Monday, November 14, 2011

Short Story: Happy Children's Day

She stared across the road.

Her deft hands, calloused with a year’s worth of rope-burns, were braiding plastic fibres, but her eyes – and her mind – were fixed on the cluster of pastel-coloured buildings that looked so inviting. School. The paradise of letters, numbers, pencils and books… a heaven that she could never enter.

She was seated beside the large, tinted windows. It was her favourite spot of all in the Rope-Making Unit, from where she keenly watched the mysterious outer world. As she worked, she’d observe the all-too-many vehicles, the rushing crowds of people, the high-rise buildings… If she set her imagination free, she’d almost hear the squeal of tyres as a car braked, a bike revving up, a harried mother snapping at her child for the latter’s constant whining about the un-bought lollipop. She could feel the wind, tainted with traces of smoke and oil, on her face.

The windows were her one-way link to the wonderful world beyond. She, on one side, regarding the outer world in wonder, while the people raced on with their lives, oblivious to the fact that a twelve-year-old was watching their world, enraptured, from The Hellhole.

The Hellhole, as her best friend Sita so aptly put it, was the place where children like her worked day and night, braiding fibers into plastic ropes. It was a decrepit building with a heavy air of despair and desolation about it, a stark contrast to the colourful and chaotic world outside – the world which promised joy and freedom for bonded labourers like her. So near, yet so far.

Bonded labourer. She knew that it meant that she was practically sold. The thought always brought a bitter taste to her mouth. Sold. Like a commodity, over the price of which her parents haggled with the Boss. She’d been so eager to help her family in whatever way she could, at least to make sure that her little brother Rohit never went hungry.

But never had she imagined in her wildest nightmares that this would be her fate. Trading her entire life for a few measly rupees. Yes, her entire life, not just the “bond period" of 3 years. She was twelve, but she wasn’t naïve; she knew she probably wouldn’t make it back to her home. Ritesh bhaiyya had been stuck here for around a decade. Some of the older girls were taken away all of a sudden by a creepy-looking man and were never seen again.

But, for once, she was too preoccupied with gazing at the school to wallow in her fear and misery. She had missed the occasion last year because she had been ill. She had heard all sorts of stories and she had to see it for herself. And here she was.

True, the sprawling school grounds looked more festive, she thought. Balloons and streamers adorned the periphery walls of the school. Her luckier peers weren’t in their grey-and-white uniforms. Some were wearing frocks, some in skirt-blouses and some in churidars. She noted that they were happier than usual. The milled about in groups, making their way towards the school gates, laughing and chatting. Happy and carefree.

But the thing that intrigued her was the banner over the arched gateway of the school. It was a confection of colours. Recalling all her lessons with Ritesh bhaiyya, she painstakingly recognized the letters, which –

Crack! Crack!

She was yanked out of her train of thoughts by a numbing pain on her back. Through her watery eyes, she saw the silhouette of the supervisor – a dark, burly man with his perpetual whip. Somewhere along the line, as she daydreamed, her hands must have let go of the plastic fibres. So, so, so stupid of her to be careless, off-guard.

Clutching her throbbing back, she stood up as the man yelled insults that she could hardly make out in the haze of the pain. It felt as though her skin was being slowly grilled over a white-hot flame.

After what seemed like a long time, she was roughly pushed down to her seat. She wiped her eyes as the heavy footfalls faded away into a distance. She sent a reassuring glance towards a visibly upset Sita and resumed her work, as did the rest of her friends. When she was sure the supervisor wasn’t looking, she snuck a look at the banner once again.

“Happy Children’s Day,” she whispered, bitterness lacing every syllable.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Short Story: Words

She pelts me with words.

*******************
Know-it-all.
She calls me know-it-all and she acts like she knows everything about me. Does she know who I really am? Does she know the innumerous thoughts that race through my mind at million miles per second? Does she know about the battles I’ve fought to reach where I’m now? Does she know how far I’ve climbed and I’m still set to go up higher?

Over-smart. Show-off.
Me, over-smart, show-off? Because I have a Hermione-esque habit of answering questions, though on a far smaller scale? Because I asked her a few questions she didn’t have answers to? Because I dared to step out of the lines she drew? Because I didn't want to conform to her stifling traditions? Because I ventured to express myself?

Pretentious, vain, conceited.
Had she thought of looking beyond her assumptions and prejudices? Had she just glanced at the tip of the iceberg and failed to see it ran deep into the seas? Had she peeled off the different layers before she spun her web of lies? Had she ever heard of the proverb, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”?
******************** 

I try to tune her out by singing “All you are is mean/and a liar/and pathetic/and a lowly life and mean, and mean, and mean….” in my head, but in vain. I could have borne it if she were hurling stones at me. Stones can only scar the surface – the skin broken, some blood shed. Or maybe some fractured bones.

But words wound far deeper. They pierce through my heart like a thousand knives. They course through me like venom, scorching my veins. They burn themselves on to my mind, smothering my confidence, my beliefs.

Her words also awaken my ugly side. They make me want lose control – to scream and yell at her to shut up, to quell that infuriating “I-know-everything” tone that adults often use. Or maybe just slap her, to wipe that smirk off her face. I want to fire all the questions that popped up in my head when she called me so-and-so, to see her fumbling for answers, to turn the tables.

But I keep quiet.

Because, even if words are silver, silence is golden.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What A Week! (aka My Crazy Theories)

Misfortune seldom comes alone... and neither does fortune. Either you get a windfall of happiness/peace/luck etc. etc. or you don't get them at all. This week proved my theory.

After our self-imposed hiatus on extracurricular activities (quizzing) was resolved with the school-level prelims of the Aqua Regia science quiz organized by T.I.M.E, Malavika and I won the Third Place in the City Finals of the quiz on Wednesday, with a cash award of Rs. 500 each!

And today (22/10/11) we took part in Samasya, an inter-school quiz which was organized as a part of Tathva '11 - a three day long expo held annually at NIT-C - and won the Second Place and Rs. 500 (again...)

I also found out that Newton's Third Law of Motion - for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction - applies in life as well.  You just have to slightly modify it by replacing action with event/situation. And the proof: after a wonderful week of victories, up ahead is a hectic week of EXAMS! :(

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Poem: The Popular Girls

Every (girls) school has at least one clique, the members of which are shallow, but also the most popular. Typically, one of their main hobbies is to bully the radically different, plain, down-to-earth girls. 
This poem is dedicated to such victimized girls - the girls who are NOT materialistic airheads. The girls who believe that makeup doesn't define their lives. The girls who are branded "dorks" and "nerds" because they care about their grades and their future, not the latest fashion trends. The girls who won't stay on the ground whenever they are knocked down. The REAL girls.  

The popular girls call me a geek
Because I spend time reading books
And not gossiping about boys.
Pardon me, haters of crazy, freak
Girls; I have better pastimes than playing with boy-toys.

The popular girls call me uncool
Because I don’t like makeup;
They say, “She’s so gross!”
Forgive me, queens of the school,
But my life’s not centred on lip-gloss.

The popular girls call me a tramp
Because I have glasses and braces
And don’t wear designer jeans of size zero.
Pardon me, rulers of the ramp,
But I scorn the diet regime of that hero.

The popular girls call me harsh words
Because I’m "a total loser"
Who dares to weave big dreams.
Forgive me, wielders of verbal swords, 
But I’ll persist even if you rip them at the seams.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Milestone for My Li'l World

My Li'l World gets FIVE HUNDRED pageviews, as on October 2! A big hug to every single person, follower or not, who has visited my blog and put up with my creations and crazy thoughts! Without your encouragement, this endeavour of mine would be nowhere... thank you so much!

Gotta Love the Internet...

Okay, probably this is a late realization for somebody who's been been using the Net for around 5 years. But only yesterday did I really comprehend how AWESOME it is - when I placed an order for 3 storybooks online. The story behind my "enlightenment" goes thus:

I've been wanting to complete my Percy Jackson series ever since I bought the first book - The Lightning Thief - and I recently purchased the fourth book from Reliance Timeout during the class trip to Bangalore (yeah, I know, so "nerdy" of me... but that's typical Zainab behaviour for you!) But the fifth and the last book was not in stock, and neither was the first book in the sequel series. The salesman assured me that the books would arrive soon, but unfortunately I wouldn't be in B'lore and we don't have Timeout in Calicut. All we have is a stupid TBS that's ALWAYS late to catch up on reading trends.

I'd already heard about Amazon, but my dad vetoed the proposal I'd hesitantly put forth - buy books online. He said we'd have to use credit cards... and that it wasn't 100% safe and secure. I was disgruntled, but nevertheless put away the idea from my mind. It came to nag me often, however. There's nothing more rankling than an incomplete collection of books, at least for me.

So one fine day in October, my BFF decided to tell me about Flipkart.com and I flipped as I heard about it. It's a service similar to Amazon, but is available only in India. And they have a cash-on-delivery option!! I even got treated to a whole history lecture about how 2 employees (Sachin-somebody and Binny-somebody... gee, I sound like Rachel from the Percy Jackson series) resigned from Amazon and established the company.

Anyhow, that night I persuaded my parents to place an order for the books in Flipkart. They fell hook, line and sinker for the amazing discounts (up to 35%) and the payment-on-delivery option.... and the rest is history. Just four easy steps... and voila! An order for 3 books placed and to be delivered within 3 days! Yippee! Thank you, Flipkart, I owe my happiness to you!

And the bottom line is: Internet Rules! :D

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Side of the Story: Plastic

“Say NO to plastic!”
“Plastic is a devil in disguise!”
“Plastic causes pollution; it’s an abomination!”

Seriously, people? You really need lessons in conveying messages subtly. I mean, “A devil in disguise”? That wins the prize for the bluntest and the most insulting anti-plastic slogan in the whole wide world.

Oh sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Plastic. (Duh. Guess you already figured that out from my rant.) I also go by the title of “Mankind’s Best Invention.” Versatile, durable, affordable, fashionable etc. are just a few among the long list of positive adjectives that are applicable to me. I know, I’m cool.

But you humans have to jinx everything. Look how fast I went from being the most-loved material to the most-hated one. One minute, I’m in the spotlight for being the wonder-substance and the next thing I know, I’ve made it to the list of “Top 10 things to be banned.” Credit to my persistence for holding my ground.

You guys have been going against me for more than a decade now, badmouthing me, branding me an evil creation that’s about to initiate the apocalypse. Talk about drama. Anyway, I’ve had enough of people dissing me. And now it’s time for ME to have my say.

First of all, I’d like to see you get through a day without me. Not to boast or anything, but mankind has never been, or never will be, dependent on an invention to such a great degree. Just look around, wherever you are, and count how many plastic objects are around you. I bet you’ll get at least five objects in one second.


I’m not exaggerating. From my simpler avatars like polystyrene to special-purpose ones like PTFE – that’s Teflon for you – your lives revolve so much around me. Day-to-day articles like carry bags, ball-point pens, toothbrushes, storage jars, water bottles, disposable cups and plates – okay, I’ll cut short – almost anything money can buy is made of me. Wait, why even bother with money? Even the ATM card you use instead of money is plastic!

So do I have to spell it out that I’m really I-M-P-O-R-T-A-N-T? For heaven’s sake, you guys even have terms like ‘plastic smile’ and ‘plastic snow’ to refer to anything that’s fake! And I don’t think all this recognition is undeserved, by the way; I have several qualities to my credit. ATM cards are way durable than those flimsy pieces of paper called banknotes. Plastic chairs are definitely cheaper than wooden ones. During train journeys, it’s easier to use-and-throw disposable plates rather carry around steel utensils… you get the drift.

Plus, I’m really adaptable. I have innumerous forms – I can come in different shapes, sizes and colours. My adaptability is one of my most prized and useful characteristics; it also makes me quite a ladies’ man. See, plastic is the perfect material for daily-wearable and affordable jewellery. (Gold prices are soaring higher than skyscrapers right now. Maybe I’ll end up being the favourite choice for ornaments in future weddings. Somebody start the trend, please!)

So, as I was saying, no matter how much hue and cry you raise, I’m here to stay. Okay, I’m non-biodegradable. I’m a menace to the environment. But hey, nobody’s perfect! Even the most revolutionary inventions have flip sides. But before launching a tirade against me and blacken my awesome rep, think again. Am I the one polluting the air, water and soil? Am I the one killing animals left and right? Am I really the cause of Mother Earth’s pain?

I take offense to the allegations. I am NOT guilty as charged. And don’t pull the faces of disbelief – I stand by what I said. I am not responsible for all this.

YOU are.

That’s right. YOU humans are the culprits behind environment pollution, not me. You throw me into water bodies, clogging them and killing aquatic life. You throw me on the roadsides, where I get eaten up by some poor stray animal and suffocate it. You choke the supply of rainwater to the soil by carelessly dumping me. You burn me and pollute the air. I am not wreaking havoc on the Earth; YOU are!

I don’t cause all the aforementioned problems, because I’m just a tool in your hands. A product of the servant you call ‘science’. But you have allowed the servant to become your master in the past few years, the motive usually being money, and leading to matters going haywire.

And then you humans foist the blame on science and its products. You blame the governments of being inactive. You blame others of being irresponsible where environment is concerned. You are too engrossed in playing the blame game to do something productive.

You can despise me, ostracize me, alienate me… I don’t care. But since you guys caused all this mess, you have to clean it up YOURSELF. Nobody else is going to do it. No divine force is going to help you. So what can you do?

I’ll be generous and give some words of wisdom for free: start at the basics. Certain situations are best tackled at the grassroots level. The problem with you humans is that you look for huge, grand solutions… in this case, wait for international conferences on saving the nature and all that jazz. Instead, why can’t each person just play his part and implement the 3R policy? (And no, the three R’s don’t stand for rap, rock and R&B. It’s “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”)

Reduce use of plastic (It hurts to say that; but I have to work “for the greater good”) whenever and wherever possible. Reuse and recycle plastic to the best of your ability. Such seemingly insignificant and inconsequential acts can start a revolution. As that old saying goes, “Tiny drops of water together make a huge ocean.”

So what are you waiting for? Get off you lazy selves from the couches and get going! Stop the “let’s-blame-others” habit and get something done. You might be able to extricate yourself from the environmental issues and save the earth. Otherwise, it’s your and your kids’ future on the line.

On that happy note, I rest my case. This is Plastic, aka Mankind's Best Invention, signing off! Ciao!

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Tribute on Teacher's Day


Standing in the twilight of school life, I can't help but be nostalgic, especially today, September 5th - Teacher's Day.  I joined Presentation HSS, my second home, when I was in third... and still I am spending my life there. Naturally, all my recollections are of the teachers in PHSS, as I can hardly remember the teachers who taught me before. As one of my favourite quotes go, "Memories are like stone; distance and time erode them like acid."

The memories of my early days in PHSS are dim, but I do recall who my teachers were. My first class teacher was Miss Laila. (I just don't know where this "Miss" salutation evolved from; isn't the right word "Madam"? But years and years of mechanical repetition have forced the title of "Miss" upon my tongue.Whatever.) She taught me Malayalam, and she was a really nice teacher - not too strict, not too lenient.

But in the early schooling years, teachers are mere intimidating creatures to students. It is only later on they start assuming their multi-faceted role. I was no exception.

As the years wore on, I slowly began to find myself. Everything wasn't black and white anymore; I learned that things weren't meant to be labelled and organized into boxes. The world had ceased to be a simple picture - it was a complicated blur of colours. And it was in this phase of growing up that my teachers really began influencing me.

If you ask me which teacher had the greatest impact on me, I would answer without a hesitation, "Miss Leena." My class teacher in sixth standard. She taught English, which probably had to do something with her being one of my favourite teachers. But apart from being a good teacher, she had this special knack for finding out people's talents. She was the first one to encourage my writing talents, and it is for this I cherish her the most. She gave me tips to improve my works, encouraged me always. She was my best appreciator and my best critic.

When it was time for the youth festival that year, Miss Leena chose me to play an important role in the Malayalam drama. Me - a novice, a nerd, a so-not-interested-in-entering-the-limelight girl - for a drama. And the icing on the cake? The role was of a boy, and the whole thing was a comedy. She gave the role to a girl who couldn't joke to save her life. I was, naturally, stunned, but her faith and confidence was so huge that I finally gave in.

Our performance brought the house down and we won the first place. Though I didn't get the best actor award, I did earn a lot of praise and recognition (not that I was fully comfortable with it). I went on to win three best actor awards in my school career - in classes 7, 9 and 10 - all because one teacher took the pains to nurture my talents, however rudimentary they were.

There were loads of the same mould... My brilliant science teacher, Miss Brinda, who found time for giving extra info about scientific topics to interested students like me. Miss Sumitra, who despite her imperious manner, was a total softie and a really good English teacher. Miss Jayasree and Miss Usha, two of my maths teachers, who didn't give me up as a hopeless case (but I still dislike Maths). The fabulous Miss Ann, with her expressive faces and fun-filled classes. All the Malayalam teachers, especially Miss Vandana, who indirectly showed me their love by snubbing me for opting for Additional English as my First Language.... The list goes on.

On this day, I thank all my teachers, great or not, for just being a teacher. For leading me forward on the path of knowledge. For guiding me, inspiring me. For being the light in times of darkness. For giving me the courage to live my own life. For their care and concern whenever I fell ill (which was often). For encouraging my reading, writing and quizzing.  For being inexhaustible sources of praise and encouragement. For correcting me when I was wrong. For forgiving my mistakes....

... For making me who I am today. 

For making me Zainab Ummer Farook, a girl who wants to be a teacher when she grows up.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Want A Spell To Speed Up Time

Phew. I somehow managed to survive the torture of the past week. The government suddenly reinstated the Term Exams, and the school conducted it along with regular class. It was horribly stressful, and I had to pull some all-nighters the previous weekend to complete my revision. I really should have listened to my mom and kept track of my studies, but as always, I don't appreciate adults' advice until its late. There's a proverb in Malayalam, which goes: മൂത്തവര്‍ ചൊല്ലും മുതുനെല്ലിക്ക ആദ്യം കയ്ക്കും പിന്നെ മധുരിക്കും. The essence of the saying is that advice from grown-ups is always bitter at first, and sweet later. Oh, it sure is.

But now I'm waiting for this weekend to get over. Shocker, isn't it? But anybody would wish so, if they had an fun-filled, action-packed week to anticipate. First there's Eid, which probably will fall on 30th or 31st. Then at school, we have the Onam and Teacher's Day Celebrations on 1st of September.

But 1st September is even more important because that's the day all of us (read: Std. X students and staff) are leaving for our final school tour! To BANGALORE! Not that I haven't visited the city - it's practically my third hometown - but it'll be awesome to visit with my friends. The train ride to and from B'lore, with no parents to stop you from singing at the top of your voice, is going to be delightful..... We're planning to visit Innovative Film City, Lalbagh, VITM (ah... good old memories) and of course, go shopping, every girl's favourite activity! :D

And September 1st, hurry up please!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Short Story: The Best Friend


She was gone. Gone.

Chizuko sat, stunned into silence. Her mind, previously racing at the implications of her teacher's tears, was now empty and black, like the City had been ten years ago. Time made no sense to her - was it seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, before she registered the gentle touch on her shoulder?

She turned, trying to focus on the figure and found that she couldn't. Her vision was blurred, cloudy. She blinked. Tsutomu, her other best friend, was standing beside her, his eyes bloodshot, one hand on her shoulder and another tugging something from her tightly clenched fist. "Leave it", he whispered, "or you'll tear it."

Chizuko laid her palm open, and to her horror, found a scrunched ball of golden paper lying on it. Her shaking hands smoothed it out, and she stared at it.

It was only today morning that she'd visited her best friend in the hospital, before rushing to school. Chizuko hated seeing her best friend pale, weak and battle-weary - this new best friend was a gruesome distortion of the old bubbly girl with a zest for life. But the girl had fallen victim to the Little Boy's terrible power, and ironically, was on the doorstep of death. Correction: She had just stepped over the threshold, and had left only 644 origami shapes behind. "I feel tired, don't think I'll do the origami today", she had said in the morning.

"How much have you made already?" Chizuko had asked, to get the reply, "644."
356 left, Chizuko's mind had automatically calculated. She won't make it, the ice-cold voice of reason had said, crushing the warmth of hope.

The unusually bright, clear memory galvanized Chizuko into action. With a new-found vigour, she folded and twisted the golden paper in her hand, and a minute later, a beautiful bird sat on the desk.

A golden paper crane.

355 left. She took the next paper, and barely saw Tsutomu joining in. 354. She didn't see the rest of the students retrieving golden papers from their desks and start making the cranes. 353. Memories flashed before her eyes, like a fast-paced movie. 352. "Don't cry, don't cry", her mind chanted like a mantra. 351. "Focus - don't tear the paper." 350...

The morning wore on, and around afternoon, 1000 paper cranes were ready. Tsutomu, who had the lucky honour of making the final one, handed it over to Chizuko. She paused, and then took out her pen. She might not have been able to save her best friend, but she had to make sure her death had not been in vain. The message had to be spread, future disasters had to be averted.

On the last paper crane, in blue ink, were written the words: This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on earth.

Yes, Chizuko thought, her best friend would've been proud.
Her best friend - Sadako Sasaki.

*************
On August 6th, 1942, the Japanese city of Hiroshima became the first ever prey of the atomic bomb (named Little Boy). Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who'd been two years old at the time, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1955, due to the persistent radiation. She began fashioning cranes out of paper, in accordance with the Japanese legend which said that if a person made thousand paper cranes, he/she would be granted a wish. But her endeavour was unsuccessful, as she died of her disease before she could complete thousand cranes. (For the full story of Sadako, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadako_Sasaki)

This story is my version about the reaction of Sadako's best friend Chizuko Hamamoto when she heard the news about Sadako's death. All characters, except Sadako and Chizuko, are fictional; and so is the plot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Movie Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

My vocabulary is inadequate if I have to put in words what I feel after watching this movie... so I settle for "leaves one speechless."

The world requires no introduction to the Harry Potter series, and the whole story is so intricate that a short recap is a gross injustice to it. So I won't bother with giving a rundown of what happened so far, but cut to the essentials: HP7 Part 2 is the climax of the whole series, the grand finale. But unlike its predecessor, Part 1, which went on a slow pace, this movie has got ALL the action. Of course it should, seeing as it portrays a war that can equal the Gods vs. Titans War (Greek myth).

Adapting books into movies is never an easy task, especially if the books in question have complexly woven plots and a vast fan following. The endeavour becomes even harder when the book is the last in the series, as expectations skyrocket to unprecedented levels.

And it seems that the cast and the crew were determined to give a nothing-less-than-the-best farewell, and give they did. Even Dan Radcliffe, who has been less than stellar on more than one occasion, essayed the role of Harry with panache, as did Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in their roles as Ron and Hermione respectively. The rest of the crew (the list is too long) did their jobs brilliantly, but  Alan Rickman's performance as Snape was a standout - stunning, but touching as well.

The movie was also a testimony to the brilliance of David Yates' direction. Plus, kudos to Steve Kloves and JKR for retaining the essence of the book, even with all the deleted and extra scenes, and for some spectacularly funny dialogues. My personal favourites include Ron's "That's my girlfriend, you numpties!" and Neville's "You and whose army?" As dark as it was, Part 2 had its lighthearted moments.  Oh, and the much-awaited epilogue was cute and sweet - I loved the elder versions of the Golden Trio and Ginny, and the kids as well. And Alexander Desplat's score just made things better.

But it's the effects that made the movie what it was. The only HP movie in 3D, and it was more than worth the money. The special effects were damn superb - the statues coming alive, the protection spells for Hogwarts, and more - without them, the film would have been nowhere.

The slight disappointment was the final battle between Harry and Voldemort which, in my opinion, should have been depicted as in the books, with the great hall and the humongous audience. But the sheer magnificence of the rest of the movie eclipses the teeny letdown.

I'd like to say more - I feel like I could never stop - but I think I should end it here. The last and final installment in the phenomenal Harry Potter series - or to be specific, movies - is a fitting tribute to the wonderful success of the books. It makes you laugh and cry, feel full yet empty, all at once. It's gripping, it's epic, it's breath-taking... it's pure magic; you have to experience it for yourself.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

No Au Revoirs, Harry Potter...

The Last Ever Harry Potter Movie...and the last chance for fans to savour the series... (The books and CDs are still in the shelves, but you get my drift.)

I just can't believe it - it doesn't seem too long ago when I took up the HP books and felt their magic. And quite obviously, fell for it. Hard. Real hard, maybe the hardest in all of Calicut city. And if not an exaggeration, in the whole world. The books were so spellbinding, so captivating, that I wondered whether it was possible to fall in love with a series of books... did J.K Rowling smear Amortentia on the pages? (Non-HP readers, this post is not for you!)

Whatever. The movies were just escape routes to prolong the HP Experience, and die-hard fans like me gladly accepted. Some of them were downright dumb (Ugh. Order of the Phoenix was horrible), but HP7 Part 1 was great. And Part 2 (OMG, it releases tomorrow!) posters and trailers promise a very, very, very epic grand finale.

HP rules, and no one else can - not even the stupid Twilight movies (the books are okay)! Even after decades, HP will remain in the hearts of the fans, young and old, because it's not everyday you come across such -insert some synonyms for awesome- masterpieces. The Harry Potter series is a modern classic, and no one can contest this.

P.S. And I've officially run out of positive adjectives.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Flash News - Part 2

Thanks to the amazing chemistry between me and my BFF Malu, our team won the third place at the South Zone Chemistry Quiz at Bangalore!

Considering the higher-than-we-expected standard of the questions, and too-brilliant rivals, third position is just AWESOME! I can't deny that I am a teeny bit disappointed that I won't get to go to Kolkata for the national level, but then, you can't win always, can you? Win or lose, my quizzing experiences are ones I will always cherish. They gave me a lot of knowledge, instilled in me something that I sorely lacked - a sportsman spirit! But above all, they gave me my best friend. (Long story....)

Now my only prayer is that I don't end up writing the formula of valeric acid, the ores of various metals etc. etc. for my Maths exam on Monday! :D

Here's my BFF's take on our win:
http://malavika-malsworld.blogspot.com/2011/07/happy.html?spref=gb

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flash News!

Started my quizzing year with a fab success!

My team (consisting of me and my BFF Malu) was placed Second in the state-level quiz on Chemistry conducted by the Regional Science Centre and Planetarium, Calicut! Our next destination: Bangalore! where we'll attend the zonal level of the quiz, to be held on July 7th, at Visvesvaraya Museum. I really hope we can grab the first place there and be off to Kolkata for the national level.

Your prayers and support, please! :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Poem: The Colour Green

I searched;
Searched everywhere for
The colour Green.
I searched up and down,
Left and right, far and wide;
But it was nowhere to be seen.

I searched;
And saw many colours - dusty brown,
Plastic white, grey of smoke.
I searched and saw a
Thousand colours, but not Green;
My heart broke.

I searched;
And saw black waters, skies
Of a polluted blue.
I searched and saw a
Million shades, but not one of Green;
And my sadness grew.

I searched;
And saw the wilted red roses,
The dull yellow sun.
I searched and saw a
Myriad of colours, but not Green;
I had forced it to run.


Written on the occasion of World Environment Day...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New School Year Begins... Officially!

Well, it began yesterday, but I couldn't get time to post. So here I am, just another student in class X A, Presentation HSS. There was a big hungama over 10th standard students being shuffled (put into other divisions); the first ever policy of our new HM. We weren't pleased, of course, this being our last year, but couldn't do much. Got to adjust...

Today was the first proper morning prayer session of this school year, and our class did the honours. I said the thought for the day. Classes resumed normally, and it's back to my books once again. Maths is starting to freak me out a little :(

And my History teacher has threatened to conduct a test tomorrow, so have to go and study... be back soon with more posts!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Yet Another (Un)Educational Reform in Kerala

Disclaimer: The fact that my second language is Special English has nothing to do with this post.

The latest buzz in the Kerala state educational circles is that one IT period will be cut per week to accommodate more Malayalam classes. And this seems like another bead in the string of stupidities of the education department.

I could start a rant about how ridiculous and moronic the education sector in Kerala is, and never stop. The textbooks, instead of being guides, play the part of workbooks. What's more, they have innumerous mistakes. One small example: My 9th standard Geography textbook mentioned that Ecuador's capital was Quetta! (FYI: Ecuador's capital is Quito, and Quetta is in Pakistan. The authorities were off by a few thousand miles.)

Back to our topic. The plan to increase the periods is supposedly the part of a proposed move to make Malayalam the first language. I'm not saying Malayalam is unimportant - it's my mother tongue after all. Agreed that the popularity of the language is decreasing, with more and more importance being given to English. But will forcing such decisions upon students make them like Malayalam overnight? Moreover, won't the cutback on IT classes affect the students?

Face it. This is just another doing by someone somewhere to benefit someone else, not students. If this decision is really going to be implemented, we students have to bear the brunt of it. Most likely, this means lower scores in IT, especially in Government schools were there are no separate teachers for the subject. More than that, it means that there will be a little or no change in the number of Malayalam fans.

The bottom line: The number of periods allotted to a subject is NOT directly proportional to the students' interest in it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Changing Dynamics of the Parent-Child Relationship

Today in class we had a debate on "Old Age Homes: A Need or Not?" During this, I noted that everyone was quick to place the blame on the children's/youth's attitude. Granted, the youth's attitude shift is disturbing. But is only the younger generation at fault? This is a completely different take on one aspect of the topic.

Until around thirty years or so, the relationship between a child and his parent was quite precious, pure and uncomplicated. But ever since new technology came, and with it the Western influence, matters have taken a turn. Take, for example, a typical scene in most modern households. Both parents working, and the keys of the flat are with the kid(s). After they arrive from school and have food, they stay glued to all the serials, reality shows, item songs etc. etc. Otherwise, it's computers and internet - with Facebook and Orkut and, god forbid, porn. Enter the parents, around 8 o'clock in the night, dead tired from their work. Just a few casual words exchanged, and then it's bedtime.

Where has the love gone? The care, the concern, the affection, the queries about school and life? Where are the bedtime stories and "bonding time"? Most parents don't even know what's going on their children's lives, and vice-versa. Parents have been reduced to just ATM cards and children to spenders. Is this what you call an ideal parent-child relationship? One without any communication, any connection?

I don't. And for me, this is one of the crucial factors in the current surge in the number of old age homes. The first question in the blame game is always "What did you do for me?" and parents will be left answer-less. And no later, packed off to one of such homes. I don't like the concept of these, and neither do I support abandoning one's own parents. They're our parents, after all. But it would be good if parents remembered to say "We love you" to their kids at least once a day, and kids to reciprocate this love. Because these words, even though only three, have immense power.

And remember what I told about matters taking a turn? It's up to the youth to decide whether the turn is for the better or worse.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My First Poem

I was just sorting out all the old files in my PC when I came across this poem. It was the first one I ever wrote, back when I was in 6th standard. Reading it brought back old memories; seriously, getting into tenth standard has made me nostalgic every single day! So, anyway, here's the poem...

The Call of Nature
Nature calls you always,
Do try and listen.
She calls and calls,
She wants you to play with her.

She has trees with emerald-green leaves
And fruits and flowers to add to the beauty.
Water's there to quench a thirst 
And be a home for many lives.

Air's there for you to breathe;
And to carry the fragrances of flowers
Over distant lands;
Without air how'd you live?

Sky's where the sun, moon and stars shine
And clouds float in different shapes.
The sky changes its colour like a chameleon...
It's so wonderful to see.

Nature's waiting for your answer,
She's wishing
And hoping that you can join her.

Nature loves you so much,
So please be kind to her.
She can also be very angry,
And wreak havoc everywhere.

Nature's calling you, so
Go play with her.
Nature's waiting for your answer,
Do respond to her call.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Last Year...

Don't worry, I'm not about to die! :P

I was talking about my last year in school - I'm now officially in tenth standard! The results came yesterday, and everyone in ninth was promoted to tenth. No time for dilly-dallying, 'cuz classes start for us tomorrow, May 4th, itself.

I'm really excited, but slightly nervous as well. The prospect of being in PHSS for completing my last year in school, it's all so overwhelming. I still remember my timid, eight-year-old self who was trying to take in the new atmosphere, when I came to Presentation for the first time. To imagine that so many years have passed, so quickly... it seems to me as if someone has pressed the fast forward button.

I want to make my last year in school the best one ever. I hope I can get through this year gracefully and pass my SSLC exams with flying colours. With your prayers and support, and my hardwork, I surely can do this!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Movie Review: Udaan

The best movies do not always have to be the ones which have the highest commercial success; Udaan is yet another movie that testifies to this statement.

The movie narrates the story of 17 year old wannabe-writer Rohan (enacted by Rajat Barmecha), who is forced to live his hardhearted father's (Ronit Roy) dreams instead of his own. What's more, he suffers physical and verbal abuse as well. Rohan also has to put up with a little half-brother he didn't even know existed, called Arjun (Aayan Boradia).

So what does Rohan do? Admit defeat - and abandon his dreams? Or fight back and pursue them? Watch Udaan and find out for yourself...

Udaan, meaning "Flight", is a straightforward and touching movie that inspires us to stand up for our dreams, to live them despite all hurdles. A fine plot, accompanied by Vikramaditya Motwane's fab direction, ensures that the movie keeps us captivated. The lead cast does a good job of bringing the characters to life, and the music by Amit Verma adds to the beauty of the film.

All in all, a superb movie that teaches how important one's flight to freedom is.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To Ban or Not to Ban

Damaging to the nervous, immune and reproductive systems. Can even lead to death. Established cause of the severe physical and mental deformities in affected areas, most notably Kasaragod district in Kerala. What's more, harmful for the environment as well. The adverse affects of Endosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, are appalling.

Then why is the Centre opposing the global ban on the manufacture and use of this chemical, currently being considered in the Stockholm Convention? Frankly, this stance is senseless and sadistic! The Union Government is demanding more studies, as if the Kasaragod tragedy is not proof enough! Do we need more people poisoned? More disabled people? More children, whose lives will be empty of laughter?
NO, WE DO NOT! It's imperative that we citizens protest against the Government's callous stand.

Support the Endosulfan ban, support humanity!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Freedom At Last!

The demon called exams freed me from captivity!!!!

After months of the same old boring routine, now I can do whatever I wish to - sleep till 10 am, read my favourite books again and again, listen songs at full volume, eat cold stuff like icecreams and milkshakes without worrying about asthma... for one whole month. And I'm going to make the best of it, because next year I'm going to be in TENTH standard. I'll have to bury my nose in all those stupid textbooks, learning about electronics, polymers, genetics, trigonometry, blah blah blah. So I'm going full out, and try to enjoy life as much as I can - no revising, no homeworks, no waking up at 6 in the morning, no worrying about tests... just pure bliss.

Long live summer vacations! Long live freedom! :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chemistry Rocks!

I forgot to tell you all about this... so here it is:

I, along with my best friend Malavika, won the first prize in the team quiz on Chemistry conducted by the Regional Science Centre and Planetarium, Calicut... the prize was a gift voucher of Rs. 500/-  redeemable at TBS (bookstore aka my paradise).

And in another chemistry quiz contest (individual), conducted by the Darshanam Cultural Forum in association with Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), I was placed second and won a cash prize of Rs. 300 which will also be, most probably, spent on story books.... :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Poem: The Constant


I had a constant
In my life.
The equations changed,
So did the terms,
But the one thing that
Stood unchanged, unperturbed,
Was my friend - the constant.

I have a constant
In my life.
Seasons change, and
So do circumstances,
But the single thing that
Stands firm, finite,
Is my friend - the constant.

I always will have a constant
In my life.
The world will change, and
So will I.
But the only thing that
Will stay the same is my friend, the constant,
Whose name is loneliness.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Year Gone By...

I still find it hard to belive that yesterday was the last day of 9th standard. It seems as if school started just a few days before... but now, saying goodbye to that little room called 9B seems hard. In some ways, I'm still that immature girl I used to be in 8th, but ninth standard changed me a lot. It forced me to grow up a bit, to realize that life isn't always picture-perfect, that life isn't as simple as a fairytale... and that sometimes you've got to fight for yourself, sometimes you have to sacrifice a few things even if they mean a lot to you.

Ninth standard was also one of the most memorable years in my life. Ninth was the year during which I got the best friend I could ever ask for, it was the year during which I got to experience the best victories ever...
But it was a year of many downsides as well: Sonima chechi, a tenth standard student of my school, died in a horrible accident... two of my favourite teachers - Miss Leena and Miss Sumitra left the school... and I realized that people are not what they seem to be. Several horrible truths came up about people whom I thought were simple and innocent...

Ninth standard taught me to live, to dream, to hope... and as I go on to the last year of my school, I'll treasure all these memories. But there's a barrier on my way to the tenth standard: EXAMS! :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Reality Check

Despicable. That's the only word I can come up with to sum up the horrendous Trichur train incident. For those who are in the dark about this tragedy (I doubt there are such people; this issue has been well-publicised): An innocent woman was brutally hurt and raped, resulting in her untimely death.

This violent incident is a shame not only to Keralites, but to the whole mankind which degrades the status of women and denies them the respect they deserve. In spite of so much progress in various spheres, women are still not safe in India. They are in constant danger of eve-teasers, harassers, molesters... it's no wonder that parents, including mine, are scared to let girls out late in the evening. But such incidents are no longer confined to the dark; they even take place in broad daylight!

It's high time that this male-dominated society realised that women are an integral part of the society and that they should be accorded honour. Women are NOT the dirt under men's feet. Women have their pride, their dignity, and whoever messes with it should be punished strictly. Otherwise there's a big question mark over the safety of women...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Victory!

I can't contain my joy!!!!

There are many Children's Associations (ബാലജനസഖ്യം) throughout the Calicut district, which are the initiatives of Malayala Manorama, a popular newspaper. After being the individual champion in the first-level (by being first in English short story & essay contests and second in the English poetry-writing), I participated in all the three categories at the regional level. And now the results are out! I bagged the first place in all of them!!!! :) The results were published in the issue of Malayala Manorama dated 5th February 2011.

I need to jump around for sometime... my bottled-up happiness need to be exercised! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hi Guys...

So here am I, Zainab Ummer Farook, a new entry into the blogosphere, or whatever this place is called. Right now, I'm supposed to do my maths homework but I can't get a single thing into my head, so I thought I'd sneak away.

My fellow students, except for my best friend Malu, think that I'm a goody-two-shoes whose nose is always in her schoolbooks. I actually find it hilarious. I mean, people think I love studying??? (Nobody in their right mind would, anyway...)

Talking about books, my beautiful volume of "The Chronicles of Narnia" is tempting me to switch off this PC... no amount of distraction will be sufficient to drag me away from my favourite books. If you want to know more about me, look below the blog title- there's a little button which says "About Me". Click on it please....
I'd love to hear from you, so leave some comments as well!