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Not a teen, not an adult

Can you actually set a specific time period for teenage years? Like, “If you are in between 12 to 18 years old, you are a teenager so we can't show you any mercy (which is the general thought of the teenagers at this age)”. But then what would you term a 19/20 year old as? As much as we'd like to think of ourselves as adults, we still can't exactly be termed adults nor can we be fully dependent on our parents. In these intermediate years we see various choices before us. And also many other things we'd have liked not to see. For example:

-Receding Hair-line: Gone are the days when we could do so many things with our hair. Agreed, a crew cut made us look like shaved monkeys, but only for the first 2 weeks. Then we had the luxury to arrange our fringes vertically in 'spikes'. Hair gel and conditioners used to be hits. Gone are those days. Now we can't even run our fingers through our hair in delicate ecstasy/absent-minded fantasy/exquisite discontent/exam-induced melancholy without having worries of seeing hair on our fist when we dare to look at it. Our study tables, pillows, computer tables, hair caught in the drain of the bathroom all bear absolute evidence of our receding hair. Hair gels and accessories bought for the sake of 'spiking' the hair, or making it silkier will soon be replaced by 'Taak Aji Dheke Jaak' products, I foresee.

-Halted Growth: Scientifically human males are supposed to grow to the age of 24 on an average. Practically this never happens. Especially in Bangladesh, growth usually stops around the age of 18; for females it is even earlier. Then what? We have to look on as neighbouring boys get almost as tall as us and can talk at our eye-level and once-little girls getting big all over the place. No more looking down on them. If you are on the shorter side, now YOU are the one that will be looked down upon. You know what future has in store for you. You will stop growing vertically, rather your belly will make up for all the lost time and extend forward at an amazing rate, if it hasn't already.

-Getting wiser: You might be wondering why in the name of fruit punch this writer has a subtitle like 'Getting wiser” put under things we'd like not to see. You see, getting wiser is not necessarily a good thing. Especially when you realise you have been a great fool till the last second before this very second. Your blurted our laughter the minute before seems wasted. The words you had picked to describe your teacher's sweat-drenched armpits of his shirt sounds so unoriginal and uncool and not at all a good gag. And you regret the moment of slip up when you had settled on a deal to buy that t-shirt for a 'mere 500 bucks'. Plus side: you are getting wiser every moment. Downside: you had been the epitome of foolishness till the previous second. It's your choice whether you say the glass is half empty or half-full.

-Comments about your preferences: While the hair over our head is thinning, the one on our face is gradually picking their pace. And you just had to let it, you know, hang around a bit. But unenthusiastic, or sometimes overly enthusiastic ones, start to bother you so much. “Wow, you are growing a beard! Where is your toopi and jubba?” Hey, you sir, leave 'em beards alone (sung to the classic 'Leave 'em kids alone).

-Wise ass of a sibling: When they don't show you proper respect or don't pay you any heed when you try to help them in their difficult age. Come on, we are already past that age. Listen to us, we have good advice. On a side topic, but entirely relevant, have you actually listened to the advice given to you? That's right, you are growing old too.

-Someone trying to prove you stupid: This point is a dud. You fell for it.

Time is such a mysterious thing, isn't it? Before you know it, you will be trying to cover up your bald patch with fake hair that looks totally fake, or worse, with long side buns hiding the occasional 3 cm spot. Your stomach will be the first thing to reach your destination, whichever it may be, and you will spread out more and more guidance to everyone and occasionally use phrases like 'kids these days' or 'in our days' or 'in the year 1998'. Sigh.

By Jawad

The Price of Security

I have always wondered about the secret to our road never seeing beggars or vagabonds strolling through the pavements round the clock; and until the time I noticed a man sitting on a corner at the entrance of the road, I used to think that my sheer awesomeness kept them away.

If you want to scare your slimy cousin in order to put him to sleep, there can be no better option than this man featuring the latest trend in his dress (which is a lack of it) backed up by his murderous stare; and the much hyped about jota-dhora hairdo will only add to the scare.

I remember once betting with a friend about giving a Mentos to that person; and the last thing I remember is that I had to scamper away with my heart at my throat (trust me, there was no madman on my tail, period), I lost though.

Last week, I garnered up all my strength and braced myself for the quest to bring back my lost honour, a brand-new Dholaikhal-made Mentos in my shaking hand. "Either he puts this in his mouth and starts hunting down a deer to make a dress like the guy in that TV ad; or I eat this to make up for my lost money on the bet".

After having quietly observed him for ten minutes for any sign of overt aggressiveness, I gently strolled up to him with the Mentos tightly clasped in my sweating hands behind my back, and all that came out of my mouth was "Apni gusol koren na?" Trust me, he stank really bad!

"Grumph", he replied.
"Okay, that was actually better than the last time", I consoled myself.

After gaining more mental strength, I asked him the next and the most important question, the one that I had rehearsed for hours in front of a mirror the day before, "Would you take a pair of pants if I gave you one?"

Darn, all hell broke loose. I was just about to give a birthday present to a man clad in his birthday dress, and what he does is run after me in a crazy manner, showering all his affections to me through his barbaric tone.

Later, I would learn that the man has a family and is quite young! I would also have the pleasure of meeting his family a day later at a small restaurant where the lady was giving a treat to the guy with "special halim"… I never returned to that restaurant. Imagine seeing a naked man sitting in the chairs of your favourite shingara place, eating off the plates that they use to serve everyone!

By Eshpelin Mishtak

Book Review

Robo Nishi

Over the years only one Bangladeshi writer has continuously delivered quality science fiction novels and he is none other than the wizard of the wonderful - Muhammed Zafar Iqbal. His latest science fiction novel, published in this year's Ekushey Book Fair is Robonishi. The story is set in the distant future when a pandemic disease has almost wiped out the entire population of human beings. Only a few infants born at that time survived the diseases courtesy of having inborn antibodies against the pathogenic virus. One of them is Niki, a seven year old boy whose mother succumbed to the disease during his infancy.

Before her death, Niki's mother entrusted her robot Crinity with the task of raising Niki as a proper human being and taking Niki to other human beings once he reaches maturity. Despite being only a third category robot incapable of understanding feelings of human beings, Crinity, takes on the complex task of parenting Niki. In the absence of human company, Niki befriends the robot Crinity, a crow-like bird called Kiki, a monkey named Miku and a leopard - all animals from the jungle. Niki's entire day is spent playing with these animals but Crinity provides Niki with education, food and protection to fulfill his parenting duties.

When Niki is seven years old, Crinity and Niki embark on a journey across the world in search of other human beings like Niki who survived the pandemic. In the absence of a human population, communities of robots have developed across the world. In one of the robot cities called Espana, Niki and Crinity find an eleven year old girl, Cripi, incarcerated by robots in a laboratory. Niki manages to free Cripi from incarceration, escape from Espana and reach their home in the jungle. Niki and Cripi become close friends and with Niki's help, Cripi becomes accustomed to the blissful life that she has missed in Espana where she was treated like a guinea pig. Then Niki, Cripi and Crinity receive a message from another human being - Flickas. Niki and Cripi are delighted to have the company of another human being yet little do they know that in the world devoid of a sizeable population of human beings for a long time, unknown danger lurks in every nook and corner. Robonishi has all the hallmarks of a classic Zafar Iqbal science fiction novel - conflict between robots and human beings, human interaction with robots of low intellect, weird name of characters and futuristic gizmos. It's definitely a must read book for every fan of science fiction novels.

By Nayeem Islam

International Peace Day Poem

A world at war, at crisis, at chaos,
Fighting for their differences, for glory, for honour,
It's a never-ending battle for the trophy of power
Between the roar of anger and the cries of reason,
Stands the voice of peace who tries to stop the pointless treason
What is a world that has nothing but ruin?
An attempt to take over is all that they are doing
The voice of peace is the only hope
So that the world doesn't fall down this bottomless slope,
At the end, peace was the victor,
Its triumph convinced the hearts of many,
That peace is better than any
Many will deny it to this day,
But we should let them do as they may,
One day they will understand the values of peace
For peace will never rest, until its mission is complete
To do that, we must go to incredible feat
But it will all be worth it
For when I look around the world I sigh,
So we should all give peace a try
The great day of peace, September twenty-first,
So let's all band together, and not think of the worst
By Aaraf D. Azam





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