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March 2013 Contents Shahid Khan

A Dream Within A Dream


The Rising Expectations And Growing Unrest: An Overlooked Aspect Of Women Empowerment Dr. Priyanka Mathur


A Love Poem

The Story Of Roland

Eva Rosien


Mohammad Muzzammil

The World

Tina Traverse


Why Are The Shakels Made For Me

Mind Your Obsession

A Woman's Shape As You Wish A Key To Heaven


Richa Dixit

Yusuf Alam


Nicole Enyart


Bob Macmaster



Abhilasha Kaushik 18

Marilyn Canete

Life Begins At Forty








Managing Editor: Iram Fatima 'Ashi' (Saudi Arabia, NRI) Associate Editor: Vasanthi Papu (India) Magazine Artist: R. K. Verma (India) Page Layouts: Team Reflection Our special thanks to Dr. Ruchida Burman

The Ultimate Destination Where Do I End Up?

A Troublesome World



Those Days With My Mother

Kat King

Sleep Just A Dream The Mistake Of Falling Save Me My Dear Devil

Vasanthi Papu Shelly




Mohmoud Soliman 41



Regular Features


Society Life


Smruti Nayak

Gagan Neota

White Cloud


Imad Ul Islam

Gone With The Wind



Under Fifteen Zone

Menakshi Sharma


Novel Section My Hijab And I

Jessica Rhodes


Art Section A Journey With Colours

Paintings By Late Om Dutt Ji

Outlook Towards 80's Novel Covers

Why Do I Write


Paintings By R. K. Verma 51

Wrters' Views

Guidelines For The Writers/Poets



Wishing all my Reflection’s Readers a Very Happy Valentine's Day and hoping all had a great Valentine's Day. Even after February love prevails in the air. Love is a spontaneous blend of emotions felt by almost every human being and expressed in different terms. Aristotle says, “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies’. Even after February, love could be sensed in air. I wish this warmth would always remain fresh and alive till eternity.

Shaleheen (Bangladesh) has verbalized the same feeling in his verse, ‘A Love Poem’. The short story, ‘The Story of Roland” by Ava Rosien (Canada) would make you realize that a man with disable physic and ugly face too possesses a loving heart. The frustrations in life after rejection of his love and later on the tremendous change seen in his attitude and life with the little support he gains reveal the power of love.

As Women’s Day marches forward, I would like to reflect the mirror of harsh reality of problems and expectations faced by modern working women whose pressure affect their mental and physical health and of course relationships, Women are quite satisfied with their achievements even if they do not rise to the top. They have anxiety and fear of success and hence try to avoid success. A true analysis of current situations of women, by Dr. Priyanka Mathur (Indian) is a part of this issue suitable for the occasion. Our Art section is enriched by International artist Late Om Dutt Ji and Mr. R.K. Verma, to amaze all the lovers of Art. I take pride in adding Ms Vasanthi Papu ( India ) to our Reflection family as Associate Editor who is serving as a teacher and a brilliant poetess herself. I am sure that our creative family would fulfill all your expectations and touch the perfect level of satisfaction.

I would like to conclude my note with my romantic poem to touch your heart-

Love Lyrics You are the unmarked slate, I am a pen of various shades, Let’s write our poetry Of love, immortal. You are the white canvas, I am the sharp, seven colors, Let’s paint a beautiful world, And turn everything into a dream. You are the musical piano, My hands will do magic on you, Composing music from love, To make rhythm dance with melody. You are the sweet voice in an opera, I am the romantic love lyrics, Let’s create a song, so magical That even the broken hearts heal.

Keep Loving and stay blessed Iram Fatima ‘Ashi’ (Managing Editor) Saudia Arabia (NRI)

A Dream Within A Dream You’re a dream for me­ A dream within a dream A surreal dream; An unreal dream; Far from reality; Away from sensibility, Like winter’s dream to meet summer; Bicycle’s dream to carry a huge hummer; Iceberg’s dream to kiss the sun; And Penguin’s to enjoy hot desert run. You’re a dream for me­ A dream within a dream; A vivid dream; An unrealizable dream; A dream that can never be true. A dream to spend a Valentine Day with you, A dream to have a candlelight date; A dream to be your soul mate. But oh, how fool am I to forget? You’re just a dream for me­ A dream within a dream And nothing more than that.

Shahid khan (India) 2

The Rising Expectations And Growing Unrest: An Overlooked Aspect Of Women Empowerment Priyanka Mathur


Empowerment is an active, multidimensional process which should enabled women to realize their full identity and power in all spheres of life. It would consist of greater access of knowledge and resources, greater autonomy in decision making, greater ability to plan their lives, have greater control over the circumstances that influence there lives and free them from shackles imposed on them by custom, beliefs and practice. In general ,development with justice is expected to generate the forces that lead to the empowerment of various sectors/ sections in a country and to raise there status. The mechanism of empowerment of the women can be easily enumerated as:Higher literacy and education. Better health care for herself and her children. Higher age at marriage and freedom in selection of mate. Greater work participation in modernized sector. Necessary financial and service support. Better consciousnesses of their rights. Self reliance, self respect and sense of self dignity. Modernization, industrialization, urbanization, greater access of educational opportunities, increasing demand of women workers or professionals in organized sectors accelerated social changes that are forcing Indian women to opt new social roles. Simultaneously great pressures in middle class families in urban areas for enhancing the economic status of family are also an important factor which comes into play. In spite of all the social political economic, educational changes , including the changes in the attitude of men and despite the finding of psychological studies that women are not less intelligent or less capable, the number of educated women getting into employment is still comparatively very small, specially in top salaried occupations and decision making positions. This paper includes the analysis of socio-economic status of women professionals who are in general considered as role model of women empowerment in the society. Despite their elite socio-economic position women are still struggling for equality and success both at professional and private ends. The paper also attempt to answer following questions: Does the socio-economic and educational background influence their carrier choice? What factors influence the carrier decision? What problems women are facing in work place and private life in their success story? Do women lag behind that of men with similar initial performance? Have women professionals have made use of the opportunities provided to them to make a success if their carrier. All the analyses are brought out through a sample survey of women professionals of three categories: Physicians, Engineers and Managers. Miss. Priyanka Mathur is a faculty in the Department of Sociology,Kanoria PG MahilaMahavidyalaya, Jaipur. Her important publications are: “Economic independence of women­ A new perspectives of empowering women”: Journal of Business and Management, Vol.IV, No. 1, march 2004,Published by Dept. of Business Administration, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur.

“Computer Based Information System­Analysis and Design”: Journal of Commerce and Information Technology Vol.IV No. 1, January­ June 2004, Published by National Institute of Computers and Management, Jaipur. “Disinvestment and its prospects in India”: THE Economic Challenger –Referred journal, No. 07, issue 26, January­March 2005, Ajmer


Empowerment is an active, multidimensional process which enables women to realize their full identity and powers in all spheres of life. It would consist of greater access to knowledge and resources, greater autonomy in decision making, greater ability to plan their lives, have greater control over the circumstances that influences their beliefs and practices. Generally, development with justice is expected to generate the forces that lead to empowerment of various sections or sectors in a country and to raise their status. The mechanism of empowerment of the women can be easily enumerated as: • • • • • • •

Higher literacy and education, Better health care for herself and her children, Higher age of marriage and freedom in selection of mate, Greater work participation in modernization, Necessary financial and service support, Advancement in to higher position of power, Self reliance, self respect and sense of self dignity.

Modernization, industrialization, urbanization, greater access of educational opportunities, increasing demand of women worker or professional in organized sector have accelerated social change and forcing Indian women to opt new social roles. Simultaneously, great pressure lodged on middle class families in urban areas for enhancing the economic status of family is an important factor which comes in to play.

Women Empowerment V/S Radical Feminist: According the theory of Radical feminists, they believe in sexual equality and reject traditional division of labour. The main contention of the radical feminism is that the roots of women’s lower status are embedded in the biological family. According to Radical Feminists real equality between the sexes can emerge only when the hierarchical differentiation of sex roles is recognized and removed. And these gender roles are not only the result of biological factors but also the products of socio­cultural constructions. Social norms, values and roles are cultural dominant and socially transmitted. The sexual division of labour in society is supported and rationalized by a belief in the value system, which postulates that gender roles are normal, natural and proper. Radical feminists believes that marriage and family combine together to preserve the patriarchal system by. Patriarchy is rooted in the male control and dominance over women’s fertility.


Radical feminists perceive a man to be a woman’s most potential foe. They propagate not only the removal of all the sex distinctions but also avoidance of man and marriage. Some of the action programmes of radical feminists are sexual preference, control over one’s body, free sex and collective child care etc. Radicalists are not ready to accept that the sexual divisions of labour or gender roles are normal, natural, right and proper. This is a manipulation of culture. These gender roles are neither universal nor rational. A British sociologist and supporter of the women’s liberation movement, Ann Oakly1 comes down strongly on the side of culture as, division of labour by sex is not universal, but there is no reason why it should be. Human cultures are diverse and endlessly variable. They owe their creator to human inventiveness rather than invisible biological forces on the basis of some examples such as in Mbuti Pygmies men and women both hunt and mother and father both share in rearing children, that there are no exclusively female roles and that biological characteristics do not bar women from particular jobs. She regards the supposed biologically based incapacity of women to carry out heavy and demanding work as a developed cultural ethos. To liberate women, Oakley suggests three steps, first the house wife role must be abolished, second, present family system must be abolished and third sexual division of labour must be eradicated in all areas of social life. Brown Miller2 said that husband and wife should split their traditional roles down the middle. Each should work for half a day and spend the rest of the time taking care of children. The Hungarian Marxist writers Vajda and Heller3 suggest an idea of collective family in which all adults are responsible for the care of their children. As a novel alternative to the present day family, Alvin Toffler4 suggests an idea of professional parents. These professional parents would specialize in child rearing & caring as a paid occupation. This would end the immature status of child rearing and free many biological parents from their family roles. In this way both mother and father can make their career according to their wishes. In radical perspective two main themes dominate much of the writing on the future of the role of women in relation to the family. The first demands equality between the sexes and the second advocates freedom of choice with tolerance by all of the range of ‘family life’ that emerges as a result of it. Feminist perspectives have been concerned not only with the material base of men’s control over women, but have also brought out the cultural and psychological aspects of female devaluation. Family organization influences the devaluation of women at psychological and often unconscious levels. 1.

Oakley, A., Housewife.


Miller, W.B., quoted in

London, Allen Lane, 1974.

Haralambos, Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1994,p. 343. 3.

Vajda, M. and Heller, A,

“Family Structure and Communism” in Glazer­Malbin and Waehrer,

1972. Quoted in Harlambos, M., op.cit., pp. 366­70. 4.

Toffler, A., “Future

Shock”. London, Pan Book, 1971. Quoted in Haralamb Sociology:

Themes and Perspectives, 1994, pp. 334­35.


Women Empowerment: A Contemporary View Awareness of better standards of life enabled women, especially middle calls urban, education women to take up work outside in significant numbers and this economic activity outside home helped them to experience financial and psychological independent to a certain extent. But it must be accepted that with a very few expectation in the higher strata of society, majority of women took to working outside the home for economic reasons. Men accepted women’s employment in augment of family income, rising prices, increasing cost of housing and education, aspiration for a higher standard of living has increased the economic pressure on the middle class women. The studies reported that women did not have a straight arrow path as men professional had they did not sustain their easily accomplishment. By mid career, they lag behind men with similar initial performance. The reasons are found to be that the priority given to family demands were barriers to career development.( kalarani, lebra & sinha ) Due to women’s preoccupation with marriage, family and child care responsibilities, career development is affected and this results in role strain and role conflict and some times they sacrifice career for family. (Lober.1994) Most of the studies from most of the countries on professional women are not very high and that is the reason why most women end up at middle level leadership and hardly 1% rise to the top. (Jaya Kothari Pillai, 1999) Women are quite satisfied with their achievements even if they do not rise to the top. They have anxiety and fear of success and hence try to avoid success. They are not much concerned about salary or promotion and are more interested with the atmosphere at the work place and personal relationship. If woman is self employed, she works less number of hours then men due to domestic responsibilities &/or child rearing. Studies which tested for success avoidance in women found many situations in which women were ambitious, especially in advancement in their own fields. Research on women in male dominated fields founds that women could be equally competitive with men. If provided with right work environment or in other words appropriate conditions at the work place. (Kanter, Epestein, Oomen and Dubey) As women’s role is associated with home making, bearing and rearing of children and hence with attributes such as warmth, patience, empathy, grace, endurance etc. are still consider as strictly “feminine qualities”. They are tracked in to lower prestige work and not considered leadership material.(Venkatarathnam & Martin)


If a woman is successful in her occupation she is in general less successful person as women as there is in congruence between occupational role expectations. Sex role, sex role expectation and feminine role expectations and sex segregation do affect the empowerment process and there by success of women. In recommendation of positions, officer­ship in professional associations’ etc. competence is often evaluated only in professional shop talk. As most of the women are soft spoken and reticent they are likely to be overlooked. In the male dominated work world, self advancement in women is seen as aggressive and they are socially devaluated as women successful careers in public field are built on combination of sponsorship, visibility and reciprocal favour. The career trajectories of the physicians in sample survey show that professional development on the action of colleagues and superiors as on the person concerned. The Indian women follow a policy of avoiding unpleasant situations to avoid discrimination and harassment and hence do not go up the ladder in career. Sex segregation leads to interaction with colleagues of the apposite sex and thus working women for pursuing their careers. Persist and pervasive gender discrimination rooted in the status of women in male dominated society still keeps women in the lower or middle level careers in spite of their competence and capability. More and more middle income families are taking advantage of professional education and this is a means of upward social mobility. More women are interested in combining employment with marital and family commitments as “two pay cheque family”.

professional opportunities and growth if one has ability.

A large number of women are entering the so called non­ traditionally careers and public service sector seems as a prototype for all traditionally male professions. Many situational barriers have also noted the increasing levels of confidence among the working women and most of the women are there because of the satisfaction they derive and the sense of achievement they got out of the work.(Jaya Kothari Pillai,1999) There is considerable room for

Carrier choice and career decision are influenced by the decision about marriage, parenthood, female­ male responsibilities in home making, social norms and expected sex roles. Women are not free to explore their interest and to make choice with a conscious perspective. In most of the Indian families, even today, girls are not taken seriously from career point of view and it is being considered as secondary importance, marriage is still, the principal determinant of women’s social position. Sex role stereotyping influence women’s lives from birth and it is powerful influence in schools. This results in restriction upon the freedom of occupational choice career development. Currently women professionals are in great demand in marriage purpose due to their potential for earning as well as the prestige of the profession. So that career decision for a girl depends upon the social status and prestige which goes with the profession and economic independence it would bring to them.


If a woman is successful in her occupation she is in general less successful person as women as there is in congruence between occupational role expectations. Sex role, sex role expectation and feminine role expectations and sex segregation do affect the empowerment process and there by success of women. In recommendation of positions, officer­ship in professional associations’ etc. competence is often evaluated only in professional shop talk. As most of the women are soft spoken and reticent they are likely to be overlooked. In the male dominated work world, self advancement in women is seen as aggressive and they are socially devaluated as women successful careers in public field are built on combination of sponsorship, visibility and reciprocal favour. The career trajectories of the physicians in sample survey show that professional development on the action of colleagues and superiors as on the person concerned. The Indian women follow a policy of avoiding unpleasant situations to avoid discrimination and harassment and hence do not go up the ladder in career. Sex segregation leads to interaction with colleagues of the apposite sex and thus working women for pursuing their careers. Persist and pervasive gender discrimination rooted in the status of women in male dominated society still keeps women in the lower or middle level careers in spite of their competence and capability. More and more middle income families are taking advantage of professional education and this is a means of upward social mobility. More women are interested in combining employment with marital and family commitments as “two pay cheque family”.

professional opportunities and growth if one has ability.

A large number of women are entering the so called non­ traditionally careers and public service sector seems as a prototype for all traditionally male professions. Many situational barriers have also noted the increasing levels of confidence among the working women and most of the women are there because of the satisfaction they derive and the sense of achievement they got out of the work.(Jaya Kothari Pillai,1999) There is considerable room for

Carrier choice and career decision are influenced by the decision about marriage, parenthood, female­ male responsibilities in home making, social norms and expected sex roles. Women are not free to explore their interest and to make choice with a conscious perspective. In most of the Indian families, even today, girls are not taken seriously from career point of view and it is being considered as secondary importance, marriage is still, the principal determinant of women’s social position. Sex role stereotyping influence women’s lives from birth and it is powerful influence in schools. This results in restriction upon the freedom of occupational choice career development. Currently women professionals are in great demand in marriage purpose due to their potential for earning as well as the prestige of the profession. So that career decision for a girl depends upon the social status and prestige which goes with the profession and economic independence it would bring to them.


Conclusion And Suggestions: The successful women also feel that the parents have a role to play in their daughter’s success. All girls should have the kind of upbringing that gender has nothing to do with what a female could or should do? The parent should help to build a strong self image in early childhood discover and foster the strength of the individuals. Encourage hobbies of girls build a greater sense of caring and respect for the individual person. Employment of mother has a positive effect on girls. The mother serves as role model, girls become more autonomous aspire for carriers especially less conventionally feminine careers. The achieve mother has a high achieving daughter. It has also been found that 24 hours mother is not necessarily a good mother. The society should demythologize the masculine – feminine, independent­ dependent, rational­emotional, competitive – compliant, active – passive dichotomy that has impaired both male and female functioning. To achieve this, both organizational and cultural changes must occur. The cultural concept that feminine role is inferior must change. The abilities to co­operate, to express one’s emotions and sensitiveness are strengths which are valuable in managerial realms. In organizations, opportunities for women should be broadened, power must be distributed more widely, women must hire in large number so that proportion are equalized. Hiring by clusters would prevent perpetuation of tokenism. The “New Modern Society” must encourage flexibility in domestic core and individuality for both men and women. The result will be a more effective in terms of happiness of the society and emergence of less anxious and more liberated women.


A Love Poem I come to you,

As rivers come to ocean

And monsoon comes to summer. I come to you,

As roses come to lips

And ants come to sweet. I come to you,

As waves come to shore And truth comes to me. You went too far.

I wait for you here Forever and ever.

Shaleheen (Dhaka, Bangladesh) 10

The Story Of Roland Eva Rosien (Canada)

For many years, I worked in a day program for adults with developmental and physical disabilities. The program provided a Vocational service to teach job skills to the participants. Those who wanted to become employed in the community could obtain that goal. For the ones who perhaps didn’t choose to work outside the center, we procured work from area business. The individuals were paid a piece rate for the work done in house. I cannot begin to tell you the fulfillment I felt working there. I watched people who had been so sheltered at home, or had spent a large part of their lives institutionalized grow into the capable men and women they wanted to be. They took enormous pride in their accomplishments at the program. They earned a pay check for the first time in their lives. I grew too. I learned perhaps more from all of them than I could ever possibly teach them. As much as I loved each and every one of the individuals there; I must admit there were a few who grabbed my heart and never let it go. This is a story about one of them and the way he impacted my life forever. I will not use his real name for privacy reasons, but his story is a true account. His name was Roland. He was a man, aged fifty­eight who was classified at the time as “moderately disabled”. Roland came lumbering up to me the first day I was brought to a work area to be introduced as the new Vocational Instructor. He came at me so fast that I was a bit startled by him. He appeared to be around six feet tall. It was obvious to me that he had some physical deformities. He stretched out his hand to me and said, Hi, I’m Roland! You’re pretty. Are you going to be my new teacher?” Roland’s hands were shaped like claws; fingers fused together on both his hands. I shook his hand and noticed it was clammy. I never let my discomfort at taking his hand show on my face. Roland withdrew his hand after our handshake. He lifted both his hands in front of him, “You can look at them if you want to. Most people stare at them at first. It’s ok. My feet are like this too. That’s why my shoes are funny looking.” He looked toward his feet and pointed.


I was taken a back at the gesture to have me take a look at his deformities in such a light hearted and honest way. I reached out and touched both his hands. “Thank you Roland for letting me sees them. That was a nice thing you just did.” He flashed me a big and toothless smile. Roland’s deformities did not stop with only his hands and feet. His face was elongated and his features seemed stretched out and not in proportion to the size of his head. He had thick black hair and bushy black eyebrows. His looks could frighten someone he came upon unexpectedly out in the community. But, with all that was wrong with him, it was that smile of his that captured my heart from the moment I met him. Over time, I learned that Roland had a love for cigars and a good cup of brewed coffee. If he had those two things, he was pretty much happy in life. I also learned from staff at the center that Roland was a head banger. “Don’t worry, Roland would never harm another person; no matter how upset he gets, “ “What do you do when he does the head banging behavior?” I asked her. “We have to put him in a physical hold to prevent him doing any damage to himself until he calms down,” she replied. I had been trained in the Preventative Intervention methods, but had never used one of the methods at the time. I had hopes that I would never have to either. It’s traumatizing both to the individual as well as the staff who have to use it. I understood the reason for it though. It is meant to

“do no harm” to the person and also as protection for the staff person dealing with an outburst. I had been working at the center for almost six months when Roland had an outburst. He apparently wanted a female participant to become his girlfriend. She had rejected him harshly by telling him he was too ugly to be her boyfriend. Roland’s feelings were terribly hurt by her statement. As is the case with many of the individuals there, he was unable to keep his emotions under control. I found him outside the building banging his head against the brick wall. His face was contorted as he cried so hard his body shook. That pitiful deformed face, made more distorted by his sadness, was more than my heart could stand. I approach ed him quietly and gently put my hand on his shoulder. “Roland, please. Please don’t do this to yourself.” He turned quickly to face me and shouted, “I don’t want to be put into a hold! Let go of me!” I had developed a deep and caring relationship with Roland. I didn’t want to break his trust in me by using an Intervention maneuver with him. He went back to his head banging behavior. I knew if I did nothing he would severely injure himself. He lifted his head from the wall for a second. I took the opportunity to place my hand on the wall at his head level.


“Roland, I can’t let you hurt yourself anymore. If you want to keep hitting your head on this wall then you will have to do it with my hand here.” “Please move your hand. I don’t want to hit it with my head. I don’t want to hurt you.” I refused to take my hand away from the brick wall. “I won’t move it Roland. You may break my hand with your head, but that’s ok. I’ll wear a cast for a while; but it will heal eventually. So go on if you want to. Hit my hand Roland.” Roland looked at me with tears still streaming down his face. “No, I’ll stop now.” He said. “Good. I’m so glad you decided not to do this anymore. But if you ever try it again I will do the same thing.” “I won’t do it anymore. I promise.” He and I went to the cafeteria and I poured him a cup of coffee. We had a long talk about why he became upset. I offered him suggestions as to how to handle those kinds of feelings in the future without resorting to self harm. I continued to work at the center for thirteen years; Roland never did the head banging behavior again. He’d come to me and ask to “have a talk.” We’d go for coffee and work out whatever problem he was having together. I remember not long after that first experience with Roland, he began to grow a beard. I asked him why in the world he was growing a beard in the middle of a very hot summer. The truth was, I thought it made him look even more different to the people he came in contact with in the community. Of course I never said that to him.

"I know I’m ugly. I thought if I grew a beard it would hide more of my face. Maybe then Emily would like me for her boyfriend.” My heart literally ached inside my chest as I fought to hold back tears. This gentle, kind man was trying to alter his appearance in order to get this woman to like him. I put my arms around Roland hugging him tightly. I put my hands on either side of that beautiful face of his. “Roland, don’t change one thing about you to please her. You are good enough for any one just the way you are.” He continued wearing the beard for several months though. That is, until he met another lady who told him he could be her boyfriend if he shaved off the beard. The two of them would sit outside during lunch. I’d look out at them and Roland would be

smoking his cigar, while drinking a cup of coffee; talking to his new girlfriend. I guess I was wrong about him being completely happy with just two of his passions! For many years there would other situations with Roland that tugged at my heart or caused me to have to become creative in dealing with some of the things he wanted to talk about. The year before I left the center to move to Canada, Roland fell and broke his hip while bathing at his Group Home. I meant to go and see him, but unfortunately Roland threw a blood clot that went to his heart while still in the hospital. He died before I could get there. I attended his funeral and wept until my eyes could shed no more tears. Roland still occupies a place in my heart and he always will.


The World How old the world is! When Adam and Eve Came down on the earth, We think and think, The storm came And Swept away The tyrants along with their pride, Vanished them forever. Charming world before us lies, So various and new, Each moment is exciting, Hope hovering around, New people, things and relations, Surging out day by day, Solutions of the problems sought, But new one takes birth each today.

Mohammad Muzzammil (India)



Tina Traverse (Indian) Sometimes work is just overwhelming.

I kept walking, desperately trying to avoid her. “Kirsten," she called again, “come here.” Ringing phones, fax machines, and an endless I tried harder still to ignore her and kept my head procession of chattering people traversing the halls high, staring straight ahead, but it was no use. Her all of it coming together noisily and slamming into frail, squeaking voice pierced my soul and pulled me my brain leaving my head feeling as if it was being back in. split into. Finally, I relented and stopped. Then again, this was “What do you need, everyday life at Daniels Madeline?” I asked & Stevenson where I impatiently. have worked as a “I just want you to stay paralegal for the last and talk for a while, five years. This that’s all.” particular day was like “We go through this any other, but it was a every day, Madeline. I day that would leave am on my way to run me changed forever. an errand for my boss...” It was in the fourth “And if you are not hour of a nine hour back in ten minutes," workday when I left for Madeline finished for my daily coffee run. me, “she will fire you. I The snow was falling know the drill, Kirsten. lightly blanketing the However, you could ground. The air was make an exception. It crisp, and with all the is only two days until Christmas decorations Christmas.” adorning the city, I felt myself slowly getting into the “Madeline, what exactly is it that you want from Christmas spirit. me?" I asked. "You know that I am busy. I have I began to whistle an old­fashioned Christmas tune. bosses that I have to answer to if I am late. Yet, you My daily coffee run, which had me picking up stop me every day. Tell me for once, what is it that coffee from the gourmet café two blocks from the you want?” My voice grew harsh and angry, my office, always took me past a run­down brick tolerance waning. building. Madeline took several steps back away from me and A former government building, that was now a hung her head. Her dirty and tangled brown hair homeless shelter. fell around her equally dirty face. I dreaded walking past that place because of one Madeline usually does not look directly at me. woman who insisted on bothering me whenever she Instead, she looks away as she talks to me, but today saw me. was different and before she turned to walk away Thus it came as no surprise when on that day; the from me­in defeat, to rejoin her friends’ on the same woman interrupted my whistling and shelter front steps for a smoke, she gave me a long immediately dampened my mood. haunting look. “Come here Kirsten," she called. "I want to speak Shaking that thought off, I continued on my way, she with you.” stared at me with her icy blue eyes that seemed to


lumpy, worn out mattress, covered in a thick velour blanket. I scanned my surroundings. Several white candles placed throughout the small room, I do not know why, but I could not get that haunting look out of lighting. A small table, that looked to be my mind. Every time I tried to concentrate well used, occupied the centre of the room along with a vase of on something other than that roses. look, Madeline's face would reappear before me. Thoughts of There were also several pictures displayed here and there of what I her kept me from sleeping. I guess it was the lack of sleep and assumed were pictures of family members. my lack of ability to think about anything else prevented me from “Where are we Madeline?” I asked again. seeing what should have been obvious. The next day on Christmas Eve, I again went on my daily errand. As I was walking back from the coffee shop, I was feeling extra jovial about the fact that Christmas Day was just twenty­four hours away, and that I be home with my parents eating a huge turkey dinner. I began to sing “I'll be home for Christmas,” to myself. Midway through the chorus, I lost my footing and went skidding and Madeline handed me a glass of sliding on an invisible patch of ice. water from the pitcher she was holding. Surprisingly, both the Before I blacked out, all I glass and water were clean. remember was seeing five “This is my home," said Madeline. steaming hot cups of coffee go "I found this place six years ago flying into the air. when I first found myself on the When I opened my eyes again, I streets. This is behind the same was greeted by the fuzzy image of café where you go to get those woman patting my forehead with a fancy coffees. This used to be a storage centre for the government moist cloth and a frail squeaky building that is now the shelter. voice calling my name. “Madeline?” I asked hoarsely. I No one knows this tiny space tried to sit up, but the searing pain exists, but me...and of course in my head and back stopped me. some of my friends, who come “Don’t try to get up, Kirsten, you here to crash from time to time took a pretty nasty spill out there, when the shelter becomes too full. It’s not fancy, but it keeps me out you need to rest.” of the weather.” “Where am I?” “You are with me, at my home.” I began to feel dizzy, so I lay back down, grimacing with pain. As my vision began to adjust, I noticed that I was lying down on a “You have a mild concussion, and see right through me, as though she was sending me a message.


will be black and blue for a few days, but by next week you should be fine.” “How do you know I have a mild concussion?” “I saw you fall right on your old noggin, and I used to be a nurse.” This information caught me by surprise. “A nurse?” “Do not look so surprised. I did have a career, just like you, before I landed on the streets. I was not born and bred homeless you know.” I felt my cheeks blaze red with embarrassment. I guess, I had taken for granted that Madeline was just some lazy and useless person who had chosen to live on the streets, as a burden to society, rather than someone who used to be a working, contributing citizen like myself. “I…..I did not mean...” Madeline waved her hand to dismiss my blunder and smiled. “That is all right Kirsten. I know the stereotype that people, who are not homeless, put others like me into. We are too lazy to get a job, and stop being a burden on society, or we are too drunk or hopped up on drugs to even care. You forget that most of us are out here through no fault of our own.” “How did you end up out here?” I asked. “I worked as a nurse at St. Joseph’s for thirty years, as a post operative nurse. Then, when the government cut back on health care a few years ago, and closed beds, I was one of the senior nurses to be offered an early retirement package. I lived on that for a while, but as the cost of living grew higher, I quickly found myself unable to keep up with my

bills. I could no longer afford to pay my rent or to buy food. I tried applying for every possible social assistance program out there, but always failed to qualify. I was disillusioned and desperate. I had no family or friends who were in a position to help me, so I ended up here. The rest, as they say, is history.”

parent’s house outside of the city. “You have to go, don’t you?” asked Madeline. “Yes, I’m sorry, but my mom and dad are expecting me in the morning for Christmas. I still have to pack for my early morning drive out of town.” “Then you better get going. Just take it slowly. You Her story tugged at my heartstrings and I began to are still in pain.” cry. My eyes were beginning to open to the reality of “I understand. I promise to take it easy, nurse. this woman who I had so easily dismissed. Madeline?" “Yes?” “Madeline, " I said through a teary voice.”Why did “How can I every repay you for rescuing me out you bring me back here to tend to me, after I have there?” been so horrible to you?” “Come and visit me once in a while, that’s all I ask.” Madeline laid her withered, wrinkled hand on my arm and again gave me a warm smile. “I promise I will.” “My dear Kirsten, I saw that you were hurt and “Good, now Merry Christmas.” brought you back here to tend to you until you were “Merry Christmas to you, Madeline.” well. I could never leave you in your hour of need. This being Christmas, or not.” Later on that night, as I very carefully prepared for “I guess that is your nurse’s instinct kicking in.” bed, I thought about Madeline. Here was a woman “Partly. However, I help you, or anyone else who whom I once passed over as worthless and needs me, because it is the right thing to do as a annoying, a burden on society who bothered me human being.” every day, and who probably only wanted money to I grew curious then. “Madeline, why did you always buy drugs or booze. pick me to stop and talk?” The truth though is that Madeline only wanted what “Simple, you have a friendly face and a friendly we all want: to be treated like a valuable human demeanor.” being and to have companionship for, someone to “After the way I treated you, you still believe that?” simply be… a friend. So, while I have been doing “Of course! I know you are a good person deep everything in my power to avoid her, Madeline had down, Kirsten. You are just like everybody else, only been offering the precious gift of friendship. afraid of what you don’t understand.” Ironically, it had taken being knocked unconscious I was beginning to feel better. Looking down at my for me to finally wake up and realize that. watch, I realized that it was getting late and I needed to get home to pack for my early morning trip to my Now it is my turn to return that gift.


Why are these shackles made for me?? Why are these shackles made for me?? Why do these rituals afraid to me?? If I walk freely, I am question’d……

In the name of ornaments I’m imprison’d….. I become ‘the pride and honor’ of the house

What happens to that honor; when I’m killed like a mouse….???? I’m considered a rebel, if I use ‘my’ brains

They consider me humble, if I remain in their chains..

‘What happened to this woman?’ ‘Has she got sense any??’

SHE can’t talk many but HE can sleep with any…..???? Never does the society change; Never does the ritual……

She becomes the victim of; harassment Audio­visual…..

Abhilasha Kaushik (India)


Life begins at forty?

Marilyn Canete (Manila, Philippines) We would often hear this cliché that life begins at forty­especially women and I don't know if this is just to console one's self of the dreaded thought about getting older and aging. Well, I myself once used this apparently consoling thought the day my age turned to what they say "out of the calendar days". And yet, looking back now­­I realize that this cliché is not really something to be positive about but rather a sad thought, considering that if this would be, then there would be a lot of people who won't even have a life as not all of us would have reached 40!

has great plans for me and I just have to be still while He is working on it. After all, life's essence is not in having a husband/wife, nor kids, nor boyfriend/girlfriend. In fact, they can even take the life out of you at times. It is often said that life is too short, so live it to the fullest. How can we do that? Only one way­ that's Jesus.

Now don't just close this page and forget all about what you read. I know deep within your heart there's a longing that you just couldn't explain and you're already tired of finding answers through But when do we really begin to live? I mean really relationships after relationships, gimmicks, and live? Should we really wait until we are forty? Do other pleasure­seeking trips. Truth is, you may have we have to waste 39 years of our lives first before the hottest partner in town, the most expensive car, getting a life? the latest gadget one could have, watch the most entertaining movies in the world, achieve the most As I turn 37 today and a realization came to me that prestigious reward in your workplace, get the highest life doesn't begin at forty at all. In fact, you may even position in the company...and yet still feel wasted have reached a hundred years old and die without and empty. actually having had a life. This I discovered that life can begin any point in time of our life at just one You don't want to continue existing like this do you? particular moment. This moment can be on your I urge you...make that decision now. There is real younger or older years or not at all depending on life waiting for you if you just let God into your your decision. I thank God for giving me life and I heart. Now is the time. Today is the day. Not mean real life even before I reached forty. Now, I someday because someday is not a day of the week. don't really have to fret and worry about getting Not tomorrow for who knows if tomorrow will still older...though my family and friends seemed to be come for you. Not even later because later may be the ones worried for me being still single at my age! actually....Too late for you. But of course I'm not discounting the thought of Life begins at 40? I say life begins when you start having my own family, it's just that I do know God living it by enjoying each and every moment of it.


MIND YOUR OBSESSIONS In every mind they float in, In every heart they grow in, Sometimes it’s about being jealous, Sometimes it’s about hatred, Sometimes its love, One on one In numbers they live in us,

Obsessions! Some good, some bad, Yield posy if seeded well, Plunder if not clutched, Choose the one that holds pep, So that you win on well, Mind them! Guide them! Ponder them all, To choose and follow the fittest, Let’s just scroll on!

Obsessions! A character within, In every being they creak in, Mind them! Guide them! Let them be seeds, for, Some ventures new and perky, Not for any that’s crook and jerky,

Richa Dixit (India)


Schizophrenia Yusuf Alam (India)

I walked onto the street, with moon glowing softly above. Her sudden reappearance had triggered a dislocation in my head. Call it schizophrenia; I could see her everywhere, laughing and teasing. She was mocking me for being such a fool, for believing that she would never show up and for thinking that I could forever cage my love for her in the tiniest corners of my heart. She was no more a myth like I had convinced myself ages ago, she was real and she was back. All her memories were playing in my head on an endless loop, like a series of blurred images on a badly screwed up tape. For years I had been an abstraction, an entity of deception for the world. Though most of them had me in their good books, they had never met the real me. I had let a person live a programmed life for me. But now that she was about to pull the mask off my face, they will all see the real person concealed within, the not so strong, vulnerable person I actually was. It was time to face the reality I had been running from for so long, time to face

the demons of the past. I had loved her since the first time I laid eyes on her, she was the most beautiful girl I had ever known. She had this angelic aura around her which always mesmerized me. And she had vanished before I could even have confessed my love to her. But she never really left; I had lived each and every memory of her again and again, until the time they brought me to the edge of madness. I had to let her go for the sake of sanity. And she was back now, yet she was still an unattainable dream... I tried to close my eyes, but couldn’t get her image off my mind. I walked up further to the bridge and looked into the stream of water flowing underneath. There she was again, her face glimmering in the pale moonlight. I could hear her calling my name and this time I couldn’t hold myself back. People might say that I took my own life, but truth be told I only submitted myself to her. And for the first time in my life, I felt free.




I love A woman's shape. Unique from head to toe. Nothing like it. Nothing to compare. Long neck. shoulders wide and strong enough able then to carry the whole world. And with a heart so loving and true, against a world so hard and cold. Softness beyond description. So nice to lose yourself in. Arms that hold me tight. Hands that caress, through the night. And the dark, inner beauty deep inside, giving forth new joyous life. A blossoming, caring, nurturing, mysterious hidden space, oh desire! With curves that set the heart on fire. And so artists draw, etch and paint, while sculpters carve and chip but none can ever catch your perfection, poise and grace. Beauty defies description, and yet we try and yet we see look stare look long at you

Bob Macmaster (USA)


As You Wish Nicole Enyart (Westfield, Indiana)

Prologue Starlight, Star bright, first star I see tonight… Some might say that my job is an easy one, granting wishes to those who only ask it of me. Perhaps it was easy at one time, when wishes were much simpler. It’s not so now. I wish I may… I can’t make all wishes come true and children are starting to realize this. In time their faith in me will be no more, and I will fade and fall like so many of my brothers and sisters have done before me. Even now there is one who seeks to destroy me. He has tried for years to do so, and now he might actually succeed. I wish I might… It will be soon, very soon. Already my light is dimming, but perhaps I still have time to do one last thing. Have the wish I

wish tonight… Let me grant one last wish. Just one. That’s all I ask. I look down at the brightly lit city, captivated by the brilliant orbs of light floating up from the buildings towards me. Some were like rockets and soared past the others, so filled with hope that they were anxious to reach me. One reached me before the others and flashed and sparked excitedly in front of my face. I reached my hand out towards the little ball of light and it floated over to rest in the palm of my hand. “I wish daddy would come back.” A voice radiates in my mind. I press my lips into a grim line then let the orb go. Another comes to me and brushes my cheek gently. “I wish Mom and Dad would stop fighting.” The orb circles me for a moment then floats 23

away. Wish after wish passes me by and I watch the go with a heavy heart. I look around, wondering if there was even one wish that I might be able to make true, and I noticed that there was one that was lingering apart from all the rest. I reached my hand out towards it, and slowly it began to float towards me. I gripped it tightly in my hand and waited. “I wish I had a friend.” My eyes snap open with an unmistakable feeling of hope now flowing inside me. I could grant this wish. One last wish before I fade. To do so I would have to put myself within reach of my enemy. I waved this fear aside. This was more important. I let the wish go and watch as it falls towards the city, and I follow soon after.

Chapter One

I stared up at the night sky, though there was very little to see. The city lights tried their best to drown out the stars’ own light, and almost succeed except for one. One star refuses to allow its light to fade. The Evening star or wishing star as some liked to call it, but to me it was the one constant thing in my life. No matter where I was I could always count on looking up into the night sky and seeing it. Being on the streets means that there isn’t a whole lot a guy can count on. You were lucky enough to stay in the same place more than once, so one constant thing could give someone a bit of cheer after a dreary day. Before you start crying and making a big fuss over my state, I just want to tell you don’t. I’ve always been on the street ever since I could remember. No one takes care of me, I take care of myself, and that’s just how it’s always been. I bury my face deeper into my thin scarf as a cold gust of wind smacks directly into me. “Getting colder out.” I murmured, not for the first time noticing that summer was drawing to an end and winter was coming in at full force. “Better find something warmer soon.” I had seen too many frozen in their sleep to not take the chilling warning seriously, but for now I made it my main goal to reach shelter. I jogged the short distance I had left until I left the developed part of town and entered the slums. This was the type of place that got worse the further you went. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go very far and veered off into an alley. My pile of blankets underneath a makeshift roof made with cardboard boxes

and a torn tarp. It wasn’t much, but it was home for the moment at least. I snuggled deep under the blankets, trying to find a comfortable spot on the rough ground. I hear voices and go rigid for a moment until they fade in the distance and I know they have passed without noticing me. I feel relieved, but soon that feeling is replaced with deep longing that they could have seen me. Even the briefest moment of human contact would be nice, but I know I shouldn’t wish for so much. “At least I have you.” I say softly, looking up at the Evening Star. “And no one can take you away. Good night, Star.” I close my eyes, but suddenly I realize that there is a bright glow shining through my eyelids. I open them slowly. “Aah!” I roll away from my blankets, knocking over my shelter but I didn’t care. I rise to my feet and spin on my heel to face the thing that had startled me. A girl. She stood there, her head cocked to one side in a way that reminded me of a puppy. Her lips were creased into an amused smile. “Who are you!?” I demanded, forgetting what little manners I knew. She didn’t seem offended by my rudeness, if anything her smile only grew wider. “I’m a friend.” She answered, sweetly. As if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I don’t have friends.” I told her, and I admit it was hard to admit to that. “You have me.” She insisted. I shook my head in


bewilderment, something was seriously wrong with this girl. “I don’t even know your name!” “Star.” She answers simply. “Right.” I say a bit sarcastically, looking over her clothes which consisted of a white, short skirt and a light, blue hoodie that had dark, blue stars running up one side. She even had a silver star hair clip in holding back a patch of platinum blonde curls. “You seem to be a bit obsessed with them.” I observed. “And I know your name!” She says excitedly, as if she’s proud of it. “Your name is Jack!” Great, the crazy girl was lucky enough to guess my name. I definitely have to get rid of her. “Look, I don’t care who you are, but you can’t stay here. You have to leave. Now!” For the first time she looked genuinely hurt. “But I have nowhere else to go.” She whimpered. I sighed, “Fine, I’ll take you someplace where you can stay. Come on.” I trudge off towards the exit of the alley and turn left down the main street which would take me back towards the better part of the city. I knew about a girl’s home that wasn’t too far from here.

Rotten joints they are, barely fit for living. Sure, I hated to take her there, but what choice did I have? I take a glance at her to see if she was following me. Not surprisingly she was as close as she could get beside me. It was a lot easier to see her now since there was more light on the street than there was in the alley where we met. For a moment I nearly stumbled back in amazement. She’s beautiful. I thought to myself. Not cute or pretty, she was downright gorgeous in an unearthly way. So what? I chided myself. Crazy girls can’t be beautiful too? Still, I couldn’t help noticing some of her unique features. Her hair wasn’t just that golden or yellowish blonde you typically saw, but silvery and it almost glowed in the moonlight. Her eyes too seemed to be silver, but that could have just been the light playing tricks on me. Once I thought her freckles seemed to be arranged in the shape of the constellation of “The Big Dipper”, but that had to be my imagination. Right? She’s my age, which could be maybe twelve or so. I stopped keeping track of my birthdays why celebrate another year of life of loneliness? She noticed me staring at her and smiled, causing her eyes to crinkle until they looked like upside down crescent moons. “Soo…Star,” I began. “How did you get here?” “I fell.” “You what?!” I exclaimed. “Are you hurt? How far did you fall?” I look her over, but don’t see any visible injuries. “I fell from the sky, but I’m not hurt.”

I stare at her, for a moment speechless. Finally, I decide to let it go. After all, what good is there in arguing with a clinically insane person? “I know how you got here.” She says to me. “Really,” I say, only half interested. “That’s nice.” “You were born here, but your parents died when you were little. Your Uncle took you in, but he was mean and so you ran away the…” “Stop it!” I shout at her, causing her to shrink away from me. “I don’t know who told you all that, but just because you know about my past doesn ’t mean you know me. You’r e crazy, and I just want to get rid of you so I can go to sleep!” I stomp off, not even caring if she chose to follow me. After a while, my anger dissipates and is replaced by guilt. I turn around to apologize to her, but I am shaken to see that she has disappeared. I looked around frantically trying to find her. I was just about to give up when I spotted her, standing next to a small house, looking through a window. I rush over to her, happy that I had found her, but fearful that someone might see her. “What are you doing?” I whisper, trying not to allow the anger to creep into my voice, or else I might get too loud.


She didn’t seem to notice me. Her silver eyes seemed to be completely entranced by whatever she was looking at. I followed her gaze and saw that the window was in a small bedroom. Inside was a little boy, perhaps only about six years old, sleeping peacefully. “Somebody you know?” I asked. She nodded stiffly. “My brother.” She whispers. I can’t see any similarities between them, but she seemed so certain that I didn’t want to argue with her. “Well, go inside then.” I tell her. She shakes her head, and for a moment I see such a fear in her eyes that I almost wonder if she was going to faint. “He hates me.” She whimpers. “He wants to destroy me.” A chill settles over my heart. “What?!” She doesn’t get a chance to answer, suddenly the air around us changes. I look inside and see that the little boy is no longer sleeping peacefully, but is rolling from side to side and then lets out a high pitched scream of pure terror! Star grabs my hand and pulls me away from the window. “We have to leave, now! Before he sees us!” I don’t ask questions, but start to run with Star still holding onto my hand. We run for what felt like miles. I kept looking over my shoulder to see what was chasing us, but I never saw anything. I never stopped running though, because I felt something was behind us. I didn’t know if my mind was playing tricks on me, but I knew that if I was wrong it

it would be a bad time to find out. Suddenly, we stopped. I staggered, swaying on my feet from exhaustion. “Whatever happens you stay with me. Understand?” Star says with such urgency that I instantly forget my weariness. “You’ll be safe with me.” “Safe from what? What are you talking about, Star?” “Well,” A deep voice reverberates around us. “My dear Sister, we meet at last.” I look up to see a man standing a short distance away from us. If he hadn’t called Star his sister, I would have never guessed them to be siblings. He was tall and much older, closer to being her father than her brother at age. He wore a black overcoat and held in his hand a black crooked walking stick. His hair was matted to his head. His skin was a sickly, starved looking pale. And his eyes..his eyes were like red, hot pokers stabbing into my heart and wrenching it from my chest. “W­who are you?” I asked him. “Nightmare,” He answered smoothly, dipping down into a bow. “The ruler of fears and the destroyer of dreams, or did my sister not tell you about me?” “Why do you want to kill her?” I asked, feeling a little

braver now. “Well, she does make wishes come true.” He answered. “That does rather interfere with my business of destroying dreams after all.” I look at her, suddenly realizing just what she was. “Wait, you’re not Star! You’re The Star! The Evening Star!” I look up at the night sky and see an empty space where a star used to be. “Well done!” Nightmare clapped his hands together. “You’ve solved all the mysteries. Now that that boring business in over with, it’s time to get down to the real fun.” “What do you mean?” I take a nervous step back. “Well, I’m sorry dear boy that you had to get involved with our little family feud, but I’ve waited too long for this. Time for wishes to die and for fear and hate to rule!” With that he brought his walking stick down and suddenly we were engulfed with shadows and I couldn’t see. I guess you probably expect me to say that every nightmare I ever had become real, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was worse. Fear just ran through me, it was like when you wake up suddenly all sweaty with your heart pounding in your ears. I lost control of myself and my body began to shake. My heart beat started to get faster until I thought it would explode. Then I felt someone pulling me back and wrapping their arms around me. A burst of white light consumed the shadows, and I slowly returned to normal. “How sweet.” Nightmare said, seemingly not minding that his shadows had been destroyed. “Using the last of your light to save


this boy, either way I’ve won, sister. Enjoy your last moments of existence.” He disappeared in a cloud of black mist. I looked over at Star and my heart sunk. “Star!” I screamed, crawling over to where she laid on the ground. “Star, it’s okay! You did it!” Her eyes fluttered open, but they were no longer the bright silver they were before, they were dim and gray. “Hang on!” I told her. “I’ll get help!” “No.” She says, softly. “I knew this would happen. This is how it’s supposed to end.” “But it can’t end like this!” She smiled gently. “I was fading.” She said. “Too many..too many children losing faith in their dreams. I wanted to grant one last wish before...” She took a shaky breath. “And that wish was… your wish.” “What do you mean?” “You wished for a friend, so I came to you. After all, I have been your friend for…for many years. I knew about you, because you told me…every night.” “You were the one thing they couldn’t take away from me.” I told her, feeling tears slip down my cheeks. “And I can’t lose that! You have to stay, Star.” “I’m… sorry, Jack.” She says, her voice growing softer. “I hope I was a good… good friend.” Her eyes closed and she became still. Then before my eyes she flashed brightly and her body burst into bright, white light, and her body turned to dust in my hands. As the silver sand fell through my fingers, the pang of loss erupted from my heart. Star was gone.

Epilogue People noticed the Star’s disappearance. It was in the news for weeks afterwards. Scientists thought it was the end of the world. After all, how could a star that had been in the sky for centuries disappear? They had no idea how right they were. It was the end. The end of hopes and dreams, and Nightmare had won. Tonight I look up at the sky, hoping to see her, but I see nothing just an empty space. Still I couldn’t help the words that start to form within my mind. Starlight, Starbright, First star I see tonight. I squint, thinking that I saw something. The reasonable part of me tells me not to even bother. Just an airplane again! But the part that still believed in happy endings encouraged me not to lose hope. I wish I may, I wish I might Have the wish I wish tonight. And then I see it, a small spark, the faintest of glimmers, and a small smile spreads across my lips as that small spark slowly grows. I wish I could have my friend back.


A Key to Heaven Warmth is your Nature More precious than the finest treasure. Your love makes you Invincible With strength designed to cradle.

To my mother With a heart of sweetness and honey. Your Beauty will never fade Even through the darkest calamities.

Your care brings happiness With the power to beatify evilness. You fight for me to move onward And move mountains for me to step forward.

God gives you a ranking Infinitely more valuable than a thousand Queens. For the key to heaven lies beneath your feet.

Respect to you is a small price to pay For your pave is infinitely more valuable Than a thousand golden days a ranking so high That our souls are privileged to meet your eyes.



(London, United Kingdom)

The Ultimate Destination Arie (India)

Bustling busy road. Sun played its part as much as it could – the time being half an hour past its maximum efficacy. Cursing my car, I satthere amidst dirty sweat­macerated faces, unkempt hairs, manner less poverty­stricken people. No matter which face do I see, it’s always the same – soaked in perspiration, faces full of sadness and partial madness. I felt it very clear that I wanted to get the hell out of this sick and gawky environment, and get to my office. Pulling out my iPhone in my right hand, while my left hand is employed in carrying my suitcase, I dialled to my client’s number. While the other was ringing, I noticed that a little boy, of around 12 or 13 strained his neck muscles and peered into the prodigious entity in my palm. It boosted my ego a bit – Maslow’s hierarchical rule; giving in to my surging self­esteem, I stylishly held the phone to reach the other end. All those to whom I’m acquainted with, are regale, at least, in terms of their opulence, if not by birth. Sensing the other end’s “Hello!” I spoke, ‘Hello Mr. Clark, this is Arun. I, I’m sorry sir.’ I sensed a million eyes feast on me, as I spoke in English, for, to these ears, English is but a wonder, ‘My car faltered. I’m in railway station bus stand sir. I’ll be there in,’ I realized that I don’t know the

travel time and hence I abridged my decibels to a level, as if I were lamenting, and said, ‘err, maybe in an hour.’ I hung up. Seeing a squab figured person, I felt my facial muscles set in a gawky fashion again; I shifted my frame in an awry manner in that corroded metallic seat as if reassuring my place. I don’t know why I felt so, but I wanted to dash out of that place, as soon as possible. I’m not agoraphobic, or demophobic, for I’ve seen hundreds of conferences, addressed to thousands of ears, but this particular place, packed with people – of low­ profiled people – chocks my living. I wished that a bus with a very less number of people should come soon, not to mention that I already missed a few buses, for the fear of being amidst masses of nauseating bodies, their cacophonous conversations – their ranting, to be more specific – for conversation, as defined by Jeffrey Archer is 50% listening and 50% speaking which can never be expected from these illiterate crowd. Though I know that not all bus­travellers are illiterates, my conceit enjoyed thinking only in that way. As I waited, everybody’s centre of attention was diverted from cursing the sun’s swelter to appreciating a clumsy looking street­dancer, who came out of nowhere. I’ve experienced this feeling a


million times – the thirst to seek attention; but my which theconjurernodded. Out of curiosity – one of thirst was all for hedonistic purposes, seeking to the basic qualities of the six sensed creatures – I graduate my self­esteem; but his venture is for his decided to assume the role of an eavesdropper. tummy, the inevitable. My efforts, even if not The juggler said, ‘No’, in formal deference. successful, won’t kill me, but his, should he fail, will ‘See, your generation has gone in this way. Do you kill his squad – a girl of about 12 or 13, a child of want your child also to be a beggar? Do you want around 2, and himself – both probably will be his their generation also to stink like yours? You must daughters; the lunacy of the government! It should work to uplift their generation. Forget your impose compulsory family planning for beggars – my generation, it’s already over. The next generation, mind shared its views. your children also should not suffer, shouldn’t toil for I watched their circus, partly in enjoyment, daily food as you do.’ and partly in repugnance; the bigger girl did some ‘Yes sir, but how? I­’ tricks like throwing tea cups, or something that is ‘I own a lathe shop. You seem to be having good shaped like cups, and conjured it for the merriment strength. Come with me now. I’ll give you the job of a of the crowd. She looked so adroit at that trick. She turner. Monthly 5000 salary. How about that? I also managed to successfully complete the conjuration for know a friend whose house is open for rent. I’ll make around 10 minutes and gave her dad a look; he then arrangements for the advance money and rent for 3 pranced forward and made a few tumbles, well spaced months. Thereafter, you should take care. Most and uniform, using his hands; then he lifted his 2 year importantly, provide them an education.’ While he old daughter in his right palm – both her soles purely said so, the performer fell to his feet and cried. standing on his single palm – and raised his arm over I realized that I missed my bus again. But this his head. It was evident that he was struggling, but he time it didn’t disturb me. I decided that I too will is compelled to do it. The child opened her arms make the change. I subconsciously said, ‘I will take wide and made a few dance moves – the ramifications care of their education. Let them both study well. I’ll of his training her.If the volume of his palm is sponsor for their higher education also.’ I concluded neglected, then it will appear as if the girl is dancing in that it must be subconscious, under the influence of levity above the man’s head. Many such tricks filled some unknown inner exhortation, because I became the time. aware of what I said, only after I completed saying it. I realized that I didn’t even notice if any bus came by, I saw a car come and halt before me. The and cussed at my own imbecility. Then the man sent window pane went down and a beaming face her bigger daughter who went on to every single materialized from inside; I knew the driver. Mr. Clark person on the bus stand and asked for alms. A few had sent his own driver to help me out. He gestured dithered initially but gave afterwards, and a few just me to get in. I nodded and gave my address card to turned their faces the other side as if they’re not chary the entertainer, asking him to meet me on Sunday of her presence. I too gave a 5 rupee note, glaring evening, and went. As the engine rambled and the car aversely at her black face and missing incisors as she started to get out of that place, I felt some sort of smiled gratefully. indescribable, strange, but divine feeling spread As I was about to go, I watched a man speak to the throughout me. I felt that my race had started – the conjurer. The other one seemed decent in his race to contentment – the ultimate destination. checked white shirt,and was saying something to


Where Do I End Up? Following this endless light

Where do I end up? In the pitch dark night? Struggling inside , stepping back to fight Shall I choose the path left or right? A veil on my face , which I couldn’t see through Am I being unjust to myself, is that true? Dreaming with my eyes open wide Unaware of my tears and deep voice inside I can make a living, can I live my life? To the fullest, with almost no strife? Will I regret for the road not taken? Or for all long path I have chosen? Following this endless light Where do I end up? In the pitch dark night? Struggling inside, stepping back to fight Shall I choose the path left or right?

Basilia (India) 31

A Troublesome World Humph. The world is a troubling place these days, I thought to myself. I picked out my favourite Sharpie from my marker case and pulled out a sheet of paper. Nope, that won’t do. I raced down the stairs at top speed. I was afraid that I would forget my idea before I got to my idea canvas in the workshop in the basement. “Hallie!” Shoot! It’s mother. I stopped dead in my tracks, trying so hard to keep thinking about the idea. I slowly turned around and walked towards the dining room/parlor which is where my mother most likely would be. There. I found you now what do you want? “Hallie! Put the Sharpie back into your pocket and come sit down. This nice man here wants to talk to you about… well…. your problem”. Mother always likes to act nice with me when company is around, but truthfully, she treats me like a leper. Oh boy! Some other “doctor” with a miracle

Kat King (Ontario, Canada) cure, I am sure of it. I sat down, knowing I was going to take a lot of smiling and nodding to get rid of this guy. “So, Hallie, is it?”. He seemed polite enough. I nodded. “Your mother has been kind enough to fill me in on your ‘problem’.” He put quotation marks around the word “problem”. So it’s this kind of guy. Is there anything that Mother doesn’t tell people? “Well, Hallie, your ‘problem’ isn’t medical, that’s for sure. I have looked over all of your tests and they all come back saying you are perfectly healthy. This is where I come in. Your mother asked me to come here today to ‘work’ with you to see if we can solve the ‘problem’ of you not talking.” He uses too many air quotes; my head is starting to spin. “Hallie, focus over here please.” Oh, I am sorry if my mind wandered off. You are boring and I have seen many guys like you before. So excuse me. It is not a

problem if I know about it and have solved it already. There is a simple reason that I don’t talk: I simply don’t want to. “Hallie! I know this may sound silly, but I am going to ‘make’ you talk.” There he goes with the air quotation marks again. I put my chin in my hand. “Close your eyes and try to imagine yourself saying any word you like. I am going to come over and start to move your jaw. Don’t stop imagining, okay?” Oh no! There is no way I am letting this guy touch me. Session over. I started to make the instant tears that I have gotten good at. I stood up from my chair and left the room in tears, racing towards the basement. Phew! Crisis adverted. I hope you paid that guy nothing, Mother, because that was a waste. Now where was I? Shoot, I forgot about my idea. I heaved a sigh and started back upstairs.

Kat King: I am a high school student that wishes to see the world when I grow up. I love to help people and animals alike and when I grow up I want to work in Africa at animal rehabilitation centers for safari animals. I love to write and listen to music because they are two different forms of self­expression.


Those Days With My Mother

I Can Recall Those Days My Mother, Those Lovely Days With Your Love. Those Days Again With Your Care And, Those Days Of curse When I Was Small. Also That Day With A Bit Of Fear, The Day When I Did A Mistake My Dear. Again After That I Said As Unknown, Nothing I Have Done , Coming By Near. A Little Hurt I Got By Falling On Ground, I Know You Cried Lot, But With No Sound. Today Those Days Are With Me My Dear, Your Love And Care Makes Me Bound. Also I Remembered The Cloudy Days Again, Unable To Walk Due To Legs with Pain.

I Remembered How You Carried Me There, On The Muddy Road Of Village Again In Rain. Those Days When I Was Going, With You To River But Unable To Swim. And You Were With Me Always Near, By Murmuring Your Fear Times And Time. I Was Not Ready Myself For School, By Showing Drama Of Headache And Pain. You Only Knew The Trick To Send Me There, By Giving Tasty Tiffins With Two Rupees Coin. Mother Your Love Has No Start And End, No One Can Count Or Get Its More Than Sand. Never Can I Forget Those Days And Times, Each Moment Costs Tons Of Diamond.

Smruti Nayak (India) 33

Gone With The Wind Imad Ul Islam (J& K, India)

Laughing and shouting they were walking towards the bridge. The little girl and her mother were out for a morning a walk. The sky was all clear and the happy birds were playing with each other warming up themselves for the day’s work. It wasn't their usual habit to go for a morning walk. For the first time both of them were out in the morning with the birds. Eventually they reached the bridge and seated themselves on a bench from where they had a great view of the fast flowing river. The bridge was all clear, no one to be seen there. Suddenly the little girl remembered something her mother said to her. “The one who killed your father, after being freed from the jail jumped from that bridge in that fast flowing water. You know why, because that’s what the scoundrel was worthy of”. Her mother had not told her who he was. And she wasn't so courageous as to ask her about him. Summing up all her courage this time she moved a little bit closer to her mother and placing her hand on her mother’s shoulder she asked “who was he…… the one who…… killed my father?” “Let’s go home” said her mother taking the hand off her shoulder.


She did as she was ordered. Both of them started for their home. When they had reached the end of the bridge an ambulance came from nowhere blowing the horn. Both of them trying to get away from the middle of the road fell down and the little girl lost hold on the key. The key went down tumbling and tossing and finally rested peacefully on a boulder near the shore of the river. No one was injured. The ambulance with the horn blowing continuously made its way towards the hospital with incredible velocity. It seemed that a patient was in a serious condition.

the middle of the road she started to read it.

from this bridge. And I hope that my body will not be found.

At the end of the page was the name of her son, her son whom she once loved the most. Now she Anyone who finds it, make sure believed that her son was innocent. that this message reaches my She sat there weeping, but it was mother. Here is the address WALL ALLEY, HOUSE NO. 8J. too late then. They say it’s better late than never. Somehow I don’t see any use of it here. Her son had Dear mother you never believed gone somewhere with the wind. me. How could you even think that I will kill my own father. That And now it was too late for her to weep over her son’s innocence. day father came home drunk. That’s the truth he was drunk and The little girl stood still some wasn't in his senses. I was alone in distance from her mother watching the house. I was scared. Suddenly her with wet eyes. he grabbed a knife and said that he would kill himself. I tried my best “I saw a dream today” said the little girl. to stop him but he pushed me aside and then pushed the knife into his heart. I removed the knife “What?” asked her mother after from his chest. He was alive then. controlling her feelings. It went as……..

I can’t help but cry over his body. In a minute he was dead. Then you came in and saw me with the blood covered knife in my hand and the dead body of the father. Believe it or not but that’s the truth. Now that I am freed from jail I know that I am the one you hate most in this world. So, what’s the use of my life? I am going to jump

“I saw that I had a brother. He was sitting right here on this bridge writing something on a sheet of paper on the night. Suddenly she lost grip on that sheet of paper and ran to catch it. Trying to catch that paper she slipped and fell into the river and drowned”. Her mother tried her best not to cry but was unsuccessful in


suppressing her real feelings. “Mommy, am I your only child or do you had a son too?” asked the little girl curiously. “Come he………….” another ambulance faster than the first one came out of nowhere blowing the horn. The little girl and her mother tried to get away from the middle of the road but were unsuccessful. The driver unable to control the vehicle crushed both of them. The sheet of paper flew away with the wind. Everyone got out of the ambulance and tried to recognize the corpses. “Oh my God!” exclaimed one of them. “Do you know who they are?” asked the others. “Yes, this is the mother of the boy whom we just found in the river and this is his sister” he said. And that’s how the family ended. No one will ever know the whole story because the sheet of paper had gone with the wind.

Sleep! Just A Dream Vasanthi Papu (India)

The night is chill, deep and dark, All rapt and serene though not me. A little pigeon cuddling in the bark, Beside its mother proves its glee

O sleep! a welcome guest for the weary bands, The poor man's wealth, a solace to man's heart, You entangle the old , the infants of all lands, Why so partial and forsake me apart.

Waking and tinkling at the night's alarm, In through the pane, peeps the moon's ray. Star light and stillness give a hypnotic charm, In mental fog, here do I lay.

O sleep! a little roof of dreams, Girdle me whose heart is torn. Move not thy heavenly grace as streams, Come, linger in me where grief is born.

Ominous shadows, fiery ghosts show big face, The major life's trauma, fatal torment so deep. In fretful frenzy yet do I pace, Depressed with solitude with none to weep.

O sleep! a good tribute shall I pay, Than all the cherubs can lend. For all I ask is your gentle long stay, And mettle to meet the silent end..

The Mistake Of Falling Shelly


Blood splattered all over my gown, making me look eerily similar to a bride from hell. I wasn’t quite sure who, or what, was slaughtered across the ruffled fabric, but the sticky red substance dotted every inch of my crème colored wedding dress. My hand was linked with my groom’s half brother as we ran through the castle. He’d already broken several rules by attending the ceremony, but what I did was worse. Leaving a faerie prince at the altar wasn’t only stupid; it was forbidden. “Are you sure about this?” Travis asked over the sound of our pacing footsteps. It had been weeks since I’d seen him. His face looked exactly the same, except for the drops of blood running down his cheek. We stopped beside the wooden door, decorated with a large white arch. “Garrett may be a lot of things,” I started, “but he’s not a monster. He was my friend. Once.” Travis sighed, running a hand through his wavy brown locks. The metal armor around his hand glinted in the moonlight. “We don’t have much time, Hazel. Soon the warriors will

appear. If you can’t convince him before that, I have to kill him.” “I know.” Guilt wedged in my throat. I moved forward, but before I made it to the entrance Travis spun me around and kissed me. His lips, usually soft and slow, were forced and rushed, worrying me, as if he were saying he wouldn’t make it. When I finally managed to pull my mouth away from his, I grabbed his face. “We’ll make it,” I promised. I turned toward the door, entering the dark room. Candlelight covered the stone walls, casting ominous shadows. Instead of the cramped atmosphere from this morning, chairs were left empty and flower petals wilted all over the floor. Garrett was still dressed for the ceremony, standing beside the altar. I watched as the back of his suited figure trembled over the stand. The white gloves he wore were clenched in fists. “Did you really think I’d let you go?” Garrett demanded, his voice echoing off the walls. “I’m not as vulnerable as you once thought.” Garrett turned then. His eyes, now two different colors, gazed back at me. At first, I believed his clever façade. Garrett had presented himself to the village as a blind boy with crystal blue eyes. Now one was the same sickeningly green shade as Travis’s–the color all faeries acquired. “No, you’re not at all who I thought you were,” I growled back. “You’re worse.” “At least my ambitions won’t lead to my destruction.” Blood boiled beneath my skin. “You want to know what


your weakness is?” I took deliberate steps toward Garrett, who stood at the end of the aisle. “Whenever you can’t do something, you get frustrated. If you can’t figure it out, you become obsessive. You welcome a challenge, so you’d never be able to resist the temptations a task presents.” I had gotten close enough to him to see the slight stubble along his jaw. Despite his cold demeanor, Garrett radiated warmth like the sun. Even now I could feel the skin on my cheeks scorching. “You can’t open your heart to anyone,” he countered, “leaving you helpless and exposed.” “And you hate that.” He smirked. “Maybe that’s what I like about you,” he offered. “Maybe that’s what you liked about me.” It still hurt knowing my only friend betrayed me. The instinct to protect him had been so strong when I thought he was blind. I truly had believed he was vulnerable. “You’re right,” I admitted at last. “Humans do pity the weak and pathetic.” Anger was apparent across his face. His hand instantly went to the hilt of his sword. He grasped it tightly in a gloved fist, but he refused to point it at me. “Don’t make me kill you,” Garrett threatened. “I have no remorse, Hazel. If I kill you, it’s over.” “That’s not true.” His body froze. “If you didn’t feel remorse, I’d already be dead.” I watched as Garrett’s muscles loosened until eventually he sighed.

“You don’t have to do this,” I reasoned, tenderly touching his arm. “You can let me and Travis go. You can reunite the faeries and humans and end this war.” He laughed. “You think I’m a fool? If I release Travis, he’s free to take the throne–to take you.” He pulled out his sword. “It won’t end that way.” Garrett jumped, ready for the final blow. My eyes widened, reaching for my own weapon but instead of the sharp pain I had prepared for, Garrett landed smoothly behind me, clashing swords with someone else. “How’s the blind eye treating you?” Travis asked from behind his blade. Garrett grunted, eyes seething with anger. The swords made a scraping noise when they pulled apart and clinked when they smacked together. Travis had the advantage of seeing through both eyes, but Garrett was definitely better trained. Garrett’s emotions –expressed through his powers– shook the entire land, causing the room to tremble. His feelings were creating the perfect earthquake. Earth cracked under my footing, forcing me to stumble backwards. The stone floor was caving in, forming a deep, dark hole in the ground. It was several inches wide and miles deep. When I lost balance, the scream stuck in my throat. I was falling in.

A sword smashed into the earth right above my head and a hand curled around my waist. My eyes watched as rocks tumbled down into the great darkness, then at Garrett who had managed to catch me. He groaned. “Ambitions really are useless.” Travis reached a hand over the cliff side. Garrett lifted me up into the safety of his half brother’s arms. “Last chance,” Travis

murmured. I nodded, turning back to the prince. Garrett panted, furious. “I’ll never be good enough for you, will I?” He struggled on the cliff’s edge, dangling over the side. “I’ll never be better than my lowly half brother, even though I’m supposed to be king.” Stone crumbled around us. I was surprised I wasn’t afraid, even as Garrett’s anger could have easily killed us all. I reached my

hand to help him, but that made the ground tremble violently. “Its okay,” I soothed, tugging on his blond curls. Slowly, the shaking eased. “Your blind eye doesn’t make you weak, Garrett.” “It does,” he spat, refusing to meet my eyes. “Ever since the accident, the rumors spread. No one wanted a weak king; an injured faerie. Who better to take my place than the half breed? “My half brother was an intended affair. His only purpose was to fulfill a peace treaty between humans and faeries. My throne will always be in jeopardy with him around.” “So you feel you have to kill him.” I repeated the words Travis said not too long ago. My eyes flickered back, but Travis was looking down. “I must.” Garrett’s hands trembled, clutching at the cliff side. Then his face got serious. “I didn’t pick you because I needed a bride with faded faerie blood.” His two different colored eyes met mine. “I picked you because you were my best friend.” Tears filled my eyes and enveloped my throat. “Garrett...” He silenced my words with a kiss. It was bittersweet with the taste of my tears. He pulled back, smiled and released his grip. My scream shattered the moment. I watched as the grinning prince fell to the bottom of a dark abyss. He didn’t resurface.

Biography: Shelly Cullen is a high school senior with dreams of becoming a published author. When Shelly’s not out enjoying the changing seasons of her suburban home, she can be found at home with her cat, Squeegy, drawing in her sketchbook or writing her latest story.


Save Me My Dear Devil

Mahmoud Soliman (Alexandria, Egypt)

Sweet exiled angel, hear my sighs, my screams and fall for me...

O, my dear devil. Come for me my eyes and let me see

Bless these sinning hands, heal my cracked soul, and dry my flowing black tears. Make me a demon, take that halo and give me a heart without any fears. Make me your slave, come and take my soul. Come and take my life...

Cross this world through my lungs. And be freed through my breaths...

Come to save me from him. Come through my words, my cutter and my knife.. Hold my hands...give me immortality with one touch. Save me from death

My stray soul wanders in every land...doesn't know, if it's heaven or hell...

They didn't understand me, but you do, my know me very well.

Through the valley of darkness...howling wolves will sing and black bats will dance...

Thousands of shooting stars...many fallen will arrive. he heard me calling. This is trance.

My weak body begins to bones are heart beats as it's my end...

Darkness is inside I scream asking for my redemption, be released, my dear friend.

I'm your take my soul and conquer this world...I give you life and you give me pain..

my lungs beat such a beautiful symphony...I can't breathe, but now you're alive and I'm slain..

Step in his kingdom with your naked burnt feet...spread your wings, declare war and behold his irritation.. Breathe his, my dear...and prepare for the end, prepare for the war prepare for damnation..


White Cloud Gagan Neota (India)

And the song begins. "With Eyes open I walk in a Dream…Enchanted with visions of realities which are not yet seen… Wondering where I am going or what is waiting ahead.. Walking and walking on my way as Mouth Organ continues to play… “ Now the story of AK… When temptation takes over, Virtues fall prey to the passions of the movement. The whole scenario of life revolves around that moment when obsession to a particular thought weighs over the reality of time. On one such day, tormented by an unsatisfied obsession AK was maniacally searching through in his rented apartment. A foreigner in the land of 'Queen', he was tirelessly racking up the stuff, moving furniture around, checking beneath his beddings, racing up and down the stairs, searching from one room to another. His desperate search, his gestures, his movements, and his frequent grunts were the outward signs of his disgust. An urgent cry from his obsessed brain ruthlessly lorded over his senses. From the maddening chaos, he felt a sudden burst of excitement as a desperate thought from past stuck his mind. He hurriedly ran out of his kitchen door to the backyard and ambitiously searched the bin. After few anxious second he triumphantly retrieved a matchbox. So that was it, a common

matchbox; this was what the urge was about. All this rush was for a noble cause of smoking a cancer. AK solemnly removed a cigarette from his pocket and returned to his apartment. Aristocratically, he placed the blessed torch­of­ freedom to his lips and opened the matchbox. Only one stick in the box remained. With pious devotion he braces it with the box. Darn.

resolve his commanding obsession. To make the journey shorter; he decided to cross through a little forest area, which was perfectly safe for humans. As he crossed the woods, he saw some stones scattered about the ground. His mind immediately flashed an idea. He vigorously rubbed the stones against each other. A spark which ignited the birth of whole civilization defied his valiant efforts. Angry at the outcome, he threw the stones into the sky, aiming for someone’s head in heaven. Leaving the failure behind, he continued across the woods. Although the sun was able to break through the shackles of clouds, it was still dark. He paced up his walk. In an instant he stopped, smiled, turned, and took two steps back. There, he picked up a piece of magnifying glass. As he learned in school: Sun’s rays + Glass = produces Fire. Applause! Applause! Applause! This moment of intelligence brought a fresh breeze of enthusiasm to a cold and dull Nothing. He tried again. And then land. Instinctively he picked up again. Failure! The harsh but that piece­of­hope and scurried deserved sentence was declared toward the open highway bridge and meted out; the soulless box of where he felt certain of finding the no­joy was crushed within the maximum effect of grey rays. He angry palms. Determined in his systematically placed the stick resolve, he immediately departed underneath the glass and prayed down the road, clad only in his for miracle. But it didn’t happen. shorts and t­shirt to face the chilly Each failing moment was English afternoon. The shopping confirming the falsity of science store, only two miles away, would and physics. The unfocused rays


only managed to burn the hope inside his heart as the stick stubbornly remained intact. Aghast at the outcome but not relieved of his obsession, he threw the mirror up into gray sky aiming for someone’s head in heaven. He turned to resume his purposeful travel through the woods when he was startled by the sound of a crash. He ran back up the bridge embankment and saw the spilled motorcycle and rider on the other side of the bridge approach. His rush was stopped when AK observed the gushing blood from the mouth and ears of the motionless rider. Life was slowly leaving the body in leathers and collecting in growing pools of dark red. AK searched his brain, demanding to know the next reasonable course of action for someone obviously dying. Nothing. He squeezed his brain again but the result was the same. The man moved to curl up in a fetal position. AK shouted at him but there was not even a flicker of response. What should he do? What was he doing there? AK’s brain answered with another brilliant flash. He searched the man for a cigarette lighter. He rolled the unconscious man about to check all pockets but the prized object was not to be found. His brain alerted him that he was not finished. There was another option. AK touched his cigarette to the hot silencer but the cigarette just defied him. It was not hot

enough. AK remained keenly aware that since morning his nostrils were smoke free and that disgusted him to core. There remained only one thing to do. Another burst of energy, coupled with the energy of desperation, propelled AK through the woods to the shopping store. He feared his

declared his options over. He kicked the steel bar on the door and tapped on the glass in case someone was still inside. No response. The chemicals, endorphins, and neurons in his brain painted a surreal world. This can’t be possible. He had tried stones, glass, robbing a dying man, and now this closed store. His magnificent brain had failed. What did God have against him, asked AK? He straightened up and caught his breath. AK looked about and, defeated, turned to return home on the road. He was out of options and hopeless. As he walked in the chilling wind he saw cars occasionally enter the parking lot of a church with a tall white steeple. A service must be forming. The steeple bell chimed as if to say, “Welcome All. Welcome All.” His mind conjured up remembrances from his youth of family, over dressing, sermons, singing, pictures of Jesus, candles, communion, lungs would burst. He feared the confession booths… stitches in his sides would double Wait! his brain screamed, him over and curtail his travel. AK Candles! pushed on, an obsessed madman. “With eyes open I walk in a Seeing the store in view propelled dream. Enchanted with visions of him to feel as if his body leapt to realities which are not yet seen. the front door. Wondering where I am going or Damn! It was closed and locked. what is waiting ahead.” His body bent over gasping for Walking and walking on my way breath and to relieve the stomach as Mouth Organ continues to stitching pains. His head was play...“ heating up and whirling brain Songs end with the White cloud.


(Under Fifteen Zone) SOCIETY – LIFE Meenakshi Sharma 14 Years Old

(Delhi, India) Life is a damn thing Difficulties have large wings.

Life is full of flirt. Life needs thesaurus Because it is full of frivolous.

Got that bloody hell To me let me spell.

Society is dangerous As they think they're gorgeous.

I just can't understand That life’s old trend.


Let me tell you I'll spell you.

I'm so awesome and cool But I think you're fool.

That life is there But I'm here.

Problems are all around Solutions should be used to round in ground...

Knowledge is always wise Now, it’s always on side.

Love being myself You should Love being yourself.

Present systemof education is bad For that I’m still too sad.

I just want to say "you'll be strong if you think you're, You’ll be weak if you think you're" Raise your voice, don't get fed up. But fight for your right

Full of endangered species Life is full of homo­sapiens. Thief’s in your heart


Novel Section My Hijab And I Jessica Rhodes

(United Kingdom)


My Hijab And I Jessica Rhodes

(United Kingdom) The summary of the novel is as follows: On 23rd January 2013 I decided to undertake a personal challenge and wear the hijab (in England) for a month to see how people reacted to seeing a white girl wearing a hijab (covering scarf on head). As a lot of people expect those who wear hijab to be African or Middle Eastern origin, so to see me wandering a hijab might have been surprised. However, I do wonder why it’s such a surprise­ England is, after all, a free and democratic society and one would think that anybody could wear whatever they want. Follow my journey through the ups, downs and downright weird moments that will make up this month as a Hijabi. All views are my own and do not reflect those of the wider Muslim community, nor do they reflect the views of other people. When most people think of the Muslim community, they think of oppression or religious fanatics. Some of the more open­minded among us might wonder why Muslim women wear the hijab, or what halal meat really means, but not many of us take the step of actually trying to live as a Muslim man or woman. In this story, you can follow my journey as I undertake a month of wearing the hijab, eating halal meat and avoiding alcohol. I am not trying to convert anybody or act as an authority on Islam – I am just documenting my experiences from day to day, from the moment I put the hijab on to the moment I take it off again. It’s not about becoming a Muslim, or trying to silence Muslim women – it’s about World Hijab Day and joining forces with Muslim women to let their voice become as loud as it possibly can. World Hijab Day falls on February 1st this year,

and I was asked by a Muslim friend to try wearing the hijab for a day and writing about my experience of that day. However, I wanted to try it for a month so that I could gauge people’s reactions to a white non­Muslim woman wearing such an obvious symbol of Islam. The reaction has been amazing – thousands of people have ‘liked’ my posts on Facebook and my story has received hundreds of views on Booksie, an online writing website. Many people have reached out and offered me support, both from the Muslim community and from the non­Muslim community. There have naturally been some negative comments, but the overwhelming majority of the comments have been positive and happy. People have even thanked me for speaking out and doing what I am doing, which is amazing – when I started this I didn’t think anybody would care about it, let alone want to talk to me about it! What I am doing has even reached the ears of the BBC, and I am doing a radio interview on the 30th January with the BBC – something I never thought would happen! I’m just a young woman who lives in Norwich, so for the BBC to be interested in my story is an honor indeed. If my story inspires one person to try wearing a hijab for one day, one week or even one month, then that is a tremendous achievement. Muslim women have a strong voice and it is high time we stopped and listened to them because their story is well worth hearing. Islam is a beautiful religion and the Muslim community is a truly tight­knit one. So the next time you see a Muslim person at the bus stop, or in a park, sit down and talk to them. Their story might just surprise you.

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What inspires me to write even if I’m not talented is the individuality of the self that keeps us moving to the unknown, pursuing our ultimate dreams and defying the impossible so we won`t wallow in the valley of melancholic mode that allows denial sprang constantly to our lips. Thus, writing is the sensual wave that shivered down our spin, fusing with our great imagination that would enchant us with the sheer of its power to capture our silence that yearned to such a pen to release its unspoken. For me writing is such a richly allusive tool to display my suppressed feelings that engulfed my body, still waiting for the light to emerge in order to break the uncertainty that tangled my feelings in a knot and jumbled them together till they find the paper that would pervade these feelings through the angel of writing and use them to make the story of life. Areen Abukishek

improving and I needed a mirror to see this progress.

(Amman, Jordan)

Through writing I witness my own developing mind, starting from prose writing. I was not a literate and yet I am not to be at the moment, but I felt a connection with words. My poses were more like a diary in the shape of short stories. However, my way took a new dimension, the world of poetry. It is not the world I have belonged to but the one I did discover within myself. I want to write myself in before forgetting who was there before me. Bella (Lebanon)

The moment I was able to hold the pen, I realized the truth of my existence. I loved the feeling when the colors paint my own thoughts on a blank page. As a child, not over 12 years old, I found writing a journey to escape life. I lived with myself running away hiding in the chapters of my books. Until now, the image altered as the time rolled by. My thoughts were rapidly

It is said that living in the world is like walking in a pitch­dark night. We can't either see what's ahead, or what's behind. Though we can roughly picture the road we have walked, ideas the road smooth, or bumpy? But we can't really see it in our eyes. I, for the past sixteen years, had been walking in the dark all along. I was raised in a small town a few miles away from Wenzhou:

It was not a long time ago when I realized the reason behind taking writing as a part of my life. Now, I can tell a lot about the world I live in but not the world that really exists. I am not living in a hopeless romantic world or a rational one either. I live in my own self, which until now I’m exploring.


a small city in the coastal China. I had been changing schools since I started elementary school. It was not my fault. My parents had to find jobs to feed me. So we moved often. I couldn't remember how many classmates in elementary schools I have had. They all seemed to be fading away like old graffitis being scraped off. I wish I could have had the habit of taking journals so I could remember who was sitting in front of me; who I shared my story with; who I laughed with over some silly jokes. But all I have now are pieces of memories I can't assemble, memories I can't make sense of. When I was eleven I moved with my parents to Hangzhou, a slightly larger and cleaner city. I took the rest two years of elementary school in a small private school. I was average in everything there: average grades, not very athletic, not very popular. I did make a few friends on campus but we drifted apart after the graduation. Then was three years more of middle school life. Sometimes it felt weird to say that childhood was the brightest moment of a person's life, at least I didn't feel it that way. I started getting interested in writing when I was in the first year of high school. It all came from that life­changing episode: My parents had a big fight right after I was enrolled in Hangzhou Foreign

Language School: a prestigious high school having lots of good reputations. It was an issue over infidelity. My mom thought my dad was having an affair with another woman in his office. So she got upset. It was like a chain reaction that caused its damage in a flicking second. My mom started throwing furniture and my dad started banging his head on the wall. And I hid in my bedroom with the door locked. Even so the sound of vases being smashed were clearly audible. One time I was so scared that I snuck out of home and wandered on the street for a whole day like a beggar. Though nobody would really see me as a homeless man, I was homeless deep inside. That crisis lasted as long as two weeks and during that time, my grade in school works plummeted like the water plunging from the top of the Niagara Fall. I couldn't concentrate. I dozed off in class, missing important parts. The exam result was a disaster: I failed in three subjects. I could still picture my dad looking at me in his fatigue, blood足shot eyes. " You are such a disappointment. I should have just kicked you out from my home. "

At that moment I thought I should as well just kill myself. Those days was like a nightmare to me. Even though one year has passed I still get goose足bumped when thinking about that. It would have been impossible for me to pull through that period without the aid of writing. If there's no talking to you, you might as well just talk to yourself. It was at that time I developed the habit of writing: something that has been benefitting me all along, which is funny to see that god always play jokes on you by putting you into the worst situations ever just to let you realize your capacity. I started writing poetry. I would give credit to one of my English tutor for giving me the inspiration on writing. He was an exceptionally tall and young man who dressed somewhat like a hippie. He would seem, in the first glimpse, not a very trustworthy person to do that job. But he was good, exceptionally good just like he was exceptionally tall. Besides, he taught me something that benefitted me ever since: Follow your passion. Passion sometimes means everything. It gives you a sense of fulfillment that nothing


else can compete with. My writing was terrible at the beginning. I could hardly make a coherent line. The poem also hardly made any sense. But as time went by, I started getting better. I started publishing them on the Internet, not for getting popular, but for finding the same voices. It went well as people started getting notices of my writings and commented on them. For a moment I just love to see the notification on my email account popped up saying there were comments on my writings. It was a sense of fulfillment, a sense of satisfaction. I pulled through that two weeks of raging fight between my parents by doing writings. The fight ceded eventually. It was a periodic thing, something that left you wounds that could crack next time it happened. I cannot be sure I can insulate that pain. But writing definitely helped me prevent those wounds from going deeper. It was a mind足filling process, a process that took away the emptiness. So in the end I could say out loud without sorrow: " This's life, and I can live it with pride." John Xu (Hangzhou, China)

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''I was passing through an auction market at Allahabad in India, where I saw heaps of Hindi novels from the golden era of pulp fiction in India, the 80's''. Verma told me about his recent theme of poster color paintings. He was mesmerized to see the bright and vivid colors used in the paintings used for the front and back covers of those novels by some unknown artists.

His paintings inspired me to do a little research about the long forgotten golden era of Hindi pulp fictions, which flourished during the 70’s 80's. There were a lot of things which I came to know about that era, but at the moment I'll only tell you some facts about the paintings used as the front and back covers of these novels. 52 52

80's was the golden period for the pulp fiction publishers all over the northern India but their main center was Meerut. There were several publishers who were publishing innumerable Hindi novels and these novels were being read by the masses. The front and back covers used to be the main attraction of these novels, the attractive covers used to boost the sale of these novels.

These covers were generally made by some relatively unknown but talented artists. They used to make these paintings with the use of oil and poster colors. A number of artists used to make hundreds of such posters every month. The pressure of work made them work day and night, but they were paid poorly by the publishers. An artist told me that the publishers used to pay him Rupees five for a single cover and he could hardly make three to four covers a week, whereas the publishers used to make millions of Rupees out the sale of every novel. 53


The advent of television and internet during the late 90's saw a sharp decline in the sales of these Hindi pulp fictions. The big publishing houses came to close and the artists related to them became jobless and they sought other professions to earn a living. 54 54

Now there are only a few publishers who are still publishing these pulp fictions, one of these publishers told me that they generally use computer generated covers for these novels,there are only a few artists who work as cover artists but the don't sell their paintings for the price we offer, so we prefer to use computer generated covers. 55

The golden era of Hindi pulp fiction is long gone but our magazine artist Mr. R. K. Verma, made several beautiful paintings to glorify that era. I'm presenting some of his paintings in this section. I requested Verma to make some paintings representing the crime and thriller novel covers of that era. He promised me that some day he would come up with that theme too.

Well history repeats itself. Hopefully this era will also repeat itself someday in future and we would be able to see thousands of hand made novel covers again.



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The courageous sacrifice of Damini has illuminated minds of all of us to think about the fundamental rights of woman ,being a human being in ultra sophisticated & globalized society . A new journey of gender sensitization is triumphant.Dr. Ruchida Burman's article is very eye opening....Congratulation to Reflection and its whole team !!!!!!!!!!! Dr. Priyanka Mathur

A powerful supplement and one that should raise awareness about rape and the mis-treatment of women around the world. Very well done. Joe P. Attanasio (New York)

Aredvery beautiful and sad tribute totwodamini...though I have notit all the works but from one or poems I realised it as is.the paintings were talking with readers. one thing I can say that the pillar of our own cottage is in our hand and it is up to us whether to break it ortremendous make it...thanks aconsciousness lot to reflection and the whole team for this step of . If at least a single mind can change after reading this then it would be areflection....tremendous blessing of god to the effort humanreflection....thank being through you very much for sharing..... Smrutikant Nayak (India) Sometime, I begin to wonder how much effort you guys put and how manage these things! Hats Off to the entire team of Reflection W&R mag! Shahid Khan (India) 60

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