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The other side of the coin

MALIHA looked at the mirror in her room. For the hundredth time, she fixed her hair, straightened her dress and checked her makeup. She wondered why Shams was taking so long and then suddenly her Motorola cell lit up.

After taking one last look, Maliha hurried down the stairs, dragging her coaching bag with her an appendage for her 'late' night class. She smiled to herself as she got into Sham's sleek black car. 'I managed to convince my dad to let me take out his baby for today' said Shams after they kissed hello. 'Only for you.' He took out a small package and handed it over to Maliha who pretended to be surprised. She knew exactly what was in it, having convinced her friend to go shopping with him so that she could get exactly what she wanted. 'Oh, a gift certificate at my favorite shopping mall!' she cried. 'That is so cool!' 'I would have never thought of it myself but Nahiyan gave me the idea; I knew you'd just love shopping your heart out.' Shams replied sheepishly. As Maliha hugged him she thought how for such a suave guy, Shams was so naïve.

After some minutes of being stuck in traffic jams, they finally reached their destination. In fact Shams wanted to stay longer in the privacy of the car but Maliha was adamant. She didn't want to give up too much too soon. They sat down at their reserved table with pink and red decorations every where and balloons filled hearts in very corner. When then waiter came to take their order, Maliha didn't even bother looking at the menu, she had it all memorized. 'I'll start with the appetizers, followed by meal no.6, a side order of no.21, accompanied by the special dish of the day and of course my favourite chocolate milkshake.' Shams looked at her in surprise. 'Of course' said the waiter as he scribbled to keep up with her. 'And you sir?' 'Uh, I'm fine thanks' replied Shams. 'I'll just have some orange juice for now.' Maliha smiled sweetly at him.

During the evening, Maliha got up several times to go to the bathroom. She went one last time after the food arrived by which time Shams was already grumpy. 'What?' she muttered into her vibrating cell phone as she pushed her way to the ladies washroom. 'Where are you? The DJ party's starting in an hour! Should I pick you up?'

'No, no!' whispered Maliha fiercely. 'I'll be there after in an hour.' 'Well come quickly. You know how long I've been dying to see you' crooned the male voice on the other end. 'I know' replied Maliha smugly.

She went back to the table and attacked her food with fervor. Shams had ordered in the meantime but his plate was diminutive compared to hers. She finished in 20 minutes and then ordered chocolate ice cream. After she finished that, she squeezed Sham's arm.

'I've had a great time tonight, darling' said Maliha her voice sugary. 'Really. It's been the best V-day ever. Sorry I ordered so much, it may not look like it, but I do eat a lot. 'Oh no, don't embarrass me like that' said Shams lightly. 'Do you have to go?' 'Yea, I don't want my parents to worry. But you don't have to drop me, I'll go by myself. It's safer that way.'

After a lot of protesting, Maliha finally got her way. She stepped into the cool night air and after dialing a number on her cell phone, she walked a few yards down the road. Soon, another red sports car drew up and the driver rolled down the window.

'Maliha doll' said the twenty something driver. 'I was so surprised to get your call…can I drop you somewhere?' 'If it's not a problem, sweetie' replied Maliha flirtatiously. 'For you? Anything.'

As Maliha got into the car she thought glanced at the billboard above her head, depicting happy normal couples on V-day. Everywhere she went, she was bombarded with images of happy-go-lucky couples holding hands and staring into each others eyes on Valentine's Day. That rarely happened to her. In fact she had given up on ever having a normal Valentines Day; this was how she liked to celebrate it.

By Nisma Elias

The hilsha and the rice - A musical

WITH all the hilsha and rice deal that's been going down, I was presented the opportunity to eavesdrop on a cross connection conversation between a Bangladeshi and an Indian poet, who deal with rice and fish and it was pretty interesting. I decided, right then and there, to share it with everyone I could. This is the real deal and I hope you have as fun reading it as I did, hearing it being sang out loud…weird but interesting. Some of the words are in Hindi or Bangla but I am sure they will be easy to understand.

Bangla Bhai*- Oh Woe! Why are Hilshas so few? I had 6 yesterday and now I only have two. I gave 3 to my neighbor and had one for dinner. And now my brothers and sisters want Hilsha too, am I really a sinner?

Indian Bhai*- Of course not neighbor, I paid you good cash. More than your brothers would, had you given them your stash.

B.B- Yes but now they need Hilsha too. But there are so few. Only two, only two. Oh! What am I to Do?

I.B- Raise some more, neighbor and now I shall pay you more. Fill my warehouses and markets, with your Hilsha galore.

B.B- Do not be so selfish, I am sure we need our share. I must give more to my own markets, in order to keep the prices fair.

I.B- Don't be a fool now; come lend me your ear. I will give you double price plus a handsome share.

B.B- Hmm… that is bribery and that I cannot take. Look at those behind bars, I shan't repeat their mistake.

I.B- But I need Hilsha neighbor, why can't you understand?

B.B- Bhajal aro beshi, for six months Hilsha export has been banned!

I.B- Kaun Kembakth made this rule? I shall not obey! Send me your two Hilsha's now, or you shall dearly pay!

B.B- But what am I to do? I cannot cheat twice!

I.B- Accha…I know surely there's a price!

B.B- No. Not At All. I don't think that smuggling's nice.

I.B- Oh! I am talking legal export, understand me Jesus Christ!

B.B- But How? How can that be done pray explain?

I.B- All you have to do is, travel on our new friendship train.

B.B- But to Kolkata? I think you are insane.

I.B- Dekho Bangalee, do not think twice!

B.B- Na re Baba Na, I don't think that's nice!

I.B- Fine fine, than now you should realize. I shall not supply you with anymore RICE!

B.B- Ki bolen? Maach toh ase, kintu lagbei Bhaath! (Bengali words)

I.B- Do mujhe Hilsha, or uthey gaa mera Haath! (Hindi Words)

B.I- Na bhaijaan, thamen. Bhengen na amar daath.

I.B- Fine if not my hand, tabh uthe ga meye meralaath.

B.B- But I have already ordered my share of some rice, man.

I.B- I'll stop the trucks from coming, yes that's a nice plan!

B.B- Na! Thik ase, I'll give you half of what I make. The other half is for my people and for those who eat our lakes.

I.B- Hmm…fine. I agree, now you can have rice too. Macche Bhaathe Bangalee, I shall send your rice for you.

B.B- Yes, fishless Indians, and let the train keeps us as friends. Neighbors we shall always remain, so let us help us out till the end.

So, there! That was the true and uncensored version of the conversion I heard and due to my excellent memory, I could note it down. Hope you all enjoyed. Let's see how we continue to help each other out and till then….keep the peace!

*names have been changed to protect privacy and also because I don't know them.

By Osama Rahman

Dialectic Confrontational

I played the scenario over and over again in my mind, steady like a drop of dew that falls off an autumn tree's leaf. I had yet to come upon a firm manner of speaking. Should I blame myself for it all? That would somehow ease the situation. But she had always been able to see right through me, as an owl sees through the heart of midnight. She would know I didn't mean it. Why couldn't she see through me as she always did, and see that she had pushed me to feel how I felt now?

I couldn't bring myself to have a real confrontation. I have never been much good at confrontations. It was one of the reasons we had reached where we were. I never could confront her with anything, ignoring matters as an old man would ignore time. We made our peace with the fact that I was not a talker. But making peace with something is different from understanding it.

As any budding couple, we had our share of trouble. But now that the bad times started to outweigh the good times, it was time to end it, as surely as it is time to shed unwanted after winter. If only I really could do it like I pictured it in my head.

“I'm sorry, but I don't think this is working. I don't think it would be fair on you for me to play along. I don't love you anymore and that's the truth. I don't know what exactly happened. But I won't blame myself completely. There isn't anyone else, no. There used to be you. Now there isn't.”

But saying it out aloud, in front of the person I still cared so much about, even if I don't love anymore, is a different thing entirely. If I could, I would have done it weeks ago. The guilt had started to take control of me. I spent my days in solitude, as a cerulean pond between two mountains, reflecting only the shadows of ghosts, with no streams to connect with to the river.

You see I would have ended it weeks ago. I had finally, after some deliberation, come upon that conclusion. Like a bird in migration my life was taking a route I had to be in control of. A route I could not risk. A route I wanted to be alone on. And I had decided to tell her. My decision firm on breaking her heart, as cruel as when nature must catch plagues.

But she had had the last word. I never could bring myself to face a confrontation. She made it easier for me. She had died.

And I was stuck. With my thoughts. With one last confrontation left ignored. She looked beautiful in death, as a blooming rose looks more beautiful in midnight's mist than in summer's rays. I refused to attend her funeral, as I refused to acknowledge her death. She died to show me I was not ready to let her go yet.

By Ahsan Sajid


I see, Teardrops fall on the floor
I turn startled, what are these tears for
No light, no sunshine surrounding me
Blackness around, empty void to see

Tears wash away sadness,
takes it away
Determined to light blown candles, light it that way
All in vain, my mind and soul stays the same
Seeking solace in the never ending rain

Depthless eyes stare afront, seeking another chance
One leg is broken, but still willing to dance
Relieve me of this pain, I can no longer bear
Reaching out to no avail, on my cheek ,a silent tear.

By Raiyan S. Hossain


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