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A few rules for dating my teenage sibling

'NO! Dating is an absolute 'no-no' for you little sister! You are only THIRTEEN!' I shrieked.

I scowled over my sister's ignorance. She hasn't even settled down in the new posh school and she is talking about dating. I was determined to prevent her from doing so.

Hold it…wait a second; maybe I am being an oldie in this matter. Maybe things have changed since I had my first butterflies in my stomach back when I was thirteen. But, given the concerned (read 'vixen') me, dear sis, I would 'allow' you to date…according to my rules.

RULE 1: Date must not look like Hulk: How I hate muscles in little kids. Those little pests wearing little lumps as their biceps! And muscles mean strength! Strength means showing off in public and at other times, hospital bills. Now I don't want my little sister to be stuck with a guy like that. What if you break up and then go out with the perfect guy…and…and then this Hulk gets jealous, charges up with Boost and Shark Energy drink and then kicks his butt?

RULE 2: Date must not look like Dexter: Yes, yes I know guys who wear spectacles are smart and everything, but most of the times they are wearing it for show-off. Trust me, I have seen eighteen year olds wearing spectacles without power. And why do they wear these, you ask?

Well they say, 'I look absolutely smart when I wear it!' Looks can be absolutely deceiving dear sister, and even more deceiving when it comes to guys who wear spectacles with a camera phone, roaming around like he is an absolute cool-dude. Oh for Pete's sake, you look like a crow wearing peacock's feathers (I have been reading too much Bangla lately)!

RULE 3: Date must not have a car, let alone posh cars: Bangladesh is NOT a place to race I dare say! Unfortunately, not many rich guys understand that nowadays. At odd hours, they roam around in front of their date's veranda trying to show off how loud his car can get with humongous silencers! I mean why the heck scientists invent a silencer? Rich guys with cars are a no-no for you, my baby sister. I don't want you to die a premature death while racing in a busy road in traffic-invested Bangladesh. (Come to think of it, Bangladesh is getting richer with all those cars around!)

RULE 4: Date must have a mobile phone (without camera): AND I must have his mobile number before I can date allow you guys on a date. I would call and check every five minutes so that Mr. Gorgeous keeps his hands off you. I would SMS every 7 minutes to say that it is time he drops you home. Plus mobile phones nowadays mean at least he had the money to afford one!

RULE 5: Date must not look like Brad Pitt: Brad Pitt is mine! Go search another guy! Hmph!

RULE 6: Date must not be a fan of Hindi Serials: What is he, a khallamma or a nani? Guys who watch Hindi serials have blocked brain-cells! The serials will change his mindset! I mean each and every serial talks about three things in three stages: First adolescent stage talks about how the teenage girl grows up loving her first love. Second stage talks about how the girl gets married to the childhood sweetheart and starts having internal family fights. Third stage shows the fight between hubby and wife, ultimately ending in divorce. End of story! Now I would not want your life to be like that dear sister. Make sure he watches absolutely no soaps.

RULE 7: Date must have proper hygienic capabilities. This is a pretty straightforward rule. Maybe you would agree with me on it. Picking nose in public, yawning without placing hand in his mouth, not brushing teeth thrice a day, all these disgust me. I do not want to see a pair of yellow teeth flashing at me when he comes to drop you off at home!

RULE 8: Date must not be obsessed with tech-gadgets: If your date is obsessed with cool laptops, mobile sets, PDAs and mp3 players…then I bet you have to give him a gadget gift on his birthday. Expense my sweet sister, is something I rather not have!

RULE 9: Date must not have a love affair with music: I am talking about all those cool teenagers popping around town, wearing all black and carrying heavy metallic moneybags with chains hanging in them. No, I am not saying they look bad. In fact they look pretty cool. But most guys who fall in this visual category are preoccupied with music, music and only music. If you ever hang around with this sort of date and his friends, you would know what I mean. You are not musically oriented my sister, in fact not many of the girls are, and you will not understand what riffs and double bass means. And I, being a responsible concerned older sister of yours, would not want you to stare blankly when your date will have a conversation with his pals.

RULE 10: Date must not be a wannabe punkster: Do you know what is the problem with guys who fall in this category? Most of them have holes in their ears just like girls. Some go to extreme piercing by pinching their tongues, belly buttons, eyebrows and lips. Those wee little things might hurt you sis. I do not want you to choke on the lip piercing on the guy, when you are about to…well…erm…do 'stuff'!

Hmm…that is about it! All my rules lay bare in front of you. Date any guy you want who is four inches above your height and who does not fall into the above categories. I am a responsible sister.

I know MOM would kill me if she knows I am allowing you to do so, but I know my limits. That is why I made the rules. Oh and did I mention the date must not look like Tom Cruise? If he does look like him, just let me have his mobile number first. THAT is an order!

By Critico Nino

Book review

Mila in Love

Someone carried you in for three hundred days, someone carried you home
Someone sang you lullabies, someone cleaned your back
Someone gave you Shore O, someone high five!
Someone gave you candy, someone cheered you up
Someone gave a hand, someone just a smile
Someone gave you life, and a kilo of your brain
Someone made the paper, and the ink in your pen…
So who deserves the glory anyway?
~ Theotonius Gomes “Heyalee” ~

Indeed, what we become is often determined, or at least influenced by the people we grow up with. The different relationships we have shape our lives, and colour our thoughts.

This is the theme of Dina Mehta's “Mila in Love”. As the name suggests, it is a love story. Filial love, unrequited love, forbidden love, tainted love, youthful passion, love gone wrong…you'll find it in all shapes and forms throughout the book.

The protagonist of this story is Sharmila, a Parsi, recently returned home from the States, after having struggled in vain to find a niche for herself over there. Upon coming home, she finds herself reflecting back on her childhood and the relationships she has had with everyone that was part of it.

Sharmila refers to the younger version of herself as 'Mila', which is what everyone used to call her, and in a ruthlessly wry and comically self-deprecating tone, recounts Mila's adventures, thoughts and obsessions.

The rebellious, thirteen year-old Mila had been in love with the handsome Rayhaan, a Parsi-Punjabi hunk who was enamoured of Mila's gorgeous mother, Shivani. If this isn't complicated enough, Shivani was a neurotic, gradually sliding into insanity, while her husband Naren had succumbed to the charms of his mistress, the widow Gita. In a chaotic world where her mother is slowly becoming a frightening stranger, her father is gradually descending from the pedestal where she had placed him, and her feelings for Rayhaan are gradually blooming into a full-blown obsession, Mila grows up, a perceptive, sensitive, and insecure young girl. At one point, not long after her mother's suicide, she decides enough is enough, and flies off to the States.

Some scars run deep, though, and Sharmila returns home as a jaded, but mature twenty-something spinster, and try as she might to put her past behind her, Mila is never far away. So does this story have a happy ending? Read on to find out.

Peppered with believable, likeable, and pitiable characters, each brought to life through Sharmila's vivid and witty descriptions, the story flows seamlessly back and forth between the past and the present, tackling issues like infidelity, to social superstitions, to identity crises. It's definitely more than just a love story, and it's yours for Tk 421 at Etc. So hurry and get yourself a copy!

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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