November 2013



Science: The ozone hole that forms each year in the stratosphere over Antarctica was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data. Read more ....

At least 441 new species of animals and plants have been discovered over a four-year period in the vast,under-explored rainforest of the Amazon, including a monkey that purrs like a cat. Read more ....

Life-threatening blood clots can form in anyone who sits on a plane for a long time, is confined to bed while recovering from surgery, or takes certain medications. Read more .....

Examination of the Martian atmosphere by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover confirms that some meteorites that have dropped to Earth really are from the Red Planet. Read more ....

Planets rich in carbon, including so-called diamond planets, may lack oceans, according to NASA-funded theoretical research. Read more ....




2

Happiest of them all is Hamid. He is a four or five years old boy, poor and frail. His father had died last year of cholera, and his mother also turned yellow for unknown reasons and died one day. No one knew what had afflicted her. She had no one to whom she could tell about her illness. She silently bore her troubles in her heart, and when she could not bear them any longer she quietly departed from the world. Now, Hamid cuddles up in his old grandmother Ameena's lap, and is happy. He has been told that his father has gone away to earn money, and will come back with lots and lots of money. Mother has gone to god's home to bring nice gifts for him. Hamid is, therefore, happy. Hope is a great comforter, and there can be nothing greater than the hopes of children! Their imagination can turn a mole hill into a mountain! Hamid had no shoes. An old tattered cap, that had become black with dirt, adorned his head. But he is happy. When his father and mother returned with money, he would be able to fulfill all his wishes. Then he will see how Mahmood, Mohsin, Nooray and Sammi surpassed his wealth.

Wretched Ameena was in her room crying her heart out. Today was Eid but there was not a grain of food in the house. Would this have been the situation had Abid been there? She was drowning in this impregnable darkness and hopelessness. Who had invited Eid to come? There was no need for Eid in this house. But, Hamid! What concern had he with the living or the dead? There was a spark within him and hope without. If troubles dared to come even in hordes, Hamid's good cheer would destroy them.

Hamid goes inside and tells his grandmother, "Don't worry Amma, I will be the first to come back. Don't be scared."

Ameena's heart is in a turmoil. Children in the village were going to the "idgah" with their fathers, but Hamid had no one other than Ameena. She was his father! How could she allow him to go to the fair all alone! What if got lost in the crowd! No! Ameena cannot allow him to go on his own. How can the little fellow walk the seven-mile distance? His feet will be blistered; he did not have shoes to wear. She will walk with him, and carry him over small distances when he gets tired. But, who will make the "sevaiyya"? If only she had money, she could buy the ingredients on the way and make the "sevaiyya" immediately upon returning home. Here, it will take hours to gather the ingredients. She had stitched clothes for Fahiman the other day and had received eight annas for her labours. She had saved the eight annas for Eid, but had to give it away to the milk-maid. If nothing else, she had to give Hamid at least two paise worth of milk. Now, she had only two annas with her. There were three paise in Hamid's pocket, and five paise in her purse. Such was the bleak situation, and it was Eid! It is only God who could deliver her from this hopeless situation. Everyone, from the washer-woman to the barber, and from the waste-picker to the bangle seller, will come and demand "sevaiyya". They had to be given big dollops - no one was satisfied with small shares. How could she hide herself from them! And, why should she hide? The festival comes only once in a year. Life should continue smoothly, their fate was intrinsically linked to hers. God will take care of the child, these bad days will pass.

The villagers made off for the "idgah". Hamid joined the children. The boys raced ahead, and then stood beneath the trees waiting for the elders to catch up. Why do the elders walk so slowly? It was as if Hamid had wings attached to his feet. How could he tire? The villagers have almost reached the city. There are lush orchards, belonging to rich people, on either side of the road. The orchards are fenced by strong walls. The boys pick up stones and aim for the mangoes and litchis on the trees. The gardener rushes out hurling abuses at the boys, but they are far away and laugh at him.

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