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College life part 3
The reluctant Crusoe

IF you want to study outside Bangladesh for your undergraduate studies, you'd better learn how to cook. And how to clean. And how to sew. In fact just learn how to take care of everything for yourself. Because when you're away from home, there's no maid, no personal assistant, no butler or…what's the name we always call her by? Oh yea, no mother, to pick up after you.

I say this because I care about you, those who are reading and who have stars in their eyes about studying aboard - whether in the UK, US, India, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, etc. You'll probably be living in a dormitory with many other guys and girls and you will learn sooner or later that there's no one else who's got your back than yourself. And even if you're living with a relative or with friends, it's not your home and your responsibility is your own. Most students going abroad get so excited at the whole prospect of a whole new environment and university, they often overlook the fact that this will probably be the first time they're going to be truly alone.

I pondered this the other day when I accidentally spilt orange juice all over my nice wooden floor and chair. And then when I spilt apple juice all over my jeans. And when my shirt caught on a hook and resulted in a rather noticeable tear. Apart from realizing I how clumsy I was person, it struck me how hard it was to maintain a certain way of living by yourself. I'm sort of obsessive about cleanliness, so it was during that orange juice incident that I found myself wiping my floor with paper towels what seemed like a million times with water and then trekking down to the basement to do some late night laundry of the clothes I spoiled. Back home, I would have just told someone else to clean the mess up and then tossed my clothes into the laundry basket. And I wouldn't have thought twice about it. It's not that I was truly spoiled, which I had become, it's just that I had gotten used to the way of depending on others. When I didn't live in Bangladesh, I remember doing a lot around the house by myself. I know many who are much worse in such respects; they can't get a glass of water by themselves (you know if you're guilty).

And of course there's always sweet darling mother. To take care of you when you're sick, to mend your clothes when they're torn, clean your things when they're dirty and to put away your stuff when they're in disarray. Let's not forget mother's wonderful cooking which is irreplaceable and sorely missed by anyone who has to eat insipid food instead. I shudder to think of what would happen if I got truly sick and I didn't have my mother's infallible treatment to guide me.

In short, if you're planning to test those new wings of yours in the next few months or year, be sure you're prepared. Prepare yourself as if you're going to go live on some deserted island of some sort (of course learning things like how to build huts can be excused). Nothing can be compared to independence. You'll thank me later.

By Nisma Elias

The birthday after four years…

WHEN you were here, the Dahlia bloomed. When you were here, the stars were nothing compared to the shine your smile had, and when you were here everything in life made the perfect sense. Life was unbearable, but it had you beside me to make it easy. You made my life the Eden that had the elixir of happiness of my life, you gave me everything that I could ever want from you…and then you got lost in the stars, or in the run of time?

Things are nothing like before, and even though you are not here anymore, you are still there in me…somehow. Every word you used to say is stored in a part of my heart; every little thing you used to do is hidden in the closet of my memories. Your smile, your laughter lies behind that fade smile of mine. Even though I shed tears once in a while, I know that you are there watching over me, wanting me to be what you dreamed for me. In all the four years I have known you, I never got to wish you on your special day, and even though it is the third most boring day of your life…I wish I was there to tell you, 'Happy birthday, loser'…and even if I want to now, you are no longer here.

Every year I bought you presents that I kept in my closet, and hoped that one birthday of yours I would give all of it to you, and I will continue to do it till the end… The saddest part is that you will never get it.

The Dahlia still blooms, but no longer in my life. You no longer say 'I'm gonna learn fire spinning,' or 'Yeah sure…you know nothing, naïve child' or something bizarre and pathetic and make me want to beat you up. But your words will always stay in me, and I will always try to be the one that you wanted me to be…and wherever you are today, I would want to tell you, for once, 'Happy Birthday' and actually hope that you hear it this time, right when the clock strikes 12 am, on 15th of December.

Dedicated to the best friend…and something more, who got lost in the run…forever.

By Bloo Somebody

A War Story

"He was barely twelve. How old are you now?"

I hesitantly said, "Fifteen".

"My son would have been fifty by now." She could not fake her smile and began to weep instantly "if he was alive... that is. He wrote a letter; actually it was merely a sentence...Ma ami juddhey jacchi, amar jonno doa koro. After he had gone not a single day passed by of which I did not think of him. Until..." she paused and wiped the tears from her cheek. It seemed like she did not want to continue.

"Please, tell me. What happened?"

"He died...that is what happened. He was buried before my own eyes. They told me that he was a brave boy and sacrificed his life to save an entire platoon of freedom fighters."

"Oh my god, your son is more than just a fighter; he is a hero. How did he...?

Before finishing my question she might have understood what I was going to say and she judged it right. "He opened fire, when he saw the approaching Pakistani Military. It was an ambush. They told me that he had a LMG; what is LMG anyway, do you know?"

Telling a lie was probably the best thing to do at that time. "No, I do not know."

"Well, I cried after that a lot. For the first few days I sat beside
his grave immobilized by the grief that fate had given me. Then it occurred to me that I have to honor my son's deed. So, I planted some flower seeds here and there. For the last thirty seven years I have taken care of them and watched them grow. I treated them as if they were my own son. You can not take your eyes of them when the garden is fully bloomed. They are so beautiful. The night of the full moon when it happens, I feel that my son comes down from the heavens to this garden and offers me these flowers. It has been this way for the last thirty years."

"Really?" Either she was making this up very skillfully or she was actually telling the truth which was very hard to believe at that moment of time. But why would she lie about her son's death? May be her prayers of reviving her son was so soulful that God could not help but show pity on her.

"Have you shared this with someone else?"

She smiled faintly, "I have grown old and very little time remains of me in this world. Will you do me this favor of burying me beside my son's grave after I die?"

Out of the blue it struck me and completely freaked me out. Seeing my hesitance she grabbed my hand, looked at me in the eyes and said, "You are the only one ever to listen to my story. Please! Do me this favor. If you do not, then people might not know the secret behind this garden and might dump me somewhere else. Give me this chance at least to rejoice in my grave. "

...The woman died shortly after that day but her last wish was fulfilled. I am now standing before their enlightened graves, this garden which has become a mausoleum.

"Their story is astonishing. The epitaph speaks the appropriate words."

I noticed the woman who uttered those words. Her facial expression told me that she could not console herself by only shedding a few drops of tears and placing bouquet of red roses like everyone else.

"Truly it is".

By Ben Zaman

“Say only”

Put only your arms around me
And don't cry
Say only I love you
When I die
And wade me goodbye
Put your flowers in my body
With my favorite wreath and song
Clasp your hand on prayer
When I die
Say only I love you
Give me a thumb of soil
See those photographs and feel me
Hug my grave
Say only I love you
When I die
Cherish those moments
We have been together
Hug my soul and love me
See my photographs and feel me
Say only I love you
When I die

By Mohammad Rajja
Birgunj, Nepal


Jane's tree house

JANE was a little girl. She had a puppy and a kitten. Every morning she went out with her pets. But one morning she decided to make a tree house. So she made a list of what she needed. Next she went to the store with her mum. Then she got a ladder and climbed up to her tree. Then she made the floor next she made the walls and then she made the roof. Next she painted her tree house. Then she put toys, flowers and everything that she liked. Then her tree house was done!

By Nehreen Fatima
Year 1, Melbourne, Australia


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