Time travelling in the streets of Dhaka
I had just logged in to Facebook and found my crush online when my mom walked in to my room. “We are out of eggs. And oil too.” I was about to say no but then I remembered the time she had made me eat vegetables for a week. I reluctantly logged out of Facebook, shut down the computer and got up. That's when the idea struck me.
“Err… mom, can I take the car?”
She was going to refuse when I pleaded again, “It's really hot outside and I don't want to walk all the way over to the store.”
She had her reasons - I didn't have my license yet and no parent ever trusts their teens with the car but miraculously she agreed.
I opened the garage door and got into my dad's old Toyota Corolla. Like any amateur driver, I readjusted the rear view and side view mirrors, although they were probably already better off; checked the headlights, re-adjusted the seats.
Then turned the ignition and the engine hummed obediently. As I shifted the gear and pressed the gas pedal, the car refused to move forward. I tried again but the result was the same. I was about to get out and check the engine but realised the hand breaks were on. D'oh!
I skilfully manoeuvred the car through the walkway, gave a half hearted glance towards the veranda where a really cute girl spends an unusual amount of time but instead found her mother scowling at me. I almost hit the gate at this point.
This was the first time I was driving alone. Previously, I had my driving guru with me (read: le driver with a fake license who reluctantly agreed to teach me how to drive after I caught him stealing oil from our car) and it was time to show the world my A-game.
I got stuck in the infamous Moghbazar signal. I turned off the ignition, pulled up hand-break, made a mental note of pushing it back down and relaxed. So far so good. I had managed to drive half a kilometer without hitting another car or running over someone.
I was still in the same place and I had already memorised the number, colour, model of every vehicle within sight. The Boishakhi sun blazed above in full throttle and I was sweating like a rather intelligent cow on the morning of Kurbani Eid (Ok, bad example but you get the point, right?). Only my father would still drive a car with no air conditioning and the blasted car didn't even have F.M. radio!
The jam was never ending Frustrated, I finally decided to try the Bangladesh Betar but got a headache after listening to a bunch of Bangla cinema songs. Turning it off I looked outside only to see that the Rickshaw puller beside was genuinely disappointed in my lack of interest in the songs. As I was about to apologise and turn it back on, I heard a distant whistle followed by the combined sound of all the engines roaring together (The VROOOM VROOOM never sounded better).
I started my car, but then the engine of the auto rickshaw in front of me started coughing? No! All the cars started moving except mine.
Even the car behind me angled its way to the adjacent lane but I had parked too close and helplessly sat there. At last the driver got out and pushed the vehicle away (now why didn't he do that in the first place?) I had a sudden impulse of ramming the stupid vehicle but held my nerves. The sentence 'Ami choto, amake marben na!' finally made sense to me.
Finally I got out of that signal.
Reached the store and got the shopping done. Of course, I bought a few snacks and a 1 litre Coke with the extra money mom provided.
Finally I was home. The roads seemed to have sucked out my life force. Twenty minute walks turned into two hour drives. No wonder the drivers these days look so old and frayed.
I logged in to Facebook and found my crush still online. And then went the electricity. I was about to smash the monitor when my mother walked in, again.
“You forgot to bring oil?” I snorted out coke through my nose.
Vegetables scare me. “I'll go get it right now.”
“Ok, you can take the car.”
“Er… I think I'll just walk.'
Collected Stories Dying
Author: Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez, winner of 1982 Nobel Prize with his book 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' practically defines the genre of magic realism. For anyone not familiar with magic realism - his short stories give a glimpse of this world, tinged with a bit of sorcery, a little hint of the supernatural. A collection of twenty six stories originally published in Spanish, 'Collected Stories' is a book for someone just introduced to the genre.
The book compiles three of Márquez's collection of short stories - 'Eyes of a Blue Dog', 'Big Mama's Funeral' and 'The Incredible and Sad Tale of lnnocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother'. Each part has its own signature motifs and almost every story, with their extraordinary themes, leaves the reader thinking about what the author really meant.
'Eyes of Blue Dog' features Márquez's early writings; the experimentation with the genre can be noticed in the eleven stories here. The first story - 'The Third Resignation' tells the story of a boy inside a coffin resigned to his three deaths. Other good stories in this part include 'Eva is Inside Her Cat', where a girl leaves her corporal body and as a spirit contemplates the eating of a orange while thousands of years go by. 'The Woman Who Came at Six O'clock', tells the story of a femme fatale as she tries to secure her alibi in a bar where a love-blind bartender is at a loss what to do. 'Someone Has Been Disarranging These Roses' and 'The Night of the Curlews' are two stories which give one a sense of walking through a mist; not sure what to expect next. But the best story here has to be 'Eyes of a Blue Dog', a story of two lovers who meet in a shared dream world, and mourn at their waking forgetfulness. The writing is brilliant and Márquez's description of the ethereal world conjures a surrealistic. A woman who looks for her lover all day as she only remembers the words “the eyes of a blue dog”- makes you wonder at Márquez's imagination. But some stories here are a bit too dense and it is possible for readers to give up trying to fight through the verbiage. These include 'Dialogue with the Mirror' and 'The Other Side of Death'.
'Big Mama's Funeral' contains stories less dense and more realistic but with the omnipresent feeling of fantasy that is signature to Márquez. 'Tuesday Siesta' and 'One Day after Saturday' are brilliant reads. 'There are No Thieves in This Town' and 'One of These Days' are stories which are very realistic but with incredible outcomes. The stories here are more concerned with life in the South Americas and in certain stories readers of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' will find all too familiar characters of Colonel Aureliano Buendia or Rebecca reappear.
The third part is again totally signature Márquez. With stories like 'A very Old Man with Enormous Wings' - about a emaciated, archaic angel treated like a circus freak when he falls to the world; 'Blacaman the Good, Vendor of Miracles' - a story about a magic healer who he takes his immortal revenge on his once master - the stories remain with the reader for a long time. The best story here is 'The Sea of Lost Time' - a story about a forlorn town where suddenly the smell of roses from the sea breaks the monotony of life. It talks of old men trying to win back their fortune, of philanthropists travelling the world easing the suffering of the worthy and a whole world held in suspended animation under the sea. The world Márquez creates is picturesque to say the least.
While readers of Márquez's other short stories - like those in Strange Pilgrims, might find the Collected Stories a little underwhelming; the book has stories which are brilliant to redeem for the ones that leave us wanting more. It is a good read for those looking to get a sample of magic realism before they go for the novels.
By Ramisa Nawar Promee
Yes, I sacrifice,
The flash, the feel
That was used to optimise
Our very own perception.
'Cause the harsh reality's
Incompetent to utilise.
Once made the heart jumped;
Learns to control,
Now it's cold and numb.
The perplexity, the agitation
Mesmerised our soul, cherished intimacy enough.
And then, an unknown frisson
Buries all the seraph, lets our colourful hopes-
(Suddenly, the bared eyes
Wake up to the savage streams.
Amour, love- silly things,
Mirage are all, ruthless, withered dreams.)
The silence becomes so loud;
Agony decays passion to writhe.
It is a sacrifice,
Nothing is left.