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Morals or no morals

Hamid Ismailov Hamid Ismailov | 17:04 UK time, Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The news agenda of the last days was led mostly by two quite controversial news: one was about mass protests around the Muslim world as a result of an amateur video made in the US which mocks Islam and the second one was to do with photographs showing the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless.

Though those two news are quite different in their nature, at the same time there's something common in them. They are about the human honour - a word less and less used in our modern vocabulary.

Even the Oxford dictionary put the main meaning of that word under the second paragraph: the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right.

However incomparable those two stories are I suspect that in fact they are two poles of the same phenomenon: in the latter case as many agree it's an intrusion into the single person's privacy and breach of honour, whereas in the first case the same intrusion and breach of honour apparently happened to a collective symbol.

Those who read classic novels know that the breach of the private or family honour used to end in duels. Now it ends in the courts. Among many others I would agree: that is the sensible way. I think that would be the sensible way in the first case too.

I know that tons of words have already been written about both those cases and rather than adding another 100 grams of my contribution into these tumultuous topics which tear people apart, maybe it's sensible to take a pause and suggest to you a poem:

Lovers in Samarkand

(An old song that wells up in this poem)

Before midday, round about eleven
in the bazaar by the Boltabay post with its attached
loudspeaker, the sun is just heating up.
Like a wheel not hurrying to go out on the road of Ibodullah the gypsy,
the tambourine, and after it the cymbals,
flutes and the violin,
the horses, saddles and reins, then a beauty in a palanquin
and a voice looking out from under a veil...

You breathe in the  burning air,
your lungs fill with the air of the flute,
the train squeaks off into motion, your nose
starts getting irritated by the dust-following you is the clank
                                              of the wheels
or the tambourine, or your heart in the airlessness before it stops
gives out its thud back and

'Come to me with your curls like snakes and your kohled eyes'

Okhun the meat-pie maker fires up his clay oven for the midday
                                               meat-pies.
Temur the blacksmith beats his chopper on the anvil
with his hammer. The sun draws in the air
and climbs to the zenith, shortening the shadow from the post,
so that it can hide not knowing where to find a place in the craziness.
Blind Sotim sharpening his knife
fountains out sparks from his palms at the shadow . . .

As I search for the world leaf after leaf.

The melody ripened. The melody got through.
It hit the zenith and with a sound, tak, collided with the orphaned,
needed-by-no one sun, and seemed to understand
all this unnecessariness.
If a cloud goes it doesn't return.
The melody momentarily descends from the heights where
the mad sun, already yellowed from its beating down by the sky,
and the moon, go around the vault of the sky.

The melody is like a woman baker, remaining at midday
with the teahouse man, red Katam, having dropped her husband,
Sobir the guide, who has gone off on a journey,
and gathering up her skirts hurries off to the neighbours.

There is no one to sprinkle the hot earth streets with water
to give the town a breather

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