"You've got a crush on him, haven't you?" Sameera asked, and I nearly spilled the pot of paint I had just picked up. "Of course not!" I spluttered. "What the hell gave you that idea?" I shrugged. "Just curious…you like him, though, a lot, don't you?" "I…" I began, and then stopped. How was I supposed to answer that? Of course I liked him…I mean, hello… sense of humour, well-loaded think tank, and oodles of charm… Did that have to mean that I had a crush on the kid?
I looked at the upper-right corner of the wall magazine, a small place I had allocated for a picture of my Mehryar if I ever got my hands on one, and that's when it struck me. I got along pretty well with Zaiyab. We were always cracking jokes, playing pranks on one another, and laughing together. This amity we had between us somehow drove home the fact that it was the kind of emotional closeness that was lacking in my relationship with Mehryar. There were times when I hated Zaiyab for reminding me of all the things that were wrong with this…thing I had with Mehryar.
"It's not what you think, Sameera," I told my sister. "You sure?" I pressed. "Of course I'm sure…girl…like, Mehryar?" "Oh, yeah, I forgot about that guy. He still hasn't called, has he?" Let's all applaud my sister's great tact, why don't we? I hugged myself as the memories came welling up.
I had met him seven years ago. Medium height, athletic build, nice regular features…he wasn't too bad-looking. His eyes were what really caught my attention, though. Large and liquid, fringed with sinfully long lashes, they looked like they belonged to a manga character. He turned as we walked in, and his obsidian gaze rested on me for a minute. "Hello, mushroom-head!" he called out, referring to my unflattering haircut. I felt myself blush. That was my first encounter with Mehryar.
"You've really done it this time, Ridita!" my classmate said, shaking her head reprovingly, as our teacher charged off, fuming over the script of the school play, which I had prepared. I bit my lip, my eyes welling up with tears. "I didn't mean…" I began, but the other girl was gone. I sat down heavily on the nearest chair. The library was quiet, the cold air from the AC adding to the cold feeling at the pit of my stomach. A warm hand came to rest on my shoulder, making me jump. I turned around, and my heart sank. Mehryar. I tried to steel myself against the onslaught of taunts I was sure would follow. To my surprise, he just squeezed my shoulder, and smiled at me. I had never seen a more beautiful smile. "Don't worry about it." I had to fight back my tears. My pink-framed spectacles slid halfway down my nose. With his free hand, Mehryar used an index finger to push them back into place. "Instead of spending your tears here, go find that old geezer, throw yourself at his feet, and keep bawling until he's embarrassed enough to forgive you." It was a jest, but sounded like a plan that would work. I shot to my feet, and started heading towards the exit. Turning at the door, I smiled back at Mehryar. Thank you, I mouthed. He grinned and flashed me a thumbs-up sign before going to join his friends. From that day onwards, I stopped hating him.
My cheeks were wet long before I realised I had been crying. Something soft landed on my lap, and I found a packet of tissues. I looked up to see my sister hanging the magazine against the wall. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think maybe Zaiyab is a better choice than Mehryar…at least he doesn't make you cry." If you ever see our wall magazine, you'll notice a splash of colour on one side of it, which doesn't quite belong there. It was caused when I flung a paint pot at the magazine, hoping to hit my sister.
I smelt him and knew he was there before he could sneak up behind me; the faint sweetness of candyfloss underneath a patina of cigarette smoke. "Still thinking about it?" he asked, his warm breath fanning my ears and making me shiver with apprehension. Had he guessed my thoughts? I slowly swivelled around, meeting his glance with my heart in my mouth. "He'll call soon, don't worry." Zaiyab smiled at me, and I relaxed. He eyed my book of sketches where it poked out of my satchel. I followed his eyes, and moved to hide it out of sight, but he was faster, snatching it out of my way. "Give that back!" I yelled, causing Ishaan and Tanjina Apa from the next cubicle to turn and stare. "In due time, kid," he drawled in a perfect imitation of the tone I always took when trying to put him in his place. He walked away, flipping through the pages. Seething with annoyance, I returned to my computer, and went on proof reading. I could hear Ishaan and Zaiyab commenting on my drawings, and smiled smugly in spite of myself, knowing that most of them were well done. The voices came closer, and I steeled myself for the teasing comments I knew they'd make. Sure enough, Ishaan spoke up, "Hey, Rids, let me take it home…the sketches will be make prettier toilet paper than your stories on page 6." He chuckled to take the edge off the comment. Zaiyab hugged the book close to his chest. "I'll take it home and keep it close to my heart," he stated with mock solemnity. I felt my stomach leap. "I'll take myself off to the canteen," Tanjina Apa called from behind them. "Come, Ridita, let's leave these monkeys here." As we got up, Ishaan yelled out. "I've got a better idea…let's go out to The Hotel."
We climbed down the stairs arguing. Tanjina Apa didn't want to risk the editor's annoyance by leaving the premises, while Ishaan wanted a real meal. Zaiyab took the stairs two at a time, still clutching my sketchbook. I clambered down after him, trying to get at it. My foot slipped, and I missed a step. Losing balance, I skidded down, vainly groping for a handhold, my fingers clawing the walls where the railings should have been. I landed in a crumpled heap on the landing, where the others had stopped. Tanjina Apa let out an exclamation of concern, but it was Zaiyab who pulled me up by the arm, and held me by the elbow. "Are you alright?" he asked, his eyes probing mine. When I nodded at him, he broke into peals of laughter, the sound reverberating in my bones. "Man! You collapsed like a deck of cards." I began to grin, feeling foolish. Ishaan joined in. "Yeah, talk about really falling for Zaiyab." The grin promptly disappeared.
"The Hotel" as the four of us referred to it, was located on the other side of the street. Zaiyab stole a surreptitious glance at my feet, checked to see that I was wearing comfortable walking shoes this time, and then looked at the traffic. Smiling at me, he addressed Ishaan. "Let's take the underpass today." The underpass was an evil-smelling place, dimly lit, the grime-laden stairs squelching under our shoes. "Rids, stay behind me," Zaiyab instructed, moving in front of me. "Sure you want to risk having me falling on you?" I joked. "I wouldn't mind it, but I don't want you landing on this muck and hurting yourself." I was glad that the darkness hid my vexation as I mutely obeyed him.
We stepped out into the light again, blinking to adjust our vision. The rest of our journey involved a traipse over an obstacle course of potholes and piles of bricks that crowded the pavements. Zaiyab took off at his customary fast trot. Accustomed to his movements, I fell into pace with him, and within moments, we had left the other two behind. "Slow…down…let them catch up with us," I panted. An indignant Ishaan panting and puffing, finally caught up with us, Tanjina Apa in tow. "Gee, don't be that eager to leave your chaperones behind." Sometimes, I could gleefully murder that guy.
The Hotel was at its peak hour, and we made a mad dash for the nearest available table. I was glad to find that Tanjina Apa, and not Zaiyab, was seated next to me this time. However, the relief was short-lived. He lit another cigarette, and blew the smoke into Ishaan's face, which led to a scuffle, and Zaiyab dragged his seat next to mine. The food came then, and we all attacked it with gusto. Gradually, the mood relaxed as we took up discussions about different assignments. Ishaan had loads of anecdotes to share, and Tanjina Apa had opinions to state about every one of them, and the two of them were soon engaged in a heated argument that excluded us. I felt a knee nudge my thigh, and turned to find Zaiyab smiling at the other two. He wrapped a bead bracelet around his wrist and held his hands out to me. "Need help with the clasp." His smile was so utterly childish, I felt some of my resentment dissolve. As I bent over to fasten it, he asked, "Has he called yet?" I shook my head. Suddenly, I didn't want to be sitting there with them anymore. It took a supreme effort for me to meet Zaiyab's questioning gaze with a smile on my lips.
"If you lovebirds are done gazing adoringly into each other's eyes, can we get back to the office?" Ishaan's teasing comment shattered the tension. Tanjina Apa stated very matter-of-factly, "I've heard of incidents where people can fall in love if they maintain eye-contact for long enough". I grit my teeth and sucked in my breath. This was turning out to be a long day…
Evening came and found me sitting in front of the wall magazine again, clutching my cell-phone. "Call me, Mehryar, damn it…make that call!”
By Sabrina F. Ahmad
Historians in Dhaka are rejoicing at the unearthing of ancient love poetry that allows us to look further into the Bengali psyche when it comes to love. The discovery came when historians were digging through the vaults of
The poems are being released in the original Bangla, with translations, for Tk 1500, from all sorts of air-conditioned shops for rich people who are far too good to stoop to the level of dirty dirty poor people, yet still want to keep a part of Bangladeshi tradition in their hearts (and living rooms and bookshelves).
beautiful quatrain expresses this joys and innocence of young love:
Here, in this simple one-line verse, the lovers are likened to the stars, in a heavenly display of the infinitude of love:
amaar Madonna, ami Michael Jackson.
By Nasir Gold
morons stand on a cliff with their arms outstretched. One has some
the Psychic Hotline and Psychic Friends Network have launched
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