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Grand theft auto: the game-illiterate's guide

ONE mid-summer noon's idle hours lured the bored study-freak older sister in front of the mythical box of wonders (not the TV, the other one-computer). Flicking through different icons, her cursor absent-mindedly reached the 'games' folder and she paused.

“Hmm, wonder what those kids find so great about these games…oh well, it's not like I got anything better to do…” and she double-clicked the first name on the menu, which happened to be Grand Theft Auto.

OS: So, this here says I'm this bechara-looking guy Carl and one day blah blah blah …(keeps rapidly clicking away at all 'OK' buttons)…and now it says to hop on the yellow bicycle and pedal. Okay…

(On screen, Carl begins to pedal…and keeps pedaling and pedaling. Half an hour passes. Some punks try to pick a fight. Carl ignores them and rapidly pedals away. 'Stamina Increased' flashes on screen. OS is pleased with herself. But Carl has arrived at the end of some sort of line, wherever that is. With no way ahead, he tries to 'climb' up the roadblock…and keeps making a fool of himself.)

(Enter twin younger brothers, back from school)

Younger Twin 1: What the hell are you doing?

OS: What does it look like? I'm trying to play this stupid
game of yours.

YT2: Okay, and why is GTA stupid?

OS: It's stupid because nothing happens. I've been pedaling for hours and now I'm stuck in God'-know-where and-

YT1: Pedaling?! (leans in) Geez, you're virtually at the end of the damn country! What HAVE you been doing?

OS:…Um, pedaling?...
(YT1 and YT2 stare)

YT2: Why are you stuck with the hideous bicycle anyway? You can take that train idling away over there. Trains are awesome.

OS: But the instructions said to take the cycle. And the train already has a driver in it, I can't take that.

YT1: (snorts) You take things that are only 'given' to you and not what you want? What are you, an ideal citizen?

OS…Um, yes?....
(YT1 and YT2 stare again)

YT2: Erm, let's just catch a nice-looking car and get moving. What colour do you want, sis?


YT1: Typical.
(Carl pedals out of wherever he was, stops by a flashy vermillion car, yanks open the driver's door, kicks the driver
out and settles in. OS watches open-mouthed)

OS: That. Is. ILLEGAL!
(the brothers roll eyes)

YT2: Here, you drive.
(OS takes the controls tentatively and drives around for a while)

OS: Oooh, FM. Nice.

YT1: Yeah, but this is getting boring. Enter the gangsters.

OS: Huh?

YT2: See, the objective of this game happens to be becoming the biggest baddest 'gunda' in town.

OS: Seriously?

YT1:Yep. So what you do is, follow that mean-looking guy on the bicycle, okay?

OS: Mm-hmm, I'm following, I'm-(sudden gunshots) hey, who's firing at me, who's- HOLY MOTHER, I JUST RAN OVER AN OLD LADY, OH MY GOD!!!

YT2: Yeah, and now the police is on your tail. Awesome!

OS: Police? Oh no, they seem mad. What are they gonna do?

YT1: Nothing besides beating the crap out of you.

OS: What?

YT2: And your engine seems to be smoking. Better get out of there and run for it.

OS: Oh my God, oh my God, get out Carl! That was pretty clo- HEY WHAT?
(Gangsters in a car pop out of nowhere and start shooting like crazy. Carl lies dead in a pool of blood. Screen flashes 'WASTED')

OS: (stares)…I'm playing again.
(A couple of hours later)
The oldest of the siblings returns from work to find his little 'miss-goody-two-shoes' sister clicking away furiously at the screen and laughing hysterically, “Die, die, die!!” She turns toward her oldest brother with eyes brimming with excitement and screams, “Look bhaiya I've become so good at this game, I'm now the biggest criminal of this entire city. How cool is that? They even gave me pretty little stars for my good work!”

“Um, that's actually the number of cases that were filed against you,” meekly offers YT2, huddled in a corner with YT1.

The oldest brother stares from the crazed OS to the awe-struck twins and finally manages to speak, “Just what the hell did you two do to my precious little sister?”

YT1 replies sombrely, “Cross our hearts, in no way were we to blame.”

The bland summer afternoon continues as the brothers watch the astounding transformation of their 'study-freak' sister, like witnessing evolution going backwards. Even dinosaurs springing back to life wouldn't surprise them after this.

By Kokoro-chan

Grey rooms

'Is it cold?' he asked me.
It's colder than cold, I wanted to say, but couldn't. My face was numb and purple from frostbite, and the rest of my body shivered to the chill. Snow stuck to my dry lips like fallen leaves and icicles of snot developed from my nostrils. I wanted to taste my saliva, but my tongue wouldn't move. It was immobile.

He breathed white fumes onto my face, and even the slightest warmth that it generated felt divine. His face was so close; I could see his every feature, from the smallest mole on the top of his right eyebrow to the dark zit mark at the corner of his mouth. His dark features accentuated the whiteness of our surroundings, as we lay among the snow, two lonesome figures, lost in a mental embrace.

Kiss me.
His hand shook as he placed it on the right side of my chest, trembling with nervousness. His eyes rounded, and his face formed an expression of utmost dread. If I could've moved my lips, I would've laughed, and I would've smiled.

It's on the left side, you idiot.
He realised it himself, for he suddenly jerked his hand towards my left side and felt for my faint heartbeat, his fingers slightly pressing into my skin, afraid and shuddering, foolishly scared of moving me to death. An expression of relief infiltrated his face, but it didn't last long, as he slowly grasped the weakness of the beat.

'D-Damn. It's faint,' he said. Duh. His misshapen mouth was slightly open, and his lips quavered to the dry coldness. 'I'm going to hug you now,' he continued. I've waited for that. We really are too subtle, us humans, us women.

He hugged me, his right cheek against my left, what little warmth he had transferred to the cells of my skin, and into my bones, lessening the paresthesia which plagued it. I cursed the frostbite again for not being able to smile at him, to reassure him, to be able to tell him what I wanted.

Water. Warm water. "I called the police. Th-They are sending snow p-patrol or something,' releasing me, he stuttered into my face, and a heavenly, minuscule droplet of his spit flew out and fell delicately on my lower left eyelid. I took it in, as much as I could, and it seemed to light up my face with heat, and I sighed, a breathy sigh, releasing white vapor heavenwards.

The wind howled, and through the howl I could hear helicopter blades cutting through the air, and I felt my spirits rise, and even more so when the he whispered into my ear, 'Th-they're here. We're going to be f-f-fine. You're going to be fine now.'

We lay there, chopper engines mixed in with the shriek of the wind playing in the background, for minutes, we just lay there, in harmony, lost in the middle of a grey desert After a while, I saw hazy figures appear on the horizon and I wanted to kiss him again, now I wanted to warm him. He hadn't moved in a while, I wanted to allow him that rest.

The statures were now clearer, definite outlines, which moved towards us, and I wondered why he wasn't moving. I realised something then, that I couldn't feel the softness of his cheek against mine anymore, that what I felt now was hard and rough, like stone crudely brushed up against my face. My numbing heart, my dying heart, the heart that wouldn't budge, moved at last, and I felt alive again, with the index finger of my left hand twitching. And the numbness that followed was like nothing I had ever felt before, for it wasn't cold, a numbness of fiery heat that shocked my insides into rigidity.

I was crying, but it dawned on me that I couldn't feel the tears on my face. And then, as strangers' hands groped me out of our embrace, I realized that, before the tears could even descend down the blackness of my cheeks, they had frozen.

By S. N. Rasul

Photo Feature

"Photography makes preserving nature's beauty as a visual treat a very easy thing to do, and what with capturing the right flower shot I always seem to associate them to a song that dwells in my head at the moment. Joshua Radin's "Fear you won't Fall" was one such song that seemed most fit for this. Just the way those tiny little cubes seem to stretch out in desperation on those red strings of the flower was a sure way to relate to the song. I hope you also are able to get the "Bigger Picture". "

Photo: Syeda Mushda Ali



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