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Girls go crazy over cats, mainly kittens, and my 12-year-old daughter Adila is no exception. In fact it's amazing how effortlessly these creatures win over the female species. But that's an altogether different story.

The story I am about to tell you today started with our neighbourhood cat. It has been around for as long as we moved to this house, and you could trace back the rest of the feline population in the nearby area to this one. Now, we'd never had a pet in the house because I did not like the hassle and moreover Adila never asked for one. But things were about to change one rainy afternoon.

It had been pouring since morning, and I had forced to sit myself down with a piece of short fiction I was working on. It was around that time the sound started; a faint mewling sound, drifting through the window opposite my study. At first I paid no attention, and tried to concentrate on my work. The incessant meowing persisted, however, until I got up and asked the guard downstairs to check what it was. He came back with a soggy rag, which covered a pair of wet and pitiful kittens. They had not yet opened their eyes, and trembled with cold. I decided to take them to my daughter, as a surprise, and she shrieked in joy, almost frightening the little creatures to death.

We made a nest for them in a corner of the storeroom, on a heap of some old jute bags and clothes. Their mother soon discovered their whereabouts, and took to dropping in a few times a day to feed them. The rest of the time, they suffered the ministrations of Adila, who had found a whole new excuse not to study. Apart from the mild grumbling of my wife Aparna, life was normal.

Three days passed and I woke up on the fourth morning, and started towards the toilet. As I passed my study and walked through the passage, I just peeked through the half-opened door of the store. What was waiting for me was beyond anything I have ever expected.

I stood frozen, holding the door open with one hand. A large cat, probably an older offspring of the same mother cat, was chewing on what looked like torn fur. Next to him, lying in a pool of blood, was the torn head of one of the kittens resting upright. As the scene slowly registered, I saw kitten limbs strewn everywhere, arms, legs, everything. The mother cat was sitting in a corner, staring up at me as if I had all the answers. I jerked back to consciousness as I heard Aparna gasp beside me.

The shock turned to anger as the reality started to sink in. I turned around towards Aparna...

: “Go out. I'll lock the door.”
: “What do you mean? What's going on here?”
: “You go out and make sure Adila doesn't wake up to see this. I'll kill that thing...”

I do not know if the act of killing is infectious, but the sight before me threw me into a murderous rage. I locked the door and took up a thick wooden stick from a corner.

The next five minutes passed like an incredible nightmare as I kept lobbing the stick at the murderer. The cat was desperate and fast, and it was proving very difficult to get a good hit. I managed to get in a few blows, as it scurried in all directions, struggling to escape. Then, yet another strange thing happened.

The cat was standing atop a wooden shelf on one side of the room, snarling and hissing, ready to pounce. I gripped the stick tighter, raised it, and took a step forward. Without warning, the mother cat suddenly jumped.

The only window of the room had a half-broken pane of glass, which stuck precariously in the frame. The mother cat threw itself on it with a good amount of force, and managed to dislodge the pane from the frame. Even before I could hear the sound of the shattering glass, the killer leaped out and disappeared.

When I was returning to my room after dumping the mess, I saw the mother cat lying on the front porch, its head resting low down on the ground. I never knew what those blank eyes spoke of, and what it felt to be saving a child, who at the same time, was the killer of her own children...
(Based on a true story)

By Tausif Salim

Book review

Guns of Navarone

It's funny how a war can bring out the best and worst in people at the same time. You read about all the horrors of war; the deaths, the violence, the unimaginable cruelty and savagery. Yet look closely enough, you'll also find awe-inspiring stories about honour, loyalty and bravery. Alistair Maclean's Guns of Navarone, set in World War II Greece, manages to capture both these aspects.

Two powerful German guns control the seas past the Greek island of Navarone, making the evacuation of endangered British troops on a neighbouring island impossible. Air attack is useless so a team of five soldiers is put ashore to meet up with partisans to try and dynamite the guns.

It's a near-suicidal mission, but the selected four are no ordinary men. The leader, Keith Mallory had been a celebrated rock-climber before the war, and had proven his mettle as a soldier while posted in Crete. His long-time sidekick, the formidable Greek Andrea is a master of stealth, and endowed with quite a few handy talents. There's the loveable Dusty Miller, whose expertise is explosives, although he's handy with a medicine kit too. There's the quiet Casey Brown, who's in charge of communications, and finally, there's Andy Stevens, who's also a climber, with a secret phobia about failure.

The mission is fraught with danger from the start, with enemy spies and turncoats at every point, inclement weather conditions and the dangerous climb up the sheer cliffs of Navarone itself. There are heart-stopping twists, and only sheer courage and desperation manage to see the spies through to the heart of the Greek island, where they rendezvous with the two men they had been instructed to meet.

Maclean has a beautiful style all his own. He's got Hemingway's flair, which lends his stories the classic feel, but he's also got Dan Brown's mastery over suspense, that keeps you sweating bullets till the very end. The book's been turned into a movie starring Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn amongst others, but having read the plot summary for the film, I see they haven't been true to the story, so read the book first!

The book was lent to me, so I don't know the price, but since it's a fairly old book, you should find it at Omni books for Tk 3-400.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Bangladesh children festival 2006

With the hope of enriching children by history, culture and scientific knowledge Bangladesh Children's Festival 2006 started on February 26 at Bangladesh China Friendship Conference Centre (BCFCC).

Oddhoyon Shishu Foundation, Bangladesh Shishu Academy and Ministry of Women's and Child Affairs have jointly arranged this festival. Honourable President Prof. Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed was the chief guest of the programme.

Students from around forty schools over the country took part in the programme. Special arrangement was made to bring orphans and street urchins to help them participate.

The premises of BCFCC were in a boisterous mood while students from different educational institutes were busy taking part in innovative science projects. Karuj was given the responsibility for event management for the entire festival.

Kaosar Ahmed, event manager of Karuj, said, they have arranged science fairs, puppet shows, muppet shows, painting competition, science quiz shows, musical programmes, observing stars and planets through telescope and a stage show for children to express their opinions. A special theatre for children was also arranged from 10:00am to 8:00pm everyday. Bangladesh Astronomical Association arranged some projects named challenger, periscope and pyramid to increase interest about science in children.

Antique collector Dr. Ulfat Kabir Rana has contributed for a display of machines and equipments used by people 200-300 years ago. There were prototypes of radio, sewing machine, printing machine and other ancient instruments.

Around thirty schools took part in the science fair which was free for children and adults needed to pay Tk5.00 for a ticket. This money was deposited in the fund of Ahsania Cancer Hospital.

Sadia Yasmeen, a student of class 8 from Mirpur Bangla School said, she enjoyed and learnt many new things by coming to this festival. In the science fair students made letter learning projectors, hardboard, herbal candles etc.

Students from Motijheel Ideal School displayed how tsunami can be prevented through a Tsunami Absorber by using scientific theories. There were other projects on environmental pollution and preservation, global warming and food adulteration.

There was some mismanagement in the programme. The organisers asked people to enter the auditorium leaving their handbags outside the hall to ensure security but had no token system to keep the bags safely. Therefore, many people including journalists could not enter the hall.

Reporters assigned to cover the programme bearing invitation cards given to their editors or chief reporters were also not allowed as the organisers expected the chief reporters and editors of the respective newspapers to cover the festival (!). Rtv and daily Amar Desh were the media partners of the festival.

By Durdana Ghias


What is the mystery behind death?
Why is death so dreadful and unkind?
Why are we so helpless in front of death?
Death comes to every house,
Death knocks on every door,
Death approaches whenever it desires.
Death is a shadow of sorrow,
Death isolates forever,
Death is intense everywhere.
Death is a black hole,
Once you fall, you fall.
Darkness engulfs you.
I cannot fathom you death.
Why do you rob happiness?
Why is there no armour against you?
By Pavana Khan
(written for my cousin brother who died in a tragic car accident in Sydney, Australia)


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