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It's Called Being Smart

Let's face it: parents are annoying. It's impossible figuring out what sets them off. You could have been minding your own business all day, and still they'll find a way to blow up on you. A day gone by when you weren't yelled at is a day that should be marked in the calendar. After the first few years of your life getting upset by the tirade, it just gets annoying. It's like Masterchef Australia. It's on at all hours of the day, whenever you turn on the TV, and it doesn't end! At least there's a remote you can use to turn that off.

It's practically impossible to tune 'em out because, as previously mentioned, it doesn't end. What's more, the rants contain some pretty offensive accusations. You want to defend yourself because you know you can. But that only adds fuel to the fire, and since they kinda control your life, money and social contact, it's also a dumb thing to do. You could ignore them and let them run out of steam on their own, but that takes too long and sometimes goes awry when they take little breaks and keep coming back every half hour or so. To help avoid it all, here are some of the most basic formulae for getting out.

Class When you've reached the age when you start coaching, this is the ultimate form of salvation. Be it 6 am in the morning or 12 at night, you can have classes. The best part is that it's entirely plausible for you to have classes at any given hour of the day, or night. So they'll never know if you're telling the truth or not, and they can't exactly tell you to skip. It's a good idea to keep at least two friends informed of this excuse of yours, preferably a male with an adult voice whom your mother has never met and will never meet, and one just the opposite, one your mother trusts (preferably a girl), in case she decides to call up the teacher and/or a friend. Fake real numbers are an essential in this business.

Note: For those of you (mostly the girls, and a few boys) who are escorted by a guardian (mother) to coaching, or are obliged to take the car (because you live too far away from the coaching centre), this technique is a dud.

Exams You have an important exam the next day which you MUST study for. There's no way around this one. They have to shut up, or be dubbed 'bad parents'. Trust in their need to be the greatest parents on the planet to pull this one off. There's nothing more important to them than you getting a good grade; all that stuff they say about wanting you to be happy is pure bull.

Note: However, if your parents are too well-informed of your school exams or know someone who is, you're in for a fix. If this is the case, dude, your life sucks. Do something about it.

Blame the brother Dump it all on him. Whatever it is. Transferring blame to a third party is a proven success; just look at our country. Having a brother is pointless, except when it comes to this. Room a mess? Blame the brother. Caught playing video games when you should be studying? Blame the brother. Didn't pull the plug in the toilet? Duh. Blame the brother.

Note: You could give it a shot, but this rarely works on sisters. If you try blaming it on your sister, there's a high possibility they won't believe you, and then you'll be in even more trouble. Lectures on lying can last days. At one point you'll feel like jumping off the Dhanmondi #32 bridge, praying the pollution deafens you.

Agree It says 'agree', not 'admit'. Never even imply it was your fault. It's a definite death sentence, plus they think it gives them the right to remind you of the deed at every turn of your life until one of you drops dead. What you should do is 'agree'. You're insolent? Yes, you are. You should be ashamed of yourself? Yes, you should. Don't you ever think of what you're doing to them? Of course you do; you love them very much. Don't they want the best for you? Yes, they do, and you know that. You admit it was your fault? Silence. No vehement denial, nothing at all. Don't give them ammo; they have plenty already.

Note: Be meek, humble, and contrite. Don't let any of your true feelings slip out. It doesn't matter if they know you're lying. It matters if they think you're being disrespectful. Swallow that ego and choke on it later.

By Malevolence

The Nights Before

31st December, 2009.

I sit in a dreary, one bed-room studio apartment, and there is a cup, yes, a cup, of Coke in my left hand, while I use my right hand to surf through the countless channels on my television. In a blur of superficial beauty and shallow words, the TV emits noises and sounds which barely hold my interest for long enough. A packet of Lay's sits open on my lap, crumbs of its masala bits strewn over my jeans. I am sitting on my sofa-cum-bed, and the only other things apart from the TV which make me feel less alone are the clock, with its surreptitious yet loud ticking constantly reminding me of the constant movement of time, leaving my ashes of failure in the dust, and, paradoxically, the microwave oven, emitting a deep, monotonous rumbling, as it heats a bowl of noodle soup, hinting to the inertial routines of my life.

I stumble upon a channel which is counting down to the new year, showing happy people, men, women, children, drinking and laughing and celebrating, and I look around, and I think of where I am, and how much more I had hoped for. I wanted to be happy too, and the sight jerks in me old, and unfortunately, familiar feelings of loneliness which make me draw upon the conclusion that I, caught up in the fierce pace of time, busy with immaterial things and work unneeded, forgot, sometime, somewhere, to make myself happy.

A brutal force takes hold of me, and I promise myself that this year around, I will be different. I will work harder, get a better job, stay more in touch with my family, be more social, hang out with my friends, or, at least, get some friends, and, maybe, even get a girlfriend. Yes, that would be nice for a change: to sip a cold glass of Coca Cola, and celebrate not surrounded by the cloak of quietude, to revel in the pleasurable noise of people who cared surrounding me.

I immediately get up and call my mother, and tell her that I would be coming to see her. She is a little surprised, and says that they already have plans tomorrow, going to see my granddad at the hospital. No matter, this is just the beginning. From now on, with my heart pounding away the misery which had so corrupted its walls for so long, I will lead a better life.

The TV counts down the final few seconds of the year; everyone cheers, fireworks explode across a sky whose stars have been blurred out by the city lights.

To a new year.
31st December, 2010.

What went wrong? I ask myself.

I observe my surroundings, and it's the same: the sofa-cum-bed, the TV, the clock, the microwave, and, even the Coke. Everything, I realise. I had started off the New Year with such vigour and enthusiasm, but the walls of life, carrying with them the wicked face of reality, is what I slammed into over and over again. The disheartening nature of life itself came in the way of a naïve realisation, took it in its palms, and squeezed it to an unrecognisable pulp hissing with despair.

I tried being with my family, but it seemed that they had become so caught up in the lives of each other, that I was virtually a stranger in their privileged lives. And at work, with office politics and money and connections ruling everything, and with my already crumbling social endeavours, I had little or no chance of succeeding. I did try working hard, for a week or two, but the opposition that I received proved too strong for me to handle. And the girlfriend? I laugh when I ponder on that. What was I thinking? This age of American television and Nicolas Sparks novels and glittering vampires has brainwashed the masses into a superficial blob, seething with judgment, shallowness bleeding out its pores. And later, when I looked at myself in the mirror, it was so obvious that I never even had a chance.

The television, the way it had done before, gives off the sounds and sights of happy people.

With so many obstacles in the way to happiness, a happiness I wanted but one for which I had to change myself entirely, I lost hope and the will to try. There was no point in trying, with the constant waves of discouraging ideas which seem to have been integrated into what we now call life. I take a sip, and I put my feet up on the table, socks still donned. A big toe emerges from a hole, and I scrutinise it for a while, observing the uncut nail, the scathed skin, and the crimson blisters at the edges. I find that my toe is the only thing I could identify myself most with.

Applause erupts, a new year dawns, bringing with it the illusion of a new start.

31st December, 2011.

Yes, it's still all the same. The new year, in all its glory, hides the fact that it is just the continuation of old disappointments.

Or maybe some people are just not meant to be happy.

By S. N. Rasul


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