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You're new, right?" she asked. I looked up in surprise. After a whole day of facing curious glances, smirks, and inquisitive stares, it felt strangely nice to hear someone actually speaking to me like a normal person. "Hello! You alive or something?"

I had forgotten to answer her in my daydreaming state! "Umm, yeah," I muttered. "You know girl, sorry to say this, but you could seriously use a make-over. If you want to be friends with me, or anyone, you'd better brush yourself up. Having thus warned me, she took out her compact and began working on her makeup, totally unconcerned about the effect she was having on me.

Dejectedly, I made my way to the bathroom, and washed my face. Looking into the mirror, I was aware for the first time that the girl wasn't trying to give me a hard time when she had commented about the 'makeover' bit. My eyes were swollen and puffy, with dark circles under them, from my having dabbed them too many times in an attempt to stop the tears all day. My hair was disheveled; my nose was red, and my skin was oily. No wonder I was getting so many inquisitive glances!

After freshening up, I slowly made my way back to the table. "So, you finally decided to come back to the land of the living huh?" she asked, smirking. This time, though, I was ready for it. "If you were alive yourself, you would have noticed that I was back ages ago, and was getting my lunch?, I retorted with a smirk of my own. Ariel's eyes narrowed into slits, but then, her lips curved into a smile. "You're lively," she remarked quietly. "I like that in a person."

We finished our lunches, and parted. During the afternoon, I saw Ariel between classes. It was easy to pick her out. Her dressing style was wild, weird combinations making her look different, but also making her look somehow perfect. Her makeup enhanced the vibrant colours of her face.. Even her walk had a certain sway of confidence in it. We became friends very soon, and soon she began introducing me to others with the title of 'my best friend'.

Yet, one day the impossible happened. Ariel didn't come to school. People kept on coming to me, and asking me where Ariel was. "I really don't know," I'd answer, and they'd walk off giving me a weird look.

This went on for three days. After it I could stand it any longer. Had Ariel left school? Wouldn't I ever see my best and only true friend ever again? Fearing the worst, and with a heavy heart I headed towards Ariel's house after taking the address from the school nurse. Little did I know what awaited me there?

Her mum opened the door giving me a blank look. "Um, hello," I muttered.

She didn't answer. I decided to go on anyway.

"I am Ariel's friend. Is she here now? She hasn't come to school for the last three days and everyone is kind of worried about her."

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Ariel's mum spoke. "She is ill, that's true. But, she doesn't want visitors."

"Oh, it's ok, really," I replied, disappointed. "Please tell her that Anna called."

I turned and began walking away, when suddenly I heard Ariel's mum call me. With some hope I turned back.

"Did you say your name was Anna?" Ariel's mum's tone had softened considerably. As she turned to say the words "She's upstairs", I noticed that she had tears in her eyes. I made my way up the stairs. Standing outside Ariel's room, I heard sounds of painful coughing. Opening the door, I delicately made my way inside the room. What I saw, froze me to the core.

Ariel lay quietly on the bed, her eyes glassy, oblivious to everything around her. She hadn't even noticed that I had come and was now standing right next to her. Sitting on her bed, I gently cupped her hand with mine. Ariel looked at me, a bit shocked. "What are you doing here?" she asked. I was too stunned to reply. What I was seeing rivaled any science fiction movie. Ariel, MY Ariel was lying on the bed. My Ariel, who was always so full of life, was too tired to even get up and give me a hug. Unable to control myself anymore, I broke down in tears.

"What happened to you?" I cried out.

"Not much," she smiled. "I just had a tiny disease that was a teeny weeny bit too difficult for me to fight against."


"Blood cancer."

I sat back, in shock. My uncle had suffered from that disease and I knew how painful it was. How could Ariel have possibly endured so much torture? As if she was reading my thoughts, she spoke up.

"It was diagnosed just about six months before. Everyone me t know about it, and they started treating me specially. Even my best friends no longer looked at me with love; instead they looked at me with concern and pity in their eyes. Imagine that! PITY!"

She paused, clearly agitated.
"That was when you came into the school. You were someone who didn't know anything about me, the person who would treat me just normally. With you I could be myself. And that's what I did. I lived the last few months of my life to the extreme, doing everything that I ever wanted to do!"

She took a packet out of her bed drawer. "I knew you'd come to see what was wrong with me, so I saved this for you." I opened the box. Inside lay a beautifully engraved moonstone ring. We both broke down in tears. Two days later Ariel died. My life had changed; Ariel was gone.

I still have the moonstone; it reminds me of Ariel. And whenever I am upset or feel that I cant really do anything in life, I look at it. It reminds me an immensely courageous person who had defeated death in her own way, by not letting it take over her life till the very last minute. She was tge bravest person I knew. I also knew somehow, that she was inside the moonstone, always urging me to go on...to make my dreams reality. That gives me all the courage that I need.

By Jennifer Ashraf

Lost Muffins

The fact that someone could lose track of a plate muffins is known to us all. I mean, haven't you ever set down a plate of scrumptious looking muffins on a huge stack of paper only to have them to disappear the moment you turn your back? I've estimated I've lost at least a billion plates of muffins to the huge stacks of paper that populate my room. The only conclusion that I can come to after all these years is that these stacks of paper are actually sentient, and are voraciously hungry!

Consider the evidence. These huge stacks of paper were many years ago, tiny piles of no more than a few sheets. Then I started baking. I don't know the recipe exactly, but I do know it calls for two heaped teaspoons of highly radioactive isotopes that give the muffins that wonderful green glow. The first batch of muffins had an unearthly green glow that warmed my heart and gave me tingling feeling all over which was followed by some loss of hair but that isn't really connected is it?

I had kept the muffins on the small pile of papers on my desk, and the promptly forgot all about them. The next morning the muffins were gone! Ever since then, I've never gotten to eat my muffins. Whenever I set them down, they disappear. And ever since that first day of the radioactive muffins, the piles of paper in my room have kept growing. Now they are towering stacks a few feet high. They have multiplied too, and now my room looks like some big city seen from above, the stacks of papers swaying gently like skyscrapers in a thousand knot wind. Sometimes at night, I hear strange rasping, as I lie curled up in my bed. It sounds a stack rubbing itself with wild abandon while the others listen intently to its evil plans.

I'm telling you, the stacks of paper have evolved a malevolent intelligence. They brood upon all the writing and printing that has been done on their white papery bodies over the years. They plot their dire plots. They scheme their dire schemes.

It is a fun, if dangerous, life that I lead. Everyday I play with life and paper-cuts as I work in that room of mine.

A few words of explanation: one of my closest friends once said to me, "It's the law of the jungle. Confuse or be confused." As you can very well tell, I've taken to doing the latter.

I've always liked metaphors, and making things blurry has always been a peculiar fascination of mine (maybe I should be a politician, or better yet, a teacher!). Most of the objects in the piece you (hopefully) just read are metaphors for other things. The stacks of paper, if you haven't guessed it yet, represent our own personal history. With time they keep growing, until we are hard pressed to remember where exactly an important sheet is.
The radioactive muffins are the backbone of the piece. They present the things that we have done over the years. What makes them radioactive you ask? Well, our friends of course! Who else warms the cockles of our hearts and gives us hair loss at the same time? I guess this is my way of saying, "Thanks for just being there!"

By Adeeb A. Choudhury


An outlandish chronicle

Vegetables are a health benefit to all. Something about their taste persuaded me to avoid the veg meals. I was scolded my parents; nevertheless I remained the same. A few days back, I was reading a magazine, in which a colourful feature attracted my eyes. It read "Vegetables and its benefits". I went through it quite a few times and considered how incorrect I was not to have it. While reading through the commentary, a shiny golden word grabbed the attention of my eyes vegetarianism- I read about it with utmost concentration. I liked the principle behind it and considered the health benefits as an added bonus.

Thus, I decided to be a vegetarian! I had to research the daily protein requirements, find alternate sources of protein, and then figure out how much of each source to eat to ensure I stayed healthy. I felt self-content and constantly admired myself for taking such a good decision.

I was called extra-early for dinner. I looked at my watch and confirmed that it was eight. I went downstairs to find my whole family siting on the table. "Come dear, it's time for dinner," said my mom, with affection. I took a glance at the table. A large plate consisting of hamburgers was there. Then, I found a plate of chicken fry too. My stomach began to leap. "Why are you standing? The dinner must be your favourite; I mean there's no veg meals today," said my dad. I sat down. "No, do not touch the meat. NO, no burgers and no chicken fries. Control yourself. You are a vegetarian. You have to remember your rules," a voice spoke from inside me. My sister pushed the plate of hamburgers towards me. "Nah, I'm not hungry and my stomach aches. Thank you," I said. "How come you haven't told me that before. I could give you some medicine," my dad said (he is a physician). "Dad, it's nothing serious. I'll have something later," I replied. I helped myself with some orange juice, which I found was at the far corner of the table. I gobbled that up and went to sleep. Though extremely hungry, I fell asleep.

Morning arrived. I wasn't a bit late for breakfast. I went straight to kitchen. I found my mom cooking something. I went near to find her frying sausages. I smelt the sizzling sausages and my mouth became watery. We, then, sat for breakfast. I somehow managed to find an excuse and, thus, avoided the sausages. I went to the stove and cooked my own vegetable noodles. I had the breakfast and went back to my room. I felt bad. I missed the sausages, the hamburger and the chicken fry. I loved all these.

Thus a week passed. It was a pain! I had to cook my own meals because the food mom prepared for my family almost always included animal products. Being a vegetarian turned out to be harder than I imagined. During these seven says, I discovered that the vegetarian diet was not a right choice for me. I could no longer stand it. One day (it was a Friday), my mom and dad went out and my sister went to her friend's place. I was all alone. I went to the kitchen and took out a bread and meat from the refrigerator. I toasted the bread and put the meat on a frying pan to simmer. I just loved meat, the way it smelt and the sizzling sound that it made on the frying pan. Finally, everything was ready! I had my meal. I felt a lot relieved. I no longer wanted to be a vegetarian.

At dinner, I had the meat as well as the vegetables. I started having vegetables: but mind you not only vegetables as I meant to do before.

By Ayesha Mahmood

A day in Pariel Noadha

On Friday, my Asha khala, her daughter Mehvish, my mother and I went to Pariel Noadha, a village not far from Dhaka.

On the road we chatted, when we got there I wanted to ride my bike but instead we went to see Dr. Noazesh Ahmed's house. Dr. Ahmed invited us for lunch on 2-1-04.

We saw beautiful flowers. Our mothers called us inside to see the house. The house was very old and red in colour. We saw ducks, chicks, dogs and cows, I saw a chicken leave its baby inside a big hole. I ran and rescued it by getting into the big hole and returning it to its mother.

We decided to see a big Banyan tree we had to walk for a long time, and when we got there I saw that the Banyan tree had lots of roots hanging and branches, then we swung in a big branch.

Then we had to go back to the house for lunch, after lunch we heard songs, then we decided to return home. In the car Mehvish, and my mother decided to shop for vegetables. We stopped at a village bazaar and bought turnips, green tomatoes, potatoes and lemons. We were all very tired but it was great fun.

By Daneesha Khan






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