Daily Archives: August 29, 2021

Q) Write a story entitled‘The Right Choice’ By Shamel Mujtaba

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He had to figure out what had to be done. He was out of time. The great black cloud of hopelessness was nearly upon him, threatening to rain despair and regret over his overworked excuse of a brain. The brain whose arrogance had summoned that very cloud.

 Every single day he would think to himself that he could just return it tomorrow, and that it was no big deal at all!

Now he had just landed in the quicksand-like pool of consequences.

And he was getting swallowed up at an impossibly fast rate. Consequences surely were the most ravenous beast.

He stretched his hand out towards the light as his head disappeared under the quicksand of consequence, groping for a rope of salvation and forgiveness that was not there.

“I’m Doomed!”

“Calm down, It’s just an overdue Library book!”

Just?Just! He stared at his ignorant misunderstanding friend in disbelief. He had only shouted the counter for that claim a dozen times! Was this fool even listening?
“No!” He declared, shouting into his friends face, spitting up a monsoon in the process. If he returns this book late – he would be forever branded with the mark of eternal shame, forced to reside with the wretched evil souls of the school in the darkest bowel of hopelessness – The detention room! He would be stuck like a cat in a bullpen – all the muscly hercules wannabes were going to send him catapulting to the edges of the known universe! And that’s not the worst part. After failure to comply with the martial law of the school, his radiant perfect record will be shattered with a black mark of shame, and all his A’s will be reduced to nothing! he would be forced to clean toilets for the rest of his sorry life!

He broke down sobbing like his mother had just died. “Why?” He shouted between sobs several times.

“Dude,” his interrupting friend interrupted, “you are just going to get a tardy slip!”

“Just?” He stood up in a burst of uncontrolled fury, “Do you understand the incredible power a tardy slip has over the destiny of a perfect student like myself? It will shatter all my dreams and -”

His interrupting friend cut him off, “Please don’t start.”

No, there was no more starting for him. He had reached the end of the road. The final frontier. The edge of the forsaken cliff. All that was left to do was fall into the endless void of failure.

“Tell you what,” The interrupting friend said, pulling the brakes on the train of doomed thoughts,”If you are too scared to turn it in, we could -”

“Could what?” The other exclaimed, “Tell me!” He begged, shaking his friend with the excitement of a raging sea on a dingy.

“Let me talk then!”

Pause. 

The ocean clamned.

The dingy shook his head to restore some very much needed balance.

“We could – well – break into school at night, put the book back on its shelf and destroy the record of you borrowing it so there is no evidence!”

Wait what? So the only solution was an anti-heist? Is that even a thing? In the unlikely event that it was, failure and capture would certainly mean infinite imprisonment in the fiery bowels of Tartarus for all eternity. But such were the consequences of the alternate passage.

“Excellent! Seeing as we have no other choice we should start preparing right now!”

“Wait really? I was just kidd-”

But the genius had already begun his master plan, inspired by the most recent daring thought-to-be-impossible steal ever attempted by man that had been masterminded by the one-and-only George Clooney himself.

“It’s showtime.” Clooney’s apprentice declared with a sinister smile.

“This is too tight.”, The interrupting friend wheezed out of his new matt-black removable skin.

“Just deal with it.”

Getting into the school was going to be tricky. The two desperados halted outside, forced to stop by the most famous anti-spy device in history – The one-and-only wire mesh fence. Clooney’s apprentice thrust out an equally famous shiny mini-wire cutter and began smacking his lips with the delicious thought of cutting fences, with the loudness of the largest foghorn. He was drooling like a toddler birthday boy as he cut the cake. Except this process was much slower. The toddler may have been a toddler sloth. 

Wiggle, wiggle, clip. Wiggle, wiggle, clip. Wiggle, wiggle, clip. 

“Will you quiet down?” The interrupting friend interrupted in a whispery-spy voice

Clooney’s apprentice scowled in an uncaring manner.

And they’re in! Finally.

Clooney’s apprentice skillfully dived down into a nearby bush, expertly lifted himself with his new camouflage in the unmistakable Tom-and-Jerry style, and tip-fingered to another bush before diving in it and doing the same several times before reaching the closed front entrance, completely undetected by even the most advanced IR technology.

Superb. Unparalleled. Unnecessarily complicated.

The interrupting friend rolled his eyes and waddled the entire way, squeaking up a chorus on the way.

“What are you doing?” The other exclaimed in a hushed whisper, “You could have busted operation anti-doomsday!” 

“What are you talking about, there is nobody here!”

The interrupting friend stretched his arms out as if he was absorbing the love and acclamation of a cheering crowd, because he was their beloved rock-star.

Proof of the claim? The entire courtyard was indeed abandoned and purged of any other soul.

“Umm, there are snipers on the roof.”

Now there was the issue of opening a locked door. The pesky door chuckled and giggled like an over-excited child, fully aware of the consequences of delaying the anti-heist. And its intentions were – 

“Hey, it’s open.”

Nevermind.

The professional black figure rolled, somersaulted, crawled, compressed himself and walked back-facing the corridor’s walls. The other performed a maneuver that appeared to be a stroll-waddle hybrid, accompanied by an inconspicuous squeaking band.

Yes, the squeaking happened in a tune.

Finally! They had reached the doors that lead to salvation. The heavenly doors to the library! Clooney’s apprentice threw the door open and leaped in, landing with the ultimate spy battle-pose. The other failed to change his own locomotive strategy.

“I’ve been expecting you.”

What?

The chair of the main desk had been facing away from our heros, until now.

The librarian turned to face them in an unmistakable ‘The Godfather’ way.

The ‘Oh-no! A bad guy!’ tune played all around them.

Pum-pum-paaaaaa!

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t lose my record, The book was late and I had lots of work and-”

The librarian halted the rapping with a subtle raise of his hand.

“You could have just come clean. I would have forgiven you.”

Clooney’s apprentice gave an apologetic smile that would lead him nowhere, and approached the desk with the mischievous book in hands.

“And you just got dragged into this?” The librarian asked the other through his half-moon spectacles.

The other nodded.

“Fair enough.”

He opened and stamped the book.

“However, you are still going to get in trouble for breaking into school.” the librarian rushed to change the subject.

Clooney’s apprentice’s shoulders fell, and he dropped to his knees, giving the librarian clenched hands and the most professional puppy-dog eyes he had ever given.

“Sorry, but this time you did not make the right choice. Detention!”

And Clooney’s apprentice fainted upon hearing the name of the terrible destiny that he had wanted to avoid so badly. He could hear the pits of tartarus calling his name. The hercules wannabes cracking their knuckles. The sound of all happiness being sucked into the void he was about to fall in. 

“Bummer,” His now uncaring friend chimed in, “Let’s go home now, I’m hungry.”

Q. Describe your favourite time of the year. By Noor Liza Rashid

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I treasure the thirty-first of December. It makes the city jam-packed with holidaymakers, and now in the chilly gusts of rain and wind, taking strolls on the imperfectly fractured pavement is what anyone wants. The frosty grass peeks from the cracks ready to be flattened and compressed upon impact with winter boots. The air shimmers with snow-flakes as white as the pale ashes of wasted coal, and even the surface of  puddles from yesterday’s storm are icy and frozen, with water swirling with rainbow streaks underneath. The market deflates, with everyone lighting up their Christmas decorations from the previous week. Almost everyone looks forward to this day, when work and schools are closed and they get to celebrate with their cherished ones.

The streets fill up with the sweet fragrance of roasted nuts, hot coffees and freshly baked pies. The talented musicians merrily play their ancient instruments not for the sake of earning some silver but only to satisfy and entertain themselves. The pedestrians sway and twirl to the joyful tunes without a care in the world. This is the only day when one walks great distances without a destination. The day when no one gets tired of walking.

The people are unworried,blithe and heedless. It is not surprising that everyone has one thing common on this very day. A silly grin from ear to ear, vast as the universe, revealing shiny pearls,some crooked and some made to scale. Everyone is in a cheery mood. Salutations and enthusiastic cheers echo amidst the crowd. Shops are covered in a spectrum of fairy lights and ornaments swinging from their chimneys down to their wooden and rustic thresholds. Some people stoop and curve on the pavement trying their best to capture the tremendous joys of this day ,with their squinting eyes stuck to big black cameras while some volunteer at different stalls of food, decorations,games, handicrafts and most importantly fireworks. The children turn red because of excitement. They run around with devilish smiles on their faces ready to prank their parents and strangers.All of the people are covered in thick, colorfully knitted scarves and beanies as they intend to stay out and await the very precious moment when the clock strikes twelve. 

It’s funny how time flies when you’re having fun! It’s almost nine at night. The people are starting to gather at the square, holding picnic baskets while some hold silvery,gleaming thermoses filled with blazing hot beverages whose smoke merges with the ultramarine sky. The weather turns extremely cold, biting and piercing into the skin. Everyone has settled down on the floor with their cozy yarn blankets and soft pillows to support their backs. Families fill the space with lively chatter, laughter and happiness. Their lively chatter is enough to make strangers smile and awaken their interest in their conversations. They don’t care about what others might think of them and simply enjoy the night because they know everyone intends to celebrate the night. 

I lean back against my pillow, covering myself with a snug bright yellow quilt which my grandmother had made for me when I was five. The blanket still smelled of cinnamon and nutmeg and felt quite homely. It made me feel closer to my family. I gaze at the sky peeking through vibrant,triangle shaped banners tied across the poles. The sky is blackish blue, textured like velvet, making the twinkling stars appear brighter and magnificent. Tiny vibrations can be felt as the subway trains dash through their tracks underground. I close my eyes for a minute taking in the fresh winter breeze,piercing through my cheeks and into my nose. I feel at peace. What was supposed to last for a slight moment had turned into a power-nap.

It’s almost time. The arms of the clock struggle to reach twelve. The people are up on their feet, packing up their heavy blankets and getting ready to light up the fireworks.

Some people have an expression of fear on their faces while some are exhilarated.

The aura floods with different feelings and emotions. The people pray to god for a year filled with ease, successful businesses and hope. Everyone has a goal in their minds. A goal to achieve certain achievements, overcome obstacles,better their relationships. Some look to the sky and wish for a nice job,good grades,a new dress and even a golden-retriever .

 It’s eleven fifty-eight. The band starts strumming their instruments, the children help in torching the fireworks placed linearly in the middle of the square and heads start to turn to the sky. Within a split second a magnificent display of vivid, flaming, flower patterns glide into the sky and uninterrupted,overlapping cheers and cries of ‘Happy New Year’ echo throughout the city. 

Q. ‘Playing sport in school should be compulsory’. Discuss. By Hafsah Nauman

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Playing sports in this day and age is gaining more and more attraction as technology advances and parents and teachers try harder to push children outside to play sports. Due to these growing concerns more and more schools are adopting a policy wherein it is now mandatory for children to attend gym classes weekly and for them to take up an after-school sport activity. Many people are on the fence as to whether or not this is a good initiative and a question repeatedly resurfaces: ‘Should playing sport in school be compulsory?’

Advocates of sports being made compulsory at school maintain that sports have several psychological benefits along with physical benefits that can greatly help children especially adolescents. Research shows that teenagers who actively play sports especially at school or community centers are 23% less likely to fall into depression as compared to those who do not; this is due to the release of endorphins by the brain which help stimulate happiness and are a stress-relief for such children. However, challengers of this topic argue that this research has not been applied on a broad spectrum and has to be better developed before it can be widely accepted and that the toxic nature of school sports leads to self-esteem being tied to sports performance. Due to this many of these teenagers only release endorphins when they/ their coach are satisfied with their performance, if not they are more likely to fall into a deeper depression due to lack of self-appreciation and self-worth and tend to worsen their performance and make them lose more often. This turns into a repetitive and vicious cycle that could severely psychologically damage children, especially those in their early stages of puberty as it defines their long-term character. 

Moving forward, campaigners of the topic claim that coaches help children take criticism effectively and work collaboratively. To help young athletes improve, coaches must point out mistakes and faulty technique. Learning to handle this feedback establishes a foundation for adult skill-building and collaboration. In addition, with their team and coaches, athletes learn the give-and-take of working together and managing conflict. Research suggests that athletic girls become women who are better equipped than their non-athletic counterparts to handle criticism and stress. Effective coaching and competition can help build internal resources that will serve kids well into adulthood. Challengers of this claim that, although there are many good coaches there are also coaches who put undue pressure and bully children in sports teams. Too often coaches have a win-at-all-costs mentality especially due to unreal standards and consistent competitions with other schools/facilities, this mentally devastates athletes. A survey in 2019 showed that 56% of girls in sports teams were humiliated by their coaches and ranted and raved at by their coaches causing them to have an unhealthy relationship with sports and a hatred towards themselves and the game. This severely damaged the children mentally as Dr. Yoo Kihyun PhD says, “Harassment and bullying in sports especially by adults and coaches results in suicidal tendencies and more mental breakdowns in children than average, girls tend to be subjected to this more than boys however the mental side-effects target both genders equally and have lasting impacts on them throughout their lives.” This clearly demonstrates the potential harms and mental scars children face due to sports- especially those in a school environment. 

Proponents of the topic put forward that while teens competing in sports are certainly exposed to opportunities to enhance their personal and social development, athletes competing in public school sports also expand their physical abilities and fitness levels. Today’s teens are exposed to an array of entertainment avenues that may foster laziness, such as television, video games, and other media devices, but the traditional experience of sports, exercise, and kinesthetic activities help boost teens’ minds and bodies. Involvement in sporting activities keeps children moving and engaged physically, vital for their overall health and well-being. During these formative high school years, teenagers’ bodies grow and change constantly, and participation in sports can help teens learn how to maneuver and adjust to their changing body and physical abilities. In addition, a teen’s hormones and chemical makeup are constantly in flux. Involvement in sports can actually help the body produce more positive chemicals, such as endorphins and adrenaline, which creates more stable moods, positive feelings of happiness, and decreased feelings of depression or sadness. Campaigners against the topic feel that parents and teenage athletes must also be aware of the potential downfalls of competition and athleticism. As teens engage in competitive events and team sports, their exposure to peer-pressure and anxiety may increase with the need to win. Furthermore, athletes can experience extreme physical pressures when too much is demanded from them, resulting in injuries from overuse or other physical ailments. As revealed in the article, “Sports broke my family apart and now I only wrestle with my emotions,” by Chae Hyungwon, details common wrestling practices can lead to dangerous physical consequences. Wrestlers are often forced to either gain or lose weight in order to compete in their desired weight class, which leads to restrictive dieting often involving severe caloric deprivation. This practice is paired with excessive cardio exercise that quickly, and dangerously, burns off body fat and weight. While these practices are often considered to be a more drastic example of the dangers of athletics, any teen who feels suppressed by the pressures of competition may choose to engage in harmful practices in order to win and encounter athletic success.

In conclusion, sports can help build relationships, help a child remain committed, makes them release endorphins and helps define their long term character, on the other hand children can be subjugated to undue stress and pressure, physical and psychological injuries due to the enforcement of sports. In my opinion, the children should have the right to choose whether or not they wish to take on sports, sports as every other extra-curricular has its advantages and disadvantages; depending on the child certain advantages outweigh the disadvantages and vice versa and hence they should not be forced out of their will to play sports by their schools. Giving them the authority to make that decision in and of itself allows them to analyse and carefully consider their choice and hence helps with the development of character. 

Q) Describe a Peaceful Place. By Hafsa Nauman

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The wet, desolate streets of the city rested in silence as the starry black sky wept over it. The water in the portholes shimmered by the glow of the bright, yellow street lamps. The small, green trees on the roadside swayed as the strong breeze hit them.

Above a faded zebra crossing, a traffic light frantically changed colors seeming rather like a disco light. A watchman snored comfortably on his dark brown stool under the protection of his shop’s roof. Huge giant buildings stood besides the street, quiet as if taken over by an army of libraries. Some windows gave out white and yellow lights, but the others were pitch black. It seemed like the clouds had gotten a sudden fascination to the moon and wrapped themselves around it. The moon’s faint glow passed through them, coloring them white from grey. The cool monsoon air carried a sweet moist scent like a candy shop kept inside a refrigerator. The pitter-pattering of the rain, which was now deaf to ears, was interrupted time by time during the night. Once a car passed by. Stray dogs began barking, while the deafening music from the car echoed around the street. The car soon disappeared and the dogs stopped barking satisfied that they had scared the car away. Later, a taxi came down the road and parked. A bunch of young kids came out laughing emphatically. The taxi drove away but the children stood at the corner of the lane, yet laughing vigorously. A man screeched out from his window and cursed at the noisy children who went mute immediately. A few lights flickered open through the windows and nosy neighbors looked out to inquire. Aunties made sure they had  memorized enough points to gossip over tomorrow. 

The rustling and bustling gave me comfort looking at the stars dancing across the sky fighting against the grey to show off their beauty. Their melody slowly lulled me to sleep, reciting their visual poetry for the eyes willing to follow the rhythm. Wooden doors creaked as night-owls rushed out from their home’s embrace over the high balconies of the old apartments admiring the city come alive at night. The smell of fallen rain, petrichor wafted around the neighbourhood, deep sighs could be heard echoing down the street, spreading a sheet of calm over the people like aromatherapy. Gazes darted at the serenity of the atmosphere encapsulating them into a bubble. 

You could hear the footsteps of children running away from their mothers desperately trying to put them to sleep or that of tired fathers blasting the news on full volume, the sound of the headlines dispersing all over the neighbourhood. Crickets played their harmonies for their fans to hear, while cats attacked each other, revolting against the injustices of the kingdom in the streets. Meowing loudly in protest. The cricket doors slammed again. The streets of the city now rested again in lifeless silence except the gentle pattering of the raindrops. It lay there just like it had for many a changing year ready to rise when the sun’s auburn rays would start to cast grey shadows over it. My heart yearns for the city’s livelihood, putting me at home, at peace, at last. 

Q. Write a story, true or imaginary, entitled, ‘What a strange day!’ By Noor Liza Rashid

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 Mr. Smith went to work one day to reimburse his loans. He didn’t bother greeting any of the co-workers or the guard that day which was very rare when it came to Mr.Smith. He jogged over to the coffee machine and even the ‘bleep, bleep’ he heard made him anxious and annoyed both at the same time. Carrying his scorching yet bitter coffee, he began to march towards his desk. He almost tripped twice on his way to the desk. He knew something was off as he had no obstacles in his way and his shoe laces were most perfectly tied. He sat on his chair, leaned back and sighed excessively. He rested his head on the chair while gazing at the newly painted office ceiling. His eyes ached and teared up from the strong scent of new paint but he was not at all bothered nor did he care.

He had no thought. His mind was like a good ol fashioned white canvas waiting to be stroked upon by paint. The day went by, emptiness still ruled over his brain. Each ticking moment felt like a thousand years. Everytime a coworker came by he felt quite frightened and jumpy. Something was askew;something unfitting. Everything in his work routine felt the same, yet it was not the same.He didn’t like what he felt that day, like his place in this world was melting away. He stared at the people passing by who seemed normal and the way they moved, the way they talked, even how they coughed was normal. He couldn’t understand what was happening to him.It was time to go home. He forced his feet to go,with a strange emptiness in his head,unable to shake off the foreboding feeling. As he walked along the pavement, strangeness followed his every step. Strangeness lurked around every corner waiting for the perfect moment to ambush Mr.Smith. The pavement overflowed with the crowd, yet he felt so alone. The air was filled with lively chatter and laughter but all Mr. Smith could hear were the eerie whooshes. He was surprised that no one heard or felt the same way he did. Did they have no feelings? Was it just an act? Questions wandered around Mr .Smith but he was unable to answer them. He finally reached home after his long yet dreadful walk.

He opened the main door, coldness and emptiness was all he felt. The house echoed from the high-pitched sounds of the jangling keys. The sun had set and it was almost night time. He went over to the parlour curtains and stared at the outside world. He felt that the shadows were uncanny and darker than before. The shadows were approaching him, he was frightened. He jumped back and tripped over to the sofa. His heart sank. He dared not to look out of the window again. He pondered over the harm shadows could cause to which his answer was, “ Shadows are just shadows and that there is no need to be afraid. Perhaps it’s the loneliness that’s making me afraid.” Night came by. He tucked himself into the bed. He wept under the sheets and thought what would become of his life. This was not his only sorrow but the fact he didn’t know what lurked in his tomorrow. He quickly fell asleep to his feelings of sorrow and desolation.

Morning came along. With the rising sun, the shadows disappeared. The flowers bloomed and Mr.Smith’s house smelled of pleasant fragrances. He felt freshness and hope for the new day as he got ready for work. Making an omelette had never felt so fun and easy. An aura of happiness surrounded him on the pavement. Listening to strangers’ chatters had never felt so enthralling and fascinating. His day at work was fulfilling. He completed all his tasks before time and was ready to go home. He enjoyed the cold breeze and colorful sky on his walk back. Unlocking the door to his house had never felt so relaxing yet comforting. He freshened up and sat on the sofa facing the window.

He thought about how dreadful the previous day had been and how the world felt normal again on the present day. He never knew what to say as he tried to flush his memories away. But deep inside he knew with dismay that he would never forget that very strange day.   

Q. Write a story, true or imaginary, entitled, ‘What a strange day!’ By Unzila Mati

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The Bulgaria Chef

He heard the sounds of claps, haunting him in his dreams. The same slow, hard claps that had lived in his mind for the past two weeks. He had not known why, so ignored the fact. He remained unbothered by the same dream that would get louder by the minute and lower in the next second like a seismic activity happening in the Alps that goes high and low. It would occur again and again, the exact thing until the next day he repeated his routine. This time leading him into a restaurant, unconscious, while he dreamt. As he got closer, he felt the isolation, the eeriness, the dullness that dwelled alongside the restaurant. For he did not know that the place was owned by a Bulgarian chef two hundred years ago. The owner, who was the most important element of the city at the time. People from every corner would come to dine. The main reason wasn’t the food itself, in fact it was known because of the chef. It was known for his generosity towards the homeless. He would serve the needy five days a week and the rest of the then-town on weekends. That would be why people waited eagerly. One day, he left for a task in Italy. He didn’t come back. No one knows why and how. People went to search for him but all that was left of him was the restaurant itself. Eventually, they stopped browsing for him. The town thrived but the memories remain. 

Suddenly, the sounds of dish clattering woke him up. He rose up to an abandoned dining room but with the smell of fresh food. He would’ve ran but his curiosity and his hunger would drive him nuts. He gathered a tablecloth and a pan from the kitchen. His nose did not lie, for indeed it was the smell of boiled vegetables, open in the air. Bizarrely, there were even a set of blankets, pillows and sleeping bags. ‘Is anyone there?’ He shouted. But all he received was the voice of silence. Then somewhere from the depth of the kitchen he saw a man lying down. 

‘Excuse me, sir but who are you?’ 

‘What?’ The man replied with a fatiguing tone.

‘I said who are you. Are you all right? What are you doing here?’

‘He says to get out.’

‘Who?’

‘Him. The owner of this eatery. The one who supplies us with food. The one who went but didn’t return.’

He looked side by side, up the horizon but there wasn’t anyone. However, soon he realised the fresh food. ‘Wait didn’t you make the food?’ 

‘He did’ replied the man, pointing up his head.

‘Who?’

‘Him. But you must quickly go! Run! He isn’t keen on visitors except those whose bellies are empty. Him: Roofus!’

‘Roofus?’ For he did not know who Roofus was until he saw a welcome poster that said ‘Welcome to Roofus’. Everyone is welcome. Serving the finest spices and puddings.’

 He got his response, for Roofus is the Bulagarian chef that the region came to see.

‘Tell me more about him, I can help.’

‘My dear boy, he circles the restaurant, looking out for imposters. Those who come in, he brings savouries to fill up their stomachs. This restaurant is very dear to him. I tried leaving but he still served and threatened if I left. He won’t rest until someone fixes it.’

It seemed that ever since Roofus left, the people took advantage of it. Breaking in, stealing food. He was back.

He thought about what he could do. Suddenly, the plates started floating, the utensils launched to swirl, the tables would jump continuously. 

‘Run!’ The man shouted. However, he didn’t listen. He knew he had to do something or else the place would be relentlessly haunted. He started hunting for anything that could prove useful. He found a drawer full of paints, brushes, new fabric and dishes. He started setting everything, painted the walls and did everything his thew could do.

After all that chaos, coloured appeared, everything calmed down. The cutlery and the furniture stood still. The food was gone. 

The man was free. Now the chef is better, in harmony.

He went back home, to his bed and thought to himself what a strange day it was. The clapping stopped and he slept soundly. 

Bob’s Your Uncle. By Unzila Mati

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When was the last time Wile E Coyote, also known as the coyote in The Looney Toons get pranked? Somewhere in the 60’s, I believe?  Well…….. I got pranked, really hard, yesterday and it’s hard to believe how.

Brrrring! Went the school bell, time to go home. It was Math class when the school bell rang, however, I sat in the principle’s office thanks to Robert and Nick, my two good old friends from the first grade. They are real tricksters, for example, one time they deceived our Science teacher, into thinking that it was a holiday and that there was no need to come to school. Did it work? Sure did. Then, they pranked our school’s lunch lady into making spaghetti instead of a fruit salad and today they claimed they were magicians and cracked open an egg on our substitute teacher. Of course, they didn’t mind. But what did I do? Nothing. But the teacher sent me just because I was their friend. ‘Wasn’t that comic gold?’ asked Nick. ‘What are you talking about?’ I replied. ‘You know when we cracked open-.‘ ‘I know what you mean. How could you do that?’ I furiously questioned. ‘Chill’ exclaimed Nick. ‘It’s not that we got extra homework or did a hundred pushups or anything? ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, your right, there is nothing to be afraid of except being sent to the principle’s office while there is a risk she’ll call our parents and we might get to spend additional hours in school’ I sarcastically explained. ‘Come on Sally don’t be a sourpuss.’ 

‘I’m sorry, it’s just that I’m really stressed about my uncle. My parents aren’t home, they had to leave for a business trip to Budapest and now I’m the only one to take care of all the situation back home. I haven’t seen him for years, in fact, I don’t even know what he looks like. There isn’t anything I know about him. I was just 3 when I met him. However, I remember that when I got close to him, I felt this sense of safety and calmness and optimism.’ 

‘It’s okay Sally, we’re here for you. We are just one floor away from you. Anything you need, just call us and we’ll be right there.’ ‘Thanks guys, I don’t know what I’ll do without you. Oh! And sorry for yelling at you.’ 

‘No prob dude.’  

As we reached our flats and parked our bicycles, we would be greeted by the lovely staff and the fragrance of that 24 hour buffet. Things and people, like these would rid my mind of the hard days I endured. However, there was one dweller next door: My neighbor, who is a completely inimical, grumpy, mysterious figure who would seem to haunt the hotel. I don’t know his name though, in fact no one does, weird cause he has lived next to my parents for eight years. People just see him as Frankenstein: They don’t know what he is saying, is expressionless, just demands for one item, in this case his magazines and if he doesn’t get them then boy,  people are up for a big ride. Meanwhile, I made myself some lunch: mash potatoes and some vegan nuggets. Delicious! Did I mention I was a great a chef. Anyway……..

When I finished eating, I took out the rubbish into the dumpster. While I was there, I noticed something quite peculiar. Robert and Nick were by the dumpster, chatting to a silhouette. I shouted hello but they ran off as they heard me. That’s odd. I got confused and just tried to get rid of that image in my mind, so I went back, when I did, I met Robert and Nick again, this time entering Mr. Frankenstein’s unit. I was surprised because even they thought that he was creepy, then why all of a sudden? Quite suspicious if I’m not wrong. I went on a search to find out the truth.  I traced back my steps to the dumpster, where the guys were standing. I went back and found a clue: a purple pom pom that looked as if  it came from a boater. Strangely, I swore I saw this kind of pom pom before and I did! This was Mr. Frankenstein’s. My hypothesis was that the silhouette was Mr. Frankenstein’s. This pom pom could have fallen out of his boater. I continued to find out what was going on. I went towards Mr. Frankenstein and found a notebook and a pen under his mat that belonged to Robert. This time I had no idea what was going on. I knocked on the door, calling out for Nick and Robert. I was knocking when Mr. Frankenstein opened the door and I fell on his belly. ‘Sorry Mr. Frankenstein- I mean- Sir but is Nick and Robert here?’ 

‘They must be home.’ He replied. 

‘But I saw them come in your flat.’ 

‘Were you spying on me?’ He yelled. 

‘Spying? I just want to see if they’re here.’ 

‘Go home kid.’ It was at that moment I got my next clue. How did he know who they were. They barely came near my place, plus he’ll always be inside when they did come. Things are getting fishier by the moment. Speaking of fish, I had  to make dinner. It was 8 at night. I was eating my meal when I heard Nick and Robert. I was glad they were here. They were acting quite surreal. ‘Hi.’ 

‘Hi guys. May I know why you ran when I said hello.’ 

‘Forget about that, we have a surprise for you.’ 

‘A surprise? Really?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Okay……..well don’t mind if I do. So, where is it’ I said after 10 seconds of awkward silence and sharing a smile to each other 

‘Oh, yeah right sorry. Jack, we have to tell you something.’ 

‘What’s wrong?’ I started getting worried. 

‘Jack Bob’s your uncle’ said Nick. ‘Bob’s my uncle?’ ‘Yeah.’ 

Then with a dramatic pause, entered Mr. Frankenstein. ‘Wait, is Mr. Frankenstein my uncle?’ I asked myself. ‘Hey nephew’ said Mr. Frankenstein with a sympathetic tone. ‘Could it be?’ Out of the blue, I started crying because of a motive I didn’t know about until I realised that he lived with my parents for eight years, they didn’t tell me anything about it. Suddenly, everybody started laughing even Mr. Frankenstein. ‘You have been pranked!’ screamed Nick. I was embarrassed from head to toe. ‘Are you serious?’ I shouted with anger. They wouldn’t stop laughing. Slowly, Mr. Frankenstein came towards me. I was kind of scared if he would mock me or yell at me again except he just grinned and said that he was a prankster himself and that he left pranking a few years ago, he didn’t tell why. He said that he lost happiness when he lost pranking and eventually found it again when he tricked me. I felt really bad for him. I guess he wasn’t a freak after all. Oh, and the clues? Well the pom pom did belong to Bob also known as Mr. Frankenstein, same with the notebook and pen, they belonged to Robert to jot down his ideas to prank me but it wasn’t needed so he just put it under the mat for some reason, even though he could’ve taken it inside. I mean Robert is kind of silly and careless. It was at that epoch I lost my mind. 

‘But friends don’t do that’ I said. 

‘See Sally Nick replied ‘that’s the thing. We are more than just friends: You’re the pasta, Robert’s the cheese and I’m the sauce. The cheese and the sauce need to add some spice to the pasta or it will taste dull. You need to relax and be easy.’ 

I chuckled and I need to be careful now. 

Q. Compare how the writers of Text One and Text Two convey their ideas and experiences when discussing the role and features of various volunteering groups. By Areesha Fatima

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The first passage is an extract taken from a website and is titled, ‘Volunteering with Raleigh International’ and the second one is an extract taken from a personal account, ‘Leila Volunteered as a teacher in Fiji’. The author of text one remains unnamed while that of text two is Leila. Both the passages greatly discuss the role and features of various volunteering groups and the authors have conveyed their experiences through the use of many techniques.

Firstly, the purpose of both the passages seems to be informative however text two has a slight touch of entertainment and text one seems a bit persuasive. For example in text one, “here are a few pointers on why volunteering with Raleigh International is different from….” and in text two, “Living in Fiji has really opened my eyes.” “As a volunteer of seven months….” In text one, the persuasive factor along with being informative encourages the reader to volunteer for ‘Raleigh International’ and text two keeps the author entertained along with giving an ample amount of information for the ease of the reader. This specifies the purpose of writing and tends to keep the reader engaged so that the author also achieves their purpose.

Moreover, the language used in both the passages stays simple yet interesting for the reader as it can be seen by, “trekking, comprehensive, unexplored, equatorial” and in the second passage, “open-mindedness, consistently, humanitarian” The use of such language becomes a source of grabbing the reader’s attention as familiar words will make them read further and will add more knowledge to their mind’s dictionary if they are unfamiliar with them. 

Additionally, the tone of both the passages is positive and effective for the reader. For example in text one, “recognise the benefits of Raleigh International”, “Safety is at the heart of everything we do.” “developing skills” and in text two, “patience is a skill I have really developed.” “I’m proud to say that….”,“I would like to achieve this dream….” All these examples reflect the positive tone used by both the authors which affects the reader’s mood and brings out his/her positive attitude towards the topic being discussed which in this case is ‘volunteering’.

Proceedingly, the choice of the author of text one of writing the text in second person and that of text two for writing in first person has helped both of them to convey their idea successfully but differently. For example in text one,  “so you won’t feel isolated.” “You’ll be making a real difference.” “You won’t just be repainting a school” and in text two, “I have been very busy during….” “I feel like I could take on almost any challenge.”

By writing in second person, the author refers to the reader as ‘you’ which makes him/her feel included and a part of the whole volunteering experience and as if the author is directly talking to him/her and conveying his ideas and feelings.However,in first person by using ‘I’, the author makes an image of the reader experiencing everything on his/her own and he/she feels like the main role of the passage. Both these techniques equally get a grip of the reader’s attention.

Furthermore, there is a great use of statistics in text one which can be seen by, “12-16 people comprising 2 volunteer managers aged 25+ and volunteers aged 17-24”, “24 hours a day, seven days a week.” This makes the passage more authentic and the author’s purpose to inform the reader has been achieved along with persuading the reader about ‘Raleigh International’. In text two, there isn’t any use of statistics but still tends to inform the reader about her volunteering experience in Fiji.

Also, a prominent use of dialect can be observed in text two e.g. “bula”. This connotes that the author(Leila) has ample knowledge about Fiji and this can be quite beneficial for a reader who wants to volunteer especially in Fiji. This gives a great image of the author and makes the passage more reliable. However, there is no dialect in text one but his/her ideas have also been conveyed.

Adding to this, alliteration can be spotted in the first text e.g “remote reserves,trekking terrain,remote rural communities” This creates a rhythm and mainly adds emphasis to the words and/or phrases to engage the reader and to make sure that these words pop up. There is no use of alliteration in text two but an anaphora can be spotted e.g “I’ve learnt about what….I’ve learnt about how….” This repetition also adds emphasis to these words/phrases and grabs the reader’s attention. Both these techniques include repetition and work for the same purpose but are different.  

Last but not the least, in text one the author has written down some facts in pointers whereas, in text two there are only different sized paragraphs. For example, “1) Volunteering overseas with Raleigh….3) Many volunteering projects are….” Writing in pointers differentiates between the facts being stated and become quite important in the eyes of the reader as they stand out than the rest of the paragraphs. This insists the reader to read further and definitely increases his/her curiosity as it also gives the passage a reliable and professional look. In text two, no pointers are found but the paragraphs still work great for the reader as she successfully conveys her point of view.

In conclusion, authors of both the passages have achieved their purpose of writing merely because of the rhetorical techniques they have used. Literary devices have helped them in sharing their experiences with more detail and enthusiasm. Text one and two have greatly explained the role and features of both volunteering groups due to the authors’ choice of stylistic devices and the way they conveyed their ideas and feelings.

Q. Explain how Leila explains her experience of being a teacher in Fiji. By Areesha Fatima

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This passage is an extract of an autobiography taken from a personal account called, ‘Leila Volunteered as a teacher in Fiji’ and obviously the author is Leila, herself. The purpose of writing is mainly influencing or inspiring the reader along with being informative. The audience targeted is everyone but mainly, teenagers or young adults who might want to get a job and/or experience in foreign countries. A simple yet impactful language has been used. The tone remains positive and influential throughout the passage. ‘Volunteering’ and ‘positivity towards oneself’ greatly highlight the theme.

Firstly, dialect can be spotted right at the beginning of the passage. For example, “bula”

This local dialect depicts that the author has ample knowledge about Fiji which is why words/phrases used in Fiji can be observed by the reader. Therefore, the passage becomes reliable and informative for the reader.

Moreover, the author has added sarcasm along with slight humor e.g. “on my road in England, I would be lucky if I got one ‘hello’ a week!” Through this technique, the author has conveyed her feelings and compared her experience in both Fiji and England. It also provokes laughter while reading through the passage.

Additionally, an antithesis written by the author has been a helpful tool for the author to express her feelings and experience. For example, “I’ve learnt about what makes me happy and what makes me sad, I’ve learnt about how I should treat myself and how I should treat others.” This particular device signifies two feelings which are opposite to each other and therefore Leila successfully engages with the reader and grabs his/her attention.

Furthermore, the positive tone has greatly reflected the author’s mood and attitude towards volunteering and the time she spent in Fiji. For example, ‘Fiji time, slow-paced’ “Therefore, I can say with confidence that patience is a skill that I have really developed.” “I feel more independent and have more faith in myself.” These examples show that the author has taken everything positively and become an example for people interested in volunteering for foreign countries. The reader feels encouraged and inspired to do the same.

Fifthly, triples has been a great addition to the passage which can be seen by, “Confidence, a positive attitude and open-mindedness are the best tools.”  This adds emphasis and proceeds with an impact on the reader. A greater effect can be achieved if the words are made stronger as the list builds up.

Adding to this, imagery is a great rhetorical technique used by the author. For example, “appointments are often not met and people stroll around very slowly in the streets. It’s quite usual to find yourself waiting around for someone or something to happen in Fiji.” This creates an image in the reader’s mind of what Fiji looks like and describes the environment too. It also provokes the reader to imagine themselves in the position of the author(Leila) as a volunteer in Fiji to understand her experience better.

Lastly, the theme or main idea of this passage is ‘volunteering’ which can be seen through, “Making a positive contribution is the best thing about volunteering.” “As a volunteer of seven months….” This connotes that the author is describing her experience as a volunteer which can be of great help for the reader and it also depicts that a relationship between the author and reader is built as if they are working in a volunteering organisation together.

In conclusion, Leila has achieved her purpose of writing this passage by using rhetorical techniques, however literary devices haven’t been used as much. She has shared her experience and encourages the reader to learn from it too.

Write a story entitled ‘It was all for nothing’ by Javeria Husain

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The jitters danced throughout my body as the car I was seated which was bound to arrive at the destination I prepared myself months of training for, as my body’s heat rushed to my cheeks thinking about it. I was excited, yet extremely nervous. In about fifteen minutes, I would be standing live, in the flesh, of my first outdoor national gymnastic championship.

It took tireless sessions, day and night, buckets of sweat, blood and tears, and of course, the worst of all, which was listening to my coach screech endlessly about how incompetent my form was, for eight months straight, to enter finals on a national level. I cannot emphasize the efforts I had put in and let my body work itself through the rhythm, never giving up and missing a lot of parties and extracurricular’s just for practice. It would never leave me with any time for any other activity and I would always come home exhausted and sore to the bone.

Inhaling and exhaling rather anxiously, I backhandedly wiped the pool of sweat gathered on my palms as I would need to dust them for a steady grip on later anyways, and couldn’t risk room for even the slightest moisture, but my nerves were fighting a battle of their own today.

Reaching to the ground, I could see myself doing a balance beam on the equipment, my body swinging in full motion afterwards, bracing myself for the impact on the spread out mat, in front of the entire audience focusing on one aspect, which would be me. Watching my every move, my every step, which was rightfully calculated for eight months straight. What if I messed up? In front of all those people counting on me? And coach? 

A tangling shiver tauntingly went down my spine as I visualized the mishap in front of me. I shook my head aggressively, as if to pour the negative thoughts about getting cold feet just moments before my performance, and proceeded with registration, my coach reassuring me side by side. Bold of her to assume I wasn’t nervous for my big day.

Grabbing my ID’s and finishing up for the registration process, my gymnastic gear was left, and then there would be nothing stopping me to be a runner up for the performance. I shakily walked to the changing room, and slipped on the clingy material of clothing and wore my grips on my kneecaps and elbows.  Glancing at my face in the mirror, the nerves were starting to pop out in my reflection now more than ever. I tried to whisper some words of reassurance to myself as a pep talk. What could possibly go wrong?

BAM! My coach barged in the room, interrupting my invasive thoughts. She wore her usual grimace and told me to get out on the mat, as my turn was fairly next. One last look in the mirror, I tightened my ponytail and set out for my performance.

As I stepped outside, the weather appeared to be rather dull than the sunny rays which met me in warmth less than twenty minutes ago, which caused me to worry even further. What if it rained during my performance? I’d have a long life injury to deal with if I lost my grip midway a flip. 

Less than a minute later, the judge’s booming voice soared across the field.“…And our next contestant, please welcome, Javeria Husain!”Shrugging off my thoughts; I plastered a sweet smile across my face to hide my nerves as the adrenaline boosted through my veins, and walked to my assigned mat. Shakily dusting my hands in powder to steady my grip, I met eyes with my companion, the beam. As I took a few steps back, and prepared myself for my entrance stunt, a series of yet another booming sounds alarmed me to stop in my tracks.

THUD! CRASH! BOOM! The call of thunder came over the field as slight drizzling fastened its pace onto the land that lay underneath it.

Still alarmed, I stood there in shock, as the drops soaked my attire and moistened my palms. A mix of sadness and relief washed over me as I stood there, paralyzed with the turn of events. My conscience proved my right.

“Hello everyone! Due to the unexpected forecast, this premises will have to be evacuated immediately so we can cover up the field before it’s too late. Please evacuate indoors on your right, you can….”

A huge tide of grief hit me suddenly, as the judge’s voices dissolved amongst the crowd that found itself indoors, and as the rain continued to dampen me even further. If I had started too soon, I would be injured, but if I had started even sooner, I would’ve made it to internationals.  As my coach brought a towel over my head, I walked with her in shock, slowly processing everything, all the adrenaline gone, which had drowned up all my energy and excitement.

It was all for nothing. All the hard work that I had put in for eight months was gone, within five seconds.