Alison Clement

observations from a novelist who sometimes wants to say something small and see it published immediately

But it’s also the face of a real child.


It’s the image I want but it is also the face of a real child. I was looking for images for the Pinterest board I’ve created around my latest manuscript. I collect images for story ideas. I collect images around my books. In this latest as yet unpublished book my character Mavis “was a secret animist” as a child. I searched images for “animist” and found a stunning picture of a little girl, the perfect picture, the child’s face, the background, tone: all  perfect. So I added it to my board. It’s the image I want but it is also the face of a real child. Her name—I go back to read—is Abi Gul. She is 7 years old and Kalash, from Rumbur Valley, Pakistan. For eleven years her father fought in Pakistani courts to keep their valley from being logged. Three years ago her father was murdered.  For the Kalash the trees are sacred. Animists: those who believe “the natural world is inhabited by spirits who nurture or destroy in accordance to the respect they are shown.” Which brings us back to the child, Abi Gul, and the question of ownership and privacy, of using the sacred things of the world, including the face of a child, for own purposes.  I don’t have an answer, but at least I can include here this website: Blue Earth,  And look at her face. All the things in it.

Categories: art, belief, books, children, media, politics, writing

Tags: , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Amazing face Alison. And the connection with you and Chuck and saving the forest. As you say, all that is there in her face.

  2. It’s Chuck that works to save the forest. I can’t take credit for that, Laura, but thank you.

  3. One time a few years back, forest activists from all around the Pacific Rim (New Guinea, Russia, Malaysia) visited here and met with Chuck. Almost all of them risked a great deal to do their work. Some risked their lives. It was humbling. I thought of them again when I read the story of Abi Gul’s father.

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