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Rooftop Love

Story: Mustabeen Qazi
Art: Sadia Islam

Nai telephone, naire peon, naire telegram?

Yes, you and your love both have the other's number better memorised than Newton's Third Law of Motion. But ironically, your actions seem to have a bit too intense an opposite reaction each time you call, or even attempt to call. Go ahead; fake a girly voice saying that you're a God-knows-what friend of hers. However, you're told from the other side, rather heatedly, that lady love doesn't really have a friend called Samia. Oops!

Peons, ah, I don't even want to go there. Just when you think you can rely on your younger siblings (or hers) they decide to ask for outrageously expensive added benefits. If you think chocolate still appeases them, then you're living in the wrong; hence no peons for le devoted lover. Oh, did I mention that telegrams are out of the question? I mean, who sends, 'Want meet. STOP. 4 sharp. STOP. Much love. STOP.'?

The grand narrative above is merely an invitation for Captain Obvious, because everyone knows that in such a situation, there's only one place to go, a place where you and your love feel you are on the top of the world [or at least the top of the building] and just catching a glimpse of each other is a mini-Eid bonanza. In other words, welcome to the realm of rooftop love.

Why does yours truly vouch for 'love on the terrace', being a hopeless romantic herself? Well, that's because this is how you probably first met. No matter how forgetful you are you can't wipe out that first day when you caught sight of the fleeting shape in the concrete maze; a flash of dark hair vanishing behind the water tank, a glint of sunlight on glasses across the colony. It might have been pretty much one-sided initially, but after much showing off from both rooftops the four eyes (sometimes six or even eight, if one or both parties wear said specs) finally met and magic happened.

*background music, saxophones?*

All you have to do now is find an alibi - maybe watering the plants or a sudden need of attending to the clothes line - and you are free to race your way up those stairs and have a little clandestine meeting without anyone smelling the rat.

But anything that sounds too good to be true, almost always comes with a 'conditions apply' asterisk. First up is that gigantic communication problem you faced since day one. If you live in the same building then you can always talk, and even those Siamese twin like buildings don't pose much of a problem. But what about those, whose terraces are out of audibility range? If you think you're Salman Khan and Bhagyashree straight from the sets of 'Maine Pyaar Kiya' (yes, I watch weird movies sometimes, so?) then bearer pigeons might be your deal. However your winged minions seldom have accurate compasses fitted under their wing expanse. That would leave you rather bemused, and perhaps with a lighter pocket. So I suggest *drumroll* slingshots! Do a little target practice if necessary so that the potted plants and achaarer boyoms don't become victims of your all-consuming love.

Before you start waltzing around in joy with your kolbalish, there's another little problem at hand - 'third party interference'. Some of you are already nodding, but trust me; I'm not talking about parents. They are a problem, but constant surveillance does the trick of avoiding parents. But notice how the muscular hunk next door (next terrace, actually) tries to woo your Rapunzel away? Or the fashionista that bats her eyelids at the sight of Prince Charming (he can't help looking at her, true story)? They are the ones I'm talking about. Solutions? There are none. Throwing the other guy off the roof works, though. But going to jail for her is not the same thing as “catching a grenade for her”.

Love has its little complications, the occasional rifts and fights and rooftop communication glitches. There will be times when you might fail to lip-read the secret coded messages. But just think, isn't that how epic romances flourished? So here's to my aspiring Romeos, Juliets, Lailis and Majnus, and here's to rooftop love. God bless!

Betrayal and blood is a very old theme and this piece did a good job in moulding the topic for it. For next week we have “Humba” as the topic. All submissions need to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com by Sunday noon. Word limit: 350-500 words. Good luck.

Red Right Hand

By Shreyosi Endow

'Is that you, Alejandro?' The gravel like voice asked from inside, as the sound of boots against the wooden floors became louder.

'You are awfully late,' his voice echoed from the walls of the empty room.

Alejandro made his way into the room, beads of perspiration trickling down the side of his face, his neck, and into his shirt that was already drenched. But he was not bothered by the scorching sun - he loved to show off his powers, just like the blind man sitting on the chair beside the table. He was hot-blooded.

'We got into a fight before,' Alejandro paused as he put the gun on the table and with a sigh, said, 'I finished him.'

'Do I sense some guilt, boy?' the old man, Antonio, chuckled from his seat, his eyes, somehow, following Alejandro as he made his way to the little wooden table with a few cutleries, and a half-used packet of coffee.

Alejandro remained silent for a few moments, trying with all his might to suppress the waves of pain and guilt that crashed against his heart, before he slowly opened his mouth to whisper, 'He was my master.' He managed to choke out as he tried to get the image of his master lying lifeless in a pool of blood, out of his mind.

Antonio breathed out a long breath, his nostrils flaring like they always did when he breathed. 'He is not your master. I am.'

'That's why I killed him,' Alejandro replied, as he slowly poured the hot water into the porcelain cup.

'Is that coffee you are making? I thought we ran out of sugar,' the man asked, his wrinkly scarred fingers now tracing the gun on the table.

'I know. That's why I bought us some,' Alejandro replied, ripping up the little white packet, to pour the refined white powder, which made a slow hiss as it slid into the cup. Loud clanks filled the room as he began to stir the mixture, making sure all of the powder dissolved.

'I am actually quite surprised you call him your master. I'm the one that taught you how to hold a gun, how to aim. I taught you the way to master the art of killing. I'm proud to say that you've grown up to be like me. And now since I can't carry out my job, you're doing it for me. You're like my right hand,' Antonio said in his calm voice as he sipped his coffee.

'Is that all I am to you, Dad, your right hand?' Alejandro gritted through his teeth as the tears which he had hidden all those years slowly trickled down his face.

'Alejandro…' Antonio choked out as his lens shivered in his wide eyes, and the blood tricked down from his mouth.

'You know what Dad, you taught me everything except one little moral.' he brought his face closer to his father's as he slowly whispered in his ears, 'Never betray a blind man.'

Alejandro walked out of the room, his father's blood in his hands as he heard a loud thud, his old man collapsing on the floor after being poisoned by his son, or apparently, his right hand.

“Live from New York,
It's Saturday Night!”

By Mastura Tasnim

On a cold night on 11th October, 1975, NBC broadcasted the premiere episode of a show which was not only going to shoot their ratings off the charts and grow to be a show that is ingrained in the culture, politics and society of a country, but one which would have lasting impacts for years to come on the global comedy scene. We're of course talking about Saturday Night Live, a show that has been on air for nearly four decades running.

The original idea for SNL was to be a comedy-variety show featuring young comedians, live musical performances and short stories but later transformed to the sketch show it is now. Each episode has a different guest star host who usually delivers a monologue and acts in the comedy sketches. George Carlin hosted the first episode, during which he rambled onto a monologue making fun of baseball. Little did he know that the network president Herbert Schlosser was watching the show live with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, and was surprised when the usually serious Kuhn, laughed at the sketches. It was the first indication of something truly promising - the ability to poke fun at popular figures and beliefs without being crucified.

And SNL has been doing so ever since. From Elvis Presley imitations by Andy Kaufman to Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, SNL has always had brilliant sketch-artists. If in doubt, Google the new Obama sketch; we assure you, it's worth it. Their musical artists excel as well, from regular Lonely Island musicians to the guest performance of pop icons such as Psy, all the way from Korea. Speaking of Korea, the show has been recreated in Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil and South Korea with varying levels of success.

What is amazing about SNL is the impact it has on people, going as far as to even influence the presidential elections. SNL cooks up their own version of the presidential debates and campaigns and they are almost as carefully analysed by professionals as the actual events. Last time around it was favourable to Obama and a minority of the voters agreed to have been influenced by SNL to vote for the current president. You'd be hard put to find any other comedy show that could do that.

It is never easy to make people laugh at politics, life and society without some of them hating you for it. And although Saturday Night Live has had many haters over the years, it has definitely come out a winner, boating of 156 Emmys - the most in television history. On October 11th, they celebrate their 37th birthday in style with their Obama-Romney parody debates causing stirs all around. What does RS take from this auspicious event? If you can make people laugh, you can get away with anything.


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