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A Genius in the Family

(May 2001, Question 3, a,)

I wake up every day to a family that's screaming and raging. Breakfast is war, but without casualties and because of it there's no hope of an end. No one dies and the war continues.

In one little corner of the kitchen, beside the stove, would be my mother, trying her best to keep the calm with boiling eggs and sizzling toast (no toaster, it broke and we never bought another, now it's the frying pan doing the honours) all around her. It was the breakfast of gods; gods that knew no bounds; us, her children.

At the table would be my older brother, the man of the house now, ever since father died in that factory accident. Bro works, but brings no money home. With a world full of vices, funding a family is way down on the list of priorities I suppose/

At around the same time as the eggs finally boil and the toast starts to burn, my little sister, little no more, enters the kitchen. I hear there's a line after her at school. Nothing I can do about it. She was 12 when daddy died. For some reason his death brought about her use of heavy makeup. Nothing like a death to bring out the emo in the family.

I usually enter after her, the latest book from the library in my arms. I don't go to school anymore. They kicked me out for helping a teacher pop out a tooth. Saved him the dentist.

At my entrance, my mum usually starts her tirade at my brother. She yells, he yells and the toast gets truly burned. Breakfast of the damned.

My sister takes the cue to ask for money. She wants to go to some emo camping trip, 'with the guys' as she says it. My mom freaks, she yells, bro yells, sis yells and the toast is toast.

7:30 and my brother leaves to go to work My sis takes a huff, slaps on earphones and walks out, presumably to school. Calm, finally.

My mom looks at me. I don't, I'm reading; black toast and with a boiled egg; breakfast, just plain breakfast.

My mum takes to the living room. To the old piano my dad had bought so long ago. A bit out of tune but it works. My mum plays Mozart, Bach, you name it. She was going to go to that Franz Liszt School and then Eric Segal's Love Story happened and she stayed back. She didn't die at the end though. Like I said earlier, no hope of an end, not yet anyway…

My mom can play. Sometimes I feel sorry for her; a genius in the family but with no prospects, no future. Just breakfast for war everyday… And black toast.

(450 words approx.)

ByTareq Adnan
(da.phat.one@gmail.com)


Book Review

Storm Breaking

AFTER a hectic few days of frantic exchange of books and blissful reading, here we are at the other side of the veil. The last book of the Mage Storms trilogy was always supposed to be special. There were plenty of unanswered questions, not to mention a global threat to answer to with possible annihilation of nations on the line. If that wasn't enough, it was the end of a beloved series, as we knew it.

The Valdemar series is actually based in the fictional continent of Velgarth, which includes amongst others, the kingdoms of Valdemar, Karse, Hardorn, Iftel, and Rethwellan in the North-West, The Black Kingdoms in the South and the Eastern Empire all along the Eastern coast. The narrative spans several millennia, starting from pre-history and through the middle ages, following the complex politics that connect and divide the nations, even as the civilisations evolve in terms of technology and knowledge systems. Valdemar is special because it is ruled by Heralds, who are psychically gifted officials guided by their Companions which are telepathic Guardian Spirits in horse form.

In the first book of the Mage Storms trilogy, an uneasy alliance took shape among the Western states in the face of attack from the Eastern Empire. This truce was cemented by the arrival of a new, and entirely unexpected problem, one that menaced the entire world. We follow the adventures of young Karal, a Karsite priest, who'd been thrown into circumstances he couldn't conceive of, let alone be prepared for. The second book shows us the other side of the coin as we follow the trials and tribulations of Imperial Grand Duke Tremane, who had been sent to annex the war-ravaged kingdom of Hardorn for the Eastern Empire, only to be cut off from the mainland and left to his own devices. All isn't roses amongst the Alliance either, with certain mages slowly succumbing towards their darker sides.

The final book in the trilogy, and pretty much the whole series, wraps up the events set in motion at the very beginning of the narrative. The key players have to retrace the steps in history in order to neutralize the threat and ensure that there is a future for them to look forward to. Old enmities have to be set aside in the face of a common cause, but centuries-old habits are hard to break. Whatever questions may have been raised by the earlier novels are answered in this book. While this is definitely not for those wanting to try the series out for the first time, it's got plenty of zomgwtfbbq moments for loyal fans, and you can be sure to meet all your favourite characters at least once.

After Sendar's last charge and the battle scenes from the war with Ancar, this is a pretty bland book in terms of action. There're less of the heroic, romantic, all-or-nothing glory moments. The interest lies in the trivia and the plot twist, though, and, without spoiling the story, the loss of magic as the civilization trundles slowly towards modern technology is at once credible and depressing. Mage fans might feel a little cheated by the ending.

There's not much in the way of adrenaline rush. Even the tiny little bits of romance are sometimes a little disconcerting. But for some reason, this feels like a fitting end to such a series. It is a thought-provoking end. The loose strings are tied, but not so tight as to leave no room for a reader's imagination. And glory isn't always in the battlefield, but if you really really need some of it, re-read Exile's Honor, like yours truly. Nothing beats Alberich when it comes to coolness. Except perhaps Kerowyn.

If you're still in the mood for fantasy, but are also looking for a laugh, keep your peepers peeled for next week.

By Sabrina F Ahmad and Kazim Ibn Sadique
sabrina.ahmad@thedailystar.net


You know you are a football fan OR freak when...

1. You count your age by seasons
2. Your most possessive possessions are your favourite club's jersey and other merchandize.
3. You remember the dates of top-of-the-table clashes more precisely than your assignment deadline
4. The motto of the team you support become the motto of your life.
5. You admire the coach and his words more respectfully than the respected people around you
6. You virtually get busy managing your own squad in the transfer season
7. Your Facebook status very frequently updates anything and everything on and off the pitch
8. 'At home' and 'away' have totally different meanings than what they would generally mean
9. The injuries picked up by your adored player(s) concern you more than your own injuries, and FINALLY
10. The logo of your favourite team is splattered all over your room and your bathroom (This one is for me)

By Sani Montasir

 

 

 
 

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