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I shivered, haunted already by what was yet to come. I found the premeditative aspect of those easy-to-mop wall tiles unnerving, the same way watching Dateline footage of someone at a hardware store purchasing duct tape just before a murder is frightening. The dull monotony belied the ensuing violence. The pain had begun suddenly an hour prior, over a neglected dinner. It was the kind of featureless day I would easily have forgotten, had it not ended so disastrously. Instead, that bland day has become the beginning, a designation that can only be granted in retrospect.
When they reflect upon the subsequent life-changing events of any one day, they inevitably comment on how bland and unremarkable the day had been up until that moment. The peaceful calm of the water the day of the drowning. The cloudless, clear blue of the fall sky the day of the plane crash. The absence of any premonitory clues, where we've been conditioned by Hollywood and literature to expect foreshadowing, leaves us feeling somehow cheated of a chance to anticipate the outcome.
Beatrice Rana, piano
Cheated of a chance to change it. It was an early spring day, bright with the promise of an approaching summer. The air in the shade was still bracingly cold, but in squares of sunlight, the sharp edges of the chill had been softened. I had a day off from work and planned to run some errands before dinner. I had a list of supplies I needed to purchase for a knitting class I had signed up for. The idea of knitting struck me as almost comically inefficient, which is probably why I was attracted to it. After so many years of each moment being assigned to reading, study and patient care, the idea that I might have time to knit felt gloriously liberating.
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And the nostalgia of making something for the baby by hand, that she could keep, was enchanting. First though, I would take my swollen feet shopping for new shoes. I was into my seventh month of pregnancy, and my body was bloated and heavy. I had stopped wearing attractive shoes entirely, and even my flat brown orthopedic shoes now left deep indentations around the circumference of my feet by midday.
I entered the large shoe warehouse and looked for the row of flats. I had a vague sense of disequilibrium as I walked toward the aisle. I realized I didn't remember driving there. I looked around, suddenly unsure if someone had driven me. No, I was alone, I had driven. How odd that I had already lost that memory.
I wondered if my sleep deprivation was catching up with me. I'd just come off a demanding ICU month, spending every fourth night on overnight call, and I was finding it difficult to stay awake if I sat down anywhere remotely comfortable. I wondered if I had lapsed into a microsleep while driving.
I touched my pregnant belly, almost as an apology. I knew I had to be more considerate of my body, given the baby. I found an area that had a series of unattractive, practical shoes and studied my options. A woman repeated, "Excuse me, excuse me," with increasing irritation as she attempted to pass me in the aisle. Apparently I'd failed to hear her the first four times. I shook off the fog and realized that I had been standing, blocking the aisle, while staring at the two shoes in my hands for far longer than necessary.
I awkwardly pretended that I was just unable to choose between them and brought both pairs to the register. I thought I should head home, but I stopped at the grocery store, thinking I remembered needing something. It seemed larger and more difficult to navigate than usual.
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Walking only a few steps, my breath quickened as though I were biking up a steep hill. My mind slowed, with long stretches of cloudy silence distancing elusive thoughts. I was unable to remember what I had come for and left inexplicably with only a small jar of vanilla sugar. I was meeting my friend Dana, who was also a physician, for dinner. Perhaps she could help me brainstorm why I was feeling so bizarrely off.
When the pain began, it came in a breathtaking wave that receded just as swiftly as it approached. My first thought was, OK, so there really is something wrong; I'm not crazy. I looked across the table at her and said, "I don't think I can eat. I tentatively pushed away from the table, afraid any movement could bring on the next unwelcome wave, and walked out of the restaurant to anxiously pace the sidewalk.
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The adrenaline surge from the explosive pain had cleared my mind. I knew I had to use this time well, before whatever was to come. After calming myself, I called my husband, Randy. I don't know In attempting to reassure him, I had overcompensated and failed to convey an appropriate sense of urgency.
I tried starting over. Instead, I settled on adding, "I don't think I should drive," hoping that would suffice. That was at least a tangible fact. Randy, who was an attorney at a law firm in the city, answered something about leaving as soon as he responded to the mythical "one final e-mail," confirming to me that I had failed to convey the immediacy of my need. Dana, from her view out the restaurant's window, recognized the elliptical and casual narrative I was constructing.
She was well versed in my personality.
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- House of Secrets (House of Secrets, Book 1).
- The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud.
She knew that I was not an alarmist by nature, that I generally assumed things would work out fine and I wouldn't want to worry him unnecessarily. My husband didn't have the benefit of that insight, having been married to me not quite a year. Dana thankfully prioritized action above reassurance and called him the moment I hung up: "I don't know what she just told you, but come home now. I'm going to drive her and we'll meet you there.
To this day he insists it was without responding to the e-mail, although I am less certain of that. I imagine, knowing what he knows now about what would happen that day, he can't allow himself to imagine he sat at his computer a moment longer than necessary. In his retelling of the events, he may have even run to the car. Dana drove me the short two blocks home. I saw the baking soda out on the counter when we walked in.
It reminded me that my acid reflux had been terrible that morning, and I'd taken cold milk and baking soda to try to calm it naturally. I'd been trying to avoid any medication that could interfere with the baby's health, even very innocuous antacids. I wondered if the pain meant the acid had eroded through my stomach wall and into my abdominal blood vessels.
Vikram Rana is in form yet again supported by the endearing character Lobo in this edition. The plot is juicy and the backdrop of the film industry adds spice to the story. The moment you think you have cracked it, you will be caught off guard by a twist in the tale. I also liked the structure of the narrative because it leaves no room for any confusion. The emotional touch in this murder mystery is also a factor that works in favor of the book. There were a few typographical errors here and there and I felt there was a minor blooper in the climax revealing which would give away too much.
All in all, a fantastic read that deserves to be made into a Bollywood flick. Go for it if you are looking for a quick and riveting read! The author had beautifully linked up the break up and the suicide attempt, such that the reader already comes to know who the killer was except for the twist.
The concept of revenge was very metaphorically used here. The broken engagement on one hand seems to be the obvious motive; on the other it displays a very emotional note along with it. The person who hurt you—who raped you or killed your family—is also here. If the trauma was really severe, you dream of revenge. Above you, is the Mountain of Peace and Prosperity where we all want to go.
No one can tell you how long to mourn a death or rage over a rape. The author had wonderfully drafted the puzzle for Vikram to solve and From this, one can make a deduction which is quite certainly the ultimate truth of jigsaw puzzles: despite appearances, puzzling is not a solitary game: every move the puzzler makes, the puzzle maker has made before; every piece the puzzler picks up, and picks up again, and studies and strokes, every combination he tries, and tries a second time, every blunder and every insight, each hope and each discouragement have all been designed, calculated, and decided by the other.