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Trina always felt very bad for her best friend Rita and she made it very obvious to everybody. Rita was an orphan. She had lost her parents at a very early age of two. She didn't even have any of those cherished childhood memories that everybody has. You know the bittersweet memories of not letting go of your mom on the first day of school, and being taken to the Shishu Park by your dad for the first time. These memories always brought tears to Trina's eyes and it broke her heart to think that her best friend couldn't have that joy. That four hands weren't on top of her head to protect her, bless her, guide her, fulfill all her stupid demands, and give her so much love that she wouldn't need anything else in life. But well, life is a blessing for some, and a curse for the rest. You have to live it anyways.

On a cold foggy morning of December 1988, Trina's father had rushed her mother to the hospital, praying with all his might that they had made it in time. His wife was in labour, and in the next few hours she gave birth to twins- a boy and a beautiful girl. They looked so precious and heavenly that their father felt scared to even touch them. All he could do was look at them and think, "Oh my God, they're my babies! I'm a daddy! They're so beautiful! Why is the nurse holding them like that? What if they fall? BE CAREFUL WOMAN! Oh my God, I can't believe I'm a daddy!" Their mother was still unconscious after the operation to be thinking anything.

On January 2nd, the baby boy died because of a heart complicacy. On the one hand, it turned their world upside down. On the other hand, it brought them closer still to the daughter whom they had named Trina. She was the heart of the family. A scratch on her hand drove her parents crazy. A tear from her eyes threw their house in turmoil. Any want of their beloved daughter, even if it was to have ice cream at midnight was fulfilled without a second thought. She was the queen who ruled the little red apartment in Dhanmondi and the hearts of the other two people who lived in it.

On Trina's 1st birthday, her parents threw a party fit for kings! It was a grand event, perhaps even more hi-fi than their wedding had been! Too bad the person for whom so much money was spent had no clue what on earth was going on! She was too busy feeling annoyed at all those big hands pulling her cheeks so hard. All her birthdays ever since then were always grand events. An ostentatious show of just how much her parents loved her. Perhaps, just a bit too showy.

Since Trina had working parents, they never had the time to personally take care of her. So she had a nanny- a permanent nanny who, for as back as Trina could remember, had brought her up, fed her, taken care of her, and done all those things that her mother should have done. So ever since she had the sense to think, the one person closest to her heart (after her parents of course) had always been her nanny. Her small world revolved around very few people…her nanny, herself, her teddy bears, and her parents. There was nothing else and nobody else for this shy introvert.

When Trina was 4 years old, she got admitted to Green Herald. Her first day of school was a memory that she cherished more than anything ever. On that day, her nanny woke her up early in the morning and for the first time in her life, on a weekday, miraculously she got to see her Papa. Normally, the only two days she got to see him were Fridays and Saturdays since on the weekdays he left for work before she woke up and returned after she had gone to bed. But on the two days that she did have him, she was spoiled to her heart's desire!

"Good morning princess! Ready for school?" her father asked cheerfully when Trina joined him on the breakfast table.
"Papa, what do I do in school?"
"You'll meet lots of people your own size and have lots of fun and learn lots of things!"
"But what if they don't like me?" Trina asked, feeling quite scared.
"Then tell them you are Papa's princess! They have to like you after that!"
"Papa, please come with me, I'm scared."
"I can't sweetheart. I have to go work. But don't worry, your mom will take you," saying so and giving her a kiss on the forehead, her father left.
"Ma, will you stay with me in school?"
"No sweetie, mommy has to work too! And don't be scared, you'll have so much fun that you'll probably forget us!"
"No Ma. That's what you do. Not me," she said, a tear forming in the corner of her eyes.
"Listen sweetie, I gave some money to Helena and she'll bye you ice cream while coming home. Okay? Happy?"
"Yes Ma, I'm happy."

That was pretty much all that happened that day. The reason she cherished it so much was because that day a whole new dimension to her world was created full of people her own type. She stopped feeling so bad and lonely all the time. Eventually, she went through quite a transformation- from a shy introvert to the loudest extrovert of her class.

Jan 5th 2005. It was Trina's first Cambridge Exam. In the morning she had woken up with such a bad headache that she wanted to die. On a cold morning, she was sweating like a pig. And worst of all, her bladder had gone berserk and she had to run to the bathroom every once in a while! This was the first major exam she was taking and her preparation was worse than it had been in her Class II Finals! "What the hell. What's gonna happen will happen. There's no point in fretting over it," saying so she ran to the bathroom.

At the breakfast table, her mother was busy buttering bread and her father had his nose inside the newspaper. When Trina walked in her father looked up and exclaimed, "Hey Princess! Why aren't you wearing your uniform? Aren't you going to school?"

"No Papa. I have my Cambridge Exam today. English. I…"
"Why didn't you tell me before? It's my daughter's big exam and I don't even know?" her father said indignantly.
"I told you yesterday. And the day before. You probably forgot," was Trina's dry reply.
"Really? Oh yes! I remember now. I'm so sorry sweetie…you know with the stress of work and everything, it's hard to remember things. Your Papa is growing old!" Trina didn't feel the need to reply.
"Can either of you drop me off to British Council?" she asked instead.
"You drop her. I have a very important meeting in like 15 minutes," her father said to her mother.
"Can't be more important than my meeting. You know I have to go to UNICEF today. I'm giving a speech in this seminar. They're probably going to show it on television!" her mother replied, while eating breakfast as quickly as she could.
"Come on! You…" her father started but was cut short by Trina.

"STOP IT! I am your only daughter and this is one of the most important days of my life! All I asked for is a lift to the exam hall, and you CAN'T EVEN DO THAT? You didn't once come to me and ask how my preparation was… okay, no problem. Not once did you give me one word of support…I understand that as well. But all I'm asking for is a lift, and you don't even have the time to give me that? To hell with it! I don't need any of you!" picking up her backpack, Trina stormed out of the house, tears glinting in her eyes.

When she reached the exam hall, she looked around for somebody she knew. There was nobody. But just beside her, a woman in a sari was ranting surah after surah, grabbing her son who was blushing a vivid red out of embarrassment. It reminded her of her birthday a month back. She had turned 16 and her parents had thrown another grand party. Her mother had fussed over her a lot that day! On her dress, her make up, her guest list and all the other little things. 'Well, at least she fussed!' Trina thought with a smile. Her parents had been making a lot of hype about her birthday present almost a week before the day. It turned out that the present was a credit card which could bye up to one lakh worth of goods. Trina would have been happier if they had just arranged for a little family picnic somewhere near. Money wasn't really her thing. For her parents it was everything.

She remembered what had happened that morning. 'No, I shouldn't have shouted like that! They're busy people…I should be a bit more understanding. It's not like they don't love me or care about me. God why am I this immature?'

"All candidates can now enter the building. Only the candidates please…" the guard with the big moustache shouted out.

'Oh well, here goes…" taking a deep breath, Trina walked into the hall room with all the other candidates, gave a horrible exam, and came out feeling nothing.

"Okay…3 Us, 2 Es and an A. Not bad!" Rita said, looking at Trina's result sheet.

"Isn't it?" Trina replied with a laugh. Inside, she was burning with a raging anger. She wanted to kill herself.
"What did your parents say about it?"

"Nothing. They screamed at me and told me I am wasting their hard earned money. I don't have any need to go to school anymore. " Trina said, biting her lip to stop the tears from coming out. She was burning with shame.
"Come on. It's okay. You'll do better next time. You've got to work harder, that's all!" Rita said.

"Easy for you to say with your straight As. I can bet your parents are looking down at you and smiling as of right now!" Trina said with the saddest of smiles.

"Your parents are proud of you too. For different reasons probably…" Rita desperately tried to appease her friend.

"I don't have parents, Rita. You are literally an orphan and I am figuratively the same. What's the difference?" This time, Rita had no reply. And the tears started falling from Trina's eyes as though they would never stop.

By desert_rain

Terrific gust

With an earthen water beaker round my waist, held by my hand, I went to the nearest lake to get some water. Suddenly I felt something cover me overhead. Looking up at the sky, I saw it in shades of black and grey. The master flower began to glow and everything was mute and calm. It seemed that the village was cursed. The situation reminded me of the children's game where one had to be still as a statue for a long time. The village participated in it and now it was its turn. I knew all these signified a wind-driven heavy downpour.

With my sari conspiring against me and trying to make me trip down, I ran as fast as my legs could carry to my thatched roof straw house. Every now and then strokes of thunder prevented me from running. Wind was blowing hard and dust entered my eyes and nostrils. Huge trees fell and acted as a barrier between my objective and me. The great trees began to whisper to each other and it seemed as if they were planning ways of stopping me. Defeating all these hardships I ran to my precious shaking house. It was shedding tears and indicating that I was late. I wiped away the tears by putting pots below
their eyes, i.e. the pores. As I was putting the blankets in a safe, dry place the candle suddenly went out and I smelt fresh earth and paraffin-oil.

Suddenly after a loud crash I found myself under a grey sky with only the four walls around me. I was drenched and there was brown water below my feet. I felt that all my labour was in vain: so much work, so much investment for the house and now everything seems meaningless. Feeling vacuum inside me, with no hopes I immediately sat on the floor with my hand on my head.

The water below was drying away and I felt a bit warm. Everything was back to normal. The red glow in the sky seemed to show pity on me as "poor me".

Stepping out in the garden I saw the leaves shedding tears, the only thing to share my emotions and sadness. The melted cloud left me with nothing, but full of sadness and thoughts. One thing only it left as a sign of consolation-----------a red flower.

By Anika Ibnath


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