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Against all odds

“The spinal cord has sustained severe injury. Your daughter is paralyzed from neck down", the doctor stated, his face an expressionless mask. As the audible gasps of shock echoed around the room, he continued, his voice devoid of any emotion. "There's reason to hope that given extensive therapy, she might regain some control of her upper body, but this much is sure; she will never be able to walk again."

Saima squeezed her eyes shut as the doctor pronounced what felt like a life sentence on her. She allowed herself to drift away into merciful sleep as the pathedrine coursed through her blood. But the nightmare of the doctor's prognosis gave way to restless nightmares where she relived the horror of her accident over and over again, the rain, the slippery road, the screech of the skidding tyres, and her own screams of fear and pain before everything went dark.

When next she opened her eyes, she found a tearful Anis by her side. He was clutching her hands tightly, and the diamonds on her engagement ring flashed in the light of the hospital. They were supposed to have been married the following month. "I'll never leave you," he whispered again and again.

Six months later, he was spending his honeymoon in France with his new bride. Saima bore the news quietly, without bitterness. She knew it would ultimately come to this.

Determined never to be reliant on another for her happiness, she decided to go to battle against her disability. The doctors had said she might in time be able to regain control of her upper body.

It was to the achievement of this end that she threw herself into, heart and soul. Propped up by pillows on the bed, she stared at her fingers, lying inert before her, and willed them to move. Day in, and day out, she coaxed her lifeless body to awaken and resume their former activity.

Then one day, when everyone was least expecting it, the little finger on her right hand twitched.

Within six months, she no longer needed a feeding tube to help her get her nourishment; in another six weeks, she could sit up without help, and by the end of the year, she had regained control of her arms.

Saima became an overnight celebrity. Tales of her bravery and determination inspired many a story, and reporters flocked to her bedside.

There was even talk of a documentary to be filmed. Everyone lauded her on defeating her disability; she was a star.

Saima took this all in the same way she'd dealt with the bad news: quietly. For she already had another goal in mind. Looking to her motionless feet, she smiled and whispered, 'Wiggle your big toe."

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Dear readers, starting this week and running throughout, the Rising Stars is counting down to its anniversary in May, and we want you to join the fun, with our '500 Feat'. Send us an original short story of not more than 500 words. The best three entries will be printed in a special issue. So get cracking! Mail your entries to rs.readers@gmail.com. For further details on the contest, check out our Book Review section next week. Here's wishing you all the very best of luck!
~ RS Desk ~

He who made it big

With a buffet of wealth, we have for you the oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, with $28 billion

Warren Edward Buffett was born August 30th, 1930, to Howard and Leila Buffett, in Omaha, Nebraska. Warren's parents met while working on the school paper at the University of Nebraska, but when Warren, the middle child of the Buffetts' three, was born, Howard was a stockbroker turned US Congressman.

Young Buffett was always fascinated by numbers and always had a keen eye for business, as seen in his business ventures as a child. He sold soda pop door-to-door, sold tip sheets for horseracing, worked at his grandfather's grocery store (his family comes from a line of grocers), and impressed his friends by knowing the population of numerous US cities by heart.

A billionaire in the making
By age 11, Buffett had purchased his first stock at his father's brokerage -- three shares of Cities Service Preferred -- at $38 a share. Even at age 11, he wasn't too young to learn that patience is a virtue, and could have made the difference between his $5 profit (from selling too early) to hundreds more, after the stock soon rose to $200.

Even while a high school student, Buffett was proving to be a born entrepreneur. He had a paper route when his family relocated to Washington, D.C., and even offered two rival papers, in order to have something to offer customers if they canceled one of the subscriptions. Buffett bought 40 acres of Nebraska farmland with his paper route savings at age 14, and collected rent from his tenant.

Although he did not particularly care to go to University, he attended Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania and then transferred to the University of Nebraska, where he became enthralled by Benjamin Graham's "The Intelligent Investor." The book reinforced the importance of value investing and going after undervalued stocks, which is why Buffett shuns the Microsofts and goes for the Coca-Colas, even today.

Since he was rejected from Harvard Business School, Buffett studied Economics at New York's Columbia University, to learn from his idol Graham, and eventually become his protégé . Working with Graham as his mentor turned out to be a life-altering decision.

What eventually became a billion-dollar fortune started out with his childhood earnings. He used the money earned from his paper route, soda pop and pinball machines to make his first investment partnership; with the money of investors and his own $100, Buffett began purchasing stocks, aiming to beat the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 10% a year. He did just that, from the start in 1957, until the end of the partnership in 1969.

One of his biggest career moves was his investment in Berkshire Hathaway, a textile mill in New Bedford, MA, in 1962. He used Berkshire's capital by investing it in other businesses, amongst them insurance companies (including GEICO).

Oracle is down-to-earth
Buffett, with the millions of dollars Berkshire was making thanks to him, began to fill his portfolio with stocks of solid companies that were undervalued, and inexpensive at the time. By sticking to companies such as American Express and Coca-Cola, companies with solid brand names rather than the latest Wall Street trend, Buffett has become one of the wealthiest men in the United States with a fortune of approximately $36 billion.

But despite being known as the greatest stock market investor of our day, and having the kind of wealth only Bill Gates is familiar with, Buffett lives the kind of down-to-earth life familiar to many. He eats at Dairy Queen, loves Coca-Cola and burgers, still lives in the same house he purchased for $31,000, and doesn't dress like the billionaire he is.

Warren Buffett and his wife Susan have three children, while Buffett lives with his companion Astrid Menks, a waitress. Although it seems confusing, it's perfectly normal to Warren, Susie and Astrid, who are all friends and sign presents from the three of them.

Susie divides her time between being a cabaret singer and an abortion activist (Buffett was also active in abortion issues during the '60s), and serving on Berkshire's board as a large shareholder of the company. She still accompanies her husband on public appearances, even though she moved out of Buffett's house in 1977. In fact, Susie was the one who introduced Astrid to Warren, and the two women remain friends.

A buffet of wealth
While Buffet of Oracle in of Omaha in all his riches, his generosity has its limits. Not only is he known as a miser when it came to his own children (when he lent his daughter Susie $20 to get her car out of the airport garage, he made her write him a check), but the Buffett Foundation, which mostly serves family planning clinics since the 1960s, is only representative of a crumb of his fortune (about $11-12 million a year).

And Susie is the sole heir to his throne, while he wants 99% of his wealth to go to the Buffett Foundation.

There are many intriguing aspects of Buffett's philosophy and life, and it's no wonder people buy a single share of Berkshire Hathaway for the opportunity to learn his way.

"Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing."-Warren Buffett

By Taskin Rahman

Book review

Mother tongue

Anyone who's studied the Bengal Renaissance and the evolution of the Bangla language will know that our mother tongue was once a crude language spoken by the largely illiterate masses, and frowned upon by the local scholars of yore as being beneath their notice. It wasn't until the literary heavyweights like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar or Michael Madhusudan Dutt (to name just a few) discovered the potential of this tongue, and developed it into a language so many people in later years laid down their lives to protect. Before Bangla underwent its linguistic makeover and gained recognition as a language worthy of poetry and refined prose, it was considered fashionable for the elite class to be schooled in English, a trend that remains today.

Now how many people know that a couple of centuries before the British Raj, English was considered as the 'inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants'? Shocking, isn't it?

That's just one of the quirky facts that you get to find out about this global language in the rollicking barrel of laughs that Bill Bryson's 'Mother Tongue' is. Now why the heck is that nerd reviewing a grammar book, you might be wondering. There's more to Mother Tongue than you would expect. Sure, it's basically a documentary on the origins and evolution of the English language, but it's just a grammar book just the way Gerald Durell's A Zoo in my Luggage is just an old man's rant about funky monkeys. That's right, what sets this book apart from the Fundamental English workbook lying in the corner of your desk is the use of humor.

Consider his opening line: "More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to." He keeps it up with a steady stream of wacky witticisms, funny facts and hilarious anecdotes. Here's a taste:

"Consider this hearty announcement in a Yugoslavian hotel: 'The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid. Turn to her straightaway.'"

Hungry for more? Go read the book. It's a laugh and a half and it'll have you begging for more.

By Sabrina F Ahmad
Questions? Comments? Review of the review? Mail us at rs.readers@gmail.com

Sushi for beginners

Lisa Edwards is the glamorous, sophisticated and troublesome editor of the prestigious 'Femme' magazine, in London. She is a cranky and difficult person to work with, and always maintains a distance for her co-workers who

spend ages resenting her, but can never do anything about it since she's the boss. Lisa is also an expert when it comes to being selfish: she decides it's handier to pinch miscellaneous items (designers shoes, clothes and handbags; a one year supply of tooth paste; a crate of champagne) from the office, that were donated for various purposes, and keeping them for herself.

Yet, despite all her faults, Lisa is a contentious worker, even coming in on holidays to work. She has one ONLY goal in life: to become the deputy editor of 'Manhattan', a bigger, better and more esteemed magazine. So, when the

big bosses decide that its time she was transferred to 'Colleen' magazine in Dublin ('small wet place across the Irish sea' as they delicately call it), Lisa's world crumbles. She should be partying in Prada in London. Is she unhappy about it? She wouldn't tell you even if she was.

Ashling Kennedy is a good worker. She is also an award winning worrier. When she joins 'Colleen' as an assistant editor, she is unaware of the many qualities (?) of Lisa. Despite herself, she gradually finds herself being familiar with the inner side of Lisa, and begins recognizing her for the vulnerable person that she truly is. She also finally stops being such a worrywart, and finds herself relaxing with her new boyfriend who, incidentally, happens to be THE new comedian of the moment. Ashling is happy and secure in her new relationship. So why do her knees turn to jelly every time her boss, the irresistible Jack Devine, turns his killer green eyes at her?

We don't really get that much of an insight about the third woman: Clodagh. Clodagh Kelly should be blissfully happy. She is married to the prince of her dreams, has two adorable children and a lovely house, that she 'redecorates' every fortnight. So what tempts her to steal her best friend, Ashling's, boyfriend? And why does he finally have that nervous breakdown that everyone thought Ashling would have?

If you want a love story, seasoned with sympathy and comic charm, Marian Keyes is the writer for you! Reviewers say this about 'Sushi for Beginners' by Marian Keyes: "This should come with a health warning. It's totally

addictive real page-turner". Basically 'Sushi for Beginners' is a story of three women: Lisa, Ashling and Clodagh (stop groaning and saying: oh no! not again!). The unique point of this story is that they are NOT best friends.

By Jennifer Ashraf


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