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When one name's not enough

It is a common discussion in neighbourhood tea stalls, about the two-facedness of politicians, how they seem to be all caring saints and then suddenly change to become human personifications of the sin gluttony. There are some among the tea stall demographic who happen to sometimes discuss the two timings of their special loved ones, how they were easily deceived by come-hither smiles. To classify even more, this strata of intellectuals sometimes hold debates as to how, humanity in itself seems to wear masks, changing them and their personality as situations demand.

We at the RS, decided that since time is something we all have too much of, and frankly, even though we have lives to attend to, procrastination in the name of public service (through this article) seemed too good an excuse and so we decided to investigate these inanities that are so fervently discussed among the general populace.

We, as intrepid researchers went about talking to these multi-faced people. Unfortunately, since we don't really hold much esteem in the R&D world or to be truthful in the world of pop journalism, we hit snags very early in our endeavours.

In our search for answers, we sent fearless reporters (who just happened to be expendable if something were to go wrong) to politicians who had turned on their promises. Unfortunately, our low reputation as talentless hacks and the fact that we do, in fact, do very poor reporting, kept us forlornly away from questioning anyone of any political importance. Thus we turned to our next option.

Among us, there have been a few who aren't so hopeless they go through life without ever experiencing the bitter fruit of adolescent love. And among them, they had all swallowed the horse pill that is betrayal from two timing partners (this we concluded may have been because as a rule, we make very poor companions and are generally quite apathetic).

It was then decided by common consent among the jealous ones who had yet to be graced with the company of anyone of the opposite gender that we go and talk to those estranged lovers of our distant past. This decision may have been fuelled by jealousy, but we cannot be sure. The jilted ones protested at first, embarrassment at facing someone who had hurt them so being their main cause of dissent. We then pointed out to them our motto, journalism without favour and something else. We told them then, that it also meant we don't favour ourselves.

Unfortunately for us, at this too we failed. It was learned that we were so pathetic, that those who had liaison-ed with us, now were ashamed of our presence. We were sent banished to our small cubicle once again.

And thus defeated, depressed, and quite pleased actually because we had put off going back to living our lives in the name of this vain pursuit and succeeded in at least procrastinating, we stared blankly at the wall. The masks humans wore it seemed, refused to come off. We pondered implications of such dark thoughts, with some of us frequently taking sabbaticals to delve into Wikipedia to read up on philosophy and literature concerning this predicament and to pass the time we even engaged in debates about individuality, which for some reason tickled our intellectual funny bones. We even talked about flowers.

It was at this dark juncture in our quest that luck favoured us. Or for those of us who had ignored curfews and had overstayed outside, luck didn't favour us. This issue has caused rifts among our members and while some of us claim the event to be an act of heaven in helping us out, others claim the event is actually devoid of any evangelical endorsement and was an act of pure buggery on our part for forgetting our curfews. To be even more precise the philosophical disagreement among our ranks can be described such that the boys considered the event to be God's will coming to fruition, and the girls lamented that they still lived in such a chauvinistic society which still bound them down with such inept rules such as curfews. In the end our division was a question of equality, but we will not go there.

The act that caused such momentous events to pass was that a parent showed up, to claim that her child hadn't shown up home on time. If this transcription is to be accurate and a fair representation of what really happened, we must in fact transcribe what went down between son and mother. And yes, it was a boy who had the curfew. Why the girls decided to once again bring up that perennial argument about equal rights we don't know. We have concluded it might be because of racial memory. Or something.

“Totlu! Tui ekhono eikhane?!?!”
“Mom!?!?! What're you doing here?”
“Tor na kalke porikha Totlu tui eikane keno? Bashai chol!!!”
“But… they need my special skills here. I mean…”
“Taratari Totlu!!”
We were left awe inspired. And scared.

But we had noticed the change in our friend (whom we had not known as Totlu, we did not even know he had a nickname). For the few minutes we were able to observe our ill-fated friend, we realized that he resembled someone totally different. Here was an example of the multi-faced human. He was one among our ranks. It was at this point that we were able to make the connection. Nick names. Also, to keep this recording of the events truthful, we will admit that we laughed quite a lot at Totlu and that from here on forth we will never let him forget the incident that so changed our world.

And it was, with renewed hope flowing in our veins that we once again set about in search of answers. And at the end of one very long session in the cubicle during which some of us played those accursed Facebook games and did not at all contribute to our undertaking that we understood this anomaly in humans.

Nick names give us personality disorders. We secretly gathered the nicknames of everyone among us, and using them we realized that subject to a different (usually freaky sounding) name, the person changes as well. We tried it out on Totlu quite a few times and have since learning his nick name managed to make him work. It is quite astounding. Totlu working that is.

And now, with our hearts filled with pride and the need to go home and finally start writing that term paper, do we present the results of our findings for the scrutiny of the world. Understand as you read this, that we have suffered, bled, lost sleep, worked without favour and something else, to bring this report to light. You might belittle it and disagree with what we have found out but even if you doubt us, remember, we will keep on in our endeavours and keep on writing in such veins hoping that one day, somebody will recognize our mettle. And if they do, we promise to tell them what our nick names are.

By Tareq Adnan

Comic books to the rescue

Is the Ye olden language of the 'Bard of Avon' making you want to never touch a book again? Do you think Charles Dickens is a dead, boring, crazy old man who puts you right to sleep? Pick up a Comic book or Graphic Novel instead and immerse your self in the universe of Superman, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tin-Tin, Peanuts and Transformers etc.

These works of literature and art are shunned by schools and discouraged as inappropriate reading material. Before, the only way of reading a comic book in class would be if you disguised it under your class textbook and prayed that your teacher wouldn't catch you.

But now in some, although very few, high schools around the world, teachers are exchanging the classics for the great works of Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Jim Lee, Frank Miller and all the other diverse comic book creators to generate interest towards reading in the student body.

The result?
The student's that lacked any enthusiasm when it came to actually reading a whole book before would finish more than the required amount of graphic novels mentioned by the teachers!

For the reluctant reader, they are fascinating. For the struggling reader or the reader still learning English, they are easy to understand providing pictures for better understanding of what the heck is going on. Not only do they expand vocabulary; they're also very fun ways of gaining creativity skills and feeding your imagination. Some even go on to excel at the written word.

Just ask the contributors of 'Give Our Regards To The Atomsmashers!' The book, compiled by editor Sean Howe, has essays written by 17 contemporary writers, and comic book aficionados, on their favourite comic books and the influence these had on their writing careers. Even Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones admitted to have weaned on comic books and not touching a book without pictures till he was 13 years old.

Since they were created, graphic novels, comic books and comic strips have thrilled, captivated and entertained millions of readers differing in ages from 8 to 80; creating a network of fans across the universe from America to Japan to Bangladesh. Everyone has heard of Superheroes! If not from the comic book itself, then from the motion pictures made about them. Comic books and graphic novels have had such a major influence on the minds of its readers, that they grew up to be famous directors and movie producers and went on to recreate their favourite superhero on the big screen in movies such as Iron- Man, Transformers, Sin City, The Watchmen, The Punisher etc.

The most notable of these superheroes are the ones created by Marvel and DC comics, two of the largest and most popular comic book companies. Marvel is credited with the creations of Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron-Man, Captain America, X-Men, Daredevil and many, MANY others while DC has legends like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Captain Marvel and the rest of the DC Universe.

Then there are the Graphic Novels that focus on other forms of non-superhuman fiction, biographies and even personal experiences.

Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Mangas have earned their right to be thought of as not only literary works but also as art. They have influenced generations before us, and will continue to influence generations ahead. It is a great way to get a child to pick up a book and get into reading, writing and a clever way to inspire young minds.

Lets not overlook this influential genre in the schools here in Bangladesh, maybe if we get them interested, the kids would be inspired to read more!

By Musarrat Rahman

Poetry on a canvas

The chronicle of our independence is like a flowing river. From 1952, then '69 and finally 71 with every step of our independence the spirit of freedom flowed through our hearts and soul like poetry. And all the spirit, all the love we hold in our heart for our beloved motherland can be felt with just two words “Jai Bangla”.

Famous contemporary artist Shahabuddin Ahmed's paintings are the testaments of 1971. And once again his paintings are depicting majestically, a poetic symphony of the saga of our independence at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts. Featuring 30 paintings of Shahabuddin Ahmed “Jai Bangla” tells the untold stories and unexpressed emotions with vibrant colours and abstract figures.

With tired feet this writer walked into Bengal Gallery one late afternoon. But he didn't realize the extent of it. The energy, the magic, the spirit within each and every painting knocked him down. Though Shahabuddin's works visually present semi-realistic patterns you don't have to work hard to find out the context and inner beauty of them. History as his guide, colours as his strength and abstraction as his expression this maestro created masterpieces.

The undying spirit of the freedom fighters, the brutality of mass murder of '71 and symbolic painting of the Bangladeshi spirit imprinted as running horses are some of the main subjects. Some abstract portraits of Bangabandhu, Mother Teresa, Rabindranath Tagore, Maulana Bhashani added some new perspectives in the exhibition. Within the vast canvas of oil painting sometimes you will find the joy of victory, sometime the sadness for our beloved fallen, sometime rage, inspiration and other unnamed emotions which cannot be defined with mortal words.

Talking about painting Picasso once said “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary”. What Shahabuddin Ahmed's paintings represent is the dairy of the days of '71 and what could be a better name other then “Jai Bangla” to express each and every chapter of our history and sacrifice? The Exhibition will continue till 11th October everyday from 12pm to 8pm. If you are an admirer of art or if you are not it doesn't matter, this exhibition is a must go for everyone. So don't miss it!

By Zabir Hasan



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