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The day ended with a theatrical flourish. First the sun made a stage exit, behind the star spangled curtains of twilight. While the sky above changed from pink and violet to scarlet and mauve, then a deep blue, the city roads below swelled up with the homebound traffic amidst a fanfare of horns and revved engines and rickshaw bells and human conversation. There was a flurry of activity both above and below and finally the lights dimmed, and a hush settled down as evening descended.

It was, Siyam decided, a most ridiculously maudlin way to describe a perfectly mundane event like sunset. Yet given the high drama of the day's events, she supposed it was only fitting that her thoughts would take such a direction.

The morning had begun with a scene with her mother. "Your sense of time management appalls me! A young woman your age would be a wife and a mother, managing her own household, and you can't even get to your classes in time! " And so it went on, while she mutely downed her porridge, gathered her books and walked out. Her ears were still ringing with admonitions as the elevator made its swift descent.

The day got progressively worse. A traffic snarl ensured that she was fifteen minutes late for the first class, which meant that the only seat available to her was way in the back next to Nose-picker Nazrul, who…well, the name says it all, doesn't it?

Then, a hot, dusty walk to meet the teachers presiding over the magazine committee that the final soft copy of the mag had already been written on a CD, and was ready to go to print, minus the message from the club president, who hadn't delivered on time.

Only, it turned out that the sneaky guy had anticipated she would do such a thing, and had sent his copy straight to the teacher, who now grinned sheepishly as he opened the file for her to proof-read, because what was the club magazine without a message from the president?

The editing (or re-writing, rather) took up enough time to make her miss lunch and get late for her next class, which was a nightmare, considering she had missed the previous lesson on account of another similar contingency, and she was completely lost. The teacher, used by now to her involuntary but frequent absenteeism, was understandably unsympathetic.

By the time her classes ended and her car came to pick her up, Siyam was close to tears. It had been a very trying day. Now, as her car stopped at yet another red light at yet another intersection, she wondered why she had bothered to get out of bed at all. After her fourth mournful sigh in the past five minutes, her exasperated chauffeur, misunderstanding the reason for her bad mood, muttered, "Apa…this is nothing. Wait till next week, when Ramadan starts." He meant the traffic, of course, but Siyam shuddered at the prospect of a whole month of fitful sleep, traffic jams, and worst of all, no food. The mere thought of fasting made her stomach grumble, and she remembered she had not eaten since morning.

A soft tap on the window interrupted her melancholy thoughts. Turning towards the sound, Siyam saw a grubby little face pasted to the window. The child, hardly eight or ten years old, was bone-thin and dressed in rags. "Apa…
koeyta taka din..khida lagse…bhaat khamu" (Apa, please give me some money. I am hungry, and need some rice). Siyam's stomach gave another rumble as she stared at that bony face. A sense of wonderment, brought on by her own hunger, washed over her.

The fasting ends in a month for me. I don't even have to fast if I don't really want to. I have a choice.

She doesn't. Siyam fumbled in her purse and fished out a ten-taka note. She rolled down the window and handed it to the kid. At once, the pitiful whine disappeared, and was replaced by a wide grin of cherubic sweetness.

The traffic lights turned green, and the car started to pull away. "Thank you apa!" the kid called out after her. Thank you, Siyam thought. For the first time, she truly understood what 'siyam' was about.

Sabrina F Ahmad
Dear readers, starting this week, we are holding a month-long "Ramadan tales" contest. Keeping Ramadan in mind, you can send us your original short stories on a variety of themes like charity, generosity, self-restraint…in short, everything that Ramadan stands for. The stories should not exceed more than 800 words, and should be sent to risingstars@thedailystar.net

Book review

Rage of Angels

Let's say Mario Puzo, John Grisham and Judith Mcnaught meet for lunch and decide to work on a story together. What should it be about, they wonder.
"Brilliant lawyer faces unlikely odds alone, and comes out on top" declares Grisham.
"A handsome, intelligent, and coldly lethal don who wields absolute power" says Puzo.
"A beautiful, brilliant woman who goes from rags to riches through sheer hard work and force of character" states Mcnaught.
If the aforementioned scenario ever took place, the resulting story would be very like Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels.
The story is about Jennifer Parker, an attractive, dynamic young lawyer, fresh out of law school, hoping to fulfill her father's dream of seeing her join the Bar. A careless mistake in the middle of her first appearance at court threatens to scotch her career even before it begins, but the sharks that are after Parker have underestimated the grit and determination of this young lady. She fights back, keeps her license to practice, and bounces back.
Determined to put the past behind her, she works the courts, starting at the very bottom, with low-level cases, and learns the ropes as she works her way up. A chance case is thrown at her, an open-and-shut murder case that seems doomed from the start. Yet, through the power of sheer instinct and a belief in her client, Parker wins it for her, and the success catapults her to superstardom. It also brings her to the notice of two people: Adam Warner, a brilliant District Attorney, and Michael Moretti, successor to the don of one of New York's most powerful Mafia families. Both want her. One, the father of her son, can never truly give himself to her. The other, her strongest ally, can destroy her. How does Jennie juggle? Read the book to find out.
The book is vintage Sheldon, and yet it isn't. He spins the tale with his usual flair, maintaining the reader's interest with his character development, and throwing a few well-timed twists in the right places to keep the story flowing. Those who have read his other early works will notice a difference in his storytelling, however. It reads at times like a Grisham law thriller or a Puzo Mafia masterpiece, and holding these two different threads together is a heroine worthy of Judith Mcnaught herself.
This book is one of the newest ones to hit the traffic intersections around the city, and can be got for anything between Tk 100-200. Those who prefer the ethical option of buying original books should find it at any one of the big bookstores around town for Tk 300-500. Whichever you choose, don't forget to give Rage of Angels a try.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

You can do it!

Yes, I'm talking to you. I know how you sometimes feel. Assignments, friends, parents, teachers, so much to cope with, the list is endless. Hopelessness of continuous failure makes you want to give up in sheer exhaustion. You just can't take the pressure anymore. But you know what? There is a way.

Did you ever realize that when you are determined, when you fix your mind onto something, you can easily achieve it? Take for instance, in the morning, when getting up for school, you feel exhausted and want to sleep but as soon as think for instance "Hey I have an important class today" or "I'm going to miss all the fun", your determined and your mind fights away the sleep and you can easily get up.

The mind can be truly amazing. Many a times we do not feel well but it is not that we are physically unwell but because we are facing some kind of mental strain. Many of you fall sick before your exams and it is nothing but the pressure. Many people visit the doctors for conjured up problems.

Try this: When you have come down with fever, occupy your thoughts elsewhere instead of feeling sorry for yourself and moaning. Pretend you're not sick and try sitting up or even stand up, look into the mirror, smile at your complexion and even try on some make-up. You can also try inviting some friends over or even easier, call them up. You will get better soon enough. Many hospitals in the U.S. have make-up carts for their patients in order to make them feel better.

Many people are obsessed with their weight even though their skinny as a bone. Again many people are so fat but they can't stop eating. They find a kind of comfort in food. Its all up to the mind and the thought process. Many a times you aren't even really hungry but just think you are and so indulge yourself. However if you are determined, you can lose weight in weeks or keep your mind diverted from food. Or you can always look on the bright side and think of all the pros of being fat.

Always be optimistic and firm. Think of a bright side to everything. Suppose you broke up with your boyfriend. Instead of sulking in a corner, start anew. Think of yourself better off without him and of all the cute guys you've been missing out on. It will surely get on his nerves seeing you all confident and ready to face anything. Even try flirting!

The mind can even make you feel younger then your age and this will reflect on you physically!

So for upcoming quizzes, think " At least I wont have to study that again." Or " I can show them how well I can do."

For assignments " Hey might as well get it over with"
For your interfering parents " It's very natural they worry, after everything that's going on, I would've probably done the same thing.
For your peers well … do I have to tell you everything?
So fight all the fatigue, weariness, distress and strain with a vengeance. Start each new day with enthusiasm and zeal. Never let the pressure get to you. It's all up to you because a healthy mind means a healthy body.

By Afrina Choudhury


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