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When computers make you cry

You know, there is that cliche about computers controlling people's lives.? Well, I always thought that that's all that it is, a cliche only till this week. It actually hit me that I am dependent on my PC, really, really dependent on it. Sure, I can survive without it but it's just not the same. It's like Coke, you know. I can survive without Coke but life would just not be exactly the same. Or may be I can't survive without Coke, I don't know.

As you can guess from my infinite rambling, I am the sort of person who writes a lot. A lot. You know how we've all exchanged notes with our friends in Chemistry classes (and all other classes, for that matter) while making sure that it escapes the prying eyes of our teachers? Well, I have a history with those notes. Often, while waiting for my response, my friends were known to hiss at me, "Are you writing a novel or something?" Well, no, I haven't written a complete novel in Economics class (yet) but yeah, I admit that I tend to write a lot. That's because I like writing, no, I love writing. Even when my arm feels like it's dying from pain or when it's three o' clock in the morning or when my exam is seventeen hours away. It's something I just have to do, it's innate.

Anyway, so here's the thing. Over the last year or more, I had been writing almost regularly. Not only for people to read them, but also for my own pleasure. Plays, short stories, poems, real-life stuff, you name it. I didn't like talking about them, except when it came to my closest friends. But even if not everyone might agree on them being great, I loved my writings. Not because I thought they deserved the Booker Prize, but simply because they were me, pure, unadulterated me on paper. Except, you see, technically, they were not on paper. They were inside my PC, on the C drive of my hard disk to be precise.

Remember the poem in Class Four? About that old donkey Nicholas Nye? Well, I think that in one of the stanzas, the poet said something like: All good things must come to an end. At the age of ten, I found that saying to be so... profound. Wow. I mean, I always had an inkling about good things getting over at a point. I mean, the Cadbury's Dairy Milk bar wouldn't last forever. Weekends were over before you knew it. McGyver lasted only a couple of minutes on BTV. But the way the poet put it in that poem! All good things must come to an end. I never thought of putting it so exactly, so beautifully.

But when the "good things" for me did come to an end, I didn't find it so beautiful. In fact, I was devastated. While on the noble mission of upgrading my prehistoric PC, we had to remove the old hard disk and get a new, bigger one. All my work, including my 600 page journal that I had saved in the old hard disk were erased. They were just gone. And it never occurred to me that this would happen.

Now I know people grieve about bigger things in life. But you know what I realised? That hard disc WAS part of my life. It contained written memories of years of my life, each and every day recorded to be read years from now. It contained my juvenile literature, the fruits of my wild imagination, my despair-induced attempts at poetry. What got erased wasn't just data; it's like me who got erased.

My survival strategy is not to think about the great tragedies in the world. Because when you sit yourself down and think about all that is wrong in the world, all the famine in Africa, the wars in Middle East, the poverty two streets away, you can't survive. When you really concentrate, and I mean when you intensely focus on every tear of a just orphaned child or someone the age of your younger brother dying of starvation, you won't be able to sleep at night. So what you do is stop thinking. Just switch that brain of yours off.

As human beings, we were born selfish. And in taking the full liberty of my selfishness, I am not ashamed to say that I grieved over my lost work. It's nothing compared to all the terrible things that happen to people who deserve it far less than I would have. But I grieve still. For can you write the same thing again? Can I ever capture what I did before? Do you feel the same essence of an experience twice? I don't even remember what I did a week before; how can I trace back a whole year of my life?

So it's not just a cliche, you see. Computers are starting to control our lives. I know, it certainly did mine. And I'm still in mourning.

By Maliha Bassam

Time to clean up?

Being a pedestrian in Dhaka is not easy. As dwellers of Dhaka City we have to put up with nuisances such as the overflowing garbage disposal sites, the clogged drains, the litter on the ground and so much more. In many places the footpath is either broken or completely missing. The condition of Dhaka's streets is appalling, not to mention dirty and unhygienic.

Just the other day I saw a man trip on a piece of garbage lying on the footpath and he seemed to have hurt himself. Although this may not be a common occurrence the amount of garbage lying on the streets would lead you to think otherwise. Garbage is dumped everywhere except at the allotted garbage disposal sites. It is almost impossible to ignore the "interesting" odors that reach our nostrils the moment we step out of our houses. And I really pity the people living in the apartments. The only view from their windows and balconies is the streets below and the filth that accompanies it. It is really sad how people do not even have the common sense to use garbage cans. They throw garbage on the streets in a way that they would never do in their own homes. I suppose we still haven't realized that the streets belong to us and it is our duty to keep it clean. However garbage is not the only problem. These days almost every square inch of the walls seems to be covered with some kind of poster. The politicians not only stare at us from the pages of the newspaper and television sets, they do it in the streets as well. There are hundreds of different types of posters that can be found on the roadside, with the majority of them trying to convince us to vote for one politician or the other. Then there are posters of upcoming events, concerts and the millions of new schools that are opening in Dhaka. It is almost impossible to find an area of wall that has been left untouched. The authorities should designate specific places for people to hang their posters and should ban people from doing it elsewhere. Construction work poses a different kind of problem for Dhaka's roadsides. Bricks, cement, rods and other building materials are piled high on the footpaths, hardly leaving any space for walking. Not only do they hinder pedestrians, they can also make the roads narrower and cause problems for car. And then there is our "beloved" drainage system. Most of the drains, which run alongside the footpath, are without covers and somehow they always seem to be clogged. This really becomes a problem during the monsoon season when our drainage system fails completely and the water from the drain overflows onto the streets.

The authorities do not seem to be bothered by the condition of Dhaka's footpaths and roads. The worst part, however, is that most people do not really care either. They may think of it as a nuisance but very few people are actually willing to do something about it. We are all content to just to sit back and accept it as a part of our lives. You just need to step into the Cantonment to get an idea of what can be achieved with a little effort. The streets are clean, well kept and have some really nice trees planted alongside them. That is what the entire city should look like, and not just a part of it.

By Ayesha S. Mahmud

The truth about teen suicide

I'm so happy 'cause today
I've found my friends...
They're in my head
I'm so ugly, but that's okay, 'cause so are you...
We've broken our mirrors
Sunday morning is everyday for all I care...
And I'm not scared
Light my candles in a daze...
'Cause I've found god - yeah, yeah, yeah

Have you ever felt that you've had enough of life? That you were absolutely fed up with it? Or, did you ever believe that you had no reason for living, that you need to eradicate yourself from the face of the Earth in any way possible? If you have, you're in more danger than you think. Findings from recent research have shown that most teen suicides in our country are the result of many factors - personal problems, family burdens and pressure, unbearable emotional state and a traumatic event which together might have lead to an intolerable situation in the young person's life. Suicide is almost always a last resort an alternative to a problem a teen can't solve by himself/herself.

The Causes
Adolescence is a period of rapid physical and emotional growth - a time of stress and confusion for many adolescents, which is normal. Most teens cross this stage without any serious conflict. But for some, their ability to deal with this may be stretched to the absolute limit and even beyond that.

Family support is particularly important in the normal development of young people. When this support is not available or in some instances when the family is itself "toxic" (e.g. abusive, violent and dysfunctional) to the young person, depression and anger may ensue with dire consequences. Over-protective families can be just as stressful.

Many youths have difficulties coping with peer pressure. Being different, not athletic or studious can be most unbearable at this stage because other children tend to bully and tease. Children rarely talk about such things with their parents and friends and when this bullying reaches its peak the emotional burden may become unbearable. They may seek relief from drugs and alcohol and the wrong kind of friends. Because they think they can "escape" from their distresses temporarily, they tend to continue. Eventually they may become dependent on the drugs to the point where he/she has to keep taking them constantly. Unfortunately alcohol and many drugs may actually make them more depressed and it may become impossible for them to let go because of withdrawal syndrome.

Teenagers with a history of conduct disorder have a much higher risk of suicide because they tend to act out their feelings in a destructive manner. This is particularly true if they are isolated, angry and aggressive. Many of these young people are in constant crisis. For example, they may be homeless and they have frequent conflicts with the law. They may be lonely, social outcasts and they seek support from others with similar background. Many are reluctant to admit to themselves or to others of their true feelings or to ask for help.

In our country, a majority of youth suicides occur to victims of sexual assault. They blame themselves for what has happened to them, thinking that they are 'unclean', brought shame to their families and are unfit to be a part of society. They may commit suicide to save the "honor" of their family.

There are also cases where youths have relationship conflicts-where they 'cannot get the ones they love', or 'their beloved won't or can't marry them'. This makes them feel that without their loved one, they won't be able to survive, and it'll be easier to cope with the pain if they didn't live at all.

The Symptoms
· Chronic depression is a serious disease and should be treated so. Sometimes the person himself may not know that he is suffering from something so serious.
· Mood changes are common but persistent lowering of mood may indicate the presence of an underlying major depression. Depressed youths, especially females, have a much higher risk of suicide. The risk is further increased if there is a family history of depression and suicide.
· Constantly talking about death or the uselessness of life.
· Reluctance to meet other people of same age or to be socially active.
· Eating disorders, loss of appetite and having problems sleeping
· Giving away prized possessions and loss of interest in hobbies, personal appearances etc.
· Taking unnecessary risks.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or know some one who is talk to someone older like a parent, sibling, aunt or even a health professional.

As long as there is an emotionally significant person in our lives to whom we can relate, this will decrease the likelihood of suicide. The person may be a parent, a teacher, a close friend or a youth worker. The presence of a good supportive network is particularly important to those youths who have little or no family support. Indeed simply talking about their problems and letting out their feelings may become the best medicine for the suicidal.

A warm, caring and understanding family is a good source of support for a teen in distress. Firm guidance, good communication, family stability and an ability to "grow" with the child are important ingredients for a well functioning family.

Teens who are involved in group activities such as ECA and team sports can use these activities to channel their energy and frustration in a socially acceptable manner. They learn to relate to others in a structured and fun environment under the guidance of responsible and caring adults. Their self esteem can be raised by their successes.

Social stigma and prejudice are our enemies. Every human being is taught from childhood that suicidal people are shameful, sinful, weak, selfish, and manipulative--taught that they are contagious, and want to harm others. None of these ideas are true.

While thousands of years of social oppression are an enemy, our allies include millions of years of biological programming. We are born with the desire to stay alive. It is the most basic thing about us; we share it with all living beings. At each moment, millions of events take place inside our bodies and inside our minds that are designed to help us stay alive. Many of us endured bleak periods during which inner voices cried out, "Kill yourself. Your life is nothing but pain and misery. You might as well end it all." Yet we did not die. The desire for life is pre-conscious. It keeps us going even when the voices tell us to die.

By Slayer






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