THE woman trudged through the dry desert. She was thirsty, she was tired, and she was not the happiest person in the world. But, she had a purpose, and she was determined. Slim, tall and dark haired with an austere face, with eyes that were entirely black. Her hair was a tussled mess from her long exhausting travels, and dark skin was stained with dark. She was wearing a simple dress made of animal hide, held together by expert stitches. She wore an improvised belt of leather at her waist, and there was a knife tucked into it. The knife was a bright contrast to the rest of her. Where she was worn, battered and dirty, the knife was clean, sleek and shining, ready to deliver swift death to any who opposed.
The wind blew sand against her face, into her eyes, but it didn't seem to affect her. She kept on walking, unfettered by the nature's force, hair flowing at her back like a cloak. The woman finally came upon a lone tree, thrice as thick as her and double her height. There was the slightest hint of green grass at the base, with small bits of rocks and stones. The curve of the tree's trunk was worn and seemed to be bitten at some places.
The woman looked at her knife, eyes sad and weary, and shook her head, instead picking up a rock, making sure that it had a edge sharp enough. She looked up at the cloudy sky and whispered a thanks to the sky. She felt the bark and after finding a suitable place, she began to beat at the wood with the rock. Her palm was bleeding long before she managed to cut the tree sufficiently. After one final strike with the scarlet rock, the bark split with a crunch, and what dripped out made the woman utter another thanks to the skies.
Water trickled out in little droplets, trailing down the bark slowly enough for the woman to not miss a single drop. She lapped up the drippings, and licked her way to the main cut. The water slowly streamed out onto her mouth, and it felt to her as if she was drinking from the Fountain of Youth, itself. She felt her back straighten, her limbs strengthened and she felt her breathing become relatively less labored. When she had drunk the last of the water, she turned to the base of the tree, at the dry sand, and moving her hand over it, she made a fist and squeezed her palm, letting flow a drops of blood. It fell and dissolved into the ground, leaving circles of scarlet, but the wind soon covered them with the desert sand.
The woman stood, and absentmindedly dusted sand off her knees, and her cloth. With renewed vigour and strength, she began her march anew, undeterred by her cruel fate. It was a long way to go, but she'd reach there, of that she was certain. Whatever it takes, Aeshma, the angel who was no longer an angel, would reach the city of Atrum. And she doubted God would help anyone who got in her way.
There are many seers and mentalists claim that prophecies are real, and that there are people all over the continent spewing forth one prophecy or another. Most of these prophecies regard random people getting drunk and then killed in a bar fight. Its harmless knowledge most of the time; tiny details in a vast and ever expanding world of empires rising and crumbling. And mostly supposedly useless. Tapping into the stream of time itself with a mind as fragile as a human's is worse than suicide. And no one ever attempts it willingly, or in a sane mind. For the majority, prophecies never come to occur- there's just too many inconsistencies in the world, too many pebbles to be entirely certain where they'll fall. Or simply because, a prophet dragged back the wrong prophecy for the wrong time.
IN the long history of Bangla story-based literature, there have been quite a few characters that have managed to take up permanent positions in the hearts' of the readers. The creators have written short stories, novels, plays with them in plenty. Tenida, Ghonada, Feluda, Kaka babu, Himu, Misir Ali are some of the charismatic names in this regard. We will go over them in weekly basis here on this column.
This week our focus is on a 'legendary' character created by Narayan Gangyapaddhay: Tenida. Everything written for the kids and teens by late Narayan is enjoyable, but in case of Tenida this limit is extraordinary. Tenida is a character whose popularity exceeds any age limit, any generation. He has nothing in similar to Ghonada or Feluda, he is the one and the only of his rare breed.
Tenida is the sort of annoying and bossy little character who always takes advantage of his minions but nevertheless attracts them to do his bidding. He also has a funny way to solve the problems and has a bit to comment on almost every subject. Judging by his in-depth knowledge on various matters the storyteller sometimes wonders if he was immortal or not. Makes us wonder too. Another noticeable trait in his character is his amount of self-confidence. He never admits his guilt and successfully makes excuses for various shortcomings of his. All these things make the works with Tenida a perfectly good read and a humorous one too.
The author himself acts as one of the four minions of the great Tenida. He describes the story in the first person and has a stock of great sarcastic dialogues coming from him. But the activities of Tenida never fail to make us laugh, whether it is playing cricket, capturing aliens, recovering hidden treasures or becoming a hermit in the Himalayas.
Narayan Gangyapaddhay wrote 5 novels, 32 short stories and one play on Tenida and all these can be found in the more generalized “Narayan Somogro (collection)”. Specifically for works related to Tenida can be found in one “Tenida Somogro” from various publishers.
Size 14 is not Fat either
YOU know you've been handed the short end of the stick when your music career tanks, your ex fiancé keeps trying to invite you to his highly publicised wedding to the same person that caused your break-up, and your size 12 jeans just don't fit you anymore. But it's when you go to work early for a change once morning, and find yourself having to identify a head floating inside a pot on the stove in the cafeteria that you really realise just how bad you've been short-changed by life.
That's pretty much the situation Heather Wells finds herself in at the beginning of this sugar-sweet sequel to Meg Cabot's 'Size 12 is Not Fat”. Thanks to the antics of her former boss in the first book, the residence hall she works at has been nicknamed the Death Dorm, a joke that had been wearing thin even before Heather and Co. make their gruesome little discovery. Heather, being what she is, despite her promise to landlord/main squeeze Cooper not to get involved in this murder, cannot help getting sucked in when it becomes evident that the good ol' boys from the NYPD are getting their investigation all wrong. Again.
This time around, she has to deal with sneaky cheerleaders, size-ist frat boys, and her ex-con father turning up at her doorstep just when she thought life wasn't already complicated enough. And once again, we're led through a Bridget Jones meets Nancy Drew style romp through the charming whodunit, with generous doses of quirky characters and hilarious monologues from Ms Wells herself.
Once again, the main flaw behind this story is that Heather thinks and acts more like a teen than the almost-thirty that she really is. The author probably aims for “endearingly flawed”, but overshoots the mark and lands into 'caricature' territory. Then again, no one's saying that this is a serious read. So hunker down with 'Size 14 is not fat either' for a pre-iftar read, and that long wait till eat time will seem a little sweeter.
By Sabrina F Ahmad
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