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The one worth watching:

El Clasico

By Munawar Mobin

It's that time of the year again when football brings out its craziest face; you know the slightly red-neck, violent yet sometimes admirable side you see of some people? Football has one too; it's called the clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Whenever they face off, they turn the pitch into a boxing arena/martial arts practice zone (Pepe) with a little hint of theatre as well (yes, looking at Oscar winner Busquets). From a third perspective, a neutral view point, Barcelona and Real Madrid tarnish the name of the beautiful game every time an El Clasico comes around. There has not been a single El Clasico without a controversial tackle or goal. Then again, it is Barcelona and Real Madrid so if you're neutral and you complain, then go watch your EPL.

Mourinho has been praised regarding his ability to always get better with a team in its second year. Well, fortunately for Real, this is indeed his second year managing the Los Blancos, and it shows. With the current squad, Real Madrid has never looked so good. They aren't just a bunch of pay checks lining up to double their money each week; rather they play for their team. Yes, Real Madrid is now a team, and it's no joke. With Ronaldo hogging the ball less and less, and Benzema and Kaka both getting into phenomenal form, Real looks pretty impressive. Defender Carvalho is said to be injured for the big game however it's doubtful as Mourinho has been known to be the 'man who cried injured star player' many a times.

Barcelona has been on top form recently, despite a loss which has seen them drop six points below Madrid. Although with the extra game they've played last week they managed to close that gap to three points. Thus, it's pretty obvious how important this game is to the away side. Real Madrid doesn't look like it's going to stop any time soon, and with a poor away form, Barcelona might be a little shaky.

But then again, it's Barcelona. It'd be great to see what Sanchez can give the red and blues up against Pepe or Alonso, with his swift movement and close control, he's bound to entertain this week. Fabregas has been in smooth form lately, having scored a brace during the game against Levante, his inclusion in the starting line-up would make things interesting too. Guardiola, being himself, always has tricks up his sleeve. Then we have the man who has commentators hunting for superlatives because the usual ones don't suit him anymore. Leo Messi.
With Real Madrid actually looking good and competitive, and Barcelona having a lot to lose, this is going to be one fantastic game. Let's pray Marcelo and Pepe have learned a little discipline and that Pedro and Alves keep their acting skills out of the way this time.

The Unconditional Disciplinarian

Story & photo: Amena Alam

Everything fundamental happening on this Earth is merely dependent on fair discipline, starting from the Sun's rotation around the Earth, the sunrise to the sunset, the process of human-intimacy to human-birth till human-death, and so on. The importance of a disciplinarian arises when it comes to the need of teaching a newborn about the what, how and why of life. The responsibility of a mother is such.

Since my childhood, I saw my mother being a harsh disciplinarian and there were no exceptions as far as she was concerned. Whether I did something wrong, or whether I failed to live up to her high expectations or whether I even behaved badly, my mother made sure that she severely confronted and dealt with me.

As we pass through the stages of childhood to adulthood, we often make mistakes in life, consciously or unconsciously, failing to figure out the people and the world around us. These may not have any good impacts on life, yet leave some learnt lessons behind. But as you walk through the chaos, there is always someone there to bring order to the turbulent times.

Such "someone" is my mother. Instead of constantly reminding me of my mistakes, she always says, "Take lessons from your past rather than just the guilt; repent, seek strength from the Almighty and promise to yourself that you will not repeat the mistake.” Until now, I have learnt that the best thing about making mistakes once in a lifetime is the lesson it gives, as well as the motivation and drive to become a better human-being everyday.
I was never one of the successful studious children in my class. I have always been a child who was part of the averages, who was hardly confident of anything. Yet, I was happy within myself. And that never seemed to bother my mother. "The process of winning and losing is a game that seems to end nowhere,” she says.

In times of stress and distress, I can't always keep my head straight, losing track off my work and life. Lost and frustrated, I behave badly with everyone, including my mother. Instead of shouting back, she tries to read me, understand me and make me feel better. She smiles back to calm me down as if nothing ever went wrong. Every time I look at her, I feel like, "Yes! I'm alive!" and then everything becomes beautifully-disciplined again.

My mother always has this “She can do it” attitude towards me, which is a great moral boost and it makes me try harder even when it is not easy.

Mothers, in general, are usually the first ones to teach us about "Discipline," and then come the contributions of schools. Perhaps, this is why someone said, "You educate a mother, you educate the whole generation.”

Last week, our topic was Bus, and we had a very, very good turn out. Boy, it was tough to pick the right story. The one selected below was a little eccentric, a little crazy, a little all over the place, but ultimately perhaps a little bit closer to freedom. For next week, our topic will be: Fight. Surprise and intrigue us. Submissions have to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com before Sunday noon. Word limit: 500 words. Good luck folks.

The Ride To Neverland

By Sarah Nafisa Shahid

Write, write, and write. I need to write. But it doesn't look like an interesting enough start.

I look out of my frosted window pane and ponder on the plot of my short story and wonder if I need a new one. Writer's block has been a persistent demon over my shoulder for the past few weeks; the deadline its twin.

Then suddenly it popped out of nowhere. It looked as if it came around the corner of my street. It always did, but I could never be sure. A big, grey coloured bus, which has nothing extraordinary about it except its passengers. People with normal attire with expressionless faces would ride off. I don't know where it went; there was no number on it. And then during sundown, the bus returned with the same bunch of people, only they seemed a lot more ecstatic. It oozed out of the bus and seeped into everything within sight. It even passed through the window and affected me.

I glanced at my clock: 7:00am. I shrugged my shoulders, thought what the heck and ran out of the apartment. I needed inspiration for my story, why not a bus ride?

The bus already started so I ran as fast as I could and luckily, the driver took notice of me and let me in. I found myself a seat with an old lady who seemed ignorant of everyone else's presence.

'Ma'am, do you know where this bus goes to?' I asked her politely but she gave me no response. The bus continued on its journey and soon, we were out of the city and into the country side. The lush green, oh how beautiful.

It was noon when the bus finally stopped and to my surprise, the place was nothing but a barren piece of land with a forest on one side with a single hut sitting snugly close to it. What's so special about that? All the passengers climbed down and I followed. The moment everyone got out of the bus, they started acting like maniacs, some scurrying off towards the woods while other danced around, some sang, some started picking up rocks and tossing them from one hand to another. It was as if they were little kids. I decided to enter the lone hut and I found a sick, old man cooking himself a bowl of soup (or was it just water with salt?).

'Do you live here?' I asked the old man. He gave me a nod.
'Why do people come here?' I asked.

He looked up at me, beaming. Then he pointed at the small cut out made to look like a window in his small hut. I looked out through it and it seemed as if I was looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. And suddenly I knew why people came here. They came here to feel free; the way they were supposed to feel when man first walked the earth. People of all sorts were gathered in the barren land in front doing things that don't matter and things that do, but most importantly, things they want to do. And they were happy. And I was too.

That night I went home and wrote a story. About a bus that was magic. And about how we are all wanderers on this earth; nothing set in stone. Finally, I was free.



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