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A dream to reminisce

TRAMPING along the coiled arteries of the deep forest, lush with green plants and glorious flowers in every color imaginable, I was cast away by the birds singing their melodious anthem to nature. The blushing apples and cherries hanging from the trees were luscious and every leaf smiled in the blistering sun, rays of which streamed down through the cavities in the dense greenery.

As I stretched my arms to reach out to the blushing cherries, I felt a brush on my feet. On looking down I discovered a cluster of toadstools upon which sat a beautiful fairy. She stood no taller than three inches on her two feet flexed into one point and legs that were no thicker than a straw. Her petite figure was covered in a silky green and blue dress flowing around her as smoothly as melted chocolate. Picturesque wings that were as delicate as fine silk filled the scenery behind her with its radiance and color. Her long and golden hair fell loosely around her tiny face, dancing slightly with her moves while her blue eyes appeared quite out of proportion with the rest of her face being so full of life.

As I bent down and put my hand forward, she flew on to my palm. This pee-wee creature hardly weighed as much as a rose petal. She was so attractive that I kept gazing at her. We conversed with each other as we walked ahead. At a distance, I noticed a beautiful cottage encircled by a rich green lawn. It was so appealing that I could not stop myself from going closer.

On we walked till we reached the strange cottage. My eyes grew big with excitement. It was a chocolate house! Starting from the bars of the gate, which were coated with delish chocolate, the whole cottage was of chocolates of diverse shapes and sizes with icing on some of them. The miraculous part was the fountain on the other side of the lawn from which liquid chocolate was flowing out. I curved both my hands in the shape of a cup, which I filled with the chocolate from the fountain and then sipped it from my hands. It was scrumptious. This appetizing cottage made me hungry as ever and I broke a cookie from the wall and put it into my mouth. My excitement was at its peak making the slender fairy laugh at the way I was breaking off tempting lumps of chocolate from the wall. Both my eyes and stomach feasted on the chocolate fantasy!

Just as I looked back at the measly enchanter sitting on my hand, 'the indescribable' beheld me. A bunch of gorgeous and similar looking fairies flew out of the window of the cottage fluttering their silky wings and dancing in the air. These were her companions enveloping us by their shimmering wings and colorful clothes. They invited us into the cottage and all I was wondering was how would it be inside when the cottage was so delicious on its outside.

The interior was also a heaven of chocolate with each and every corner embellished with luscious candies and cookies. Starting from the window frames and door to the tables and chairs, everything was made of lush chocolate. The décor was ineffable. The addictive smell of chocolate was all around. This cottage was but an arcadia of chocolate. For a moment, I felt that even I was made of chocolate. The cottage was so bountiful that I could not have finished even by feasting on them forever. More delightful were the enchanting fairies fluttering all around me and serving me glasses of liquid cocoa. All of a sudden an unusually big jar, which was round in shape, caught my sight. The jar was not just big; it was gigantic, taller than me in height and enormous in circumference. I rushed through my veins, as I discovered yet another 'unimaginable'. And truly it was. A humongous jar, which too was made of chocolate but what lay inside, was even more miraculous. Powder of pure gold, as soothing and fine as silk, filled the whole jar. In fact, the dust of gold shimmered from within the jar.

The tiny fairy then flew to my shoulder saying that whoever would drag his hands into the gold would be enchanted by a supernatural charm by which one could meet all desires. I was flabbergasted on hearing this. Right away I put my hands into the jar of gold.

When I pulled out my hands they looked as precious as ever. Coated in gold, my hands were glittering. Slowly I felt that the charm was working on me as the dust of gold started to fade away from my hands and I could smell a craving scent all around me. The feeling was divine, beyond words of expression, the feeling of being bewitched.

On the spur of a moment I found myself skiing on the mountain, once up and then down on the snow blanketed terrain. Enveloped in thick winter clothes, I could feel the chill around. The trees here and there were also skinned in white. Just as I was skiing down I noticed a crack in the floor of snow. I did not realize what it was. The next instant, the snow started flowing abruptly and rapidly all around me, and it was faster than me. It was an avalanche! That very moment I was in no state to exercise my intellect because it was all about the flow of the snow that pushed me ahead. I lost my balance, tumbled down and was pushed further down and beneath. I could feel that I was falling steeply with nothing to hold me back. The fall was hasty and cold and eventually I could feel myself sinking into the snow. I felt that my breath was bleaching away when suddenly the ear-piercing scream of the alarm interrupted and Mom came rushing to wake me up for school.

The sleep was enduring, taking me through unforgettable places one, the world of fantasy which dwells in a place where only our imagination can take us, where time does not exist and the air always smells as though it has just rained and the other an avalanche, what the world calls a disaster endangering life and property. Like all fairy tale stories, my ream of the fairyland did not end on the note 'happily ever after' but rather on a spine-chilling background.

Though a dream, it took me through the magical world of fairies and then brought me back to real life devastation. A dream that can be well exemplified to demonstrate the authenticity of life, the authenticity that life is always not a fantasia but rather a journey through thick and thin.

By Olina Islam

For the love of Egypt

ON May 2007, Dr Leedy Hoque, along with her daughter Shaonly, her brother Timmy Aziz, and her very special 17 year old son Aadil undertook a trip to the land of the Pharaohs, pyramids, and mummies: Egypt.

Aadil is autistic and has been so for a very long time. He has had to resort to extreme behaviours in the past to express his feelings. But all that changed when, at the age of seven, he came across the map of Egypt. His fascination with the country, its art and its culture helped improve his communication skills. Pictures of King Tutankhamen enthralled him and - encouraged by his home-schooling teachers at Oxford, UK, and his mother - he started learning more about Egyptian art and history. Before long his talent burgeoned and he was drawing amazing artwork.

By the time Aadil was eight, he began asking for a trip down the Nile, a visit down the Nile, and a meeting with his personal hero, famous Archaeologist and Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawass. This dream trip ultimately took almost nine more years to be realised because of Aadil's fear of flying (the family was victim to the December 1997 Sylhet plane crash), which he overcame. Finally, after months of preparation they went for a “Journey of a lifetime” (as Dr Leedy Hoque calls it).

It was such a great trip that Aadil managed to write an entire essay on it without the need of any prompt. He wrote: “I went to Egypt on May 2007 by Emirates Airline from Bangladesh via to Cairo.” “I went to the Papyrus Museum and I saw how they made papyrus. I made a drawing of Aida on a papyrus.”

His journey took him to the Karnak Temple and the Luxor Temple (where he saw - “the mummy of Ramses I brought from America by Dr Zahi Hawass and the National geographic Society.”). He even fulfilled his childhood dream and travelled down the Nile to see Edfu, the Temple of the hawk-headed god Horus. “I saw two images of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra worshipping Sobek and Horus,” he wrote.

Aadil went to every single place in Egypt that's related to the country's mysterious and yet colourful history; including the Museum in Cairo, the Roman Amphitheatre, Roman Catacombs, Pompey's Pillar with Ptolemy's Sphinx and even the Alexandria National library. One of the main highlights of the whole trip obviously turned out to be his meeting with Dr Zahi Hawass, not only because Dr Hawass is Aadil's hero, but also because he said, “Aadil looks like Kind Tut!”

In recognition to International Autism Day (2nd April) a photograph and art exhibition “For the Love of Egypt” was arranged at the Drik Gallery in Dhanmondi. This exhibition focused on Aadil's visit to Egypt and the stages of his development as a special child. It was done to not only share the wonderful experience but also to create awareness on the ways one can support and stimulate an autistic child.

We, at the Rising Stars, wish Aadil and his family the very best of luck for his future and hope that he gets to experience more of these wonderful journeys again, very soon.

By Nuzhat Binte Arif


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