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Strangers 'round the bend

SHE had one hand on the window sill, and one on her forearm, moving up and down, caressing her velvety dark skin which shone bright in the winter's hidden sun. She looked out into the vast whiteness of the snow which covered her lawn, and the neighbourhood she lived in, her eyes darting to and from one end of the street to the other, searching, haunting, impatient. Other than that, her body stood ever so still, unmoving hands which rested, quiet, and an expressionless face which turned the slightest, adjusting to her convenience. She seemed a statue, lifeless, her white gown fluttering in the chill of the breeze, her hair in a tight, motionless bun. The only evidence that a heart beat somewhere inside, that lungs expanded and contracted, that blood flowed, was her breathing, and her breaths, which emerged from between her lips like silver white smoke, silkily moving into the wind, and dissolving into inexistence.

A radio crackled in the background; strangers' voices penetrated the quiet of the dawn.

Sara didn't like the freezing cold which now pierced into her bones, making her tremble and shiver. She had nothing to shield her from it, the cold; she dearly waited for spring to arrive. Ever since he had left, everything changed.

She remembered bits and pieces of their life before; it was all sort of a blur, like a dream that she had only imagined. But one thing she was certain of was this: they had been happy. Sara remembered the walks in the park in the spring, holding hands, laughing at whatever the other said. She remembered how he used to read to her, his words going through her and feeding the butterflies which flew in her stomach. And she remembered the nights, when they'd lie in bed, forehead to forehead, smiling, breathing each other in, and eventually, falling asleep.

The rumbling of a motor interrupted her reverie, and her eyes instantly shot to the corner of the street it was coming from. She waited, holding her breath, as the rumble of the engine got louder, and eventually, a blue Toyota could be seen making its way through the deserted morning street. Her heart skipped a beat every time a car rounded the bend, scared and insecure, afraid when it would be the car she always dreaded seeing, bringing news that would fill her core with horror. She finally let her breath go.

The radio erupted with words like 'death toll' and 'war' and 'treaty.' She heard the shaky flow of speech which spewed forth, but she didn't really listen. Nothing else really mattered to her. Except for him.

She would sometimes reread the letters he had sent her, from places not spoken of, with the gun he had given her before leaving for her protection by the bed, or sometimes, under the pillow. And she would cry into the pillow, and sometimes, when the loneliness was too much for her to bear, she would take one of his shirts out of the closet, and cry into that, soaking it in. She cried not because she missed him. But because the letters she read resonated how everything had changed. And of how he had changed.

In the beginning, the letters were long and descriptive and frequent, filled with terms of endearment for her, caring words which shimmered with the obviousness of his love. They were filled with inquisitive sentences for her well-being, and of clichéd lines echoing with the deep-seated nature of his passion, of his longing. But, soon, gradually, as time passed, as the days became months and eventually, years, the letters, they became less regular in their arrival, and less emotive. She could feel the words reverberating, hollow, and, it seemed to her, meaningless. And the way he used to sign off, words like 'yours forever' and 'missing you every moment,' soon dissipated to give into just a simple one-word, 'Love.' And that one word perforated her heart, and left her with a scarlet ribcage, gasping for air, because she could see, behind those four letters, there was nothing.

But she still loved him. And she hoped that he could still love her.

Another car came hurtling down the road. She hadn't even noticed the sound of its engine. This one was green, and a small flag, standing upright in the front of the car, blew wildly in the wind. The moment she had laid eyes on that vehicle, she had known what was coming. She just, for some inexplicable reason, knew.

Sara got out of the house, and watched as the car stopped right in front of her and two men, donning army uniforms stepped out and approached her, solemn. One carried an envelope in his hands.

“I'm sorry, ma'am, but we regret to inform you…” The one with the envelope began to speak, but she didn't bother to let him finish. She took the envelope from his hands, and without saying a word, she walked back into the house, ever so quietly shutting the door, and went into her bedroom. Into their bedroom. She lay down, and slid one hand under the pillow.

On a day the sun finally broke through the clouds, and shattered the winter walls with its glorious rays, and it stopped snowing, a gunshot exploded through the silence of a white picket fence neighbourhood.

And the beast, never seen,
Licks its red talons clean.
Sara curses the cold;
No more snow, no more snow.
No more snow.

By S.N. Rasul

Everybody leaves

I was sitting in my car, thinking about all the troubles of the world. Why there is world hunger, why traffic jam always manifests at the worst possible moments, and why Jeniffer Connelly isn't my age, and giving A levels from Dhaka. My eyes stared fixedly at a certain random point, subconsciously trying to grasp what is wrong with what it was seeing. Two large buildings stood at the tip of Bijoy Shoroni, housing a gap in the wall of giant buildings that looked oddly like the toothless smile of a six year old-in this case with gigantic cement behemoth for teeth. I watched the leaves rustle in the distance, straying out of my mind, into the random world of the subconscious, where even a pin drop could be pondered over for decades.

In that moment of thoughtlessness I realised how very little 'pondering' was valued in the current market of NSU graduates and IBA students. The simple act of this leaf rustling could have libraries of text in its name. Come to think of it, it DOES have libraries of texts in its name.

Nobody dedicates a whole book to the flat, green buggers. No concerto was ever dedicated to the wonderous power cells of mother nature. And yet, they have silently provided the backdrop to every comedy, tragedy, war and romance. The fallen hero is laid to rest on the open green field, soon to be blanketed by the breathtaking olympic performance of cherry blossoms. The clandestine meeting of two lovers take place under the shade of some random flora, securing them from the gaze of those who would not let their love be.

Entire battles have been fought countless times on wonderous celluloid, bloody and brutal, laying to waste entire forests full of life and beauty. Even at times of peace, one cannot picture the house on top of the hill without its sides engulfed by climbing rosevines, or without its front lawn covered by different species of roses and marigolds. Poems from time immemorial relentlessly speak of the fragile beauty of spring, that have captured our imagination every year, without fail.

So why are they so underrated? Why arent trees heard of? Why are they left rustling in the background? Why doesnt the lover become so involved with the background that is making his girl look so beautiful, and suggest 'lets live here forever'. Why dont the zealous soldiers think of the impact on paradise, before perforating it with mortars and mines and aerial bombardment?

These simple things, flat green and expressionless, provide the very foundation of life that we all live upon. They provide the air we breathe, and much of the food we eat. If it werent for the existence of these little wonders, the sun would rise but we would not live to see it. Earth would be like neptune: big, beautiful, blue, and devoid of life. There would be no breeze to knock our hair back, and there wouldnt be no

*GHLONK GHLONK*. 'bhaia, basha chole ashi to'
I was home.
By Crimson Devastation

Book Review

Every Boy's Got One

Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
~ “A Tale as old as Time (OST Beauty and The Beast)

Shakespeare nailed it with comic romances like "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Taming of the Shrew", using the friction between the protagonists to fuel the fire of their subsequent passion. This formula has been used over and over with mixed success by authors and filmmakers over the years, and Meg Cabot is no exception.

Every Boy's Got One is another stand-alone novel that's set in the same setting as last week's The Boy Next Door. Where it's love at first sight for the protagonists of the first book, nothing could be farther from the truth for the pair in this one.

Cartoonist Jane Harris is super-excited about accompanying her best friend Holly Caputo, who is eloping with her boyfriend to Italy. The perfection of such an arrangement is marred by the groom's best friend Cal Langdon, a best-selling non-fiction author, who not only has (gasp!) never heard of Wondercat, but doesn't even believe in marriage. For his part, Langdon seems dismayed at the prospect of being in the company of someone who wears tattoos, and is obsessed with Britney Spears.

When the four are cooped up in Holly's uncle's vacation home in a backwater Italian town, under the care of the German speaking housekeeper, and her grandson, who unlike Langdon, has not only heard of Wondercat, but is also Jane's biggest fan, much hilarity ensues. As expected, the long periods of exposure to one another causes the two opponents to thaw towards one another. This is made easier by the fact that they'd both been aware of each other's attractiveness from the get-go.

Like the previous book, this one also features the epistolary device: the story is told via a series of travel journal and PDA updates, and a few e-mails back and forth from home. In this book, she experiments with a lot of different tools like menus, invoices, blog posts and notices. Meg Cabot deals with this story with her typical light touch at humour, with her exaggerated characters and witty observations. It's obviously not a read that provides much food for thought, but if you want a nice, fluffy read that's loaded with laughs, this is definitely a book to try.

By Sabrina F Ahmad



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