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Director Face

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he past four years have witnessed a sequence of events on academic, infrastructural and strategic fronts. The students strength culminated to 2800 and faculty and staff to about 400. The first batch of students admitted on 8th August, 2008 graduated on 12th August, 2012 and the convocation was held in the august presence of the Chancellor, Kumar Mangalam Birla and the Chief Guest, Kapil Sibal, Hon’ble Union Minister for HRD, Information and IT. Majority of the first batch students have been placed in reputed organizations, the remaining getting ready for placements and higher studies. The fillip to innovation has been spectacular throughout the campus, prompted by the exhaustive curriculum redesigning bringing it to the real-time needs of the students; technology applications like ERP and inter-campus tele-presence, centralized faculty recruitment process, and on the infrastructure front, modernization and expansion - all within the ambit of the vision/mission set by the top management. To make BITS one of the most sought after institutions in India which is currently 6th from top and 1st when considered among private universities, the management is all set to integrate bench-marked best practices, latest curriculum and best infrastructure. BITS’ system is unique and time tested; so are the BITSians. The testimony to the quality of education at BITS is its alumni spread all over the world as entrepreneurs, professionals, educationists, politicians, and what not. Though sophisticated and a little complex, this system’s impact makes the students warriors wielding unmatched daring and self confidence who can face the unknown with extreme ease. BITS has always promoted budding writers – creative or otherwise – and On The Rocks is a reflection of the unmatched talents and creativity of BITS Hyderabad students. The previous issues of On The Rocks have won accolades from the readers and this issue brings out the best among Hyderabad BITSians creativity, aestheticism and versatility. I wish the very best to this student initiative. Happy reading!


If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas. -George Bernard Shaw

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ne of the invariable consequences of the development of the conscious was the desire to express. From the early cave paintings to modern day podcasts, the incessant desire to speak out ones thoughts has paved way for a myriad of ways in which this is possible. The development of structured languages was one of the first steps taken towards giving the art of expression a structure. However it wasn’t until the invention of the printing press that a single individual and the ideas of an individual managed to gain a large audience. Ever since, the human desire to share ideas has given birth to range of technologies, the internet being the most significant amongst them. The internet has made it possible for nearly every individual to hold the world an audience to the expression of their ideas and thoughts. Despite the various technological advances ever since, print media has not lost its relevance as being one of the most effective means to reach out. Words still manage to create worlds and images far more vivid provoking the reader’s mind far more than any other form of expression. On the contrary, most modern forms, especially visual such as movies leave very little room for the reader’s imagination. The magazine wishes to capture this spirit of expression whilst attempting to stimulate the reader’s imagination. Yours sincerely, The Editorial Board


Two Lives T

his was one routine that he had never been able to get used to. Not that he had done it long enough to say, even with exaggeration, that he had seen generations pass by, but just enough to know the woman who sold eatables and made it a point to strike up a conversation with every customer, the man who he had seen sleeping at the same spot every single time. He couldn’t recollect the first time he saw that man. He didn’t even know why he had noticed him in the first place. Not that he had enough time to notice the things around him; he had to get to work as soon as possible. The first time he saw a box of sweets in his hand, he smiled. It was good to know that people still took time off to receive their loved ones, to know that people still showed that they cared, not just that the feeling was supposed to be known and floating in the air. He could never forget the first time he had entered this place, years ago. Baggage in hand, filled with hope, of a new and better life. He could never forget that sense of amazement, at

the pace of life, at the apathetic calls of passersby to give way, at the continuous movement. He had looked around for someone to recognise him. He had been taken aback by the apparent genuineness of the smile and the warm hug he then received. He had come to a conclusion, with all the innocence of childhood, that his life was set, that past was past and the present was going to be too wonderful to dream of a future. He profusely thanked for the sweets received and could never, till date find a sweet which tastes as wonderful. There are things you hate about a middle-class lifestyle, and then there are things you love about it. He could never really recollect a hardship as such that he faced but nor could he pinpoint on a turning point in life. There was no big failure to result in a life-changing revelation. There were limited, but enough options and life just went on like that. No real ambition, no great drive. It was a cycle that few people broke out of – study, work, start a family, raise kids, they study, work…and try to enjoy life as you know it.


He didn’t know why he was recalling everything today. His life seemed to be playing on a screen in his mind. He had been completely taken aback, once again, but this time at the place that he was brought to, to stay. It was worse than his village house, drainage flowing by the side, dirty, dingy, and badly lit. He was surprised to find so many others of the same age as he, but weaker, wearing rags for clothes, literally and bickering at each other constantly. But the initial surprise lasts only as long as you let it. Soon he didn’t know how the days passed; soon he didn’t know life could be anything else. There was little sense of injustice that he felt in what was being done, how was begging unlike any other job? It was as if he was walking around, acting a play for people, except that he appealed to a specific emotion called pity, but a play is still a play and an actor deserves to be paid. Even though he sometimes felt, a slightly nagging feeling in the stomach – he didn’t know to give it importance. It wasn’t that he wanted to change the world, one case at a time. It wasn’t even that he believed in the basic assumption at the court that all men are equal. He wrote the entrance, got into a halfway decent college, graduated and was now working under a supposedly well-established lawyer but honestly, he couldn’t see why people came to him. He wasn’t overly passionate, and the fact that it provided bread and butter for him and his family was perhaps his only driving force. If he was given money for free, why would he work?! He didn’t know how he grew to become what he is now but he certainly knew why. That was the only progress that he could’ve made. He had turned out to be smarter of the lot, getting better at the trade, acting smart, noticing people’s emotions, taking advantage of their guilt, striking a chord with their conscience… Ah, the conscience. That was a queer thing. He didn’t quite know what his own was, or what it exactly did. He thought of it being the reason for the sometimes slightly nagging feeling in his stomach, but didn’t find enough reason or need to reason out the reason. There was no feeling

that he needed to better their living conditions, ones which were his own once upon a time, simply because he didn’t know to find a reason for better ones. Food, clothing and shelter, what else did people need? Food, clothing and shelter. That’s all the world comes down to. Once he had come to that conclusion, waking up in the morning, listening to his wife’s ramblings, and kid’s screaming, his lawyer boss’s nagging became normalcy. On a certain level, he became numb. It wasn’t that he had become numb. Feelings existed, just different from those of others. That it was unlawful simply didn’t make much sense to him. He didn’t need to reason out saying that food, clothing and shelter was provided to so many of them, because he never asked himself that question. He only knew that he had to take measures to not get caught because some idiots thought that bringing in kids to beg for money is wrong. He was late today, later than usual that is, and therefore had to wait for the next train. He noticed the man again. He didn’t know why his eyes didn’t immediately move on to the next part of the platform after the recognition of a known face. He saw him get up and walk up and down. That was certainly a first. He was facing the other side of the platform, the ones for trains from out of the city. He tapped his feet. He was getting impatient. The train was late, which wasn’t good. It only meant more chances of people seeing, although he made it a point that he received people at different times, and always used different exits. Besides, he hardly knew the guards, and they certainly didn’t know anything about his personal life to stop and question him, not that he acted like he knew the child while passing through the exit, and not like there were policemen over there all the time anyway. The train arrived and came to a halt. He saw him receive a child, with a hug and a box of sweets. He saw the look on the child’s face. What made


him follow him was not the look which showed apprehension and hope, but the fact that it showed a lack of joy, or relief. He saw him walk past the exit, as if he didn’t know that the child existed. The child didn’t hold his hand. He didn’t clutch the child’s hand tightly so that he wouldn’t get lost. They were just walking, almost as if they never knew of each other’s existence. And he had an idea of what was going on. Everyone had watched Slumdog Millionaire. He followed him. When he reached, he knew he was right. He went up to him and touched his shoulder. He was in a hurry to get back. The train was already late and he hated things not going as per schedule. He hadn’t seen the man follow him. So when he felt a touch, he was taken aback. He turned. He saw the look on the man’s face. There was no fierceness, or a sense of righteousness. His touch on his shoulder had been very slight, as if he was afraid of a confrontation. He knew where the money was kept. This was perhaps his chance at making a difference, of leaving a mark. But not everyone wants their footprint to be permanent. There was guilt, when the amount was finalised. But he figured that he had no right to decide what was right and wrong, anyway. He was only ensuring better food, better clothing and better shelter, for his family and him. And the same to so many other children as well. Because there are always ways to satisfy the conscience.


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he rumblings of the storm unheard, Unparalleled warns from God’s Asgard, Turbulent sea at its best unease, The rising waves, they never seemed to cease, Winds berserk played their game too well, Poured the sea they till their cup over-swell, The nature and Gods sure waged a war, What man against them shall dare spar, Aided by their allies the thunder and blitz, Intend to end do they man’s sheen and ritz, Water thrashed the lonely island’s rocks, Adamant it was, it yelled -”HAVOC”!! The mocking of the rocks-”it thrashed its fist”, That’s when begun playing The Blind Pianist Taken aback for a moment was the tide, The music caused the moon to blush and hide, Amidst that very night of unrest, Played the Pianist at his soul’s behest, The moon resurrected the waves to life, Emerge did she, ending, with the cloud’s her strife, The nature and Asgard watched the wizard enthralled, Magic with tunes as he created unappaled, The waves did thrash now but in rhyme, This, to heavens, was certain some crime, The tide moved, yes, with the pianist’s sync, How may a man, nature’s mystery deep, unlink? The wolf like winds didn’t cease to howl, Their tune, put on God’s face, a scowl, Thunder sounded when at every eighth count, Concerns of the Gods now did mount, Descended to the Earth the mighty ones, “What art thou that canst nature outruns ?”

I am the sin ,I am the con, Outta Lucifer’s shadow I am borne, Temptation’s my kin, Remorse’s foe, Avarice, Gluttony to me shall bow, The seven deadly sins, are my cousins, Vice, Poverty, of course mine urchins, Pain is this beautiful son, Love-”my love” to is he born, Adam’s darkest fears are where i dwell, Gnawing on them do I ‘come swell, Over his fragmented conscience shall be my win, I say it again my name is Sin… When his soul to hell is damned, When shall his conscience be dead, When his elements natures his, Be morphed into cousins mine, When his heart is filled with filth, Then can I command elements his, Make them dance to my symphony, The song of sin shall play within, Rise shall then the waves of pain, Excruciating torment is all that’s felt, Repentance now is of no help, It’s so sad that the show goes on and I can’t see, Cause who am I but a Blind Pianist…

-Dedicated to Roma Vishwanath


The Reader T

he cool blast of air that hit her in the face as soon as she stepped inside was a welcome respite from the humid Calcutta heat. Normally, it was the restaurants that would occupy her attention when she was on Park Street but when she spied this store tucked under the portico of the Park Hotel, she decided to re-prioritise. After all, she was a bigger bibliophile than she was a gourmand. The Oxford bookstore was a veritable haven for book lovers – piles of neatly stacked books making a mini avenue, glass shelves holding little trinkets and novelties and a mahogany staircase leading up to a reading room bedecked with plush armchairs, alongside a coffee shop. She picked up a wooden replica of a Mughal dagger and stared at it longingly. She would never get past airport security with this. Such a pity, it was so very like the dagger on the covers of Alex Rutherford’s “Empire of the Moghul” books. Her eyes wandered to the spot where the fourth book of the series lay on display. Jahangir probably, she thought. She had finished the one on Babur a long time ago; she was yet

to recommence her literal journey down the Mughal genealogical line but perhaps some other time. She strode past the Paulo Coelho section, glancing cursorily at the merchandise embellished with the author’s face. She was gazing at the Agatha Christies when she sensed someone joining her in surveying the titles. “So, you read books?”, he asked. “Bit of an incongruous question, don’t you think?”, she retorted with a raised eyebrow. He chuckled – “There are people who read and then there are people who read. Which clan do you belong to?” “I assure you that I belong to the one that reads”, she smiled slightly, comprehending his snarky statement. His eyes travelled to the Miss Marples and Hercule Poirots and returned to rest on her. “For my cousin”, she added hastily, sensing his mildly judgemental vibes. “Best place for a nonreader to start, don’t you think?” “Undoubtedly”, he said plainly. “Aren’t you go-


ing to pick one for yourself?” “I don’t like Agatha Christie, not that sort of a reader”, she replied, brow furrowed. “What sort of a reader are you then?”, he added with an impish grin. “I’m not one of those pretenders who’ve read a couple of well-known titles and go around harping about it as if they’re distinguished connoisseurs. I, unlike them, am a true blue blooded book lover. I know my stuff”, she explained, with a touch of smugness. “Of esoteric tastes, are we? Mainstream isn’t good enough for you? How very hipster like!”, he teased. She rolled her eyes and turned away. She didn’t want to spend her time being peeved by a complete stranger. “Was I being uncouth? I apologise. I like to try my luck with strangers at bookstores and see if we’re on the same page, pun intended. I haven’t engaged in conversation with a genuine book lover for a long time”, he said in a way of explanation. “Did I pass your test?”, she asked, a little sharply. “I’ll only know if you pick up the conversational ball”, he added with a friendly smile this time. She allowed herself a smile in return. She also noticed that he was actually quite good-looking, if you were to look past his deliberate obnoxiousness. “So you’ll humour me? Fantastic! You don’t like Agatha Christie, are you a Sherlock Holmes loyalist then?”, he asked. “Too mainstream”, she grinned. “I’m not that fond of detective novels, but I have, as every proper Bengali should, read every Feluda novel there is, English translations, of course”. “You can’t read Bengali?” he snorted. “No Sir. But I know my Sarat Chandra from my Tagore and can distinguish between Sukumar Ray and Satyajit Ray. I’ve read Devdas, Parineeta and Chokher Bali and promptly pronounced

their movie versions as rubbish”, she rattled off with that righteous Bengali pride. “Have you finished Srikanta?”, he queried haughtily. “Has any Bengali ever finished that?” she asked innocently, eliciting a laugh from him. “But one has to adore Samit Basu among the neo-age writers” “The Gameworld trilogy is awesome, isn’t it?”, he sighed happily. “Epic”, she concurred. “Kindly reserve that word only for The Lord of the Rings”, he quipped. “Read it? Or did you, like most, take the easy way out and watch only the movies?” “They’re arguably the best book to movie adaptions yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from reading them or its companion novels. I can’t name the seven dwarfs from Snow White but believe when I say that I know, by heart, the names of all thirteen dwarves who accompanied Bilbo Baggins on his dragon-killing expedition”, she said, drawing herself up. “Hmmm. I’m impressed. Most girls don’t have the patience to see it through till the end. Many I know prefer to read something simple and childish like Harry Potter….” “But I like Harry Potter!” she interrupted him, sensing he might go down a road she didn’t like. “You and over a million kiddies around the world”, he said, rolling his eyes, “But don’t you think it….” “No! Not a word against it! I’m warning you! I have a studio prop replica of Voldemort’s wand that I can use on you!”, she threatened. “Okay! Okay!”, he laughed, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender. “But don’t tell me you like Twilight” “Well, I did go through a phase but I survived it”, she added sheepishly. His eyes widened and he looked away. It seemed as if he was considering terminating the conversation at this point. “Don’t I get points for honesty?”, she asked cockily, but hoped secretly he wouldn’t judge her for it and leave. She was beginning to enjoy their repartee and he was growing on her


every moment. And the fact remained that he was cute. He turned to look at her. “Dracula’s the only badass vampire”. “Add the Salvatore brothers to that list”, she said. “You read The Vampire Diaries as well?”, distaste writ large on his face. “No, I just watch it”, she said growing a little irritated now. Who cares what he thinks of her? She didn’t need his approval. She didn’t have to conform and tell him what he wanted to hear. He remained silent for few more moments before pointing to four books bearing pictures of dragons, “What about those? You read those?” “Aaah Eragon. It started out well but I lost interest gradually. I’m yet to read Inheritance and I’m not even pumped for it but read it I shall, for I can’t leave a series unfinished”, she said drily. “Dragonriders of Pern is better than this. But my current favourite is A Song of Ice and Fire, followed by Bartimaeus”, he remarked. “I would’ve liked to finish the Barty books if my friend hadn’t given away the ending”, complaining, she. “So much for not leaving series’ unfinished”, he snickered. She laughed before she veered into the horror section, “Do you like these? I don’t think it’s ever conveyed properly in writing. It doesn’t make as big an impact as watching a horror movie. But if you had to choose your favourite, who would it be?” “Stephen King”, pat came the reply. “So, you’ve never been scared while reading a book?” “Okay, I wouldn’t exactly put in the horror genre but Lord of the Flies sent shivers down my spine. Truly creepy”, she reminisced. He nodded before running over to a pile of colourful books, “Graphic comics?”, he asked with a wide smile, picking one up. “Tintin”, she said hesitantly. “Good enough”, he approved. “I could give you a whole list of others but you’d probably only recognise Asterix from them. Girls usually aren’t into this”

“Must you always be so sexist?”, she asked wearily. He gave her a sly look and headed over to the sci-fi section and folded his arms, staring questioningly at her. She took a deep breath before answering, “I sense that I must say Isaac Asimov but since I haven’t read any of his works, I’ll stick to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells…..oh, I forgot, Michael Crichton as well”. “What about Douglas Adams?”, he puzzled. “Haven’t read the Hitchhiker series, sorry”, she said He gasped, whether it was theatrical or not, she couldn’t say. “You don’t read the good stuff at all” “Oh, and you do?”, she huffed. “Of course, I do”, he replied superciliously. “I’ve got class. I can boast having read atleast 25 out of Shakespeare’s 37 plays”. “The Charles and Mary Lamb versions?”, she asked in mild derision. He coloured rapidly and didn’t say a word and she smiled triumphantly, knowing she had hit home. “Gotcha! But you don’t have to be ashamed; we all start out that way”. “That the 17th century plebeian Englishman could understand his plays with more ease than us doesn’t assuage me at all”, he added playfully. She chuckled, “Are you interested in mythology?” “What kind? If you’re talking about Indian, it doesn’t get any better than Amar Chitra Katha. Amish’s Shiva trilogy has its moments. He’s a good storyteller but the language is crummy” “I know”, she agreed, “I remember reading it and wishing I was his editor” “You write?”, he enquired with raised eyebrows. “Anyone who can read can”, she offered, “But just about everybody has a blog these days so I don’t think I would be impressing anyone by saying that I have one as well” He grinned enigmatically, “What would you say to impress them?” “I’d tell them about my trophy from British Council”, she relished looking at his surprised


and obviously impressed expression, “Returning to the topic at hand, I’m more of a Rick Riordan fan”. His countenance settled into exasperation, “Just how old are you?” “Come on” she countered, “That guy made Greek mythology so much more accessible” “If you’d like more on the subject, try, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, Homer”, he whispered loudly. She had adapted to his patronising by now and retaliated with “I’m aware of the existence of the Iliad and the Odyssey. They’re classics”. “Speaking of which, what’s your absolute favourite? I won’t name mine because I have too many but you’re allowed to name just one” “Just the one? Then it would be Pride and Prejudice”, she beamed. “Oh, the Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre sort of book”, he pronounced. “Don’t ever say that! All three Bronte sisters combined couldn’t parallel Jane Austen’s genius”, she said vehemently. “Those are just chick-lits from the Victorian era”, he teased, “What’s your modern day pick? Mills and Boon? Gone with the Wind? Danielle Steel? Meg Cabot?” “You seem to be well-acquainted with the authors in this line”, she observed cheekily, “I believe every girl ought to read at least one so that she can have unrealistic expectations about men and watch as life teaches her otherwise” “Who’s sexist now? We’re not all that bad. Lighten up”, said he as he walked providentially or purposefully to the humour alcove. “Wodehouse?”, he picked one up. “Jerome K Jerome, actually”, she replied walking backwards and upsetting a stack of books behind her. He strode forward and offered his hand. She took it and turned to discover that she had fallen into a puddle of Chetan Bhagats. “Ugh”, was the only thing she could say. “You don’t like him?” “You do?”, she asked, using the same sardonic tone he had used on many occasions in the past hour. “Look, his books aren’t spectacular but you

can’t deny that he can connect with the masses. People at least read something. You have to give him credit for that. In any case, I like Rushdie better”. It was as if the tables had turned and it was her chance to pronounce judgement on his choices. “The thing with Rushdie is, when you read the synopsis of his books, you think he’s a master plot-weaver but he fails to deliver, miserably”, she intoned. He listened to her declaration quietly and looked around to see which section they had walked into. “Read Chaplin’s autobiography. The funnyman manages to make you cry. Do you enjoy reading about other people’s lives?” “Mein Kampf and Diary of a Young Girl stand side by side on my bookshelf”, she said with a wry smile. “Haha! Sacrilegious”, he guffawed as they continued ambling. They made a few more rounds around the store, debating books and authors, running their fingers along the books in the alcoves, making comments and arguments they might have missed out on making the previous time they had visited the section. She was enjoying herself thoroughly before she remembered that she had purchases to make. “Wait here”, she said, leaving him by the bestsellers and returning quickly, carrying two books. “What are those?”, he asked as she handed them to the cashier. “Book 2 and 3 of The Hunger Games trilogy”, she answered, taking the bag from the cash counter. “I was planning on starting that. I have a fondness for dystopian scenarios”, he said, looking at his watch, “Hey, look, I’ve got to go. It was nice talking to you.” “Aren’t you going to buy anything?” “My wallet’s empty”, he grinned, “But that doesn’t stop me from entering a book store” She was sorry to see him go. She tried prolonging the little time they had left and in a bid to delay his departure, she said, “Hey, I didn’t get your name”.


“I’m a reader and that’s my identity”, he replied with a Cheshire grin before walking out the door. But he suddenly turned back and pushed it open, adding, “By the way, you did pass my test”, grin still in place as he winked, making her question herself whether she had tumbled down the rabbit hole into Wonderland for the past two hours. She watched as he stopped by the makeshift bookshop on the pavement and bent down to examine their selections on offer. She envied the next person who would be lucky enough to find themselves engaged in conversation with him.


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here is a garden beyond this place, Where the lush green grasses dance in their own grace, To the tune of the turning and bending air, Denying the sun of its furious glare. Where the flowers, coloured, spread the fragrance of love, Where the leaves afresh from the showers above, Where the sky lets out a rainbow smile, Where the fly sleeps on petals fragile. A child running across the field, Singing the tuneless melodies of joy, Sits on the swing and spreads his wings, Shouting, “I am your captain, Ahoy!” “Rise you lazy souls, Rise and ride, March our troop to the island of treasures. This is the moment! Carry yourself with the tide, Or do you choose to waste the handful pleasures?” The child loots the priceless treasures of laughter, And now he runs around the garden, The sword of happiness in his hands, Piercing the souls carrying griefs and burdens. O heart of mine! Empty yourself of regrets. For these lush green grasses may not last forever, Let the winds take you to where you are destined, Filled with satisfaction, make mine, a worthy life to live.


Tribute to a Legend “In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist...or you’re Roger Federer.” -Jimmy Connors.

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he year was 2008.The venue, London. The event was the All England Lawn Tennis Championships ,popularly known as Wimbledon, and it was under the starry sky at centre court that a great warrior had been brought down to his knees, defeated in his own backyard…dethroned. Words can do no justice to the man, but being his biggest fan for the last nine years does give me the privilege to try. This is my tribute to a living legend- Roger Federer. Hailing from Basel in Switzerland, Federer first made himself noticed on the tennis scene in 2000, when he won the Milan Indoor tournament. But one of his most significant achievements, to date, came a year later when he tamed arguably the greatest player of all time, Pete Sampras, at Wimbledon. Although Federer did not go on to win the Championships that

year, the event made an everlasting impact in tennis history. It signified a change of guard. The god who had unleashed his wrath upon all who dared enter his domain for the last decade had been brought down to the level of a mere mortal It was only a matter of time before Federer won his first major. Wimbledon, 2003, was the first of 16 laurels that would later be added to his wreath. Displaying a wide array of shots, some of his own creation, Federer brought to the court a certain grace and elegance that the game had never witnessed before. He would “carve his opponents like a dish fit for the gods, not hew them as a carcass fit for hounds”. For a record 237 weeks, Federer reigned supreme. But every fairy tale has to come to an end, and this was no exception.It is said that every great sportsperson has a great rival. For the most part of Federer’s career, he was a head above the rest. He had conquered all the surfaces… except clay. The reason was a Spaniard by the name of Rafael Nadal. Nadal had dominated on the clay at Roland


Garros ever since he set foot on court. Nadals aggressive, behind-the-baseline game founded on heavy topspin groundstrokes had proved to be the Achilles heel to Federer’s otherwise perfect game. Theirs was to go down as one of the greatest rivalries in history. Which brings us back to that Sunday evening in the middle of June, 2008. Nadal had utterly demolished the great champion in Roland Garros the following month. They met again for yet another Wimbledon final, but things were different this time… This time the ball was in Nadals court. The Champion was weary and the challenger smelt blood. Taking advantage of an opponent who was clearly not at his best, the Spaniard raced ahead to a 2 sets to 0 lead. But the Champion was not going to vanquish his throne without a fight. Federer showed glimpses of the man who, over the last 5 years, had made this lawn his hunting ground. Putting down a barrage of winners, Federer forced the match into a decider. The match was such a spectacle, that even the gods did not want it to end. Half way through the 5th, the heavens opened up and rain flooded the Centre court. But the break was exactly what the Spaniard needed. The champion seemed to have lost some momentum and Nadal capitalized. After close to 6 hours of the two dealing body blows to each other, the match ended with Federer hitting the ball into the net. Jubilation and ecstasy for Nadal, sorrow and bitter disappointment for Federer. Federer had thrown everything at Nadal, including the kitchen sink, but the challenger had risen to the task magnificently. So why did I emphasize on this match particularly? Federer’s career was by no means over and many looked upon this as a minor setback, but in my opinion this match had the same repercussions as the Sampras-Federer match of 2003. The old king, although not dead, was badly wounded and a new king had usurped the throne. “The moving hand writes, and having once writ moves on”.


T

o narrate a story well, one must go to the Very Beginning. Which is what I intend to do. Where, then , is the Very Beginning of our story ? I thought long and hard, and almost decided to start with the Student’s Union elections when dedicated people compete for the honor and glory of organizing our honorable and glorious fest , Pearl Pearl Pearl . However, better sense prevailed. So I decided to start, instead, with Pre-Pearl excitement. Deep breath. Here we go. Pre-pearl excitement among the general populace ran high, while the Bosses organized and the lackeys ran around in a frenzy to do their bidding. I should know. I was a lackey. Reporters were cordially invited for the inaugural event, and nice colorful brochures were printed for their benefit. The countdown started. And then, well, it ended. And Pearl started. Ah. Pearl. The inaugural event went smoothly , with a liberal dose of ‘I love you, you love me, we’re one big happy family’ bonhomie . The performance by Ghatam Karthick and his team of musicians was mind - blowing. I accept that ‘mind - blowing’ sounds clichéd and done to death, but I mean it in the truest sense of the phrase. Personally, I’d never heard my favorite ‘Brahmam Okkate’ played so incredibly by anyone before that wonderful evening, and it made my day! Day one saw a host of cultural events, and some Very Colorful people. ( Pearl Pear Pearl,

remember?)Dances and songs and dramas and debates and , well, fun. Basically that. Fun. The best part of the day was the Benny Dayal show, though some Beings might disagree (Thurisaz was invited solely for this category’s benefit, they have nothing to complain about!) Benny. Benny. Benny. Kya karoon oh ladies, main hoon aadat se majboor.And then it was night. And you know what you did. Day two saw some really good technical events being conducted by The Sheldons . Sorry, not The Sheldons. Technical Event Enthusiasts is the phrase (title?)I’m looking for. And my god, people came in droves to present papers on a wide range of topics. I even attended a very informative lecture on how ordinary household products like soap are actually engineering marvels. I was reminded of Bill Bryson’s ‘At Home’ ( highly recommended if you like your facts with a healthy dose of witticisms thrown in) . And along came evening. As I read the entries submitted by participants who, well, participated in ELAS events, I heard the growls and the growls. Check Check. Mike testing. One two. Check. I received yet another lecture on the beauty of metal ( this was a lot clearer than last year’s) by a well meaning friend. Needless to say , the lecture was Wasted on me . But people had loads of fun. Thurisaz. Thurisaz. Thurisaz .Metal . Head Banging. Wham wham wham. Grrrr. And then it was night. And you know what you did. Day three saw the Robowars. Day three also saw Hovercrafts. And Alien Space ships. Okay.


Kidding. There were some nice peppy group dances, which were widely reported as being fun to watch. Of course! And the afternoon was spent in a Charged Environment, thanks to CEL (those pillars of efficiency). An ex-dean of ISB shared incisive views on the options available to us after graduation, and there were some very experienced , successful people who shared their views and gave the audience some much needed motivation and encouragement .But the highlight of the afternoon was a truly inspiring talk by Swami Bodhmayanand. (Highly recommended. If you missed it , DC is always there. Do watch it ) It was , for want of a better phrase, ‘absolutely awesome’ and relevant to all kinds of people ( irrespective of their taste in music !) . He addressed real issues with a sense of gravity , sincerity and enthusiasm that is rarely seen or felt. Simply Stellar. And then, evening came. The fashion show started and ended. The Ela Rose- David Deejay show started and ended. Loads of fun . ( I am starting to sound clichéd again, but ‘loads of fun’ is the only thing that can be said. Really). And Pearl ended. The night didn’t though. You know what you did. The next day dawned bright and sunny. Hardly anyone had breakfast ( I missed it myself. Shocking.). People moped around, and I suspect some might have burst into tears( I have no proof, mind you. But I still suspect). But BITS doesn’t let anyone mope for long, because the next test is always around the corner. So people geared up to get back to their routine college lives ( exciting enough, I should say !) So what happened next? Preparations for the next Pearl started, of course. Forming strategic alliances and assessing your options. Picking the right candidate to support. Sigh. So much work . But worth it, because making friends and winning that all-important election is the first and most crucial step to organizing a ‘bigger and better pearl’. Noble intentions. But that, as they say, is another story for another day. (Not to worry. Opinionated Authoress Aunty will be back).Cherio !


Grief T

he grief in the air is heart wrenching. What has happened is a tragedy of huge magnitude. Especially since it has happened to someone like sweet horrible Tracy. And of course, everyone knows Tracy has a heart of gold. Only I know the hardness of that gold. A heart that knows no mercy, a heart that feels no pain. A heart of ruthless gold. As I watch the body being taken away, I feel a stab of pain. Pain I know that Tracy will never feel. Poor Sam. Why had he wasted his love for Tracy, instead of me? He had lived for Tracy and even died because of Tracy. Tracy, Tracy, Tracy. All I can do is watch in numb despair. It had always been like that. Tracy had been the darling of the neighbourhood, and we were best friends. She was calm and composed, gentle and dignified, firm and disciplined. The model daughter, friend and neighbour. I was the stupid sidekick, always overshadowed by Tracy, but I knew I had ten times her force of character. And when we grew up, and met Sam, disaster had struck. I had liked him, and he had liked Tracy. Of course. Who would look at me,

when Tracy was around? I had endured months of pain and agony as I watched him court Tracy. And when the time had come he’d proposed and she’d accepted. It was then that someone sent her proof of Sam’s involvement with undesirable elements. Tracy had been furious. Had I been in Tracy’s place, I wouldn’t have minded. Who cared whether Sam had a less than perfect background? They’d fought bitterly, and I had secretly hoped that Tracy would end it. But she didn’t. Had she done that, Sam would have still been alive. They made up, of course, after Sam convinced her somehow that he was clean. Then they had found drugs in his room. Tracy, perfect Tracy could not be with a junkie. I would have gladly taken her place. But things were not to be. Sam had cried and sworn that he had never taken drugs in his life, that someone had planted them. Jealous colleagues maybe, to ruin his career. It was understandable why he said so. He was so brilliant and amazing; it was natural that others might be jealous. By then, Tracy had started having her doubts. Stupid Tracy. Doubt a man of such stellar character. Sam


was the best. My hero, though I never dared to say it in public. Stupid Tracy. Doubting him like that. Why, oh why hadn’t she dumped him then? As Tracy and Sam grew apart, I watched with anticipation. I didn’t care about good or bad. I wanted Sam, period. Then he had his accident. He lost both his legs. I thought it was the end of the road for their relationship. How could Tracy, perfect Tracy spend her life with a cripple? But I didn’t mind. To me, Sam was beautiful as he was. She didn’t deserve him, I could see that. All she had ever wanted was a pretty and perfect life. But life is also about flaws. Everyone has flaws. Tracy. Sam. Me. Why did only she have the right to choose her happiness? That too with a man she treated purely as a trophy? And when he wasn’t such a trophy anymore, she was losing interest? What sort of love was that? And why didn’t Sam realise mine? Unthinking, blind , crazy love. Surprisingly, their relationship strengthened with the accident. I had dreamt of holding him and serving him and loving him for the rest of my life, but it was not to be. Tracy was probably playing saintly martyr, I guess. She was given to doing that. And all the silly brainless fools around believed that her intentions were pure. Even my Sam. What did he see in that horrible holier than thou hypocrite anyway? She would never love him the way I did. She was only pretending to be good. She’d probably keep him at home, employ a nurse, and go out and lead a happy life. She would have all the attention she needed, as well as sympathy and admiration. As they grew closer than ever, my heart sank into despair. The universe was sending them omens, all those fights, that accident, why didn’t they pay heed? And then came the worst day of my life. Today. Tracy went out to do some shopping, and told him to stay at home. But poor warm hearted loving Sam wanted to give that undeserving woman a surprise. And to think I was there when the tragedy happened. I have been giving statements to the police investigators all day. How I drove him to a jewellery store. How I took a wrong turning and lost my way. How we were overtaken by a bunch of rowdies. How they whistled at me and made Sam furious. Poor gallant chivalrous Sam. How they made us stop the car. How Sam retaliated. Poor crippled Sam. How they laughed. And how he made me start the car and dent theirs. How they became so furious, and shot at our car again and again. How I lost control, and how Sam was hit by a bullet. The police made me repeat my story over and over again. My head aches with sorrow and pain. If only Sam had not met Tracy. If only he had not wanted to give her a diamond as a surprise before their wedding. I would not have had to kill him. My Sam. With my hands, my gun. How long will the police take to figure out it was me? Are they really as dumb as the movies show? I wonder. I hope Tracy doesn’t die of grief. I hope I do. Then I can be with my Sam. Forever.


For the open eyelids, it’s just a glance at you For the shut lids though, it’s a tiny touch or two.

Life is like a lone dream, in the winter cold, When the storm is coming, it won’t let it go. It wishes for shelter in the hard hailstone, In the soft spring breeze it won’t let it undertone. When it saw it growing, it wished for a bud, In the clear sky it yearned for a stroke of mud. In the ticking dew drops, in the vapours of the sky, It longed for the clouds to cradle them as they passed by. Time saw it starting; time will see it end, For everyone else, it’s too wavy round the bend, Giving it a swish it gave the clay a mould, What was made out of it was nothing less than gold. Its poise was too still for Silence was its mate, That when the Dawn spread, it was seen on golden grave, That breeze brought a gentle flicker on its petals pale pink, That stir broke the Silence’s reign with deep sharp ping. To that dew-smitten blossom it hummed a melodious tune, Melting in the ears like snowflakes on a hot sand dune, Those whispers were so musical inducing high dreams, That they touched it so deeply that it fell in deep sleep. It hummed through the night to bid it adieu, In the morning light though, it was but a déjà vu.

It was but that small pat that had changed the world for me, It was but that avowed smile that bought many million moons for me. They say-For the hearts, it was a small joke though, I say-For me it was my whole life‘s show.


Eternal Equinox E

verything was still. All I could hear from my dimly lit room was dead silence. I was on vacation, and I was determined to help my mother with her numerous chores. My gentle sweet mother, whose nutmeg scent mixed with that of the holly from the banisters to produce a lovely effect. I felt I was old enough to lend her a helping hand, and I was eager to please her. However, apparently I was the only one who felt that way. My father found my attitude rather unusual, considering the rest of my family usually simply lazed around in the living room, wrapped up in their own selfish worlds. I couldn’t help but form a blooming prejudice against my father; he had medieval notions, believing that women should be left in the kitchen; it was their duty as wives and mothers. I believed otherwise, and I thought Momma always seemed frantic during the holidays. It wasn’t fair that she had to run around making sure everything was perfect, while we sat and did nothing. She would always worry about the state of the turkey and whether her rum cakes were sufficiently delicious. It wasn’t until

I hit puberty that I realized the extent of Daddy’s brutal dominance. I would lie awake on most nights, wondering if the painful screams from down the hall really were the ghosts that haunted our house like Daddy insisted; now I know it wasn’t the ghosts. It was a monster, in the form of my Daddy. “But Daddy, I want to help Momma!” I whined, when he told me to leave her alone .My father glared at me. I decided, after several indecisive minutes, that I would defy my father and help. I took a turn around the corner, looking around carefully for any signs of my father, and shushed my little brother quietly. He ran to me with his new teddy in hand, and I ruffled his dark hair. “It’s nothing, Scotty, go play.” He stared at me unconvinced but soon grew tired of standing and went to lounge about near the fireplace. I sneaked down the hallway towards the kitchen, avoiding the rest of my family. I was only four foot seven at the time, barely able to see over the counter. But I was highly determined; I could handle any chore she’d give me. When I entered, I eyed the traditional apple pie in the corner, the turkey cooking in the oven, and the


freshly baked ginger bread cookies. I turned around and barged right into my mother’s apron. She chuckled lightly, hugging my shoulder. She was only five foot or so, able to hug me without a problem. She was needless to say, a pretty petite little thing. Her bobbed black hair tied back with a blue shiny ribbon, a figure flattering holiday dress, and her aroundthe-house slippers. They didn’t really go with her outfit, so I stared down at them, bemused. She giggled again, pointing to another pair of perfect high heels hidden behind the counter. She whispered softly into my ear: “I slip those on when your father peeks in.” Part of me wanted to laugh to please her, but with every word, I hated my father more. My father, with his late night ‘meetings’. He did put a roof over our heads, but he never treated Momma right. Poor Momma couldn’t even relax in her own house. “Momma,” I began hesitantly, causing her to flash her eyes at me warily. “Can I help?” Those words in many normal households would have been described as a beautiful gesture, but apparently they were like the lash of a whip in ours. She closed the cabinet, holding the utensils stiffly. “Honey, I really don’t think that’s such a great idea…” She trailed off, briskly pacing to the table to arrange the items. They clinked together as she ignored my pained face. “Momma, is it Daddy?” She stopped in her tracks. She put down the rest and walked over to me. Her eyes never left my face. My poor Momma. “What you have to understand, sweetheart, is that times are changing. It’s rough on your father. You see, we were raised differently. He means well, he really does.” I stared at her worriedly; I bit my lip. “It sounds more like your convincing yourself,” I regretted the words as soon as I said them. My mother looked as if she’d been slapped. “Get out!” She yelled suddenly, her chin wobbling slightly. I never had seen Momma yell, especially at me. “Momma”” I was going to apol-

ogize, I hadn’t meant to hurt her. That’s when she slapped me. Hard. “No! Odessa, get out now,” Needless to say, I left. I wanted to take everything back; rewind time to a point before I shared my opinion on Daddy with her. I wanted to cry, but I knew that would just create an undue fuss in the house, because I had tiresome, sneaky brothers. It wasn’t until I reached my room that the tragedy happened. Right on Christmas Eve. When nightmares blended with reality. Till today I have no clue what happened that night, the exact sequence of events. My eyes felt like they had been ripped or flipped over inside of my head, and I saw things. I saw my father, heavily intoxicated, walking to the porch of our house. I heard the voices and his slurred speech as he entered our home and slammed the door. Then I saw her. My mother, appalled at the very sight of him. She was against the wall, her breathing erratic and heavy as Daddy grabbed her and threw her against the ground. I saw worse things, violation, obscene and crude gestures, until her heart finally stopped beating. I wanted to scream at the vision; the glory my bastard of a father showed on his face. Then at his look of terror when he realized what he’d done. I couldn’t control any of it. I couldn’t warn them, couldn’t tell my father to stop. To yell “that’s my Momma!” Then I realized it was all a terrible dream. I saw my mother’s concerned face. “What are you screaming about, dear child? Odessa!” My eyes popped open; it couldn’t be. Could the dead possibly come back to life? But at that moment, I didn’t care. “Momma, you’re alright!” I breathed, embracing her close and blinking my eyes. Her scent was refreshing as ever. I saw from the doorway, my four brothers anxious faces. Especially poor Scotty’s. It was all a dream, I reassured myself. I heard the front door slam shut. My father had arrived. I held my mother tighter. I didn’t want to let go. “Hush, honey. That was a big blow you just had. I’m sorry for the whole incident in the kitchen;


something snapped and I just wasn’t thinking. I do love you, baby.” She gave me one last hug and stood up. I tried to jump after her, but my legs were shaking heavily and I was unable to move an inch. I reached out for her arm, and pulled her back. She laughed. That one smile I would remember forever. “I’m just going to go check on your father, get some rest, my love.”I calmed myself. My dream couldn’t possibly be a vision of the future. So, I just tried to relax, coaxing myself to stay calm. It was just a dream…just a horrible dream. But it wasn’t until I heard screaming, that the terror reawakened and a sense of foreboding dawned upon me once again. Scotty ran into my room, snuggling his head into my chest with heart wrenching sobs. “Momma’s…Momma’s…” I took a deep breath and hid my tear filled face into his dark shaggy hair. I finished the sentence for him. “Dead.”


I

want to be free.. nothing more .. nothing less

Free from the negative shadows of the past Free from the unforgettable thoughts of my brain Free from the unforgiving clutches of pain Free from the excruciating pressure of success Free from the spine-chilling fear of failure Free from the dangerous path of ignorance Free from the blinding grasp of arrogance Free from the silent torture of anger Free from the spiteful dagger of time Free from the never-ending pursuit of the future I want to be free.. free is all I want to be..


Vitriol T

he young girl started shrieking at the top of her voice, accumulating every bit of her inner strength for help but it was a desolate street, especially at this time of the day. The hot sun, beating down from straight above her head, was menacing enough and the trees on either side of the pavement seemed dead and uninterested in her misery. There wasn’t even the usual warm midday breeze or the rustle of fallen leaves and the whole place seemed lifeless. She knelt down even as the asphalt hurt her delicate knees, clenched her clammy fists and sensed the silence and emptiness around. It terrified her beyond measure and she felt feeble and helpless. She let out a few worthless tears but couldn’t feel them on her burning face, gave up all hope and fell flat and unconscious with a thud, onto the hard blistering road. Her eyes felt heavy, and she tried opening them slowly and cautiously as if this were all a dream or her afterlife. Tears poured down from the corners of her eyes and wetted the soft, white pillow but she still couldn’t feel them on her

face. Then slowly and steadily everything came rushing back to her and she was filled with anguish, disgust and a sense of revenge all at the same time. It was her regular walk back from college, on that familiar yet evidently lonely road, with a paperback to keep her company. She was just flipping through its pages, seemingly engrossed, when she heard the roaring noise of a motorbike fast approaching. She flinched instinctively and tried to avoid that fluid that was hurled towards her. She managed to do just about enough but it caught the right side of her face and she winced in fierce and slicing pain. Her face was on fire, well almost, the skin on her right cheek, temple and ear evaporating into the hot midday atmosphere, and the young and delicate girl that she was; she couldn’t bear the least bit of it. She was a beautiful girl, extremely fair, her face spotless and smooth as glass, sharp features that most girls in her class envied, the breeze continuously teasing those glossy strands of long and elegant dark brown hair, thick and luscious red lips and a silhouette that left guys gasping. She always wore the most expensive


and stylish of clothes and footwear. She was a darling at heart but her emotional strength was limitless. She was an intelligent girl, had great memory and was an excellent raconteur. Instances and anecdotes from a long way back in the past, she would excavate and narrate as if it all happened yesterday. Her rational thoughts, her passion for journalism and literature gave her an opportunity to write regularly for a local magazine. She would use it as a medium to let herself out and express her inner feelings towards anything, right from worldly matters to her petty college fights. He was lanky, wore thick brown rimmed spectacles and dressed himself in the most unfashionable clothes. She liked him a lot and they connected instantly, for reasons no one ever understood, and they used to chat and gossip and sometimes bond over academics. Walking back from college, they would discuss everything under the sun, right from politics to sports and everything else in between that they could find a common link with. Every day they would walk together to her house and she would hug him tight, tell him he was her best friend. One rainy day, unfortunately, she did more than that. She told him that she loved him and that was probably the biggest mistake of her life. Everyone knows there is an inevitable change after those three words are recklessly uttered. And so, it was soon to be seen and felt, sometimes a bit too much to handle. She felt like she actually didn’t know him well at all and everything till now was just a beguiling and dishonest mockery of her feelings. She felt like she’d been ensnared into his immoral and crude mind-set and that scared her. He would sometimes force himself upon her and his demands were unsavory and she never felt comfortable in his presence anymore. She thought it was best for the both of them to let go of each other. She felt like a free bird again, the free bird she always was and the free bird she always wanted to be. Her days got cheerfully easier, she was back to her buoyant and jolly self in a week’s

time and she didn’t miss their conversations or their walks together and the contentment and relief overshadowed everything else. Thoughts about the time they spent, the places they went to and all the experiences they had together whenever her eyes caught a glimpse of him in college never really bothered her and then she would realize that it was all an illusion and she never really liked him that much. Just about when she had disregarded everything and forgot that it ever happened, the unfortunate incident occurred. She couldn’t digest the fact that the person she once loved, didn’t think twice before vandalizing her for life, the fact that he didn’t hesitate to mar the pleasant face that he once kissed and wound the immaculate heart that he once bonded so deeply with. She was no more the sweetheart of the college, no more the dream girl, no more everyone’s favourite. Her friends, as she believed them to be, tried to avoid her. Some curious eyes would stare at her half covered face, and would be visibly repulsed with whatever they could make out of the tanned and viciously scarred features while others would just turn away instantly, wishing to avoid its slightest contact with their vision. She felt more lonely and abandoned than ever before and there was nothing she could do about it. But she wanted to. She wanted to give him similar agony, the same desolation and misery. Vindictive, she never was or wanted to be, but vengeance was the only word on her mind now. Twisted thoughts filled her with a childish excitement and she longed for that day when she would make him pay for his cruel deed that had left her in a translucent veil for the rest of her damned life. With a full plate of dinner in his weak and skinny hand, he searched for something to occupy his mind. The radio was playing in the background but he chose to ignore the continuous renditions of its redundant tunes. He just longed for her moist lips on his, one passionate kiss and a tight, long hug to adjunct it. He couldn’t stop the sudden inflow of emotions and tears rolled down his bony cheeks, only to have an indiffer-


ent plunge, and dissolve, into the glass of water standing delicately on his lap. It wasn’t sorrow. It was frustration. It was fury. He didn’t know how to let it all out, he had to somehow. In a flashing moment of insensitivity, he decided to scar her for life. The thought thrilled him and brought a corrupt smile to his face. He didn’t ever imagine the consequences because it didn’t matter to him; all he wanted was to ruin her life. She was the pinnacle of beauty, intellect and success. He couldn’t have asked for more. But he always did. What goes around comes around. The guilt of his crime haunted him every day and he couldn’t live with it anymore. The scenes from that afternoon buried themselves deep inside his mind and refused to vanish. He would think of that dreadful incident every moment of every day and it would always bother him endlessly. When did he turn into that psychopath from a regular college going kid? The thought sickened him beyond his will to live anymore. He sought similar pain and agony thinking it would be some sort of redemption. He didn’t know it was arriving soon enough. The girl, having acquired an old dying revolver, walked into his depressing house one gloomy Sunday afternoon. He was there seemingly lost in his own world, blankly staring at the running television without batting an eyelid. Her sweaty hands were trembling with fear but she’d already decided what was to be done. No one would change that now, not even herself if she wanted to. She slowly raised her right hand and pointed the barrel to his temple. She believed she was strong enough to do it, probably just deceiving herself. Just as he caught a glimpse of her disfigured face, the lad felt relieved that his time for salvation had arrived. It was his turn now, finally, and he felt thankful. He forced his mind to go blank so that he could only feel the rigid barrel pressing against his temple. A tear trickled down the corner of his closed, left eye, memories and emotions came gushing into his head and he was taken aback by their uncanny energy. He was profusely sweating by now and after a quick gasp, he cleared his wet cheeks and gathered himself. The world stopped moving for him, his heart skipped a beat, his organs went cold and numb, his dry lips parted and he felt liberated as he heard the trigger click and the revolver crack with a deafening blast.


I

n hushed tones, on a summer night, When even the moon had drowned off its light, Did they take the man, who never seemed so wary, From his bed, to another in the mortuary, Wife and child, beside him were sleeping, Love, hope and the passionate moonlight, Still what phantom, did cause the creeping Of desire in his heart, to end it all that night? What broke his sleep…or had he not, Slept the sleep he longed for a while? Was this the sleep he really sought? In the morgue, blood foaming on his mouth so vile.

and catch some mice.. Didn’t it then, this intense message, to you my friend, apprise? Was the fresh taste of life at dawn so unbearable? Did the morgue taste so sweet? That you lay inside, suffocating, Your heart bereaved of any beat, Listen, yet listen, the tale of this soul..

Like a famished rat, crushed under a truck Is he sleeping, and is so calm In the blind alleys of darkness, Is his heart finding its balm..

Not once did he fail, in love, His carnal desires, they were all fulfilled, For him could his dear “white dove”, Not have any more honey spilled,

The profound pain of staying awake Will never again he bear, As was said from the window, when the moon had set, When darkness and eerie silence were here.

Not once did he shiver, In the dark, unforgiving cold, That strangles every homeless, Clutches the spine of the poor and the old,

YET..the owl’s awake, Moribund, stenching frog begs for a few more hours Expecting another morn..while the net’s remorseless obstinacy, Can’t stop the mosquito from drenching in Life’s showers,

But I know..Yes I do.. A woman’s heart, love, child, home, that’s not all, Nor money, nor success nor affluence, There’s a threatening anxiety that exists within, Plays in our blood, makes us ever so tense,

Still you gave “enough rope to hang yourself”? Didn’t the branch refuse? Didn’t the fireflies, high on nectar, In you some life infuse?

The ever existence of that fear, or the fear of its existence, It’s tiring, makes us so wary, That wariness doesn’t exist at all, In the morbid pleasures of the mortuary..

The blind disabled owl, didn’t it come and say? The old lady in the moon has long gone away, Didn’t it then cry out, “nice!!!”, let’s go ahead

Still every night I look out from “the window”, The blind, old owl still comes and sits on that “same branch”..


And yes! It does come and say, The old lady in the moon has long gone away, It then cries out, “nice”, let’s go ahead and catch some mice.. It then, does to me, with “that” intense message, apprise, And I call out, oh deep and ancient being..still “nice”? The day will come when even “my” hair will turn grey, When even the setting moon will no more suffice, And having drained life’s chalice, we’ll both go away. -Inspired in parts from “Ath bochor ager ek din” by Jibanananda

Das


A Murder Story N

isha’s heart was eerily calm as she stood in front of Old Fort. Her bloody hand was twitching a small kitchen knife as she held a dustbin in her hand. Somewhere above the clock struck 11 as she entered the building. The security guard tried to stop her but she flashed him the contents of the dustbin and he hastily allowed her in even though he was pretty sure he had not seen her before. Providence was guiding her to the Devil’s lair. Her moment of truth had arrived. Childhood wasn’t the favourite time of her life. Her father was perennially drunk and wasted his money on liquor and whores. His favourite pastime included beating her mother and making their life miserable. She didn’t take it fondly that her mother took all and bore the fault of her father who landed her here in the first place without her consent. So one day when suspicious men entered her house, she for the first time saw her father not being the man of the house. Life was dull and purposeless until the same men entered her house for the second time. Her father greeted them with

gulab jamuns, something which was made in her house only on very special of occasions. The alien sound of gun fire screeched through her purposeless life and brought in excitement after thirteen years. For the first time she was alert to her surroundings as the death knell tolled. She instinctively jumped out of her first floor window. She was helped by a stray hedge but she still broke her tibia and limped on to find refuge in darkness. She sought aid in an orphanage and in two months she was back to her strongest self. She was taken in by a butcher who needed company for he had lost his wife and his still born daughter. But the night resounded in her head. She had fallen in love with those strange men who had shown what true power had been. They had made her lowly father cower and she yearned for their power. Her father’s torments had instilled a false sense of fear in her. Seeing her father beg and plead made her realise her mistake and she learnt her first lesson: You never fear anyone, ever. The strange men became her idols and she dreamed of joining their ranks and ruling the city. She started saving up.


She learnt from the butcher how to wield a knife. He taught her how to calm the animal before its slaughter. She had very broad shoulders and a naturally flexible body which helped her cause. In two months she had mastered the art of butchering. Her mind was calm for every kill and being blessed with unwavering concentration meant results were surgically precise. The butcher usually caved in easily while bargaining with customers so when one afternoon Nisha earned more than what he used to in an entire day he began trusting her business acumen as well. She soon became indispensable to the man and her will on him grew more each passing day till finally she retired him into smoking pot. She was still saving though. One moment she remembered from the night was the one of the men bellowing at her father-“Do you think the guy up at the Old Fort has time for your non-sense?!”- And that was going to be the last human voice in her house. She had been to Old Fort, the largest building in the southern part of the city, in search of her idols. For five years she had gone to the Old Fort every weekend but her search for them but was still incomplete. Her transformation had been from a frightened girl of 13 who jumped out of a window to save her life to a luscious woman whom even her own butcher step father couldn’t resist. Then one day she found them speeding away in an SUV. She wasn’t going to let it all go in vain and immediately hired a taxi to follow them. She eavesdropped on a meeting between the two Mafia heads of the city. The older of the two Mafia heads, the one for whom her idols were working, was accusing the younger one of doing business within his borders. The younger one refused to mend his ways and the meeting ended in each of them threatening to kill the other. Nisha who had been hiding inside a dustbin all this time saw her golden chance and was determined to seize it. She followed the younger one back while returning and he parked into a bar. She bought a kitchen knife and thought out a plan. The first part was to wait for him to get himself drunk. After he was sufficiently drunk she loitered around him and he immediately took her to fancy. She fooled around him patiently waiting for him to take the bait. After sometime when he could only slur out words she took him into the washroom. She easily overpowered him and slit his throat with the blade. To her it was just like another lamb. She took his head as her spoils and marched out, undetected by his men who were equally wasted. At the exit, a glance at her bloody hand clutching the Mafia head by the scalp was enough for any commoner not to cross her way. She dropped the head into a dustbin and hired a taxi to Old Fort. The Old Fort was a towering building that housed offices during the day with Mafia Head-Quarters right at the highest floor. Entry was restricted via two bouncers carrying semi automatic weapons. Nisha entered the building with her prize. Providence was guiding her into the devil’s lair. She was tripping with excitement as to what lay ahead for her and she pressed the top most floor button in the lift. She went inside the deserted building and climbed five further floors via stairs. Electronic cameras had followed her but no one had yet taken her down. She headed to the glass door and when she showed the prize to the bouncers. They buzzed her in. The old man trembled with joy as he saw his biggest foe dead in front of him. He and his circle had been really unsettled in the past few hours since the meeting. His son had created a rift among his own men by wanting to go for an all out war. But here this young girl had done what his finest men could barely dare to do let alone pull it off. The simplicity of her guts and her execution left him spell bound. He saw her potential and once he saw the smile on her face as he asked her to join the Academy; he knew who would succeed him and secure the future of his syndicate.


This is the story of a boy and a friend he loved. She severs ties with him in the last leg of her fragile life so that she could spare him wasting away in her memory. Her death devastates him and his grief-stricken heart finds the loss of a friend far more painful than the loss of a love. No longer able to bear the overwhelming pain, he pours his emotions into verse before putting an end to the poem of his life.

E

very day now is a living hell! Love turns to hatred, friendship betrayal, Never wanted I to walk down this dark alley, where now I am left alone. But destiny played a part to turn me to stone. Never ever had I wanted this to happen, never wanted to let go; But Fate had decided, T’was time for that person to know! This, I thought shouldn’t be of much importance to me, ‘Cause as friends we were, I thought, we shall always be, But how wrong I was, now I think; Ferry of friendship within moments did sink! I still know not the reason. Life of mine from then has been nothing more than a prison. This friend of mine never took me for a friend I guess, But whoever this was, was my true friend, nevertheless. But dreams do shatter, illusions break, After year-long serious strife this was all that I could make, But now I do think this person never did really care for the feelings of a friend, And never did give a moment’s thought before putting everything to an end, I did try, try to mend… ‘Cause I never wanted our friendship to end! But your mind had already spoken over your heart,

My heart that once craved for you, now you have ripped it apart, I am no more than a stranger now to you. Life of mine was torn apart in these moments few. But thought I, why think of those who never care for me, I am no longer important to them, why can’t I see, Believed whom I once, betrayed me she, My life, a tragic disaster, made she, in days three, I try no more to forget you; I can do it no more, ‘Cause those deadly blows you gave me will always keep my heart sore, But if you ever turn back, go down your memory lane, You will always find this act of yours rather insane, Believe me I do no longer care, For the deep bond that we did ever share, I ask you now only one question, as you have left me on this lonely road of tireless misery, Why!!!!Why did you do this to me!!!!


Love Euphoria THE BEGINNING “Did you do well?” asked my mom when I came home that evening mopping my forehead. It was as if studying was my full time job, except that I was welcomed by a shower of questions instead of cold water. “It was fine ma” I replied. I lied obviously, even my mother knew that but she didn’t probe further. After dinner there was yet another session of a mock online test I had to go through. The very thought of it drained the last drop of mental strength I had. I was in one of those coaching classes which had just one goal in mind. Whitewash you inside out. But preparing for BITSAT had its pros outweighing the cons. You essentially can take a break in the middle of taking a test to surf the net or watching a hilarious scene from a movie. The day finally arrived. After the usual ritual of the vermilion, incense and a couple of broken coconuts your deal with god was fixed - if he kept his side of the bargain you would keep

yours. After a workout of three hours with the brain the three digit score flashed at me quite happily. “ Ma I think I am in” I said excitedly. “Wow that is great!” she said, jumping up with joy. After one month of all the tension of following deadlines and successful postal communication with BITS-PILANI, I was allotted the stream of my choice. My family was jubilant. But that was only a part of the story of my life which was about to take a turn that most travel by but few come through. My first day at college was more of an Indian bride affair. With my head down I tried to sneak my way through lonely channels between several groups some of which were laughing away in full glory. I finally found a familiar face at the farther end of the registration room. I felt like a religious fanatic coming face to face with God. I was overwhelmed when I first saw him. We studied intermediate together and we were good mates back then and considering the current situation I literally found an oasis in a desert.


A casual stroll during the following evening was something which entirely changed my life. I never knew that something of that sort would happen to someone like me who never thought about something like that. I was an introvert of the first order always confining myself to the cloisters of the inner halls of solitude. I just wouldn’t dare to look up and talk to anyone. A blessing in a curse, as my mom used to say. This girl I had seen was walking like everyone would. She was talking like everyone would. She was walking towards her hostel, clad in sunset red. A gentle breeze was playing a faint tune and the sun was setting for good. I actually tripped on the edge of the footpath which obviously missed my attention. It as if Mozart was playing symphonies all around for someone, so meticulously composed, with the delicateness that every flower craved for. The coated words I spoke above were entirely not my fault. Her share is greater. For the first time I got tongue tied. I was at real loss of words. Everything happened so quickly that I did not know what hit me. In fact I told my friend, “Hey look over there I think she is beautiful.” . “Oh god just forget it dude” he said. We had our dinner in silence as if lightning had struck. My friend was perplexed. Of course he would be because he had never found me in such a state. “Dude, are you alright?” he asked. I looked up startles, as if I was struck by a club. It was the same face which was disturbing me. Was she really that beautiful? “No she wasn’t!” said my mind. “Get back to business you have come here to study.” A new entrant into such a weird discussion was the heart. It was speaking for the first time. So I allowed it to speak. “There is something about this girl. It is not about being beautiful. “ .I was shocked at such an expression from my heart. What was with this feeling? It was making me

sick. I thought that I should just talk to her and maybe I would get over it. But then that truly seemed to be a herculean task. I plotted out ways. I got a message that night from my friend who took pains to find out her name and from which branch she was. “Wow!” I said. But then a friend is always someone who just cannot let go of something such as this unnoticed. He encouraged me into coming up with an intelligent plan to talk to her. I was quite good with words. I thought of writing an article and approaching her with it for its entry into her association’s newsletter. Every night she used to go on a walk down the alley adjoining the mess. I mustered up all the courage I could. After having had quite an early dinner which comprised more of thoughts than of food, I took the weapon in hand which could change my fate. I was speaking such far-fetched words with myself that I just did not know what I was doing. This was really getting on my nerves. I had to finish it. My goal was just to talk to a human being and here I was thinking as if she was more than just human! With these thoughts in mind I approached her. My heart was in my mouth. I was sweating like a dog in a Chinese restaurant. “Yes” she said. That was the end of the world as I knew it. It was like a word dipped in honey. I got tongue tied and fled the battle scene in which my mind and heart were fighting to catch a glimpse of her. I stopped at a safe distance from her to capture her divinely beautiful smile; her skin gleamed beneath the soft moon light. She was truly an angel who had descended from the heavens for a casual walk on earth, but lost her way back home. It was then that I realized that I had fallen in love. My heart had an instant connection with her. It was as if she was made as the most beautiful creation just for me and God was showing off his skills when he had created her.


THE PROPAGATION Early next morning was a fiesta for me. I opened my eyes and looked around my room as if something was missing. I tried to remember last night. It was as if I had woken up from a beautiful dream to a boring reality. I steadied myself and got ready lest I would miss my early 8 o clock class. After breakfast I decided that I should get to know her timetable so that I could catch a glimpse of her during my usual routine of classes. I went to the information processing center to open up the student archives and collect all the information that I could about her. When her name materialized on the screen I was struck with the usual plethora of uneasiness. My heart raced. It was as if the whole world was watching me and whispering. I told myself it was nothing but her awesomeness which was playing its way into my mind. A few queries later I had her “credentials”. Like a scientist who just made a great discovery I gave an inward thanks for the administration who made it possible to let me know of her name, a beautiful one which was too simple and sweet. She was from the western part of the country which was lucky enough to bear the birth of someone so beautiful. The only thing missing in the treasure I collected was her phone number, the most beautiful of permutations of ten digits that could be formed. All these words were not something that I spoke, these were spoken by an inner voice which emanated from my soul and I dared not to silence it. The days passed on swiftly and I made many new friends. But the only one that seemed foreign was her. With every passing day the urge in me to talk to her grew but courage failed me. With her beauty as my ally I knew I could not fail but my heart went weak whenever I saw her. Love is more than an accident and you just don’t know what hit you before you fall head over heels into it. When I went home the following weekend it was as if I lost myself in some place I never thought of. I was thinking about

her when my brother barged in and asked me if we could go out for a movie which released a couple of days ago. When I casually refused he knew something was wrong. It was something unusual coming from me, a movie buff. He didn’t delve deep and let go of me thinking I really didn’t want to go out that evening. I was in my room but my mind was somewhere else and my heart was with someone else. This wasn’t exactly going the way I had planned. My job was to study well, get a degree and be off from this place. But something out of the blue was happening which was least anticipated by me. She had caught me unaware and had bowled me over completely. I didn’t know where this would lead and conversations with my heart had become more intense. Life had become a song and she was singing it. The next day was not too different but it had something in store for me, something which I had longed for all these days. I was in the gallery after my class waiting for her usual pretty self to show up; when I suddenly figured out she was going to the café. “Let us go and get ourselves a drink” I told my friend. Thirst for water was the last thing on my mind; it was the thirst to see her which made me speak up. She was sitting cross-legged with books sprawled all over the table in front of her. She was writing something, completely involved, barely noticing the world around her which would have gladly bowed at her feet. I was perspiring in the November chill and wasn’t surprised at my state as there she was in her full glory, a dreamy damsel. Her hand writing was perfect like an embodiment of crystals taking forms on paper, her eyes half closed like they were hiding some part of the beauty in and as if there was little for her to look at. The faint smile on her face which mocked me of my inability to buy it and her delicate pose withered most of the flowers outside the window, as they were swaying helplessly in the wind. I gave myself a pat on the back and pushed myself to her. “Good morning” I said, every letter taking an infinite time to come out. “Ohh very


good morning” she said looking up. I feigned a smile forcing myself not to faint. She seemed so beautiful that I just couldn’t see anything else around me. The bell shrilled my way back to reality. My friend was begging me to come to class. But her words just wouldn’t let me go. I reluctantly left and the next one hour was all about her and obviously the lecture went completely unheard. I chided myself. I just couldn’t let her ruin my life like this. She doesn’t even know my name properly and here I was getting lost in her dreams. The next week was quite an anti-thesis to the previous one. I controlled myself and concentrated on other things with great difficulty. I had to, if I should face the bout of tests that were about to ensue from next week. But it was proving to be a very difficult task. I turned to God for his help to overcome this phase of life as soon as possible. The last thing I wanted was to get kicked out of my home. They just wouldn’t accept any girl of my choice. But then there just was something about her that was more than what meets the eye. As I walked around with my friend every evening staring at the twilight sun setting in one part of the sky and the early moon rising in another, I could see her face somewhere in between amidst the stars laughing away to glory and making me fall for her over and over again. I got to know the next day that she was going out somewhere by the early morning bus. I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned and immediately set out to the bus stop waking up early in the morning which I bet I never would have done for any other reason. There she was at the bus stop wearing an animal print scarf all around her neck warming herself against the morning chill by rubbing her hands and waiting for the bus to come. She obviously didn’t take any notice of me and quietly boarded the bus as it came chugging along. I immediately got onto it and strained my ears to hear to where she had taken the ticket; my destination was the same as hers, obviously. The next one hour was gone in stealing quick glances of her now

and then, as she played with a little kid who sat next to her. She was the cutest of things to watch and I cried inside for the pitiable condition of the road which was hurting her delicate self. Her lovely fingers held onto the side rails to shield her from the jerks of the rough asphalt. She got down at her stop and I followed suit. The market was packed with so many people that I was afraid I would lose her. I was also scared for her safety in this cursed place. I lost her and couldn’t trace her again. With a heavy heart I prayed for her safe return and boarded the bus back home. This was one in many instances when I felt that she just didn’t belong here and there was different world which was made for her where she was the queen and would get things done with an elegant wave of her hand. Her flowing lace gown held carefully in her hands; addressing to the woes of her subjects with a compassionate heart. Everything was hers to rule and I wanted to give her such a world and be enslaved under her rule without a worry in the world; protecting her in every way a person could be protected and loving her in every way a person could be loved.

THE TERMINATION “Forget about her” my friend said. “If your mother knew about this there will be trouble. Think of her as a passing cloud which showers and goes”. He tried to explain the complications that could arise in the future. He was correct but I was on another realm, with the very thought of her making me feel that I should do something for her, shower petals in her path lest her feet would get hurt, shade her from the sun lest her form would get singed, chide the wind for moving faster than usual and making it difficult for her to walk through. I was truly deeply in love with her, so deep that I could do anything for her smile to remain on her lips forever. From this life of mine I couldn’t ask anything more than to just walk with her. Just to be with her and treasuring each second I spend with


her. “There just shouldn’t be any reason in this world for her to cry but there has to be every reason for her to smile.” I thought. I wanted to be that every reason .If I couldn’t earn her this time then it would be because I am not worthy enough. I prayed to God to give me courage to walk the rest of my life without her and make me a part of the dust that could touch her feet and watch her play around like a happy child for all eternity. This story is yet another example to show how love makes an ordinary person look extraordinary, the same old story which resounds through the walls of history with a different cast and a slightly abridged screenplay but would continue to play in theatres for many years to come, and a resounding hit it would really become.


arbit shit F

estivals are always fun, and more so when you celebrate them with other boisterous youngsters your age. So here’s a really quick look at all the fun times on campus, when we celebrated a plethora of festivals with the joy and enthusiasm befitting 18-22 year olds. The highlight was Holi, with the tanker and the water and the eggs that never became omelettes. Why, the uninformed may ask. Well, because they (the eggs) were thrown at random girls passing by. (Good intentions, of course. Eggs enhance the softness of hair. Like natural conditioning. So Very Thoughtful of those Egg Throwers). And yes, colours and colours of every colour. Bright, pink and sparkly. Good fun. But then, Holi always is. Then there was the Ganesh festival. More sedate, but equally entertaining. Mandap decorations, Rangoli, Mehendi, games and much more added to the festive fervour, which stretched across quite a few days. This ended on Visarjan day, which was another highlight day considering that people got to climb onto a truck and dance. Imagine the opportunities. Then there was Tamil New Year, when a movie was screened and a concert was organised. Both were thoroughly enjoyed by those who understand the language. On Pongal the festival, Pongal the dish was prepared in front of mess 1, and though I didn’t get to taste it, I believe it was awesome. There was good food, a bonfire and dancing on Lori, and kite flying on Sankranthi. Speaking of good food, how can one forget Onam? Maitri always makes a beautiful pookalam (flower rangoli) and organises a nice Sadya (traditional meal) every year. Both are usually very impressive, and last year was no different. Moving on, there was a nice beautiful idol of the Goddess in front of mess 1 for Durga Puja and a fun dandiya night was organised to celebrate the occasion of Navratri. An effigy of Raavan was burnt on Dussehra. And yes, on Janmashtami, there was a sweet, devotional aarti in the girls’ common room (complete with a handmade cradle for Baby Krishna), and the boys broke pots. Just like Slightly Older Krishna. Climbed onto each other and broke pots. Always highly entertaining to watch. That, to put it in a nutshell, was pretty much what happened on campus during the festivals. Celebrations!


So long, Mandela This written piece contains characters that are both real and fictional; words that have been said and unsaid; events that took place and also the ones that didn’t. 2004, Umhlanga Village, Coast of Durban:

H

e had read that letter again and again. It had turned brown, the white paper, on which black ink ran without a stop whatsoever, all the words joined by faint strokes of ink and the words so bold and confident, like it wasn’t just a letter but it was destiny. When that letter first came to him, he was young. He could barely walk now. He was confined to that old bed that creaked when anything or anyone on that moved. But he couldn’t move that much. That assured him some peace and silence. He could neither swallow nor digest solids anymore and all that he would consume had to be in unmistakable liquid state. His nose became his mouth and with a plastic tube for a foodpipe, his granddaughter sent thin cylindrical streams of fruity juices, glucose and medicine

through it. The medicine always came out and it needed that repetitive ‘push’ to go through and settle down in his stomach. ‘Ok now grandpa, take a deep breath. Don’t breathe while it’s going in.’ Claire slowly started to insert the plastic tube through Francis’s nose. ‘Wait.’, he said and inhaled until he couldn’t let anymore air to fill his chest. Then he exhaled until his chest was only full of vacuum. Orange juice found its way through the funnel, next the plastic food-pipe and the living food-pipe till it finally settled down in a shrunken stomach. As she removed the pipe, it left tickles, with a sense of itching, deep inside his nose. He let out a helpless guffaw. It was the turn of the medicine now. Its terrible smell was not to be accepted by him. As it entered his nose, a little jerk of an exhalation spurt out the entire fluid, a part of which meandered on his face until it reached the edge of his unshaved chin—white stubble spread all over—and hung itself as a drop that finally wet his shirt collar. His shirts had stains of varied colours, depending on the medicine.


‘I think you said it was glucose.’ A rough and grainy sound filled the room as he spoke. ‘I know. I lied’, said Claire with a sense of carelessness, concentrating more on her janitorial duties. She moved briskly from corner to corner, wall to wall, shifting syrup bottles, saline containers and oxygen cylinders from place to place, as if it was important for them to be where she kept them. ‘Why do you keep moving them, making unnecessary noises. Let me be at peace? Why don’t you want to go out and watch T.V.?’ She already left. ‘Keep the volume low.’ He lay there on the bed, staring at the roof, as if examining something. He felt uneasy, as if an ultra-thin layer of irritation settled in between him and the quilt. He reached for the letter that was on the brown table beside, which has indeed been pretty kind enough to feed generations of termites. He opened it. “…..think it’s going to be fine. We have planned for it. I’ve met Nair and Arthur in the court. I am yet to meet the others. I didn’t have sufficient time. Stay tight-lipped. Try relocating to Umhlanga. It should be fine. We’ll meet soon. I shall remain indebted to you, for the rest of my life and afterwards. And I will come back one day for sure and we will have coffee like we used to do together in college. I wish you a happy married life. Your friend forever, N.R. Mandela.” ‘But I think hot coffee will trouble my nose a bit’, he said and laughed sympathetically at himself; his teary eyes glistening from the afternoon sunshine. *** 1963, Rivonia Trial, Johannesburg: 10th July, It had just stopped raining and the grass dressed the Liliesleaf farm like a vivid green cloth of pure velvet; a shade so eminent that it

didn’t have to struggle to distinguish itself from the other hues of nature. Arthur Goldreich, the owner of the farm, just came out after he had been informed by the main gate security that some ‘white’ visitor was eager to meet him. ‘Have you checked him thoroughly?’ asked Arthur. ‘Ja meneer. We made him remove his shirt and trousers also. Both inside and outside, we checked. ’ said one of the guards with a sense of responsibility. ‘Where is he?’ ‘Meneer, at the main gate, still. He’s waiting. Do you want me to…? ’ ‘Alright, bring him.’ Arthur said and strolled around until the white man showed up. ‘Good evening. I have been sent by Nelson and he wants me to deliver something to you.’ He handed him a letter that was written in the same handwriting; in fact a letter that was written by the same hand that wrote him another letter in later times, which he wouldn’t stop reading for the rest of his life. ‘Well?’ ‘He doesn’t want you to be in the farm anymore. He wants you to shift as soon as possible.’ ‘A white skin is talking and it’s talking fine. I’m listening. You may continue.’ A bass voice, dressed in mockery, started speaking. Everybody around laughed. ‘When did...’, as Arthur started to speak, the same voice cut him off and spoke, ‘what made you think we’d believe in this? Who sent you here? Don’t say Nelson because that will, at best, end up as a joke.’ Arthur said, ‘Oh, Walter. I thought I might speak to the gentleman a little bit. Now may I, with your prior permission?’ A sense of sorry pulled down Walter Sisulu’s face. He was now staring at the grass, beneath which all his sarcasm and mockery was buried. ‘I think we all should really appreciate you for doing all this for our benefit. But I think we’d


have to look over the credibility of this piece of text.’ Arthur said. ‘Sir, what I have brought with me is not just text. It’s also Mandela’s signature, if you have noticed. That’s not a mere note.’ ‘Sure I have noticed it. But then I can’t just believe that you are Mandela’s man. I must know that you are one.’ ‘Sir, do you have choice, but for believing me?’ ‘When it’s coming from a white man, we will definitely have our apprehensions. Please stop demanding us to believe you.’

a plan for sabotage in the vicinity of next National Party meeting location. At 10 pm in the night, Nair, the nineteenth member, entered the home, dripping due to the night’s drizzle. ‘Andrew has some information for us. The police have started to round up Rivonia suburb. It will be better if we…’ ‘Sit down, relax.’ Arthur said with a hint of smoothness in his voice. ‘Relax?’ Nair asked, puzzled. ‘The situation is almost out of hands now. I don’t think it’s the time to relax.’

‘I believe Mr Sisulu’s father was a white man indeed. Now what do you say about that sir? Should you be expecting such tremendous amount of sacrifice, help and risk from a son of a white man, to go against the whites? You think the colour is essential in a situation that demands immediate attention and wise action? Please be wise, sir. I am not here to convince anybody.’ Arthur said with calmness showing in his face, but aggression in his voice. ‘What do you do?’ said Arthur. Francis started to elicit belief in Arthur. I have worked in the Johannesburg Fort prison and now I have been ousted from my job and the police are after me.’ ‘Why so, if I may ask?’

From Arthur’s eyebrows, it was evident that a sense of nervousness started to replace the usual calm that dwelled in his face. They had been rounded up. They started to plan for an early-morning escape the next day. They couldn’t go out then as the streets were filled with special police forces to prevent saboteurs from attacking anonymously and facilitating easy arrests.

‘I have tried to let Mandela escape from the Fort. He wanted to get back to ANC, you know? ’ he said. ‘We have been friends since college. Don’t call it an act of sympathy. It is just that I know your state of being; which is quite unjust for human beings to live in and that is clearly evident. That is what I feel. I have just come to give you that piece of paper. I hope I’m done.’ He turned back to leave as Arthur spoke, ‘Yes, Sisulu’s father was a white man.’ ‘Where’s Mandela going now?’ ‘Robben Island.’ ‘What is your good name by the way?’ ‘Lt. Francis Smith. I have retired from the army and now ousted from the police.’ Later that night, eighteen members of the African National Congress, were trying to prepare

11th July, early morning: Men in uniforms, equipped with arms, jumped over the fences of the Liliesleaf farm in Rivonia. Their feet stamped the grass and left muddy brown patches of apartheid’s presence. Within fifteen minutes, all the nineteen members of ANC were under police custody, their hands cuffed, eyes dead but voices still strong. ‘I think our men have spoiled the grass in your farm’, said the police officer to Arthur. His words carried sarcasm on their shoulders. ‘No worry officer, its grass after all. It shall grow again.’ Two blows were landed on Arthur’s body—one below the neck, another on his hip—after this reply came. ¬¬ *** 1964, Court of Transvaal Province: Francis made sure that he was there in the court when Mandela and the other arrested members of the ANC were presented in the court. He disguised himself and managed to masquerade the court security. Then he saw Mandela,


after he was finally asked to speak. ‘Is it true that you and the other outlaws who have been taken into police custody had allegedly planned for sabotage near Rietfontein road?’ questioned the advocate. ‘Is it true?’ Mandela asked with a faintest of smiles. ‘I’m led to believe so, going by the letters we have secured from the house in Liliesleaf farm in Rivoina suburb, which were written to the leaders of various anti-apartheid activist groups, who had already been convicted several other times previously, according to the records of Sandton police. The signature on the letters has been identified as that of Mr Arthur Goldreich.’ ‘Sure. I think we had it planned. I wasn’t present over there, but I’m pretty sure that something like this had been planned for.’ ‘What are you trying to imply Mr Mandela? Are you unaware of the fact that you will have to face severe consequences if convicted under claims of support for anti-apartheid and mass sabotage?’ ‘This is the struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and experience. It is a struggle for the right to live. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and …’ Mandela didn’t finish, but Francis stopped listening to him as he sensed something. A policeman started looking at him, his eyes filled with doubt. He started to advance towards him. Francis looked at him, sensed danger, and started to exit the court room. As he was walking, he continuously checked if he was still being followed. He wasn’t. He had escaped again. He couldn’t completely listen to what Mandela had to say. *** Old man Francis lay there on the bed, eyes wide open. He heard the screeching of tyres from outside his home. After the door-bell rang and Claire hooted from disbelief, an old, withered figure entered his bedroom. ‘I smell anti-apartheid.’, Francis laughed loudly and wheezily. ‘I thought you smelled the President of South Africa. Former.’ Mandela said as he languidly sank into the chair that was next to the bed. Both men just looked at each other for some time and looked away later. They didn’t have much to talk about. They never talked much. Silence was a major part of their bond. ‘What has taken you so long?’ asked Francis. ‘Well, nothing actually. Been a bit busy, you know travelling, dealing with men and you know, the nineteen years in jail.’ ‘Hmm.’ ‘I think I have to leave. I just dropped by to see you.’ ‘Alright, Claire is getting some coffee. Wait.’ The coffee came. He sipped it down, making sure he didn’t leave out a single drop of it. ‘You just don’t know what wonderful coffee your little one makes. Try it with those pipes one day.’ ‘I’ll burn them down if I did.’ Mandela put the cup aside and got up from the chair, taking help of Claire. ‘My men are waiting outside. I’ll leave now.’ ‘What did you say in court that day in Transvaal? Do you still remember? I couldn’t listen to it completely.’ ‘You were in the court that day?’ asked Mandela, puzzled. ‘What did you say?’ ‘This is the struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and experience. It is a struggle for the right to live. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society, in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. It is an ideal which I hope to live for


and achieve. But, if needs be, my Lord, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’ Mandela fumbled a lot while he said it. He caressed Francis’s shoulder, smiled and said, ‘So long.’ Francis turned his face away from Mandela. He looked out of the window at the setting sun and its orange hue that spread itself throughout the sky. He muttered, ‘So long, Mandela!’


F

irmament thundered its rage on the earthThe mortals in Antonom winced in pain and swallowed fear As pellets poured and Dark Lord spit fire in MirthRan they to the burgeoning Banyans for their life dear. The two Banyans were spoken of in legends and tales of Old For they were inter-wined with the history of AntonomMeandering they stood between themselves facing ravages bold For they were lovers in passionate embrace sans aplomb! Omno a fair lad, toiled by the dew His perspiration mingling with Earth moistThe field being his Apparel and Yoke a needlehe sew The land to the benignant Shower of Sun-his only tryst A gorgeous lass from the fecundate field of Sun Treaded upon the muddy muddy foils of the land Dexterously watching Omno dwell- thought a tonneAnd pleaded to her father,to bestow His grace on his Land. The Sun warmly smiled through his portals to the fieldOmno blossomed with prosperity and his perspiration’s fragranceKindled a fire in the Princess’ heart which even her beauty couldn’t shield So she blessed him Bountiful to test him trueof his Piety and Tolerance. Omno kissed his luck and shared with the deprived left to chime

His spoils of hard labour doubled with Humility mildSo did the Princess’ fondness increase with the Sands of TimeBut alas! Air felt the barrel beneath her breast thump wild. Air young and handsome but jealousy tarnished Ran and reported all to Sun, the Supreme lord of HeavensAnd Air with a chuckled smile, watched with eyes famishedThe Princess assigned to busy herself with Duties of Heavens Heat an Ally of Air waved through the heart of the field And burnt the Earth and Water away from their DutyWeaklings crippled and vanished as Sun forbade Oceans to Shield And Omno as all mortals must released his soul from his Duty Princess pearly white in shock and black in mourning Bade Earth reveal its graves from morning to noonAnd kissed his cold corpse with ferocious passion burningAnd set off to shed Her Godly Immortality and Boon. Air ashamed of his Pride, swore to silence his senses And Breathe through every mortal-to calm them when graveBut Sun stubborn as was an old fool sum-


moned his Princess And asked her to reconsider Her word and her crave. Princess obliged and swallowed her Love to Her heart But prayed to know why and how Truly Omno met his End And as Sun disclosed his Shame,She with her grieving Heart Felt her saber shiver down her spine, and thus met Him by her End. Sun thus Sanctified by his daughter’s Sacrifice Vowed never to shine in the Field that was sown with aplombThe souls of Omno and Nat, to signify Love’s rise And declared the Grange that produced Love- Antonom!


Peter Pan T

he incessant sobbing finally stopped as he heard a knock on the door. He knew it was his mother. It was time for dinner and he knew that she wanted him downstairs. But he wasn’t hungry. He was angry. How could people be hungry? How could his mother be hungry? How could she let any other emotion or feeling grip her? How did people manage to move on like nothing ever happened? The world was still spinning and he hated it. She knocked again. He didn’t move. Maybe if he stayed still for long enough, he’d turn into a stone he thought. Maybe then it would all go away. Was it a minute, five? He couldn’t tell but he could hear the footsteps leaving. She was gone. Probably back to her usual chores. The thought filled him with rage. How could she? He was her son! That day .It had been like any other sunny summer afternoon. He remembered exactly what had happened. Just back from school, he’d been listening to his grandfather’s old radio. Sipping lemonade and listening to music from another age, he had waited for his brother. He hadn’t known when he’d dozed off but he’d soon been

woken up by his mom. And she had been crying. He had wondered why she was back from work so early. He had wanted to ask her if something was wrong, but before he could say anything, she had curled up next to him. She had hugged him and had begun crying. He’d been clueless; he had never seen her like this. He hadn’t thought that a woman like her was capable of crying. He had heard his dad’s voice call out to his mom. He hadn’t quite understood what was going on but they had seemed to be arguing. He didn’t remember which one of them told him. All he remembered is that the words hadn’t made sense to him then. How could his brother be dead? He should be coming home any time now. Maybe he was caught up with some extra school work and might be a little late, but he should be coming home soon. He always does! But they had told him otherwise. They had said something about a car crash. Why would they say something like that? Didn’t they love him anymore? None of it had made sense. Suddenly there had seemed to be too many people with grim faces. He hadn’t wanted to look at any of them. There had seemed to be too much going on. He had run up to his room


and shut himself in. He had looked around to see if his brother was hiding somewhere in the room and if all of this was a prank. Of course he hadn’t found his brother. He had only found the football that they used to play with. It had hit him then. His brother wasn’t going to come home to play that day, or the next day, or ever. The floor beneath him had seemed to have suddenly disappeared. He had collapsed, and it was only hours later that his parents had found him, unconscious.

at that moment, he was only dreaming of being hungry. The fairy smiled at him. “It’s not a wishing I wasn’t”, said the fairy continuing to smile at him. He continued to stare at the fairy perplexed and it continued to smile at him. He didn’t know when it happened but he fell asleep.

Not even a month had gone by since that day. But everyone around him seemed to have gone back to their lives. His dad was now back at work, so was his mother. He’s even been going to school for a week now. Normalcy, they told him. Nothing seemed normal to him. It was as though a chunk of flesh had been cut out of him and now with some gauze on it, they told him it was alright, though he could see the blood oozing off the sides every minute. How did the grownups manage to ignore the oozing blood? Or do their wounds heal sooner? He didn’t understand. A mixture of emotions, anger, sorrow, fear, longing rushed through him as he began thrashing wildly. He wanted it to stop. He wanted to grow up; he wanted to be like them. He wished none of this had ever happened. He wished his brother was still alive. He wished people would stop and acknowledge the loss of human life. He didn’t understand why people were in such a hurry to go back to normalcy. He wished his mother would come and tell him she missed her son too. He wished the world would stop spinning. He soon managed to tire himself out, and fell asleep.

He woke up the next day, or at least, what he thought was the next day. He was definitely not in his room. It did seem to be his on house though. He was in his parents’ room. He wondered where his father was. He felt too tired to get up. He tried to go back to sleep, but in vain. He finally managed to get up and saw the reflection of another man staring back at him in the mirror. Was it not a dream? But it couldn’t be. Was he dreaming now? It didn’t make sense to him. There was a knock on the door and he saw another man enter. In an instant he recognized the man. It was his brother. Though it was a much older version of his brother, it was his brother. ‘Mother died today morning’ his brother said. ‘The doctors say she went quietly in her sleep.’ ‘Mother?’ he asked. ‘Yeah, I was just as shocked as you were when I heard the news. She was a tough one wasn’t she’ said his brother. ‘Anyway, hurry up and get dressed, there will be people coming over ,soon’ his brother added as he walked out. He looked around trying to make sense of what was going on around him. The fairy was sitting at the end of the bed with a fat smile on its face. He wanted to beat the smile out of its face. ‘This is what you wanted wasn’t it?’ it said. ‘That’s my brother? And my mother? How old am I? Is this still my house? Is..’ And with that, it disappeared.

He woke up to find that it was still dark all around. He looked at the clock to realize it was just past 2 in the morning. He heard his stomach grumble. He realized he was hungry. He hated himself for having the thought. The anger began to surface again when he realized he was not alone. There was a curious little being floating around near his table. So it was a dream he thought, being old enough to know fairies were not real. He felt a little less guilty

He walked out of the room to find that the house had surprisingly remained unaltered through the years apart from very minor changes. He walked down the hallway to realize that he was standing at exactly the same spot as the one he had been when he found out about his brother. Then he wondered, that brother is right here now. ‘Time really flies eh?’ said his brother as he put his arm around him. ‘It was right here that I used to find you after school


every day listening to grandpa’s old radio. Boy, those were the days. Everything was so simple then, very little to worry about but getting caught by mom trying to steal from the cookie jar.’ There was a smile on his face. There was a smile on both their faces. For an instant he felt happy. His brother was back with him. He wasn’t all alone again. A tear ran down his cheek as he realized all those were just memories to him now. For the first time in his life, he was actually looking back at things longer than a week ago and it made him feel weird. He didn’t know the word nostalgia and he couldn’t describe it either, but that’s what he felt. It made him feel good and sad at the same time. His brother led him into another room where everyone seemed to have gathered. He thought he recognized a few faces but most of them seemed alien to him. He thought it was a memorial service but no one seemed to be mourning. Even his brother seemed resolute and purposeful. What’s going on here, he asked. I’m auctioning off the entire house, starting off with the contents, his brother replied. What? Now? Can’t this wait? She just passed, please have some respect for the dead, he tried to argue. His brother refused to relent .How does it matter if I do it now or after she’s under the ground? I need to get this done with so that I can pay off my debts soon, keeping her alive cost me a lot of money. He looked around in disbelief. His eyes found his grandpa’s old radio in the pile lying in the middle of the room. He couldn’t take it any longer, ‘where is your decency’ he screamed. ‘Even grandpa’s old clock? Will you spare nothing?’ .He didn’t expect the tirade that followed. ‘I had to pay to make sure you went to a good college. It was my money which made sure that she had a good comfortable bed to die in! The medical bills that I had to keep paying every month have literally bled me dry. Had she lived on a few more years, I probably would have been so deep in debt that I probably would have gone out before she did! I’m actually a little glad she left, though would have been better if she’d gone out sooner. Then I wouldn’t have had to sell your precious radio!’ screamed his brother. He was shaken. ‘It cost her life to keep you alive and you don’t even realize the value of it’ he whispered. He was filled with white hot anger. He didn’t see loss or grief in his brother’s eyes. There was spite and despair. Was this was how they coped? By detaching themselves? He wanted to go back to his room. He wanted to feel familiarity again and most of all, he wanted his mother. But he could see her stone cold face staring at him. She was gone and his brother took her place. It was his fault. Perhaps if he killed his brother, his mother would come back to life. But the very next instant he was appalled by his own line of thought. Was it the insolent child in him or the new found adult that gave seed to this thought? He couldn’t make out. He didn’t want to think anymore. He couldn’t take it. He shut his eyes; he didn’t want to open them till all of this just went away. Nobody noticed him pass out. He opened his eyes to see that he was back in his room again. He was a kid again. His head was still throbbing but he was back. He went to the mirror just to verify. He was overjoyed that he was back, too scared to blink, and bogged by the fear that he’d be old again. It hit him then. He would grow old. Maybe not tomorrow, or the day after or the year after even, but one day, he would grow old too and perhaps into someone like the brother he just met. I don’t want to grow up! I don’t ever want to grow up, he yelled. I know, the fairy said. I know.


O

ut it came of nowhere, like a bolt of lightning, the sight was pretty for a moment and then frightening, as it approached to catch me, I tried to hide behind my cape, now I am struggling to free its stranglehold, but I just cannot escape, I can’t run away from it, all my attempts are in vain, but I can’t just stand over here, writhing in pain, that’s it! I have decided that I have had enough of this, for this state of mine was nowhere near to bliss, my insides are being tortured, along every inch of length, yet with all my might I try to overcome its strength, and after ending the toughest battle I had ever fought, I win, not just the fight, but each bit of me that I have lost, my eyes show signs, not of relief but of despair, for it returns to haunt me, appearing out of thin air, oh God! I thought it finally ceased to exist, but it is something I am unable to resist, it keeps changing its form after each fight, but continues to hold me in its grasp too tight, and here I am trying to force it away again, while it keeps resurfacing - all my attempts without any gain.... in vain…


The Letter T

he room was eerily silent. It had nothing except Riso sitting on a chair and staring at the window. Even news of Melvin’s arrival hadn’t brought a change on the kid’s face. It had been a week now and Riso was still on that road of emotion which was killing him inside, like a slow poison. This had led Melvin to grave solicitations that the boy should get rid of those feelings as soon as possible. “Hey, what’s going on?” Melvin asked while entering the room but to his discontent, he didn’t get a reply. Taking a chair from the corner and sitting in front of him, he said “There’s vaudeville in the town. Do you want to go?” for which he again got no answer. Seeing the communication wasn’t going anywhere, he directly asked Riso “You still miss him. Don’t you?” A teardrop coming out of Riso’s eye was enough for Melvin to understand that he had got affirmation to his question. To continue the conversation, he said “You know what he loved most in his life? Any guesses? You, Riso. You. You were the one he cared most

about and do you think that he would feel good seeing you in such a condition from up there?’’ , and pointed one finger towards the heavens. “He didn’t deserve to die.” a faint voice replied. Feeling what the boy was going through, from the tone of his voice, he said” Yeah, I know but you can’t change the past. He had a loyal heart which used to beat every moment with dignity and unparalleled enthusiasm.” “So why is he dead? Tell me! And why on earth, did he leave me?” The feelings suddenly took on a harsher quality which was evident from his voice. Seeing all the pain and emotions he had bottled up for so long, Melvin said “Everyone’s here for a sojourn. No one’s going to accompany us for forever. Deal with it”. Riso replied “How can I? It’s easy for you to say “. Melvin slowly replied “I was there with Frazer just hours before he breathed his last. Do you want to know what he said to me?” The curious eyes urged him to continue as he said “It was only Frazer, me and three others left when we had captured a deadly arsenal of weapons from enemy hands and were only few kilome-


tres away from the base camp. But we sensed that they were gaining on us and in no time would we have been shrouded with bullets if we didn’t do anything about it. We decided that one was would stay back and hold his ground while the others would flee to the base camp where the helicopter was waiting to rescue us”. Frazer volunteered .His snap decision bought us time. And I saw him depart quite knowing that it may very well be the last time I would be seeing him alive and it was then, he said to me .....” Suddenly, from nowhere, Samantha banged on the door, saying “Are you guys ready or not? It’s already six”. “Yeah, we are coming “, answered Riso, least bothered about her, and nodded for Melvin to recommence. “So where was I? It was as if he was speaking directly to my soul - ‘I’m happy to have had you in my life’. One last request, take care of my brother” and then handed me a letter and told me it’s for you. I don’t know what’s written in it”, and Melvin brought an envelope out and fulfilled a dying man’s wish. Riso opened it and smiled for the first time, “It’s our secret code language”. On being questioned about the letter’s contents, Riso said “Such things are to remain between brothers only”. That poignant moment couldn’t be expressed in words. This time, it was both who were bogged down by their overwhelming emotions. Melvin, trying to control himself, further added “He not only saved our lives but thousands of others. His gave his life up smiling so that others could continue to smile” Riso smiled at first but his face grew pale again. Melvin enquired about it for which he answered, “It wasn’t my brother’s death that had moved me so deeply”. “Then, what is it?” Melvin asked, confused, “What’s going on? What is causing you this paralysing grief?” Riso replied,” I’m proud that he gave his life up in service to the country. The fact that he’s not around to take care of me doesn’t bother me as well. He was a true soldier and my heart beats for him with full pride. But what did he achieve for himself? Nothing. He lost his life to keep people safe but no one knows about his deeds. He just got a posthumous medal and a meagre compensation for his sacrifice. This is the value of a person who even didn’t care about risking his own life for others? Do you really think it was worthwhile for him to give up his life for people who don’t even care? People only think about themselves and simply move on. No one gave a damn about what my brother did for them. And that really hurts! It’s as if a mockery has been made of my brother’s decision” Both of them endured the next few moments in silence. Melvin finally got to understand what was ailing his friend’s brother and vowed to rid Riso of such thoughts. Melvin said “Before pronouncing such heavy declarations, have you ever thought what was going on in Frazer’s mind when he made the decision? He never thought about what people would think, if his bravery would be duly recognised, how much money you will get for his life, if he would be respected afterwards. No, he could never harbour such petty feelings in his heart. He gave up everything only to live his life with valor, dignity and to sustain his unimpeachable sense of duty for his nation. He never cared for what was going to happen, he only cared about two things in the world – his duty and you. And I think his sacrifice would have been worth it if you were proud of him as he it was only you he cared about.” Tears rolled down his cheeks as Melvin uttered his words and Riso finally understood his brother’s noble deed in entirety. He started to shed tears again but this time, it was for different reason. This time, he was besieged by happiness and admiration for his brother. But before he could even examine his new-found joy, Samantha stepped in and said, “Are you guys coming or is it just me who is going to Vaudeville?”, on which Riso answered by punching his fist in the air “How can you even think of that ?”


O

h! So sure one was That peacock had the dance of death, ‘Midst the rain of blood And storms of ebbing breath. To the nearest hospital he was rushed The poor accident victim, bruised & brushed, Where he lay like an overfilled mug of beer Life threatening to overflow off the brim. Yet he survived, His machinery fuelled by medication & bread, But his dream to scream & run Was worse: than dead. What an agony it was to observe His pain, his wound, his silent scream, As he remarkably resembled that Prometheus Being tortured by the eagle of his shattered dreams. Ah! Bodily wounds one can recover from But what about the afflictions of the heart, the fate gives? You may breathe life into a corpse, But never the will to live. But as the uncaring Father Time soldiered on, There came that day. When he recuperated to a satisfactory extent, And rejoined the worl d, still in disarray. ‘Run?’ the medics jeered, Their tone affronting and mocking: ‘It would be a medical miracle If he could even get walking!’ The grey world welcomed hi m Mostly with ostracism. But he trudged along For he too wished to confine himself To the prisons of seclusion.

For hi m all was lost, Considering suicide as a means to the Boon of oblivion But drunk as he was in the alcohols of gloom The intoxication kept hi m from death’s depressions. Yet he couldn’t help thinking Even in the severe inebriation, That he was resurrected with a purpose And he was runni ng away from his destination. So one day he hobbled to the window To retrieve his golden goblet, The sky forthwith captured his gaze, The sun peered down at him through its ragged cloud blanket. Hour by hour, day by day, week by week, As the sun (like a masterful tailor) mended The torn and tattered cloud of blanket, The numbness of intoxication lifted. The pain, the gloom, the agony: all died. Only to be replaced by an obsession, a passion; All that mattered now of course was When it would rain from heaven. Rain it did, though a month later, it seemed His tears, the sky shed for the thirsty earth To drink and treasure As his soul jumped with tears of sorrow And squeals of pleasure. So he danced and he ran, Pain came to him in full measure.


But like an alcoholic shouts ’More wine!’ He shouted ‘More Pain!’ welcoming it with pleasure. And there he was a year later, Sitting among the rhododendrons by the lucid stream, Still far from his destination, But ever so close to his dream. As the squirrels muttered darkly, And cuckoos sung the songs of life He spoke to the stream, the sun, To the clouds and the sky: “Take my breath as you may will But you ain’t touch my soul ‘Coz all it takes to thrive is a shred of hope Alas! I’ve plenty with my shattered scope…”


Perverty not poverty I

am a small town girl. From RANCHI. Ask me if I wear shorts and step out of my home and my immediate answer would be “no way, unless I want some popping eyes around me”. But is this narrow mindedness of people just confined to the “non-metro” towns and cities? Hang on. There’s a bell ringing in my mind. “Sexy ” is not a compliment even today. There was a related question in the Roadies 2011 audition. I bet the questions they put you through are really good, like the one about your views on homosexuality. But the strange part is the show still ends up a moronic mess each time (if I get started on that It could drive us both into comas. I skipped it. You’re welcome). The point here is that India might be the ninth largest economy in the world with 8.5% GDP growth rate and total literacy at 75.06% in 201112 but if an average Indian girl takes a walk to the nearest market, she’s sure to come across more than one guy who wouldn’t know how to behave himself. Not counting the many other defects, the Indian society is especially intolerant -more like retarded – when it comes to the

treatment of girls and women. Guys roaming around in their undershirts in the summer heat have to be concerned only about their body odour However, girls in short skirts or spaghetti tops have more than that to worry about. The problem here lies with the mindset of people. Men can urinate right in the middle of a vegetable market and no one bothers. But girls who dress up chic and charming are misfits and inconsistent with what tradition dictates as ‘proper behavior ‘. It’s not an issue if guys return home just in time for Late Night HBO, but if a girl comes back after dark, the neighbors will talk about it the next morning. When women dress up the way they want, they certainly don’t do it so half a dozen perverts can ‘compliment’ them in that third rated manner we are all familiar with. Mindless labeling of girls based on their dressing style unfortunately exists even today. Girls who like having a good time aren’t devoid of character, dignity and moral values. They just have the entirely rational feeling that having a Y chromosome is no requisite for enjoying either vodka or cigarettes


Let’s quote Mark Twain – “India is the cradle of human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, grandmother of legend, and great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only” .They say “Atithi Devo Bhava” is a prime example of richness of Indian culture. So lets talk about Indian culture. And lets talk about some statistics. Our culture , we say, is very great. Who are we kidding? Seriously! We don’t know how to treat our daughters, mothers and wives, then what’s with this nonsense about treating guests as Gods? From Sexual harassment, dowry, child marriage, female infanticide and sex selective abortions to domestic violence and trafficking, India leads the world in crime against women. The total number of reports registered for crime against women in 2010 was a 213585 and the Indian capital accounts for a majority of these. The National Crime Records Bureau report in 1998 showed that the growth rate of crimes against women would exceed the population rate by 2010. Now, I may be coming down a little too harsh upon our nation. If it’s any compensation, I agree that India has contributed a lot to the world – in the field of mathematics ( the big fat zero!) and The Ayurveda, not to forget that 36% of NASA scientists are Indians. But with that big a population (1.2 billion) we ought to have a few credits to ourselves. What are we going to do otherwise? Hound and torture the females? Wait. Don’t we just nail it on that front already! People who have a problem with what’s been said here ,regardless of the fact that a woman is raped every 18 hours in Delhi ,should be utterly ashamed of themselves .It won’t be the worst of ideas to take some time off the Madhu koda(our indigenous hero), 2G, commonwealth scams et al, to fix these deep dents in the Indian society. So when Raghu screwed the contestants left, right and centre on that one question, I wondered how long it would be before Indians accept the fact that an educated and employed young lady shouldn’t have to limit herself down to societal prejudices. She shouldn’t have to compromise on her best outfit just because some creep can’t stop leering. If a woman can earn and accomplish enough to be independent, sophisticated, and self-indulgent, then choke on this fact, she will be.


B

eneath the raging breasts of Heaven, And on the blood stained ground, was a war; A war between temptation and the good soul, Sat the judge, the ignorant man watching, To accept the one who wins. Temptation, all powerful, Stood on the plains of the battlefield, Well guarded by his strong soldiers. He laughed, and even as he laughed, his eyes glinted. The King said, in a cracked voice; “Thou shalt experience a hundred years behind bars, As thou refuseth to obey my biddings, Be under my blessing or Nothing shalt save thee.” Hearing this, the soul replied sternly; “Youth is no hindrance to courage and wisdom; Thou mayest be a King but the power lies with the subjects, Thou art King but thou canst be dethroned” Helpless stood the King Temptation, Unable to threaten anymore, Quietly retreated King Temptation, Signifying the triumph of the soul, Which the innocent man gladly accepted…


On a Winter Night T

he lamp flickered and went off. ‘Oh, u got to be kidding me’, I yelled at the lamp-post but it stood there like it always does, inanimate and indifferent. I felt a potion of anger, desperation and helplessness brew inside me. My work is long overdue and it took me all my reputation to get this extension. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse. It’s as if fate has this wicked life-ruining remote controller and uses it against me with excellent precision and atrocity. I put the notebook aside and closed my eyes. A cool breeze on its way downhill embraced me soothingly but I wasn’t in the mood. I hardly wrote a page and worse still, I didn’t zero on any plausible theme. A bunch of catchy phrases and rigmarole of half completed sentences was all I could come up with in the past few days. Not that I am short of ideas to write about, I’ve got some. But writing in magazines for almost half a decade taught me that sweet emotions are hailed better by the literary community. They love to see a happy ending. Well, at least those who pay me do. Someone once told me that

artists use lies to tell the truth and I couldn’t agree more. People want to see something enigmatic and beautiful in these trying times. They know the truth of life but since it is painful, they need something to wrap it in. Something colourful. And that’s exactly what I used to give them, cute stories and happy endings. But ever since that night it became increasingly difficult to write. Exactly why I came here, to get myself some fresh air and clear my mind. The lamp-post was my favourite place to write. Under its dim yellow light, a concoction of photons so perfect, I could write for ages. It stood on the cliff overlooking the town below and I never get enough of the breath-taking view it provides. The lights of the town look like millions of fireflies in the night trying to wake up your long lost ability to perceive beauty. The road uphill runs through a tunnel of two perfect rows of red and yellow maples. When I rolled on that road in my Cadillac for the first time it was a delight to watch them in their bright autumn foliage. The maples stood there with their branches touching above and their leaves dropped like snow and covered the road. It was just the perfect setting. That was when I first


saw her, sitting all alone on the old, worn out bench beneath the lamp-post. And for a second there, everything ceased. I sighed and got up looking around. It was completely dark. ‘Must’ve been a power cut’ I thought since the town lights were no longer there. The government did a lot of powercuts during the war to assist military. The war stopped but they didn’t. Perhaps they are piling up the energy in anticipation of another massacre. You can’t be sure when our leaders let go of the hands and reach for each others’ throats, right? There is no visible sign of anything down there and it looked like an abyss with no bottom. Wondering what happened I went to the car, turned the fog lights on and reached for my pack of fags. The night was very calm and the cold breeze whirred past me making queer whispering noises. I climbed onto the bonnet to stretch my legs and lit one scanning the skies for those fighter planes. The white smoke twisted into all kinds of shapes illuminated by the fog lights and then slowly vanished. She never got used to my smoking. Especially on our romantic night detours. And when I got onto the bonnet after lighting one it only drove her crazy. She always thought that everything exists for a purpose and that alone is to be done, nothing more. Maybe true but I never saw the point in owning a sedan if I can’t even climb onto its bonnet. I was a typical rich spoilt child of the 40’s and like everyone else from that stratum I loved being one. I always mocked her for not being a sport and she always punched back. But eventually she’d lie down beside me and together we used to stare at the stars. For hours. She loved watching them twinkle. For her they held something unexplainable yet dear, especially the pole star. It always baffled her in a strange way I never understood. When I looked up all I could see was a brighter and stubborn star that never seems to move in the skies. It established a territory that no one ever dared to challenge. He is the conqueror of the

skies but that’s it. She on the other hand saw something else entirely. Whenever we star-gaze she always told about how sailors trusted the pole-star to guide them at nights through a misleading ocean. And how it never let them down. It always stood there watching over, never judging and always supporting. Just like her. I loved the way how little things of nature moved her. She saw beauty in everything. At times it felt like she loved them more than me, and that is how I knew of jealousy. But I was never good with my eyes and she read them like an open book. And loved me all the way more. It was she who woke up the writer in me from the limbo. The very first thing I wrote was about her. A poem. She loved Shakespeare and always asked me to recite his love sonnets when the mood was romantic. That was an instant moodkiller for me. True Mr. Ever-Great-Shakespeare wrote the best of them but I soon got tired of relying on another man’s work. I never knew I had it in me until I wrote my first poem for her. Took me quite a while but when I finally wrote it I started with a blow to Mr. Shakespeare for trying to lull my love with his sonnets. ‘No poet can capture you in words.....”. She smiled. And I went on. With a muffled cry I threw the still glowing cigarette butt as it left a small red-burn on my finger. It brought me back to my senses. I got down from the car bonnet with all those memories swirling inside my head. A little pain somewhere deep inside. The wind was trying its best to soothe me but it only helped that much. All those thoughts made my head heavy and I knew that I couldn’t write anything for the night. “I got to stop living in my mind”, I said to myself as I went to the lamp-post to get my notebook. I glanced down the cliff to see if the lights returned. Stupid of me, in fact, for the lamp post is still burned out. But it delights us to ask some questions even though we know their answers, the whole time. To my surprise the fireflies re-


turned but it didn’t look like the entire town. There are some specks of light here and there and new ones are popping out rapidly. I didn’t get it. The electricity lights up the whole town in a matter of seconds. It doesn’t go and knock door by door. I watched the whole scenario with a subtle mixture of awe and suspicion. It was not until I saw the lights moving up that it hit me. It was not the electricity. They were lighters, floating boxes of light the townspeople were releasing. Now I knew the reason for the black-out. The town court announced that a martyr day would be celebrated to mourn the death of people in the recent bombing. It was a night of mayhem and chaos. Loss of friends and loved ones. The town was still in shock as terror, even in the name of independence, was new to them. It was amazing to see the lighters take-off into the sky. It looked like the fireflies of the town finally started to fly away one by one. They filled the entire sky and ironically the beauty of the scenario clouded the pain it represented. Lies to cover the truth. I stood there watching them as they carried beloved memories to the heavens. Somewhere among that sea of lights, I could see her face. A tear dropped from my eyes as I closed them. “I miss you Honey”


O

h! TIME, everything it does define, In it, the framework of life does confine; Everlasting clockwork, this universe, Linking the past and the future is this Moment’s work! This ‘Moment’, they say, is the present, The past and future giving it meaning and essence; The future we may foresee and the past we have seen, But the present moment we should seize! The present is what we perceive, Of the future, many notions, we preconceive; As this moment passes by, its history we receive! To escape this, no contraption man can conceive. Right now, of the past we repent; Of the mistakes we made, we resent; About the future we daydream, But the present moment, trivial does it seem. Happiness, every man does seek, Always depending on an achievement, a dream, But, what every man fails to grasp, Happiness lies in this moment, for him to clasp. So, the present is where we stay, To be aware of it, let us pray, Cause, the future will always be a haze, And the past will leave you in a daze!


Walk of Life W

alking along the edge of the footpath, I reflected on the life I’m living, I reflected on the one I lived. The blue-green sea murmuring in my ears, the road is a blur. The entire purpose of my life now is to walk straight and steady along the edge of this path, crossing every red, every blue, one at a time. The sea always captivated me, no matter how many times it rose and fell. I must get up again, no matter how many times I fall. Now as I looked at it, I wondered if I could ever see such beauty again. I walked towards it, my bare feet working involuntarily. The scar running along the back of my hand glistened like clear, sparkly wine. I let my hand fall to the side. My mind raced back in time. He looked at his nine-year old daughter, painting a house with a tree on the side, the sun had risen over the brown mountains and the sunflowers were bowed. Oblivious to her surroundings, but conscious of her father’s watchful eye, he saw her brows furrow in concentration, trying to get the river flow right. The bobbing mass

of curls on the tiny head suddenlyjumped up and turned around to show him what she had done. He bent down and kissed her lightly on the forehead. She smiled. She had never been happier. The sound of water crashing against the shore got louder and louder. Taking the next step, became harder and harder. She had come home, she did not win, but he knew she was always a winner. Even as a child, she was never the sort to take a backseat and watch, always inside the ring, right in the middle of action. She smiled and bent down to let him kiss her forehead. My legs shook and my lips trembled, while the water remainedcalm. The noise of the road was moving away, and though lesser now, it seemed far more unsettling. She looked back to see the traffic light turn red. When he saw her for the first time, he lost all


sense of space and time. All those people who spoke about love at first sight or existence of soulmates, he knew in that moment, that all of them were right, and that girl was all that to him. He did not care how or why. Her smile brought a smile upon his face. She laughed with him, and he wished that the music wouldn’t stop. He touched her soft skin and felt a wave of energy flow through him. He knew that they were bound to be. I could feel the waves wrapping around my weak legs, I paused to let them take the earth from under me. My hair streamed across my face and my body swayed, as the wind rushed past. I started going under. He lay, his eyes partially closed, hands lying limply on either side. She sat by him, looking at the fragile skeleton of his person. When he opened his eyes, he saw for one and maybe the last time, the face of the most beautiful person. He did not want to see anything more. She closed his eyes, as a tear flowed down his cheek. The water level had reached over my head; my feet could not feel hard rock anymore. As I began to drift, every moment long forgotten, every emotion suppressed, came back to me. Walking on the streets, dressed in clothes hardly enough to be called so, begging for food from people who moved away at the mere sight of me, I did not care so much that I was deteriorating, I cared that I would not be alive anymore. In the very next moment, flashing right before my eyes was the elderly man kissing his nine-year old daughter, and the eyes of the man which said, I now have everything in the world. I take the last breath, and the only thought across my mind is ‘I want to live’.


(clockwise)

Vivek Kannan Soumya Ganguly Keshav Parashar Sayonee Gosh Roy

Rohit V Sameer Sripada Tushar Shah Vihita Reddy Sukanya Venktraman Deepika Shankar Vakul Mohanty(not in picture)


On The Rocks  

Edition 4, Annual Campus Magazine, BITS Pilani Hyderabad

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