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Material people
Photo: Niloy

As the cliché goes 'prosperity brings friends and adversity tries them' or as a cynical and deeply philosophical teenager would say 'if you have 'it' you have friends, if you lose 'it' you lose your friends. Ah, isn't this 'TRUE FRIENDSHIP'. Yes this is in the 21st century. So today's catch phrase would be 'Desert your 'friend' in need and you are a 'friend' indeed'.

Yes, my phrases might sound a tad too exaggerated but it is the cold, hard truth. Friendship is now on salecell phones, money and credit cards accepted only. Honesty loyalty, compassion are also acceptable but longevity not guaranteed. The reason behind this ugly truth is that (exceptions aside) people are so much lost in the 'world of materialism' and have lowered themselves so much that they simply donot find it at all offensive to betray their best friends for a little thing called 'GREED'.

It is natural that prosperity would lure friendship. The sole purpose of these so called 'friends' is to derive advantages from their relationship with him. If their friend is rich and popular than these deceivers try to mingle with the 'in' crowd in the hope of rubbing off some of the popularity to their own selves. I am being able to all of these because I myself have seen these happen with my own eyes. A certain friend of mine had gone through this gruesome experience and I can recall this incident. Yes, she was one of the members of the popular group. Boys and girls wandered all round her. She and her friends went to most of the cool parties of the class. Together they broke most of the school rules and enjoyed it considerably. Her 'best friends' were greatly benefited from her popularity and her connections. These material friends pretended, quite convincingly to help each other in all the ups and downs, to believe truly in the phrase 'Best friends for life' and all that. But unfortunately these days of glory soon ended for good. The mask of pretension was soon stripped off and the true colours revealed. When they finally succeeded to gain her popularity they washed their hands off this nauseating task and abandoned her. They managed to give a wrong impression of her to everyone and stabbed her right on the back. She was left all alone to suffer with the grudge of all those who had once loved her. When she needed them most they were nowhere in sight. It became evident that they were not friends with her but simply friends with her popularity and her favours which she could confer to them. Therefore when, owing to a change in fortune, she lost her power of conferring benefits and was herself in need of help from others, they left her and again began their mission of accomplishing more profitable friendship.

By these vile conducts it was proved that they were not true friends but just pretenders to the name. A true friend is constant and remains faithful till the very end. Thus friendship is tried by adversity just as gold is tried by fire. Therefore it is very much important to know that the people who seem to cultivate our friendship are not material people working with an eye of their own advantage but realistic, trustworthy ,true-blue friends who really care for us.

So adieus everyone and thanks for listening to my o so serious blabbering. Although my friend has been a victim of this barbarous conduct she has managed to get over it and see life through a different angle, but there are some who live with the memory of these attacks and tend to forget the true meaning of life. So my advice for today is enjoy life, forget about the past and of course DON'T BE A MATERIAL PERSON.

By Shehzeen Samarah Hussain

Bound to the beaten path

Here's a story about a woman with dreams. Struggling every moment of her life, managing to keep up with the impossible world that's out of reach. She keeps dreaming that some day she'd wake up without being mad at the world for all it has done for her future. "Dreams are just thoughts that are yet to be solved, but never are solved, and that's why they are dreams."

Her past haunts her with all the small awkward things, each incident leading up to the big mess she is in. Life takes her through many unexpected turns and she gets past all the hard, sad, tough bits, and ends up with an angel. A baby girl. Maybe God wanted it to be like this for her. Questions arise in her, questions that cannot be answered but just kept inside. Pushing all these small unanswerable things deeper and deeper until one day she just has to let it out. "Amazing isn't it, life getting better every moment". Little did she know what was in store…

Each time she looks at her baby's face, she forgets about all the troubles that have come and gone and are yet to come and go. As the girl grows up her life slowly starts to unravel into another kind of problem, a problem that makes her past reappear right in front of her. Her child making the same stupid mistakes she made, involving the lies, the guys and the rest of it.

From when she was pretty young she has had a soft corner for any man who showed any kind of affection to her. Men come and go in her life. Some who really care, and others only pretend to. Some treat her like a doormat, as if she can be stepped on whenever needed. Some treat her like a goddess, putting her on the throne, allowing her to do what she is capable of, making stupid choices.

Her mother is physically there, but her mind elsewhere, never doing the things she should, never explaining to her child what love really is, and what the world is capable of doing to her future. She just continues to make the same idiotic mistakes, her mother made. What could she do? Where could she go?

Her mother was already half dead. She could do nothing about it. Working part time in different places, earning just enough to get food and education, she couldn't pay for all the medication her mother needed. She was smart and beautiful, that's the only reason she got this far, otherwise, life would have taken her to a place where she could do nothing but commit suicide. She recalls, her sixteenth birthday came, and that's when almost everything changed, just like it did for her mother. It changed so fast, that she didn't even have the time to turn and look back.

By Sabiha Mahmud Sumi

Book review

The Inheritance of Loss

FIE! They didn't give me space for my column last week. Of course, having almost a whole page to myself for my story didn't hurt. The good news is, I used up the extra time to read two extra books, but more on that later. For now, let's take a look at the review that should have come last week.

The past decade has seen some really talented authors emerging from the Sub-continent, skilfully threading the English language through the fabric of their own cultures to weave fascinating tales rich with exotic details, capturing the imagination of readers around the world. Kiran Desai, winner of the 2006 Man Booker Prize, is only the latest in the line of literary luminaries hailing from India.

In The Inheritance of Loss, Desai takes us to the north-eastern Himalayas where in a lonely mansion falling to ruin at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga lives an embittered old judge who wants to retire in peace when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge's chatty cook watches over her, but his heart resides with his son, Biju, who is ricocheting from one miserable New York restaurant to another, trying to stay a step ahead of the INS, disillusioned about the American Dream and what it means for people like him.

When a Nepalese insurgency in the mountains threatens Sai's fledgeling romance with her handsome Nepali tutor and throws their lives into turbulence, they are forced to confront their colliding interests. The nation fights itself. The cook witnesses the hierarchy being overturned and discarded. The judge must revisit his past, his own journey and role in this grasping world of conflicting desires every moment holding out the possibility for hope or betrayal.

If there was ever a novel that was filled with a really unfortunate cast of characters, this has to be it. Just when one thinks one has nothing left to lose, reality jabs a finger in one's eye. While Kiran Desai's language is very vivid and musical, this particular reviewer is rather squeamish about these Indian authors and their fascination for graphic descriptions of the unsavoury personal habits of their characters. Nevertheless, with a precise balance of irony, humour, tragedy and politics, this book is definitely worth a keen perusal. The Inheritance of Loss is available both at Etc and Words n Pages, and I could have sworn I saw some paperback versions being sold at certain traffic intersections, so I'm sure you'll have no problem getting it.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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