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…”

THE VESSEL

Author: Dhruv Yadav

 

Timber, iron, scrapes and paint,

he put them together and he didn’t waste a grain.

There at the shore,

he formed a vessel of his own

To battle the odds of his drowning,

deep down into the unknown.

The boat laid still in the water,

quaint.

Ready to embark on the journey which remained.

While all of his time, energy and efforts were in vain,

for he just sat there in the vessel,

in pain.

Easier would it have been for him to just drown,

for he was just seen as confused and misunderstood

rowing in the crowd.

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

Faith

 

Author- Divyang Arora

There is no liberation, no?
The smoke that surrounds us, with no end.
The pit that we are falling in, with no bottom.
The stink, that no perfume can cover up.
The lock doesn’t have a key
and the prison, it doesn’t have a door
The hope, exists only in our minds.
The saviour, only in our dreams.
The soul stays famished
and the heart, littered.
Not broken. No. Only littered. Spread. Confused. Wild.
There’s a difference.
The mind, it’s not allowed to roam, is it?
The essence of it, wrapped in a bottle
when it should have been the one littered.
The world stands inverted
and the sky, crushing upon me.

But maybe.

Maybe the smoke clouds light
light with age old dust swimming in it, but light indeed.
Light from a hole
and maybe the hole is in a door
Maybe the pit has no bottom
because I am shooting to the sky, amidst stars.
Maybe the stink, is just my nose acting up
Maybe the lock is already open,
and the door is just shut for me to grab the handle.
Maybe I have been standing on the other side of the prison bars,
foolish enough to only look straight.
A lot of maybes they are,
but the hope has a spark of fire to it
hidden in the burnt debris and ashes.
Maybe it’s all in my head,
but why should that mean that it’s not real?
One only needs to stand down with his faith
and remember,
that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times
if one only remembers, to turn on the light.
And maybe, I think as I excite myself,
the saviour is no one but me.

Reborn

Author: Janani Ramachandran


Dewdrops slid down her body
As the snow began to thaw
Uncovering her buried form
That lost its way in the expanse of the perfect white
The sunlight reflecting in her ebony irises for the first time in a long time

One could say she was lifeless
But one look closer
One could feel the slight ministrations of her uncertain breath
Slight yet steady
Like the stream opening to a mighty river
Her ebony irises
Like the inky starless night sky
That conceals a million behind its inky curtains

Her pale arms scratched with blood red scars
Her soft flesh pierced by rough wood and dirt
The fair mixed with the brown
Giving rise to a new hue
The colour of her cocoon
That would give rise to the new her

Her colourless lips encrusted with dried blood
New Ebony hair peeking out from a mass of lifeless strands
Her fat eaten by the ice
Stripping her to her bones
Yet she looked full
In complete harmony with the ice complementing her starved form

They called her a miracle
When they felt a slight twitch in her cold wrist
They had thought that she would’ve snapped
Like the great trees amputated by winter
They’re great arms twisted by the unforgiving cold
Yet there she lay
A subtle pulse in her lifeless form

It should’ve frozen her heart
Crushed her bones
Sucked the life out of her lungs
Iced her blood to bed her in a coffin of ice
There was an endless list of what should have happened
But nothing of what had happened was found in the pieces of parchment

She was alive
Her blood gushing into her veins
Stronger than ever
Her breath like the beginning of a hurricane
The colour returning to her pallid body
Gasps of awe as they watched her arms twitch
Yet what almost everyone missed
Was the drops of liquid lining her closed eyes

Dawn had arrived
The first beam of sunlight hit her heart
A reminder that the wait was over
As her eyes opened
There was a certain light in them
Like a falling star in the inky night sky
That commanded attention and respect
But most importantly fulfilled a wish
It fulfilled hers
She had been reborn

Cooking And Compilations

“Maa! Tell me this. Why is it that I can put in the right amount of salt almost every time? I have never cooked, never been taught about it, then how can I be so accurate with it?” I asked as I sprinkled salt over the pan to caramelize the onions. I must have been cooking some paneer dish, since I cannot cook non-vegetarian food at home. I made dinner that night and everyone felt fulfilled. It was the first time that the biggest food critique, my dad, passed my cooking. I had only cooked Maggi before this, which according to him, is not worth calling food.

“Shivam, you’ve been called to the staff room.” I had been at my best behavior, so I was pretty sure it was not about something I had done. I walked to the staff room and saw a bunch of other kids surrounding Nivedita Ma’am. She was my class teacher in sixth class and she taught English. She called me close and said, “You have a decent pronunciation. If I give you something, will you be able to read it on stage for the morning assembly?” I was excited; it was going to be my first time on stage if you ignore the Bangla play I did in the third standard where the teachers had to feed me my lines by the end. I had to recite the English translation of our national anthem, my first gig.

I was in the fifth standard. Until now, my computer lab was only about presentations but today was going to change my life. “Today we are going to learn about QBASIC: Quick Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. It is a programming language; you can make calculations and even draw with this. It is a lot like LOGO, but it can do a lot more.” I learned the most fundamental program that day. The “Hello World” program. I learned a lot of QBASIC that year, all of which I have now forgotten.

“Before performing in front of everyone, I would want you to take part in the debate. I have written something you can use.” She handed me a two-page long speech. It was perfect. Never have I been able to recreate a speech of that caliber, even though it has been ten years since then. It started and ended with a quote, it even had a poem in between. It was perhaps too good for me. On the day of the competition, I choked. Nevertheless, my assembly presentation went nicely.

“I have always noticed that people with sharper minds have very accurate assumptions when it comes to cooking. They add the right amount of salt, spices, tomatoes, etc.” my mother replied. The conversation ended, but I will be honest, it was not the first time I was cooking. I had made Maggi many times before this. Sometimes I would add a lot of vinegar or soy sauce. However, I had never had difficulty adding ingredients I had tasted. I would add anything I found in the kitchen: Pickles, Garam Masala, raw spices, Chat Masala, absolutely anything! Except for the aforementioned mistakes, I was always proud of my creations. It tasted different every time and Maa would always look forward to my new experiments. 

I cannot continue this without mentioning Dhananjay sir. He hammered down the basics of programming into his students, especially the interested ones. It was the only class I looked forward to, in my last two years of school.  Eventually, I realized, anything that a human can do, can be programmed. Some decisions and repetition of certain steps, a permutation of these could describe anything our human mind can comprehend. He would never tell us the shortcuts until we mastered the basics. We would print patterns, sort numbers. Arranging numbers in ascending order can be done in one line. Nevertheless, he made us develop our own way to do it, after which he told us about the existence of the shortcut.

 

These three hobbies influenced me greatly. It was not until recently that I realized how similar they are.

 

A good dish needs a good recipe. There are hundreds of ways to cook but it all starts with choosing the right ingredients. They must be fresh, their taste and textures should complement each other and the spices. The way they are prepared can make a huge difference. Dicing, fine chopping, grating, Julienne cutting, blending, etc. can give a wide spectrum of flavors and taste to the same ingredients. Roasting, shallow frying, deep-frying, steam cooking, etc. are all possible ways and each of them can highlight a different aspect of the same ingredient. The taste should make the person hungrier with every bite while eating half the time and make them feel fuller with every next bite for the next half.

A good speech is always less than 5 minutes long. A good lecture should not have more than 15 minutes of explanation. You need roughly 5 minutes to change the opinion of a person or to implant an idea in the crowd’s mind. A rhetorical question or a statement, preferably a joke, with a deeper meaning is always good to start with. The type of language you use, how formal you are and how you present controversial statements could make or break your speech. You should divide it into sections with interconnected topics. The most crucial step is to connect with the hearts of the crowd. I have never won any prizes for my public speaking, but I have always received a better response from my crowd than my competitors have.

A good program must have comments. After some experience, one can always tell a good code apart from a bad one. When reading a good code, you can visualize what is happening in each step. There are varieties of ways to solve a problem and optimization is the key. Choosing the right language for the right problems is a lot like choosing the right weapon to hunt. You cannot hunt birds with spears. For a problem with strings you would choose Python or JavaScript, for a numerical problem C and for a problem where you need copies of similar items, you would want to use Java.

My best code would be the menu-driven attendance management system I made, using a 2-Dimensional linked list. It was an absolute beauty. All the functions well connected, no bugs, extremely fluid and highly interactive. My masterpiece. I have come all the way from QBASIC and I still have miles to go.

From choking up in my first speech, I gave a monologue for my school farewell. It was filled with witty remarks and anecdotes from my final couple of years at school. Everyone found it relatable and had a great time. I had left my final mark, spoken my final words at school. Another good speech I gave was the one where I prepared to go for a competition but it turned out to be just an exhibition performance. I spoke crystal clear, everything went perfect and the audience was left spellbound. Once, when I had to deliver a poem written by our school’s late great director, my mic malfunctioned and every “sh” came out as an “s” and it came out as a detestable rustic accent. I now write my own scripts, they are nowhere near the first script I got, but the audience always loves it. My dream is to pull off something like Mark Antony from Julius Caesar. I can never speak well during my practice presentations, but I absolutely nail it when it matters.

I am still improving my cooking. I can follow recettes but I cannot combine non-powdered spices to create the real magic of food yet. My best dish would be the Shahi Paneer I made before coming back from my summer vacation. I can also not forget how I once messed up Anchari Paneer by using twice the amount of spices than necessary. If the first were a swim in a lake on a sunny summer day, the latter felt like walking bare feet in the desert and licking sand out of thirst.

Once you light the stove, introduce yourself on the podium or submit the code for checking test cases, there is no turning back. You have to prepare and keep all the ingredients handy; you cannot chop onions while frying your spices. They need care, five extra seconds of frying and you have vaporized their flavors. You have to ensure you are speaking in a flow, every expression, direct or indirect is visible on stage. You might think you covered it up, but a long enough pause, a slight fumble that you correct by repeating the words, it’s all noticed and you lose all the recognition from your audience. Every time you build and compile your code, the entire CPU, all of the hardware engages to comprehend what you have instructed the computer to do. Even if you asked it to do a never-ending job, it will do it until stopped. This could crash the system; damage the hardware, this small bug is enough to destroy the entire motherboard. One lazy person created the Y2K problem, which could have ended up with us losing all our digital data as we entered the new century.

All three of them, are the same. It is all about living in the moment, enjoying what you are doing and not thinking about anything else in the world. Every time I put on the frying pan, step on a stage or compile my code, time stops. My mind clears out, and all I can think of is what I am doing. My senses become sharper than a doe in an unknown part of the forest. A slight change of smell and my dish might be ruined, a short hum and my speech is gone, and a missing semicolon is like a murder amidst a crowd. I cannot afford to make a mistake, if I make one; I have to live with it. Every hobby is an escape from the daily life, where you live the moment with no pain from the past or worry about the future. “A hobby might not define who you are, but it definitely affects some aspects of your personality.” I leave you with this statement to ponder upon and the fact that Adolf Hitler made great paintings (like the one above), to support the above statement.

Unsolved-The arrow of Time

Author: By Aditi Chandrasekar 

I had been reading a book by Brian Greene a few weeks ago, titled “The Fabric of the cosmos”. While the entire book was filled with revelations and existential puzzles, one specific part stuck with me for a few days after I returned the book to the library. It talked about a concept that was first put into words by a Sir Arthur Eddington-the ‘arrow of time’. This basically refers to the characteristic of time that it is directed forward. Somehow, we are all inherently aware of this dogma of time-that the past is behind us and the future is ahead. When I first came across this, it seemed obvious to me that it should be dismissed as a subjective matter. I formulated this “arrow of time” as just a sort of fulcrum of our perception of the world. But when I started contemplating the objectivity of ordinary incidents and their asymmetrical nature-for example, a glass window shattering, a sandwich being eaten, and even extraordinary processes like the journey of a star from dust to a white dwarf, my mind begged to have a substantive answer to the question-Why does time never go backward? In Sir Arthur Eddington’s book “The Nature of the physical world” published in 1928, he first addresses the concept in a part that goes: 

‘The great thing about time is that it goes on. But this is an aspect of it which the physicist sometimes seems inclined to neglect. In the four-dimensional world . . . the events past and future lie spread out before us as in a map. The events are there in their proper spatial and temporal relation ; but there is no indication that they undergo what has been described as “the formality of taking place” and the question of their doing or undoing does not arise.’ 

As the world started coming to terms with Eddington’s stuff, there was an increased pressure on physics for an explanation as it had realized that there is a deep puzzle behind familiar phenomena. Many advances have been made but the conundrum is far from solved. To distinguish the past and the future, the arrow was defined as the direction in which entropy or disorder increases. Classifications were made-the thermodynamic arrow of time, cosmological arrow of time, quantum mechanical arrow of time, psychological arrow of time etc, Intriguing possibilities were contemplated-worlds not within the constraints of entropy gradient in which we are born, new physical models which conflict with our ordinary asymmetric perspective. But the long years coupled with the minimal progress, beg the question-have we simply hit an impenetrable barrier of the universe? 

Trailing Stars

 Author: Janani Ramachandran
A silent cry echoed through the grey walls,

As she swept the deserted corridors with her blush gown,

Her movement frantic as she attempted to see beyond the engulfing darkness,

The white of the moon,

Unable to escape the demons lurking in the unnamed darkness,

She found her turquoise eyes closing in feeble attempt to safety,

A surge of hope caressing the walls of her heart,

As a faint silhouette of a lantern appeared before her mind’s eye,

The light reflecting off her bejewelled crown sparkling on every wall,

Mimicking the stars adorning the bare night sky,

Its radiance rivalled only by her twinkling eyes,

Her endearing face alit with a silly smile, the golden light dusting it with a rosy blush,

The toothy grin and the matching pigtails a sharp contrast,

To the serious look she often feigned in childish humour,

Involuntarily reaching for the floating light with her little chubby fingers,

As the soft crackle of the flames resonated within her,

Her little head lifting in surprise as the lantern suddenly disappeared,

Only for the darkness to be lit by another one,

Fierce determination swirling like an immature whirlpool in her aqua eyes,

She swore to capture it again in a race against time,

And found herself make the biggest leap of her life,

But what she was yet to know, was time was bound to win,

As she leaped to grab the light, time played its part,

Mid- leap she outgrew her fine little clothes,

Her juvenile grin sculpting into a serene smile,

Her face now composed of features that seemed like subtle strokes of art,

Yet her surroundings carried no sign of her sudden metamorphosis,

Waking up from the fall she found herself curled in fetal stance,

Preserving nothing of her past but only her heart,

That forever carried her childish smile written within its walls,

As she looked back she hoped to find the floating lanterns,

That had her smiles and tears inked on their walls of light,

Yet all she saw was the trail of stars,

That had scripted her story via Cassiopeia,

The constellation that told her tale and lit her night sky,

The princess that day became the Queen of constellations,

Earth that day met the stars..

Sands Of time

Author: Janani Ramachandran

 

Far away in the dirty suburbs of Kashmir,

The army commander held his breath for life,

The hidden time bomb ticking every second,

 

Down south of the subcontinent,

A woman lay dying in her drug induced sleep,

The malign cancer engulfing her cells every second,

 

In the East of the peninsular land,

The mighty river raged on ravaging livelihoods,

An old widower clutching his departed love’s portrait,

A serene smile on his wrinkled face,

as he watched his life ebb away every second,

 

Due west of the diverse nation,

Silent hospital walls disturbed by the cries of a mother,

Complications in the birth increasing every second.

 

The four lives lay far apart by the compass rose,

Their strings of fate woven by only one link,

Hovering above their heads stands the fragile hourglass,

In it flow the sands of time in their own accord,

Completely in-cognizant of the mayhem and chaos,

Though the aftermath of the dance of fate unknown,

Lie a certain beauty to the lingering uncertainties.