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God will provide

Fareed stepped out of the mosque and recited the remembrance of departure: "O Lord, I ask You for Your favour, O Lord, guard me from Satan the Outcast," a century and a half-old tradition of the faithful.

As he put on his sandals, he saw a beggar by his car, badgering passers-by. The beggar was bald and sported a lengthy beard. He was clad in haggard and dirty attire, and Fareed wondered for a moment how he could wear such unseemly clothes. From his face, Fareed coull tell the man was no more than 40, yet he was hunched over and yuivering. "A professional," he thought to himself.

As he approached the car, the beggar intercepted him. "Please, my son. For the sake of God!" the beggar recited with a quivering voice. Fareed walked past without flinching, and the beggar matched him stride for {tride despite his hunch and quiver.

Fareed unlocked the car and paused for a moment. As though restraining himself, with a stiff jaw he said the first thing that came into his mind: "God will provide."

On hearing this, the beggar stopped shaking. Fareed got into the car and pulled down the window for a breath of air.

The beggar frowned, his eyes downcast. He spoke softly, almost to himself: "I did not take you as my Provider. I have never denied God..." His voice trailed off.

Fareed looked at the beggar through the windshield as he backed off. The man's quivering had stopped, and from what Fareed could see, his eyes seemed dark, as deep pools of red. Fareed quickly changed gears and drove away.

The beggar stood there, motionless on the sidewalk. For many years he went about his business, but never once did he think of how his actions reflected on himself. He never questioned his faith for he never dug that deep, but upon having to assert his faith in defence, he felt a sickly sense of dishonesty in his soul, as a layer of oil on a clear pool of water. His words of defence came as mere prattling of his tongue; his heart did not resonate, and he felt an aching emptiness within. He realised then, that all his life he had taken as Lord those who were slaves. He could not honestly say that he hadn't denied God.

As the beggar stood there thinking, a little girl, minding her father's biscuit shop by the parking lot saw what happened. Digging into her pocket, she took out a dirham coin and handed it to the beggar as he passed by, walking stiffly. The beggar held the money and paused for a moment. Hints of a smile crossed his face as he put his hand on her head.

"You pay me, yet I did not ask," he said. The little girl smiled up at him. The beggar was too ashamed for prayer, but he cast concern for himself aside for once, and made a most private and hearty supplication for the girl as he turned the corner. It was hi{ sincerest request in years.

As Fareed was about to turn into the main road, he was introspecti~e. "I did not pay the man," he |hought to himself, "because he as a professional beggar. He is young, yet he shivers with age. What hypocrisy!" He was trying to reconcile what he thought to be an awful thing to do, to refuse a beggar.

Fareed made it a point never to pay professional beggars, and he maintained this with great difficulty. He was a very sentimental and charitable young man, but he decided not to as a matter of principle, for to patronise their trade is to encourage it, and they are a hindrance and an unseemly sight, feeding on the pity of others.

Despite the cold, hard facts, he could not forget the man's eyes now, and he knew he would have trouble coming to terms with ignoring him like that. "Oh, just this once," he thought to himself. He parked the car in front of a house by the road, and walked back to the parking lot a short distance away as he pulled out a ten-dirham note from his wallet.

When he got there, the lot was empty. The mosque too was abandoned, for prayer time was over. Soft melodies of recitations of the Qur'an emanated from within the mosque, but from without, it was desolate. His eyes came upon a little girl minding a small biscuit shop on the sidewalk.

Not willing to put the money back in his pocket once he
had decided on giving it to charity, he put the ten-dirham note on the little girl's lap and walked away.

By Iftekharul Haque

Mysterious girl

After thirty minutes of drive we arrived at the much talked about costume party. Upon entering his big mansion I thought to myself Reshad sure did know how to throw a party. No wonder he is called the ' party guru'.

The hall was huge, and I was impre{sed by the august decorations. \o get everyone into the party mood, the walls were adorned with pictures of Dire Straits, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and so on. On the nooks of the hall were the Bose Speakers, he specially hired for the party. He even brought a scratch board for live remix. I concluded that he liked to be perfect and articulate.

The hall cluttered with elegant looking men and women, dressed in all sorts of costumes. The air was heavy with the scent of perfumes. My keen observation was abruptly interrupted when Saimon hit me on my head, " Well Mr Louise, wasting no time, already looking for girls." Defending myself, I replied " I wasn't looking for girls, and I am not a louise". After a while, Nuhair and Saimon, started their 'girl hunt'.

I wasn't much interested in girls, since the time a relationship got bad. I basically came to the party for the music, the dance, and specially to figure out why was Reshad's parties so special. My curiousity was already satisfied, right when I entered the place.

I walked towards the bar and grabbed myself a glass of white wine. I could see Nuhair had already found himself a ravishing date. I was impressed with Nuhair's charm, as he could get himself a date like her, with that belly of his. " Louise did you find your deserted love" Saimon shouted out from the dance nloor. God! I hated him with all my heart. He loved to pinch me where it hurts the most, but I ignored him.

As I was sipping the wine from my glass, suddenly I heard a stern (attractively stern) voice from my side. The girl asked for a pack of tonic from the bartender. The voice as very enticing, and there was something special in that voice. So, I turned, and looked at her. She was facing towards the bartender with her back facing me. She had long straight hair, and her slender body fitted perfectly in the red gown.

Then she turned, and our eyes met. She wore a red mask, only covering the surrounding of her eye sockets. Her eyes were very prominent, and had a very determined look. Her cheeks were smooth, and her lips were glossy and very tempting. Reflexively, I felt the sudden urge to talk to her, to start a conversation.

So, I said, " That's a very strong drink for a girl". She gave me a stunning smile, slightly |urned her face, took a sip from her glass, and with a sarcastic tone asked, " Why you think, that we girls are so weak that we wouldn't be able to bear the {trong astringen| taste of tonic?". " God! She is smart", I thought to myself. I found myself speechless, and was trying hard to maintain my composure. I had to come up with a smart answer. So, I replied back with my best smile, " No its not that, in fact I think it's the other way round" .

She then directly looked in my eyes, as if she was trying to read my mind, and scrutinize my answer. She seemed satisfied, smiled, and introduced herself as " Bedazzled, the devil's advocate". " As you can see, I am the corny crusader in cape, Batman" , I repliel.

With a winning smile, she said that she never found Batman corny, on the contrary she found him to be a very desirable man. My inner conscience shouted aloud "Yes!", and said "Louise it is your lucky day". I rebuked by saying that I was not a louise. Well, we then started talking. She seemed very cleverly reserved. She wasn't reticent. She did talk a lot, but revealed very little.

Nonetheless, I found her very amiable, but at the same time very smart. But, what disturbed me the most was, that her profile, her hair, her eyes reminded me of my childhood sweetheart who deserted me. Her eyes were very intoxicating, and were so much like Hers. For a moment I became nostalgic, and could see Her face taking shape on hers. I was lost; I was again flying. "Hellooo, Mr. Batman, why are you looking at me with that stupid smile on your face", with her saying that, my mind after taking a flight to cloud nine, again took possession of my body. I felt embarrassed, but didn't stop short of asking her, her real name. Looking askance at me, she queried teasingly whether I was expecting her to be someone I know, but she didn't tell me her name.

After a while, she matter-of-factly dragged me to the dance floor. As I was being lead to the floor, my conscience instructed me take a grip on myself. We started to dance to the music. "Its my life" of Bon Jovi never sounded better.

She moved like a snake with the rhythm on the music. Her every move seemed venomous, and was sensuous. Mvery now and then she would give me an alluring smile, which had an intense affect on me. What bothered me the most was that, she very well knew the affect her smile had on me. She seemed like a devil to me, a desirable devil.

But her eyes told a different story. Her eyes told the story of an innocent girl; a girl wanting to be loved. It reminded of me of Her. It reminded me of my sweet love. I became despmrate. I urged her to tell me her real name, but she wouldn't. I wondered what mystery hid behind that red mask. I felt intoxicated by her bmauty, and was baffled by her resemblance to Her. My conscience ordered me stop acting like a fanatic, and I tried to obey.

Suddenly, all the lights went out, with only a blue light glowing from the center. The music s|opped, and suddenly an arcane silence engulfed |he whole room. Everyone became static. After a short interval of ten seconds, rolling of drums filled the fragrant air followed by the sound of tzumpet. Everyone clapped with great approval, when e~eryone undezstood it was the song Careless Whisper of George Michael. "Reshad , sure did know how to create an atmosphere", I thought to myself.

The men took their women in their arms, and ball danced with the music. I was a bit nervous, and felt a bit uncomfortable. The mystery girl could feel my hesitation, so she took the initiative. Gently she led my hand to her waist, and like an innocent child she slid into my arms, and rested her head on my chest. The touch took me on a zoller coaster ride to the memory lane. I could again feel the overwhelming sensation when She u{ed to keep her head on my chest. I fel| complete; I felt happy; I felt sad.

In my mind I was cursing the mystery girl for playing with my mind; for toying with my heart. Then I felt her coming closer to my ears, and said in a solemn tone ' Oh Louise I am sorry." My eyes dashed open, but I didn't look directly at her eyes. Now, I knew I wasn t dreaming, it was Her. I brought Her closer, and held Her tight. I s|arted to dance with the sincerity of a devoted worshipper, worshipper of Her love. Within seconds, I forgave and forgot. What mattered most was that, she was back, and not that she once left me.

All of sudden, we heard a blast, and the electricity failed. The crod became boisterous, and I was bewildered. Everyone started screaming, and running. In the confusion I could feel her loosening from my arms, and then she disappeared in the darkness.

I called out to her, but she didn't acknowledge. The electricity returned after five minutes, and I started looking for her everywhere. The hall was astronomically big, I ran from one corner of the hall to the other; but there was no sign of her. I was gasping for breath, and then eventually I gave up. I felt let down, and my whole body felt heavy. I had to carry myself through the crowd toards the door, where I caught the sight of Her mask on the floor. I bent down, and picked it up. I brought it closer to my nose, and could smell her perfume. I smiled, and kept it in my pocket as a souvenir.

Albeit, the party didn't end the way I wanted it to, but I did enjoy the party a lot. It was exciting, and it was special. Special in the sense that, for some hours I thought I got my Love back; but even today, I wonder whether the mystery-masked girl was really Her or not.

By Sartaj Ahmed Khan Mojlish

A breath of fresh new hope
A season of love so dear
Nature is alive again
Spring is in the air
A time f}ll of joy
and to give love all away
And to see through the eyes of youth
embracing each wonderful days
The world is in intoxication
and hearts full of desires
and minds so devine and pure
in the sanctity of sacred attires
Nature is in harmony with beauty
and beauty is in Spring
the world is singing in ecstatic madness
too enchanted to think
blessed is every moment
time is standing still
cherish this time on which
God has bestowed His Grace
there will be no life without spring

By Naome Syed

My Best Friend
I always had a great friend
For as long as I remember
She was always there for me
Our love will always linger.
She listened to my problems
She listened to my dreams
We talked about tv and life
She was the best friend of my dreams.
Almost everyday I met my friend
Unless she was away,
It was strange how we connected
She always knew what I had to say.
We did everything together
Dancing, singing, performing plays
We were just the perfect pair
And it will always be that way.

By Shanzeh Rafika Ameen

Life goes on
The sun rises but then still then
Why pours the dawn?
Life goes on:
Time and tide wait for none.
Anger to denials ,jealousy to regrets,
Thoughts of such kind dwell within our fire-breathing insane souls.
We move into an unknown ocean
Leaving our past :
Some sketched with wonderful memoirs ;
While others are drenched in dreadful dreams.
Every moment of our precious life is being taken away
With the passage of time.
Inspiring thoughts end in disappointments,
Life takes us into darkness
Giving the birth of hope in our torn minds.
We move into a new era:
Wand`ring in search of ourselves.

By Raisa Sanjana Rahman

Unconditional Happiness"
Happiness is not the result of favorable conditions.
That's backwards. Favorable conditions result from
happiness. So what does it take to be happy? Nothing
more than a willingness to be happy.
Happiness comes from the way you respond to life.
There are people who have every reason to be
but who still live with happiness and joy. In every
there is room for happiness.
Everyone has challenges. Everyone has disappointments.
Yet they do not have to get you down. True happiness
comes not from the absence of problems. True, enduring
happiness comes in spite of the problems.
Happiness is not a reaction, it is a choice.
Let it be yours.

By Tahmina Tasnim


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