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Memories of Mihrab

HELLO, my name is Maiesha and I am 11 years old. Mihrab is my little brother. (He will never be a past tense to me). He made it to 8 years. He was born on January 13, 2002 and passed away on February 8, 2010. He had been named after the place in mosques where imams sit and preach.

Mihrab is a very smart, talented, creative, curious and well-behaved boy. I am really proud to be his sister. He makes his family proud and special. His death broke everyone's heart. From all over the world, people from America, Japan, Canada, India, Norway, Sweden, Australia and lots more are praying for him.

Mihrab was very creative. He used to make things from his own ideas. He made a “guitar” by pasting two pieces of cardboard on each side of a badminton racquet, which he painted nicely and inserted rubber bands for sound too. He made a drum set using boxes and antennas and lots of other things. He filled a bottle with tiny pieces of paper and made into an instrument. He named it the Rattler. He called all his friends and formed a band. There was a drummer, a singer, a pianist, and a guitarist. Sometimes he chose someone to play the rattler. He was also very active. When he went downstairs to the lawn, everyone went down. He made things called wooden crafts. There would be pieces of wood in a packet and you have to join them to make something out of it. It can be anything, Eiffel tower, a tiger, a car, an aircraft… anything.

Mihrab was very smart and talented. All of his teachers praised him and in every term of the year he would become the captain of the class. He really had leadership qualities in him. He was very apt at taking the lead from among the groups of his peers. His work was also very good. He came first in class 1. His work was praised more and more by his teachers every day. They told his parents that his words and phrases were actually like those of a student of class 3. He was also very well-behaved. He won many prizes for his behaviour. He won badges, ribbons and medals. These are all my prized possessions now. He also won medals for sports. He loved to run. His dream was to play American football, go to a snowing country and to go to space. He is really in space now.

But Mihrab was also like every normal 8-year-old boy. He nagged after a toy until he got it. He would do funny faces, and laugh when he did not understand anything sometimes. But as his elder sister, I felt so proud when he asked me questions and I had to explain them to him. He was very curious. When he read my science books, he would ask me about them. He would ask me about many other subjects. Of all the things he was deeply interested in space. Sometimes he also made me angry, the times he really did not listen to me, and things like that. Usually we used to quarrel over simple things like toys and who is going to use the computer first. But I also loved him and we played together. I really used to get worried when he was at school. I couldn't take my eyes off him, watching to see if he got hurt or if he was heading towards trouble. My mom told me to leave him alone but I just could not. I was extremely possessive about him.

Mihrab and I played a lot. Mostly, Mihrab liked to play pretend-games. His favourite types were the types when we made tents out of mattresses or made houses out of chairs and pretended that we were neighbours or secret agents. Usually our “houses” had a lot of buttons, secret passages and things like that. We also played baby-sitting. I was the baby sitter and he was the baby. It was fun. We also played board games like Monopoly or Cluedo. When we came back from school, Mihrab and I would sneak up on my mother and scare her. Sometimes we succeeded or sometimes she saw us. We use to help each other in achieving goals in computer games. Sometimes, I taught him roller-blading at home. He learnt easily. Mihrab kept all his secret things and his saved money inside shoe boxes and he used to put them inside a shoe box compartment. He saved up to $145 or more.

Mihrab was a very special boy. His death surprised and shocked everyone. But the Almighty planned this to happen and it would have happened no matter what. Maybe he went away because he would have to face a very big challenge up ahead of him that Allah did not want him to face or Mihrab was a very bright child and Allah wanted him for Himself. Everyone asked why, how and when it happened. But only the Almighty Himself can tell us that. All I know is that Mihrab is an angel. Well… let's just hope he will come in our dreams and tell us that he is doing fine. I am sure he is doing fine. He's playing happily in a garden full of magic and flowers, trees that we can never imagine of. There are angels all around him. So no one worry, just PRAY… please…

Pray for the people who are gone. Please just don't waste time by imagining the past. Remember, what happens, happens for our good. Everyone has to go. Be strong and you will find your way through life and through this test.

By Maiesha Samiha Mahmood

The heroes of tomorrow

One rarely looked up at the stark grey concrete that made up much of the roof of the Shahid Suhrawardy National Indoor Stadium last Friday as the 11th Daily Star Award ceremony took place. 1118 students with outstanding results [i.e. 6 or more As in O Level and 3 or more As in A Level] clamoured about on the floor, greeting friends and acquaintances, as their parents and teachers lined the galleries. Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid presented the certificates and medals as the chief guest alongside the Editor of The Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam.

After the national anthem was sung, and the choice recitations pertaining to knowledge from the holy scriptures was done, there were short speeches from various guests, who eloquently emphasised that the awardees were the future of the nation. They urged the awardees to use their talents for the good of the country. Beneath the patriotic calling, there was also emphasis on being a global competitor and on the importance of being environmentally conscious. Then the students lined up to receive their awards. Despite the lack of hostilities, the likeness to an arena was strikingly similar. The banners of the schools hung from the galleries seemed like the battle standards of victorious armies as the heroes were called up, one by one, to receive their honours. One could not help but feel for Elita Karim, as she read out the names and grades of the students. 1118 names are no mean feat. There were breaks in between for fascinating performances of lyrical dramas and dances.

Schools naturally tried to outcheer each other in friendly competitiveness, as is wont in these situations. The parents joined in too. As big names like Scholastica, Mastermind, Maple Leaf went up to the stage, the cheers were deafening. The schools from outside Dhaka were not far behind in their achievements. Two of the highest achievers in terms of grades were from Chittagong. Though this particular reporter clapped hardest when lone students took the stage to represent their schools. It is not a good feeling to sit in the middle of the crowd and yet be a little lonely.

52 students achieved distinctions in their subjects, with 31 students scoring highest marks in the world. A grant of Tk 15000 was given to the top scorer in Computer Studies by Nabeel Trust, a memorial trust for Mufrad Nabeel Rahman, a former student of Scholastica, who passed away on 2007, while pursuing higher studies in medicine. The grant will be awarded every year from now on.

As the afternoon drew up, the award giving ceremony was over and everybody milled about for one big group photo as parents glowed with pride. As Samir Mohammad of Mastermind aptly put it, “it is always nice to be appreciated for your hard work.”

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Dealing with dysfunction

Erverything is dysfunctional. The people around you. If they hate you, why do they celebrate your success and hail you as one of them? If they don't hate you, why do they blame everything on you when something goes wrong? They seldom help you get there but they applaud you when you do. They criticise you publicly and help you privately. Then they remind you of the favours they did you every time a quarrel comes up.

We are a strange nation. When we are in our country we want to move away to greener horizons. When we are away we want to go back. We don't want to come back permanently and yet we can not come back again and again temporarily, every time we get the tiniest of vacations. When we're in our country we gorge on the pizzas and the burgers. When we're away and having the same, we reminiscence of home-cooked food. We love the t-shirts and jeans in our country, but we're away and we remember the saris and punjabis. We drink the lassis and think of iced cappuccinos. We drink the iced cappuccinos and think of lassis. There are too many people here and too less people there. The roads exploding with people back home must be avoided but the empty roads there make you uneasy and these, too, must be avoided. You wonder about the freedom but when you have it you think of your cosy homes and would rather be chained in invisible.

You come back 3 months later and the Internet is too slow for you. You bring your laptop but can't use it too much because the wireless networks are not yet existentially a part of this world, not yet. Your friends want to meet you and yet they back out in ingenious ways when you do broach the subject of meeting them.

So how is it extraordinary that you, almost all of you, always sign up for the sciences when you escape but don't escape your confusing world? You don't need the arts, there is already too much confusion to deal with in your world without need for more. You need the definite, the fact, the solid existence of mono vision.

They refer to you as the third world nation. You dismiss it publicly but accept it privately. It's okay if you say it but it's not okay if they say it, because you may be the third world nation but this is your third world nation.

You exaggerate your hatred and suppress your love. You love and hate, but you are Bangladesh, and this is one fact you are reconciled with, because this at least is definite. So out of self-instinct you would do anything to guard this truth, this fact, because in the dysfunctional world of chaos this is the only string that ties you, all of you, together.
So you love and hate, and you just never know the boundaries, because there are none, because you are part of a strange nation where paradoxes define life and contradictions are reality. Because everything is beautifully dysfunctional.

By Anika Tabassum



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