Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, June 14 , 2007


By Shehtaz Huq

It was out again. It filled the darkened room with light, brilliant, flashing, many-colored light. It blinded us, blinded us all. We had to shield our eyes, but once the dancing lights that pressed against our closed eyelids went away, we were relieved. Finally, we had got back the light in our lives.

It flickered, as it often does. We could tell. Adjusting to it, after such a long absence, would take some time. After all, it had been weeksor maybe monthssince we had seen such brilliance. And the light not only lit our faces, it spread to our souls, and warmed us from within. It promised us hope, it promised us a new day, and it promised us many more beginnings. We knew, this time around, there could be no more despair.

The whole family left everything behind and gathered in that one room where the light shone. There was no need to talk, no need to make any useless comments. We just sat, sat and smiled. Parents, children, grandmaeveryone just sat and smiled, and smiled and sat. There was happiness all around. Happiness was all-pervading. It would soon make life better again.

And why shouldn't it? After all those days spent in darkness, crouching in fear, weeping at the loss of hope, we deserved it. It was our right. The heavens had deprived us, had showered on us misery upon misery. Treachery had dwelt among us. Anger stoked the fire. Grief smoothed our ruffled feathers, whereas Joy and Happiness lurked in far-flung corners of our existence, cowering in fear. Many months did we spend in this hellish existence; many months did we look over our shoulders and shrink away from darkness. Well, at least we tried to. But darkness always found us. Darkness always prevailed.

Not anymore…
Now we had reason to hope again. I smiled. I couldn't help it. I saw the ecstasy on everyone's faces. I saw their eyes shine, and their hands shake with pure, unadulterated joy. What could I say to them to make their happiness overflow? Nothing, really. There was nothing more to be said.

The light made patterns on the cool, mosaic floor. The children laughed at the many shadowy shapes. They probed the shadows. The shadows moved along, playing an enchanting game of light and darkness. We were all delighted. Delighted, not only because we had reason to be happy again, but delighted Because it took so little to accomplish so much.

There was nothing more to be said and nothing more to be done. There was only Happiness to dive into…and bathe in…for the rest of…

Suddenly there was a shriek, a piercing, glass-shattering, earth-trembling shriek. A cold, hard, accusatory stare and a shaking finger pointed at me. It was my grandmother. Suddenly, she had become formidable, even beast-like. She rose unsteadily to her feet and screamed, 'You!'

I almost fell out of my chair. Ten pairs of eyes were on me.
'You worthless little piece of mud!' she bellowed, coming closer to me, contorting her sixty-year-old face into an evil grimace. 'Why on earth did you leave the curtains parted? Don't you see the sunshine is casting a reflection on the television screen? Doesn't it hurt your eyes, stupid girl?'

I hurried to the window, hurried to the indiscriminating chink of sunshine that was penetrating our little world of happiness. I quickly closed the curtains. The shame burned bright and deep.

I felt like a disgrace, for letting something so vile enter a world so pure. With eyes half-closed with fear, I looked at the television. It was still one, still shining bright. I sighed in relief.

Good Lord. How could I have come this close to single-handedly wrecking our worldagain?

Ahsan Sajid

Behold! No really, just do it. For once, despite being what you are, which is a human being, just let yourself listen, let yourself see, let yourself feel the truth. Life is too abstract to ascertain. Have we realized that yet? If we had then, why would we even try? What's the point of philosophy? Life basically has no meaning; at least no meaning a human being is supposed to find. One should give up trying to find the meaning, because there is none. Meaning is volatile, it changes. Are you sure your ability to accept change is volatile as well? Verily, stop trying!

A bag should be seamless. The beauty of a bag lies in its seamlessness, while other things of course matter, like the colour of the bag, its material, its make. Why, even its brand. I have a little heart shaped bag. I often like digging into it. One knows fully well the pleasure of coming across a forgotten twenty-taka note. Dig deeper. Gum. That was a fun day. (Sigh) Exams were near, only excuse we friends had to meet up was forming a 'study group'. The obvious venue was either of our homes. 'Fun' was out of the question this close to the exams. We made it happen nonetheless. We spat chewed paper at each other. Childish but fun. I came up with the novel idea of spitting gum, which idea was quickly adopted, as it was prone to be. I have kept this little piece of gum, this little piece that my then 'best friend forever' had spat at me. A souvenir if you will.

Dig deeper. A crumpled piece of paper. Not any paper. It was my first piece of writing that had gotten printed. I had it cut out of the magazine to keep with me at all times, for luck if you please. It had stuck with me through thick and thin, its form fast withering with mine. I remember when I had first bought the bag. I remember the bark of cinnamon I had for some reason once put in it. The agreeable aroma still remains. I try but cannot find the bark anymore. This bag had odds and ends; basically, junk! I guess today was just not my day. No forgotten twenty-taka note to be found! (Sigh deeper).

The other day a friend and I were sitting in front of a lake. Every time this young child would throw a piece of crisp in the water, the fishes would be swarming around it, some even jumping out of the water, while others, trying to maybe bend the aquatic decorum a little bit, would be pushing each other out of the way. After the boy had left, my friend with a certain glee, threw a tiny rock in the same place in the water. Again the fishes swarmed, and jumped, and pushed, and hungered for… and realizing their mistake soon dissipated. This provided unending amusement to my friend and I. Again he threw a piece of rock and the swarming, the jumping, the pushing and hungering and imminent drowning down repeated itself. We continued with the exercise till we tired ourselves with it, which was no small feat. We never could tire the fishes. And no one can tire a man chasing money. And when the money turns out to be just as fake as money, he pities having jumped at the chance to grab it, and again with great distance, money manages to allure him back to it. It's a vicious cycle, really.

Sometimes I like scrutinizing my bag, looking it over with much interest. It is these moments of perusal when I come across the same decision. The bag is beautiful! It is made of the softest silk. Sometimes rubbing it against the skin has a certain indistinguishable pleasure. This very indistinguishable feature of the bag drives me to a very disagreeable rage. Why? Why can I not figure out the beauty? The exquisite beauty! The pristine condition of the bag even ages after it was bought! This beauty was to be appreciated, from afar. When I questioned this beauty, I lost the magical feeling of reverie around it. When I tried to understand it, I ended up muddling up the facts that I already knew. A lot of other bags had tags about the maker. Some even had the maker's name on the front of the bag, free advertising they call it. No such luck was mine. I sometimes wish I knew who made the bag, but I don't, and I guess that way, I love the bag more. I love its mystery, I love its allure, and I love its poetry.



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