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Sly wit and foxy charm

YAWNING, he stepped off from the footpath to cross the road. Half way down with a blurry vision he eyed a pack of enthused circle of crowd. As an impending socialite, he could not resist the temptation of curiosity. With a prying apathy he took strides towards the crowd which had already started to swell, creating a minute commotion by the side of the road. With his small and skinny stature, he nudged and slid his way through to the center of attraction.

Yes, there she was, so vibrant in color and posture. Her long flowing mane rested on the bosom of her shoulders. Her dark black eyes seemed to scrutinize the beings in front of her. There was a condescending look in her frantic prancing. Her rotund mien and swan-like neck boasted of her royal nobility. She was nervous, yes, but not for a single moment would you miss the air of dignity in her bearing.

She got tired of all the gawking and gaping. She knew she was strikingly beautiful and precious. Used to the attention and incessant fawning, she had decided to run away from the palace; the home which seemed less of a living place but more of a claustrophobe's delight. Her willed freedom did not seem too blissful anymore. Again she was bound by the shackles of society, surrounded by beings unasked for and unwanted.

As soon as he got close to her, something unusual took place. He threw a long gaze at her. What was it in his eyes that made her feel that this person was not like the others? That he was not drawn towards her for her sheer beauty? What was it that allowed her to believe that she could trust him? Was it the intensity of his gaze or was it the depth in his eyes that reflected his crystal clear trait? Whatever it was she knew she could have faith in him. Hence the moment he beckoned her towards him, she gamboled off gleefully.

He picked her up in his arms. Her petite body fitted in his arms perfectly. She had not yet calmed down from her suppressed sense of terror. He could feel her shivering still. “It's ok!” he murmured a soft whisper into her ears. His voice automatically had a soothing effect. She gradually stopped trembling and he could feel her relax. Her demeanor was now more poised. She felt as light as a cushion as he dug his fingers into her plush skin.

As he walked off, he could feel at least a hundred pair of eyes boring onto him. Of course they were envious! He would be if he was the one who stood there and saw someone carry her off like that. He just now prayed to the Almighty so that nobody hindered his path. After all he was taking up royalty complete in flesh and blood. He wondered, for a moment, why no one stopped him. Maybe they thought he was sent as a messenger from the palace to find her? Whatever the reason was, all he now wanted was to get away from the place. He knew that she was not being able to tolerate the jostling crowd. He took quick short paces keeping an eye out for any potential followers until he got home.

At home, he could sense her impatience to start on being her usual playful self. For a middle-class house like his, he was glad that it had a decent lawn. The moment he set her down, she plunged onto the green grass and ran around as if there was no tomorrow. He was satisfied. At last she could now be called a free dog!

By Faria Sanjana and Md. Tamzid Hossain

Till death do them 'part

SHE stood upon the hill, looking down on the valley where they had spent so many sleepless nights, only whispering, only holding onto each other. He had been the one thing in her life that didn't need fixing, the one thing that could heal all her wounds and make the scars fade as well. Now he was gone, just like the rain that fell on the valley once upon a time. Now all was listless, silent, waiting...for God knows what. And she wept for God knows who, it wasn't him, it would never again be him.

Love does die, she thought as she walked down the ever-winding lane. She had once read a book in which the ending consisted of the main character losing the girl he had loved all his life because he killed her love for him. And it had taken only a sentence. She had not believed it back then, had refused to accept the death of something she considered pure and heavenly. But now….things were different, and she had found the unhappy truth that love was like anything else: mutable and mortal.

Well, so much for happy endings….

She reached the cemetery and climbed up the stone stairs. She had met him right on those steps, the day her father had been buried. He had been staring at her non-weeping face for nearly an hour while she had been waiting for the cab. When her ride finally appeared, she got into the back seat, leaned out of the window and asked irritably, “What?”

He seemed taken aback, but replied clearly nonetheless, “I would like to spend the afternoon with you.”

“Are you blind? Didn't see my burying my father just a few moments ago? You're asking for a date right now, you effing pervert!” She had an incredible array of cusswords at the ready when she was mad, and right then, she was really mad.

He watched her fuming for a second or two and replied slowly, “I mean no disrespect. I only wish to spend the afternoon with you, giving you company, no more. If you don't wish to speak to me, fine. But I'd like to stay with you wherever you go in this charming village of mine.” He was perfectly eloquent, his voice not wavering even once and his brown eyes never left her black ones. He emanated the sort of trust you expect to find in old grandparents.

She had slammed open the door and waited for him to climb in. Then she told the cabdriver to drive till he spotted an open café. And that's how they met.

For a week they barely talked to each other, and when there was any talk it usually came from him. She only nodded or shook her head as she saw fit, and he took to her places all over the valley, in pursuit of the place she would find peace. The one thing she had said to him was, “I just wanna find a place where I can lie down and close my eyes.” She had given him a hard look that was both a plea and a demand. It was as if even she knew that only he could help her get out of the hole she had dug for herself.

At the second week of their search, he took her to a field twenty miles north of the valley. It was dawn, the morning birds were yet to be awake, the dew still clung to the grass carpet and the smell of flowers was sweet and strong. He had led her by the hand right into the middle of the field, her not hesitating, and his grip firm and strong. And then he had pointed out the rising sun.

She had watched, mesmerized, her lips trembling ever so slightly, all of the sun's rays reflecting in her dark eyes. When the sun had fully risen, with all the earth's glories for her to see, a single tear rolled down her eyes. Then she sighed, and said, “Now, I shall sleep.” And she lay down in the grassy meadow and held his hand and she slept for the first time in days.

That was how he had become a part of her. And this is how he ceased to be so.

They had a thriving relationship. They understood each other so well that few things needed to be said and they were always there for each other, to hold and to love till death do them apart. Well, so much for death pulling them apart; it was death itself that had united them in the first place.

What happens when people heal? They start to forget. What happens when people start to forget? They stop appreciating. Soon she stopped feeling anything towards him. Her world was filled with life and color and he really wasn't necessary anymore now that she was back upon her feet. And he knew that she didn't need him. So he indulged in lively things.

And so it was that one fine morning, he stopped caring and she stopped noticing whether he cared or not. And day by day, they fell apart, the gap between them widening till they couldn't ignore it anymore. But by that time it was too late, and they had waited too long. He left, and she didn't tell him to come back. And now, after years of tossing and turning in sleepless nights, she had finally realized what she had lost. And it was too late.

She stood beside her father's grave and blew a kiss to the northern wind. Then she untied her red scarf, and thrust the fine, silvery knife right into her abdomen and gasped his name into the chill air just as he himself came running down the lane, his face a mask of horror. It's amazing how it's always too late when you get back to your senses…

By Mastura Tasnim

Make the world a better place

THE night wasn't over yet. Chen opened his eyes and saw nothing but his own demolished apartment. Furniture, tables and chairs were broken, smashed and the chandelier has fallen apart grabbing big parts of the drawing room to destruction. He was vividly remembering the earthquake that happened last night.

After a hard days work, he was in deep sleep but suddenly he felt his bed shaking violently. He thought the strain of hard work made him imagine things. Then a cry, a horrible, painful cry made him wake up. “Daddy!!” shrieked his youngest daughter Li. Chen felt a terrible fear grasp him. His wife and son were in the other room. He was quite doubtful whether they had woken up yet. If he goes to save his son and wife, he can't take his daughter. On the other hand, he can't leave her on the verge of death.

“Listen to me, Li. Go under the table and don't move a muscle until I come back with your mother and brother” ordered Chen.

His daughter went under the table, crying and sobbing about her mother. He ran for his dear life, saving himself from the bricks that were falling rapidly. Approaching the other room, found his wife sitting on the bed holding her son with her two hands as if someone might try to snatch him. Her face was pale, drained of all colours. However, his son was wearing a puzzled expression. “Mitsu, come on!!” shouted and screamed Chen.

The three of them ran; Chen was trying to shield his loving son and wife with his arms. When he reached there, his daughter was crying. The apartment was shaking, the television set was crushed like a crystal doll. His whole world looked mysterious and dark, the face of his children, his wife whom he loved dearly. His children were so young, they've not even reached teenage. What will happen to his mother? His loving mother who longed to see his promotion which has come at last. His sister recently married, now a mother of a cute baby who is only three months old. All his friends, neighbours, their innocent faces came up. All hopes, aspirations around his small, wonderful world were shattering. Fear was bubbling like acid in his stomach. No, he removed all the negative thoughts that were peeping in his mind. Maybe it's only just a vicious, horrible nightmare, may be Mitsu was sleeping right beside him. But no, it was realistic and he could feel the pain. Something hard had hurt his head. He wanted to hold his daughter's hand but it was slipping because of his own sweat. Then his eyesight was blocked by dark light. Blood, where he looked was scarlet blood. Was he dying? It wasn't so painful, thought Chen.

He was slowly regaining consciousness. Something hot and wet was falling from his forehead. He could taste his own blood. He absently touched his forehead and shivered in shock. His forehead was badly hurt. His daughter was sitting beside him. To his amazement, she was not crying but she gasped at the sight of his losing blood.

“Daddy! You are badly hurt.”

“Yes! Are you ok?”

“I'm fine. There are some minor scratches but I'm okay. Mummy and Ike are also okay.”

His eyes followed and found his wife looking devastated, holding a mobile phone and trying to talk to somebody silently. Suddenly she burst into tears. She come to Chen and told that her mother was dead.

“Dead?” repeated Chen blankly.

His wife nodded. Tears were falling fast and thick into her lap. The two children were also crying silently.

“Mr. Kaio is dead also.” said his son.

“They have suffered a terrible fate.” said Chen sorrowfully. “But we'll not betray their memory. We shall live and make their dreams come true.” Chen hold his wife's hand firmly making a decision that they'll live and will make the world a better place so that nothing, nothing, no calamities, will daunt them.

By Proma Orchi


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