Monday, May 16, 2011

Under An Afgan Sky at the library...

I just returned from the library. Melissa Fung was the keynote speaker. She was held captive in Afghanistan for twenty nine days. The interviewer was CBC's Ana Maria Tremonte from The Current. Many writers come to the library. I have seen most. Tonight's was the most gripping discussion. Maybe that's because most writers haven't lived in a hole for a month living off of food sent down through a pipe. Fung was sexually assaulted by a captor. Though she didn't elaborate, she did say, "Sexual assault is not a risk faced by male reporters and it would be unfortunate if women were kept from international stories because of this risk." Fung had no security when she was captured saying she felt "Civilians could feel more at ease if it was just her and a camera man doing the interviewing." I'd say that takes guts. The conversation was frank, factual and surreal. Fung held no grudges towards Afghanistan. After befriending a teenager who was also her captor, he brought her french fries wrapped in news paper since she mentioned they were her favourite food. She learned he wanted to be a suicide bomber, believing this was his ticket to heaven. Image being on the other end of that conversation.

Fung ended by explaining the origins of her book Under An Afghan Sky. Fung was ordered to climb a very steep mountain and spent the night freezing unable to sleep. She looked up and saw a beautiful sky. If she had not been captured, she would have missed seeing the sky.

My wheelchair acted up a bit today. I wondered if I should even go the library event tonight. I'm glad I did. I'm home safe, but if I ran into trouble, it would have made a good story.

- OCG

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