Interpretation of “A Rose for Benazir Bhutto”


We learned some about the history of Pakistan, and I realized that of all the figures we learned about Benazir Bhutto was the only one I really knew much about or felt much of a connection with.  I first hear of Benazir Bhutto from my dad.  He went to Harvard and his time here overlapped with hers.  He remembers being in an elevator with her once.  She had this huge bodyguard with her at all times, and he remembers it being cool but also intimidating to be standing with her and her bodyguard in such close quarters.  My impression of her is also formed by my memory of her assassination in 2007.  I remember how it was the biggest news in the world for a while, and seemed very sad since she had finally returned to the country after many years being forced to stay abroad.  I saw her then as somewhat of a martyr for peace and responsible government.  As I’ve learned more about her, I realized that she wasn’t a one dimensionally wonderful figure.  Her administration when she was in power had a lot of corruption problems, and she was born into a very privileged situation as daughter of a prime minister.  Her story relates to much of what we’ve learned in this course about fledgling Islamic nations, such as Iran and Pakistan, that are struggling with what role religion will play in government and civic life.  So much blood has been spilled because of disagreement over this.  It was an interesting experience to learn about Pakistan, a distant and very foreign place to me, and to feel some kind of emotional connection to Benazir Bhutto from my connection through my dad, my connection through Harvard, and then the tragedy of her assassination.  Because I had this emotional reaction I thought I would paint something that could stand as a small memorial to her.  I thought of how roses are a common symbol of love in Urdu ghazals, and almost everywhere else of course, and how Bhutto was greatly loved by at least some of the people in Pakistan.  I also, as I was searching her online, discovered that during her funeral her coffin was draped with rose petals and that that was just something that was done and many people came to scatter roses for her.  That is why I painted a rose, and I kept it very simple and direct.  It was a fun painting to create.

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