Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 8, 2005


By Aniqa Moinuddin

Times really have changed (as if I've lived a century!) and I was quite shocked actually when a cute, skinny young girl of around eleven asked me, 'Do you have a boyfriend?' I smiled and replied, 'No.' I didn't have much to say.

Just then a friend of her, said in an envious tone, 'You have a boyfriend…' The first girl had on a smug expression that said "Guilty as charged", 'Yes, she replied, hardly able to hide her teeth, 'This is my third.' I was struck speechless. Man!...these kids are 'fast'.

Well, when I was a growing kid (which, believe me, was not a long time back) kids seemed to be much shyer when it came to revealing their 'intimate feelings'. It was around the first grade I guess when the first incident took place that led to the beginning of a long and tiring battle between the boys and the girls. Shayla's phone number was found in Zaeen's diary and prior to this discovery Shayla had been receiving blank calls at home. Poor Zaeen hardly knew Shayla, let alone know by what mysterious means her phone number found its place in his diary. But then again what were friends for? Both the boy and the girl were teased until they were made to consciously avoid each other. Any chances of them ever pairing up later in their lifetimes were also ruined. Life never was easy.

This led to the rise of many other 'couples' who were selected at a random by the entire class. One particular basis of selection I do remember was: whose exercise copy came after whose while being distributed. Well, we were kids after all.

I, like many others, was made to pair up with this particularly shy boy but unfortunately our 'affair' lasted longer than most. Those monsters even went to the extent of pushing me onto his chair (yes with him on it), so that I landed right on his lap! Our embarrassment knew no bounds. The worst part was I didn't like him; I had a crush on somebody else.

The next phase was the 'Girls' Virus'; yes that is what it was called. The disease was discovered by the very ingenious boys of our class and according to them, any type of bodily contact with a girl would surely get you infected. The only method of cure was to pass it onto the nearest boy and on emergency situations, rubbing the infected area against a wall or desk would do the trick. This plague was particularly long-lasting.

I know all this was 'kiddish'; but then again we were kids. The fun of teasing and being teased had its own excitement and anticipation. All the time that the boy pretended to hate the girls there was always one of them who he had a soft spot for. But he'd rather do lines for the rest of his lives or give up his Play Station (they didn't have PS2 then) than admit it. The girls were always a bit bolder. We could actually gather the courage to tell our 'friends' of a particular crush. But then again we paid for that for the rest of our lives, at least a part of it. That was the fun of that age! At that time it wasn't exactly 'poush mash' but now when I look back, there was a lot of innocent fun involved, important lessons learnt and exciting events experienced. We left out the more complicated issues for later on, like relationships and love, for a time when we were better equipped with knowledge and experience to handle them.

Were we just wrong and old fashioned? Sometimes I wonder, am I the one who is backward or is the world just running ahead of me? Was I more dumb-founded than I should have been to find a fifth grader kid boasting to me, a senior she has just met, about her third boyfriend or have I been missing out on 'current affairs' while the very frivolous custom of 'going out' (dating) directly after (and sometimes before!) puberty, sneaked into our lifestyles and made itself a very comfortable place in society? Really confused…

Monsters Unleashed

By Fahmina Rahman

Isn't it annoying when you go to your parents, hoping against hope that they would agree to buy you that not-at-all expensive, only Tk 30,000 taka Nokia set, you just can't live without, and they ask you if you want a trip to Pabna Mental Hospital?

When you logically try to explain to them that 30,000 is a great bargain for that cool a set, they tell you to earn that much money and then talk. Well, when I got a load of that talk, I decided to show them that I wasn't dependent on anybody. I could just as easily earn money as they could. And thus started my precarious journey into the world of terror and violence.

A journey where I began each day fearing the obvious, the inevitable. No, I didn't meet Osama Bin Laden. I took my lousy friend's lousy advice and started teaching!

Don't get me wrong here because generally, I adore kids. Just till the age they can't talk, that is. And when I call them monsters, you might think I'm kidding...seriously, I'm not! If you had had the pleasure of meeting these 'delightful' creatures, you'd know what I was talking about.

The Cry Baby
Secret Weapon: Boo-hoos (DUH!)
Even the memory of this kid gives me goose-bumps. When I met him, my first impression was "what a nice, polite little boy!" When his parents left the room and I opened his English Language book, I literally jumped off the chair when he started crying hysterically. Water was running down his eyes, nose and disgustingly, even from his mouth! I had never seen people cry like that even in funerals! So naturally I asked him what was wrong. "ADOWANSTUDYYYY!!!" was the dramatic reply.

I simply stood there for five whole minutes waiting for him to calm down. He never did! Finally, I had to go call his mom. Naturally to her, I was the bad guy. "Don't give him too much pressure. He's just a little kid!" I was too flabbergasted to reply. Finally, since the boo-hoos never stopped, I had to leave. When the kid saw me to the door, there was no trace of tears. Instead, I found him smirking monstrously as he said bye. That's when I realized- this was war.

From that day on, everyday when I went to teach, I was prepared. I tried everything- consoling him, mocking him, screaming at him, asking him to shut up...everything! Nothing worked. Finally, one day, I lost it and called him a sissy freak who had escaped from Pabna, and that was it. Obviously I got fired and after six long months, I was the one to cry hysterically. Out of sheer, unbearable joy!!

The Study Freak
Secret Weapon: An insatiable thirst for studying
Honestly speaking, I've never met another human being in all my life who loved to study as much as this kid. Since he came to my house to study, his exit time was out of my hand and throwing 10 year old's out of my house was really not an option. The worst and most ironic part of the whole thing was how much my parents adored him. They were amazed by the fact that such a perfect child existed; a child who studied 90 percent of his waking hours!

I'm not saying studying is bad. But when I'm the person explaining one thing after another at the end of an already tiresome day, all I want is for the floor under my feet to swallow me up! After explaining two chapters each of History, Science, Bengali and Math, checking ten to fifteen large literature answers (did you expect a study freak to write short answers?), you would think it was enough. But no. "Miss, I have a hunch my Spelling Dictation teacher going to give us a class work on this story after two months. Can you dictate now? It'll be good practice!" His enthusiasm literally chopped my brain cells into the tiniest atoms for a long, long time!

The Princess
Secret Weapon: God damned attitude!
Being the only daughter of a very rich dad, this four feet tall, skinny little 10 year old thought herself no less than Cindy Crawford. Hair coloured a different shade each day, mini skirts and monkey caps in the middle of December, and styling heels no less than four inches were her trademarks. And getting that 'oh what a khat gaiyo' look from a midget is really not my thing. So you can imagine what I felt when she said to me in that plastic tone (from Mean Girls, remember?) "Don't you think you should wear clothes a bit more flashy? It'll take the attention from all that excess fat!" And she was daddy's little princess.

A mere teacher couldn't chuck her down the toilet. Anyway, for around two months I worked really hard on this girl. I gave her homework she never did, asked her questions she never answered, and explained answers she never bothered to listen to. At the end of it all, I can proudly say that my student failed miserably in eight subjects out of thirteen, and to be absolutely honest, I can't say I'm not pleased!

The Animal Freak
Secret Weapon: The animals
Out of all the brats I've had to deal with, this girl was undoubtedly the sweetest. Her love for animals, however, was not. Entering her house, for me, was like taking part in Fear Factor. Okay, I admit, my fear for every other living thing is very lame. But I can't help it! Since childhood I've had nightmares about being locked in a room full of dogs and cats. Her house was the whole zoo! Birds in cages, dogs roaming around freely, chicks nibbling at every other cockroach, rabbits, a huge aquarium, and god know what else! I almost had a heart attack when the dog came and sat right beside my feet one day. I couldn't even scream myself hoarse since my student was right there stroking that scary little monster! I even stepped on chicken poop one day, although she tried to pass it off as mustard! You might think it's funny. IT'S NOT!

So for all the teens out there crazy enough to take up this job, GOOD LUCK, because, trust me you need it!


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