Battling

Author: Nikita Suryawanshi

 

We all have heard people around us saying that life is full of struggles or what is life without a few ups and downs in it. Having been told this multiple times throughout our lifetimes, this beautiful quote has become something whose meaning is lost on us now. Yes, we have accepted the fact that one definitely does have to overcome numerous hurdles to achieve their goals. All of us are struggling to survive each day and to get through the difficult times of our lives.

But our own hardships have taken such precedence over others’ that we tend to think that no can have it as bad as me. And so in this situation, we are prone to disregard the hardships of other people. We, knowingly or unknowingly, may be impertinent to others and hurt their sentiments. Not everyone may be sharing or open about their problems. They may put on a smiling mask and pretend that everything is fine. This, however, does not give anyone the right to be inconsiderate towards their battles. Because, visible or not, someone has it worse.

Sometimes it may also go the other way round. Maybe someone you have known well and for a long time might suddenly be acting distant. May be they will yell at you or stop talking to you altogether. The point is, you never know what people are dealing with inside, nor what they’ve had to face in life. People don’t act out towards others in strange, inappropriate, or hurtful ways because they’re doing well in life. They act out towards others because they’re hurting inside, because their pain is getting the better of them, or because they’re on the losing end of their own inner battle.

One of my all time favourite books has been “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. The story revolves around the lives of a young girl named Laila and her neighbour, Mariam. Laila has grown up seeing Mariam in the neighbourhood everyday and has formed a judgement of her own, as has Mariam for Laila. However, circumstances lead to their lives being intertwined. This when they both realise that the pictures that they have painted of each other in their minds were very wrong. Laila sees the reasons behind Mariam’s distant behaviour and the latter realises that Laila’s life is not as perfect as she may have thought.

What the book taught me was that you never have any idea what someone is facing. Some person you see every day, talk to everyday, even a stranger you walk past on the road may be fighting battles that you never could have imagined. Everyone is confronting their own monsters and this made me realise how inconsiderate I might have been towards others’ struggles. As quoted by Shaikh Ruhi, “Everyone is fighting their own battle and maybe their fight is bigger and worse than yours.”

#MeToo

Author: Afreen

The #MeToo initiative was a movement started to combat sexual harassment and assault. It went viral in the past years as a way for victims of harassment to vent out their frustration and to call out their alleged harassers. It still continues to pick up steam to this day. Its main purpose revolved around the empowerment of vulnerable individuals and to give others a sense of the magnitude of the issue of harassment.

Using social media as a platform to reveal the prevalence of sexual violence in society, it became all the craze with people to gain the right to relate with others, and call out demeaning predatory behaviour.As the initiative met with success, by acknowledgement from even high profile celebrities, the notion that harassment shouldn’t be kept under wraps became a worldwide sensation.

Keeping in mind the publicity one gains from participating in this movement, many have filed false allegations against innocent people, without evidence, leading to a devastating effect on the lives of the accused. Like almost every other social campaign, it has fallen victim to opportunism from individuals.

Because of such disgraceful people, both sexes suffer greatly. Men are now afraid to compliment women in any way, touch them in acceptable situations or afraid to simply be alone with women at all. One bold liar is all it takes to have our lives in shambles. Men aren’t the only victims here. The price women pay for this extra security is skepticism and an arms-length approach by men in dealing with them both professionally and personally.

So, has the #MeToo really changed anything? One can’t definitely say that it has made absolutely no impact on our community. The numbers of men and women healing after confiding in to others and opening up to their therapists have shown an exponential increase after the introduction of #MeToo. The #MeToo movement gives people the courage to speak out, and since most sexual assault goes unreported

As controversial as #MeToo is, its important to remember that movements like these, have positive effects that outweigh the detrimental ones and does, in fact, bring about a large change in the mindsets of people.

A Way to Harness Electricity from the Night Sky has been Discovered

Author: Aditi Chandrasekar

For the 1.7-odd billion people worldwide who still don’t have a reliable electricity connection, solar power is proving to be a potential saviour in terms of clean and sufficiently effective power, at least when the sun is shining. Of course, the technology to store excess solar power during the dark hours is improving. However, if there is an opportunity to harness electricity from the night sky, it could be a major breakthrough in the world of clean energy. Good news is, researchers at Stanford and UCLA have done just that. It is not ready to be deployed and used everywhere just yet, but this stunning development could play an important role in the energy demands of the future. The technology employed by itself is not novel or new; the principles behind it were discovered almost 200 years ago. The way it works is simple-the device, a thermoelectric generator, uses temperature differences between two metal plates to generate electricity through the ‘Seebeck effect’. Basically, the greater the temperature difference, the greater the power generated. This technology is already in use to convert waste heat from sources such as industrial machinery and car engines and this new research simply applies the same technique to capture the temperature difference between the outside air and a surface facing the sky. The top plate of the device faces the cold air of the open night sky, while the bottom plate faces the ground and is kept enclosed in warmer air. So, the two plates sit on top of each other. We know that heat in general always radiates to cooler environments. The cooler the surroundings, the faster the heat is radiated. Following this principle, the open night sky is cooler than the enclosed air surrounding the bottom plate, so the top plate loses heat faster than the bottom plate. This generates a temperature difference between the two plates. In the study conducted by the researches, this temperature turned out to be around 4 to 5 degrees celsius.

At different temperatures, heat will also start to travel from the hotter bottom plate to the cooler top plate and the device harnesses this flow of heat to generate electricity. But the glaring flaw in this is that at such a small temperature difference, the power generated is very limited-The researchers’ device produced 25 milliwatts per meter square-just enough to power a small LED reading light whereas a solar panel of the same size would be enough to sustain three 32″ LED TVs. Another possible flaw is its performance being affected by the climate-The device will perform better in dry climates than it does in wet climates because in wetter climates, any moisture in the air condenses on the downward-facing bottom plate, cooling it and reducing the temperature difference between the plates. Still, these don’t take away from the fact that this is a breakthrough technology. With enough research and development, it could be a massive boon to the energy crisis.

A RANT ABOUT RANT RECEIVERS

Author: Saumyaa Sinha

What is UP with people and their freakin’ annoying, excruciatingly irritating responses to everything ever. Like. Stop. Please, just cease to exist if you do not have the basic human sense to differentiate between the tone of somebody’s voice and realise when to actually open your mouth for words of (not so helpful but still laudable for the attempt) comfort and when to just shut the fuck up and let the aggrieved talk. They have probably come to you with a (stupid, a very stupid) rough idea of you willing to listen to them, because one, you probably have in the past, two you have a magical bond (no) and three they look like they’ve been kissing death, so your usual vain, sugar-coated caked self would have the decency and ‘human’ ability to have some pity on them, perhaps do what most humans are capable of doing: LISTEN.

It’s really not that hard. Okay look, try it now. Just SHUT your mouth, don’t hum, don’t smack you lips and make engine noises like a 5 year old, and don’t even think about clicking your tongue to the inside of your mouth to resemble the ticking of the clock. I believe in you. Shh. It’s okay. Just try, TRY to keep your beautiful, plush, oh so ardent pair of lips in ONE PLACE, meaning don’t move them, meaning JUST SHUT UP. Next, this is the tricky part. OPEN your daft ear to the sufferings of the world *patriotic theme song*. Do you hear it, do you hear it now? Even your conscience is whispering about you being a treacherous listener. Shame. Feel it. Let it burn your soul. The final part, the hardest, if you do this wrong you shall rot in the pit fire of hell. Direct your eyes/head/ATTENTION, to the person TALKING. Not to the pile of unfinished homework/projects/things you know you’re never actually going to do, not to your phone, and DEFINITELY not to any device which tells you the time.

The last bit has some issues. Don’t stare into the soul of the speaker as though you’re pulling an Elsa. Don’t keep scanning their faces, looking for the shame you’ve just lost a paragraph ago. Don’t be on the edge of your seat, salivating eagerly for more info into their sob story, nobody likes a scandalmonger. Just casually cross your arms, or keep them by your sides, even one on your chin for more of an ‘I’m genuinly interested, please keep talking’ look. DO NOT touch them for consolation if they’re not the type to take hugs easily and it has taken a lot of stuff for them to finally open up to a fellow homo sapien. Occasional ‘hmms’ and ‘that must be hard’, or a ‘that’s understandable’ would be a huge YES. However, don’t and I mean this one, please please PLEASE for the love of cheese and barbecue fries, DO NOT jump into your own story about how you’ve had it 574.8890 times harder. Be a devoted listener please. *sighs*.

If you’re on the PHONE and a person decides to rant to you, follow the listening and speaking part to the tea, as for the looking part, you are excused, however please try to stay attentive lest face humiliation, confusion, guilt when they ask ‘what would you have done in this situation?’. They are talking to you, with a cellular device, wholly dependent on the transmission of radio waves from their phone to yours, travelling through the ionosphere, where it could be lost in a million other such rant signals, in the hope that in this galaxy, they are somehow able to connect to you. Don’t screw it up please.

On TEXT, hold your emotions. Don’t send emojis to express your undying care for them, send them heart warming words. Trust me. It is much more effective and changes the mental state of the ranter big time. If you see them sending their rants line by line, DO NOT type something in between, let them complete. If it bugs you to infinity and beyond, tell them to take their time and just type up everything together so you can read it and respond accordingly. Meanwhile, do whatever you need to do to have a meaningful existence. Or watch PewDiePie, it honestly doesn’t matter. After they have completed, and you’re on the type of chat where they have the option of seeing if you’ve read the message or not, then PLEASE don’t just read the message and NOT RESPOND. If you’re suddenly busy, say you’ll respond in a few minutes. But understand, this person has poured out their heart to you, with the flicker of hope that you’ll somehow magically clear their foggy, misted paths of life. At least pretend you have such abilities. You don’t have to be right, you just have to BE there for them.

That’s the guide for you then.

On a more serious note though, and I hate to make it serious, but most of the times I’m not only writing to be funny or for entertainment, but also because I have chosen to address a purposeful topic, really think about the person who has chosen to speak to you about their problems. From personal experience of being a ranter and a receiver, I can positively tell you, if somebody is in a fix, having a really bad day, has been having a grotesque phase of life, whose gravity may seem minute to you, trust me, what will come out of your mouth will mean a lot to them. When I say rants, I mean anything which emotionally charges up a person. While in an emotional high, if somebody possibly with feelings of intense hatred/sadness/hopelessness regarding the stimuli in question, decides they need to speak to you, please don’t ridicule their story. Don’t say it’s in their head. Don’t say they need to get over it, they ONE HUNDRED PERCENT know, for sure, they need to get over it. THIS IS THEM TRYING TO GET OVER IT. If they are TALKING to you about it, they are obviously are failing. Don’t stab their wounds the second time by being insensitive. I’ll tell you why:

They’re emotionally charged up, they decide you’d understand/listen/empathise/’be there for them’, they speak, pour out their heart, talk about the damage. Then you, being the little snubbing King/Queen you are, treat them like a peasant and are extremely insensitive and over do the ‘hmms’ without any actual response, or worse, say ‘lol’ (how do you even have the audacity to use that dammed three letter abbreviation), ‘lol, you need to jam the hype and stop being so dramatic’. No. No. No, no, no, no, no, nonononono. NO. Does your inexplicably, tiny, incapable, mockery of a brain have ANY DAMN CLUE, what kind of impact that can have on a person? You do that, and you’ve done it. You’ve done it honey. You have pushed them so deep into disconnect that they’ll probably stop abruptly, scoop up their feelings and completely forget that they’re still holding it. And this is the UNHEALTHY way of forgetting. You’ve shut them down, tired and drained them out. There will be about 5 seconds of shock, 30 seconds of sadness and then? No feelings at all. They’ll be so worn out (because they’ve given their 100% trying to explain), that they’re probably not going to share their story with anybody else right away, with the fear of similar rejection or because they’re simply incapable of being expressive anymore. Don’t be one of those people please.

All humans ever do is experience, share, experience and repeat. You, as a part of the human race, can make the sharing bit of the whole cycle, either shitty or spiffing. Do the latter. It’s easier being nice, trust me. I can understand if you genuinely don’t care. Be polite, use that thing in the inside of your skull to say ‘hey, I appreciate what you’ve been through, it’ll all be okay’. This gives out the message that you think their problem isn’t shitty. They’ll get the message to leave you alone and probably say something like ‘hmm, hope it works out’. If you genuinely care, ask them questions, get them to repeat the not so painful parts (hey, all this is coming from two years of psych and well, LOGIC, I’m sure you can do it too), let them know you care. If they’re the frivolous kind who will peel down their 9 layers of sadness in front of you and wake up tomorrow with sparkles and fairy dust, then ignore this bullshit of an article thingy, and just RUN as fast as your feet shall allow. They don’t deserve your time if they’re going to fake 3 hours of heart break. The other kind though. The kind who look tough on the outside, but you see them break down, and you know it’s killing them to be so vulnerable, respect them, commend their bravery for accepting their feelings and ACTUALLY letting another living soul in on them. Be the ideal listener for them. I assure you, a considerable, serious amount of mayhem is making them do this.

THE PACKAGE

Author: Rahul Srinivas

 “So that’s how I end huh. Never imagined I’d go out this way. Well, I should’ve seen this coming, I suppose, given my condition.”, Trevor thought to himself as he was on his knees and a could feel the hand from behind, holding the sharp knife near his neck, ready to slice him up any second. 

Trevor developed a condition since his small ages. Being an orphan, alone in the streets, he used to get lonely. A child with no companion, nobody to play with. This loneliness had caused him to develop an imaginary friend with whom he could play, talk and share things. He always knew that Joshua was just a fragment of his imagination. But for Trevor, he was real. He was an escape from the cruel world. 

Not long after this, he was found by a nun and was taken to an orphanage. Here, he grew up with other kids, laughing and playing, like the child that he was. But never once did he forget Joshua. Even though he was just an imagination, Joshua was there for him when he needed him and he did not want him to feel alone like he once did. So he grew up with Joshua. 

He was happy to be more fortunate than some other street kids who were guided into wrong paths. He grew up in a loving place, with friends who became a family. He left the orphanage at the age of 17, for his studies. He graduated and became an electrical engineer.

Throughout all this, he always continued talking with Joshua. Joshua even helped out Trevor at times. Whenever Trevor forgot the answer to a question, or got nervous on a date or was having any problem, Joshua would come to him and help him out and would pat on his right shoulder and say “Don’t think too much.”, and walk away.

 

2 DAYS EARLIER:

 

The notification sound on Trevor’s phone went off. He opened the message just to see a random number send a location to him. He dismissed it thinking it’s a wrong number. He switches off the phone and sees the time. 14:00 displayed the phone’s clock. “Another three long hours. I am already sleepy.”, he said to himself as he got back to work. 

After a long day’s work, Trevor goes back to his home and sleeps.

 

SAME NIGHT, 21:30 HOURS

Trevor wakes up and opens the message of the location. 

“That idiot! Trevor opened the message. I asked him specifically, not to text me before eleven!”, said Joshua to himself, as he left the house.

 

00:30 HOURS

“I told you not to text me. What were you thinking?!”, shouted Joshua.

“You know the location of the pickup point changes every night.”

“And the pickup does not happen before one. Can’t you text me two hours before?”

“Jeez, sorry man. It won’t happen again. What’s the big deal though?”

“That’s none of your business. You work for me. Now give the package and bounce.”

“Whatever, man”, said Dev to Joshua, as he gave the package to him. Then Joshua delivered the package to another guy and went back to Trevor’s home. 

“Better delete this.”, said Joshua as he deleted the message of the location, before going to sleep.

 

THE NEXT DAY:

Trevor wakes up and goes through his daily morning routine. He checks his phone. 13:50 displayed the phone’s clock. 

“Three more hours”, Trevor said to himself as he let out a big yawn. He opened his messages.

“That’ weird. I remember it being there yesterday.”, Trevor thought to himself as he saw that the message of the location was deleted. 

Right then, Joshua comes to him and says “Don’t think too much”, and tapped on his left shoulder.

 

That night, Trevor goes to his home and decides not to sleep. At 11’o clock, he got a message of a location in his phone and decides to go to that location.

“Don’t go there. Trust me you don’t want to”, said Joshua to Trevor as he was about to leave.

“I knew you were upto something! You always taped my right shoulder. But today, you taped the left. You panicked. What’s there? What is in that place? What are you doing with my body?!” shouted Trevor.

“I can’t tell you”, said Joshua.

“Then I guess I just have to find it out myself huh” said Trevor as he walked away, and left his home.

 

PRESENT DAY, 00:20 HOURS:

“Here’s your package man”, said Dev to Trevor, thinking he was Joshua.

“Package? What package? What’s in this?”

“What do you mean what’s in this man? It’s the stuff. The whole drug chain?”

“Drug chain?”

“Yeah man. Did you forget? I coo. You transport. Your guys distribute?”

“WHAT?!”

“It was all your idea man. What happened? You alright?”

“Listen up. I don’t know who the heck you are, but if you don’t leave this place now, you’re gonna be in trouble. I called the cops and they’ll be here any minute.”

“Joshua, you did what?”

“I’m not bluffing. And don’t ever call me Joshua again.”

“You’re crazy man”, said Dev as he ran away.

 

Trevor sat on the side of the road as Joshua came and sat next to him.

“I know the cop thing was a bluff”, said Joshua.

“Well, you know everything about me. Same doesn’t go for me does it?”

“Told you you didn’t wanna know”

“When did you do all this? How long has this been going for? How did I never know about this?”

“Well, it started long back and I’ve been working on this in the nights. Ever wondered why you always felt so tired in the afternoons?”

“Well, now I know what you do with your mind and my body. All I have to do now is get rid of you.” 

“And how exactly do you plan on doing that?”

“You’re just a fragment of my imagination after all”

“Well, Trevor. Think again”

 

That’s when Trevor realised who he is, and who Joshua really was.

Joshua was a disturbed child who murdered his own parents when he was just 12. He was admitted in a psychiatric ward and tried to convince the people there. But whenever he lied about him changing, the polygraph told the truth. So, in order to convince them , he decided to tell the same lies, but this time he’ll mean it. At least, a part of him will. He created a whole story, a whole new personality, a whole new part of him in his mind- Trevor. He created another orphan just like him and gave him a life and used him whenever he wanted to. He started leading a normal life as Trevor and continued his crime life as Joshua. This had been happening for more than 7 years and now he was no more watched by prying eyes of the state and was free of anymore psychiatric checkups. He had no more use for Trevor.

 

“You are a fragment of my imagination, Trevor. You never really existed. And now, you never will.”, said Joshua as he took a knife and took it near Trevor’s neck.

“So that’s how I end huh. Never imagined I’d go out this way. Well, I should’ve seen this coming, I suppose, given my condition.”, Trevor thought to himself as he was on his knees and could feel the hand from behind, holding the sharp knife near his neck, ready to slice him up any second. 

“Goodbye my friend”, said Joshua as he slice up Trevor and was free, once again.

THE HILLS OF MUNNAR: A LIFE-DEFINING JOURNEY

Author: Saumyaa Sinha

It came about the same time as my mind started shutting off, possibly and most probably even because of it. The incredible thing about college is it helps you lose all expectations, so clearly, I was expecting nothing out of my trip to Munnar.

The dark doom gloomy cynicism ceases to exist the second I agree for impulsive trips, sheer energy and no planning, I am aware, but sometimes the breeze shows you a direction and you follow it. Munnar is an underrated little hill station in the Idukki District in Kerala, obviously at the time I didn’t care for the geography as much as I did for the thrill factor. Brushing up on the knowledge came much later when my mind could perceive beyond the feeling of liberation. Getting into Kerala was the easy part, then came the real stuff, the gold dust, the je ne sais quoi. Spiralling to the top of the mountain with curves sharper than the ones in engineering graphs, we made it alive at 11pm.

The sunlight broke into my life, playing hide and seek with the curtains, and when I drew the curtains, I was drenched; in the warm soft glow of the sun, in complete awe, in overwhelming ecstasy. The balcony opened to the full frame of the Sun and the sky. Living in apartments and high-rise cities, I only ever got little pieces of the sky puzzle, but standing there, experiencing the sunrise, the sky as though finger painted with rich orange and yellow hues. A little bit of blue there, a tinge of red here. Everything was so close, I felt small and tremendously tall at the same time. I’d say it was as though tasting the whole universe at once. As though the wind was trying to slap me awake, as though in the grand scheme of events, little things moved us and became us.

The chaiwaala at the end of our guest house road believed in nothing else other than making people smile. He didn’t say much, brought us his speciality, adarak ki chai (ginger tea), and perhaps it was the strong force of the hot tea down my throat or the awakening by the ginger, that it finally hit me: happiness is where you want it to be. The wrinkles on the old man’s face spoke of years in front of a stove, the flames lapping up his youth, yet that smile…that smile melted all those years into a seamless journey of insights gained. Munnar is a chai-lover’s paradise. The smell of tea is everywhere, practically owing to the rows and rows of endless plantations. The entirety of Munnar spills out of a teaspoon, the whole hill station is a tea plantation and factory miracle, the leaves glow, they glint like pearls in the sunlight. Shy little leaves stay their ground, covering every patch of the hills seen by the eyes.

We hired a Safari jeep, especially to soak in the tea gardens, everything else we experienced was a plus. We were told to hold onto the frame bar tightly; I don’t think I realised how tightly I was supposed to hold it because the jeep rode over rocks and slopes and jagged cut hills and for the first fifteen seconds I was just tossing in the vehicle, dangerously close to propelling out. It felt like the last eighteen years of my life being described physically. But I found my hold, very proud to say, that I found my grip. We kept travelling uphill, the sun was throwing soft shadows and the dust danced a ballet like blown away dandelion petals. The closer we got to the top, the more women we saw between the tea shrubs, clad in a thick lower long skirt and a full sleeve wrap around, heads covered with the same thick and dull fabric, their backs bent with the endlessly long jute jholas, their skin tanned and smooth, glistening with sweat. Their work was tedious, plucking leaves, one at a time and filling up the jute bag up to the brim, they then walked the rest of the journey upwards and delivered these bags to the tea factory. The number of bags and their dedication both seemed too much to comprehend, I smiled at a woman, and she returned the warmest one I had ever seen.

The tea factory and museum weren’t the most extra-ordinary or awe-struck thing you’d see, but it was a place where you could enjoy the success of a tea-worker’s day vicariously. The simplicity was its charm. We were guided through the entire process of tea preparation, right from the plantation to the packaging, each process infused with the hard work of a thousand workers. Perhaps I dithered to think too much then, but I felt so much at once, sitting on an earthen chair, sipping chai, realising that the intricacy of life was so much more than work, projects and deadlines; it was simple things like tasting the journey of each tea leaf as the warm sips touched my lips.

We clambered onto a mountain peak, the jeep left us off at a wooden gate, we walked the rest of the way. A narrow path, only ascending with no railings at the height of 8661 ft above the sea level, made way for us into the breath-taking view of mountains, lush greenery, all hazily lying under a layer of thin misty fog. Maybe I had slumbered through the mellow ticking of time, but right then, that was all that mattered. It was too much to take in, standing there, one tiny homo sapien, looking onto a slice of this Earth, just handed out to the eyes. It was overwhelming, soul gratifying and completely numbing to the point where I couldn’t peel myself away from the peak. Everything felt right. That night in the guest house, when I lay down on the deck chair, I realised I loved the night as much as I loved the day. For the first time in my life I found clarity, both up there- the stars glistened playing lights out against the black buttery sky, and in my heart. The unfathomable thing was that our thoughts and the stars- both constitute of the same number.

To embark on a self-recovery and soul-searching journey, the go to place, most certainly is Munnar. The breeze will touch you deeply and the sunrise will move you. You’ll find yourself alright, but what you’ll also find is that the subtle beauty of travelling will change your perspective. With this new found drishtikon, fill up your backpack, pull up your socks and tie your laces- there is a long journey waiting, the hills of Munnar are calling, the world is screaming your name- keep moving forward.

Out For A Walk

The breeze is cold, with no identifiable smells, it’s pleasuring. The city looks beautiful, calm and the major intersections are the only places with lights. These huge flood-lights look like mere toothpicks from where I stand. The city looks like a collection of a kid’s building blocks, organized as on a circuit board of some complex electronic device. I have seen this view multiple times, probably in every lighting condition that the eyes can perceive, yet, it looks especially mesmerizing right now. I stand on the visibly largest bridge crossing the Ganga river, marking the start of this holy city. The oldest bridge was replaced by the latest one. The double-decker bridge is barely visible which identified the city in films like Raanjhna. A train chugs through the bottom and some two-three people walk by on the top every few minutes. Dawn will break soon.

 

I stand here, after hours of trying to sleep. The breeze keeps pushing me back, tailwinds of trucks passing on the highway behind me keep thrusting me forward, and I keep swinging like a disoriented pendulum. I came here to see the end. Option 1: Fall on the bottom of the pillar, crack your skull, instant, and certain death.  Option 2: Fall in the water, I’m high enough for the surface tension to shatter my bones, I writhe in pain and eventually drown. Another possibility is I enter the water safe and sound, the cold water and strong current give me a long, slow and agonizing death, my body is found somewhere downstream. 

This is it, my dream of twelve years is finally becoming a reality. I climb and sit on the edge, anytime now.

“Hey, why are you here? What are you planning to do now?”

“I have seen it all, I have reached the tipping point of my life, it cannot get any better. I will jump and end it all.”
“Yes, that’s the best you can do, I mean, you being here or just disappearing, wouldn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Your existence is known to a maximum of a thousand people. About 500 remember that they met you. About a hundred remember you regularly. Some fifteen-twenty people care about your existence, only to eventually benefit from you. NO ONE ADORES YOU. It would be for the best for you and everyone around you if you died.”

“Wait. You have so much to live for, didn’t you want to go Bungee Jumping? You could do it if you didn’t jump now.”

“This isn’t much different though.”

All three of us laughed as a tear rolled down my face.

“Yeah, that’s true but you wanted to buy a car, raise a kid, live a happy life?”

“But isn’t that inviting more trouble down the line? Every change brings discomfort.”
“Exactly, right from choosing the pursuit of engineering. No, from choosing science. No, wait, from the first time I ever spoke, I have only invited trouble to myself and the people around me. My words, my actions, never solved anything, but definitely sprouted seeds for trouble.”

“Yeah, and you were also responsible for 9/11, don’t listen to him. You’re doing good. You’ve got a healthy lifestyle, a stable job. You are who many aspire to be. You can do anything you want to.”

“Haha, as if you’ve ever had anything in control.”

“That’s true, I have never had anything in my control. Isn’t that the truth of the world? No matter what decision I make, it always has consequences beyond my control. What am I doing, where am I headed? I will never have the life I wanted. It is all pointless. I will never know what’s next and uncertainty is never good. I can count the major events left in my life on the fingers of just one of my hands and most of them aren’t happy ones.”

“You can’t end here. People look up to you. They tell their kids your story. Wouldn’t you want that story to get better every time you meet them? Or do you want it to become a foreshadowing?”

“That is a part of the problem. I very much hate the life I have lived till now, I do not want anyone to follow my footsteps of all people.”

“The underachiever, the meta of our generation. You are spitting on the greats by calling yourself one. You idiot, people your age are running corporations, changing the world and whatnot. You are the worst example to follow. You yourself don’t want to be you. You are everything that’s wrong with you.”

“True, nothing I ever did has made a difference. My whole life has been a compromise. I have never had what I wanted. I was and never will be satisfied with what I have, and will live my entire life hustling for something better trying to unsuccessfully satiate myself. I do not want this. This is the worst part: I will never know what I truly want. What will make me full? A woman? A big home? Many big homes? Kids? Grandkids? Supercars? I guess I dreamed too big, haha. You get the gist.” 

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Not opening the box could be the biggest mistake you make. Walk back, and you can set a better example than the one you would if you jumped.”

“Haha, a box of chocolates can’t have ice creams or potato chips. I know where my life is headed, the last time I got a surprise gift was in sixth grade when my parents got me a digital camera for my birthday. There haven’t been any welcomed surprises after that. My life is not a movie, if I jump down and swim to the next town, they wouldn’t cover me in papers. They would put me in an asylum.”

“That reminds me, your birthday is coming up. Let’s postpone this ordeal until that day, the sun is up too. You do not deserve a release so soon, you should suffer more. Wouldn’t it be poetic to do it that day?”

“Yeah, not knowing what to do when they sing happy birthday would be the best torture. How bothersome, I loathe that day. I have to pick my own gift, sometimes I pick it months before or after, depending on when I need something. I have to plan a party for a bunch of ungrateful nobodies, who would dissolve in the crowd as soon as the party’s over. Leaving a debt to be fulfilled only on their birthdays.”

“Hey, you came here to celebrate that. A birthday with your parents after 4, maybe 5 years.”

“Yeah, let’s call today a trial run for what we will do on that day. Everyone will be tired from the party, it would be easier to escape.”

“Yeah, let’s head back.”

 

The sun shines from way above the horizon. People have started their days. Cattle owners, taking their herds of buffaloes to pasture. Milkmen cycling with huge tin containers on either side of the bicycle, headed to deliver or sell it at the “Satti”. Dust flows as school buses and vans rush on the roads to force start the dozy kids’ day. “You coward.” 

I put my head down. My cheeks keep getting wet, my breath keeps pacing and I blame it all on the dust. No one turns their head, ever. “They all have their problems to deal with, not everyone is as weak or has the time to lament over such issues.” The same sound keeps screaming at me on my way back. “You coward, you’ll never have the courage to do what you want. You can’t even JUST DIE. People work very hard to live and your puny, pathetic self can’t even do that. You can never be happy for you will NEVER BE SATISFIED.”

I reach home, wipe the mix of dew, dust, sweat, and tears off my face. Maa sips her daily tea while watching the headlines. Advertisements start, and she changes to some religious channel as I walk in. 

“Where were you?” She asks.

I don’t have an answer, I stay silent for a moment, it always makes me look like an intellectual who knows what he is going to say. I answer, “I was just…”

UNBURDENING

Author: Nikita Suryawanshi

“If you use your mind as a memory bank, the past will repeat itself in cycles. If your mind becomes pure attention, you will know everything that is worth knowing.”- Sadhguru.

Our body is said to be the temple of our mind. And I believe that our mind is the abode of our souls. Not only that, but it is the power house from which we draw energy to nourish ourselves. It is our mind that gives us the strength we need, the faith which we put in ourselves and others, the emotions we experience, the courage to take risks and move forward. Yet, have we ever stopped and thought about how much we inflict on our minds? Once in a while, our mind should be allowed to think about itself.

Sometimes, I think our mind is the equivalent of a time capsule. We bury so many things in it and leave it there. Many memories, emotions we were too scared to express, the anger or the hate that we felt towards someone, points we could have said in an argument but couldn’t think of at that time, imaginary scenarios and conversations that we have, all of these are stuffed in this cabinet, thinking that they will stay there and eventually get lost. But we all know that that never happens. Like and actual, physical closet, there is only so much that our minds can take. It will reach its saturation point sometime and then it explodes. And when it does, its outlet is our own lips. We need to understand that what we impose on our minds will come back to us; to shape us, to define us.

In this constant battle between the mind and the brain, we let the brain win. Why? Because the brain is a practical machine and the mind is a sentimental fool. The brain will analyze and the mind will feel. The brain will take us forward but the mind will only make us open to emotional damage. But maybe it won’t. Let the mind win. Let it win more often than you’d like. We will realise that there were so many other gates in the dark that the eye of the mind could see but not our brains because it rationally concluded that there is nothing in the shadows. We will let in a little happiness, a little love and yes, a little hurt. But I guess it is okay. It will be a lesson worth remembering.

When it comes to nourishment, the first thing most of us think is nurturing our body. Nourishing the body without nourishing the mind is a fruitless endeavor. We can very well feel what’s going on within our mind and others can feel it too through our energy. Nurturing our minds will bring us closer to ourselves and give us a sense of peace. Why not start with unburdening? Find outlets for our frustration, don’t stress bout petty things, maybe try living without over thinking things, give meditation a shot, stop self-sabotage, express the emotions we feel and mostly feed our minds with positivity. A positive mind will let in unfiltered joy in and give us the hope that in the end, everything will be okay.

Well-being encompasses all of our parts, not just the physical body. It is important to create balance by actively nurturing your whole person, consistently and lovingly. Your mind is one of the most powerful tools you have available to you to create the greatest version of your life and the highest level of health. Choose to drop the struggle. Learn to love yourself. Be an expression of joy. All of the support and guidance that you need to manifest this and so much more, will always be within you.

Breathe

Author: Dhruv Yadav

Breathe in
For this moment isn’t going to repeat itself
Breathe in…
this is the best you’re going to get
This has always been what you’ve been waiting for
Breathe in
As this can be your chance, your escape
Your salvation
Your fears have no place here
Nor does your skepticism
They can’t prevail here
nor can they intervene
For this is your place and this is where you ought to be
Breathe in
As the sun is going to rise
Realize it’s warmth on your visage
And it’s glimmer on your path
For those are the things you have craved for so long
Breathe in
And let this glee sleep into your body
Making its way into the darkest of your corners
The world has never been this way before…
For you ought to live in this moment
Just…breathe in

SOLOING IT

Author: Nikita Suryawanshi

 

Imagine this scenario: you have a long, nice vacation coming up. You have no deadlines to adhere to, no projects you have to work on, no presentations to make; isn’t that the perfect holiday? Just the idea of taking a break from the daily routine, relaxing and not stressing about work is so tempting that we wish that we had more breaks than working days. And that is what gets all of us excited for vacations and long weekends. And when we think vacations, we tend to think about trips and picnics that we have enjoyed or are planning to undertake.

Trips have this very special quality of making us feel nostalgic whenever we revisit them.  It could be those family trips during the summer, the sudden road trips with your siblings and cousins or that one trip with our friends which was planned but never executed; and for the lucky few, was planned and executed. But among all of these, the one that stands out the most to me is a solo trip. Going on a solo trip is like opening portals for yourself which had been invisible before. Solo travelling, for me, represents freedom and independence. There is so much to see out there and so little time. I personally believe that if your dream is to travel the world, then don’t let the fact that you have no one to go with, stop you from doing so.

Taking a solo trip is daring uncertainty to hit us as hard as it can. And once we have undertaken the challenge, it doesn’t seem as terrifying. Solo trips allow us to spend time with ourselves, to get to know ourselves better, to overcome the fears harboring inside, to let go.  You get to test your own limitations, discover your own powers and the entire process makes us accept and love ourselves. It gives the opportunity to feel and express emotions which we normally wouldn’t have, a chance to interact with strangers, grow with their experiences and live the life of the place we are travelling to. By being forced out of your comfort zone and having to deal with unexpected events and unpredictable experiences, you will learn a lot about yourself. You will come to know yourself intimately whether you want to or not. You won’t need to ask yourself what you would do in a tight spot, or what type of person you are when things happen and you have to deal with them, you will know because you will have been there and done it.

I know it is easier said than done and so I decided to test my own beliefs. I went on a solo trek through a trekking association last summer. I was initially scared, not having done this before, skeptical of the people who will be joining me for ten days. But, looking back at it, I would have regretted not going. I learned so much in those ten days about my potentials and boundaries than I have over my lifetime. I bonded with complete strangers with whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I lived their experiences and now have my own to share. Yes, I wanted to give up many times in that duration but no, I wouldn’t allow myself to. The feeling coursing through me at the peak of our summit was unexplainable. Trying to put it into words, I’ll say that I was feeling exhilarated and detached at the same time. At the end of those ten days, I had struck a new friendship with myself.

Taking that solo trip opened a new chapter in my life. I personally believe that everyone should travel solo at least once in their life and rediscover themselves. Travel far enough to meet yourself. As Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. quoted, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”