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Recollections of the Hopeless

The man hurried into the bus with the rest of the passengers, climbing the steps carefully, briefcase in hand. Noticing the bit of free space at the back, he quickly moved towards it, careful not to shove or push anyone in the process. By the time he arrived, the seat was vacant no more. Pushing away the pejorative remark in his head, he shot up his hand to grab the iron bar above him. As he did, he noticed that some of the screws securing the bar to the roof shaking loosely every time the bus would stop. Some were even missing. The sight did not frighten him as much as it saddened him. An image of him and his brother using a screwdriver, with extreme diligence and caution, to loosen the screws on the headmaster's chair floated into his head. He smiled at the memory and his eyes drifted away and towards the cracked window instead.

The crack was large and bits of sunlight peeking through the rain clouds every now and then made the glass sparkle. The thought of cracked window panes as pieces of art seemed beguiling to him. Last night a thundering crash had woken him from his sleep. He had lumbered through the apartment towards the source only to find that it was his dining room window that was the problem. A branch was lodged in the middle of the glass carnage. It was a rather banal thing for trees to shed more than leaves during the recent storms, but the possibility of one such branch cracking his window was pretty extraordinary, yet it did happen. I have to get that fixed, he thought, as a baby's sudden wailing interrupted him. It was as if God was reminding him of the diapers he had to buy for his son at home.

The bus screeched to a stop on the busy road and just as suddenly as it stopped, the heavens burst open. Rain. It was much needed, the anchorman had preached, but the incessant showers were becoming a tad bit annoying to the man. He liked the rain, but the thought of returning home to mop up all the water collected from the inevitably open windows was tiring. As he looked through the window, he saw two little boys prancing atop the parked vans in the corner of the street. They jumped from one van to the other, smiling and dancing in the rain. Their laughter was muted out but all the noise in the crowded bus, but the man knew exactly how it sounded. He knew exactly how, with a jump into the puddles a delightful splash would follow, drenching the legs in mud and happiness. The rain always had an innate power, the ability to transform anything into pure and innocent things; it was the only thing that had the power to wash away all the pains and sorrows.
In that sliver of a moment, the man missed it. As a child all he had ever wanted was to grow up and now that he was here, now that he understood the sufferings and adversities of adulthood, he knew what a mistake he had made. Now, all that remained was his mundane existence as a man with a menial job and a routine life enveloped in fine monotony.

The bus started to move and soon the children vanished out of sight. The man sighed. Rain really was beautiful.

By Munawar Mobin

Book Review

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

The Wiki entry on Max Brookes, the author of this book, terms him as a “Zombie-enthusiast” among other things like author and voice-actor. Then I got around to the 'Works' section and saw two books that particularly intrigued me: The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. Now what do these titles tell you about the content? Parody/ Just-kidding/ Spoof, maybe? They totally shouted to my ears and made me download the eBook versions. I was right about the first book. The Zombie Survival Guide is totally a sarcastic take on the whole Zombie genre portrayed in video games, comics and movies and more video games. I thought World War Z was like that as well: the idea further intensified by the introduction. But, boy was I wrong!

World War Z is about the Zombie apocalypse in a hypothetical timeline quite parallel to our own. It is about the mass hysteria (termed as The Great Panic in the book) that ensued, about the helplessness of the living, about the massacre by the dead and finally the great fightback. Oh, it is also about politics and the great fall of humanity. And of individual struggles.

The story is narrated in the form of numerous interviews of the survivors of the Zombie War. The author poses himself as the interviewer for the UN. We get lots of subjects starting from the Chinese doctor who tried treating the first 'bite', to the soldier who survived the first direct assault on the zombies, to the President of the USA, to the hitman hired to protect a millionaire and many more. Through their description you travel through feelings like curiosity, rage, helplessness and the final euphoria. (There is a particular chapter about a lone Japanese shut-in who stumbles upon a sword while escaping from the horde of zombie. This reviewer's favourite chapter.)

The best thing about the book is probably its focus on politics and basic human nature. We refuse to accept the responsibility. We blame each other. We see business in people's misfortune. We think the world revolves around ourselves. World War Z touches these subjects and once again portrays how we, the actual living, are just corpses in our stubborn approaches. The description is realistic. The author's choice for interviewees deserves praise, but the small problem is that all the characters 'sound' the same: a little variation in that respect would have made this book a classic piece. This may not be a gut-wrenching story one would expect from a book on apocalypse and zombies; but it makes one hell of a documentary for all ye zombie lovers. There is a film coming out next year starring Brad Pitt as Max Brookes.

Few things you should know if a zombie-outbreak happens:
- Destroy a zombie by destroying its head.
- Bullets, gas bombs, bombs won't help against them.
- They can smell you.
- They are NOT intelligent. You are.
- http://zombieresearch.org/home.html is at your service (not sure if they are actually serious).

Don't panic. Watch Zombieland.

By Jawad

Other Things to Cut on Your Birthday

We've been through the same old drill for years. Everyone sings 'Happy Birthday', we take our cue to blow out the candles and cut the cake. While cake isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does get old after the first couple of years of life. Here are some things that different people might like to cut while celebrating their birthdays.

If you're an emo, you would definitely cut yourself. The pain would constantly remind you of how another year has just trotted by and you still can't apply your mascara properly. Nothing says 'Happy Birthday' better than 'Happy Birthday' carved into your skin. (Ouch)

On the other hand, you might be a new generation peace-loving hippe and the very word 'cut' could give you shivers down your spine. In that case, we suggest that you cut your hair. All of it. Have a ball as you lose those pesky strands and enter a new year of your life looking like a freshly-sheared lamb. And without long, dirty hair, no one would suspect that you are the peace-loving hippie.

And then again, you could be a boss. Bosses have wretched lives. Most people hate them, much less care about their birthdays. So what do those poor souls do to have some fun on their special day? They cut off a paycheck, of course! (note: this only applies to bald, fat, evil bosses - NOT the nice, sweet one that I happen to have)

Land developers (read: land grabbers) have bigger plans. They need to do BIG things for their birthdays. So it's only expected that they cut down a forest or maybe some hills, damn the laws. And if anyone dies in a landslide, well, what's fun without a little risk, huh?

If you were Van Gogh or just plain freaky, you could cut off an ear. Although the artist didn't do it for his birthday, we're guessing that becoming earless could possibly unlock new depths of artistic expression. Or, it could make you go running to your mummy for a BandAid.

And finally, those cursed folks over at WASA/DESA. No points for guessing that they'd cut the water and/or power lines to celebrate their birthdays. And where does all that power go? To their twelve thousand megawatt rooftop birthday bash, of course! Heck, its so much fun to cut the lines that they'll do it on a regular basis, even when it's not their birthday.

By TheAlien4mEarth




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