Remember Goosebumps? Yeah of course you do. Who can forget those stories, how we used to read them all night long and how we eagerly swapped the books in class. Nothing could compare up to R.L Stines' Goosebumps- at least until Harry Potter came out! But buzzing forward 6 years, I picked up a GB Book the other day- and immediately realized two things: 1) Hey this stuff is hilarious! 2) I could write a RS article on it! Um…not really the word to describe a horror story- but hey when were they ever scary?
So, out goes sanity and in comes dissection of the classic "Goosebumps formula" (you know kids+scary monsters= money) which made it such a massive success:
a new camp/ a new house/ a new town/ an uncle's house / a new farm and etc. In all cases the new place is a tragic violation of the normality, which our hero had dwelled in; being spooky, scary, eerie and all other adjectives synonymous to the word 'frightening'.
Usually the hero dude has some issues with another guy/girl who again is usually stronger/smarter or prettier and who likes to show off. Of course the hero cannot accept this at all (after all he is the hero!)- And so starts a confrontation to see who's better. Which predictably leads to all sorts of
Contrary to popular opinion only 50 percent of the GB books actually have a monster. The monster could be a phantom or a ghost (both headed and headless). It could be of the giant slug variety (Horror At Camp Jelly Jam) or the monsters who like to live under sinks and basements. And the typical ones like werewolves, were-dogs, were-cats, were-humans, and all sort of wolf-animal-monster mixed critters- down to an egg monster! And predictably a large number of monsters are aliens who want to take over the world….(yeah like that's original..)
The rest 30 percent of the scary stuff- are objects, which could be the harmless looking Polaroid camera or the cuckoo clock to a full-sized car- which are possessed by evil spirits. Evil things could also come in variety of shapes and sizes- like the chicken feather, or the newspaper that you are reading now…(you can't take your eyes off Rising Stars, right? Yeah that's voodoo magic!) Typically a story may also revolve around the hero's visit to a jungle or a theme park where everything goes haywire and the rides try to kill our hero!
The "EVIL THINGS" torture the hero in all sorts of ways- like trying to eat him, kill him, haunt him, make him a personal slave, be him etc and etc.
But our hero is strong and versatile. Even though s/he goes through the stages of "No-one believes me", "I have to fight this evil thingy by myself", "I am so scared…" and blah blah, s/he eventually summons enough wit, cleverness and bravery to save the day! YEAH! The saving is done in a remarkably short time though; it takes R.L Stine just a couple of pages to describe how exactly the hero got out of the mess s/he was in. It goes to show that saving the world is pretty easy if you live in the pages of a book, that is.
However contrary to what you may be thinking- the life of a GB Hero dude is never easy- because right after conquering "the evil things"- the horror returns in the last few words of the book. Every Goosebumps books agonizingly ends in the… "Then I looked under my bed…and there it was back again, looking hungrily at me…"…variety. As you can well realize the idea is to make us say "Allah tarpor ki holo?" and leave us with a sense of "impending dread". But mostly its to gain scope to write another sequel to the book. Consider this: "Slappy"! Five books…I have read five books about the stupid dummy. Why the hell doesn't that dummy shut up and die?
Anyway, the other types of endings are really cool. Some of them go down to boring clichés like "Oh…it was a joke!" but other ends with you finding you are the monster and the monster is the human! Now that's cool!
So, after all this, is Goosebumps a truly waste of time? No way…contrary to many parents who want to ban this book (yes, parents like that actually exist, sadly), the series gives us plenty of fascinating insights on significant social values. For example, "I am Your Evil Twin" talks about why cloning is bad; it's because clones are usually evil and want to take over your life. And then again the "Attack of the Jacko-Lanterns" tells you why exactly you shouldn't go out trick or treating: it's because evil old couples with pumpkin heads will trap you into their houses forever. Didn't you know how common these things are nowadays? The "Haunted Car" also sends a strong message- why you shouldn't drive cars at the age of 14. Its because..some cars are haunted by the ghosts of psychopath 12 year old girls- who want to take possession of your souls and turn you into zombies. So when you wimp out on driving…give this excuse. I am sure it will solve all your problems.
But hey seriously, is Goosebumps all glitz and no substance? Despite being absurdly childish nowadays, there are some stories- which are nothing short but great! My Personal favourite is "Legend of the Lost Legend" , "Beast from the East" and the "Abominable Snow Man from Pasadena". One thing really appreciable about Goosebumps- is the level of imagination. Most of them are however freaky, but you gotta appreciate R.L Stine's talents.
His genius was in manipulating the common themes of horror and dread- and expounding them in the form of a richly detailed array of monsters and scenarios- where kids turn out to be the hero. But he doesn't make the kids in GB into idols like Harry Potter. Goosebumps is all about the experience, the ride, the mystery and the adventure.
So any of you poor saps who haven't read Goosebumps, yet……well try it out. And for those who spent at least a year of their lives with Goosebumps books besides their bed 24/7… I suggest you take up a GB and start flipping through the pages. It's nice to go down through memory lanes sometimes. The thrill will be gone, but at least you get to have a quiet chuckle at your childhood naivete…. go ahead try it. It's fun…
By Golam Rezwan Khan
I shivered as the cold breeze suddenly swarmed inside my tiny dark room. I looked up at the window and saw a patch of cloudy sky looking back at me. I could hear the thunder roaring madly outside. "Looks like it's gonna rain," I smiled to myself silently.
Rain had always been my favourite. Ever since I was a kid, whenever it rained I used to run towards the balcony and start dancing around in the rain. My parents had a real hard time keeping me away from it. And as I grew up, rain seemed more beautiful than ever. Whenever I looked up and saw a cloudy sky, my heart did a somersault and I used to find myself whispering to the rain, "C'mon, what are you waiting for? Come down and wash it all away. I've been waiting for you for ages. Come down now will you?......"
….. "Ah! So it's started." Guess I was lost in thoughts. But now I can hear the familiar sweet sounds. Tip tap top, or pitter patter or maybe 'Tapur Tupur'--as Mr. Tagore put it. Doesn't matter what it is, it's just beautiful. Oh, I think I'm getting dreamy again….. Being aware of my 'rain-mania', my parents always kept an extra eye on me during the rainy days. But I still remember this one particular day when it was unbelievably sultry outside and in the afternoon suddenly the sky was overcast with huge black clouds and soon it started raining like crazy! I couldn't believe my ears when my maa said, "Hey, let's go to the rooftop and enjoy the rain." I was soooo happy! I still remember it like it was yesterday. I can see it all in front of me. My maa standing in the rain, smiling at me. And me, oh silly me, running madly for shelter as I thought the thunder was trying to tell me off! The rain pouring down on us and my maa smiling at me, "Boka meye!"……..
"It's still raining outside." I knew many people who thought rainy days were dull. But that just wasn't my case. I had passed so many rainy days walking idly along the streets with only the crying sky watching over me. I had spent so many rain-soaked hours on a hood-folded rickshaw with all the umbrella and raincoat-clad people staring at me…..And…wasn't it a similar cloud-burst afternoon when I first met Partho? I think it was………..
Suddenly, I don't know why, I pulled my drawer open. There they were, just the same as I left them the last time. I took them up and held them against my cheeks. They still felt the same. The 'ghungur's were still as clamorous and lively as before. I attended 'BAFA' when I was a kid. Though I couldn't finish my classical dance course, I always had a special dream in mind. I dreamt that one fine rainy afternoon I'd take the ghungurs with me to the rooftop and dance with the rhythm of the raindrops….all the steps….tritaal, choutaal, dadraa…
"What the hell is happening to me!" Why was I thinking of those things? That dream….there's no point thinking of it anymore. Because it can never come true, not anymore…
I suddenly felt an urge to touch the raindrops. I wanted to walk up to the window, stretch my hand outside and feel the heavenly drops all over it. But…I couldn't. It was impossible. Because, those wheels…those wheels just wouldn't let me. That cursed wheel-chair I'd been forced to sit on took away all my happiness, crushed all my dreams and left me helpless, pitiable…. "It sure is raining a lot, isn't it dear?" I don't know when maa came in. Desperate to force back tears, I said through gritted teeth, "Maa I've never asked anything from you. But today, this very moment, I want to ask you something. Maa, will you please take me to the rooftop for once? I want to be close to the sky, I want to feel the rain on me, I want to feel it washing away my pain, my frustrations, my loneliness. I want it to make me forget the existence of these stupid wheels that are slowly becoming a part of me. Won't you take me closer to the rain maa, won't you?....." I promised myself that I wouldn't cry. But then again, I was never really good at keeping promises anyway.
(This is purely a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any character living or dead is absolutely coincidental.)
By Raisa Rafique
The Most Attractive Wives
Is It Dead?
'I love the Rabbits'
"A visit to Cox's Bazar"
By Rafid Jahan Buddhi
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