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A knock at the door

The sky resembled the darkest texture of black, as if painted with Satan's crayon. Ancient drumbeats blazed in the clouds, and the merciless streaks of lightning momentarily illuminated the surroundings, revealing a covert cottage in the desolate vicinity. Sometimes they disclosed a hideous face silhouetted against a window. I was standing there with my nose pressed against the window, feeling a rising trepidation. It was ages since they were searching for me and I felt that the search was nearly over.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
I wheeled around in alarm and instinctively, my hand flew to the rusty revolver. Adrenaline cursed through my veins as I clenched my jaws. How could they locate my secret hideout? And how could they even expect that I would open the door if someone knocked? However, if they really thought that they had cornered the basilisk, then they would have to face its wrath and retribution.

A faint noise came from the door again.
So would I have to face vengeance and torture for my crimes? A phantasmagoria of my past life flickered in front of my eyes. It was a life void of compassion, void of love. My parents, whom I never met, would not be proud of their son. The iron-hearted keeper of the orphanage treated us with heart-wrenching negligence. "You urchins are stains on the face of earth" he used to say. We believed what he said and hated him for it. The grey, murky walls of the orphanage, where we scrawled graffiti were testament to our faded dreams. I still remember the day when I first touched my revolver. It was shining and sleek, a stark contrast to my belongings at the orphanage, torn dresses and broken toys. Though it resembled hope and salvation at first, it led me into an endless dark tunnel without any escape. Smoke was emitting from it, when I watched my best friend tumbling into the abyss, disbelief and shock etched on his pallid face. I would have preferred rather to depart with him, yet it was silent, waiting for its next victim. What a cold-blooded monster it is! But whom am I trying to fool? We are made of the same metal, anathemas hiding in this godforsaken cottage. Not for long, the vigilant Interpol seemed to have cornered their man at last.

The third knock sounded ominous, impatient and desperate.
What were they waiting for? It was odd that after overcoming all those false traces, deceptions and masquerades that I had fabricated to obfuscate their way, they would be content to reach the door. The only other option may be that they were waiting for my action, spawning me to retaliate, thus making it easier to prove their point at the trial. Keep waiting gentlemen, you would find me a tough nut to crack. Instead of performing anything silly, I cautiously went to the fireplace and peered out from the covert door lens.

However, there was no one down. My senses were razor sharp, yet they could not locate any shadow of a threat. If anyone could escape my gaze, then he would have to be incredibly small, maybe a baby. A baby! But this made no sense. As the knocks occurred more frequently, my curiosity overwhelmed my fear and I went to investigate with the raised revolver. With heart banging hard against my ribs, I wrenched open the door.

A small dog lay outside. It was drenched and shivering, in a quest for shelter. It was incessantly banging its head against the door, hoping to go inside. I sighed with relief. It was an empty threat.

By Ananya Das

A thing of beauty

God has many striking ways of communicating with us. Ordinary experiences can often be more enlightening and life changing than lessons in religion or morality.

The other day, I was at Malibagh waiting inside the car with my brother-in-law. We had around an hour to kill, so we were discussing many things, mostly music. A minute or two passed when this middle-aged man, clad in rather shabby clothes approached our window. As was usual, he told us a story a melancholy tale. He narrated that the garments factory where he used to work had shut down, and that he had no means of income now. He had a baby girl of a few weeks, and needed money to buy her milk.

I continued to browse the laptop inside the car, looking for something interesting. The man must be a fraud, I thought (for no apparent reason). My brother-in-law, it seemed, was rather moved. He asked the man about his baby, and as he began talking again, I looked at him. For the first time I noticed a number of things.

The man was bitter and frustrated, and had a complaining tone. This was far different from the general beggars who for money. Secondly, his attire though shabby were not as cinematically torn and ragged as those of usual beggars.

“I used to give Lactozine to my baby,” he said. “Now the doctors have said I must feed her Dano, or else it will be harmful for her. I've been going around telling everyone here not one person is willing to listen to me.”

His voice was bitter. He was either a very good fraud, or a man in a very sorry condition. I was trying to think logically. I was calculating the probability of this man being genuine, thinking a hundred other things that were meaningless to the man.

The next moment, something happened that defied all logic. My brother-in-law handed the man a big note I never noticed exactly how much. I was looking at the utter shock in his eyes. For a split second, he said nothing. Then he said a few words of thanks, and, waked away dazed.

That night, I mulled over a few things. Guilt spread within me almost painfully as I recalled my attitude the entire period. Had I been alone, I probably wouldn't even look up at the man. And yet, that money has probably changed this man's life, at least for a few days.

Was there a possibility of him being an impostor? Certainly. But was it not worth giving away the money for whatever chances there was, of him being genuine? I recalled that bitter tone. A man so severely gnawed by the harshness of reality, his very soul rebelled against the injustice.

I was struck by many things that night. I was struck by how terribly arrogant I had been. I struck by how this little baby girl, who was born to a family that had to struggle to buy her food, had been gifted with a love so powerful, so strong, that even the wealthiest people in the world would envy it. That bond was a thing of divine beauty, and my indifference towards it : a foul thing.

By Rhapsodized

Something new

It was my mother, waving the foot-long telephone bill in my face, hollering because I spent too much time yammering away with my friends that drove me to find solace in the pc. The thing stood in one corner of my room, gathering dust, hardly having its keys punched (or it's CPU kicked). The thing was mine. Only, I didn't use it. Never saw the need to. I mean, what could you do with it? Watch movies on it? Do your homework? What more?

Then, one fine day in the January of last year, mysterious men came armed with wires and pliers, and installed a broadband connection.

Bam! Suddenly, a whole new world opened up to me. My (ever patient) friends sent me instructions on how to open an account on Windows Messenger. After an hour of tinkering with the keys, I opened my first account. Then came the accounts in hi5 and Facebook. Social networking utilities were absolutely alien to me, but that wasn't going to stop me. Hours I spent, filling in my profile, uploading pictures, sending friends requests. I made my first online 'buddies' after I started chatting with people. Now, I had people to talk to. Ah, it was godsend, the broadband connection, and my pc.

A few months later, I began work at my office. I had colleagues, people I'd never met in my life. Things would've been awkward between us, hadn't Windows Messenger come to our rescue. Online, everyone was a lot chilled out, more inclined to let their hair down. These complete strangers talked about everything under the sunpolitics, shoes, movies, life, Coca Cola vs. Pepsi…again, hours in front of the pc. I gained a newfound respect for the 'damn machine'. Also the Internet. Many a day did my mother have to drag me, kicking and screaming from the pc, and literally shove a textbook in my hands.

(Don't worry, schoolwork never suffered. Much)

It's been a year. And everyday, I come online. I check my emails. I chat with my colleagues (who have now become very good friends). I keep in touch with my cousin abroad. I research, at leisure, for literature assignments and download recipes. Recently, I've learnt to copy music from CDs to my pc. Now I listen to songs on my computer, and listen to more online.

What's the point of this, you ask? Ah, well, for a teenage girl living in this backwater society, there's not much to doschool and coaching, television, and the occasional outing with friends (if you're lucky!). That was my plight, until the Internet came into my life. I may know how to navigate the net, but oh, there's a lot more to be learnt. And I'm raring to go.

By Shehtaz Huq


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