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the story of

By Noyonima Hassan

It has been 25 years but Tokai has not aged a single day. He is still the happy-go-lucky, repressed soul who depicts the lives of thousands of such children out on the streets who roam around from place to place looking for something that they know is impossible to find. It is something that we all have, yet, none of us realise the meaning of it. We all take it for granted. Not the Tokai's, though. They know what we have. It's a simple and loving four-letter word called home.

Tokai's life revolves around his crows and his street dog and occasionally people disguising their political status, the general citizens of the country and so on. He is always with his crows and dog probably because they are the only things he can relate to homeless. Within all the pressures of poverty, extreme heat and unbearable cold of a whole year (and years and years of that), he still managed not to lose one essential quality that made him the sensation he is today his wit. The way he expresses his pain, his thoughts, his desires and his opinions is just beautiful and striking beyond any expression that I can find. A guy once asked him, "Tui dine koi baar bhat khash?" Tokai's over-enthusiastic response was, "Kotto! Kotto baar khai! Onek bhat kai! Tobe…mone mone…" an answer as heart-aching and ironically funny as his response simply fills us with wonders that how can a person not love a child as high-spirited and knowledgeable as him.

Ranabi's creation is the most celebrated child celebrity of all times. A few days ago he had an exhibition on Tokai and his 25th birthday, marked by countless numbers of his paintings and sketches. On the 13th of June, there was a puppet show arranged for quite a large number of homeless children under the sponsorship of Interspeed Activation. Ranabi gave a humorous and heartfelt speech, followed by a few of the homeless children. Afterwards, the spirit of the evening was uplifted by a few notable performances by Dolchut and Fakir Alamgir, who made the children dance and sing in chorus along with his songs. Soon a pleasant drizzle of rain began pouring down upon all of us, but the event didn't cease. The rain could not stop those countless numbers of children from expressing their joy and delight, which they felt that moment. They left with memories to last for a long time and by their faces, it was evident that they didn't want to go. They didn't want to leave Tokai behind. A few of them talked about meeting Tokai out on the streets near the dustbins one day. They claimed to have met him, talked with him and laughed and played with him. I listened to their intent conversation and smiled. They made Tokai come alive in a whole new way like it has never happened before.

Tokai, to me, is a real person, a person who lives through our lives in different ways every day to remind us to be grateful for what we have. What we have, is what he only dreams about and talks about with his crows and dogs all day, his only companions who have been faithfully by his side these last 25 years. When I went to see the exhibition with my mom for the first time, I suddenly realised that Tokai was older than me! But not a year older did he look on the canvasses. The paintings and sketches of Tokai of 2004 grabbed my attention immediately. In every single picture I noticed one thing Tokai was silent. He no longer made funny remarks or talked with anybody. He looked put-down, lonely and sad. In one painting, he had a melancholy look on his face and he was hugging himself to sleep on the hard ground. In another, he was playing alone with marbles with the crows as his only witnesses. Another displayed Tokai sitting on the pavement with the leaves of Krishnachura all around him with a curious look on his little face.

These paintings simply broke my heart and as I noticed more and more of the paintings of this year, I grew sadder and sadder. Ranabi has nothing more to say to us. In a very heartrending way, it also shows the present condition of us and how people have become. Freedom of speech has become a dangerous component in every sector of writing and I wonder if it is slowly being taken away from us, till we all become mute and dumb. Tokai's silence leaves a huge message in all our hearts, those who have seen Ranabi's paintings and has read his comic strips. It's never too late to do something valuable for some needy people out there. If you reflect carefully on your daily life, you will notice that we spend our time doing ten things every day that are not even worth our time and energy.

Tokai has left a deep footprint in my life, not only as a person but also as the person I would like to become. I hope that all of us can find a true meaning of who we are and who we strive to turn into, as we grow a little each day of our lives. Because Tokai certainly wants all of us to be something that he could never become a true and successful human being in every sense of the word.


The Thing With

By Saadi

Did you ever notice that most horror films use the same formula? What surprises me more is that people are actually freaked out by these impossible clichés.

This is how it goes. Several wild teenagers (a MUST for these films... who would like to watch 60 year olds being stalked by Jason or Freddie Kreuger or whoever the villain is?) … are lost in a forest or end up in a haunted mansion, with the feeling that they "are not alone…"

Next, one by one, everyone is murdered- of course, except the hero and the heroine themselves. The sequence of killing follows quite a predictable pattern- the lower your courage (and looks) the earlier you die.

During the process, the lead actors face the villain many times, but manage to escape by narrow margins. They also find ton of clues (like dried blood on the floor, hidden passageways, and secret pasts), which somehow points to someone who is actually innocent.

In the end, they discover that the bad guy is really one of their friends who are either jealous or psychotic. Naturally, after that the "happily ever after" syndrome comes in. More often, the mystery lives on…

Few days back, we were having a family time, watching a rented 70's horror. It was the same old ingredients. Surprisingly, my aunt was petrified by the fact that some teenagers in the film were being followed by a serial killer who wears a battered bear mask. Yet, more shocking was the astonished look on her face and the squeal of fear when she discovered that the bear-mask-man was really the hero's envious ex-girlfriend. Gak! Talk about déjà vu.

Some movies, I admit, are well made, although they use the same formula. These include, I know What You Did Last Summer, Valentine, and Friday the 13th (Though the movie was an instant hit, I was a little taken aback when all the seven sequels had identical plots.) On the other hand, some movies do bring changes to the formula. Scream was different, as Drew Barrymore, the lead character, is murdered in the VERY FIRST SCENE!

However, more often than not, I (and probably almost everyone) like movies with unconventional views. Let us take for example, the Blair Witch Project. Yes… a group of teenagers do venture into a forest. Still, it stands out, because instead of just "goin' in," they enter aimed at catching the Blair Witch on tape for a documentary. The thing is, the movie itself plays like a documentary with terrifying settings and gone-crazy camera angles. It makes you feel as if you are right there! The Exorcist is another example- a movie with a completely different story. A girl possessed by the Devil. It secured its position as "The Scariest Film Ever Made" with its killer special effects and sound. Stephen King is one man who is prepared to do anything to scare. With the screen adaptations of Carrie, The Shining, Misery and more recently, Dreamcatcher, he takes on completely different grounds and wins.

Lately there has been a new genre called the "horror-comedy." These films have no specific plots, only a handful of scenes that mock a wide range of horror films. "Scary Movie" and "Shriek" have made their mark. They are uproarious, but not exactly enlightening.

Well, it is time for me to put my pen down. I will catch you later. Meanwhile… Beware of green-eyed peers, dark forests and most importantly, uncreative psychopaths.


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