Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 45, Tuesday, November 16, 2010



LS Editor’s Note

The clean crusade

WOW what a day it was for me! Last Wednesday was my Red Letter Day. I awoke all charged up. Though it was a feeling tinged with a considerable dose of apprehension and I was dreading the day's events, nothing was going to stop me from 'Operation Clutter Bust'. The mission at hand that day was to grab my cleaning tools and enter my daughter's room. Sounds simple but in reality it's like me entering a Kurdish town with heavy artillery.

I acted sick and skipped my regular morning walks, didn't drop her off to school and as soon as she got into the car I put on my mask and barged in with my troops: my long trusted General, my maid; who is like the heart and soul of our home and with a few other hired hands; after all I cannot enter a battle ground without a trained battalion.

A dumpster or even a dump yard will get cookie points if compared to her room. Coke cans, chips packets, deflated footballs, broken guns, CPU cases, whacked-out monitors, ancient VCRs from Mesozoic era (a collectible item in her opinion), skate boards, boxes full of toys, her blue box of puzzle blocks that she played with when she was two to her recent ones, are among a few things that grabbed my attention once I entered.

However there is no way one could ignore the pile of washed and ironed clothes bundled together with the unwashed ones on the chairs, in the bed corners, on the bathroom floor. And oh the reading table, DVDs and CDs, broken watches and a gargantuan collection of stationery, three-fourths of which were never used, are all I could see. I wonder where the studying takes place? Naturally now I know why the grade file looks the way it does.

I consider myself lucky that she did not develop any breathing problems because her entire furniture is covered in at least three inches of dust. You must be wondering how the room can reach such a state; my only defence is that I am scared of a teenager's wrath. I dread to meet her face-to-face on these particular issues. Entering her domain is a big no-no; in fact we need immigration stamps on entry cards before we dare to cross the threshold.

Thus the sneak attack and I definitely won momentarily and cherished my short-lived victory. Till she came back from school and all hell broke loose.

With my morning mug of tea standing in her room that was flooded with the soft morning sunshine, a light breeze airing out the shabbiness and bringing in the sweet fragrance of the morning, a clean floor, a bed done, an organised closet and most importantly empty chairs. It was one of my sweetest mummy moments, though all too ephemeral.

I went back from work and upon my return I found out the obvious, I lost the war; it was all topsy turvy again. But honestly I think I started an even bigger battle. She thinks I trespass and I don't give her space and the usual 'you don't understand me' fights erupted, where I had to work on the trust factor all over again. Thus a simple cleaning spree actually cleansed out many pent up anger issues and many unaddressed concerns. So I am not giving up, just changing my strategy. Next time I will have to talk sense instead of barging into action.

That said, with Eid coming up - and a messy one at that - I can only hope that readers far and wide will take this as an opportunity to display their community spirit and good civic sense by practising safe and clean Qurbani etiquettes. After all, it is not individual efforts, but combined endeavours that make a clean and happy Eid!

-Raffat Binte Rashid

The other day I coloured my hair for the first time Ma. I thought of you, because you always told me greys multiply if you colour your hair. You said that's what happened to Baba, that's how he went all grey at 22. Well, as you know I am well past 22 now, but still too young to colour you might say, bad move you are thinking. I can just imagine you talking about your mom and how at 80 she has not one grey strand in her thick black locks. Well Ma, to both our disappointment, you know I didn't get that gene…so now I am kind of midnight blue.

Everyday on my way to work, I see a man who has legs for arms; he knocks on my window with his toes, it annoys me Ma, is that bad? Is it bad that I have gotten immune to such things, blocked them out of my heart? I don't look anymore, and when I do I don't feel much, not like I used to. I only feel a certain numbness in the mornings; like I have chewed cloves, except it's not just my tongue that feels it, my entire body feels a tingly numbness which oddly makes me feel alive.

Ma, the other day I was thinking of all the people that lived between you and I. All the helpful hands that pulled us through our bad times. When you and I are together, during those infrequent visits of mine to your house, we talk about the past and often we cry without tears about all our shared sorrows and about those who are lost without deaths and those who will never be lost years after their burials. I miss those days Ma, lying next to you feeling the inside of my heart, dug to the last layer. It's been a while since I have felt that Ma, it's been a while since I cried.

I took pictures of a man yesterday. He spoke broken Bangla, his tribe spoke in a fluency that sounded like love. Every third children roamed naked in his village, with sugar on their lips, the little girls dipped their bread in glasses filled with tea and ate with great pleasure as I took photos of them to feel like I was capturing something for myself to take back for my inside, to make my inside fertile; my womb, my chest, my legs, my mind.

My coloured hair was no match Ma for those people, their betel leafed lips and their naked children. I tried to look for sadness Ma, for poverty, for sorrow, but I didn't find it anywhere. There was only laughter, only strength in the lines of the faces of children, women and men. I felt lonely Ma, I wanted again to strip away from all colours, the ones in my hair, my lips, my eyes, my soul, and I wanted to hide in a glass of milk tea between a few naked children and a head full of grey hair. And I thought of you Ma and I cried.


The workout

Like your body, your mind also needs some working out. To put it very simply and lamely, just like the muscles get stronger from exercise, the brain also gets sharp from exercise -- but very different set of exercises, of course. Here are some suggestions to sharpen your brain and boost up its performance.

Give the calculator a rest and switch the task to your brain. When you sit with weekly or monthly bills, try to figure out the total or the balance using your head and your fingers. Mathematics is perhaps the most powerful tool to keep your brain sharp.

Play 'brain games'. The idea is to make your brain work as much as possible. The more problems it solves, the sharper it becomes. Therefore, buy a jigsaw puzzle. Or play sudoku in your mobile phone. Or try to come up with long term strategies when playing chess. Or just log onto the Internet to find tons of such games. Mind puzzles of any kind enhance analytical thinking and reasoning.

Learn a new language. This requires the brain to build new neural links and pathways. The new symbols, sounds, etc are very good intellectual activities for the brain. If nothing else, learning a foreign language provides its own stream of benefits.

The simplest brain exercise ever is simply switching hands! That's right. If you don't have enough time to learn a whole new language, you don't have the excuse to escape from other simple brain exercises. So, if you comb your hair with your right hand, do it with your left one from today. If you are a southpaw, brush your teeth with the right hand. It's not very simple, actually. By using the non-dominant hand, you are using the relatively less active side of the brain. This increases your mental capacity.

By M H Haider





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