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Food for thought

Last Wednesday, with a lot of spare time in my hand, I decided to treat myself. Getting all dressed up, I went a bit heavy on my perfume. Sleeking down my hair with a handful of gel, I stood admiring myself in the mirror. I could almost envisage Brad Pitt shying away. With a smile on my lips and a song in my heart I headed for the best restaurant in my neighborhood.

I was ready to go on a date with my own self. This was by no way influenced by lack of dates I must clarify; it's just that I felt I needed some time on my own. Maybe the lightness of my wallet would be a secondary reason. Upon entering the restaurant, I was surprised to see the lack of customers. The cheerful guards where all wearing a frown on their face. The waiters were no better. I could actually jot down the outlines of their grimaces. My inquiries regarding the long faces came to no avail. I let the melancholy syndrome pass over my head for the time being. I picked up the menu and began ordering.

What struck me as odd was the amount of items that were crossed off the menu. I called the waiter. “Why are most of the items crossed out?” I asked. “The mobile court raided us. We could not match normal standards according to them.” He replied. My facial expression contorted into one of great alarm. “Our kitchen is too dirty, our oil is a day old, our meat is supposedly stale and our ghee is 25 years old.” He added without any sign of hesitancy. “25 years?” I exclaimed, amazed. “Yes, but guess they got their mathematics wrong.” He said with a mischievous smile. “Oh! Its not 25 years old then?” I asked, sighing with relief. “No, its actually 50 give or take a few years. Yes, we did manage to fool that moustache-wearing nerd.” The waiter triumphantly replied. At this stage, I felt my throat going parched. “Please, get me a glass of water.” I pleaded. “That's not possible. Our water does not match BSTC OR BSIC or some other fancy-shmancy standard. I mean who the hell are we serving? Prince Charles? It's just a bunch of middle-class cheapskates, for Pete's sakes look at our prices. That's lower than the winter temperature in the Artic!” He wailed on. I ignored his tirade of insults and quietly headed out. Even my exit was marred with a shock, a plaque above the wall read “Quality is our specialty.” No words spoken, I managed to keep my day out a hushed affair. For those who never stop wondering, no I did not have an appetizing meal out-doors. I settled for my fair and safe share of pulse and rice. In case you are still wondering, yes the rice at the place was rotten and the government as relief imported most of the rice that was of good quality.

Naturally you didn't stop pondering here but yes you are once again right. An influential political leader did own the restaurant and he is in jail. The restaurant was fined, but due to its popularity, it was given a second chance to provide quality and funds for the development of our “ghetto” neighbourhood. Now this I shall enjoy, such restaurants helping the society. That's food for thought and since my hunger remains, let me chew at it for a while. Till then, eat safe, maintain standard and never ever ramble on with a disgruntled waiter.

By Osama Rahman

Killing time

I was bored. Not just bored. Very bored. Perhaps, more than that. Listening to music wasn't doing any good. It was a hot day, too. I groaned in misery and paced around my room. It came to me then, doing that was doing no good. So, I groaned in anger and paced around the room. I then realised groaning in a certain feeling and pacing around the room was not doing anything whatsoever, so I stopped that altogether.

I got bored again.

I plopped myself on the single sofa and placed my hand under my chin and thought. And thought. And thought. I became tired then, for thinking is tedious. You have to think up stuff to think about. Then you have to think about that. And you have to think why you were thinking in the first place. When you know that, you have to think what good it would do you thinking about it anyway… Sometimes, thinking about a certain stuff may lead to thinking about another certain stuff which leads to forgetting about the first certain stuff. That's the way it is, when you are a thinker. It's not that easy to think, contrary to popular or, depending on the society, unpopular belief.

So, I then decided to stop thinking on the whole. It was then I realised I had forgotten what I was thinking about. This made me confused. I went on to think about being confused, which confused me. I subsequently recalled being confused a moment ago, and being confused twice at the same time was further confusing still. And this particular confusing fact simply muddled me.

It was getting too confusing for me. So, I just threw myself on the bed and decided to completely stop thinking and rest for a while. So I did. I got up from my nap so abruptly and so refreshed that I forgot I had taken a nap. I was smiling then because the sun was hiding behind the clouds and the clouds looked very dark, and didn't seem persuadable to let the sun out. I was already dressed for travel, and so left the apartment and then the building as fast as my lazy legs could take me. I was thinking again, the clouds inspiring me to do that. I found myself on the highway, without even knowing when and how I got there.

I saw a band of people holding up some large banners demanding something. Or perhaps, protesting. I can't remember what. I told myself to join them, and I did join them and I shouted along with them. I wasn't sure what I was shouting. Seemed like nonsense to me. I shook my fist in the air with a certain feeling leaking out of me. A feeling I couldn't recognize. Probably mindless idiocy.

I was wrong about the clouds. They dispersed quickly. And the sun was out again. And it was summer, too. And it was Dhaka. I started to lag behind a bit, finding myself at the rear end. I started to think again. It wasn't too difficult then for some reason. Everything was so very clear all of a sudden. I stopped walking with the band of people, completely. I ran to some shades and I looked after them as they trod away. The air cooled my sweating body. They were probably sweating, too… And I didn't notice anybody actually noticing their protest, demand or whatever it was they were doing. I found it all appallingly pointless.

I muttered, “Darn idiots!” Recalling that I was a part of that group a few moments back, I drowned myself in self-pity. Then, I recalled that I had no idea what I was doing and I felt instantly infinitely better. I did it for the kicks. These people were doing it for something; even though it was quite certain whatever the heck they were doing it for would not happen, given a thousand years even.

I sighed at their pathetic gesture of pointlessness and started the long walk back home. Once more, I began to drown in misery when the fact sunk in that the day wasn't interesting, at all. It was, at best, mind-numbingly stupid.

By Emil


'Imagine!' he repeated, his voice warmer than ever. She knew his eyes glowed with the same fervor that hers did. But somehow she thought it would be better to look away; to ignore what she knew was unavoidable. Yet she couldn't. Like most other beings she decided to give in to temptation, be blinded by words.

'Don't think; let go of reality, fear no one, listen to none. Don't look for it, let it find you; then and only then can you imagine'.

So she did, as he wanted. She lost herself to oblivion, being drawn further and further. Until she realized it was time to open her eyes. She did, without fear, without concern. For a wild second she didn't believe it could happen. She stood there, bewildered by her achievement. Her heart skipped a beat. With the autumn wind pounding at her face, she stared at the almost broken road in front of her. But somehow she decided not to move on, but to treasure this moment, feel it more closely, more intimately and more discreetly. She sensed it all, the tenderness of the breeze; the soundless whispers that echoed through the wind, the gentle gestures of the falling leaves, their hesitation and their serenity. She heard it all, felt it all, and now it was time to move on, explore the rest, and touch the new. And so she did, did that she had never dreamt of doing…she took a step further.

Her life was one of dire limitations, a life of poignant memories. She was 'gifted' the life of the disabled, or so she believed. It was nothing she was embarrassed about, nothing she dreaded. She had never known the other part of life, a life where one enjoyed the benefits of having the whole of their limbs. But like most people with dreams, she wanted to live her own. She wanted to waltz, be able to have normal conversations with people without having them stare at her first, to walk the English moorlands and maybe even visit the beach at winter. But as much as she enjoyed dreaming, she was reminded of her incapability, either consciously or subconsciously. Even the sky seemed to have some sort of a gentle mockery in stock.

However things were different now. She was reminded how to hope, how to dream. She didn't feel like herself; for the first time she heard the leaves, let nature caress her in its own cradle; for the first time she…walked. She listened to her footsteps, echoing for the first time. She was not afraid to look down, but didn't dare to look back. She wanted to walk away from her past, lose herself to the person she had become. And now she lived this moment, one that gave her new hopes; dreams she never imagined of. No one, not even the mightiest of forces could take this moment away from her, for this was reality; reality she never knew could come. Not plagued with misgivings and determined to go on, her limbs were stronger than ever.

But they did not move. The harmonic sound in her ear stopped. There was no air, no breath, just a pungent fear; an intense cold that penetrated deeper and deeper.

And now she was back, back on the worn out seat of her wheel chair. She didn't dare to open her eyes, couldn't dare to face this. Startled, she made a little sound, less than the least of sounds. Her pale grey flesh was colder than ever her eyelids ice purple. She felt the icy, frost air transform her hand into a cold blue. She now sat as a stiff corpse, unable to move, fearing to hope. He tucked the brown curls behind her ears. His head now rested on the white satin collar of her dress. He spoke 'Let go…'

She did. And now she opened her eyes to see he was gone.

By Shehzeen Saamarah Hussain

Random thoughts of a human child..

She sat under the open sky. Her glassy orbs filled to the brims are ready to spill but these are not tears of sadness. A light breeze caressed her cheeks and kissed the tip of her lids. She let it play with her tresses as it flicked through them.

She shifted her gaze to the cloudless sky and a sense of fascination engulfed her. The silver globe in the night's sky was illuminating the world. Its silver glow created an atmosphere of wondrous beauty. She thought of the sun that was giving it its light. Somehow this thought broke the spell she was under. Science. Science explains the unknown but sometimes it's better to have some questions unanswered. Science has destroyed all the magic of life. A little child no longer asks if it could join the party of pixies behind the bushes but instead if it could meet a Hollywood actress.

Science has destroyed our imagination, our fascination. However there is one thing that science has been unable to touch and that is human emotions. Who said humans are hard to satisfy? Human emotions are very delicate. The tiniest gestures can leave a mark on them. The smallest things in life can be enough to make them happy. When a child smiles at its mother, she is the happiest person on earth. When their loved ones hold their hands and makes there heart flutter or simply when their best friend hugs them and brings a smile on their face they are satisfied.

Are these not magic? These are indeed the spiritual feelings that complete life. She tried to block these thoughts and closed her eyes as a smile graced her pale face. She was very fortunate. She was a human.

By Mashiat Rabbani


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