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IT has been many months and many years since we last met. That spot in the corner of the fourth floor corridor, the spot we had claimed through the years, lies empty now. No three set of feet pound the linoleum, no lunch boxes are opened and shared. And even if these things do happen, they happen in our absence.

We come gone a long way since those lunch breaks of many years ago. Our conversations have gone from gossip and jokes to random Instant Messages and Facebook wall posts. We no longer have the luxury of lounging back against the pillar, crossing our legs, digging our fingers into whatever was lunch of the day and filling those forty minutes with idle chatter.

It amazes me now when I think of how easily the conversation used to flow between us. When we started out, we were just a motley crew that had no one to while away the time with. From then we became friends, and soon it was to you two that I came for all my life's woes. You would hear me out, weasel a smile out of me when needed, pat me on the back when I wanted a little loving. You would reduce me to uncontrollable laughter with just one comment, one remark. You would leave me gasping for air, breathless, clutching my sides by the time the lunch bell rang and I staggered my way back to the classroom. People gave us the weird eye, but we were young and we didn't care.

What has happened now, you ask? Where are we now, where are those people of the carefree lunch breaks and ridiculous jokes? Well, we have grown up. We have put those days behind us, moved on with life's calling. O Levels and college admissions and ECA crowd up our days, so much so that even if we wanted we couldn't have gone back to our lunch break ways. Where would we get the time? We have no time.

Our friendship has now come to rely on the wonders of the Internet, and the capacity of your cell phone devices to send and receive IMs on MSN Messenger. We keep in touch, but this is a flimsy thing, shallow compared to the freshly-minted laughter of yesterday. And I miss you.

For Zee and Ansari
By The Trick is to Keep Breathing

The new world order

‘The revolution's here, (no one can change your ways)
No one can lead you off your path.
You're trying to change the world,
So please excuse me while I laugh…'

------ Talib Kweli, Beautiful Struggle

IT seems the world is still too dizzy with their individual victories, troubles and progression. The victory of Srilankan troops, the global financial crisis and the proclaimed success of our own elections, to name a few, have got us all shrouded in our own veils. This thin veil is the one which cloaks our eyes to the tragedies of life and the complexity of global propagandas. It also disguises how selfish we have become and how selfish we can get.

In a certain corner of a world, a certain group of people are falling victims to bombs, everyday. The bombs are dropping on mosques, buildings and schools at relentless pace. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't a game of cat and mouse. This is merely the game of vicious and greedy cat being hand-fed by timid piglets. There is supposed to be a war going on for a certain 'strip' of land, however that itself is a laughable concept. How is it war, if only one side is fighting?

'It is necessary to flush out the rebels who endanger innocent lives.' This is the mantra for the aggression. The rebels must be defeated or they shall 'harm innocent' lives. This massive strike is the result of a last attempt at halting the innocents from the 'other-side' falling victims to rockets, launched without discretion.

What has been the price to pay for stopping the slaughter of civilians? The death toll reads 580 on the 10th day of the offensive. Of this, at least 200 victims were civilians. On a Monday, specifically dated January 5th, 2009, 20 children were killed. They were aged merely 2-15. That was a tragedy, one unfelt and uncared for. Condemnations were plenty when Hitler led the offensive and rightfully so. Now the repercussions of his blasphemous actions are being felt by those that had nothing to do with. The victims have now rose and are now showing off their might, for years of repression. The world needs to shake in fear and acknowledge the true super-power. The real super power is now rising, and the puppet super-power can watch in silence. Other puppet leaders, who could've spoken out had delayed their speech of disapproval, to such extent that their own nations called for their leaders to go home and hide in the bosoms of their wives. The elusive super-power knows the time is ripe to come out and extract a revenge long over-due. The Siccari's have risen. Shiver and surrender…

The intelligent mind knew all along who was running the show. Now, it is just coming to the fore. Able bodies who were created with the intention of ensuring peace now can only look appalled and whimper in shame. It was all a sham from before. Nothing can be done, because the confinements of these living rooms are much too comfortable. No point straying from here to speak up. They won't hear us because mere citizens aren't loud enough. Men, surrender your swords and pens, and put on these bangles made of gold. The foolish will speak, the brave will remain silent. New world orders are the new world rules. Get on with the times.

The Iran Culture Institute, in Dhaka, provides an insight to the struggle. Mortals may bear witness to this new day parade. Enjoy the amazing circus. And in the end, head back home, and breathe in a persisting, deceptive and deluded sense of security, safety and freedom. God bless the new world!

By Osama Rahman

Book review

Black and Blue

By Ian Rankin

IAN Rankin introduces himself in the little one paragraph biography in the books as being someone who was previously employed as an alcohol researcher, a swineherd and a punk musician. If you think about it really hard you can actually see how those particular jobs played a great part in influencing his writing. His main character Rebus encompasses alcoholism and seems to have a detailed knowledge of all the pubs in Scotland and the special brews there and who has a huge record collection which he avidly listens to every night to help him go to sleep.

This time around we see Detective Inspector Rebus in hot water even before things actually start to happen. A long forgotten case that Rebus and his mentor Lawrence Geddes worked on is being reopened due to intense media a pressure ever since the criminal in question committed suicide, maintaining to the end that he was set up by the police. The fact that Rebus's mentor himself commits suicide puts the slack fully on Rebus, who, with his penchant to remain totally mum about his past, refuses to talk or cooperate in the course of the investigation. Added to this are Rebus's own doubts about his mentor's intentions and the purported guilt about the criminal he put in all those years ago.

And because Rebus happens to be the bone that everybody wants to pick on, he's been transferred to the hardest post in Edinburgh, Craigmillar. As Rebus gets involved in the case it leads him to the Glasgow mob and from there onto the Aberdeen drug scene.

And if you thought all that wasn't enough, the country is in the middle of a huge manhunt in search of a copycat serial killer called Johnny Bible, named after the infamous Bible John of the late 60s and 70s. And if you were to look inside the cabinets in Rebus's kitchen you'd find newspapers from that era connecting both serial killers.

In the Rebus series this is one of the first books which were substantially big. Rankin took liberties to delve into the lives of the characters, fleshing each and every one out and not just that, he made the darker side of Scotland all too real. In the process, Rankin created the first book of the series to gain wide coverage and bagged a few awards to really launch the series into the limelight. The past books all mostly deal with crime and the demons Rebus faces while solving said crimes. In this book Rankin takes a turn from just focusing on the crime and focuses instead on the way the police work and politics within the force. Added to it of course is Rankin's dose of psychological tinkering with the characters, bringing the humanity into crime fiction.

Most of us imagine Scotland to be the place where the movie Braveheart took place and as just another part of the UK. Reading Rankin, the reader realizes just how different the actual country is to our perceptions. Rankin not only manages to capture the essence of his characters, but that of his country itself. If you want a read that's both thrilling and intellectually challenging, then this is it.

By Tareq Adnan



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