Sunday, October 7, 2007

Perspectives | sevitcepsreP

by - Don and Saria
Published in the Daily Star October 7, 2007

We enter into the realm of two friends, who, whilst on a stroll across the park on a quiet autumn evening, land on a discussion about the existence of good and evil, in other words, the necessity of oppositions and contention. Audy, who is a student of Theosophy, discusses at length to explain keywords such as 'good', and 'bad', 'right' and 'wrong' to the frustrated and agitated Maya, an Anthropology major.

Audy: So in your opinion this hype that the Sky culture has been creating is responsible for the deterioration of our society?

Maya: Yes! I mean look at what they are airing on TV nowadays! They are spoiling us, especially the younger generations. These days we spend more time in front of the TV instead of studying or doing any other productive work. Teenagers are too busy changing their hairstyles and buying westernized clothes to even take a second look at their own culture and heritage. Drugs, sex, violence these are what interests them now thanks to shows such as 'Baywatch' and 'Sex and the City'. Why is it that these young people have made it their life target to be like the Americans instead of embracing their own roots? Is this what our rich culture is losing to? The battle is waging on with no soldiers at our side, and also, this stands against everything our traditional ties have ever stood for!

Audy: Well, to tell you the truth you seem to have many misconceptions concerning the Western media. I mean you say these things are bad and these things are good. So tell me, what criterion does anything have to fulfill to be labeled as 'good' and 'bad'?

Maya: Anything which shows an ounce of disrespect towards our society, towards our elders and is harmful to anyone; that is 'bad'.

Audy: So say, a mosquito bites you, and you kill it that's termed as a 'bad' deed?

Maya: Well, no not that

Audy: Then it is alright on the mosquito's part or the street dog's part to bite us?

Maya: I guess, but

Audy: So you think we should give our parents a piece of our minds when they ground us or hit them back when they hit us? Would that be 'good'?

Maya: But it's not right to insult our parents!

Audy: Then tell me what is 'right' and what is 'wrong'?

Maya: 'Right' is anything which is good and proper; anything that is in conformity with truth, reason, fact and standard principles!

Audy: You just said a 'right' deed is in collaboration with standard principles - nearly all the middle and upper class families in our country have got maid-servants in their homes, right?

Maya: Yes, but what does that have to do with

Audy: Listen, they don't hurt these servants, right? Instead, they try to help them since these poor girls are usually tortured in villages and there is a large scarcity of food in those places, right?

Maya: Right!

Audy: So now you are agreeing that it is 'right' to keep these poor girls as servants, or should I say as “slaves of the 21st century”? If the affluent class truly wants to help them, they should provide these girls with schooling or some form of education, rather than keeping them as domestic labor.

Maya: True that, but at least we are better than the Americans; we don't only see females as 'sex objects'!

Audy: Okay, since our culture and society is so important to you, why is it that the majority of our males disgrace our own women? Rape them? Hate our women? If a woman is unable to bear children, her husband should be kind, loving, caring and protective towards her, not shun her or take up mistresses! Why are women being discriminated as 'useless creatures' and being forced to get married at such early ages?

Maya: Uh huh, I'm beginning to get your drift!

Audy: Finally! I think 'right' might be a part of 'good' but what is 'right' might not always be 'good' and vice versa.

Maya: Care to elaborate, genius?

Audy: You just lend your ears, Watson! See, it might be 'right' for you to buy a shoe made of crocodile skin, but it is not 'right' to kill these animals since that will result in their extinction. Similarly, an alcoholic may feel 'good' drinking alcohol everyday, but it is definitely not 'good' for his health!

Maya: I can't say I disagree with you but I can see some questionable issues in there. In fact, I still think some of your words are not true.

Audy: Define 'truth' then.

Maya: Anything which you identify and observe making use of your five senses.

Audy: So you are saying that anything tangible is true? You are saying that what one sees as black is in reality black, and what one sees as white is in truth, white? Thus, when you see a color as black, you know that in 'truth' it is black? And also, that which you observe as round is also round right?

Maya: Yes!

Audy: [Smirks] I was surfing through TV that day when my eye caught an interesting documentary which showed this rare species of bugs which see everything in the form of either a square or an octagonal, and the only color they see is blue. So what you see as black, the bug sees as blue.

And say, an alien comes on Earth whose eyesight is far more biologically advanced than that of the humans, and he sees colors which are undetected by the human eye; he will see that same object differently as well. So what you think you see as black will be blue for the bug and some other color for the alien. So now tell me, who is telling the truth? Is it black, blue or something else? What then, is the truth?

Maya: Okay, alright I get it! I agree with all that you have just said.

Audy: In conclusion, due to the lack of a measuring scale for 'right' and 'wrong', 'good' and 'bad', and 'truth' and 'false', you just can't assume things. What is 'bad' for you may just be 'good' for the Americans and you just cannot come to the verdict that they or their media is 'bad'. It is our fault if we only take all the 'bad' things from their media and ignore the 'good' like on CNN or Discovery.

Maya: Hmm, looks like you got me there.

Audy: [Laughs] All in an evening's stroll!

The writers are MSJ students of ULAB.

Friday, October 5, 2007

12 Semesters of Love

( published in the Daily Star - August 12, 2007)

“Heaven isn't hard to find....all you need to do is look carefully”

3rd semester
I sat there in the English class, looking at the new girl. She was paying attention to what the teacher was saying while for the first time in my life, my attention was not towards the class. I stared at her long, silky ebony hair which contrasted with her round, creamy fair skin. Her face was like one of those children that when you see them, you feel like pulling their cheeks. I felt the same for her. The eyes were black, nothing mesmerizing, but the kajol that surrounded them, made me stop blinking. Below the kajol guarded circles, a few pink pimples rested on her cheeks like cherries resting on a vanilla cake. The glossy Lakme lips were glistering under the bright tube lights, the suburbs of her hair floating under the noisy fan, her eyes glued at the projector screenings while my eyes were super-glued towards her. My heart was beating so loud that I bet even the teacher could hear it. Is there anything called love at first sight? Or was it just a physical attraction because she was so pretty? I wished if I could talk to her, I wished if she was mine, I wished if I could sit so close to her that I could smell her natural fragrance….but from the first day I knew she could never be mine, never.

6th Semester
So you knew her? Why wouldn't you? She was the type of girl everyone knew, everyone loved and everyone wanted to be friends with. She was popular as she did a lot of clubs, for her smart but yet decent dresses and for her trademark Hugo Boss. She was like a storm in the university; she walked past the corridor and the whole building shook. Comparing me and her is like comparing two parallel lines in geometry. I was the studious scholarship holder type and she was the “lady in red” type. People loved me only when they needed me, for finding books in the library and for helping them with those bogus GED assignments and presentations. But she knew me; in fact I became her so called “Best Friend” after I began to help her with the tiresome World History course. I used to go to her house and always wished that it was empty. I sat beside her, taught her and when occasionally she would touch my hand, my blood would boil, my senses would evaporate, and my eyes would blur. But I knew I could never tell her about my true feelings, I could never be her man, but I wished, I just wished if she was mine.

9th Semester
One day she came running to me and hugged me. She looked at me deeply, as if she could see the inside of me through my sad eyes. As if she could feel that every cell of my body wanted her, my skin wanted her touch and that she was like blood in my veins and soul in my heart. When I was dying to hear the three sweet words, instead, shattering my dreams she said that Masum had proposed her to be his girlfriend and she said “Yes”.

The 9th semester was the only time I got a 'B' in a course. I went through the usual things that all heart-broken guys go through- couldn't eat, sleep or know how it goes. Well, her affair with that idiot didn't last that long. She came to my house one day, hugged me and cried wildly. I became active in soothing her soul after the breakup. Followed by a comedy movie, one pack of Pringles and a Diet Pepsi, I dropped her home in her favorite three wheeled vehicle. In front of her door, she kissed on my cheeks and said “Thanks, you're my bestest best friend, you're my sweet Jaanu!” She was staring at me for a long time. But I could never tell her that I don't want to be just friends, I wanted to be her everything. I wanted to be like water in the soil; no matter how or where you dig, water would always come up.

Graduation Day
I guess she was happier then me when I was awarded the gold medal. I was acting cheerful, but was terribly sad inside. I knew I can't see her everyday from now on. I had become a sea-shell, very hard from outside but nothing more than a soft sponge inside. But if you place the opening of any silent shell close to your ears, you will find the roaring sound of the sea and its waves, which was like the sound of my broken heart. The trips to Coffee World, the lunches at Boomers and the rooming-arounds at Rifles Square; all these will eventually shrink. It will be summer in my life, when she was the only cool breeze I ever had. I looked at her and thought of asking her to love me, to marry me, to be the light of my blind mind…but I couldn't. I knew she loved me like a friend, and she could never be mine.

The Beginning of an End
I wasn't surprised when finally she decided to get married to a guy named Hasib. During the reception, I did all the hospitality that her “Best Friend” was supposed to do. I cheered up the guests, cracked jokes with Hasib's friends and sometimes quickly paced outside the hall and went near the waters of the Shenakunjo. I had always dreamt of marrying her at that place, but the funny part was that she was getting married, like in my dreams; it's just that the lucky man wasn't me. I let the liquid salt from my eyes mix with the waters of Shenakunjo. She was all that I wanted, she was all that I needed and she was my everything…everything. And when she waved me goodbye through the windows of the flower decorated car, she was finally gone, gone forever, like a runaway train that never comes back, wrong way on a one way track.

What is love if it's unspoken?
Time went on but suddenly came to a stop on the day I got the news of her leaving Bangladesh. I went to the airport, and stood at a distance, watching her in silence. She looked content with her life, still had the compelling personality that she always had. She saw me, came to me and we talked for a while. She didn't pay me much attention and I knew I was nothing important anymore, and it was alright as I was thinking about all the time I had spent with her - the first day, the first smile, the first touch and the final goodbye. Just before leaving, she handed me a dairy of hers from our university days. She left. I sat on one of those airport benches and with blurry eyes, I opened the diary.

“I look into his eyes, wow! What decency he has, what purity and what a charming personality. I love the way he gives those hidden smiles whenever he sees me, the way he gets nervous when I touch his hand and in the sweet way he asks me “Ai lunch korso?” He is so cute!! And such a good student!! Without his love and care, I would've failed in all my courses. I think I love him. No! I'm sure I love him. I think about him all the time. But I know he would never love me, he doesn't notice me like that. He only loves his books, his teachers, the damn library and thinks about his career and dreams only about going to the US with scholarship. I wish if he dreamt about me at least for once. But I still love him, I want him…I wish if he only understood, if he only proposed me. I wish he was mine...”

The writer is a 3rd year student of ULAB, and has dedicated the '12 Semesters of Love' to Star Campus on their 12 months of success!

Rendezvous with Dr. Anis

(published @ Daily Star - July 22, 2007)

Dr. Kazi Anis Ahmed is the Director of Academic Affairs at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB). He was born in Dhaka and educated in St. Joseph High School and Notre Dame College. He completed higher studies at Brown, Washington and New York universities in America, receiving a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the last place.
G. Sumdany Don and Feeda Hasan Shahed talks to Dr. Anis about ULAB, its vision and its future.

Dr. Anis believes the reason that the board of directors of Gemcon Group, who also happen to be the members of the board of governors of ULAB, came forward in the higher education sector of this country mainly for their personal passion for education and culture and also because of their strong desire to give back to society.

Dr. Anis cleared out one interesting misunderstanding. Some of us think that the western universities all have huge open spaces and playgrounds whereas the private universities of Dhaka are all confined in buildings. He explained from his personal experience of being a city student of PhD in New York for seven years, and other great cities of the world, that there are 2 kinds of campuses. In abroad, when we talk about a campus we often talk about the rural or at least the suburban setting where it is possible to have huge cracks of land for setting up an idealistic campus. But the truth is, if someone goes to New York or London, he or she will find city universities often do not have any campus! The overwhelming majority of private universities and collages in New York and London are confined in buildings, just like here at Dhaka. So people who have the expectation that Dhaka city should have huge green campuses are confusing the two models.

On asking about the name Liberal Arts, Dr Anis explained that liberal arts is a very inclusive concept and has its roots in classical education in the renaissance of the Roman period. It was called Artis Liberalis, which means it was the education of liberated and free people whereas the people who were not elite or free, got guild education in the crafts and trades. In modern times this concept of the liberal arts is most developed in America. ULAB has heavily modified this concept for Bangladesh's social realities. What it means is an education in which the students are certainly given the technical and major skills to succeed in today's highly computerized and global economy, but are also given some fundamental skills that will stand the test of time and some foundations in real intellectual practice. The main goal is to enable more than learning in a particular subject, the ability to keep on learning. He gave examples of the computer studies subject, which did not exist as a subject 20 years ago, and plenty of people from other fields have later gone into it and succeeded, but we don't know what other fields are coming in the next 20 years. So somebody who has the ability to learn is more competitive than someone who has just learned one thing and cant learn anything else.

Dr. Anis also shared his views about the biggest problem that nearly all the private universities of Bangladesh are facing the level of English. He is disappointed over the fact that the students who are graduating HSC these days have a foundation in English far below what is needed at any university. It is actually not possible to fix this with just one year of remedial English what has not been done right in 12 years of schooling. However, ULAB has instituted a one year long Basic English program for incoming undergraduates and place them in courses according to their level.

One unique thing about ULAB is the number of clubs it holds. Currently it has 14 different clubs, one of the highest among all the private universities of Bangladesh. It is also known that clubs and extra curricular activities are mandatory for all ULAB students and marks are also allocated on club performance. Dr. Anis explained that he sees co-curricular activities as an integral part of the education that a young man or woman receives at this point of their lives.

ULAB, undoubtedly, is doing a great job in creating future leaders. Dr. Anis looked very positive and has an optimistic view of the future. Ten years from now, he wants to see the ULAB graduates as free, independent and personally fulfilled individuals. In professional and real terms somebody might be an executive of a global company posted in Toronto or Sydney, somebody could be running their own business or an NGO in Bangladesh, and somebody could be a teacher. He would love to see someone becoming an educated farmer! He hopes that someone will go back to their home district and run an organic garden, they would teach at the local school and they would be the happiest citizens of all. He concludes by saying this with a smile, “There is no single destiny for ULAB students, but we hope they will all live by the principles of freedom, creativity and service.”

G. Sumdany Don is a 3rd year student, Dept. of Media Studies and Journalism, ULAB. Feeda Hasan Shahed is one of the members of the Star Campus team.

Rockers @ ULAB

( Daily Star - July 22, 2007)

ey all, here is the update on the Rockers at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB).

Tasneem Hasaine Ami and Eashir Arafat are both third semester BBA students of the university and are the members of the uprising underground band called 'U-Turn.' With Ami's melodious keyboard and vocal skills and Eashir's bass, U- Turn was able to reach the second round of the D Rockstars this year. The farsighted band was also featured in the mixed album Adhar and will soon start recording their first album! Inspired by Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Deep purple and Metallica, the band can be seen performing at different underground concerts, private universities, schools and colleges.

Alok Kumar is an ambitious Media student of ULAB who also happens to be the drummer of a relatively new underground band named 'Fear.' Alok has been playing the instrument from January 2005, and dreams of becoming the best drummer in Bangladesh. The mixed album Adhar 2, which was released in January this year, features Fear including Alok's awe-inspiring drum beats. Though Fear is a new band, it is said to have nearly 30 underground performances. Metallica, Dream Theater and Scorpions are the band's inspirations, while Alok's personal gurus happen to be Mike Portnoy and Kenny Aronoff.

Apart from the undergrounders who someday hope to make it big, there are others like Jonathan Anindya Das and Hassan Nabil who play guitar to explore their inner musical talents and identities. They both are third semester Media students of ULAB. Unlike others, they are self-trained, have no involvements with any bands and are highly influenced by Blues and Jazz! However they have performed at several programs, mostly solos. When asked about music, Nabil simply replied, “Satisfying Thirst....Nothing Else.”

Music might satisfy someone's thirst, it might be just a hobby, or as something that someone does for a living. But for all these rockers of ULAB, it's the music that keeps them alive. What more to say about this ULABians? Guys, just KEEP ON ROCKING!!

(G. Sumdany Don is a 9th Semester student of ULAB and is the President of the ULAB Film Club)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Old Lady

Published in the Daily Star on 3rd June, 2007

The scene devastated me. She was laid in her bed, her body wrapped in white cloth. I gave a last kiss on her forehead, while tears from my eyes rolled downwards, pausing on my chin for a brief moment before dropping onto her right cheek. I rubbed the salty water; her skin was as cold as a Siberian night. Just yesterday she had thrown me an angel’s smile, warm and red, a heaven in this world full of sins. And today she lies still, cold and pale, as alone as the moon in a starless sky.

Dadu is no more.

I could not sleep for days. Her departure tormented me. That dawn when the cold western winds were blowing, I thought of going for a walk. I wandered here and there through the labyrinth of Mirpur’s alleys, until I saw a very old woman standing alone. Something about the way she stood captivated me, and I stayed there in silence, watching her.

She might have been about five feet tall, her back slightly bowed due to the weight of her age. She was wearing a worn out green colored sari with no blouse. It was completely battered from everyday use and a few parts were mended with other small pieces of clothes. She did not have any sandals on her feet which were severely scratched as if she walks a thousand miles before she sleeps. The alley was quite dark and her face was not perfectly visible. But when I looked closer, I saw a tall dark face. She had a long thin nose and below that, her emaciated long lips had an upside down curve, like the negative x2 curve of geometry. The concentration of sunlight had two effects on her; her skin had become extremely tanned and her hair had become red. Her most remarkable feature were her eyes as they were big and luminous. They glowed with enormous happiness even though the rest of her face was just a deserted battlefield.

She was standing beside a house in the darkest alley I had ever seen. The house was made of abandoned tin, punched with holes, and was supported by a large dustbin. The dustbin was full of rotten garbage. I could sense the most horrible smell, distorting all my other senses. Her only companions must have been the stray dogs and the unsettling mice running all over the place, diving in the rubbish. The alley was wet with sewer water. I noticed it was the backside of one of the big Mirpur garment factories. The grey building vigorously emitted toxic fumes, creating a foggy environment full of melancholy.

I sighed and thought of heading back home. She was looking at me gravely. I turned around, started to walk. After rambling a couple of steps, I stopped and turned back, wondering what the old lady was doing. She was still standing, looking at me. But her big eyes gave me no sign of recognition or fear or love or farewell.

On my way home, I was thinking that when my Dadu died, at least a thousand of our relatives came to pay their condolences. My parents and uncles put their endless efforts to keep her alive for a few more days. The best medical treatment affordable by us were provided to her, and constantly all of us were there to support her, to grant her final wishes. But what about the lonely old lady that I saw a moment ago? She doesn’t have anyone beside her, and even if there is someone, that still means practically nothing when you don’t have money. I guess that if she dies tonight, no one would even know she is dead, until the place would smell. I see aged homeless beggars in the streets of Dhaka everyday who are as old as my Dadu. What happens to them when they die? Who buries them six feet under the soil? I suddenly realized that I feel more sad thinking about this unknown old lady rather than thinking of my own Dadu’s death.

Later that morning, I could finally sleep. The old lady returned to me in a dream. Standing beside her was my grandmother. Dadu smiled at me, like a glimpse of the last smile she had given me that last day at the hospital. The old lady was staring at me; but her big eyes still gave me no sign of recognition or fear or love or farewell.

This story is dedicated to my late grandmother, Ms. Kudsia Begum (1933-2006) who passed away a few months ago.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pahela Baishakh - A sad story

Published in the Daily Star's STAR CAMPUS MAGAZINE on April 22, 2007.

Pahela Baishakh was a day full of laughter and joy, glee and felicity. I was having a good time with my friends at the lake of Dhanmondi Mukto-Moncho, watching a happy and pleasant crowd. We were all laughing and having fun, when something happened that put me and my entire troupe in deep melancholy. A beautiful girl was standing under a tree, probably waiting for someone. She was wrapped in a red and white saree, had baily flowers on her head and her face seemed to be colored with the ecstasy of the Bengali New Year. Suddenly a group of boys, all university going kids like us, stood behind her. They were whispering and talking among themselves through sign languages. Immediately my eyes got fixed at a green colored pet bottle of a well known soft-drink, and before I could realize, one of the boys started shaking it vigorously and hastily pulled off the plastic cork. The drink jumped out like a fountain; it fell on the girl's saree. The desi cotton saree immediately gained transparency, revealing the inner garments of her back. She turned around quickly and stood dumb folded for a while; her blood must have been evaporated. The boys said “Sorry” and walked away with smiling faces elated with joy as if they have conquered the world. Tears must have filled her eyes, for she immediately rushed out of the place, got lost, within the crowd walking towards the exit of the lake, like a river estuary meeting the sea.

The readers should not misunderstand by thinking that those boys were from the slum. In fact, their outlooks were just like us, the bandana on their heads represented a particular university in Dhanmondi. Are we pursuing higher education for this sort of behavior? What they have done makes education seem to be worthless. I believe that our universities should teach about ethics and moral behavior rather than on going through the books and theories. What is responsible for this type of mentality? Is it our education system that is corrupting not only the mind but also the soul? Is it our history of being dominated by others that make us so cheap? Why don't the average “educated” males in our society respect women or women's empowerment? Since we all came from a women, then why do we rape our women, disgrace our women? What fun did they get in ruining the girl's day, for influence tears in her eyes? I don't know the answers to all these, but these type of stories occur everyday in the streets of Dhaka. This type of mentality is a curse that should be overcome or else we should be ashamed to call ourselves 'educated'. The rest is up to the readers to decide

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Starring at the world through my rearview - Personal History

Published in the Daily Star's STAR CAMPUS MAGAZINE on February 25 ,2007. This is my 1st published story.

It was a dark stormy June evening at Dr. Shahin Huda's chamber in Dhanmondi when my father suddenly shouted with more power in his voice than the raging thunderstorms outside, “It's a boy!!” Immediately my uncles and aunts stopped sweating, my grandmother stopped praying, my youngest uncle stopped flirting with the nurses, and my grandfather stopped walking to and fro throughout the whole clinic and declared to name me Md. Ghulam Sumdany. The name Ghulam which means, “The follower” and “Sumdany” which means, “The prophet who swims in God's sea of love” did not impress my father at all, but he gladly accepted his old father's wishes, as I was the first grandson and the first descendant of the Azimpur Family. My father, Md. Ghulam Dastegir, thanked my mother, Mrs. Nasrin Dastegir, and told her that he was a smart man to choose such a beautiful woman like her to be his wife who presented him with such a beautiful son! As my father's name starts with “D” and my mother's name starts with “N”, they together decided to add “Don” to my name. Later that night, my other grandfather gave me a gold locket on which it was written in Bengali, “28th June, 1985” on one side and “Don” on the other side.

I grew up just like a prince, pampered with toys, games, cartoon video games and a closet full of matching clothes. I was a devil in disguise and had a hard time hiding my tail inside my pants. I therefore would torture everyone and everything that came into my sight. Though I never believed in astrology, I was a pure Cancerian and somehow inherited all of its features, creativity being one of them. My mother would arrange my toys and I would creatively throw them out of the window; she would cook vegetables and I would creatively pour water on them after the cooking was completed; she would invite the next door neighbor and I would creatively slap the neighbor's little girl for wearing pink and so on. My mother was always mad at me and would occasionally ask my father, “Is it really our son?” I would sometimes get slapped by both my parents in random discrete motion. Both of them played equal roles in my life from childhood until now. It was never like I would hide behind my father in fear of my mother as I wrestled with all my father's ironed shirts, nor I would ask for a lollypop from my mother only when daddy was busy. They were both equally persistent in my life.

My father was the eldest among eleven and struggled a lot in his life. He never woke me up from my sleep even if it was half past 10 A.M as his father never had let him sleep after the Azaan in early dawn. He made me cute and chubby by feeding me two eggs a day as his eggs were always divided into four. He was a self made man. He met this beautiful and unbelievably smart young woman during his younger sister's wedding. She was wearing sleeveless kameez and her shoulders were glistening under the bright yellow wedding lights. “ You know Don,” my father still says, “Nasrin was an angel without wings and I almost had a heart attack after seeing the smile she gave me while adjusting her long black silky hair”. My mother on the other side saw a medium built, short, fair and extraordinary good-looking man who needed to take classes on “How to flirt”. But she was utterly impressed by the fact that my father was only 25 years old and was covering all of the expenditures for the wedding all by himself!! Moreover, his charming personality captivated her and as a result they got married after a six-month love affair and Mr. Don was born just after a year of their marriage.

My parents were always free and frank with me and talked with me about almost everything from sex to science”. My mother admitted me in Maple Leaf, an English medium school. In order to do so, she fought with my father and my relatives who thought English medium kids were a “bunch of hooligans”. After studying A, B, C, D at home, the gigantic school was like a jail for me. Though being the naughtiest of all, I always somehow managed to keep good relations with my teachers and this trend still continues. I was an expert cheater during exams; I never liked studies and only studied because my parents wanted me to do so. However, I always stood 2nd or 3rd in class and was a good student, until I flunked my A' levels. But that is a different story.

My father was a rich man during my early years and his financial condition fell down the stairs as I grew older. By the age of 8, I had already visited India several times and tasted all the mouth- watering food, visited Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia and toured throughout Bangladesh. But I was happier when my parents went to India on business trips and left me in my grandmother's house. My grandmother, who is my greatest love, is the most influential figure of my life. She was the only one who protected me when I did the magic trick of disappearing my cousin's birthday dress. Instead of scolding me, she would cook kachhi birani for me and feed me with her own hands.

This fair and kind lady from old Dhaka usually loved cooking, quarrelling with her daughters-in-law, arranging religious ceremonies, scolding my three uncles for ruining their huge inherited properties. But, above all, she loved me! Those days I still value and recall fondly. I guess my communicative skill, my forgiving nature and my “do something for your people and your country” attitude came from my dearest grandmother. Her house was always like Disneyland for me with my grandmother and a dozen cousins running around and freezers full of ice-cream until my youngest uncle and my best friend, Bappy mama, died.

Bappy mama's death was the most tormenting, influential and the most sorrowful moment in my life. He complained of chronic fever but nobody really paid any attention. Take one paracetamol tablet and it would go away, was the treatment. But it came back, again and again, and it was already too late when he discovered that he was actually suffering from blood cancer. Singaporean doctors said, “At best 3 months”. The news shook me and I spent every evening of those cold, nightmarish months visiting the 28-year-old extraordinary handsome and fun-loving man, and imagined how did he feel when he knew he would die so soon? My mother always told me, “Whatever Allah does is for our good” and I began to ask myself “Is this for our good?? An old mother will lose her youngest son, brothers and sisters will lose their brother and I will lose my best friend…IS THIS GOOD???” After about two and a half months, he was taken to the CCU. His condition became so bad that I once witnessed my mother screaming to Allah during her prayers “Please Allah take him to you quickly. I can't stand to see him suffer like this. Or shall I take a knife and cut his throat myself? What do you want me to do?” Soon his body swelled, he could not talk and could not move, except for those brilliant white eyes that carefully looked at all his loved ones and shed silent tears. I still remember those eyes. Those two eyes. It was a cold January morning of the millennium when those eyes finally stopped shedding tears, sending my grandmother into a coma, making his girlfriend half mad, and turning my blood into sand. The disquieting questions had turned me into an atheist after his death, forever making myself ask for explanations of God's purpose.

When my second brother Danny was born in 1990, I was very upset. Furthermore, when the third one who is short and fat like me, Donny, was born six years later, I was infuriated. “What is this?” I asked my mother. “I wanted a Diana or a Daisy but not a Donny! Why another brother? And why do you have to have the D and the N in all our names?” Anyway, now Danny and Donny have become like spices in an Indian dish. Without them my life just would not be “life” anymore and I can clearly see myself sitting, yawning and killing mosquitoes if these two mischievous brothers were not there.

In my teen years, I started to work in the media and performed in about nine television advertisements, music videos, hosted a cartoon show and did several works for the print media. My father also pressured me to start working and from the age of sixteen, I started teaching students. The number of students has risen over the years and currently I have about ten young kids calling me “Sir”. Now I realize why he had always deliberately pushed me to do hard work, to teach students, earn my own money, burn my own money, ride local busses and so on. These were done to teach me the hardships of life so that later I can enjoy the pleasure of success.

But when everything was going astray over the next couple of years, two great things happened in my life. One, I fell in love with this wonderful girl right before I was supposed to join a university; and secondly, I joined my university, ULAB. She is and will always be my true love and hopefully we shall marry as soon as both of us have jobs with decent salaries to support ourselves. After this guardian angel came into my life, everything changed for my betterment and once again I began to enjoy life. With constant support from this girl, my parents and ULAB, I once again became one of the very best. I became focused. I now dream to become the greatest film-maker in the history of Bangladesh. I have learned that success is to be measured not by the position that someone has reached in his life, but instead by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. My life is on the positive side. I forever loved my teachers and now I love my university. As a result, I have been recently awarded full scholarship with stipend, which is the highest honor given by the university. For all these reasons, today the sun shines brightly after the rain and I can see glimpses of heaven right here on this earth. There have been many ups and downs in my life, but now I look at it as a very interesting life. Life has been good so far, but as someone once said, “Miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go”, I realize that more exciting events full of pain, joy, laughter or sorrow are still to come. Till then, I just cherish the love I have and cherish the life I live.

(The writer is a 3rd year student of ULAB, dept. of Media Studies and Journalism and he has dedicated the article to his teacher and mentor, Dr. Kazi Anis Ahmed)

The Jungle

It was written 1.5 yrs ago for an assignment in my Eng 103 course. I look at this now and think its worth posting. Its here as it was written, though there are many places I think it needs my "magical" touch of improvement.

It was the scorching month of May when I visited the Jungle. The sun was above the head, the roads were dusty but the jungle was still in its good mood. It welcomed me with the amazing sight of green trees, exotic plants, varieties of birds and most surprisingly a river flowing through its heart. This sort of sight is definitely seldom seen in the city which created a rhythm in my heart.

There were mostly mango, banana and jackfruit trees that I could identify. Water rushed in my mouth after seeing the red ripened mangoes hanging, inviting me to taste them. Black crows were sitting still beside the fruit like a guard, as if naughty children will snatch the fruit from its mother. Bananas, some green and some yellow, were hanging like grape fruits in their vines. Though there were no sign of the monkeys, but I saw an army of big red ants marching through the tress. Jackfruits were scattered all over the mighty tree. Unlike the other trees, the jackfruits greeted me with their sweet aroma which from my nose hit directly my heart. Some busted in the hot sun while the others waited for their turn. The red mangoes, the yellow bananas and the golden spiky jackfruits created a fairy tale environment.

There were many exotic plants with some wild species intermingled with them. They had the combination of flowers with all kinds of colors I ever witnessed. The red flowers were very eye-catching, the purple very exceptional, the yellow very bright and the orange very arresting. Nature had carefully made flower beds for them as they all stood separated from each other. Unknown wild plants grew here and there without a license, arousing the overall beauty of the flowering plants. The most remarkable sight must be the buzzing bees extracting honey for their queen, while the grasshoppers hopping in the grass below.

Though I did not see any animals, but I was surprised to see such diversity of birds in the jungle. From the crow to the Moina and many unknown ones were also seen, creating a community of their own. Some flying, some resting in the trees while the others walking gravely in the land like humans, really made me wish to have wings and fly.

The river was rather disappointing as it was no more than a swollen drain. The green water with the floating mosses threw a smell I was never aware of before. The thick water hit the mud banks on each side and showed glimpses of a silver colored dead fish. Plastic bags swim across its weedy surface like boats in a sea. But the sight of a pair of small bewildering frogs jumping arm in arm from one water lily to the other, made me find beauty in ugliness.

The trip to the jungle was not only entertaining but it was also very educating, informing me how precisely the ecosystem works. The birds, bees, plants and the flowers made me feel like a part of them. I realized that the magnificence of nature with all its splendors can only be found in a quiet jungle.