Distinction Achieved

“May I come in, professor?”

“Yeah, sure Ritika. Have a seat”, said Mr. Roy.

Fidgeting, she sat down on a velvet couch, exposed to his deep stare. She looked around her. Even though it was quite a normal cabin, it seemed plush and spacious than the rest.

Mr. Roy, an ex-attorney, was an eminent law professor at The Institute of Legal Studies, Ranchi. Apart from taking classes of criminal law, he was also in charge of training the undergraduates for the internships. In the current circumstances, Ritika Dey, one of his top students had just screwed up on a very crucial case.

After what seemed like an eternity, Ritika spoke, “I am terribly sorry, sir. Just give me a chance. I ca-”

“I am sorry. It’s not in my hands anymore”, she was interrupted by Mr. Roy. His voice was soft but his intentions were clear.

Disappointed, she left his office. Unsure of her next step, she strolled the corridors for a while. Her eyes fell on a guy, loitering in the hallway. It was Dhruv Talwar, her former partner in that case. Suddenly, she felt a surge of anger rise within her. What a jerk! He was the one who had messed up and then backed out shamelessly.

Dhruv was among the popular guys in college. He was handsome, had rich parents and hanged out with all the cool kids. Being in the same batch, they knew each other to the extent of acquaintanceship. It was only after Mr. Roy handed them a case together, as a part of the innocence project, that they began interacting with each other. Their case began on a good note. But as always, Ritika remained invisible while Dhruv took all the credits. Deep inside she was furious, but she knew it was pointless. It would be only a matter of time before the project would be over and they would move on with their respective lives.

However, the prison visits were the worst. The inmate, Jay, was thrown to jail based on accusations of illegal trade with a potentially dangerous drug dealer. Though the shreds of evidence were inadequate, he was facing a death sentence. From a prosperous businessman, he merely became a nameless criminal.

Ritika knew that they had to meet with him every week and highlight the loopholes in his arrest documents. What she didn’t know until recently was the fact that the two guys with whom she worked were attracted to each other. Dhruv had arranged quite a few illicit visits to the prison. And it was the hidden CCTVs that had captured their rendezvous, thus bringing an end to the show. The prison officials obviously didn’t suspect their romance, but instead made an allegation of some conspiracy. Moreover, Dhruv was reluctant to come forward with his orientation. He was afraid of his reputation. This further jeopardized their case. She could tolerate gay dudes but her teammate going behind her back was not at all acceptable.

Ritika was snapped back to reality as a green light flashed on her phone.

Called the federal prison this morning. Your case is dropped. Jay’s visitation rights will be suspended from Thursday. Only a day and a half left. Do something ASAP.

Her best friend, Tiyasha’s message popped up on the screen. With long strides, she rushed home. Her classes were almost over. Dhruv was as lazy and useless as he could be. Thus, it was about time she took the reins and straightened things out.

Alone in her room, Ritika began contemplating her plan. It was vague.

The thought of his life lying in her hands made her even more anxious. She had to think fast. Now!  She started all over again, from the very beginning.

An idea struck her. She gathered her files and hurried away. An introvert, shy and apprehensive, the twenty-one-year-old had never before made the journey to a prison alone. But, here she was. Trying to look confident, Ritika Dey entered the large iron gates of the prison and walked straight, hoping for her strategy to succeed. After all, it was her life. She was going to be a lawyer. She had to assert her presence, with or without any help.

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The Minor Majority

I am a nationalist.
There. I said it.

And I’m not ashamed of being dubbed one. I’m just sick and tired of how this concept has become one associated with rebels and radicals.
With the rise of the so called ‘pseudo-liberal’ junta in our country, nationalists being compared to terrorists is not uncommon.
Our country has just recently passed 3 landmark judgements. The abolishment of Triple Talaq, removal of Article 377 and allowing women to visit the Sabarimala Temple.
Now these judgments are instrumental, and they have given relief and happiness to millions of Indians.

However, our so called ‘Liberals’ don’t seem satisfied.
Rehana Fathima recently raised furore all over the state of Kerala after breaking into the Sabarimala Temple without permission and causing nuisance.

In doing so, she instantly made headlines all over the country, in a bid to revive her dead modelling career. But did she ‘really’ need to do it?
Fathima doesn’t really care about Lord Ayyapa, the main deity at the Sabarimala. She just wanted to prove a point. In the midst of that, she created nuisance at the temple and hurt the sentiments of thousands of ‘true’ devotees. Did she really need the publicity so bad?

Such stunts are quite prevalent in our country now. They seem hidden to the public eye. But after some observation, I’ve seen that these stunts are quietly ubiquitous.
‘Sanju’: A biopic on Sanjay Dutt, released to much fanfare this July. While the movie was enjoyable, the hidden assault on Hinduism was in very bad taste. While it is well known that Dutt was friends with Dawood Ibrahim, the film decided to portray underworld via a Tilak-clad Ganpati devotee. Now this is not a one off instance. Who can forget the ‘Shiva’ scene in P.K?

Even during festivals, there is sudden increase in news articles about the harms that firecrackers pose towards animals and how Idol immersion is bad for water bodies.

I do agree that these practices are harmful but the way our media portrays Hindu festivals is obnoxious and cynical. Where are they when Bakri-Eid or Moharram is on?

Similarly, why didn’t Rehana Fathima chose one of a thousand mosques where women aren’t allowed?
Why didn’t she hesitate to do the same at a place considered sacred by people of another faith?

‘Oppression’.

This is the word which would’ve been in the headlines if Sanju included Dawood. If articles got published on Bakri-Eid. If Fathima trespassed a mosque. If a person from the minority community is asked to stand up for the national anthem.
Why can’t we call a spade a spade and drop the victim mentality?
It’s high time facts stop being twisted to suit one community and target another.
It’s high time we start treating others as equal.
It’s high time we stop disgracing nationalism.

Profanity: why we need it

It was Friday, I was visiting my home as I do every three weeks or so. It was my bad luck that this time I didn’t get a window seat but the train journey was only two hours. As I didn’t get a window to look outside at, I was peeking at the person sitting next to me as one does. She was watching Game of Thrones on her phone. I cursed myself for not charging my mobile beforehand. With twenty-three percent, I can only listen to songs. Soon enough, my eyes went back to her phone screen shamelessly. It was the Battle of Black-water episode, a brilliant one yet my instincts went alarming. ‘This one has nudity in it! Like a lot of it!’ I remembered immediately and looked around.

Naturally, the person sitting next to her, a man in his forties was peeking just like me. As expected, the scene came up and I was curious what she would do. She kept watching not minding the next person.  I observed that man who noticed a college girl watching nude scenes in a public place and he gave the most judgmental look I’ve ever seen. The awkwardness went away as soon as the episode moved on to the action scene.

Smiling at the situation I put on my headphones. I was listening to Eminem, a rap singer who curses a lot to express emotions. My parents used to give a similar look when I listen to him on loudspeaker, so I had to switch to headphones. Grown ups were always hypocritical about youngster’s line of interests.

The train reached the destination and I took a rickshaw, got down at the edge of my street and walked home.

Usually the street looks alive filled with children playing hide and seek or badminton. I was one among those children a few years back until studies became a priority. Although, this Friday the street was unusually dead. There were no playing kids, no one was around.

After entering my place, having some food and rest, passing some time, I looked at the street again. It was still deserted. I asked my mother as to why there were no children playing. ‘Oh, you didn’t know? Lakshmi, from the next building died yesterday. It was a suicide’ she broke the news

‘What?! How?!’ I asked shaken

‘She had to write Quarterly exam the next day. Her parents were in the AC room while she was studying in the hall or at least that’s what they thought she was doing.  The next morning, they woke up, they saw her hanging by her mother’s….’ My mother went on to explain the details

‘Yeah, okay I get it. Stop’ I stopped her as I felt the back of my neck thinning and filling with uneasiness. ‘I used to play with her’

‘She studied Eleventh standard, in your school only. Your school is infamous for students ending up like this under stress, you have no idea how concerned I was when you were there’ my mother explained but I had to disagree immediately ‘My teachers are nothing like that! I mean, there was stress, anxiety and problems but…’ I wanted to argue but I couldn’t finish the sentence. I wasn’t able to tell her exactly how I didn’t end up killing myself even though I too had my fair share of dark days.

That night I couldn’t sleep but think and wonder, what would’ve happened to her to make her take that decision and why something like that didn’t occur to me.  I remember my first day in eleventh standard, my new maths teacher gave an introductory class of maths in general and he took an example sum of infinite series. He explained how one could easily get the answer for nine plus ninety-nine plus nine hundred and ninety-nine and so on. When I walked out of the class after it ended on my way to home, I looked at a BMW car and it’s hot engine, I looked at beautiful house where a gardener was watering the plants that had roses of different colors and all of them melted into the number nines, the infinite nines all crowded and standing in my way like a giant spider made of nine’s.

‘All of this? That car, that house, that garden. I can get all of this only if I go through this complicated maths?’ I thought, confused, stressed. ‘Did my mother and father go through this so that they can feed me? Is there no other way?’ I asked myself as the thought of finishing the assignment before the deadline was killing me. It was almost like Math was choking me and telling me I am the weakest person in the world.

I grew up in the same school for the first ten years with the same set of friends but I had to join the bigger school because the IIT coaching there was better. Being the new fish for the first time in my life didn’t help either. I had to face bullies for the whole first year and deal with them.

Thinking back about all of this in my bed that night made me wonder how, how did I get through all of that?

The age of 16 is very confusing. You are not an adult yet but you’re not a child anymore either. You use curse words or talk about sex, it’s inappropriate. You talk about free things that come along with Kellogg’s Chocos or dolls you wanted to have, that’s inappropriate too.  I remember seeing a video of a baby when given a candy or a favorite toy, the baby would stand up and clap its hands in excitement while jumping up and down. The same baby would cry aloud spitting everywhere and agitate in frustration if the same toy or candy is taken away. There is no shame is saying that adults come across similar situation all the time but crying or jumping as you clap is seen as straight up bad behavior. Well, for a person who’s sixteen and has been treated as a child up until that point, he or she have been expressing their emotions one way all this time, now they’re expected to express it another way but are never shown or taught how. Continue reading

A SIMPLE SORRY

The doorbell rang once, then twice and thrice in quick succession. I burst through the doors as soon as they opened, shaking myself dry. The rain was falling in sheets as if to complement my sour mood. I’d just had a big fight with my friend which involved a lot of cursing and shouting. To top it all off, I’d pushed her into the mud and was gone before she could get up. My mother asked me what was wrong and it all came pouring out- how it was all her fault and I had done the right thing. She made me sit down and explained calmly that no matter what had happened, I should apologise for pushing her.

I’ve heard this argument at least a thousand times till now-how apologising makes you the bigger person, how you should learn to forgive and forget. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me back then and things haven’t changed over the years. I judge people within seconds of meeting them, and most of the opinions I form are harsh. And if they do anything to even remotely justify my thoughts, I rant about it to whoever is listening. My parents no longer explain things to me “calmly” and I blame them for not taking their daughter’s side in everything. Sometimes I say sorry, but it doesn’t reach my eyes, so I don’t think anyone is buying it. I have a gift of being unfazed by everything happening around me. You may think I’ve been very rude to you, but chances are that I haven’t attached any importance to the incident and am blissfully ignorant of your anger. I’ve seen people giving “sorry notes” to their friends with a chocolate inside it. What’s the logic? Are you trying to win them over with food? Does putting it down in writing help you feel better? Why invest so much time over such a silly thing? All this was before I joined college and lived in a hostel for the first time. There is something very different about living with someone other than your parents. You form such deep-rooted friendships that they start feeling like family. I was still the same, forming opinions about all my roommates as soon as I met them, rude as ever. But as they turned into friends from roommates, I finally understood why people apologise. You don’t apologise to make yourself feel better, you do it out of love or respect for someone. It’s alright to set your ego aside if it makes someone happy. You write “sorry notes” because the person is important to you. The apologies don’t come easily, but at least I’m trying. I guess some things can never be taught, you have to realise them on your own. Maybe this is what growing up is all about?

 

                                                                                                                -Sonal Mahanta

Four Seasons

Four Seasons

A ‘season’ can sometimes refer to a time in life instead of the weather. But does that mean everyone experiences it differently?

Arya ran to class, not just through the shaded walk but also in the sun and up the stairs. Not because her professor was firm about his students keeping the right time, but because she wanted to. Her new red top stood out and her ID tag was shiny. Her perfect hair fell over her shoulders with ease. She carried a full bag to all her classes and didn’t mind climbing six floors with it. Of course, she still had to look at her schedule on her phone after each lecture, it had just been a week. And since it had been just a week, she ended up being in some wrong classes too. But that didn’t bother her; no one was looking or judging and she loved hearing from other teachers.

It was either silly games with her new classmates during the breaks or strolling around trying to get the college map imprinted onto her mind. And the sun or the time didn’t matter. The boys did. The food and her room did but only a little. There was the occasional guilt of not ending up at a better college stemming from comparison with old school friends but she didn’t want that on her mind that day.

After a midday call with her parents on her yet-to-be-ported sim, she decided to spend the afternoon in the library and so began her seemingly long walk to the library, across the campus. She went through the shelves as though she knew all the subjects being taught in the college. She noticed an empty spot and pulled out some heavy books she thought were interesting and walked towards the seat. On her way, she bumped into a weary-looking girl. She gave Arya a judgemental look for carrying the books. A scanning glance, bottom to top, and she walked away.

 

“These freshers are such dorks”, Asmi thought to herself as she walked away from a girl carrying, what she could only label as tomes, in one of the aisles of the library. She had been there the past hour juggling adroitly between a group project and some work for her club. However, her willingness to spend a perfectly good hour during midday in the still library stemmed from her frustration due to her boisterous roommates. And now, her frizzy pony bobbed as she walked briskly towards her first class of the day. It had been three weeks but she was always late to class. Fearing her professor might ask her to turn back and leave, she started running.

She walked in and skirted along the twisted aisle right to the last bench where she expected her bunch to be, but it was empty. She wondered where they were as she sat down. Her eyes weren’t on the board, they were on her phone. She scrolled through group chats and memes while also wondering how she needed to get her laundry done soon. After a while, the professor started the roll call and Asmi’s eyes went up only to realize that she had spent the past forty minutes in the wrong class.

Disappointed, she left the class and walked a few steps before bumping into her friends. They judged her, but more importantly, they understood her. “You should cut yourself some slack and slow down. The semester just started. Isn’t that the same shirt you wore yesterday? Maybe I should hook you up with someone. That’ll make you dress better”, said one of them. And suddenly, her troubles faded. They all went out for their routine milkshakes after the remaining classes and it always helped Asmi to unwind with friends and food. But the day was far from over, she had yet to finish up on her assignment and make the daily pilgrimage at night to her club meeting. She attended them religiously. The peaceful walk back to her hostel, alone in the dark, was the best part of her day. That night, however, she walked beside her trusted senior and friend.

 

Aastha was contemplating if the club and her position there was worth her time anymore as she gave her junior some advice on college life. She had just started dating a boy and between a relationship and academics, she felt the need for more personal time. Returning to her room, she sank into her bed knowing tomorrow would be another chance at being productive. No texting, no calling, just some much-needed rest. She woke up early the next day and walked to class in her worn out denims, with one notebook and her hair tied in a bun. The classes rolled by, after all, it had been two years now and she knew what it took to get by five of them continuously – don’t look at the watch frequently and now there was someone with her who made it easy. She was secretly proud of the fact that she had not yet sat through a wrong class this year.

She didn’t exactly have free time, for hobby or even friends. It all went into her meetings with teachers to chalk out plans of execution for her research project and of course, improving her grades and skills. She had applied for and was awaiting a research grant. While most others still hung out often, the uncertainty of the impending future hung heavily on Aastha’s shoulders. It seemed to affect her more than it affected her friends. She couldn’t remember the last time she had lunch or dinner with them but sitting on her laptop and working for hours peculiarly filled the void. The good part was that it had made her humble and understanding. She didn’t mind now if her friends couldn’t make time for her; she had learned to live by herself and do things that truly mattered.

After giving it a lot of thought through the day, she typed a long and hard goodbye message to the club members, choosing the project over them. The people had grown to be a part of her through three long semesters but somehow, she felt happier that evening. More time for herself. She called her mentor to thank her for her guiding light.

 

Aradhya was in the middle of ironing her formals late in the evening when she got a call. It was a lost yet determined soul she had given some insight and knowledge to, a year back. “My investment paid off!” she figured as Aastha thanked her and wished her luck for her interview the next day. “I’ll buy you a milkshake if I land the job”, she promised Aastha. She was ready is all she had heard from her friends, her roommate, and her parents but for the first time in a long while, she had trouble sleeping that night. It was understandable.

She got up early the next day before the alarm went off. While getting ready, her phone rang. She knew it was her parents, calling to wish her luck perhaps. Her roommate always eaves-dropped on her call but this time around, there was nothing to hear as Aradhya was dead silent. “Her parents shouldn’t let her know that the university rejected her application right before the interview. She was preparing herself to lie to the panel about not pursuing higher studies to get an offer, but now, the very question will shake her up. How the tables have turned! Poor girl!” she thought.

Aradhya had a stern expression on her face after the call. Afraid to ask her more about it and throw off her focus from the interview, her roommate just wished her luck. She got ready silently and walked out with her files. There was nothing more to lose now and she had a certain poise in her walk. You’ve got to believe me when I say that she was the most confident person among the lot that got interviewed that day.

A year later, Aastha and Asmi walked into the milkshake joint. As Astha reminisced how she and Aradhya had celebrated there, she wondered if the milkshake would symbolize a tradition. Little did she know that Asmi was going to walk back with Arya that night.

The Mail Carrier

Ramapuram was a small, sleepy town. Full with unambitious people roaming around the big banyan tree, as if it had borne the nucleus of the old town. People were happy, everyone going around for their work, everyone sustaining the small town economically. Industrialisation had left the town almost untouched, which only added to the natural beauty the town had. Letting things be as they imbibes a certain untouched beauty to the subject, and Ramapuram, if seen through the right eyes, was a perfect example.

Raman was one of the many dreamy-eyed residents of this town. As small a boy he was, like all other boys and girls of the town, he went to the only school the little place had. The school was a place of interest for the boys. The most striking features of the school were the old thatched roof, the archaic yellowed walls, the rusty blackboards, and the almost uninterested teachers. Almost as if it was an epitome of neglect and carelessness. The teachers had not been changed in years, nor had been the classrooms. The old furniture had borne the brunt of all the aimless people who happened to use it, day after day.

Every day would come and pass by. The students were taught the same Sanskrit, History, English Composition and Maths every day. The teachers would come and drone, each stricter than the other. Perhaps if not in terms of qualifications, they competed with each other. Maybe they compensated for their lack of scientific acumen with their strictness, which eventually made the students fear them, and hence, ask no questions.

Yet, Raman did not mind. He had no doubts. He was certain. The day would end at the same time the train passed the school, and more certain he was of the fact that the school was not a place for him. He was considered a failure. He would sleep through his classes. Sometimes some teacher would wake him up only to beat him up, most of the times, the teachers just sighed and let him sleep. Who does not sleep in school anyway?

The end of the school day almost coincided with the loud noise the daily mail carrier train would make as it would pass by the town. Out of the many trains that passed by the town, the mail carrier was the most important one. To the people who worked at the small forge by the lake, it signalled lunch. For the teachers at the school, the mail would mean the end of a sultry workday. The old people would go for their afternoon naps, which would often extend into the wee hours of the next morning (Then under the banyan tree they could be heard saying, “These young people are so lazy, sleeping late into the morning. How do they expect to be successful?”). To Raman though, the mail always meant the end of the sufferings he had to endure every day.

Monday was a new week, a new day, a new start. Raman hadn’t been so pumped in years as he was on that Monday. He somehow looked forward to the classes. Though it seemed wrong to his gut, all down to his roots, he somehow knew he could face the teachers today. Sanskrit came, and he could correct grammar in all of the verses the teacher wrote on the board. The Gita, the Ramayana and some verses from the famous Meghdootam, he could recite and correct them all. History was cake today. He knew all the dates. The Mughal Empire, the year Sir Thomas Roe attended Jahangir’s court, the year Bahadur Shah Zafar died. He knew it all. Nobody got appreciation from the history teacher, and yet, Raman was the only one in the class the teacher heaped praises upon.

English composition was a breeze too. Raman could summarise every chapter of Tom Sawyer with ease. Maybe like Tom, he had risen up to the occasion when he was least expected to. Though Raman was not as mischievous as Tom, he obviously shared the laziness. Maths was easy too. Linear algebra was easy. He did not even need to lift his hand to compute the value of x (Only if life was as easy as solving a linear equation, he thought). On Monday, Raman felt what he never thought he’d feel. He felt at ease with his school, his life. He could ace the exams on Monday. A new week is a new start for all of us, after all.

Raman knew that he had changed his life that day. Filled with a new sense of purpose, a feeling of satisfaction, and the best of it all, he was not unnoticed anymore. It felt so strange to him, as to how his life could have turned a full circle in a day, but oh yes, he was happy.

Like all good stories though, be it Romeo and Juliet or the Iliad, this good story couldn’t last forever. After all, success is not achieved in a day (or in a night). It is a path tread only by the hardworking and the certain. Success is a rare commodity, and like many other essential commodities, was in low supply at Ramapuram.

The sun had climbed up the horizon, the mail carrier had come to Ramapuram, and like all trains, it carried news for the people around it. The news is like sunlight. It warms up the things it touches, much to Raman’s dismay.

The train’s shrill whistle shook the townspeople up. Raman felt a surge of dread shrouding his new world. He started feeling the same lethargy he felt every day. He did not want his day to end, but it started slipping like sand from his fist. No matter how hard he tried holding on to it, it was just slipping away. This new wave of sadness had introduced a new screeching and pulsating pain in his left ear, or so Raman thought (After all, sadness does cause pain). Wasn’t sadness supposed to ache his heart, and not his ear?

The next thing Raman could hear was his Maths teacher pulling at his ear, “Don’t sleep in my class, you moron! The mail’s here, the day is over, go back to your home and sleep.”. To the sound of the mail’s shrill whistle, Raman’s new world came crashing down and broke to form his old one. Raman hated homecomings.

A DIFFERENT WAY

Storytelling is an art, a talent of its own.  The earliest forms of storytelling must have been verbal aided by drawings. Nevertheless, It has evolved. Our first meeting with stories are usually through our parents, telling us a story to help us sleep. But the paths fork as we continue through our lives. Comics and short stories come first, followed by light novels, complete novels and then audio books for those, who are too busy to read or have weak eyesight.

We look for stories due to a lot of reasons. We learn from true stories. We find an escape from the real world. If you talk to a bookworm about their books, they get so passionate that you want to grab the first book you see and dive right into them. You are compelled to see what they see and feel what they feel.

Storytelling has evolved drastically over the years. We now have movies, TV soaps, anime and what not.  The method of storytelling that is being advocated here is RPGs which is acronym for Role Playing Games. People seem to unable to wrap their heads around the fact that stories can be told in such dynamic ways.

Novels were plain text, so they added illustrations, which according to many are obnoxious and disgraceful. However, a major school of people believe video games are too violent to be considered to be even remotely related to educated adults. There exist competitive games where the sole purpose is to win over other people, just like any other mental sport. The skills required are not just faster reflexes and better hand eye coordination but also the ability to foresee enemy strategies and counter acting them. Nevertheless, there are games that are meant for people to enjoy the story from all genres including horror, action, adventure, sorrow, fantasy, romance etc.

It never ceases to amaze me how one game can make people feel so many emotions in just one story.  

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I can never forget how scared I was when I first saw Dahaka, the keeper of timelines. He looked like a minotaur with horns shaped like infinity. He was all black ,surrounded by black mist, with white eyes. Oh the nightmares.

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I was really happy, when the assassin pirate, Edward   Kenway, returned home from his adventures after   saving  the world. He then took his young daughter on   the seas with her as she was the only family he had left.

 When you develop the powers of your character in the   story, adding strengths that suit your playing style,   unlike   how the author wanted him to be, gives a feeling   of fulfillment.

 

If you are a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ fan, you can see the graugs and the castles, climb on them, build your army. All these can’t be done in the book.

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Just like novels, these games come in series. Many popular novels take to games to tell the story of the prequel or aftermath of the printed text. These games give the user a sense of achievement, very similar to finishing a page or chapter in the book. However, words can never signify the difficulty of 35 retries just to get through that one villain and the satisfaction of continuing the story after his death. A novel only gives credits to 10 people, but a game owes its creation to many times that number.  The story of a haunted house becomes way more enthralling when you see the witch cut your arm and hear the chainsaw of the man following you rather than when you read of these things happening.

Novels and games have similar cons as well. They come at the cost of time, attention and money. There is piracy and duplication. They can leave you with nightmares or daydreams. Although, you will never end up strategizing your next moves and plan on exploiting your enemy’s weaknesses when you are reading a novel.

Albeit every person is made different. Some of us like apples, some oranges while some of us like both. You can like one and not hate the other. It all comes down to what your poison is.

King

Long live the King“, the Friday Daily Mail screamed.

Keith ‘King’ Bell had finally decided to hang up his boots.

He lay majestically on his bed as the sunshine shone on his forehead from the window. A bed whose size was in accordance to his nickname. It was 7 AM. He woke up. Today was his final game.

After 15 years in cricket, Keith had become the world’s most feared fast bowler. But cricket was not his sole love.

He had as many headlines on page 3 as the number of stumps he’d rattled in his career. Tall and well built, he was feared on the pitch, and loved in the green rooms. A transition to action films was stirred up, but never taken seriously.

Being a media darling surely helped sustain his ‘Most Eligible Bachelor’ image all this while. A photo of him with any of the new movie bombshells was a prize catch for the ravenous paparazzi.

But it was all over now. After 15 years of physical and mental strain, he’d finally called time on an illustrious career.
Thousands of teary eyes were spotted at the Mecca of cricket during his testimonial match. No one wanted him to go.

Keith wasn’t really sure of his future goals.
Coaching? Never. He hated all his gaffers.
Commentary? Meh.

Reaching home after his final match, all he wanted was sleep. Enough sleep to rest his madly overworked torso.

Sadly, the siesta was cut short by a call.
A call which shook him to his core.

The caller had also mailed him a picture. Of him with Kubal Malik.

The King with the most wanted bookie of the sport.

“It’ll be on the Daily Mail tomorrow”, quipped the caller, cutting the call abruptly.

It was over. His 15 year old legacy was shredded to bits.

He shouted, disbelief in his voice. A 30 second call had turned a 15 year old career into a scam.

The shouting dried down. He wept now.

The clock chimed as the needle hit 6.
It was dark outside.

His heart was full of regret.
It was dark inside.

He slowly crawled into his bed, with a small black bottle in his hand.

It was 7 AM.

He lay majestically on his bed as the sunshine shone on his forehead from the window. With foam on his mouth.

Long live the King. The King is dead“, the Saturday Daily Mail screamed.

Shivansh Mishra

A FREE SLAVE

poems.jpegShe was standing right there,
Exquisite dress, coiffed hair.
Jewels studded on her pompadour,
Her dress, sweeping the floor.
Neck embellished with rubies,
Gown swaying in the soft breeze.
The night had fallen,
But the room lit brazen.
It was decorated too,
Painted with the hues of bright red and light blue.
Bespangled with the likes of Picasso,
This beauty, the lavishness, one couldn’t let go.

But all came into my periphery,
When she looked at me.
Her skin, cadaverous and shriveled,
Her face, bemused and bewildered.
With eyebrows drawn close,
Full of Suffering, remorse.
Veins etched on her forehead,
Her eyes bled.

I looked right into her eyes,
“I die, if she dies”.
That soul was screaming at me,
She wanted to be free.
Those bulging eyes brimming with sorrow,
She didn’t want to live tomorrow.

I shook my head, took two steps back,
Lifted the vase kept on the rack.
Threw it at mirror, flew away the shards,
Now all is mentioned in the writing of this bard.

I am tired of being this free slave,
This body is my living grave.

The Interview

Name: Nivedita Singh

Age:23

Degree: Journalism (DU-2016)

Job profile: Previously worked as a news reporter at Times Now

Category: General

Mr. Shah, HR head of Miracle handshakes, was studying her CV quite closely and was almost scowling. He looked up from his desk and asked sternly, “So you want to join our start-up?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Will you be able to manage this large project on your own?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But you haven’t done any research work before. Are you sure you want this job?”

“Yes, sir.”

Then he asked Nivedita some general questions about mining bases, following which, she was dismissed.

************************

It was slightly raining outside. Small droplets spattered on her file as she stepped out of the old building. The interview had barely lasted for five minutes and she was convinced that her interviewer hadn’t looked very happy. However, she was confident enough that they would hire her since she was more qualified than her contemporaries.

Six weeks had passed. Still, there was no mail in her inbox. Neither was there any phone call from the NGO. By now, her confidence was on the verge of getting shattered. So, she herself contacted Mr. Shah’s office and was called in at 4 o’ clock that evening.

************************

The clock seemed to be ticking away very slowly that day. Nivedita had been sitting in the office for over an hour. Mr. Shah was called for an emergency meeting, so she was asked to come the following day. But she was adamant and decided to wait.

She was counting the number of lines on a painting hung immaculately above Mr. Shah’s chair, when the door creaked open. He was wearing a grumpy expression. Nivedita suspected that his meeting hadn’t gone well and was convinced of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. She was just about to leave.

“It’s okay. Have a sit, please. Apologies for being late, but a meeting was scheduled at the last minute and…”, he went on to explain his encounter with the board and their decision on his project proposal. Nivedita listened quite intently since she had no other choice.

When he had finished, he took a deep breath and asked with a tone of indifference, “So, Ms. Singh, how may I help you?”

“I needed to talk about my job application”, said Nivedita, a bit anxiously. She was beginning to sweat and already there were butterflies inside her stomach.

“Oh yeah! About that. Actually, the thing is you, um…you are overqualified for this job”, he cleared his throat and continued, “We don’t want you to waste your talent here.”

Nivedita’s face had drooped slightly. “But-but I don’t-…”, she stammered haplessly.

Mr. Shah removed his glasses and looked thoughtfully at her. After a while, he said, “You seem to be a very good journalist and I appreciate your efforts to help the children of the miners in Chandrapur. But this shall be our last meeting. I am very sorry.” But he didn’t look very apologetic.

She was left speechless.

************************

Her previous job was unsatisfying and she wanted more from a career point of view. There was no such thing as authentic news these days. She was forced to report on cases based on what people wanted to see, and not on what they, as a news media should make people aware. It seemed the truth was lost somewhere amidst the hyped up stories and reckless explanations. This was the reason why she had left.

The NGO had offered quite a good job prospect. Although the compensation was not quite appealing, she was willing to work in a field that respected her views and gave her the necessary platform to implement them. Now, all this seemed paltry. She felt stupid for leaving such a coveted job and instead applying at an NGO, which wasn’t even properly established.

Under qualification could have been an issue but how could over qualification possibly be? Seething with anger, she blamed her luck. She had taken a risk and it didn’t work out. But what now? Seeing that most of the job applications had failed her expectations, it was difficult to find anything that was willing to concede to her demands.

************************

Three months had passed. After having scrolled through most of the job sites on the net, Nivedita gave up. Journalism was not for everyone, she felt.

The next morning, she went to bring the newspaper and bumped into Jay, her ex-colleague. They greeted each other, “Hey!”

“Hola!”

“So what brings you here?”, asked Nivedita.

“I shifted just a week back. There’s this start-up called Miracle Handshakes. They have given me a job offer. The mines in Chandrapur are facing a serious situation. They …”

She didn’t need to listen to rest of his conversation. It was as clear as ever. Jay had applied in the reserved category. Thus, it was much easier for him to get that job. Now, she understood the scowl on Mr. Shah’s face. She was qualified enough but the ‘category’ on her CV had posed a substantial problem.

Cancelling out all kinds of reservations, she fell in the category that had only 15 out of 100 seats left. Nivedita knew that she wasn’t the preferred candidate despite being one of the best in her class.

Walking back home, she wondered what mattered more. Whether it was one’s skills or the family’s caste? Reserved seats were fine but there must be some logic to it, shouldn’t it?

************************

We have progressed way beyond what we had imagined a few decades back. However, it has encouraged the concept of reservation to swell rather than result in its elimination. Sadly, this is just another example of how the media industry has failed to make people think rationally.