The battles we fight
Everyday we meet countless people, talk to them, laugh with them. Rarely do we guess or even care about the fact that someone who is apparently normal and carefree may have some secret sorrows.
Ali, an A' Level candidate from a reputed English medium school in Dhaka cringes with apprehension at the mention of an invitation to a birthday party. This is not because he doesn't like to hang around with friends, but because his parents rarely give him any pocket money, and certainly not to buy presents. This may seem like fiction, but it is a real life story. Ali has to bear his own expenses by tutoring younger students who are mainly the siblings of his friends, and by working as a part time teacher at a school. Yet he smiles whenever anyone greets him, a smile which is lively but doesn't come from his heart.
Mr. Ahmed, a businessman, and a father of two children leads a middle-class life with his wife. He takes his family out for occasional treats, but whenever he looks at his wallet, his heart sinks! It's not that he doesn't care for his family, nor does he wish to deny them any happiness. It's just that, he never had enough money. Yet he is a caring father, a loving husband, and a person who just loves to live.
Mr. Aziz, a retired banker lives with his son, daughter-in-law, and his grandchild. His wife had passed on 10 years ago, and since then, he has been living in his son's house. His daughter-in-law doesn't approve of having an extra member at her household, and threatens to send him to an old home, if he doesn't 'behave properly'. Everyday he wakes us up, goes out to buy groceries for the day, pays the bills, and then idles his time away on a lonely park bench. Why? Because he has no money to meet ends? No. Because he is afraid of living alone. He wants to spend the last days of his life with his near and dear ones. So he puts up a brave face, and gets on with his daughter-in-law's complaints and threats. But does anyone notice the tear stains on his pillow? Does anyone even bother to discover the real reason behind all the sadness in his eyes?
Everyday we ask each other, “How are you?” But do we really mean the words? Do we even bother to ask “Are you upset?” All of us in this society wear masks over our real faces. Some wear it to deceive, cheat and lie. Others wear it to hide their true feelings, their pain and their sadness. All of us have problems, big and small. Life is all about moving forward, leaving the memories in the past and looking ahead to the start of a new day. So whenever we behave rudely with a person, we must remember that all of us have our own battles to fight.
Names have been changed to conceal their true identity.
By The Dark Lord
Touch of Heaven
"What a story!" Maruf chuckled with delight.
"Wait till you hear the rest of it!" Rashed couldn't stop grinning.
A gust of wind blew past them, rocking the boat gently. Rashed could see a shadowy reflection of himself in the water. After all, the river was glistening with the moonlight.
Rashed continued his story.
Maruf was listening intently. As their boat kept rocking rhythmically through the flowing water, he silently lit his cigarette. He looked up, the moon shining like a crystal. He wanted to hear the rest of the story.
Rashed glanced at the distant sky, and then let out a silent sigh. He wished things were different. But they aren't, not anymore. "Anyway," he continued, "That's how I met Sheila. For some reason I really wanted to hold her hand, just touch it once. But I realized I couldn't move in front of her. I tried to speak, but nothing came out of my mouth. Quite a Prince charming I was!
Maruf chuckled. He knew Rashed better than anybody. The same person who stutters in front of Sheila, but then…...
The night was getting darker. They were almost under the Khayamoti Bridge now.
"Sheila was the first person to speak", Rashed recalled fondly. "We talked for a long time. Then it was time for me to leave, she reached out her small hand. I extended mine too, although my hand was shaking. A simple touch," Rashed mumbled to himself.
The boat was under the bridge now. The two young men got ready. Any minute now, the Pakistani military would be crossing the very same place. A tear ran through Rashed's eyes as he clutched his rifle.
All he wanted was a simple touch.
All fun and games until somebody loses an eye
The thing about Brookmyre books is that when you read one, reaching for another is inevitable. I was planning on saving the other book for a likewise rainy day to save me from the perils of boredom. However, the problem was that it become immensely sunny, meaning once again, as if it was raining, I was stuck at home (mostly I was too lazy and conscious of my skin tone to go out). Brookmyre saves the day again from accursed bad weather.
All Fun and Games has the reader wondering exactly who's who as it starts, with extremely hi-tech infiltration of underground secret laboratories in France and then quickly jumping to extremely lo-tech vacuuming of the hallway carpet added with a bit of cleaning the kitchen floor as well in the UK. Yeah, the juxtaposition had me floating on air as well.
Meet Lex, hi-tech computer hacker, who just happened to go against her all knowing, undoubtedly evil boss. Throughout the whole book, we learn little tidbits of Lex's life added with ample computer gibberish with a little mix of tension in as well, because Lex can't be sure if Bett knows or not.
And then meet, Jane, a forty something house wife granny, who is so disenchanted with life that she spends her days trying to make sure that every speck of dust inside her house is crucified. She also spends her time taking care of her grandkids and avoiding her boring Catholic, Celtic supporting husband (the football reference is important, you'll find a lot of character development in Brookmyre's books takes place with references from the pitch).
And in the deep underground of the Alps in France, Jane's son, a whizz-kid weapons scientist goes missing, just after coming up with an earth shattering gizmo. This brings our two female leads together, as the team Lex works for begins the job of bringing back Jane's son. And Jane's the supposed expert recruited by the teams enigmatic know it all leader, Bett.
First impressions reading the book, it's like Desperate Housewives mixed with James Bond written by Dan Brown. Mid-life crisis, over the top weapons theories (which is where Brown comes in), casinos and cars and a lot of blood mixed together. It makes a delectable dish.
Thing about Brookmyre, as Sabrina pointed out, is that he manages to comfortably slide into the pace of his novels, each of which vastly differ in terms of subject material. In Boiling a Frog, we see a corrupted Scotland scandalized while in here its industrial espionage. The fact that no matter how over arching the plot is, Brookmyre peoples them with characters that are plausible, which makes his books all the more enjoyable.
This book, although, promises high speed action, also has its moments where it explores the problems of a troubled teenage life (through Lex) and the problems of living in a marriage that's made more out of convenience than love (through Jane). Riddled along with it are commentary about Catholicism and the way it shapes the lives of multitudes, the conformity of being a housewife, how things are expected of you and things that are deemed a bit too radical for a loving wife. You expect gore and violence galore since basically it's a book about the weapons industry; it supplies that too, adding with it the conscience eroding problem of working in an industry that sells death. The thing with Brookmyre is that he doesn't just give you a high speed chase, he gives you all the human emotions connected with it too.
This book is a must read for all those who enjoy a good laugh and a bit action. The first place to look for a copy would be Words n Pages.
By Tareq Adnan
My lost friends…
THERE are people everywhere. Short, plump people, tall people, smart people, happy people, strange people and so on. There is this invisible thread that links all people of this world together. Whenever I look at someone passing by, I wonder what story his life holds. Every face has a story, a story of loss and achievement. A very clichéd saying goes that when you lose someone, you find someone new. I have lost a fair share of friends in my life. Though it is impossible to relive the moments, I can always cherish them.
He was not so tall and sort of geeky and sarcastic in a very Seth Cohen (The OC) way, with distinctively curly, overgrown hair. He was always the wise one and the most frustrating guy around. He usually didn't talk much, but once he got started, it literally took a beating to get him to shut up! When anyone asked for the definition of friendship, he would always come to my mind. He was my best friend, one of the most important people in my life, once my clone. Too bad this idea evolved into the idea of being soul mates (for a short time), which eventually messed up a three year old friendship. What can I say? Every splendor has to end one day.
Girls can never be girly enough. That is what she taught me. She was very skinny and pale, but really pretty. We always liked guys and drooled over them together, bought clothes from the same place, had that weird best friend heart locket from Archies, which I no longer own, I am sure neither does she. What started as the most chipkoo duo, ended as the least bothered duo. I guess we grew up, changed schools, lifestyles and friends, and eventually went our separate ways. We stopped caring about each other, and started talking behind each other's backs. Broken friendships can certainly be weird.
Ever engaged in a conversation where you could talk endless about chemistry and other really intellectual stuff? This lost friend of mine is this huge genius, who will someday be the next Einstein or something. There are some overly intellectual people who have tons of subjects in their O' levels and A' levels, and you would want to beat the hell out of them. They're supposed to study all day, and just be total nerds. He is one of them, but he has it all. He is good at sports, is outgoing, and with the perfect grades. Too bad we took each other for granted and drifted away…
She was the girl who was obsessed with being a Goth, was crazy about Dj Tiesto and was really friendly to me, especially when I was the new girl in class. Somehow we became good friends, went to our first coaching classes together. I remember the painful old days in Accounting class. We used to swap lessons; she tutored me Lit and I helped her with her Chem, and she owes her pass grade to me, I hope. We had our laughs and fun, and one day some people had to toxicate the friendship, and we started hating each other. Despite how much we hated each other, we always wanted to know what was going on with one another, until one day we realized there was no point in this. Everything just became the past after that.
After a while, every relationship is put to a test to see how it has grown. Some pass extraordinarily, and some fail miserably. Maybe one day, we will regain what we lost. Here's wishing every lost friend a Happy Friendship Day and hope that you get back your lost moments…
By Raida Kifait eRza
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