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Shishu shahittik by Satyajit Ray

“Bohurupi”, the monthly magazine for children, was in publication for about a year now. The publisher Suprokash Sengupta had been trying his level best to improve the quality of his magazine. Unfortunately he didn't have the finances to fulfill his desire, barely scraping ends together by means of subscription payments and advertisements. At the end of the day, he was left with no profit. His faith that his magazine would improve, however, motivated him to keep trying.

The key problem lay with the quality of the stories. Suprokash thought that there was an acute dearth of good story-writers. He even managed to find some writings of well-known writers, but they were not up to the standard. He read the articles from the popular tabloids; even those failed to impress him. With a heavy heart, he concluded that good stories were not being written anymore.

Not that there was any paucity of writings; rather he received some 60-70 stories, poems and articles by mail every month.

Inclined towards stories, he always read those first, rejecting most of the write-ups. He found the new writers very callow. Some write-ups didn't make the cut because of poor presentation, and at other times, the name of the writer alone was enough for him to reject the article.

A man named Noder Chad sent a few of his pieces; Suprokash sent those away the minute he received them. The name of the writer and the untidy appearance of the pieces earned them an outright rejection. He would always affix a message with the article: Your story has been returned because it was not chosen for publishing. Thank you

Articles written by writers with the names like Botkest Hor, Nokur Chandra Hati also faced the same fate. Suprokash firmly believed that there was a direct relation between a person's name and his potential. Hitherto, only two writers made the cut -- Amiyanath Basu and Sanjay Sarkar. Both are Suprokash's own discovery; they were now regular contributors and superb writers. He appreciated their matter and style, and even though he was short of money, he paid them regularly.

The writings didn't always arrive by mail. Sometimes, writers themselves turned up at the office, hoping there'd be greater chances of their articles getting published if they showed up in person. Suprokash would ask them to leave their work on the desk.

One afternoon, when Suprokash was going through a heap of articles, a tall fair man in a white panjabi came up to him with a parcel and said “I am Ujjal Bannerjee, a child author. I brought some of my pieces. If you could read only one of these…”

“Right now?” Suprokash asked incredulously.
“Yes. I do not have much faith in our postal system, so I brought it myself. Just three small stories. I am sure you will like them. I've been reading Bohurupi since its inception, and haven't seen many good writings recently. I like Naktola. I would be grateful if you could read one of them and give me your opinion. I am sitting right here. Not in any hurry….”

“I am sorry, I do not do that” Suprokash was quick to reply.
“I am requesting you. This is a short story, would not take much of your time”
“All riiiiiiiiiight!, take your seat”
Thus cornered, Suprokash took the parcel and started reading one of the stories

The paper was neat and clean. It took him ten minutes to read it. He was surprised by the sheer brilliance of the piece. He had never received such a terrific story before. He quickly skimmed through other two on his own, and realized that the man was really very talented

“Your stories are brilliant. I will definitely print them. I will store the best -- Bhoboghure-- for the Puja issue. Your honorarium will be sent to you shortly.”

“Thanks, I wanted to ask you a question”
“Go on”
“Were you in Satyabhama Institution?”
“Yes, why?”
“I was a junior to you there”
“Oh, really?”

“Hmm...You could not recognize me because I've lost weight”
“Not to mention that I've probably not seen you for 25 years!”
“But you haven't changed a bit, except one thing”
“Your name. I used to call you Nidhu da. Your name was Nidhiram Dhara”

“You are right, but can you imagine an editor with that name? So I changed it to Suprokash.
It was time for Ujjal to leave, so he stood up.
“I better leave now. I really enjoyed my time with you Nidhu da. I hope you would not mind me calling you that”

The gentleman came with a bundle and left Bohorupi office empty handed. He realized now that the editor used to return his writings without even reading them. He understood why the articles that were precluded before were so well received now. The name made all the difference, Nodhu Chad Bor realized.

He should have changed the name at the outset and the calligraphy should have been his nephew's rather than his own. He had no doubt that his writings would finally see print in Bohurupi.

Translated by Maherin Ahmed

How to handle exam pressure

It's May already and we all know exams are going to start in full swing pretty soon, be it GCE, SSC, or HSC. If you have an exam coming up and you feel like jumping out of your window more than often these days, then read through the following pointers. Hopefully they'll be of some help to your shaky nerves!

Studying is good. But too much studying ruins any chance you have of doing well. So take it easy, and stop whenever you feel tired.

Make sure you don't cut down on every one of your ECA just because of the exams. It's important to be in the right mental state before you can actually make your brain work. So go play football, or cricket, or whatever it is that you do, but make sure you don't cross your time limit.

It is very important to revise every bit of your syllabus at least once before the exam day. Revising it two hundred times is crazy. So relax. As long as you can confidently finish and revise your syllabus once, or twice before the exams, you're in a great position.

Try to remember that meeting others' expectations is not your main aim here. It's doing the best that you can do. So if your parents, teachers, friends expect something unrealistic from you, and you have jitters because you're scared of letting them down, forget it. You have better things to worry about.

If you have a lot of subjects, and you're having trouble handling so many different papers altogether, try to be a bit more organized. Divide your total study time in such a way that you are able to touch all your subjects without skipping out on any one of them.

For people like me, who don't realize they have exams until the exams knock on their doors, you have to understand that time is limited, and instead of panicking, you've got to make a study plan. And it's very important that you make a realistic study plan that doesn't involve studying 24/7, and stick to it.

Studying the night before the exam is a total no-no. If you want to do well, give your brain some rest. And relax, you've already studied enough!

Last but not the least, DON'T PANIC! Go to the exam hall with all your identity papers, and before you know it, it's going to be over!

Best of luck people!

By Fahmina Rahman

Book review
The Troll King

Q: What do you get when you mix 'Shrek' and 'The Whole Nine Yards”
A: John Vornholt's “The Troll King”

After reading and reviewing so many serious books of late, I figured I'd earned the right to lean back with a kiddy read. As luck would have it, a friend of mine got so intrigued by a funny book cover he'd seen, he bought the book, and not knowing what to do with it (you can tell he's not a big reader) he passed it over to yours truly, and well, here it is.

The story is set in a sort of reverse reality where trolls are the good guys, and the fairies, elves and other fey folk are the 'enemy'. In the kingdom of Bonespittle, the trolls are at the very bottom rung of society, subjugated by the ogres, who in turn answer to ghouls, and at the pinnacle of this ghastly empire sits the crafty old sorceror Sturgis Rex.

Now, in Troll Town, the uglier and smellier you are, the more attractive, and our hero, the young troll Rollo, is considered the handsomest of the lot. The story truly kicks off when Sorceror Rex suddenly decides to build a bridge across the Great Chasm that divides Bonespittle from Bonny Woods, which is the home of the fey folk. Having been raised on scary bedtime stories about the fearsome fairies, you can well imagine the consternation of the peace-loving trolls.

The determined Rex has the trolls kidnapped and brought over to the construction area. Here's where the Whole Nine Yards connection kicks in. As I read about the clash of egos between the troll workers and the ogre foremen, with young Rollo trying to rally the spirits of his fellow builders, I was reminded of Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) trying to rustle up a football team amongst the convicts.

Packed with action and liberally garnished with humor, this story is a joy to read. Like JK Rowling, Vornholt manages to create the complete atmosphere, with a culture and language that is unique to the story. The narrative itself is very witty and tongue-in-cheek in the manner of Terry Pratchett, but this being written with young readers in mind, the language is simple, and easy to follow, not unlike the style of Roald Dahl.

Although this is essentially a children's book, the plot and the telling of it is sure to charm adults as well, so this'll make an excellent family read. The first of a trilogy, this book is available at ETC for Tk 441.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

There are several things on heaven and earth

There are several things on heaven and Earth,
But like you, I find not a single soul,
Who would hold me back when I'm having a downfall.
There are several things on heaven and Earth,
But your smile is the most serene of all,
And reminds me of a flowing waterfall.
There are several things on heaven and Earth,
But not a single creature can walk like you,
As you tread upon the morning dew.
There are several things on heaven and Earth,
You have a voice which none have got,
As when you sing, the sweet melodies dashes off just like a gun shot.
There are several things on heaven and Earth,
Wiser than you I still have found none,
As when you speak to me, you always shower light upon the right and the wrong.
There are several things on heaven and Earth,
But has anyone ever known true happiness in the way I do?
None I guess, because, they don't have you.

By Sarah Tabassum


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