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First Love

Being a student of Class VII, Mumu had just stepped into her adolescent years, a blissful period when life seemed like a flowing stream, glittering under the luster of the morning sun. It was her time to explore the world of love, to discover the secrets of this magic potion that has intoxicated thousands of innocent souls since the beginning of time. Mumu, an example of brains without beauty, was the best friend of Reva, whose perfect figure, exquisite hair and gregarious disposition made her the girl of the school. Reva already had a boyfriend, Almer, a guy who possessed everything that life can offer. The couple was madly in love and Mumu was their confidant, the person to whom neither Reva nor Almer ever hesitated to disclose their feelings.

Mumu meant a lot for Reva and her partner and they always wanted her to have a boyfriend as well, so that she could also relish the ecstasies of love. The lovebirds were in desperate search of a guy for their best friend, but Mumu abhorred this attitude, because she always believed that love itself will come to her doorstep.

Some of the girls in their class had crushes, which when revealed, were embroidered to such an extent that ultimately the guy started hating the girl. In order to shun such a pathetic fate, Mumu preferred to conceal her feelings even from her best friend. She knew that deep inside her heart she had started to nurture a weakness for Anirudh, a boy in her class who sat behind her. Anirudh cannot be described as tall, dark or handsome but his captivating eyes, obscured by the spectacles, were enough to mesmerize a girl. Mumu tried everyway to seek his attention and she knew that the gateway to love is friendship. Anirudh was quite a good flirt and he spent the boring classes pulling Mumu's hair or kicking her bench. These little things meant a lot to her. Borrowing stationeries and talking about common topics like music, back biting about teachers or some bizarre characters in the class served as a means of communication.
Friendship was growing between the two and the little smiles, the wisps of conversations made Mumu gradually fall in love with her crush. Anirudh had an unusually artistic mind and possessed certain qualities that were rare in others guys. He had a marvelous sense of make-up and showed Mumu a photo of his sister, whose wedding make-up was done by him.

And then the days came when Anirudh started calling her up everyday and Mumu got to know her love better day by day. Things were going smoothly when one day the phone rang. It was Almer and his heavy voice suggested that he had been crying for quite a long time. Indeed he was, because a few minutes back he broke up with Reva for some stupid reasons. Mumu almost spent an hour commiserating Almer while Reva desperately tried calling her best friend. She was in such a state of mind that, on finding the phone engaged for so long, called up Anirudh to share her sorrow. Anirudh was a good friend of Almer and knew a lot about their relationship. It was the first time that Reva had called him and she kept on crying thinking that Anirudh may understand her. And that was the beginning...

Anirudh alternately called Mumu and Reva, and within a few days Reva got as close to Anirudh as Mumu, a friendship which took Mumu more than a couple of months. Their final exams started the following week and meanwhile Almer sent thousands of letters apologizing to Reva, who decided to reconcile after the exams. It was the first day of their exams and after the exam, when Reva and Mumu got into the school bus; Reva discovered an unusual letter in her bag. Reva took the white envelope in her hands. It had the fragrance of her favorite perfume. She opened it and the crisp page inside contained the following words in red ink.

In my dreams I pictured a girl
who is intelligent, gorgeous,
talented, creative,
fun and wise.
I knew dreams are fantasies
fantasies are not real....
until I met you
the one who made me believe
my dreams
for you are indeed
better than my dreams....
Love, Anirudh

The words made Reva blush and the glow in her eyes delineated that she was so excited. Mumu looked out of the window trying to swallow her tears. She did not know what to say. Without looking at Reva she said, ' congratulations! He loves you....'Reva stared at the words and replied, 'I can't believe this.' Neither of them uttered a word throughout the journey. When Mumu reached home, she dived into her bed and burst into tears. She opened the drawer next to her bed and took out her diary. This was her new best friend. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she felt helpless, having lost everything, her love and her best friend.

A couple of hours later Anirudh called, gasping for breath, as he enthusiastically uttered the words, 'Mumu, she said yes! I'm going out with your best friend. Now we can be even better friends.' She never saw Anirudh so happy. But how can this be possible. She knew how much Reva loved Almer and how can she abandon her love for someone whom she knew for a week? She did not feel like calling up Reva, but she did.

Reva herself did not know why she took such a hasty decision. Yes, there was something in Almer that attracted her. The way Anirudh spoke to her that day made it clear that he really loved her and he desperately needed someone in his lonely life. Did she commit to the relationship just for the sake of making him happy? But actually who is happy? Anirudh is being deceived because every moment Reva thinks of Almer, and Almer-anyone who saw him realized that this person has lost all hopes of living.

Reva was always full of ambivalent feelings and trapped between the two guys. And every time Anirudh spoke of their relationship to Mumu, she loved him even more. Mumu felt that Anirudh had all the qualities that she always wanted in her lover. Anirudh's relationship with Reva was never stable and whenever Anirudh felt that Reva did not love him the way he loved her, he used to become very frustrated. He would call up Mumu and cry to her because she was the one he trusted most. He used to say, 'Why am I so unlucky? There is no one to love me.' Mumu silently held the receiver. There was no one to see her tears. It was she who always stood beside Almer, Anirudh and Reva.

Reva would often ask Mumu, 'Tell me the truth, do you love Anirudh? Trust me; if you say once, I can do anything for you.' Mumu kept on denying because she knew that even if Reva got back to Almer, Anirudh would still love her. Anirudh and Reva often used Mumu's house as a dating spot and Mumu saw them making out a couple of times. Mumu wanted to escape from all these because gradually it became impossible for her to endure them.

Mumu soon drifted away from them and one day she came to know that they had broken up. The four of them were parted from each other and a year later Mumu met Reva at a friend's place. Reva came up to her. Her eyes were filled with tears. She just asked Mumu, 'Can you explain why we separated?' That day Mumu decided, that no matter what happens she would confess her love for Anirudh. She could not stop her tears as she narrated every bit of her feeling, the excruciating anguish she had to go through every moment. When she finished Reva just said, 'Why did you lie to me? I always felt that you loved him. If you had told me once then I would have never been with him.' She then added, 'We drifted apart for a boy, who today is neither in your life nor mine.'

Mumu knew that whatever had happened was not Reva's fault but it was not possible for her to be friends with her once more. She could never forget all the nights she spent crying just because of Reva.

Anirudh started calling up Mumu once more but not as frequently as before. Now they had grown up a bit and dealt things with more maturity. Everyday before hanging up, Anirudh thanked Mumu for being his best friend.

On Mumu's sixteenth birthday, she received a hand made card from Anirudh. Written in silver ink on a red background were the following words:
I knew you before I was struck by cupid's arrow
You gave me smiles in all my sorrow
You gave me hope, my reason to live
Without tears, I had nothing else to give
On your sweet birthday I have something precious
Not diamond, not gold,
But some stories untold
Tales of love straight from my heart
For you, only you, my sweetheart
I love you, I love you and will always do
Even if you hate, I'll say I love you.

Mumu could not believe her eyes and when she lifted her wet eye lids she found Anirudh in front of her. Tears of ecstasy streamed down her face as she smiled and said to him, 'You are my first love and first love never goes away. Thank you God!'

By Sonia Ferdous Hoque

Book review


The very name of "Beji" (mongoose) would probably put off any reader. But believe me, the book is a collection of few of the best short science fictions written by Muhammad Zafar Iqbal.

The first story "Nishir Jonno Bhalobhasha" opens with a scientist demonstrating his newest discovery. He had discovered a procedure, which would allow incessant cell regeneration. In other words it would grant people immortality. The scientist is very proud of his discovery and the people are overjoyed, but little did they know what the consequences would be few decades later. The ending of the story is very touching.

The second story "Neural Computer" is a very interesting story. A certain company claims that they can solve problems of any sort, with the help of an exceptional invention of theirs, the neural computer. In the story, the author slowly discloses this secret device to us. Readers, beware…you're in for a shock!

In the next story, "Ekti Mrittudondo" the author gives a very detailed description of the execution of a notorious criminal.

The next story "Screen Saver" is, in my opinion, the scariest story of them all. It is about a computer screen saver, which has been sent via the Internet. Children of all ages have become very much obsessed with this strange screen saver. Then all of a sudden atrocious crimes start taking place all over the town and strangely enough, these crimes have been committed by young children. Investigations have led to the discovery that all these children had been very much engrossed with their computers before the incidents. Has the peculiar screen saver got anything to do with the crimes? Could it be possible that the screen saver had the power to control people and make them do such awful deeds? (Read at your own risk…you may never be able to sit in front of your computer!!)

The next story "Chiriakhana" takes us into the personal zoo of a very rich, villainous man, who claims to own some very exceptional and unique creatures. The reader gets a chance to meet these strange, bizarre and grotesque creatures. Be prepared for a slight shock!

The last story "Beji" is more of an adventure story. It is about three students, whose extreme curiosity rounds them up in an abandoned island. The island was inhabited by hundreds of weasels whose intelligence level had been genetically augmented almost to the level of humans. The three of them face a lot of difficulty, trying to escape from the clutch of these weasels. Will the most superior race on the earth be compelled to accept defeat to these creatures?

"Beji" was first published in 2002 and it made a huge success in the Ekushey Book Fair. I strongly recommend this book to all sci-fi lovers.

By Nusrat





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