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She follows me all the time, like my shadow. No it's not irritating. It makes me feel loved, like there is someone out there for me no matter what. At the end of the day, when I sit down to study, I always find myself watching her sleep. I look at her and think how cute she looks, sleeping so peacefully. Unable to help myself, I usually crawl beside her on the bed, give her a soft kiss on her forehead and then I fall asleep hugging her. Sure, I do wake up feeling real stiff, but it's alwaycs worth it.

I'm not talking about a girlfriend or a wife (since you might think I'm a guy!) or anything of that sort. I'm talking about the love of my life, my angel and my best friend. Bandit- the cutest and most beautiful thing on earth. My dog (doesn't sound right) Bandit.

I remember the first glimpse I caught of her. She was just as big as my hand. That was eight years ago. It was in the middle of the night when all of us thought that Doggie (Bandit's mother) had given birth to all the puppies. It was then that my sister slowly ran her hand across Doggie's tummy and stated that she thought that there was one more coming. She was right because a while later came out Bandit, so small, with her eyes closed and her body covered with blood. Adorable.

I watched her open her eyes for the first time. I watched her walk for the first time. I watched when she would fall asleep, with her head in the food bowl and her tummy all overstuffed. She was such a site! Being the youngest in the lot of five, she was the naughtiest one. Let me tell you one funny story about her when she was little. The maid had kept all the dirty clothes on the floor of the bathroom and somehow our little genius found her way to the bathroom. We were all laughing our heads off when we saw such a small thing running around with somebody's underwear (do I have to tell you that it was mine?!), all over the house. she was always up to something or the other. Hence came the name Bandit, named by my sister.

She was different in all aspects. Her colour was similar to hay, though her nose was black. She had blue eyes back then, but today it's brown. Maybe it's a process of growing up, I'm not too sure. Once a Mama (uncle) from London came to our place and wanted to take her back to his hometown, Sylhet. I remember holding her stubbornly in my hand, completely unwilling to let go. Thank God for that. Otherwise, I don't how life would have been, without her.

Today, when I secretly cry in my room, she always comes up to me and licks away my tears. If that doesn't work, she brings her worn out teddy to me and looks at me with those endearing large brown eyes of hers. I end up laughing and playing with her. I tell her everything. I know she probably doesn't understand what I say, but she always wags her tail when I'm telling her about something I'm excited about. She can tell from my tone, my movements. She knows me too well. And it's just so sad that she can't read because I want her to know and see how much I love her and what she means to me. I could do ANYTHING for her. I always pray to God to take us from this Earth at the same time, because I wouldn't want to live a single second without her around.

By Nayeema Reza

Distractions, stress and curses

Giving exams is tough business, no doubt about that. But it gets even tougher when the examinee sitting next to you is smoking hot. It's hard enough remembering the formulas of integration. But when all your effort goes into not staring at her, you tend to forget things. Bottom line, two months later, you get a piece of paper, which says that you have just received a C in maths. Dad, it isn't my fault!

Why go to the exams looking like you are there for a party?! I don't mind the eye candy; honestly, it's a nice change from revisions. But, I would just like to see the eye candy somewhere other than the place where my future will be decided. Everyone out there talking about self-control well, it doesn't work.

If you are one of those lucky[?] ones, who don't get to sit next to someone looking like girl of your dreams [literally], the examiners are certain to bore you. You are sitting there waiting for the exam to start and they can't stop droning on and on about exam regulations. I know it's necessary, and there are people whose first exam with Edexcel is their A2 maths [yeah, right!], but they should provide ear plugs for the rest of us who are trying to pray [or in my case reciting 'Bidrohi']. And when all that is over and you have filled in your details on the front page, the long wait begins. The final five minutes before the exam are excruciating. Like Gandalf said, in the Lord of the Rings movie, “it is the deep breath before the plunge”. Some spend the time drumming their fingers, some fidget in their chairs; I, however, started singing “Leavin' on a jet plane” [not loudly, of course]. I know it's weird, but that's the only song that came to my mind for some reason. The girl sitting in front of me gave me weird look. I ignored her and kept singing. Anything to stay calm.

Then there are the exam routines. They should spread the dates of the exams a bit. Last January session, AS Core Maths-1&2 were set the same day as Biology unit-1,2&3 [Jan 10th]. Then Physics unit-1,2&3 exam was set day before the Chemistry unit-1,2&3 [Jan 17th and 18th]. Thinking about last minute revisions? In your dreams. No, seriously. I was dreaming chemistry that night and I am the sane one among my friends. This session, Physics unit-4&5 was on the same day as Core Maths 3 [June 14th]. Chemistry unit-4&5 and Core Maths 4 were also a couple [June 18th]. Think that's all? Nohooo! Next day, Biology unit-4&5 [June 19th]!! And they give us Exam Tips sheets saying don't stress! Oh, no, I'm not stressing. I'll just jump off the roof of my house, but that would be lunacy, not stressing.

Well, the exams are finished for me. I ran around the house screaming “FREEDOM!!” at the top of my voice. My mum scoffed [“It's not like you were a captive. Besides, you didn't even study properly! You mostly watched TV], my sis laughed and I helped myself to a full meal and 5 hours in front of the TV. I know I'm a couch potato. But somehow, I seemed to miss studying. You can only watch TV for that long. I'm looking to Sabrina for some good reads, because I'm too broke to buy books.

Anyway, to all you poor folks, whose exams didn't go well, join the club. And to those whose exams were smashing, I hope you fail!!! Alright, alright! I retract the curse. *sigh*

By Kazim Ibn Sadique


I wonder who's going to water my plants while I'm gone.
I say 'gone' because at the back of my head I want to

come back home. The front of my head, the part that thinks logic, has other plans.

My room looks muddled right now. Books are missing from shelves; the bedclothes have been ripped clean off the beds, and clothes lay scattered about the floor. I see the dress my mother had bought for me last summer; it lies in a bundle by the door, along with a lot of my other things. These things I have decided to leave behind.

I must slip out under the cover of darkness. I cannot risk the neighbors reporting me. So leave I shall, but not right now. The memories, you see, keep me back.

I have some money with me; it will tide me over for a bit. I think I'll get a room in the seedier part of town. As for meals, it looks like I'll have to make do with one meal a day. I'm not at the digging-food-out-of-the-rubbish stage yet. But worse days can come.

I might have to live off the streets, too. I wonder if I'll get mugged. Maybe I can sit in cafés all day, and once it's nighttime I can roam around in the flashier part of town. Most of the restaurants are still open at 11 o' clock, I'm sure I won't get mugged there.

I've only packed a few of my books. The rest will stay. And I've left behind my plants, too, all of them. My sole bag is crammed with clothes, shoes, letters, and as much food as I could possibly pack. I shall miss the sausages and eggs I usually had for breakfast, and my eleven o' clock coffee, and watching those Wednesday night shows with my mother.

And the morning paper…I don't think I'll get my hands on one, not unless I pay for it, and I'm not used to paying for anything.

And despite my constant complaints, I will miss the incessant drilling and grinding and sawing that goes on next-door.

I'll not have a roof over my head anymore. And school is a distant reality.

I used to wish for no homework. No homework meant more television. I used to catch all the Monday night shows, two hours back-to-back, and sometimes I'd eat dinner in front of the television.

Dinner…there won't be dinner where I'm going…
It's almost four in the morning. Day breaks in another half an hour. I must go before then, shut this door, and sneak away.

And I didn't even tell my mother that I'm leaving.

By Shehtaz Huq

Different Seasons

I got an angry e-mail a few days back, which criticised the kind of books I seem to be reviewing lately (the offending book in question happened to be The Celestine Prophecy). My very enlightened critic pointed out that I'd lost touch with my readers, and ought to read stuff that teens can relate to. Not being a teen anymore (sigh! How fast the years fly), I found myself in a bit of a quandary. Then I was saved by the King. Stephen King, to be precise, with a neat little anthology that deviates from his usual spooky and bizarre stuff.

Different Seasons is a collection of four novellas: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The Breathing Material. Before I get to why I think young(er) people could relate to it, a little bit about each story:

If you've seen the movie Shawshank Redemption, you'll know all about the first story, because the script was pretty true to the original story. This is the story of Andy Dufresne, a straight-arrow banker who comes to jail to become a crook. While that was probably a gross over-simplification of a moving, complex story, that's essentially the plot, minus a twist here and there which I'll let you find out on your own.

Apt Pupil is about the relationship between a young boy with slightly morbid tastes, and a former Nazi official, and how mutual dislike turns into interdependence and then climaxes in a horrendous manner. The transformation is gradual, and manages to reel you into the heart of the story.

The Body is the story told by a writer looking back at an incident in his youth. Four young boys run away from home on a quest to find and look at the body of a young boy purported to have died in a train accident. Several years later, only one of them, the narrator, is alive.

Finally, there's The Breathing Method, a story told within a story. The background narrative begins in New York City in the 1970s, in a strange, old-fashioned gentleman's club, where the members often tell each other stories. Particularly frightening tales are told on the Thursday night before Christmas - the traditional season of ghost and horror stories. The Breathing Method itself is the story that the narrator hears on this particular night. It is a bizarre tale, told by a doctor. It is about the time in 1935 that an unmarried pregnant woman went to see him, and how he taught her his new 'breathing method' to use during labour with unforeseen and terrifying results.

The theme that connects all four stories is that journey towards defining oneself. I understand that the teen years is a time of self-discovery, when one starts becoming the person s/he will ultimately be, and each of these stories has that element in it. They're also gritty and real, full of turbulent emotions, and anyone can relate to them, be it primal fear, alienation, or confusion.

So if you're looking for something macabre, something terrifyingly real and believable, pick up Different Seasons and prepare to be enthralled.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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