Insanity.

Subject CC475 is one of many examples that not all disorders are painful and frightening. To them, it’s a way of life. To them, an everyday work routine could be a disorder; a forty-hour work week could be one too. In their eyes, they’re the normal, unhindered beings. In their eyes, we’re the ones that are abnormal – we’re the ones that suffer from insanity.

Trans. of Interview with Subject #CC475:

“Ironically, it was called the utility room – if anything inside could be considered a utility in the room, it was the blank whiteboard hanging right above my head. I always arrived first; I had always assumed that the place where I stood was the most sought after. For the amount of time we had planned to have the meeting, it was a disorienting experience on a daily basis; and the only way to avoid it was to take my place. Not that the board was filled with information that would take your head for a spin; in fact, it was quite the opposite. The board was blank – like the one behind me, here. Completely white, yet staring at it for sometime led to some … undesirable experiences.

“I had always asked them the reason for me hanging the board in an otherwise perfectly symmetrical room. Not that I knew it myself, but just to listen to them scamper for ideas. That was the core idea of this organization – to run helter-skelter for ideas, collect them all, and try to build a fortress, or a maze – or a dungeon. No, we don’t focus on building palaces or relationships – there are a lot of real-world people doing that already. We try to do something different; something unique, like ruining our world’s progress to utopia by introducing our world into it. Why? Well, there’s a reason why it is called utopia – it’s supposed to remain imaginary; a driving force that keeps this world up and running. We never run out of ideas to collect – quite an ideal driving force to keep anything working.
“Also, utopia’s boring. Honestly, anything that’s ideal is. Would I like to rephrase my statement? Well, why would I have second thoughts on such a blatant and one-sided opinion? Do you even have an opinion on that matter?
“Who’re they, you ask? Well, they’re … different. They’re all different people; they change every day. They’re from different walks of life, too – janitors, cooks, bartenders, businessmen, coolies, porters, stationmasters, drivers, guardsmen, soldiers, students, homeless, hawkers, vendors, managers, organizers, employers, employees, retired people, pensioners, family, friends, love interests, fantasies, animals – what? What do you mean “did you say animals”? Of course I did – has six months of isolation in a mental asylum made you forget so much about the outside world? Sigh, it must be pretty hard for you to be out here in nowhere.
“When do we have our meetings? They happen all the time. Yes, I mean they happen all the time! Why do you keep questioning my statements? Now please, if you’ll answer my ques- what? Is the meeting happening now? Well of course it is! They’re all here, right in this room; with you and me, listening to every single word we’ve talked about. Yes now, this room is quite small to fit them all here, so I only have all the important ones waiting outside; now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go meet them now. I hope you get better soon. What? Why are you talking to a remote? Are you insane? WHY AM I BEING DIAGNOSED WITH SCHIZOPH –“.
End of transcript.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to understand reality. Many believe the victims to be mad, but we fail to see their perspective and understand them. This is our attempt to give you a glimpse into this misjudged condition.

Also, Subject CC475 does not exist.

~ vikram

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Inside Out

Ever so beautiful looked the sky,
As I walked by,
Walking past the houses, in the lanes,
Greeting the old lady, stooped on her cane.

With some curtains brushed aside,
I could get a glimpse of what’s inside.
Some faint voices, some familiar, some unknown,
Some genial, some in exasperated tone.

The aroma greeted my nose,
There a girl, camera, was a 100s liked insta pose.
Shook my head, with a smile on my face,
I kept walking my own pace.

Wasn’t even half a mile before the smile waned,
Those eyes evinced fear and pain.
Big and bulging, staring right at me,
Brimming with emotions, sadness, gloomy.

A boy of nine standing behind the window,
I looked past those eyes somehow,
Only to find what I feared,
Those deafened ears could again hear.

Squabbles, shrieks, abuses being hurled,
Disturbing was the visual concerned.
I again looked at them, million stories untold and unsaid,
Trauma being made to drink, grief being fed.

Who was I?
Just a passerby.
Now drowned in the ocean,
Of a child’s emotions.

This may have stirred turbulence in my heart too,
Disrupting the serenity of the ocean blue.
Who knows?
Thankfully, no one looked at my eyes, through a window.

Secrets buried,
Secrets that we have carried.

I started walking now, towards my abode,
All alone on the,dimly lit, road.

Image result for secrets

 

Muskan Chanana

 

Dag Nul

It was a typical spring morning in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The monotonous routines of the residents began pretty early in this area. The early morning struggle to fetch water for their day-to-day use had become a staple for them over the years. The plumbing was inefficient in the major parts of this community and the only source of water for the residents were public taps which were generally rationed.

On this rather humdrum day, Thato was getting ready for school. He was a generally large kid for his age and spent most of his time indoors. He didn’t like going out and playing basketball with the other kids when he could very well be reading a nice book. He was a smart kid and studied in one of the best schools in Cape Town. His hard work had paid off as a scholarship and he was getting quality education at Pinelands High School. It was pretty far away from his house and his neighbours ridiculed him for going to a “White” school.

His father had already left for work at the factory and his mother was packing his lunch. She worked as a waitress at a nearby diner and hence her job needed her a little later in the day. Thato filled a bowl with cereal, poured some milk into it and let it soak for a while.

He was scrolling through his newsfeed while eating. “Day Zero is here”, the news articles said. “10 things YOU do that actually waste a lot of water. Number 7 will surprise you!”, the magazines said. “0 day is a government conspiracy… man #woke”, said Darren, his classmate. The posts had been the same since the official announcement was made, over a month ago.

Thato finished his breakfast, kissed his mother bye and walked over to the bus stop. Pinelands’ school buses didn’t come all the way down to the Flats, so he had to use public transport. The bus took around 45 minutes to reach his school. The bus to Pinelands rarely had any people from Khayelitsha and the conversation and feel of the bus was more like the rest of Cape Town.

“How am I gonna wash ma’ dog man? There isn’t ‘nuff water for meself!”

The Day Zero ruling had shaken the entire city. Last year, when the threat of Day Zero was looming in, the government had upgraded the water security to level 6B after gradually increasing it in the years prior to that. Reports came out stating that 6B restrictions were sufficient and Day Zero can be pushed indefinitely. This was around the time when Cape Town came under the world’s media spotlight. Many researchers worked on ways to improve conditions, desalinate the seawater and “cure the drought”, but the rains never came. The reservoirs were almost dry and Cape Town was forced to go to level 7 restrictions.

The bus stopped a few meters away from Thato’s school. Public buses weren’t allowed to go through the school zone, so Thato had to walk the last stretch. Johnathan and Nancy were waiting for him right outside the entrance.

“Bro we’ve been out here for 50 years! Hurry up next time, would you?”

“Yeah! Johnny here has been telling me awful things about what will happen after tomorrow, I just can’t listen to anymore of his BS!”

“Oh please, a year later, when the war starts you’ll remember this day and realize I was right all along!”

Thato just grinned at them. His daily entertainment quota was filled by their non-stop bickering. The three friends walked into the main gate and shuffled through the crowd, into their classroom. Mrs. Moodley was already addressing the class when they arrived.

“…and so, the school will be closed tomorrow. Ah! I see the three of you decided to grace the class with your presence after all. Take your seats quickly, I’ll be giving out holiday assignments in a while.”

The school was abuzz with gossip about Day Zero, and so was the entire city. The majority of the population were about to face the biggest water shortage of their lives. It was the closest that they had ever been to a water apocalypse. Laws would change, and so would lawmakers. Priorities and requirements would also change.

Despite all of this, the lives of Thato and the other residents of Khayelitsha would be devoid of change. What the rest of the city was about to face has been their constant for many years. The water problem was evident for many years, but only when the rich started facing the problem did the world look at Cape Town. The situation could be compared to that of a rare disease brought into limelight when contacted by a member of the higher classes. Cape Town’s Day Zero was Khayelitsha’s Day Twelve Thousand Four Hundred and Nineteen.

Happy World Water Day.

– NSVR

Father to Son

Said father to son, “What hurts thee most?”

“When friends betray me, through our friendships they coast.

They smile with me, they rejoice when I’m around,

But behind my back they dislike me, I found.”

Said the father,” Well you can always make new friends”

The father asked again, “Son, what hurts thee the most?”

“Well then it’s my school, the times when I give tests,

All the times I didn’t score well, I didn’t give my best,

I try my hardest to succeed, to score,

But somewhere, somehow, people expect more”

Said the father, “You can study harder the next time”

The father retorted again, “Son, what actually hurts the most?”

“It has to be home dad; the times you and mom don’t treat me well,

It wasn’t my mistake, but the tears I swell,

I understand you are a little tired, a little stressed,

Instead of being scolded, shouldn’t I be blessed?”

The father tearfully replied, “Well boy, I’ll do my best.”

“Now it’s my turn to tell you what hurts the most, boy

It’s the time that hurts the most, it stings the worst,

All the times you could’ve helped someone, the relationships you could’ve nursed,

Once gone, it never comes back,

Leaving you with the foul words you could’ve taken, prevented the setback”

The son said, “Well dad, I’ll tell you what I learn,

Time is the most contagious,

It spares no one.”

Fantasy or Reality

According to Urvashi Butalia (1984), “Indian cinema is the single largest medium of communication with the masses, and close to 12 million people are watching films every week in cinema houses and theaters”.

Cinema is a medium where people can escape from reality and enter into a different dimension. A world where everything is possible and where one can imagine the world they wish. It is easy to escape from the reality, the hustle bustle of life and enter a zone of imagination, creativity and nuances.

Movies make us see the world through someone else’s perspective. One can become 10 different people and live their lives, do things that are not possible as well as live the dystopia that is created. They can even hop onto a broomstick and play quidditch, or they can even become a godfather of the Corleone family.

The perfect happy endings, the never-ending fights between the hero and the villain, the hero who always wins or the girl who saves the world like wonder woman. Movies sometimes send good messages where as sometimes they fail to convey the realities of the present day. Sometimes we are so influenced by the movies that we fail to distinguish between our fantasy and reality.

Movies are a complete sham if you ask me. Not everything that we see in a movie happens in real life. We can’t stop or dodge the bullets like Neo does in the Matrix nor can a single person fight off 10 big bad guys and still be alive. Not just that how every little details in a movie tends to conflict with what really happens in our real life. For instance, how beautiful and flawless people with flowing flawless hair while driving a classy convertible look. And their free flowing hair shows absolutely no sign of dirt or tangle. Imagine if we drive a convertible like that, at the end of our drive our hair will look like a haystack filled with dust.

Some movies do inspire and give a good message to the larger audience but some tend to drift us from reality. There are instances where humans have worked so hard to get into the character that they forget ourselves as an individual. The human Ken or the human Barbie, have changed themselves so much to look like an animated character that they have lost their individuality. We try to be who we are not primarily to reflect the life and colors that movies leave us. However, No one is perfect nor should we try to be. We all have our unique individual character we should embrace it and flaunt it. Never let fantasy drift us away from the reality. What exists is you ,your self and your individuality and what bursts away in the fall of darkness is the bubble that is created out of fantasy.

-Shreya Subedi

 

 

 

CLUMSY

img_4124While all the girls walked with grace,

I spent my time falling on my face

And when I landed in the muck,

I would blame my stupid luck

Slipping and sliding, I was a mess

Always the damsel in distress

Because I didn’t know left from my right,

Sports would give me such a fright

Walking into poles seemed like an obsession,

Maybe there was something wrong with my vision?

I would always laugh it all away and

Secretly hoped I would grow up to be okay

Been a few years, I’m still the same

I have a few more mishaps to my name

Now I look into the mirror and smile

I know I’m clumsy and that’s just fine.

 

– Sonal Mahanta

From Kosovo, With Love

“My knowledge of Western countries is limited, but I do not think that they wake up in the morning to the sound of heavy guns, and the screams of people running for their lives.

Hello, my name is Jana Thaqi, and I am sixteen years old. I live with my family in a tiny village in Kosovo. Or whatever remains of it. My father, Aleksandar, used to a run a little shop selling things you might need every day; a convenience store. My mother, Vlada, used to be a milkmaid in Mr. Hoxha’s farm, just outside the village. My little brother, Filip, would play football, with his little friends, all day. My older sister, Petra, works in Pristina.

Before all the bad things happened, I used to wake up every morning to the chirping of plovers, with sunlight coming through my window. I would get dressed, eat my breakfast with my family and walk to school, half an hour away, at the bottom of the hill. I loved my school. All my friends were very nice; so were my teachers.

Mrs. Mehmeti, my history teacher, was an intelligent woman, and knew a lot about the world. She would tell us about faraway places, like Russia, England, America and India. She would also tell us about what was happening, and how the outsiders, were not good people, and they wanted to make our country, theirs.

On many days, we saw policemen in our village, with big guns and big vehicles. They would go into some houses, take away the man of the house for questioning, and he would never come back. At night, we lived in fear of the knock on the door, and the cry of “Police!”

One bright, sunny morning, as I was leaving my house, I heard a whistling noise. There was a huge sound of an explosion, which came from the bottom of the hill. Everybody on the street looked around at each other. There was another explosion, and then another. Mr. Mehmeti came running up the hill and he was shouting, “Hide! Hide! They are here! They have a helicopter too! Hide!” Everyone started running everywhere, looking for places to hide. I held Filip’s hand and we ran back to our house.

My father and mother returned soon, and locked the door from inside. We all sat under the table, praying to God, that nothing happens to us. The sound of the explosions drew closer, and from an open window, in the room, the only thing we could see was dust. Sometimes, we could hear the firing of guns, the shouts of soldiers to move ahead and the odd whistling noise. Once or twice we heard a very loud noise, as if something was flying over us.

This went on all through the morning, and it stopped in the early afternoon. The layer of dust cleared, and the afternoon Sun was visible. My father waited for one and a half hour, before opening the door, and stepping out to see what had happened. It seemed that a lot of people had come out onto the streets. And at that moment, the loud noise of the flying machine returned, with the sound of gunfire.

Through the open window, I saw my father look at us for one last time, before he fell and was consumed by dust. I was too shocked to move; my mother was crying and screaming. My head stopped working, and my senses went numb. I could see the outlines of people running outside, screaming and shouting, but I could not understand anything. Grief washed over me, and I couldn’t hold it in, anymore. My tears fell, just like I’d seen my father fall in front of me.

We stayed inside, grieving, till it was dark, too scared to come out, because the flying thing was still over our heads. We left the house at 7.30 to look for my father. The worst sight greeted us. The road was filled with bodies of men and boys, here and there, their clothes soaked in blood, and arms and legs full of holes. Everyone was clutching the bodies of their now lifeless fathers, mothers, siblings and children, and weeping uncontrollably.

I could not bear the sight, and I rushed into my house and into my room. I had to write this down. If someone ever found this, will get to know what really happ…..”

“What’s wrong? Why did you stop?” enquired the officer of the Human Rights Watch.

“That’s all what’s written here, sir. May I leave now?”

“Yes, Petra. Good job with the translation of the diary. Report back tomorrow at 8 o’clock in the morning. We have to travel to the village, and speak to the locals. You will be translating for me. You may leave now.”

“Okay, sir. May I keep this little diary with me?”

“Alright. Do not lose it. It is of vital importance, do you understand?”

“Yes, sir. Good night.”

“Good night.”

Petra Thaqi, exited the office of the Human Rights Watch, clutching the little diary. She held it to her chest, and tears came automatically.

Baba. Nënë. Jana. Filip. Më mungon. Me mungon shume.
(Father. Mother. Jana. Filip. I miss you. I miss you a lot.)

 

Lanes of Nostalgia

Life was much easier,

If not a lot better

When we weren’t tangled so deeply,

In the vicious web

Of complications and justifications.

When Noddy and Oswald were enough,

To bring back the lost smiles

On our forlorn faces.

 

Unfortunately,

Time flew by too quickly

And childhood turned to adolescence

In the blink of an eye.

Nursery rhymes got replaced by EDM,

Teen romance became the new genre

Skidding past the old pop up books.

And quite snobbishly,

Social media took the limelight,

Dimming the thin line

Between strangers and friends.

 

As I look back,

Nostalgia strikes violently.

Oh! How I long for my childhood

To sweep me out of my nightmares

And grace me with a second chance,

To relish the gullible life

That got lost somewhere,

While chasing a lucrative career,

Which is no less than a mere illusion.

 

Even today,

Inside my confused head,

Rationality and fantasy alike

Witness an unsettling tension

While scrolling down the internet,

Cause Disney shows refuse to be jilted

And web series be the current rage.

Tacos and cocktails remain unmatched

By the chocosticks and bubble candies,

That still serve our generation

With an empyrean pleasure,

Proportional to the happiness’s measure.

 

Though I am told,

By the hypocritical society,

To adhere to the rules

Prescribed for my old self,

The inner voice smirks slowly

with a sly smile and a wily face.

Paying no heed,

And resuming its juvenility,

With an aura of sanguinity.

But there are times,

When my ephemeral maturity chides me

For my childish approaches

And impulsive actions.

Begging me to behave,

Asking me to act my age.

Although, it never really happens.

 

Maybe,

Or most probably,

I am not ready yet

To land in the murky arena

Of lies and feuds,

Or I am just too afraid,

To give away my privileges

Of committing mistakes unreservedly

And thinking out loud,

Without getting judged.

 

Till then,

I will permit myself,

To behave as a kid

Without any reservations.

Till then,

I better let the six-year-old

Prevail in the mind

Of a preoccupied eighteen-year-old!

 

-Raka Sinha

Not Being A Prodigy

Being in the presence of a prodigy is amazing. They leave people around them often spellbound, mesmerised and awestruck with their works. Their light works as the torch that brightens the paths of many after them. Every field of human interest or disinterest as well, has those names that become metaphors for novitiates in their fields. Prodigies occur once in generations and they redefine the field they enter.  They make things seem so effortless that everyone around wants to imitate them. They set new standards, new bars to cross for people around them.  They shatter old records, styles, make new ones and repeat this all over again. It takes great effort to come to top and it takes even more to stay there. And a prodigy is one who keeps bettering himself before someone else does.

Sergey Bubka, a legend in the sport of Pole Vaulting, broke the record not once or twice but 35 times. Kenny Schrub, better known as KennyS, redefined how the AWP sniper rifle was used in the game of Counter Strike. Unconventionally, he played aggressively with it,  instead of hiding in corners and waiting for players. The list of names is limitless, but my ability to remember is. When we are capable of fully admiring a prodigy, we get unknowingly attracted to their fields.

There are two ways to become a prodigy. Imagine the making of the best wooden chest. To do so, you can either use the best wood or you can use an ordinary type of wood but craft and polish the chest in a way that it becomes unparalleled. We will talk about the first method later. To use an ordinary wood to craft the best chest, the maker needs to put in the extra effort in polishing the wood, multiple times. The wood too needs to be able to withstand that kind of polishing and stay in its shape. It goes the same for becoming a prodigy. The person needs to work themselves out, exerting, enduring harder than normal to take the top spot. One can easily tell a legend in the making when they see them pushing beyond limits.

The other way to make that chest would be selecting the best wood. This wood could’ve been lost in the forest forever, but it discovered its best use in the chest. This wood would need much less effort and would outweigh the best of the contenders and set a new standard once it is finished. This is probably the best way to make a prodigy, to be born one. To be natural at your talent will help you master the basics quicker and in a much better way. Then you can do what the best people do easily and become better than them in no time.

That might seem complete, but there is a third way to make a better chest than the two above. This can be done by using the best wood and polishing it extensively, to make it the best of the best. This chest would make the best of items put in it look inferior. This method makes a prodigy, unparalleled.  The ones above this are remembered for long. But prodigies who got up there by this way become legends. They become the origins to folklores and are cited way beyond their time. This gives us the epitome of perfection, the Sirius of a sky full of stars.

On close evaluation, we observe that all the methods discussed above are flawed. Not all of us are born with a special skill. The world is a cruel place and getting noticed itself is tough, let alone becoming the best. Not everyone is able to make the cut and thus they become a part of the general crowd. You must beat the one at top to get to the top, which leaves the veteran lost in history books. There are so many trying to get up there that it takes impenetrable will power to get there which not everyone is capable of. Every spot has numerous contenders, and there is but one winner which leaves the rest lost in the crowd. And the third method thus gets out of calculations, lost in the rare probability of finding the talented and making it the best.

Is living worthless then?

If you are not special, then why are you alive? This question that ignites the fire of existential dread among many, can be very easily answered. The first argument is, you might have still not found your talent yet so keep trying until you find what you were made for. It is never too late. The second and most pointless argument would be, you need the dark to see the stars i.e. you need ordinary people to admire the extraordinary. The third argument is what I live for:

Freedom.

When you are not a prodigy, you are not bound to something specific. You can be a guitarist for a year and an athlete in the next. You can try out everything while not being the best at any. And that is what makes your life worth living. You are not bound by the limits of perfection, but only by boredom. If one thing gets you bored, try the next because the complete saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none, though often times better than master of one”. So, keep doing what you were and keep admiring the prodigies, for they need it and deserve it. Remember this in your heart that you are only bound by your motivation to do something. You might not be the best but hey, you never planned to come this far either.