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The tales of red and green

Most of us are (hopefully) aware of the origins of the flag; but the memory drive of our brains often needs a cleaning now and then. We at RS take the responsibility of refreshing your memory to ensure that you remember the simple facts related to the national flag in case your BST teacher plans to take a pop quiz.

So, who designed the original flag of Bangladesh? It was the renowned artist Quamrul Hassan; the same artist who created outstanding posters during the liberation war (for example, the well known poster featuring a ferocious caricature of Yahya Khan) that inspired the general public. It took him several months to complete the flag: a golden map of Bangladesh in a red disc, on a background of green. The golden map represented the 'Shonar Bangla,' the red disc depicted the rising sun and the blood sacrifice of the Bangladeshis in the fight for freedom, while the green represented the lush greenery and vivacity of the country. Apparently, some westerners believe that the green represents the colour of Islam - which is absolutely incorrect. Although the majority of Bangladeshis are Muslim, Bangladesh itself is a secular nation. This flag was first hoisted on 3rd March, 1971 by the then VP of DU University Students' Union, ASM Abdur Rob.

The present day Bangladesh flag was adopted on 17th January, 1972 after gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971. As we know, this flag lacks the golden map in the centre. This is probably to remove the difficulty of representing the map correctly on both sides of the flag. By the way, in case anyone's wondering why the red disc is off-centre, it's because that makes the circle look centred when it's flying; yeah, I don't think you realised that either.

Now, let us tell you about a few out of the many Rules of the Flag. Yes, you read that right: RULES, which everyone very conveniently forgets. For instance, the flag is not to be hoisted, displayed, used or stored in any manner, which might subject it to damage or soiling. Nor should it touch the ground or anything (or anyone, for that matter) beneath it. Also, you can't use it as a drapery or use it to carry objects. When it gets worn out, the flag has to be disposed of ceremoniously - for instance, by burying it. The occasions when the flag can be flown are Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, Victory Day and Independence Day; on 21st February, which is essentially a day for mourning, the flag is flown half-mast… and these are only SOME of the rules as in a miniscule portion. You don't need to memorise the rules for a pop quiz; your BST teacher won't tell you to enumerate them (unless, with all due respect, s/he is mental). These rules basically tell us to treat our flag with honour, which isn't particularly hard to do if we actually try. Oh, and of course, have a great Victory Day while you're at it.

By Sarwat Yunus

A Paper Victory: Before We Rejoice

With Victory Day upon us, it is time to plan some festivities. But how about we do things a little differently this time around? This year, let's skip the lounges and the loud music and attempt to truly enjoy the essence of Victory Day by celebrating with our fellow brothers and sisters. We have longed for changes so let us take it upon ourselves to bring about a difference.

Re-Unite the country mired in segregation. Where the rich get richer, let us try to spread the joy that this day brings. Instead of chilling with our friends over pizza, how about we go out and treat a few children to food that is hard to come by for them? Victory Day isn't only for the favoured few, is it? Cha-wallas, flower sellers, beggars and every Bangladeshi should be made a part of this important celebration. Let the youth lead the way of tomorrow for the ancient are devoid of ideas.

Save the dying rivers and canals of our country. Dhanmondi Lake is so clichéd so how about walking to a dying Lake or River and choosing to celebrate there instead. Witness the death of our lifelines and only then can we comprehend the impact of our mindless expansion. This country was won for us and it is time we showed our respect for it. When an able body is armed with an intelligent and sensitive mind, there remains no room for foolish men brandishing guns.

Respect the numerous women who throng the streets of Dhaka, fearful of being the innocent victim of some uneducated man's verbal harassment. This Victory Day let us also remember all the women who gave their lives for us, remembering once again that death isn't the only way to become a martyr. There are greater losses that these women have borne and it is time we showered them with deserving respect. Let us make the streets a bit safer for our women, even if we attempt to do this for a day. What right do we have to prevent them from enjoying the freedom they too have rightfully earned?

Speak your mind, addressing the problems that you see with our country. Let us stop restricting our conversations to the living room. Let us speak out against the blanket that shrouds the media coverage. Let us say that spending crores on entertainment is unacceptable, especially when the source of income remains elusive, regardless of the person's status of power. Let us refuse to be handed a land this desecrated when it was won completely pure, at the cost of thousands of lives.

Yes, we won. Yes, we deserved the hard fought Victory and yes we are proud of having come so far. Yet there remains a thousand more miles to walk, a thousand wars to win and a thousand people to free, like those children shackled in chains at the metal works. Let us lose the notions of yesteryears and accept everyone as our equal, as our brother and as our sister. The cry for change may grow ever stronger, but the change remains unattainable. And the words of a wise man rings in our ears till it deafens us while we try to ignore it; Be the change you want to see, and we add, because it's too early to rejoice in a paper victory…

By Osama Rahman

Book Review

On Chesil Beach

In Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach,' a young man contemplates the inevitable turn his recent marriage is going to take, now that he has embarked upon this union. He stands at the window of his hotel room, looking out at the sea, and mulls over the unpredictability of his life that is couched in the motion of the elements. 'Begin, and cease, and then again begin/With tremulous cadence slow, and bring/The eternal note of sadness in,' he says to his sleeping wife. Melancholic and yet oddly uplifting, 'On Dover Beach' is the inspiration for Man Booker Prize-winning author Ian McEwan's 2007 novel On Chesil Beach. In this relatively short novel, a couple spends the first night of their marriage in a hotel as their lives quietly fall apart.

Florence and Edward, married a day, sit facing each other at dinner. Much of the novel is retrospective in nature, the dialogue contained within the thoughts of the two protagonists. Edward aches with longing, while his bride fears the very consummation that will legitimise their marriage. They go through their meal, exchanging small talk, occasionally lapsing into recollections of their courtship and their childhood. As the novel progresses the stirrings of marital woes rise slowly to the surface. Evening falls and the tide turns, and Edward and Florence's relationship comes to be couched in the motion of the sea.

McEwan's prose is fluid, easing from one protagonist's perspective to another. The leaps to past events are dealt with smoothly, the flashbacks never really out of place. One does not feel displaced as the lives of Edward and Florence are traversed. Certain events are sped up, while others are lingered upon. One is acutely aware of the pains of the couple in question. Edward's longing, juxtaposed with Florence's inhibitions, seem simultaneously justified yet mildly absurd. Therein is the beauty of McEwan's style. He translates into words those feelings of quiet despair and desperation that permeate the melancholy beachside hotel at Dover. From the climactic scene of the novel as Edward goes chasing after his wife, to the last ten pages of the novel where the reality of their ill-fated honeymoon is revealed, one can only feel the inevitability of On Chesil Beach.

For those of you who can keep up with stream-of-consciousness narratives, On Chesil Beach will be a pleasant read. Don't mistake this for fluff, though; this novel was hailed as one of the best works of fiction of 2007. Thought-provoking without overloading the neurons with intellectually high-brow concepts, On Chesil Beach manages to leave you slightly melancholic and yet deeply appreciative of Ian McEwan's subtle power of evocation.

By Shehtaz Huq

This City

This summer I went to a place I always wanted to go.
This summer I went to a place
where nobody said 'no'.
This summer I went to a place
where the grass is green and the sky is blue.
This summer I went to a place with the perfect view.
This summer I went to a place where dreams are made and success originates.
This summer I went to a place where birds chirped and dogs barked.
This summer I went to a place where
nothing creepy lurked.
This summer I went to a place where love grew.
This summer I went to a place made for me and you.
But when summer ended I realized it was all a fantasy. And I had to come back to reality.

I had to come back to a place I did not want to be.
I had to come back to a place that was not nice to see.
I came back to a city that was poor and had poverty.
I came back to a city where people were lonely.
I came back to a place that needed help.
I came back to a place where
sadness was all that people felt.
I came back to a place where a person barely lived on a single token.
I came back to a place where dreams were not made, but broken.

So I ask myself, why do I dread it? It is my home and it is my city. But I'm not alone. A lot of us wish THAT was our home.

Come back to reality and let's help this city flourish.
Let's make it a place where dreams are made and success originates.
Let's take people off the streets
and give them opportunities.
Let's give each other food and love and let's stop the push, pull and shove.
Let's work together to make this our fantasy.
Let's work together to transform this city.

By Ishaba Haque



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