High on Air
They were jungle rats - born to the wilderness, tamed by the city. Today, they found themselves run into an adventure. They called it air.
Sometime after a long week of the same old songs on repeat, there were greasy dalpuris and flat, fizzless Coke. It had always worked for them before - kept them going till the next one came and went. But today, they wanted something more. One of them poked her head out of the grimy cafeteria window. Nobody noticed her hair flying crazy in the wind. Breathless, she pulled herself back in just in time. Then, “Guys, do you want to go up to the roof?”
It made them look at each other, thinking. It had rained the night before and there was something in her eyes - she had seen something out there. And that something made them say yes. All five of them went up, with Crazy leading the way. She hopped and skipped and laughed her way to the centre and stood there giggling, with no idea what to do next.
They did the predictable; things that any bunch of teenagers would do if they were let loose on top of a roof. They leaned over the railings (even though they knew they weren't supposed to). They argued over who to throw over the side first. They even did some basic math to help them decide that Curly would fall the fastest. But Curly wouldn't volunteer. In fact, for the first time since class five, he ran. The others stood back and stared, wondering what on earth had happened to him.
“Get him!” someone yelled. But they couldn't. What they got instead was Hoodie's bag. And they duly spent the next five minutes playing Monkey in the Middle with it. Hoodie screamed that there was a cellphone inside. But that just made the game even more fun. This guy came up to check something in the water tank. He never said anything to them but somehow, he made them stop. They went back to looking down at the city beneath their feet. Little globs of light, faraway static. Here, they were safe.
The guy finished tinkering with the valves and knobs and was heading back towards the stairs. “You wanna race?” It was Crazy again. And once again, they needed time to think. They took off their shoes in the end. Wiggled their toes and felt the hard uneven concrete beneath them, savoured the gritty texture. The city looked up, curious.
“GO!” and they were off. After a few false starts, even Curly was waddling along. There were no winners, but they didn't care. They loved it so much that they walked all the way back and did it all over again. Today, the sun wasn't strong enough to burn their TV-tuned eyes. The wind was cold and it was blowing in their faces. That was enough for now.
It got dark eventually. But they weren't nearly ready to let go. They took out their little boxes of trapped light and put some music on. Someone had a laptop and they gathered around it like moths at a glow. Speedy even dared to sing along. Of course, they all told him to shut up. Hoodie wanted to sing the Campfire Song Song. No one knew the lyrics. “You don't know the Campfire Song Song?! Here, I'll teach you...” They decided that she just might fall faster than Curly when thrown off the edge. Then, all at once, they stopped caring about shirts getting dirty and sat down on the hard, hard greyness beneath them. This was going to be a long night but in a good way.
They talked. About things that hadn't been talked about in a while. They decided that Crazy had a trollface that would be great to make a meme out of and SnapeHairDude sounded funny when he tried to be gangsta. Most importantly, Curly had to stop drinking Mountain Dew. They could stay here forever, as long as the wind blew. That's what Speedy could believe, anyways. But then his little light-box started to beep, important-sounding. The city was calling. Speedy left and the city smiled a motherly smile as she caught him back in her arms. The wind blew just that bit colder.
They all went back eventually. Down to the city, where they thought they came from. Sometimes, just before the kalboishakhi, the wind blows the door open with a bang, rushing in to claim them from their cosy lives, to take them up to where they once learned to breathe. “Maybe some other day,” they tell themselves as they fall asleep to the hum and static.
Kids like breaking stuff. Apparently, said stuff includes records. Not the spinning LP kind, but the Guinness Book kind.
To start you off, we have something mellow and, seemingly, easy. About a hundred students decided to participate in an event in 2010 - organised by Belling, a cooker company - where they cooked up a vegetable pizza. That's the world record for Most Children Cooking Simultaneously. Surely we Bangladeshis can beat this with our eyes blindfolded and our hands tied behind our backs. Besides, schools that won a place to participate in the event received £1,000 each worth of kitchen appliances. That could sponsor a LOT of food.
Everybody likes hugs, right? It's fun. Except one day your friends get rowdy and decide to crush you with bear hugs. And the Canadians decide to make a World Record out of it, but for a good cause. Roughly 10,000 studetns from 10 schools in Ottawa broke the world record for the Largest Group Hug (Bear Hug) to raise money for cancer patients this April. This was the second such event in Ottawa; the first one was organised in 2004, where they set the record and raised funds for Erin Gannon, a grade 8 student. This time around, they managed to collect $300,000 in donations for the cause.
Another such effort was made in the UK in 2008 for Save the Children. It was called the Giant Sleepover, where 40,000 kids decided to skip their beds and slept at the 1200 sleepover venues symbolising the peril that many children around the world face everyday, living under the open sky. They managed to set a new world record for the Largest Simultaneous Sleepover and also raised money for Save the Children's Emergency Fund, which is used to help vulnerable children caught up in emergency situations. A similar event is planned for this June called Giant Sleepover 2012.
Just goes to show you can never count the little guys out.
It started gradually. Not over an accidental collision or even on first sight; bless that fool who would bet his life on one furtive glance. It didn't start over dinner or a few stimulating conversations, not during the long walks at night where the trees were their only companions. Not even when they sat contemplating the storm together, guessing its next course, while the ghosts of their past dissipated slowly in the face of the rising tempest.
It started with faltering steps. The stumbles along the road were carefully manoeuvred. The occasional outburst smoothed over with flowers and kisses. It had nothing to do with the first time they said it; that was merely the culmination of their feelings, like the moment a poet grasps upon a word to finally subdue the deep waters stirring inside. It wasn't borne out of alienated solitude or their insecurity at meandering into uncharted lands. They didn't know where they were going with it but they were on their way.
It started not with hushed whispers and sweet nothings. It didn't start when she walked down the aisle, regality personified, towards his waiting arms as they planned pipe-dreams of a world with each other. Not even did it begin when they held hands and looked over the horizon and promised to grow old with each other, to weather out the spectres of life and death in unison. The haunting ballad of time in the background made no difference.
Standing over her coffin with watered eyes and a sense of caprice, he finally understood what her presence meant and what they shared. But that wasn't the beginning, neither the end. That dark night when he surrendered meekly to solitude and departed this world didn't end their story. It was just a footnote, an afterthought, of no apparent consequence to the plot. It wasn't a love story for songs and books, not even was it adequate to be worth remembering. The articulate rambling of the world soon drew blankets over them, never to be uncovered again.
It started because it had to.
I miss my dad very much
I miss how he was,
I miss how he used to
check up on us late at night.
I miss how kind he was;
I miss playing badminton with him
I miss how he would let me win.
I miss his daah--licious jam bhorta
I miss how he made it and shaked it.
I miss him so much
and I miss him so bad
Most of all, I miss him as my Dad
By Silmi Syed, Age: 9
When I saw a plane
Oh hello little plane.
You should come and join me and my friends.
Oh please, oh please come down here.
You could follow me and my dreams,
You could even be my special friend
Could you please make my wishes come true.
Come here, come here you could be a star.
Oh please give me a flight I wish
We could see a shooting star go past.
I wish we could feel the sea and the smooth salt air
Come on lets see the sunsets go by
Oh yes! That would be really fun!
By Areeba Tanzim, Age 7