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Chauffeurs and reincarnation

THERE must be some truth in reincarnation not just because there are so many movies about it. Check the roads and look at the drivers. They exhibit animal characteristics of a pre-human form.

There are the obvious post-elephants who want to barge their way through the traffic. It doesn't matter if they are driving a tiny Maruti 800 among huge buses. It's all about the attitude. Think mighty even if you are not.

What about the drivers who have a love affair with the horn and cannot stop caressing it? Think annoying crows or the barking dogs at night. Some must have been snakes or even earthworms as they slither their way all over the road looking for the next gap to shoot through. For them, lane changing becomes an abstract form as even a four lane highway will merge into a single lane.

The problem arises when these reincarnated beings keep displaying their animal characteristics in a relatively civil setting. Survival of the fittest is a jungle rule that has swung with a yell straight into our lives. It becomes the driver's mantra as everybody hurries to get everywhere. Drivers become speed freaks, cars their drug of choice.

Einstein's theory of relativity relatively suggests that the faster you drive, the faster you can create a traffic jam. How often have we had to sit in a two lane street for never ending minutes only because some smart drivers wanted to cut the line and go against the incoming lane? Admittedly a lot of them are rickshaw pullers but car drivers are worse. They think they are faster and can get through before an incoming car blocks the exit. People curse but sometimes those same people also break the rules and never notice. Whoever is slower than you is a moron and anyone faster is a maniac. The person making the statement is always right.

This isn't directed at the chauffeurs who may or may not be ale to read. It's for the educated owners cum drivers some of whom sit at the back enjoying their solitary ruminations. Yes, some read papers while others pick their noses while vacantly staring out the window. Education is a responsibility and what's the point in having it if you cannot apply it? The worst is when you see a chauffer making all the wrong moves while the owner is sitting smug at the back.

One of their worst offences is lane changing without any signal. Indicators are not just flashing ornaments stuck on a car for beautification purposes. It would have been if the car was made by the Bangladeshi government but it's not. It's a similar case with overtaking and driving on the wrong side of the road. It's your responsibility as a passenger to stay alive. It won't help if you sit fuming in a jam or lie mangled in a crash. So the next time you see your driver making a wrong but macho move tell him otherwise. If you are better educated act that way and turn reckless driving into 'wreckless' driving.

By E. R. Ronny

Nobody's child

FOOD has always fascinated me. Ever since I can remember I have loved eating. All kinds of food: Indian, Thai, Chinese, Continental. I had always loved eating. The aromas, the lingering tastes, the hot and cold mixed feeling caressing my tongue. Food has always been an important part of my life.

I had a packet of biscuits in my hand. I took a bite and looked around. It was seven-thirty in the morning; January twelfth. And a bitter cold morning it was. No natural disturbances or sightings lingered around me; no wind blowing, no trees rustling, no birds chirping. It was cold. And quiet.

I loved it.

I take another bite, this time engulfing the whole biscuit. This lone piece of biscuit makes me muse. Life is funny. One little act, one slight touch, one hasty breath; it all can lead to so much more.

I hated that. Life, I mean.
I was only twelve back then. Some people would tell me that I was older beyond my years. I wouldn't take it seriously back then. People were supposed to say that to kids. To make them happy or raise their self-esteem and whatnot. Maybe I was. Or maybe that was how one's own twelve-year old self looks like. I was probably overestimating myself. I did think a little too much, I found myself thinking. This is a case in itself. One time it's food, then myself, then food again. Sometimes it could be frustrating. My mind felt like a roller coaster ride of thoughts.

I took out another biscuit, splitting it in half. Why did such thoughts come to mind at a time like this? It was incomprehensible to me. I stare at the rectangular hole in the ground for a while. I thought. I chewed. I stared.

I took a look around me, the biscuit already fully digested. People surrounded me. They faked different emotions depending on how they were related to the person about to be put it in the hole. At least, I thought so. The immediate family, they cried. It was an interesting site. At that time, I had never seen grown-ups cry before. Least of all my father. Tears fell from his eyes like the Niagara Falls. His eyes squinting, his cheeks puffed red. Did it make me a bad person to think that he looked pathetic? As he cried, I found myself smiling.

I wondered. I stared at the hole. I chewed. How could I smile at other people's misery? And why wasn't it mine? Shouldn't I be teary-eyed as well? I should feel pain. Be hurt. I felt nothing.

Another biscuit. There were others who just stared blankly at any inanimate object they could find. Either they were hurt too much or not hurt at all. Maybe they were confused like me. Who knew anymore?

She arrived, blanketed in a smooth white cloth, her body cocooned in the fabric. Only her head was spared. The emotional ones cried louder. The others grew grimmer, staring at their respective inanimate objects with a greater intensity, trying to ignore her. I, on the other hand, was fascinated by this display. Two men carried her on bamboo sticks and placed her gently into the bottom of the hole.

It was the first time I saw her since last night when she told me to go to bed and I did. I woke up to all of this. Her face was an epitome of serenity, calm as ever, a slight smile on her face. She looked cleansed somehow. The white contrasted with the brown dirt around. And I still felt nothing.

Someone was saying something. But I didn't hear who or what he said. I felt her sight absorbing me, and I just couldn't look way. Then I saw everyone start to shuffle and move around me, heading towards her. They were picking up the dirt and throwing it into the hole. My father, red-cheeked and bursting with tears, nudged me to go ahead. I pick up a handful and let go of it on top of her. I came back to my previous position.

My grandfather came out of nowhere and hugged me. I didn't hug him back. I didn't know why. Probably after seeing the way I obtusely let go of the dirt, he asked, “Why don't you cry?”

It was the last biscuit and I put all of it in my mouth. I didn't answer him. He didn't seem to expect one either. He took my hand and took me outside. He talked to my father about something but I remained oblivious. I kept thinking about her face. I kept seeing it. My grandfather and I got into a taxi and we drove away. Away from her.
I chewed.
I thought.
And I stared out the window.
I hope I'll miss you, Mother.

By S. zN. Rasul

Unspoken words and a cup of latte

Mused thoughts resting on slothful fingers
Blunt eyes glazed, relaxed;
Heavy hands crossed, resting
on a decrepit table
Staring transfixed past the indolent fog of hot chai latte and onto the stretched streaks of golden-haired light Declining selfishly through the broken window
along the dull corridor, paint
stripping off and ashen;
The light grazing just past your elegant body in black while you, blissfully assured look past the streaks and onto the scurry of busy nothingness beyond.
My eyes remain spellbound, riveted on you as the latte smoke provide a sensation
of cold mist in the summer heat,
Your henna embraced fingers solicitously pushing your crimson streaked hair behind your ear,
While your softly lined lips murmur songs, but dare not hymn
With a gentle tepid smile worn around the kink of your lower lip;
You bend down to take your empty
cup of green tea from the ground,
The light finally outlining you while my pupils dilate to follow; and my fingers leisurely trace your finely drawn back from your hip to your neck, from behind the fog,
as you stand up with a veiled patient chill tickling your spine.
Your fingers tightly gripped on to the empty cup, you start walking away from the sorrowful streaks of yellow
towards me;
Only to take a left turn to an open
door, and to pause;
Just so your tantalizing eyes can glance at my cooled down hot chai latte
with a groove of a smile hidden behind your stretched kajol;
No smoke to impede the gaze, the petite glimpse of love, yet so blissfully profound;
All barren thoughts are lost and my eyes unselfishly smile.
They stare back at the corridor, no mist to beautify, and onto the same stretched streaks of golden-haired light;
I see only the blackness rejuvenating its beauty, and nothing.

By Adnan M. S. Fakir


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