Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 40, Tuesday May 23, 2006




Oh food, how I love thee…

Recently, I realized the true value of food and the meaning of the word "ravenous". Don’t get me wrong- I have always been a fan of good food. But to put it nicely, this was just a "friendly" reminder of what we take for granted.

May, being the month for the O'Levels, made me take my sister to The Bashundhra City Grand Hall for her exams.

My sister, Sadia had two exams back-to-back, with only a two hours break in between. Most people whose children or siblings were sitting for exams, had undoubtedly been well-conditioned by Dhaka. No one was stupid enough to cross the insurmountable traffic jam to go home, during the break. Through experience, more or less everyone was aware of the fact that you could never go from Panthapath to Gulshan or Dhanmondi in less than an hour (a complete understatement!). And, of course, there is the return journey to consider. Just to imagine having to go through that not once- but twice - with the car slugging along, is itself daunting enough.

Anyway, with their cars parked safely in the basement of Bashundhara City, people rushed up to the food court for a quick bite. Sadia was still not out, and we were glancing at the watch every now and then. If she did not get out soon, we would have to say goodbye to lunch. After what seemed like an eternity of being hypnotized by the wrist watch, she finally came out.

Ma literally grabbed her, and we raced towards the elevator before she even knew what hit her. The sad thing is…the doors slid shut seconds before we got there and it was like one of those slow motion moments they show on TV- everything blurring out except the lift! The doors shut us out and the last thing we saw was all these people inside staring at us with undisguised pity (possibly because they too knew what it felt like!) Life could not get any worse! Plus, it gets extra bad when you can hear your stomach rumbling over the crowd.

Left with no other choice, we ran to the escalator. I was at the verge of passing out. This was certainly not the way I wanted to die: with a stomach as empty as all those promises our Politicians make . But fate it seemed was not on our side. If the lift was not bad enough, the escalator was not working too well either, creeping along slowly as if it had all the time in the world.

Finally we reached the eighth floor (or was it the seventh, I don't remember) only to find that most of the tables were taken. Everyone seemed drowsy and exhausted (and hungry) - but no food!

We ordered from Dominous Pizza and sat down, trying desperately to set aside the thought of the soon-to-be coming treat, whipping up small talk as much as we could. Sadia and Ma went to the washroom, while my dad was on the phone.

Soon it had been 15 minutes and there was still no sign of our orders. There was a commotion in the front counter, and I got up to investigate. Over the howling and screeching of the public, I discovered that the shop was in serious shortage of staff and customers just kept pouring in. So, yes, it was going to be a while.

Frowning, I shouted out: "I've been waiting for fifteen minutes. For God's sake!" But my cry was drowned out by the crowd.

The lady beside me scowled at me, "Consider yourself lucky. I have been waiting for the past hour. What are we? Impoverished relief-seekers?" Then she went back to screaming her convictions on top of her lungs.

An hour? Life just fell apart. It simply unraveled like a poorly-stitched fabric. If I had to wait for another hour, I would die, and God would be my witness. The lady was right- I did feel like an "impoverished relief-seeker".

Although the Dominous people were doing the best they could, it didn't feel fast enough. The number on my ticket was 72, and they were still serving 13.

After some time, when I could fight no more, I just went back to the table. I was not the person to give up on food, but this was war- and I lost.

Finally my dad got up, and I don’t know how he did it…but he got the food! For a moment, I was mesmerized, overwhelmed by the beauty of fried chicken and pizza. They were fuming hot, right out of the oven. The cheese was still molten, bubbling over like hot lava, overflowing with minced meat, pepperoni and sparkling olives. I touched the crust, just to check whether it was real. The bread was spongy and warm and the aroma of the spicy beef sauce enticed me. It was a point in time when you forget your hunger and just let the pain of sheer perfection wash over you.

I was jolted back to reality when Ma asked why I was not eating. Needing no further reminder, I pounced on the food, not caring about what anyone thought. That day, I think I tasted every single particle, indulging in the richness of it. There was enough for everyone, and nobody paused for a break.

Finally, stomachs surfeited and souls contented, we played around with the coffee- taking in small sips and just killing time. It was not long before, that the watch showed four o'clock.

We got up, stretched and made our way towards the elevator. This time, the doors did not close in on us. Life is not that bad, after all. Indeed, it can be a thrill… But only on a well-fed stomach.

By Shahmuddin Siddiky

Reader’s chit

Live like a millionaire!

It was just one of those days when everything tends to go wrong. I had ruined one of my favourite katan sari's just the day before and here I was now spilling milk and breaking the china sugar pot. I lashed out at every one in sight and yelled and hollered until I was too tired to speak. Even though I was responsible for all these ruptures I was completely out of my mind and not sure whom I was blaming. That's what you call impatience and a hot temper!!

Just a few days later, I had to fly back to Dhaka. Relatives of mine met an accident in the Airport Road. A truck had come from the wrong side and rammed the car. The whole family was in the vehicle, nobody was seriously hurt except their eighteen year old son who was driving. He was in a critical condition. Just before I entered the cabin I learnt that doctors had to amputate his left leg. When I crossed the threshold of the room I was shivering like a leaf fighting to gain control. The moment he saw me his eyes lit up and he smiled. He was so happy. Struggling to hold back tears I tried to smile back. He just said “Hey! I am alive. I could have been dead, but I am not.” He continued, “A leg is just a small price to pay for my life, don't you think?”

On my way back I was crying. Not because of what he had lost. But because of how brave and matured he was. He was like a millionaire who had lost a couple of thousands and was happy to have the hundreds of thousand left. He was not mourning for what was gone but trying to keep himself happy with all the other things he had left. I felt ashamed of myself. I remembered how I was complaining and yelling just the other day for such petty matters.

Yes, many of us tend to do that. We always think about what we want and what we do not have. Little time is spent on contemplating on what God has given us. We grumble about the little things lost in life but we do not thank God for the things bestowed upon us.

That boy taught me the lesson of my life!! Be happy with what you have. Think about the beautiful things you have achieved. If you lose something small or big, know that it could have been worse. Stop complaining about the petty things in life. That way you will never enjoy the beauty of life. In short, live like a millionaire!!

By Syeda Shamin Mortada


I do not know what it is, but I always wanted unfathomable love. I used to read about it in fairy tales, at a very early age. I wanted prince charming to come for me on a horseback - the prince who would love me like no other. His love will shine in his eyes and I will be his everything; with out me he will expire. His words will always be kind, and I will be his forever.

I may have been naïve but I actually thought it existed. I still do. May be I did not get it, but I believe it is out there. There is a little girl who is dreaming just the way I did, and her dreams will come true. She will be the princess from my fairy tales books, and live happily ever after.

By Iffat Zia


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