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Walking down the memory lane

It was February of 2004. I saw an advertisement in the Rising Stars (RS). They needed some new contributors. In a moment I made up my mind and started to look forward to that auspicious day for a walk-in interview. In the morning I got my CV printed.

A copy of my CV always remains in my PC as my friends and I are experts in applying for different types of jobs ranging from that of company representatives (where our job would be to woo prospective clients for the company) to translators. I think, after a few days, when we all will graduate from university and exposed to the bare bones of the skeletal job market then maybe we will give even the gate-keeper's job a try. Don't laugh boys, modern day women are guarding the biggest shopping malls of Dhaka city.

Anyway, at that time I was eyeing a vacancy in the RS. Ok let's give it a try. But none of my friends were interested. But I did not want to venture into The Daily Star office alone so I tempted one of my friends with a treat as a reward for accompanying me. At first she was not interested even for the sake of the scrumptious bait so that day I called her tirelessly from morning to noon. At the eleventh hour she agreed. But she told me that she had no sample write-up. I asked her to write anything that comes to her mind within the next one hour and get that typed at once.

After solving my 'company' problem I tipped myself to relax. But another disaster was lurking for me. For a sample write-up I thought a published one would do so I did not write anything new. Then I heard that a published one would not do. They wanted something that was not published before. A small part of sky caved in on my head. I did not have anything that was not published before and I also did not have enough time to write a new one. I started searching my PC frantically in the hope of finding something that was not published before.

After scouring for ten minutes I found a piece that was nestling inside my PC for the last two years in the jungle of not-so-important files (I do not know why I have this bad habit of saving anything and everything). This prose contained the narration of a very personal event and emotions of mine which I thought was not fit to share with people outside my family circle so I never thought of publishing it before. But this time this write-up literally saved me. But still I was feeling very uneasy about this write-up. But at that time I had nothing to do but submit the prose as a sample.

In due time Mumu (my friend) and I reached the DS office. We were led to the RS office where there was only other applicant - a girl. Then Sabrina approached us and wanted to know which one of us was brave enough to face the interview board first. Mumu and I swapped quick looks as neither of us had the heart. But the other girl promptly stood up and walked off with Sabrina.

So Mumu and I were relieved that we did not have to face the interview board (as if we were spared for good). We thought that the girl's interview would be over in a few minutes but it took very long and we started sweating, imagining ourselves on the wrong side of the table with some fierce-looking person grilling us with tough questions from the other side of the table.

Then we started regretting not having equipped ourselves with a bit of general knowledge, or news on current affairs before coming here. Mumu asked me in a quavering voice 'Do you know the year the DS was founded?' 'No but I know it is more than ten years because I saw a fat DS at its 10th anniversary a few years ago'--was the best answer I could think of. Realizing the miserable plight of our general knowledge again we started pushing each other to be the next one to face the board.

Suddenly there was an influx of candidates in the small space of the RS office and seating became a problem. So we all were led to the seminar room which was huge and fairly accommodated us all. But now we found with horror that each and every of the other candidates was either in school or a college student and we were the only university students.

We became so embarrassed in finding ourselves in the midst of a bunch of chirping 'children' that we wished to vanish from that place. Everybody was asking each other about which school/college s/he was attending. Eventually it was our turn to answer the dreaded question, and we meekly informed the curious children that we were from the university.

'But you look like school or college students!'
'That's why we sneaked in'.

Another thing that worried us was that that pretty much everybody was from an English Medium background. And needless to say they were chirping in English--a fact which made us, two creatures with Bengali Medium background, more miserable. Naturally we were not as fluent in spoken English as they were but as everybody was speaking in English we had to venture a few words in English in reply.

At one point we grew tired of keeping up with the other candidates, and considered throwing in the towel and fleeing. Mumu and I tried to concoct a daring escape plan, but before we knew it, we were being ushered upstairs to face the interview board.

Several candidates were done with their interviews by now, but the two of us still couldn't bug up the courage to go in. Finally, realising that the interview was inevitable, I gathered up all my bravado and got up and strode to the table.

Once I got there, I felt a lot more confident. A very nice-looking woman (who later turned out to be DBB, the RS editor) took my interview and she asked me a very few simple questions and my interview was over in a momentquite contrary to the horrific visions I had conjured up inside my mind.

After Mumu's interview was over we started for home and she started regretting having surrendered her pretty clip file along with her papers to the Editor. She made me promise her that if they selected me, then I would have to find her clip-file.

After two weeks (after I despaired of ever being called) Sabrina called me one nice evening to say that I was selected. When I told Mumu she acted as though she already knew about this and to my utter dismay reminded me of my promise! So my first mission in the RS was to retrieve Mumu's clip-file. Whether I got it or not is another story, but this is pretty much how I ended up here.

By Durdana Ghias

Book review
Du Maurier's Rebecca

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." The opening line of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca is among the most memorable in twentieth century literature. The author was born in London, and came from an artistic family. She is best known for Rebecca, which was started in 1937 and was published in 1938, and was filmed in 1940 by the famous Sir Alfred Hitchcock.

The story unfolds as a narration by the heroine, a young and timid woman who remains nameless throughout, the reason being that the author could not come up with a name. Furthermore, it was a challenge to write the whole story without naming her. However, this actually became more useful in strengthening the plot, because it proved to be a very effective way of making the character appear to be a lesser person than Rebecca; less confident; less capable; less attractive; and overall, less significant.

As the story begins, we find the heroine traveling around Europe with her husband, Maxim de Winter, harbouring memories of a beautiful home called Manderley. In a flashback of her life, we find that the heroine starts off as a paid companion to a wealthy and overbearing woman named Mrs. Van Hopper. While residing in a hotel in Monte Carlo, a chance meeting with the withdrawn and mysterious Maxim de Winter, and a short acquaintance with him finds our heroine madly in love with the older man, eventually leading to marriage, and returning to live in his ancestral home, the fabulous Manderley.

However, a black cloud hangs over their marriage. Even though in the beginning Maxim reveals little about his past or his first wife, the heroine begins to feel scared by the very mention of Rebecca, who had drowned in a cove near Manderley in the previous year. Reaching the house the heroine is overcome by the beautiful and enchanting Manderley, but she is also haunted by a feeling of not belonging, and the words of Mrs. Van Hopper, "I think you are making a big mistake and one that you will bitterly regret...Of course you know why he is marrying you, don't you? The fact is that he nearly went mad in that empty house of his."

While the first lines proved to be somewhat true, the latter lines were hardly accurate. The house is far from empty. Rebecca's ghost still lives on in Manderley, and is further brought to life by the sinister Mrs. Danvers, who is the housekeeper in charge of Manderley, and was Rebecca's personal maid and admirer. Despite encouragement from Maxim's sister, Beatrice, and his friend and house overseer, Frank Crawley, the heroine struggles with life at Manderley. She begins to feel that she can never compare favourably to Rebecca, who is beautiful, talented, and still commands the heart of her husband, even though she is no longer alive.

As the story continues, the heroine digs deeper into the mystery of Manderley, and the true, tyrannical, egoistical nature of Rebecca is revealed, and Maxim's horrifying past exposed. Readers are left hanging on every word as they try to decipher the actual situation under which Rebecca died, in fact, whether she really drowned, or whether she was, in reality, murdered.

Suffering along with the heroine as she struggles in a battle of wills with the formidable Rebecca, and desperately fights for her husband's affection, readers are brought to the end of the story, and the final demise of the great Manderley.

The plot of this story is very complex, as are the various characters who have all been vividly described, and who inject life into the story. Indeed, the entire concept is highly original and well thought out, which is characteristic of Daphne du Maurier, one of the best and highly celebrated English novelists and playwrights. However, the story does leave a lot of questions unanswered, and there have been numerous attempts to write sequels to Rebecca, by Susan Hill (Mrs. de Winter in 1993), Maureen Freely (The Other Rebecca in 1996) and Sally Beauman (Rebecca's Tale in 2001).

Undoubtedly the interest in Rebecca will continue for a long time to come, and this book is a must read for all those who love suspense-filled romantic novels. Even those who prefer to steer clear of romance novels, I would recommend this book, simply because it is intriguing and brilliantly portrayed.

By Rohini Alamgir

The christian son

"I am a rootless man
I keep no roots"-- said he.
The simple words echoed in he air.
And knocked his close ones' hearts.
"Yes I'll come to meet you
I'll be on time" -- promised he.
That promise shattered into pieces
And pierced our Queen of Spades."
Helping others is a pain to him
As his late father gained nothing out of this,
But it's a way to be near God;
"Helping all is a Bliss."
"I don't want to change"
-- announced he.
I ask," Is it bad to change your faults
to make your family
And friends happy?"
"The oath of Christianity makes me a better man"
-- Thanks he.
But the petty little broken promises,
Is that the way how a Christian should be?
"I'll keep connection with you, always"
-- prophesied he.
A" rootless" man saying such words.
I smile," How strange it seems to be?"

By Nusrat Islam Lopa

The dejected wave
Darkness dances in while lights fade away
Trust breaks down while falsities pave a way.
Beauty loses its charm as glamour creeps in
Perfection holds no glory as it conveys nothing.
Heavens do not shed any light upon lost souls
Afflictions pile up amidst high hopes' falls.
Compromise takes the other name of life
Promise only turns out to be a dramatic lie.
Friendship has fallen prey to formality
Admiration has suffered the blow of disparity.
Loved ones provide more pains than comfort
Strangers drop by with the glimpses of support.
Lady luck has left my side and deserted me alone
By the time my love returns my love, I will be gone.

By Mohammad Tanvir Hossain


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