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The Curious Incident of The Nail in the Night-Time

About a year ago, in the month of April, this writer, in the throes of despair and violent, moral corruption, wrote an article, to tell the world that the dark wasn't so bad after all; he managed to see the light, even when there was no electricity. A year later, this writer is back in the midst of that vile corruption… with a nail up his foot.

We will not go into the story of the Nail in the Dark, which is a long painful story, the telling of which cannot be done without obscene and prolific cursing.

The previous article dealt with how the dark may be helping us out, forcing our eyes to evolve and perceive darkness, forcing us to evolve and become, at the end of the load shedding, better human beings.

That was before The Incident of the Nail.

Pain, it has been said, can help people suffering from it empathise with others who are suffering with them. Unfortunately, that is not true, pain does not help you empathise; it only makes you feel sorry for yourself, as a great writer once said. The Nail, with its penchant to maim feet, twisted the positive outlook this writer previously had of the world. Pain only helps you to see the world as it is.

Where once we talked of pleasant things, now, we will talk of a more jaded, more jejune, more jaundiced (what's with the letter J and bad things?) world. One without light and littered with nails. We will talk, how, without light, without fans and A/Cs, a previously lazy, furthermore harmless populace turned rabid… well not yet, but its close. Nails can do that to you.

Mutation: It would be nice if one could tell you that evolution happened in the dark, as this writer once did. But that would not be true. Evolution is just another corporate sponsored, tailored to not offend you way of saying mutation. The first amoeba to grow a leg (or tentacle) did it because it had gotten singularly tired of the vast, tumultuous seas it lived in. It needed land. The first monkey to climb down from the trees did so because he fell… in the dark. Probably stepped on a nail.

The fact of the matter is that bad things (and the letter J) lead us to find a way to escape. We mutate. And if this non-light goes on any further, webbed feet and ingrown toenails won't be far behind. Load shedding will make ugly X Men out of us, and not the cool kind with claws. The boil-ridden shortsighted kind.

Sweat: In his previously, utterly foolish and naïve (albeit very humorous) article, this writer spoke of how continuous sweating has been helping the obese loose some weight. The Nail however has robbed him of his naiveté, and shown him that constant sweating it through the dark does not help you lose weight. It helps you acquire a concentrated stink, a saturated fug that Axe won't be able to remedy.

In addition, constant sweating means more showers and baths, and constantly remaining moist, either from sweat or from shower water, which means that sometime in the dark, dark future, we'll probably grow gills, just to be able to breathe through it all. Just to be able to breathe through our own stink.

Motor Skills: A simple, untutored man might tell you, in earnest with all his heart, that the dark has helped increase his skill when it comes to traversing the accursed drawing room with the sharp-edged coffee table without injuring his knee. A more cynical person, with nail torn feet, might tell that it's all a lie… which it actually is. The dark does not help you, the dark does not like you and furthermore the dark does not care about you when you crack your knee open right after you've stepped on a nail.

We, the young, the infirm, the weak and the fat, are already deprived of the physical endowments that helped our parent generations build the Sphinx… without a nose. Oh wait, Napolean did that. What this writer is trying to say is that the people who blew of The Sphinx's nose were better than us, they could run without getting winded after 10 steps. We can't do that. Already crippled by continuous Playstation, the dark only helps us along that cold slope. The dark takes away what little motor skills we managed to hold on to. It is a cold world indeed.

Time Mis-management: Back when this writer still saw twittering canaries in every ray of sunlight, back when even his bile tasted sweet to his tongue (which is plainly troubling), he told you a story… with a moral. A story that bespoke of how one may, if so inspired, write an assignment, finish a paper and deliver an article all within one hour of relative light. Those were such sweet days. These days, now that the writer gets blinded by the sun because his eyes have forgotten the touch of light, he speaks of how he failed his course, got terminated from his job and ended up with poetry instead of a write-up all because there wasn't enough light.

He told you that time management was getting your work done before load shedding happened. Now he tells you that time management means doing sub-standard work. Your teachers once told you that hurrying is the harbinger of disaster when it comes to doing one's work. Load shedding has turned all of us, into inept, un-deadline-oriented fools who never get their work done… and even if they do, its usually bad poetry.

Do you see now, how we have become so much less than we once were? Do you now realise the full implications of our collective suffering? Does it not take your breath away? Does it not make you want to curse nails in the dark? No? Ah well, more's the pity.

To read the “previous article” that this writer railed so much against, just email him and ask him for it.

By Tareq Adnan
(da.phat.one@gmail.com)


Book Review

Oops!

There's a reason why pride is considered one of the deadly sins. It fills the sinner's head with highly inflated notions about him- (or in this case her-) self, causing said sinner to do the silliest things.

It certainly caused yours truly to be so pleased with her speed-reading abilities as to rush through all five books of the Percy Jackson series in a space of 72 hours, instead of reading one a week as she is wont to, thereby making a whole muck-up of the reviews. This week, we revisit the two books that had erroneously been merged into one in the previous reviews.

A background on PJ for those just tuning in: the series follows the adventures of the young demigod Percy Jackson, who discovers that he is the son of the Greek sea-god Poseidon, and therefore has inherited the burden of being a hero. Every summer, he goes to Half-blood camp to train in heroics with his fellow demigods, and pretty much every summer, he ends up with a life-threatening quest, where the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of Jackson and his friends.

The Titan's Curse
The third book in the series has Percy's friend Annabeth gone missing, along with Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Percy and his friends have to go rescue them. This particular quest brings us face to face with mythical monsters such as the dragon Ladon, and other deities such as the Titan Atlas.

We also meet the siblings Nico and Bianca Di Angelo, newcomers at Half-blood Camp, who might have a pivotal role to play in events to come. Towards the close of the book, Percy meets Rachel Dare, a seemingly normal human being who, like his own mother, is able to see past the Mist, which is the spell of concealment the Olympians use to hide their world from the eyes of ordinary mortals.

It must be mentioned here that a huge and vital chunk of the ongoing plot has deliberately been omitted from all the PJ reviews so as to prevent spoilers. For those who have already read the first two, you would know that things are just getting heated up in this book.

The Battle of the Labyrinth
The penultimate book takes up where the third ended, and all is not well at Camp Half-blood. The realisation that there may be a traitor in their midst is followed by the threat of invasion, when it is discovered that the enemies are close to finding a vital breach in the camp's magical defences. As usual, it is up to Percy and friends to prevent that from happening.

This quest takes them into the Labyrinth designed by famous Greek artificer Daedalus, and this is probably the series at its most psychological; from the claustrophobia and paranoia caused by the maze itself, to friction between the characters (there's a juicy love triangle brewing), to the ever-present danger from the different monsters waiting at every corner, this book is a real nail-biter.

Fast-paced action, peppered with witty narration and quirky characters, served up with a generous helping of mythological references, these books are definitely worth a read for myth buffs!

By Sabrina F Ahmad
sabrina.ahmad@thedailystar.net


Nano Tales

Battle Unfinished
The score was 239 runs for six wickets and 43 overs. 40 more runs were needed for Bangladesh to win the game with 7 overs and four more wickets remaining in their hand.
Bip, bip, bip, the sound came from the IPS as the electricity went off and disappointedly he had to shut down his PC without finishing the game.
By Meead Mobasheer

Price of Patience
Drops of sweat fell on my feet. I stood gazing ahead, without emotion, praying for a breeze. No, it won't come. I was sure the air was stale, for the odour of perspiration was overwhelming. I began to count the few centimetres my feet had moved for the last 40 minutes- I had no idea when the bus would arrive.
By Nabila Nowshin Anika

Stealing Glory
He stood victoriously with her long, sleek hands looped around his neck. Just a glimpse made me burn with the wrath of jealousy. I wondered how lucky he was to have her. Faking a smile, I neared the gladiator who thoroughly enjoyed her caresses.
"Congratulations..."
"Thanks, man! You put up a tough race there." He winked, kissing his medal arrogantly.
By Mohua Morshed

 

 
 

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