The Lamb Ate My Homework
That and other implausible yet true excuses from having the animal kingdom in your house.
If you enter a house and a dark shape swoops down on you from the ceiling, do you immediately run out screaming or calmly whistle at it to sit on your arm? The answer mostly depends on whether you know any of those weird people who go around the street with an eye open for animals in distress - trapped mongooses, lonely pangolins or baby parrots. Coming from a family full of people who have a knack of bringing home the unlikeliest of pets, this writer has grown accustomed to opening the door to find many a whimpering crow. Instead of freaking out I now go and fetch a suitable shoebox from the collection of shoeboxes we keep, just in case any random animal turns up at the door one fine day.
Growing up, it never felt unusual that your father just came back from work with a lamb. And only after you get the weird looks when you casually mention to a classmate that your lamb ate your sandwich the other day that you realise something's odd about your pets. You look around and you see that your house looks like a circus. You go to Dhanmondi Lake to collect snails for your duck, and a lone magpie nests on top of your closet that flaps its wings wistfully whenever it sees a particularly bushy head.
But is it really that bad, growing up with animals? It's true that you never turn the fans on because there are birds flying around, and it's true that sometimes your dog gets a hard peck on the nose from an impertinent parrot, and maybe your date dashes out of the room when he spots a wide eyed owl sitting on the door; but at the end of the day when the broken winged bird you rescued takes its first shaky jumps in the air, you know it's all worth it. You watch like a doting mother as it eats only from your hand, build a little nest for it, and then one day you realise that it's gone.
You might feel a little bit upset, but deep down you are happy that it went back to where it came from. Through this mad collection of animals you learn to let go of things. You wish your little birdie good luck, and it does not fail to disappoint you. Unbelievable though it seems at first, one day many months later you see a familiar figure sitting on the window sill. Your crow has come back to pay you a visit, and with a mate! You feed it something, it gives you a few friendly pecks then flies away again, maybe to come back next year.
Suddenly you are glad that nobody bought you a caged bird when you asked for one in your childhood and instead think of the assortment of animals you learnt so much from. It certainly is a happier feeling to watch your bird fly away than waking up every morning to hear it flapping its wings against a cold metal cage.
Author: Gabriel García Márquez
“Light is like water,” I answered. “You turn the tap and out it comes.”
One Hundred Years of Solitude is a book every lover of literature should read - a book which portrays the brilliance that is Márquez. Strange Pilgrims is a collection of short stories by the same brilliant writer, comprising stories bordering on fantasy - or magic realism as it is called. Containing twelve short stories, the book explores themes of exile and dislocation and each are in their own way memorable and stays with the reader long after they have been read.
The first story of the book, 'Bon Voyage, Mr. President' is about an overthrown president in exile in Geneva looking for a diagnosis for his chronic pain. The characters grab the attention right from the start and the storyline unfolds while keeping eyes glued to the pages. The first story gets one immersed into the book and it is difficult to not keep on reading till all the stories with their wild, but somehow believable, plots end.
I Only Came to Use the Phone and The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow are two other good stories in the book. Both of these have a very Kafka-esque plot. In the first, a woman gets mistaken for a mental patient as she goes into an asylum to use the telephone and the story deals with her eventual reconciliation with living as a lunatic. In the latter, a wife dies from bleeding from a cut in her finger she received during her wedding ceremony and her husband hopelessly tries to see her, steering past the bureaucracy of the hospitals. Both stories leave the reader feeling a little sad and dejected.
The Saint tells the story of a man trying to prove to the Pope that his dead daughter should be a saint, and his lifelong failed attempts to do so. He travels around Rome with the body of his dead daughter, which after decades has not decayed. The eventual realisation that dawns on the narrator and the reader about the real saint in the story is brilliant.
Light is Like Water is undoubtedly one of the best stories in the collection. It is the most fantastical story of the lot, telling the tale of two young boys who break light bulbs when their parents are away and fill the apartment with light to sail their row boat and go diving. It seems like the vivid imagination of children which ultimately the reader knows is reality.
Other fantastic stories include I Sell My Dreams and Tramontana. While Marquez is not a writer everyone would usually read, the stories in this collection have the elements to get any reader hooked. Anyone looking for good stories, a wonderful narrative and brilliant imagery should definitely give Strange Pilgrims a try. And if the reader has a good imagination, the book becomes all the more magical as they picture drops of blood trailing on the snow, dogs trained to weep at their owner's grave and of sailing ships across oceans of light.
Nothing Intimidates Me
Pin me to a tree,
Drown me in the sea,
Nothing intimidates me.
Lions escape the zoo,
People threaten to sue,
Nothing intimidates me.
Monsters down the street,
So there we'll meet,
Ha!! They can't intimidate me at all.
I have a heart attack,
Pirates capture me in a sack,
Nothing can intimidate me no matter what.
They threaten to kill,
I'll make them hide behind a window sill.
When I am seen at night,
Fear crawls away out of sight.
I smile at my own demise,
Fear will never again rise.
My life is set,
If fear fights back it will regret.
Nothing intimidates me at all.
Death comes rolling in,
It traps me in a little bin,
Nothing intimidates me.
Gun to my head,
Bones that won't mend,
Like I said, nothing intimidates me.
By Akash Samad
6th Grade, New York, USA