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Fiction of the month
Above the below

IT was a cold wet evening, probably around six. I was standing under the sodium lights staring at the busy road full of rushing automobiles which held the truth: Time and tide wait for none..

"Yeah! Great pocket, Amit!"
Let me introduce you to Amit. He's my best friend. You know there are some guys out there, the best at everything, with the kind of cool looks that you will have to take a second look at. He's very good at 8-ball and his sense of humour was exceptional too. We used to go to pool clubs regularly.

"Ice-cream? Which flavour?"
Tina. What should I say about her? She's one of those good students, always busy with studies, debates, science fairs etc. We both used to take tuition from Rashed sir. I met her there, and within a week we became very close friends. It's not because I was as studious as she is. In fact, our friendship began because of my weakness in studies. She was so caring that often she used to help me understand the tough laws of mathematics. Then finally on the day that lovers cherish, Valentine's Day, she gave me some flowers and a card, I also gifted her a card and some chocolates. That's one of the happiest days in my memories...

Darn! I forgot to tell you about me. Yeah, it's going to be boring, I was one those most boring 'typical' guys who are good for nothing. Until I met Amit. I was drowning in frustration and eventually started to believe that I was not worthy of anything. Amit was senior to me. We used to live in the same colony. I also joined Amit's band after he taught me how to play the guitar.

So where was I? Yes, at Boomers. It's our favourite pool club.
Amit and I always used to hang out there. Amit was on a winning streak so he was in a great mood. Then I found Tina entering Boomers.

"Hi Tina!"
"Hi Rishan (that's me)! And you must be Amit, right?"
"Yea, Hi Tina!" Amit flashed his ever-fresh smile.
"Well guys have a seat. I'll be back in a minute." I had to receive a call on my mobile.
"So, how are you doing?"
"Yea fine. Heard a lot about you from Rishan, and frankly, I was a bit curious to meet you." Tina beamed with enthusiasm.
"So was I. You won't believe it, but I know more about your interests and habits than I know about my other friends. Rishan always keeps talking about you."
" Here you go guys, cappuccino! Amit, Tina was willing to see you, so I asked her to catch us here"
After we dropped Tina home, Amit started to yell at me in the car. "You call this 'MAYBE BEAUTIFUL?"
"Well, you know me very well pal, I'm never amazed by someone's looks!" I looked out the window and tried to picture her face, judging her beauty for the first time. "Yeah, she IS pretty" I finally admitted.
"Are you kidding me? I haven't seen such a beautiful girl since I left college" Amit sounded excited. "Ha ha..." I felt good as my best friend praised my most favourite person.

That was the first time Amit and Tina met. Then things began to change. Instead of Ice-cream parlours and rickshaw rides with only me, Tina began to join us both at Boomers and DBC. Soon, Tina and Amit became good friends. Everything was perfectly all right until one day. I was late that day by the blessings of modern traffic. To my wonder, I found none of them there! I wasn't so late that they would leave. One of our friends, Raju called out to me while I was wondering what to do.

"Hi, Whom are you waiting for, Rishan?"
"You know it very well. It's the same old fellow, Amit!" I gave him back a broad smile hiding my anxiety. "Oh-ho, then you must have missed him, buddy. He left half an hour ago with a tall girl. He was calling her 'Tina', I guess". "What? Where might have they gone?" I asked myself. I waited for 15 minutes more and then losing patience, I called Amit on his cell-phone. It rang for a long while before he received it. Amit sounded as if he was in a hurry and he apologised to me for not being there. "Sorry man! I'm just a little too busy with mom's shopping." Amit lied to me! For the first time in my life I found his voice shaky as if he was trying to hide something. I didn't feel like asking any further questions. The next day I called up Amit, "Hello Auntie. Is Amit home?" "How are you, Rishan? Is everything okay? Last night Amit came lately and didn't talk to anyone, he didn't even have his supper. He went out early in the morning" "Don't worry, Auntie, everything is fine." "Rishan, do you know anyone named Tina? She called Amit this morning and then he hurried out." "No, never heard of her".

That night around 12, my cell-phone started to ring with the special Airtel tone, which I had saved for Tina's number. Hearing the tone, I jumped out of the bed. "Hello Tina?" "Yea. Hi Rishan…were you sleeping?" " Nope… Listen Tina, what's wrong with you? Is everything okay? Did I do…" I tried my best to sound normal. "No Rishan, you had nothing to do with it. I am sorry for everything. Trust me Rishan, We...uh...I didn't mean to leave you that day without any forewarning" " Hey, there's nothing wrong with that. I myself was in a hurry as well. It's totally okay with me… Listen....' suddenly I heard the clicking sound of getting disconnected-my cell was out of charge.

The following evening, Amit and I were sitting on their rooftop. The sky was a bit reddish. " Rishan, you are my best friend and I want to be honest with you. It's all my fault, everything was…" Amit finally spoke up after a long silence. "No listen Amit, I didn't find anything wrong in that and you…" "Please let me finish, you guys were doing well until I came out of nowhere like 'jack in the box' and messed up everything. I want you to ask Tina out again, give her much time, and let her know more about your feelings you have for her. Tell Tina that..."

"Look Amit. I said, look at me…if I am your best friend then tell me the truth. Have you started to like Tina? I mean do you LOVE her?" "No Rishan. It's not like that. It's just…it's just an infatuation. And…" "Come on, Tina's just a friend, not that we've even proposed to each other. We just like each other's company. That's it! Not like I'm going to die for her and stuff. As far as I assume, you like her, and she does too. So what are you guys waiting for? Please don't pull me between you two because I'm no big deal in this case at all. And if I somehow feel that I had a slight role in this, then I swear, you both are going to miss a good friend!" I was wondering at my own power of tolerance and at the ease with which I told the biggest lie of my life. Still, for the first time, I also did see my best friend shedding tears like a child! They were tears of relief and of the achievement of something he eagerly longed for. My own tears ran down my cheeks, bearing the pain of losing my love and gaining the happiness of my friend back.

My story began with a cold wet evening. I was standing beside the street waiting for Tina outside Rashed Sir's. "Hi Tina. I need to talk to you about something. Can you manage some time for me? " "Sure". We took a rickshaw. Sitting next to her, I felt like it was for the last time. Then questions began to roll inside my head. Why is this happening to me? I truly loved her and dreamt of being with her forever. Why do I have to sacrifice? No. I can't, I just can't hurt Amit. He was the one who stood beside me when I was badly in need of a good friend. He showed me how to fight against frustration. I wouldn't even have been able to be Tina's friend if he hadn't helped me be confident enough.

We dropped at Yumyum, took a corner table and ordered for two coffees. " Rishan, I don't want to talk about that day anymore, for Heaven' s sake forget about." " No, Tina it's not about that day. It's about us. I mean, about me." "Sure, go on." "Well, you know our band member Samantha? I used to like her as a friend, never thought that she'd have any feeling about me inside. That day she asked me out… You know, it's true-she IS a sweet girl and I've always wanted to have a guitarist girlfriend…" I acted embarrassed. "Now Tina, you are my very good friend. Please show me a way to deal with this. I mean, I also like her and I want to show her how much I care too…" I couldn't read the puzzled expression on her face. She suddenly burst into laughter. "Wow, Mr. Romeo, so that's the big deal! Well, I'm not at all experienced about this but I'll surely help you out."

Things became easy again. We started to tease each other, fell laughing, kept quarrelling, just like before. That day on our way back home I relevantly brought Amit's topic. I tried to catch her reaction again. This time, no mistake! She loved him too! She had something exciting and refreshing in her voice when she was talking about him, which proved that she really loved him. Thank Heaven God gave me the power to stand it! What was I going to do? I was about to ruin some of our lives! At least these two of my beloved persons will be happy. Now I really feel free. There's no emptiness inside me anymore. I'm glad that I still have them as friends in my life. Isn't that enough? True friends…that's what I've always longed for…..

By Shahriar Ahmed

Couple culture on the footpath

We had an exam but suddenly our professor canceled it. So, suddenly getting freedom, we decided to celebrate it. Our first job was to select a victim. Yes, a victim to whose house we will go, have lunch and tea, and then come back home without thanking him/her. (Because it was his/her duty to entertain us.)

Anyway, after choosing the jerk, we started our journey towards her house. She lives in the Dhaka University Campus area. It's usually a very silent and wonderful area to live in. After a while, we decided to take a walk in the campus area. Suddenly one of my friends informed us that an exhibition was going on in the British Council. So, why don't we go there? What a great idea! So, left her house.

It was afternoon and the weather was great. We should've enjoyed the environment, but we couldn't. What we saw there, was very irritating and absurd. We saw many couples sitting on the footpath in the whole campus area. It seemed like a festival was going on. If they were just sitting there and gossiping, it would've been fine. Some couples were going a bit (!) too far. The most surprising matter was that they were not hesitating to carry on with what they were doing when they saw our large group passing by them. Isn't that GREAT?

One of my friends became slightly angry when we told her to close her eyes and walk straight. She asked, "Why?" Then she opened her eyes as wide as she could and began to walk very close past the couples. Whenever she saw any unsocial activity she asked that couple, "Ki Korso?" and then began to walk as fast as she could. Whenever she did that we would shout "Hey, don't disturb them. Can't you see they are very busy?" It was really fun.

We carried on until we entered the British Council. The exhibition was really great. God! People can be so creative! You won't believe it if you never saw one. There were big fish, a farmer, a snail, a broom, a gate named "heaven's gate" and many more large things made of bamboo. These were also very expensive.

When we got out of there it was late afternoon. The couples were still sitting on the footpath. Each couple was barely two feet away from other one. Don't they feel embarrassed? Two of my friends live in the campus area, near British council. They informed us that its the regular picture of this area. These couples have a mutual understanding among them. They usually don't disturb or interfere in other's activities. These couples have their own world. They remain there.

Before this "couple culture", hijacking was a regular problem in these areas. Now the terrorists don't dare to come here. At night my friends never dared to go to other "Paras" without a car. Nowadays, they can walk alone even at late night. No one disturbs them. No one even looks at them. If accidentally someone looks at, that is just a brotherly look, it doesn't have any bad intention.

The most astonishing thing is, these guys are neither D.U students nor do they belong to this area. They are outsiders. Just like at the T.S.C., at night these footpaths become a dating place for these outsiders. They sit here because there's no-one to disturb them, they don't have to pay to sit here and the most important thing is no one knows them. So, they have no-one to ashamed of. It is a matter of investigation, from where they come and where they go back. Don't they have family? Don't their parents scold them when they reach home lately? May be they don't even have a family.

It's very excruciating to see such unsocial activities in this area where thousands of students are studying to make a better future, an educated nation. It is very painful that other people who pass through these roads will think that these guys belong to Dhaka university, they are DU students. Where the reality is they are NOT.

By Desert Rose








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