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Small crimes

IT does not amuse me. Fingers drum on the matte surface of my weathered study table and I glare at the screen that glows deathly grey in the dark of my room. The muted strums of a guitar solo waft from the speakers I had shoved haphazardly aside not even half an hour ago, one fluid swoop, when she called to tell me that she couldn't make it. 'Go to hell,' I had been tempted to say. But of course I didn't. I never did.

I wait for her in front of the computer, her offline window open, waiting for her to come and apologize. 'I'm sure you can find ways to get in touch with me,' I want to say but knowing her she will no doubt claim her hands were tied, and what did she know of computers and why they malfunctioned? 'I'm as tech-savvy as on oyster!' she would joke, and laugh, and think it would amuse me. But it wouldn't. It never did. Her helplessness never amused me. On the days she would call me up to ask how the flash on her camera works, and how to take a screen shot, patient explanations punctuated with many a wayward query - it never left me amused.

I glare at my computer some more and fervently wish that her DSL cable withers and dies a long, painful death.

'It was the adapter,' she will no doubt tell me tomorrow morning, her sister's cell phone cradled in her hand, her voice echoing off the bathroom walls. 'You know I don't know a thing about fixing adapters.' It is her reason for everything, her claim to oblivion. 'I've never so much as seen a hard drive in my life, how would I know how to wire it?' It is an anecdote she never tires of sharing. That when she calls up the ISP people she inadvertently ends up passing along the phone to me, with that eye roll that indicates 'you explain it to them.' I seethe. Clenched fists leave ribbed veins down the length of my arm.

So I go on my Facebook, where, to no one's surprise, she has not left a message. But I am momentarily distracted by a bumper sticker a well-meaning friend sent, many a moon ago. 'Never trust feminists.' It makes me chuckle inwardly. For a brief second I imagine the scandal in her eyes when they will light upon this unsavoury snippet of literature. 'How very chauvinistic,' she will claim, before succumbing to the malfunctioning router or the computer that refuses to reboot. That helpless look in her eyes leaving a quiver of resentment down my spine.

The hour hand scissors into place and too soon it is 2AM. And she still hasn't called. I try, and fail, to avert my eyes from her Facebook. No status updates. The usual tittering between her and her girlfriends. A smattering of pieces of flair. I log off without leaving a message.

That manipulative little…

I curse. Call her names. I fight the urge to call her up on her parents' phone and leave scathing messages. Ignoramus, I want to say to her face. Deer in the headlights. Wallowing in a river of self-pity. Can't even fix a stupid modem. It makes me see red.

Night passes. Fists clench and unclench intermittently. The filigree of shadows that dot my walls slowly fades away. And then the sliver of sunlight slices through the slits in my curtains and lights up the jumble of wires that trails dejectedly from behind my study table. The cell phone lies menacingly close to my hand, my fingers aching to run themselves over the keypad, stroking the buttons which would lead to her voice. But I won't. Not tonight. Tonight I will let her stew.

'It was one modem too many,' I will tell her tomorrow when she asks. 'One more adapter you claimed you couldn't fix. One more failed connection you couldn't get back up. I'm tired that you never have a better reason.' And those eyes, they will widen with shock and she will toss her head and jab a finger in my chest and demand an apology that will never come.

Your loss, love.

My mind wanders. And I work myself into a bigger rage. Suddenly I am struck by the unfairness of it all. That somehow it is acceptable for her to concede to inability, and yet I never have the luxury to do the same. Equal rights be damned. Would you be all right, I want to ask her, if I threw up my hands and said I didn't know how to change a tire? And if the next time you give me a push, what if I refused to let you have your way? Would I be man enough for you if I went and told your mother that you shove me around? No? I didn't think so, either.

Brrrhmm. My cell phone's vibration jars me out of my reverie. I take it in my hand. There's a text; I open it. 'Sry luv. No network, no nth. Cdnt call u nor text u. Will gt it in 1hr or so. Miss u. =D.'


By HU and The Professor

Story of a bedroom clock

YOU never forget your nursery wallpaper. For me, admittedly, it was more of a cubby-hole than a nursery, and stickers that I remember as opposed to wallpaper stickers of honey coloured teddies with beady eyes over smiling muzzles, holding up rosebuds. Not that I was a particular fan of “Forever Friends”. It just so happened that the bed sheets, the quilt, said stickers and a certain bear I possessed all pertained to that theme. And of course, there was the rose pink wall clock, with a trio of bears squeezed into it, and blue figures around the face. All of my worldly possessions fit neatly in to that 5 foot by 6-foot nook and a four-year-old heart could have desired little else.

But one does not remain four forever. In time I had to move to something more appropriate. The bed sheets and the quilt retired to the closet, and the stickers came down when the room was repainted. The clock however, came with me and made itself a new niche over the doorway, where it would be the first thing I would see getting up every morning.

The funny thing is, though, I never really did look at the clock once it was up there. Perhaps I had grown so used to it that, like the curtain rails and the lampshades on the wall, I felt no need to remind myself of its existence. In fact, so much was it taken for granted that when it stopped working, no one bothered to take it down. I cannot remember exactly when the clock stopped; merely that, one day, I noticed its hands stuck persistently at 5 minutes to 3. And thus it stayed for eight years until dad decided to fix it. Of course, by then it was beyond repair. Still unfixed, it returned to its niche, the only difference was that the hands now pointed to 5 past 6- a result of dad's unsuccessful twiddling.

Do you find it strange that the clock should have remained even after it was firmly established that it no longer served its purpose? I did not, for, you see, by then it had ceased to be a clock for me. Watches and table clocks came and went by the dozen, but the rosy pink wall clock stayed, possibly influencing my bedroom in other little ways. For instance, it was only much later that I noticed the curtains and the bedside table lamps were the same shade of pink. Maybe it was a coincidence but I'd like to think it was the clock.

So, yes, for 17 years I had unquestioning faith in the clock's permanence. I thought nothing of it until the day dad finally decided to do the sensible thing and change it.

Initially I didn't think it would come down. I didn't believe that it was physically capable of doing so; it was too firmly rooted in my bedroom walls, had imbibed too much of the essence of my girlhood for that to be possible, right?

But come down it did, and behind the clock face I saw, not the white painted wall but a gaping vacuum that upset the delicate balance of my microcosm. And the clock that replaced it resembled a shoddy, unsuccessful job of puttying it up. I supposed it could have looked nice in its own way- overlooking a conference table, for example. I wouldn't know. I despised it. Merely glancing at it, which I did against my will often, gave me a throbbing headache- the kind that brings bile to your throat, makes you want to bury your face deep in a pillow and pull a blanket over your head to try to block out that insolent tick.

But what is a seventeen year old to do? I couldn't very well say, “Daddy the new clock makes me sick, I want the old, pink non-functioning one back,” without having my sanity called into question. Moreover, the reason why I found the changing of the clock so bothersome eluded me. Perhaps I felt it was a canary in the coalmine of growing up. Perhaps I wanted it to remain frozen in a time of my innocence, a silent witness to childhood sleep, daydream and whispered conversations, to hold on to the secrets and the memories that I have little time for these days.

These are silly romantic notions for one coming of age to have. I wouldn't blame you for wanting to raise your eyebrows at my naïve obstinacy. The world is facing crises in varying proportions and here I am bemoaning the loss of a pink clock, which no one actually remembers in working order. What a juvenile, irrational little thing to dwell on. But then, it always is the little things, isn't it?

The 'Forever Friends' clock has been moved to a trunk, with more of my 'childish things'. It remains there, gathering dust; and in my memory at the times 5 to 3 and 5 past 6. I suppose I have resigned myself to this new clock; it only makes me cringe now and then. Nevertheless, you can always tell when something is transplanted and will never truly belong. And I suspect that my old companion was able to have a last little joke. For, you see, I couldn't help but feel the slightest vindictive pleasure when the new clock too, stopped working.

It is life's little ironies, like this, that keep us going I think.

By Risana Nahreen Malik

WCG 2009 Bangladesh National Championship

THIS year the tournament was held at the North South University Premises in coordination with the EECS (Electric Engineering and Computer Science) Department. Around 1100 participants signed up for this grand event which was sponsored by Mojo, along with global partner for WCG Samsung, Smart Technologies. Gigabyte and also Intel and Link 3. Besides the gaming tournament itself, the players had the chance to play NFS Carbon with steering wheels, regular quiz and PC assembling competition PC Guru, all courtesy of Intel. They also had the chance to play darts thanks to Mojo and Video Games provided by F1 IT. The winners of FIFA09 and Counter Strike 1.6 will be headed for Chengdu, China, later this year for the grand finals.

After a grand 3 day long event, after many tears shed and many voices shred by shouting in joy, the winners, the top players in Bangladesh in their respective games emerged. In a grand closing ceremony held on August 16, which was adorned by the Vice Chancellor of North South University Dr. Hafiz G.A. Siddiqi, along with the Dean of EECS dept Prof. Abul L. Haque and the head of the department Prof. Miftahur Rahman.

The FIFA09 games were played as a best of 3 matches in the first and second rounds. After that, it was knockout to the finals. Counter Strike 1.6 and Call of Duty 4 was played as league split in 4 different groups, from which the winners advanced to the knockout rounds up to the finals, where it was a best of 3 match.


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