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The Commission

They are. In a chrysalis of timelessness they discover, evolve, fuse with her world in his world in hers. From him, she grows. From her, he finds release.

How did they become? When he tries to remember; she helps him not to. Soon, even that memory stops mattering. They are.

* * *

“Young. But very promising.”
“He isn't much to look at…”
“I've seen some of the work he's done for…”
That was how people knew him. And what came of it? Excessively tiresome garden parties.

He was on the terrace, ignoring and being ignored, with nothing better to occupy him than a quaint little copse behind the ugly, pretentious house with its ugly pretentious people.

What was that through the branches? He leaned forward. Who was that, coming out so tentatively? With those seeking eyes? He knew that expression. He knew it so well, but how breathtaking it looked against that shadow-patterned figure, some slender, otherworldly doe. My goodness, it was beautiful.

“I hope you're not making eyes at my niece,” the baron joined him, following his gaze.

“She makes a striking picture against the trees, sir.”
“You think so? Well, why don't you? I've heard you do a fair job. Marvellous idea, really. Tomorrow. I'll tell her to sit for you. Before she loses your fancy,” he chortled, looking after the subject as she waved at someone and ran out of the trees “She is very exquisite, isn't she?”

The painter only half-heard. His eyes were still on the woods.
Finding Her was one matter. Capturing Her would be another one entirely; and the baron barely helped. And that narcissistic, snooty witch of a niece! It seemed almost unfair to Her. So what was to be done?

“What do you mean, she won't be necessary anymore? How else are you supposed to manage a portrait? Couldn't you arrange what you need here? Good lord, why must you all be so particular? Very well, but you'd better be able to come up with something worth what I'm doling out for this.”

The painter thanked them for being so accommodating.

* * *

Aria. He gives her a shape, a story, an identity in a new glowing place in his mind. And she grows out of his fingers. Not grows, emerges. Emerges from her hiding place, found.

Sometimes, she draws him into the coppice. The woods thrive bluely, greenly, thickly as he tends to them and, amidst the leaves, he feels giddy without the perpetual weight of melancholy pressing down, etching grooves into his forehead. He feels light as young branches rest familiarly on his shoulders and Aria's quarter-formed, half formed, perfectly formed hands stroke his head. Touches that he now remembers remembering.

Later, she meets him in the studio, flicks through sketches, perching on the model's stool; runs a finger along the canvases lining the shelves. Why does he never finish a painting, she wonders. The completed ones belong to his clients, the painter tells her. These are his: moments forgotten too soon, unsatisfied memories, all much too intimate, too incomplete, to share just yet. Silently, she takes down her canvas, replaces it with another, and guides his brush. Hand on hand, cheek-to-cheek in a room cluttered with half-tales, they retrace old stories, discover endings, finally close each book with a satisfying thud.

All except Aria. She is always whole, never whole.

One day, she sees him frowning and turning away before she finds a chance to speak. Why? The light intensifies, startling her, blistering her cheek. What is it? And whose eyes are those?

Shingle-grey. She sees a glint; the glint sees her. Terrifies her. Spears her. Rams her against a nettle-woven wall. What is it? Doesn't he see?

“… gorgeous…” The word tightens itself around her throat. Slicing into soundless screams. It burns white-hot against ankles, knees, elbows; crushes them into the fabric. Why doesn't he see?

“… tomorrow…”

Another grey look, another glint, another searing stab. It welds her to the pinpricks against her back, except that she has no back. No back? Where is her back, where are her arms? She melts into the trees. Becomes them; trees that no longer feel like trees make way for her. Formless. Liquid, running into hollows. A thing. A name. A name. Wait. She has a name! What is her name? Why doesn't he say it? What is her name? Why doesn't he speak?

Finally, he glances at her. He? But those eyes are not his either. Opaque, coalmine eyes in which she can't see him. And can't see herself. Where are they?

She stops.

* * *

The Baron remembered.
“My good man, how much longer do you expect to keep the poor girl waiting? You've had enough days; let's have a look.”
“I don't… it's not…”
“I can't see a thing in this light.” The blinds shot up.
No.

“Well, people were right about you, you certainly know what you're doing… my word, is that…yes? She's gorgeous! It'll make her aunt turn green, no doubt about that.”
No.

“… done.”
“Done? I thought so. Good, well that saves us both the trouble. I'll pick it up tomorrow afternoon; you needn't bother going all the way back. It's a good thing I came myself; you might've kept us waiting for who knows how long. I don't suppose people like you really know when to stop!”

Click. The door resounded in the empty room, the afternoon sun glared rudely in, casting the painter and his work into relief.
No.

What had he done?

He felt the corner of her eye. Dry. His brush traced her torso; slipped; it couldn't tell where she ended and the wood began. What had he done? He lightly pressed his mouth to her incomplete one. The spot where the brush had last touched her left a pale clot on his lip. He stared for some time at the paintings she had left for him. He tried to remember and couldn't, watched the stories she had told dissolve into each canvas, into nothing.

Then he draped a cover over the easel, closed the blinds and left, leaving the door open just a crack.

The baron collected the portrait the next afternoon, as promised. It was undated and anonymous but that didn't matter.

By Risana Nahreen Malik


Dhallywood ‘translated'

Have you watched a classic Bangla movie that revolves around that same bland storyline where a rich girl falls in love with a poor boy or vice versa? If your answer is a resounding NO, even then you can't gainsay having glimpses of the movie posters posted all over the metropolis, especially in front of the endangered cinema halls. And you obviously cannot deny how often those posters bearing typical Dhallywood movie titles made you laugh despite being stuck in traffic quagmire for hours. Here is how the movie titles would look like if theses films were ever aired in USA or UK:

The 'keno' nomenclature: Keno? That's the question our filmmakers love to ask all the time in the title of their films and we are not sure why this 'keno' nomenclature is so popular among our not so popular filmmakers. The more illustrious examples of the 'keno' nomenclature include: Baba Keno Chakar? (Why is My Father a Servant?), Shami Keno Ashami? (Why is My Husband a Convict?)

Others: Apart from the 'keno' nomenclature, there are no fixed rules in naming films - titles can be anything and everything no matter how ludicrous they might sound:

Matha Nosto (Ruined Head), Ak Takar Bou (One Taka Bride), Shobuj Coat, Kalo Choshma (Green Coat, Black Sunglasses), Khairun Shundori (The Beautiful Khairun), Koti Takar Kabin (One Crore Taka Marriage Settlement), Goriber Chele, Boroloker Meye (Poor Man's Son, Rich Man's Daughter), Char Shotin (Four Co-wives), Anonto Bhalobasha (Endless Love), Amar Shopno Tumi (You are My Dream), Amar Praner Shami (My Husband of Life), Mone Boro Koshto (Severe Hardship In Mind), Bhalobashlei Ghor Bhadha Jai Na (You Can't Tie a House Simply by Love), Ektu Prem Dio (Give Me Some Love), Tui Jodi Amar Hoti Re (If You Were Mine).

If these films were ever screened in USA and UK, they are bound to draw large audiences from the beginning. The names themselves will attract a lot of attention and the audience would also like to check out our overweight heroines. In turn our heroines might benefit from jobs as fitness experts for anorexia affected models in those countries. Moreover the action sequences of our movies might even generate interest from scientists who would want to investigate how those 'dishoom dishoom' sounds are heard even before a punch hits its desired target. So, it would be an understatement to suggest how our Dhallywood industry would benefit from exposure in foreign markets, because the New World beckons us!

By Nayeem Islam


A 12-year-old's initiative

Creating applications and games for mobile devices isn't something one decides to do off the bat; it takes a programmer of a certain caliber and it isn't for your average layperson. This is why 12-year-old Fahma Waluya Rosmansyah's favourite hobby is so surprising: he spends his free time creating games that help Indonesian children learn English and basic math skills.

Born in Indonesia in 1998, Fahma like most kids loves playing with his games console, PC games and with mobile phones. Around the time he was in the fifth grade Fahma began to learn how to develop with Adobe Flash, as a hobby. That same year he created his first application called BAHANA which allows young children to learn the alphabet, numbers and colours all from a Nokia E71!

In his sixth grade, he developed over 5 more applications, one of which is even currently downloadable from the Ovi Store! The application, Enrich, enables children to translate Indonesian words into English using colourful images and clearly pronounced words. MANTAP is a similar application but instead teaches Indonesian children Maths, and is due for release soon from the Ovi Store.

Fahma says he can create an application from scratch in less than 12 hours, with the help of his younger sister, Hania, who provides some of the sound content. She is also his main source of inspiration and beta tester. Having recently been awarded the Indonesia ICT Award 2010, Fahma plans to continue developing applications for local Indonesian children and even hopes that one day his applications can be made available to every child, globally.

Fahma is a 12 year old, currently going through school, and demonstrates what the young mind can achieve, and what's even more commendable is that these applications are used to help young children learn some valuable life skills. Currently, his application is available for download in Nokia's Ovi Store at store.ovi.com.


 

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