Asian side in which she moved freely among all of us and embraced our sense of a south Asian identity, warts and all ! as you can see, your mail has provoked me to remember meeto...
much love, and thank you for being so brave and so inspiring, always.
(Sunila Abeyasekera, is a Sri Lankan feminist, human rights activist)
Salaam and very good to hear about this idea, it is great dicision that you took , and hope that it will really inspire the other young fellow and give stisfaction to all of us after the sad lose of Meeto, keep her name and memory with us. my heartfull thanks and wishes to you.
(Sima Samar a medical doctor, is the chair person of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul and South Asia Coordinator of Peace Women Across the Globe)
My dearest Kamla,
Thank you for sharing the brochure and invitation to the Meeto Memorial Award. What a wonderful way to celebrate her life. I am not sure I can even imagine what a mixture of feelings this must arouse in you —but it seems your pride in her achievements, the love you had for each other and her own beautiful personality have definitely come out stronger than the sadness and regret over the loss.
I will be in the States on the 14th but even though I will not be there physically, I will very much be with you in spirit and thought. I know that it will be a very special and beautiful ceremony . Just like you are proud of Meeto, I know she was and is proud of you.
Lots of love,
(Dr. Ambreen Ahmad, is a feminist activist and psychiatrist in Islamabad, Pakistan)
this is such a wonderful idea to do something so generous and that will bring a new generation of young women and men into focus and give them opportunities to work more effectively.
Gather that Anusheh is among the first batch. Do hope we get a chance to send in names for the next. I have met a brilliant young Chakma lawyer I want to nominate.
Will not be in Delhi but send you many good wishes for the day,
(Sara Hossain is a feminist activist and an eminent lawyer in Dhaka, Bangladesh)
Dear Kamla, It is really good to hear about this beautiful award. It tells about your everlasting energy, about your love for life, about your faith in social commitment still vivid and paving the way for younger generations. I would have loved to be there with you and friends but I am in Japan for a month, working for a documentary Film Festival which I very much care for. It is so unbelievable to watch Meeto’s lovely face staring at us and realise she is not with us any more. But she has been part of our humanity and she will continue to inspire good will young people. I send you all my best for that very sopecial day and thank you for having made it possible. Please keep me informed about this award and do not hesitate to call any time you feel the desire...
In loving sisterhood.
( Catherine Cadou is a French cultural activist)
What a wonderful idea to institute an award for young South Asians in honour of Meeto. Please know that my thoughts and love are with you and all your family as you go through this very tough time.
I wish that I could be with you all on October 14 but alas that is not possible. But I know it will be a very special day and I send all my best wishes to you on a momentous occasion.
(Anne Walker is an Australian feminist who works with the International Women’s tribune Centre, New York, USA)
Dear Kamla Ji,
Thank you very much for sharing the information about the Meeto Memorial Award. I am sure Meeto would love it and watch over the function on October 14 from above.
I have often thought of her and every summer her memory becomes so real and I how I hope that she will appear at the window and ask me how I was doing. You may not remember she was next door to me for six weeks.
Please forgive me for my long silence but that was the my way to deal with her loss! The summer she met me, I could see how special she was, how deeply agonized her soul was, and how helpless I was to be able to help her in any tangible way.
How I wish that I could join you all on October 14 but that is not possible! My apologies for the absence and very best wishes for the success of the event.
With warm regards,
( Gurinder S. Mann is Professor at the University of California ,US. Meeto attended a six week Punjab Studies Course organized by him in India in 2005)
I will add this to the Punjab Research Group website and it will hopefully raise further awareness of the memorial award you have set up. It is indeed a wonderful thing you are doing here, which must be difficult for you. I remember reading one of Meeto’s earlier chapters on the composite culture of Punjab many years ago and thought how wonderful it was that someone was working in this area, she had so much promise.
I just wish I was able to attend.
With kind regards
(Pippa Virdee is with Punjab Research Group, UK)
Very dear Kamla,
On reading your mail "Celebrating Social Committment: Meeto Memorial Award" our hearts well up with joy, and pride. Your magnanimity rising above your personal pain is itself a tremendous act of committment to what you have believed in these many many years.
Kamala we really have no words to convey to you our deep feelings of gratitude. You inspire us and you will always find a place in our hearts.
As much as we would like to be present at the inaugural event, the distance does not permit us. But do know dear Kamla that all of us at CIEDS and Vimochana will be carrying you in our hearts and minds on the 14th.
With fond greetings,
CIEDS collective / Vimochana
(A feminist group in Bangalore, India)
Dear Kamla di,
Congratulation for instituting this Award. This will keep Meeto alive among all of us. Thanks for sending me the invitation and the information about this award.
The first recipient of the Award is Anusheh. As a Bangladeshi and a South Asian, I am proud. Its not only because she is part of our family but this is a great achievement and a big responsibility for her to be engaged in different kinds of activism for justice, peace, communal harmony, human rights. This award will give her the support to go ahead.
I wish I could come and I was looking for a cheap ticket but the prices are very high and I may not be able to join you all for this award ceremony this time.
With best wishes and hope it will be a success.
(Natasha Ahmad is a feminist activist from Bangladesh who lives in Dhaka and Kolkata)
Very Dear Kamla:
You have come a very long way dear friend;
for most of us, it takes much more time;
but the core of you is strong and resilient and filled
with love and care.
so Meeto walks with you, her arm around you;
you carry her heart in yours,
and each time you smile and laugh, and dance and sing
she is that part of you.
and no one can take that from you.
take care dear creature;
I will be with you in spirit
and with much love.
(Corinne Kumar is an Indian feminist and human rights activist, who heads El Taller International, Tunisia)
I was not aware of the passing away of your daughter Meeto. Accept my belated condolences. As I myself (with you) am getting older, the importance of memories increases as the vehicle of conveying joys, sorrow, and lessons from generation to generation. The founding of the Meeto Memorial Award sounds very significant and I heartily congratulate you on its inauguration and wish to share this feeling with our friends.
I wish we could meet again and talk.
(Muto Ichiyo is an academic and social activist from Japan who led the Asian wide movement named People’s Plan from the 21st Century)
With great respect we took notice of your wonderful gesture to establish an award in memory of your deceased daughter Meeto. We feel honoured and thank you very much for inviting us to the opening ceremony of the celebration of inauguration of the "Meeto Memorial Award", dedicated to committed young people engaged in justice, peace, communal harmony or human rights. These - in our view - are on the one hand undoubtedly the most important sectors and also our priorities, as human rights and peace are the supporting structures/groundwork and also precondition for each and every further sustainable development. On the other hand, human right defenders are very much targeted, criminalized and persecuted. Thus the award helps to protect these courageous persons. It is a good decision to spur young people, as they are not only the future but moreover the presence of India and oftentimes recklessly neglected. We would like to convey our message of sincerest congratulations to your excellent choice!
We are with you in our hearts and souls on that special day even though we are afraid that none of our colleagues can be present in person on Wednesday, 14 October 2009. We do regret this very much as it would mean a lot to us to be personally with you.
We wish you every success for this momentous occasion and are sure that the launch event will remain unforgettable and surpass the expectations adherent to the award.
Anna, Birgit, Ulrich and colleagues
(Friends from Bischöfliches Hilfswerk MISEREOR, Germany)
meeto was/is a love and my heart will be there with you through the events today - its all very beautiful and appropriate that across time and space her elfin spirit will extend and connect with so many people through the wonderful programme you have created - she is blessed and so are you - my greetings to Anusheh Anadil and Laxmiben Venkar - though i’ve not met them, i’ll now ’know’ them as being part of meeto’s wonderful ’biraadiri’ - also my special love to all friends who will be there to share the evening.
interestingly, the reason i’m not able to come is because of an event that was planned and fixed here on this date quite some time back - but it has a lovely resonance with our delhi event - it is an evening dedicated to the memory of a great percussion player for Kathakali called Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval - in his memory, five important gurus are being honoured - the five are the mridang vidwan Umayalpuram Shivaraman, the ghatam genius Vikku Vinayakram, leela samson’s old teacher N.S.Jayalakshmi, the kuchipudi maestro Vempati Chinna Satyam and the kathakali guru Sadanam Balakrishnan - the kerala culture minister M.A.Baby is presiding - the presentation ceremony will be followed by a full kathakali performance - was thinking how much meeto would have loved to be part of all this too.
Anyway, i’m not apologizing for not being with you in delhi today, because i WILL be there.
love – sadanand
(Sadanand Menon is a cultural activist and journalist working out of Chennai, India)
thank you very much for the invitation to the inaugural event of the Memorial Award. Please excuse us for not attending, we hope you understand why. We wish this award a great future in supporting young people finding hope and presenting possible ways of life in peace and humanity. For themselves and the ability to give further what they have found.
In love and hope, Eva & Lasse
(Two cultural and peace activists from Switzerland and Sweden)
My dear Kamla,
Today is Meeto’s Award Day and I want to tell you how wonderful it is that you are honoring Meeto’s memory by giving the first award to Anushae, who has been so actively involved with others of her generation in making a positive contribution towards building a secular society, towards activating youth, towards supporting rehabilitation of so many people. Anushae’s music has been critical in creating awareness against obscurantism.
On behalf of SAHR and on my own behalf I would like to pay respects to Meeto and to support your initiative. At SAHR we depended upon Meeto’s dynamism, her commitment and her sympathetic attention to all of collectively and individually, ever since SAHR’s formation in Neemrana and at its second meeting in Delhi. Such qualities are rare indeed, and Meeto did the work with so much ease. She did it not merely as a job but as a commitment to building the kind of society she visualized. SAHR is indeed proud of the example she has set for us all.
I came to know her first through you Kamla, and she certainly inherited your vibrancy, sympathy and fun of life. And then saw her magic in dealing with so many of different generations, different temperaments at Neemrana, running the conference efficiently but never losing her sense of humour. I ran into her accidentally at Venice where she was on holiday and so were we. She jumped up and came running to us. It was then that I came to know of her academic pursuits, and felt proud to know that she was studying subjects that were again a continuation of her commitment, as well as that of so many of us, to explore the reasons for communal discrimination and violence. I deeply value knowing her if even so fleetingly.
We thank you for what you are doing Kamla, for Meeto’s generation. On behalf of SAHR and myself I wish you the very best.
(Hameeda Hossain is a feminist human rights activist from Bangladesh. She is the co-chair of South Asians from Human Rights)
Your social commitment is always the encouragement for us to work in most of the remote areas women. We are here in our own countries and doing as per our capacity to bring peace in South Asia. I wish all the best for the event which will encourage many meetos to bring change in our region.
with love and cheers
(Karuna Amatya works with Oxfam in Nepal)
Congratulations on the establishment of the award, but more especially congratulations for this remarkable child you raised. This morning as I read Meeto’s story I was deeply touched and challenged by the life she led and the way she conducted herself. She is an inspiration to us all and I really want to thank you for enabling us all to share in Meeto’s achievements and way of life. I really want to share this information through the network, less so to promote the award and more so that people can read about Meeto.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Emma
(Emma Leslie, an Australian, peace activist lives and works in Cambodia. She is one of the 1000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2005)
My dearest Kamla/Mama,
Such a wonderful idea. I can think of few other ways to remember Meeto, her work, her passions and an important facet of her person. I spoke with Roo who mentioned that she would be making the trip to Delhi for the first annual event and she seems so positive about the whole venture. Continuing Meeto’s work by supporting it through any medium is, to me, something Meeto would have done herself at some point and in a lot of ways would do so even with her friends ... supporting their passions and nurturing them. I know she will have approved.
All my love
(Deepti Shastri is one of Meeto’s closest friends from Rishi Valley School, India and she presently working for her PhD in the UK)