Cutting a Sorry Figure

Poverty is one of the most monumental yet overlooked issues of our country. Money is the end and the means of our existence. It is not bad to have an urge to earn more money, the lesson of acquiring more and more resources is embedded in the most primal parts of our brain. We want more money than the person next to us, and the urge to earn is what drives any economy forward. There is no surprise that our economy is growing by leaps and bounds. The question that rises is why are the poor so poor in our country? In a country with a predicted GDP growth rate stands at a huge 7.3 percent, why haven’t the poor already become rich?

This sudden bolt of inspiration came into my mind when I was at a market near my place, and a balloon vendor, all dressed in scraps, came to me asking if I wanted a balloon. My stature does not serve justice to my age, but then the both of us knew that I wouldn’t have bought the balloon, I am too old for that. The desperation on the face of the man made me give him a 20 rupee note. We do know that desperation makes men scale the unscalable, and the will of the man who is ready to offer a balloon to every grown up at a market really shook the workings of my inner mind to the core. The face of that man has occupied my mind ever since, and this article is a result of the many hours I have put in to research what it is like being poor in the developing nation we call ours.

According to the Census of 2010, the number of people below the poverty line in India stands at 32.7 percent, or almost 43 crore Indians. The count stood at 49.4 percent in 1994, and on paper, it could be seen as a great achievement when you reduce the poverty rate of such a huge country by almost 17 percent over 16 years. Our regional rival, China has brought down the percentage of its poor from 60 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2010, just to keep things in perspective.

This achievement is quite hollow though. According to the latest report presented by the C Rangarajan (the ex RBI governor) expert panel, the minimum daily wage stood in urban areas for qualifying above the poverty line stood at 47 rupees, which was brought up from 33 rupees per day in 2011-12 as recommended by the Suresh Tendulkar expert panel. The World Bank has set the standard at US$ 1.9 per day. Adjusted for PPP (Purchasing Power Parity, or in simple terms, the amount a local currency can buy what US$ 1.9 could buy in the US), it amounts to about 54 rupees, a little more than what our seemingly efficient (pun intended) Finance Ministry thinks is okay. The simple conclusion is, the number of poor people in India is more what the reports show.

I am not an economist or a statistician, but as an engineer, I can crunch some numbers for you.

Two young economists, Abhijit V Banerjee and Esther Duflo, studied numbers from many cities throughout the globe, and Udaipur, a huge city in the Indian state of Rajasthan was one of them. I am using their data and observations to put my points forth to the reader. Udaipur has people from both ends of the economic rainbow living peacefully among its beautiful blue walls for many years now. It is an ideal place to do an economic study, because like all rainbows, the rich found the pot of gold first.

Consider this. 65 percent of the poor in Udaipur are underweight. In a country where obesity is looked on to as a sign of healthy well-being, this data is clear enough to show that the poor in India have troubles even while trying to procure food. 55 percent of the people have some form of anaemia (deficiency of red blood cells), and 46 percent of them have been seeing a doctor because of the issue. 45 percent of the adults reported they cut down the size of their meal quite often to have enough for their children. This actually hinders the healthy development of the brain, and coupled with anaemia, we are looking a way lesser number of IQ points available for poor children to use. The rich may not be born clever, but they certainly win over the poor during childhood.

So, what do the poor people eat?

In Udaipur, the cheapest cereal is millet. 68 percent said that they depended the most on millet, 20 percent said that they had rice (which costs twice as much per calorie), 10 percent depended on wheat (70 percent more expensive than millet per calorie) and the rest resorted to sugar (which is the most expensive per calorie and has no nutritional benefits). The poor are great at managing their food budgets though. A person in the middle-class income bracket will go through weeks without even touching millet, only complaining about how quickly the prices of other staples have increased. The poor learn to manage their money better than the rich, giving up on satisfaction and taste to save a little more money.

On studying their expenses, we find that only about 2 percent is spent on their children’s education, which is quite understandable as almost 72 percent of the children in the city attend schools run by the state government, which offer free education and mid-day meals. Poor children still continue to underperform at the higher education level, a proof of the fact that our public schooling system is functioning way below par.

Almost 8 percent of their income is spent on alcohol or tobacco, and this is where the knowledge of keeping one’s body healthy comes in. A well to do, educated person has some degree of concern for his health, while a poor uneducated guy revels in the momentary pleasure his cigarette gives, not giving much thought to how great is the damage to his life expectancy. Life expectancy is a farce for a poor Indian though. Less than 5 percent of our poor have access to clean water and toilets, and you don’t expect people to live very long in those conditions anyway, which equals lesser time to earn money.

It is true that the poor are always at a disadvantage in the money game, they face a difficult childhood, coupled with mismanaged, and often missing government funds, thoughtless economic policies which have no real economic benefit to the poor. They do learn to save money, the do not take care of their health, or even if they do, their surroundings are way too unhygienic to prevent disease. At this juncture, it is quite easy to understand why only a small proportion of poor people do manage to rise up the economic ladder. The government might show that they are helping the needy, but then there is no such thing as free lunch, or a mid-day meal (pun intended).

The poor in our country are seen as scum, as people who do not belong to our country, the ones pushing our economy downwards. Yet, at the same time, they clean our houses daily, they stand in the heat to sell fruits and vegetables, they take us place to place in their rickshaws and contribute a significant 27 percent to our GDP (Gross Domestic Product, and I’m not explaining this) while doing so. It is high time that we start helping these people on our own, instead of blaming the two ineffective political parties who are always in power in our country.

We, as the people of this country can turn things around, and we should.

Though I still do wonder what would have happened if I had bought that balloon.

 

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The Battles I Undergo

Tears.

I realise I’m healing. Slowly. My heartbeat goes down, my arrhythmia exhibiting its significance again; to everybody pitying my condition now, don’t. You have no clue what I’ve been through. Considering the horrors I’ve faced for the past three days, this is all the good news I have. Ahmed here lies near me, in peace, with his eyes pointing to the sky – the shack we are in had its roof blasted off two nights ago. Some of the shrapnel had slowly clawed its way through his body. He died in his sleep last night, silently. His mouth has oozed blood ever since, his murderer swimming blissfully in it.

As I crawl over on all fours to run through his body and his bag for rations, a comforting thought dawns upon me. At least he died in one piece. Maybe not so comforting after all, now that it reminds me of what happened to Charles yesterday.

Feedback.

I close my eyes tightly as the tears well up, and force myself to turn to my left. The smell of his blood still lingers; I keep hearing his last words repeatedly. “Just two more days, and then I can go see Hannah and the kids again.” Nathan was the father of two daughters and a son – his eldest children were only nine years old. I had taken up the burden of passing the message onto our headquarters via a messenger. I still remember how my hands trembled as I scribbled down the words “charlie is down; saved us all from frag grenade. pass the packet onto his family”, and filled up a cartridge with a little blood and flesh of his. Hope they get to have a proper funeral for him.

It is a little blurry as I open my eyes; I blink a few times to wash them away, for my hands are a little bit too dirty for the job. The half-blown torso of Charles is still lying there, though one of his eyes from the carcass is missing.

Chaos.

I cannot sit here and ponder the philosophy and reasoning of war; war is a futile exercise, yes. It does make me angry that the enmity between two heads of state is expressed by people whom they don’t personally care about. But that’s what soldiers are to governments – expendable. Like contract killers and secret agents – surely the loss hurts their personal coffers and public sentiment, but there are always replacements available. What if they lose one of their good personnel? Well, let me tell you that the ones they consider remotely better than the others are the ones they never lose. War is politics with bloodshed, and politics is war without bloodshed. But I cannot rant about it now. I am a soldier, I am a patriotic citizen of my heritage, my coun – who am I kidding?

I am a loyal soldier that fights my government’s wars for the welfare of my family – medical personnel had convinced me that I’d have a short life span due to my heart condition. I am an honorable citizen of a nation whose war crimes I witness everyday. I am a proud mother of two children who will grow up to lead a life of silence and happiness; for whom I don’t mind fighting these battles everyday.

Hope.

The Battles I Undergo,

2018.05.20,

Vikram Venkat

Check Your Emotions Before They Checkmate.

It is that time of the year again when almost everyone under 20 is free. Free to walk under the sun, swim in the ocean, sleep under a roof, under a tree, work for some more pocket-money, explore hobbies and interests, to make the most of all the time they have. It is the time to meet your parents, your family, go to your grandparents’ home and enjoy with your cousins, for this is among the last few opportunities to do so. Everyone is going to grow and leave the nest someday.

For me, it is the time just as any other that I spend thinking of a better world. I keep wondering what the human mind can accomplish, given its creative capabilities and destructive tendencies.

Humans are social creatures. We have evolved to create communities. An urge to be in the good books of people around us is instinctive. Such behaviour is a result of the idea that weaklings can be victors as well, using the strength of unity. Unfortunately, this urge has taken away the angelic side from most of the people. We lie, cheat, and betray to be on the side preferred by the stronger person. This led me to think, what if we lost all our emotions altogether. This mental experiment can take many forms. There are plethora of films and other forms of art that have experimented with the concept.

PK, the Bollywood film, where we see a humanoid alien coming from a similar type of planet. He is naïve, always misunderstood, and pays a hefty price learning our twisted methods of living. We can also think of “The Purge” concept, where humans live peacefully except one night a year, when they murder and rape each other. The “Saw” series takes its audience through a journey that teaches how life can be lived with our moral values intact but with big stakes.

There are many ways to tell a story, and not all of them have to imply to the lesson directly. In “A town without me”, popularly known as “Erased”, we learn directly that fighting alone might not solve your problems. However, if you muster up enough courage, it resonates with others. Another lesson I saw in it, is speaking up can solve problems right in their roots. “Your Lie in April” and “Anohana” explore these concepts as well, where just speaking or accepting the truth, when and where it mattered, could have solved everything. Obviously, truth is the bitter pill to swallow most of the times but is always better than living diseased with a pretentious personality, separately for each individual you encounter in your life.

In a world where humans are always honest, we would still encounter the seven sins. In that world, even petty criminals would need severe punishments to keep the latent criminals in check. This somehow paints a picture of a communist dictatorship, where everyone is equal, and crime is crime. Honesty is honesty and not hate speech.

A robotic society, where there is no leader, no religion and people follow their will based on logic alone for instance, a society where you pull the lever and let one die to save five. Heaven in its true senses. There is no bond or relationship and we go by our lives in an orderly fashion, doing what we must do to survive. When trivial situations, mishaps and accidents happen, only logic solves them finding optimal solution for the future. This would deny human rights and would be highly apathetic. On the contrary, it compels me all the way more to make and live in a world like that.

Our world is plagued with problems; women do not get equal treatment. It will be different in my world; a human would be a human. Pay grades would exist; however, there would be no discrimination based on gender, race, cast or other reasons. There will be no poor because job requirements will control population, using brutal ways if need be. Road rage in that world would be consigned to oblivion; people will follow rules, understanding the gravity of the consequences of breaking them and not in their fear.

A world of that type would take away the humane part of us. It only seems fair to run it as an experiment and apply partial results to our real lives. This makes us realise that honesty and a life of high morale comes with a cost. You have to like others less to have a favourite. Equality is a tool mostly used by people for their own comfort just like concepts of feminism and right to live. Hope is just a boost of adrenaline that makes us jump into fire.  Nevertheless, these parts of us make us human. Life finds its meaning in between survival and ensuring longevity of its species, but is definitely not constricted merely by these concepts. We are the masters of our own life. Masquerading as the good guy would definitely be tough, consequently, you will get angry, feel hurt, and get envious. However, you must bear it alone and be the stronger person. Fight for all you deserve but not get greedy or proud of it. You define your life. Will you make it a good one?

STARVED

I woke up to the sound of loud hysterical noises coming from downstairs. Maalati , our neighbour was crying uncontrollably and telling my mother a story which was hard to believe.

Three days earlier, Maalati’s daughter-in-law Sandhya had gone for a quiet walk along the banks of the river Brahmaputra. We live in a small town where people believe that area to be infested with ghosts. Sandhya however did not believe any such tales and went wherever she wished. She came home late that night with a noticeable change in her behaviour.

With her big red eyes she would look around restlessly and constantly demand food. Maalati initially waved it off as Sandhya was heavily pregnant and she wanted to provide her all the nutrition she needed for delivering a healthy baby. But Sandhya’s unnaturally huge appetite and her inability to recognise anyone in the house soon became a cause for concern.

Finally everyone reached the conclusion that some evil spirit had possessed Sandhya and an exorcism had to be conducted at the earliest. A renowned taantrik was called in to rid Sandhya of the evil spirit.

No sooner had the taantrik set foot in the lane that Sandhya started shouting curses at the top of her lungs. It took four people to hold her down as she demanded the taantrik   be taken away. After an hour of chanting mantras , the spirit possessing Sandhya finally agreed to talk. It had apparently taken over her because it craved good food and Sandhya being pregnant was sure to receive a lot of it. After the taantrik explained how Sandhya was nearing her delivery and the supply of good food was limited ,the spirit finally agreed to leave.

Her only demand was that she be provided with one last meal of fried fish and rice under the town’s biggest mango tree. A branch of that tree would fall signalling the end of Sandhya’s possession. The meal was arranged at the earliest and placed at the location. Sandhya who had been so sick that she could hardly move a limb suddenly got up and ran like a madwoman to the mango tree. We would never know what happened that night as no one was courageous enough to follow her.

The next morning, people of the town arrived to find her sleeping peacefully alongside a plate scraped clean and a fallen tree branch. Sandhya gave birth to a beautiful baby a month later. All was well.

 

SONAL MAHANTA

The Curious case of Chindians

It’s Sunday.

A day which starts rather late in the City of Joy; it’s a rest day after all.

Yet, I’m up early. 6 AM, the clock says. I’ve lived in the city for 8 years now, but today’s gonna be the first time I visit the city’s original Chinatown- Tiretti Bazaar.

The roads are empty and the air is fresh, quite unlike the scene you’ll observe just 4 hours later in the same place, as it transforms into just another vegetable market full of dusty bylanes and litter. But for now, it is peaceful.

As peaceful as the face of the first vendor we visit. He’s been here a long time now. He’s seen his people come and go. Some went to Tangra, fondly referred to as new Chinatown. Most took a bigger leap and went all the way to Canada, Australia and Singapore.

He persisted, though.

Just like his cuisine. The dumplings I taste there are nothing like any momo dish I’ve had before. The Chicken broth is again distinct in taste. The Red bean bun, an item I’m trying for the first time, is incredibly soft and subtle at the same time.dsc00020

The man is a native Chinese, and his ancestors belonged to the Hakka region of China. It is believed that they were brought along way back during the time of Warren Hastings, by a man called Tong  Achi, to work in a sugar mill. After fragmenting into different professions a few years later, most of them amalgamated into the local culture. A good number of them worked in the tanneries, which were huge back then and employed a lot of people.

Apparently, some of them even went ahead and established licensed opium dens, popularly called ‘Cheena Bazaar’.

A lot of them got married to Indian locals, leading to another distinctive class of people, who we today call Chindians, a portmanteau of their two ancestries.

A lot of them can also be found in Singapore and Malaysia, naturally as a result of the significant incoming of the two ethnic groups in these countries. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to hear a name with a very Chinese sounding first name and a typical South Indian surname.

Inspite of being a rather small group, Chindians have been excelling in many areas. Take for example, Nicol David whose name is almost synonymous with female squash after holding the World No.1 ranking for a record breaking 108 months.

Closer home, one of India’s biggest names in badminton, commonwealth gold medallist Jwala Gutta also belongs to this rare group. Drifting away from sports, Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Vivian Balakrishnan is another addition.

Despite having such big names amongst the group, Chindians haven’t really had the same amount of recognition  as other mixed race. They are a prime example of a small community which came together due to certain limitations. A good extension to this would be the case of Guyanese Chindians,  who came about just because the country had an oversupply of male Chinese workers( coolies) with no Chinese women to balance the scale. They married Indian women instead, adding to the Chindian population.

It’s fascinating how communities come together, and our species slowly evolves in the process as well. Chindians are just a small chip in a huge wooden block of such mixed race communities.

It would definitely not be a big surprise to have our descendants reading another such write up on an human-alien race in the near future.

  • Shivansh Mishra

Open wide!

I sat still. My eyes refused to blink. Eerie silence pierced through my ears. My mind couldn’t stop imagining things I didn’t want to. As I saw time tick away, I heard a slow creak…. the door…. yes, there was a silhouette making its way inside. No. This ain’t the intro to a quintessential horror story. The silhouette was none other than my beloved dentist’s.

The scene above, mind you, has been repeating every year (minimum once), even when I rewind back to my kindergarten days. My dental history is pretty unique, nay embarrassing. Looking back at my roots (ancestral, not dental), I did not have much luck with teeth. My grandmother has crooked teeth, which my father and I inherited. My dad has had a few cavities (all thanks to his sweet tooth), because of which he had to pull out a tooth or two. So, his is not a perfect set of 32. My mom, though, has small, cute pearly whites, but one of her milk teeth refused to get replaced. Owing to this, she has an extra tooth right above the milk tooth. As fate would have it, neither does my mom have a perfect set (she has 33). In short, I am not to blame.

Let’s get back to the protagonist. My earliest memory of visiting the dentist was back in second grade. I was guilty of gobbling down chocolates and my dentist was surprised at the very sight of my nonconformist teeth. “Kitne tedhe-medhe hain!” (how crooked are they!), she would exclaim every time I visited her and I would give her a sheepish grin. Unable to resist my curiosity, I recently surfed the internet and found out that teeth grow crooked if the size of the mouth is not big enough to accommodate that many.

Blu-Linda-brushing-teeth-blu-from-the-computer-animated-film-rio-22897526-320-240

Yet another episode occurred when I was in grade five. I was exploring my buccal cavity in front of the mirror, just like any other day, and found a pair of teeth right behind the front teeth. Intelligent as I was, I put the mirror to blame, saying it had become hazy and was showing a replica of my teeth. Nevertheless, my mother took me to my saviour, my dentist, who figured out that the permanent teeth grew behind the milk tooth because they never fell. Yet again, I was bereaved of my teeth, and they were handed over to me in a little plastic coffin which had a Winnie-the-pooh face(seriously). Instead of mourning, I feasted on ice-cream that day. Back home, I put the little coffin under my pillow, hoping it would turn into money. So heavy with guilt, I asked my mom:“Do you know why the tooth fairy gives money away? So that it will help us pay our dentist.”

Such was my obsession with teeth that one night I dreamt of teeth. Of teeth falling out one by one while I was staring at myself in front of the mirror. And, to my horror, blue blood oozed out staining the white basin. Come to think of it now, this would make quite the intro to one of those clichéd toothpaste commercials.

The tale is still on. Fed up of the random alignment of my teeth, I decided to put braces on, despite a teeny-tiny regret in the beginning, because my crooked teeth made me look unique, but never mind, aligning them would improve my dental health and give me picture-perfect pearly whites.

As a person who once used to be teased by the dentist for crooked teeth and scolded for gorging on confectionery and not brushing later, I have become a tooth-responsible person who is well-known by all the clinic staff for my commendable patience, cooperation and of course, the monthly visits!

 

-Ramyaja

 

 

 

The War that’s Not Theirs

After the creation of the ISIS, the deaths of almost 300,000 people and the displacement of three million people globally, March 15 marked the culmination of the eighth year of the ongoing Syrian War. The war has had widespread ramifications, not only on the people on the country, but also on the socio-economic structure of the numerous countries accepting refugees of this pointless war. What started as a revolt by the majority Sunni muslims in the country against the leadership’s minority Shia Alawite sect has now become the worst bloodbath in history since the second World War.

The history of the country is not very difficult to track. Bashar al Assad’s family had been in control of the ruling Al-Ba’ath since 1971. His father, and then president, Hafez al Assad died in 2000, marking the end of the most peaceful regime Syria had seen since its inception. Bashar had moved to London to complete his higher studies while the Syrians had begun looking up to his younger brother, Bassel, as their next leader. However, in a car crash in 1994, Bassel died, and Hafez had to call his elder son back to lead the country. What followed was a decade of draconian policies by Bashar which cracked down on dissent. The police force would shoot people on the street, and put them into jail without any trial.

What would lead to a fall of this police state was a wave of pro-democracy protests in Egypt and Tunisia in the early 2011 which we all would remember as the ‘Arab Spring’. In March next year, protests sparked in Syria when youngsters were arrested for painting anti-Assad graffiti on the walls of public buildings. The peaceful protests were of the greatest intensity in the city of Homs, where the UN claims that the police killed about a thousand protesters in a week. Assad tried to neutralise the situation in August by removing the severely unpopular emergency rule in the country that had been in place for almost 48 years. Peaceful protests were not illegal anymore, and the media had full rights to publish whatever they wanted. Assad again tried to neutralise the boiling situation in his country by releasing the political prisoners the police had captured during the course of the protests, in what would be the biggest mistake he would commit.

The political prisoners released here today form the leadership of the gargantuan Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. News reporters have underplayed the impact of this release on the troubles Syria faces today. What was a quick, half-witted decision to neutralise protests had led to the creation of the ISIS, and Bashar al Assad is the only person to blame for this huge mistake. Putin still sides with Assad today, but the actions of a man who sends down his army to annexe a country on a given day, should not be, and cannot be given a lot of thought. One cannot say the US is right too, for a country that claims to never negotiate with terrorists, aiding rebels both inside and outside Syria both financially and through weaponry is a hypocrisy of the finest kind, but, as always when it comes to helping oil-rich nations achieve democracy, the US is never wrong.

The protests did not die down but the released political prisoners formed the al-Nusra front, a terrorist organisation that secured the backing of al-Qaeda almost instantly. The front started off by taking over small oilfields in the country and recruiting dissatisfied young Syrians into their group. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had devised a peace plan in 2011, which had miserably failed. Many people think this was the primary reason Annan resigned in August 2012. The country had begun to break apart, the economy had fallen, and Assad had only been able to hold on to power just because he had resorted to the use of excessive force.

Hereafter, enter the dragons, the US and Russia. The Assad government had begun to use chemical weapons on the hotspots of the rebellion. UN reports indicated that Syria had used Sarin, a deadly nerve gas almost three times in 2014, the deadliest being in the city of Eastern Ghouta. The people were unhappy, and the al-Nusra front took advantage. The front had joined hands with the then nascent Islamic State, led by CIA’s most wanted, Abu-Bakr al Baghdadi. People flocked from the nations of Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon to help the cause of the Islamic State. For the first time in the war, people had seen Assad as the lesser of the two evils, as the State had no credibility whatsoever, executing political prisoners and journalists using medieval and barbaric means, and using the video footage to promote their misplaced religious propaganda. The ISIS today is the world’s most prosperous terrorist organisation, still having active control over half of Iraq’s oilfields.

Today, the US is actively supporting Kurdish rebels in Iraq, and Syrian rebels in their homeland. The Russians have an ally in Assad and they have been carrying out airstrikes in the rebel stronghold for some time now. The Syrian struggle for democracy has now turned into a proxy war bigger than the Cold War itself, threatening to turn into the third World War if things do not change. The two biggest superpowers of the world are waging war in a battlefield that’s not theirs, a total of 11 million people have been displaced from their homes since 2011, while the countries accepting most of the refugees, that is, Lebanon, Iraq and Germany, seeing their economies going for a roll under the added pressure of several million additional citizens in their lands.

What matters the most is the people affected by the war. Nations are having debates on where should the refugees go, and at the same time, children are turning up dead on beaches. It is high time that we as citizens of the world do whatever we can to improve the situation.

Written by Neeraj Meghani

Bright Red

He stood on a long, white, sandy beach, away from the hubbub of civilisation. The sparkling blue ocean lay ahead, graciously licking the soft beach with its cool, calm water. The celebrations of the previous night had rendered the beach somewhat dirty, but its clean aura still washed over his senses, and it reminded him of the night before.

The bar was the busiest place that evening, with the bartenders drowning in a deluge of orders from the guests. Sitting with his favourite drink, he looked around and thought about the vast number of people he knew. Everybody seemed so insignificant and passive to him. As his thoughts washed over him, he caught a whiff of a strong feminine musk amidst the intoxicating vapours of alcohol.

He wasn’t the only one, though. All around the bar, the conversations got quieter, and people swirled around to find the source of the smell. A lady was walking down the bar, her shoes clacking with every step on the wooden floor. Adorned in a dress of red, matched with rubies for earrings, a rose corsage and bright red lips, she smiled like the morning sun at all those looking at her. Occupying the only empty seat beside him, she ordered a drink, and looked at him warmheartedly.

Initially lost for words, he gathered his wits, and started a small conversation with her. As the words and the drinks flowed, it slowly transitioned into an exchange littered with amorous statements and light humour. Following the little laughs exchanged after a particularly humorous joke, their eyes met. His brown eyes, and her grey ones. She gave him a smile and grasped his right hand. His heart beat grew faster, and he could also feel her pulse rising.

It was that moment, when they rose and embraced, and she whispered something into his ears, rather seductively. She bade him farewell, with a peck on his left cheek, leaving an outline of her bright red lips. He stood there, transfixed, looking at her retreating figure, in anticipation of what was to follow.

The beach was completely deserted, save for one white and blue umbrella, which created a cool region of darkness. Under the umbrella, lay a lone figure, which prompted him to proceed forward. On edging closer, he saw a naked woman lying on one of the two mats. Her skin was smooth as silk, and her tan was a beautiful light brown. The woman from the previous night looked up, on hearing his footsteps and motioned him to occupy the mat beside hers.

Lying down on the mat beside, he held her hand. The conversation was loud, over the din of the ocean, but there was a certain indescribable beauty about it, that kept both of them at great ease. Keeping the conversation going, they kept drawing closer to one another, a little bit at a time.

He brushed her night-black hair aside, and took a deep look into her soft, grey eyes. He could feel the adrenaline rushing through his body, as he leaned in towards her, and looked at her warm smile. All of sudden, he noticed that her front teeth were larger and sharper than what they ought to have been. His excitement turned to fear, and he tried to pull away. Her grasp, however, was steel-hard, and like a cheetah, she jumped on top of him, and sunk her teeth into his chest. Multiple times.

In his dying moments, he looked up and saw her, the lady of the previous night, on top of him, with her bright red lips.