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

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Up in smoke

The first lesson environmental sciences gives us is the fact that the earth is lent to us by the future generations. An alternate angle could be the fact that the earth we leave for them is our ultimate gift to them, and it certainly does not look good. The world we live in is so filled with stress that it has become a suffering to live a long life.

Stress leads to a plethora of mental and physical disorders, which eventually leads to shortened life-spans, loss of happiness, a decrease in productivity and many more problems. It only increases as people grow older. To rid themselves of this stress, people use a variety of methods which include but are not limited to alcohol, nicotine, and psycho-stimulants like sleeping pills, cocaine etc. All these ostensibly help reduce stress but in fact, give rise to an addiction. People end up using these as an excuse for not trying to find happiness in their lives. There are a variety of ways people use to blow off steam, but doing it literally is more common these days.

 

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Very common addiction to nicotine comes from cigarettes. It has been a part of our society since ancient history, with various forms of opioids and other psychoactive materials, being converted to vapors and smoked. From hookah in the middle east and India to the pipes used by aboriginals in the west, smoking up has evolved with the society.

There exist multiple types of normal cigarettes for example menthol, which people generally use to start smoking, light, advanced, for loosening up the mind, and light, for chain-smokers who do not really need it but can not deal with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.We now have e-cigarettes as well which make vapors out of anything using combustible substances and electricity. It is not yet a common sight in our country, but hookah sure is. People, young and old alike, can be seen swarming the hookah bars where they are served smoke through a water-pipe along with  food and sometimes drinks. They have become a great spot for socializing.

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However, unlike the common understanding, hookahs and e-cigarettes are equally harmful. An hour of hookah can fill your lungs with more tar than a complete pack of cigarettes.Nicotine is a great way to reduce pressure in your head, but the withdrawals leave your body craving for more. This is the logic of marketing of cigarettes, but not a good logic to follow up on.

marijuana-smoke

Another trend that is hitting the world by a storm is the recreational use of cannabis/marijuana, commonly referred to as ‘weed’. It does have significant medical benefits, which are still under research. It helps patients suffering from glaucoma, reduces nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improves appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and treats chronic pain and muscle spasms. It is also under preliminary research for their potential to affect stroke or children’s epilepsy. Smoking it up is still not good for health.

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It can still be consumed orally through muffins, biscuits etc. If the governments globally legalize marijuana, it would definitely make the world a happier place. Imagine a pizza delivered at your doorstep with chilli flakes, oregano and marijuana sachets. Making chapatis with weed in it. Restaurants serving ‘Chhole’ and ‘Weed Bhature’. Although strict policies like that with liquor will be needed to keep it in check, however, people will have less harmful methods to de-stress themselves.

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The best stress-busting mechanism, for me, is looking at and playing with pets, be it dogs, cats or even cows. Playing a sport is equally helpful. If for some reason though, you are hooked on to nicotine, a suggestion would be to use safer alternatives like nicotine gums or patches to slowly help yourself rid of the addiction. Dogs still remain my prime suggestion for all stress related problems.

 

Don’t let this article ruin your mood, pulling a cigarette once or twice a month won’t kill you unless you have Bronchitis, like a certain friend of mine. Always try finding healthier ways to kill stress and increase productivity. Smoke is bad for you, in any form. As the reggae king, Bob Marley used to say, “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief, and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”.

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.

Abduction

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With love showers from God, we have been graced,
We are fortunate to be born on this earth, in peace and solace.
The perfect paradigm of beauty and serenity is nature,
These qualities in our mind and soul can be nurtured.

But we have a devil and an angel residing within us,
Whomsoever we feed starts growing within us.
These days, the demons have gone beyond their boundaries,
So self centered, they don’t listen to anybody’s cries and pleas.

Girls in their teen were abducted,
Not just two or three, but about two hundred.
They were in the examination hall writing a test,
Striving hard to live and to do their best.
Unaware of what they had in their casket of fate,
Unaware, this was the last time with friends and mates.

To be educated was their fault?
To be in school was their fault?
To have high ambitions was their fault?
According to Boko Haram,
Having breasts was their fault,
Having a vagina was their fault,
Being a girl was their fault.

In science, humans have reached very far,
In technology, we have crossed all bars.
Still, a buxom lady is pictured naked,
Cases of sexual harassment are being reported.

These girls were parted from their mothers,
Far away from their sisters and brothers.
While we were in the most comfortable zones we had seen, ever,
These girls were being raped each time rougher and harder.

We, girls, are the reason why life continues,
Still, we are the victims of sexual abuse.
We are not puppets,
These men are the real culprits,
They can’t just pull strings to undress us,
Play and then discard us.
I can clearly sense the grief in their eyes,
The fear, after seeing those big, muscular guys,
Tearing their clothes, to lay bare their body,
Just to have pleasures which are momentary.
I can clearly hear those screams, well, every girl can,
Her trying to protect what is left of her , from that monstrous man.

Atrocities, tortures, murders are rampant,
One day, Boko Haram will have to pay and repent.

Till that time we should continue our fight against this evil fox,
Trust me, it is not as cumbersome as penetrating Fort Knox.
We just have to remain strong in the toughest of  times,
Even when we become the victims of these moral crimes.

Yes, we will fight it out!
Yes, we will fight it out!
Should be our motto,
Just step into the fight,
Like Miss Malala, without much ado.

-Sheryl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, we will fight it out!
Yes, we will fight it out!
Should be our motto,
Just step into the fight,
Like Miss Malala, without much ado.

 

-Sheryl

PLACEBO EFFECT

 

Annika is an independent woman. She often runs late from work these days because the project is about to reach closure and these extra hours she puts in could give her the appreciation, increment, and promotion she has long deserved. It is really late now and unfortunately, the last bus that dropped her off directly in front of her apartment complex has left. She starts searching for cabs online. A micro would do, but since it was so late, she was ready to pay more to take the prime cabs as well. However, adding to her bad luck, there were no cabs available. Anxiety levels increased. She was a little tense too. She has a healthy and active lifestyle, walking a click and a half should not be a problem, she thought to herself as she started heading down the centrally lit road, with some shops occasionally in between.

She paced as fast yet looking as normal as she could. The family getting worried was all she could think of at that moment. She heard horns behind her. Must be some uncultured brat, she thought. A biker brushed her at high speed. After hitting her elbow, he turned back and it seemed as if he nodded at her. She felt bad. She wanted to teach him a lesson but was completely helpless. Her helplessness made her feel even worse.

A few hundred meters down and an old man walking the opposite way, but on the same side of the road, stared at her. He was looking at her, under her neck, all the while. This got her very frustrated. Such old yet ill-mannered men. What was he even doing outside at such an odd hour? Thinking this, she headed forward. Hoping to get home safe.

She could see her apartment complex now. Just three more blocks of apartments to go. This fact got her incredibly happy. There was a small shack that sold tobacco on the road, in front of the apartment complex she was currently walking past. She saw a man smoking, about her age, probably older. He looked at her with a disgusted frown. She knew very well what he was thinking. A girl of marriageable age, walking on the road in such late hours. He was judging her character. Presuming her job, the worst assumption he could make. She started detesting him immediately.

She could see the last intersection after which was her apartment complex. She could already imagine the worried look of her parents. All the things they would say about the fact that she, working was a bad idea, to begin with. She heard a car screeching, parking lights turned on. It stopped right ahead of her, on the side of the road. Its cabin lights turned on. Her worst possible fear had just turned to reality. Abduction. She froze where she stood, started getting numb. With all the courage she could muster up, she ran. She cried and she ran, as she entered her apartment complex. She ran right to the lift, went to her house and told her parents the entire saga. They were scared and content with the fact that she came home. As a remedy, she learned to drive and loaned a car.

Sometimes things are not how we see them to be.

Karthik loved to ride bikes. He worked hard to buy the bike he loved. He had gone to get the medicines for his mother, who had just recovered from a stroke. He had no option but to leave her alone and go get more medicines. On his way back, he brushed his left handle in a lady’s elbow, turned to apologize and rushed. He could not waste a moment.

Jaynath is a retired railway officer. He likes to go on walks after dinner. Tonight he saw a girl, nearly as old as her daughter whose birthday was next week. He really liked that girl’s attire and could imagine how pretty his daughter would look in that dress. He made sure to buy a similar dress for his daughter as a surprise gift. The thought made him smile as he walked past her.

Amit loves his wife and son. His wife is about to give birth in a couple of months. Everyone at home hates his habit of smoking. So every night after dinner, when his wife is washing dishes and son is studying, he slips down to smoke. Every night he smokes with regret. Tonight was worse; he was smoking after a week and hated himself for breaking his cigarette hiatus. The regret and rage were visible on his face as the mean and vicious look. At the same time, he noticed a young girl, on road, late at night. He looked at her with concern as she frowned and kept walking.

Harsh was driving home from work. He helped tow a heavy vehicle for some distance in the morning, which probably burnt his clutch plate. His gear was stuck and so he had to make a hurried stop. He saw a lady on the road and ineptly avoided hitting her. As he rubbed the sweat off his face, he got out to apologize and call a mechanic. However, the girl was probably so scared that she ran away. At least he saved two lives today.

Circumstances can make the same event appear different, perhaps worse. We must never let our prejudices control our minds. We must not give in to placebo and try to be braver and confident of ourselves.

 

My Mistress

The evening was calm, and there was a light breeze. I sat by the small door, patiently. Time was moving slowly. Seconds turned into minutes, minutes turned into hours.  It seemed like forever that my mistress had walked out the door. Before she’d left, she told me, “Be patient. I’ll be back soon.” For me, soon was never soon enough.

My mistress was amazing. She took care of me, made my food, took me to different places and introduced me to a lot of people. She was always patient with me, and she was never angry with me. She pampered me a lot, which made many of my friends jealous.

I had nothing to do. I’d taken a walk around the house, had an interesting conversation with the neighbours through the fence and I’d even taken a run in the garden. Now, I was exhausted. I was hungry, but there was no food. I was thirsty, but water was beyond my reach. I had never felt so alone.

Suddenly, I heard a car arrive outside the main door. I was elated. My mistress was back home! My excitement grew as I heard her footsteps on the path to the door. As the door swung open, I jumped on her. Even though this had happened before, she was startled. She said, “Oh, oh, oh, take it easy, take it easy. I’ve just been gone five minutes!”

I followed her to the kitchen, where she gave me a delicious meal: chicken and vegetables. She gave me some water, and I’d never felt so much at ease. She made something for herself, and plopped herself on the sofa opposite the TV. I jumped onto the sofa and curled up beside her. She was watching some show on TV, about some people who were fighting other people. I don’t get the point of it, but I watch it with her, anyway.

All of a sudden, her phone rang. She picked it up, and began shouting. I feel very uncomfortable when people shout. She understood my discomfort and got up. She walked towards her bedroom, and I went after her, after a while. However, she shut the door on my face. Saddened, I walked back to the sofa, and lay down on it.

The evening turned to night, but my mistress was still shouting. Then, it stopped. Everything was silent and calm. She came out of her room, crying. I ran at her, and tried to cheer her up, but she brushed past me. She told me, through sobs, “I’ve had enough of this w-world, Bruno. I’ve-I’ve tried to be a nice person, but n-no one cares. They a-always want to p-pull me down, no matter w-what I do. I’m done.” I didn’t understand what she meant by that.

I followed her to the weird room, where she kept odd things like mops, ropes and buckets. She took out a very thick rope, and took a chair from the dining table, and went to her bedroom. She turned on the little lamp on her desk, and started to write something on a piece of paper. I sat on the bed and waited for her to finish writing. She was still sniffling; the crying seemed to have stopped.

She finished writing, and turned off the little lamp. I got up from the bed, but she told me to keep sitting. She turned on the main light of the room. She picked up the rope, and made some weird kind of loop with it. She placed her chair under the fan, got up on it and tied the rope-loop thing to one of the blades of the fan. She pulled the rope, a couple of times, with her hands. It stayed still.

She got down from the chair, and came towards me. Her hands were trembling. Her eyes were red. She started crying again. She said to me, “Bruno, you lovely, beautiful dog, I love you. I’m going to sleep.” She kissed me on the nose, and I licked her face, as I always did, before she went to sleep. I didn’t understand why she started crying, on looking at me. She always smiled when she saw me!

She went back to the chair, climbed onto it and put on loop thing around her neck. Her whole body was trembling, and the chair was trembling too. She looked around at me and said, “Bye-bye, Bruno.” She kicked the chair away with her foot. The chair hit the wall and caused a loud noise, and I was startled. I jumped off the bed sniffed the chair. I began to roam around the motionless body of my sleeping mistress, hanging from the fan.

It was an odd position to sleep in, I thought. Usually she just went to sleep in the bed, with me! But, whatever. She was tired, and she’s gone to sleep. She could’ve turned the light off before she slept, but that wasn’t an issue. I curled up under her shadow, closed my eyes, and said, “Goodnight, mistress. See you tomorrow morning.”

 

Insanity.

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

Trans. of Interview with Subject #CC475:

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

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

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

Also, Subject CC475 does not exist.

~ vikram

Inside Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secrets buried,
Secrets that we have carried.

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

Image result for secrets

 

Muskan Chanana

 

Dag Nul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy World Water Day.

– NSVR