The Mail Carrier

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The end of the school day almost coincided with the loud noise the daily mail carrier train would make as it would pass by the town. One of the many trains that passed by the town, the mail carrier was a daily nuisance to the teachers as the railway tracks were laid just opposite the school walls. This sound was Raman’s daily alarm, he would wake up to the sound of the train every day.

 

Today was a new day. He somehow looked forward to the classes. Though it seemed wrong to his gut, all down to his roots, he somehow knew he could face the teachers today. Sanskrit came, and he could correct grammar in all of the verses the teacher wrote on the board. The Gita, the Ramayana and some verses from the famous Meghdootam, he could recite and correct them all. History was cake today. He knew all the dates. The Mughal Empire, the year Sir Thomas Roe attended Jahangir’s court, the year Bahadur Shah Zafar died. He knew it all. Nobody got appreciation from the history teacher, and yet, Raman was the only one in the class the teacher heaped praises upon.

 

English composition was a breeze too. Raman could summarise every chapter of Tom Sawyer with ease. Maybe like Tom, he had rose up to the occasion when he was least expected to. Though Raman was not as mischievous as Tom, but he obviously shared the laziness. Maths was easy too. Linear algebra was easy. He did not even had to lift his hand to compute the value of x. So complicated are our lives, we keep solving equations in Maths, and one problem in our lives, and all hell breaks loose.

 

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

 

But maybe like all good stories, be it Romeo and Juliet or the Iliad, his good story had to end, After all, success is not achieved in a day. It is a path tread only by the hardworking, and more, the certain. The mail carrier had come to Ramapuram, and like all trains, it carried news for the people around it.

 

The train’s shrill whistle shook the townspeople and woke Raman up from his dream.The Maths teacher was just leaving. “What do I do with you Raman? You always sleep through the whole day and I presume, dream all nonsense.”

 

By Neeraj Meghani (Head Editor, Fiction)

No Homo

I have never in my life felt uncomfortable when I’ve overheard or have been told of someone loving someone. Sorry, someone of the same gender loving someone of the same gender. I would feel so confused, feel a hundred questions pop up in my head when I saw a face flinch at the idea of what is simply a human loving another human. As I got older, I saw my friends “experiment”. I saw them question themselves, question their idea of loving, I saw them destroyed. I was confused. Even all grown up, I feel confused when I see them destroyed at the idea that they might be attracted to the same gender they are. I understand the issues and problems but I still fail to understand why those issues and problems are present.

I fail to understand why mom and dad are going to be disappointed, what their neighbours and relatives would think of them, how their classmates are going to laugh at them. No, I don’t believe that. I believe parents will understand. I believe they will accept, for they must accept their child, they must love them more than their sexuality. We’re entering a generation of generations changing. I have seen some absolutely naïve, terrible people, but I do believe we can over power them and change their attitude towards many issues like this one. I believe we can, being the same species take our friends’ hands and walk them through this part of discovering life with our chin ups and smiles on all of our faces. And I do believe, it is OKAY to kiss, hold hands and hug beyond behind closed doors and dark alleys. I so strongly believe it is okay-
No, awesome, to have two dads or two moms.
Have you ever sat down, thought about what you believed in? Questioned what you believed in?

I fail to understand bullies and their inhumane acts of pulling people down about things that are so normal, should be normal, at least. I want to say that the world will soon be better and a day in the near future everyone is going to accept homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, whatever you want to call it or be. But I can’t help but think that a lot of us are going backwards. There are moments of hope, small moments.

I also fail to understand why “coming out” must be a thing. If we want our sexualities and choice of type-of-human-I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with to be normal? The whole concept of coming out to your peers, parents, whoever, should be dead and buried. Of course, when you are being hit on by a sex you have absolutely no sense of attraction to, you can be like “hey, hold up”
I loved the whole beautiful phase of influencers releasing their coming out videos for the world to see, but I don’t know how I’d feel if I saw one at this point of time and world. I want it to be normal for my girl friends to come to me and say “I met a girl” or my guy friends to say “I met a guy” without a prior warning of “I’m attracted to the same sex”.

I want it to be absolutely normal, and I find it absolutely obscene that we have to let the law dictate to us, our right to love. I find it obscene that we have to fight for something like that.

I have love and respect for everyone who has to offer love and respect. Why does it matter where that love goes? Love goes everywhere.

 

By Aayushi Khanna (Non-fiction)

Terrorism Has Neither Religion Nor Nationality

The world was sleeping in peace, millions of students from all over the world were going to various educational institutions to gain the power of knowledge, people were working hard to live a decent life, everything was just normal and perfect until twilight stuck the world, clouds of tears, pain and grief covering up the bright glowing sun of peace and humanity. Indeed it was one of the gloomiest days in the history of mankind but still not enough to gain the attention of the world, peace makers and global leaders; still not enough to mark a day of struggle to save humanity and peace. The attack was on Alppeno. The city that was once declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO is now shattered into pieces, unidentifiable, broken, devastated and helplessly witnessing its children cry tears of blood and undergo the deep grief of separation.

It’s sad how people from all over the world choose to ignore this act of terrorism by stating that it is an internal matter of Syria and leaving the country alone in this time of grief and pain. People just choose to avert their eyes by declaring it as the consequences of the past deeds of the country, mostly blaming Islam and the Muslims for all the terrorism. But it’s a shame on the entire human race to do so, shame on our consciousness, and on our mindset, our humanity, shame on ourselves as individuals and the children of god. It’s a real disappointment when people from all over the world hold the entire Islamic community responsible for this entire incident rather that sympathising towards them for losing thousands and lakhs of their children, if we can’t stand with them then we also have no right to stand against them.

There is an extremely unfair and unreasonable behavioural pattern shown by the human race when they decide to mourn for the same disaster happening in the western part of the world , when the so called developed nations of the world undergo the devastation and terror but they choose to avert their eyes and put a lid over the same kind of incident taking place in a developing economy or those countries which are believed to give shelter to terror, despite the truth being that they are the ones fearing and bearing it the most. To fight the battle against the oppression of terror and to attain the final objective of establishing peace all over the world .the world needs to get united, it needs to overcome the diverse nature of different communities, it needs to believe in humanity and we need to feel the same for every disaster that might happen in any part of the world, our response and stance should remain unchanged and firm.

By Yamika Khanna (Non-fiction)

 

Let The Viewers Decide

Much was made of the embargo surrounding the release of the movie Lipstick Under my Burkha, or the 2016 release Udta Punjab, a movie that highlighted the drug problem in the state. The movies ran into trouble with the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) over their title, content and references, and much of the criticism was directed at CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, and understandably so, for he has in all his public appearances appeared incompetent, out of touch with the times and constantly trying to prove his loyalty to those who appointed him.

     However, the controversy around the two movies goes beyond just one man’s shenanigans. It is the manifestation of a state that empowers itself unreasonably in the good name of public interest. This imposition of choice is something prevalent not just in the Censor Board but also in a plethora of Government and Government-affiliated institutions, in dictating what books to read, (banning Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses), borderline ludicrous banning of websites (the likes of which included sports news website Bleacher Report for reasons hard to comprehend) and questioning the serving of non-vegetarian food in IITs (in a letter forwarded to the Ministry of HRD). Even the judiciary, albeit not as frequently due to its visible penchant for liberalism, has been guilty of this. It has expressed a view which has been echoed by a myriad of Censor Boards and governments- films are for the masses, and the masses aren’t yet evolved enough to be exposed to violence, obscenity and now, even the truth.

     In half-hearted attempts to defend this repressive action, we have perhaps been shortsighted, for this is not about us just as viewers, but our autonomy as free thinking citizens of a democratic nation being eroded by actions which the Censor Boards openly misuse, courts sometimes turn a blind eye to and we have surreptitiously acquiesced to.

 

    True artists hold a mirror to society. That, at times, becomes an uncomfortable truth for those in power. The CBFC’s actions are akin to a paranoia stricken organization trying to suppress the truth, blacken that mirror. Fortunately, artists in our country have been resilient to this, as has been seen in this case by Lipstick Under My Burkha’s Alankrita Srivastava, Udta Punjab’s filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, or a prominent example before that of Hansal Mehta standing by his film Aligarh. However, this suppression is susceptible to backfiring, for the more the artists are suppressed, the more they’d feel the need to express freely. The more their work would speak the language of defiance.

      The Censor Board faced flak in 2015 for its ludicrous cuts suggested in the Daniel Craig starrer Spectre, but with the abovementioned examples, a whole new level of ignorance was displayed. It is a different matter if the Board wants to remove a violent scene, or a dialogue which it may feel could cause communal unrest, but it is an entirely different matter if they want to censor reality itself.

        Lipstick Under My Burkha is a groundbreaking film, for it dared to challenge norms and preconceptions, something not seen so often in Indian cinema. With Udta Punjab, if reports and data available are anything to go by, drug addiction is a genuine problem in the state, one which has taken multiple lives and destroyed multiple families. Staying aloof from reality and maintaining an ostrich like approach where one believes nothing is wrong, is certainly not going to help in solving any problem. Having people be made aware about the predicament that’s been faced and letting them develop an informed and aware opinion on the topic, might just.        

By Kushagra Singh (Non-fiction)

You.

 

As my eyes crack open with the first ray of sunlight,

My hands, they reach for your frame.

And they caress you and touch you all over,

And every morn’ it’s the same.

 

With the tips of my fingers against your naked skin,

I often feel your latent heat.

And I know it hasn’t been so long,

But without you, my days are incomplete.

 

My eyes reflect the glow of your face,

Numerous times throughout the day.

And for all my questions, you have the answers,

You have something or the other to say.

 

You’ve seen the skeletons in my closet,

And there is no other, who knows as much or more.

You know my darkest secrets, my guilty pleasures,

What I hate, what I adore.

 

My companion, a roommate,

You are my chaperone.

My comrade, a friend,

My mobile phone.

 

By Rohan Sahni (Head Editor, Poetry)

The Stranger

There were no thoughts in my head as I ran. I could barely see but I just had to run ahead and hide somewhere. The stranger was here. And he was after me. I was running towards a huge building which looked like a church but I wasn’t sure. I looked back but couldn’t see him so I decided to hide and settle down for sometime. I ran to the side of that building and climbed up a tree and hid in between the branches. My vision was returning but my breath was still gone. I looked as far down the street as I could but I couldn’t see him so I decided to try and make myself as comfortable as possible, and figure out how it all led to where I was right now.

 

I’d first seen him in my dreams about 2 years ago. He was standing on a cliff, looking up at the stars. Each night he’d look down, stare at me and walk a few steps away from his cliff, towards where I stood at the shore. There was something strangely familiar in the strangers face, but I’d still wake up sweating and terrified to the core. However, I never really gave it much thought and went back to sleep wondering why I have the same dream each night, and wanting to meet the man. That was a mistake.

 

Last week he was within 10 feet of me. I tried to run but I couldn’t move. He smiled at me and I understood that he wanted to kill me.

 

Yesterday he’d come right upto me. With murderous eyes and a chilling smile he pointed towards my feet. I woke up as soon as I looked down. I walked to my window to get some fresh air and saw him standing right across the street staring at me. The man in my dreams had become a reality.

 

I was pulled out of my reverie as I saw a woman walking into the building on my right. Which, as I peered inside the windows, was a church as I’d previously thought. She solemnly walked and sat down in the corner of the first pew. There was something alluring about her that I couldn’t quite place my finger upon. She wasn’t beautiful, a rather plain Jane in fact, but something about her expression made me forget about the dangerous situation I was in and just look at her and wonder. She stood up abruptly, and screamed. It was a scream of a woman who’d long since forgotten how to live and was simply enduring the hardships life threw at her. A scream full of frustration, directed at people all around her, but mostly at herself. She stopped screaming and fell to her feet. I could see her shoulders shaking so I assumed that she was crying, but I had a feeling that she was laughing.

 

I’d never given much thought to people around me, and watching this woman was an overwhelming feeling. She made me realise that her life was as much as, if not more, complex and deranged as mine. I’d forgotten all about my familiar stranger who’d somehow become an actuality. With a jerk, I looked at the far end of the street and saw him standing there in the middle of the road and looking at me right through the branches. The longer I stared at that chilling smirk plastered on his face, the more numb I became with fear. I jumped off the tree and ran straight. Away from him, and away from her. I ran with a feeling that over time, I would come to know this darkness and fear, and maybe I’d even call them my companions.

 

By Sonam Sharma (Fiction)

It is a Funny Story

How artistic we become with our hearts broken. And that is the story of my life.

Entangled in my thoughts, I find it funny how we are stuck in love. Moving, yet still.

All I am left with is blue ink and bluer papers, and hues far too dark. Stains of memories cherished on sheets and blurred lines crossing paths.

My life is but a metaphor for bandages and scratched crevices. A simile, you can call it for love lost but never found.

Oh, I no longer write for myself. It’s for thee I grieve and long. Maybe, I seek a greater perhaps but for now the time prolongs.

Our story never started to end and that is that, I shall not say any further.

My veins are etched with ink stains and my fingers with blood, how awful it is for me to romanticize red mixed with blue. For purple scars don’t heal, just disappear through and through.

My undying thirst for love cannot be gratified for I have epitomized it to be something beyond my reach. So with my words I lose myself. And with every alphabet, I am lost. Maybe, I was meant to be my own person. But, that only time can tell if I am my lost jigsaw puzzle; waiting to be fixed and completed.

 

By Saumya Rastogi (Fiction)

The Sea and My Lover

Sometimes I look into my lover’s eyes

and I find the seas in him.

He’s got mysteries

as deep as the salty water itself

behind those eyelids.

 

His glare brings back

memories of the storms he’s survived

and I often find myself

floating on those sparkling eyes,

sometimes even trapped at the bottom.

 

And every time I look at him

I drown in his sea of stars

like a sailor greeting death.

He is my sea, and I am his sunken ship,

slowly dissolving into him to be lost forever.

 

My lover is the sea and the sea is my lover.

 

By Ashna Mathur (Poetry)

Beyond The Veil

You ever wonder how astonishing it is that in between so many people present,

From nowhere comes the person,

Like a star after a dark cloud and thunders of nights,

Giving you one single reason to stay and make those thousand unreasonable assumptions…

You are smiling at 2PM on a busy Monday afternoon staring  at your computer screen with deadlines pending, just thinking about how their nose crinkle when they laugh.

I wonder how easily they leave again,

Leave us to cry weep and scream.

They do ever wonder, about the parts and piece of my deserted souls they borrowed.

They owe me a lot more than they believe.

 

I wonder where all those people went, whom I spent my childhood with,

My mum said they are not here, they are unreal.

Some say it’s my loneliness speaking, some my fiction writer inside,

But I still see them right next to me.

Staring, crying and laughing as I tip tap the keyboard

Are they just imaginary or they are scared of you?

 

From all the pain present in this world

You ever wonder how so many particles comes together to make an atom.

Which are present in our skin right now.

Playing hide and seek like the noisy kids on the road.

Moving across, flying and leaping.

Calling the same flesh home, which you puncture with needles, cut and throw around like confetti.

 

Or you ever wonder that if we start counting each heartbreak and pain of every life present in this moment

Won’t this planet explode searching for closure to handle them?

 

Why we never wonder that when we are fast asleep

What If our souls get out of this body,

This body where they are comfortably sync

And just to go around and wander to find darkness and mysteries.

 What if they meet with other souls to grieve in the caskets,

Or they go in the parallel universe to feel the same moments again on repeat.

And what if they are about to unite with the love of your life,

But you open your eyes at the same moment.

 

We wonder that what will happen if we die

But don’t we ever think

Why did we become this.

After so many deaths,

Is this our destiny?

Or are we trapped?

 

Why don’t we wonder that between money, fame and race,

There are people who decease every midnight

So how many coffins do they even hold inside the fragile soul?

They are living with graveyards growing in them.

Isn’t that scary?

 

We wonder about enhancing beauty

Being fair, being bright.

Being the next Instagram perfect profile.

But why don’t we wonder of this girl, who every time picked that dead flower between the fresh dandelions,

Why she kept all those dead dry petals in her basket?

Did she want to make them alive with some black magic?

Or she just wanted to save food for bees

She was a witch, or kindness is so rare to believe ?

 

Why don’t we wonder about the dreams we forget,

Is this just our mind?

Or the universe kept some secrets inside our head,

We wonder about everything don’t we?

 

But we never wonder why we wonder, at the first place.

 

By Riya Sharma (Fiction)

Unheard

I scream unheard
I give signals unseen
I am here unaware.

The Tweets of the cuckoo’s indistinct song,

Hushed Vibrations are sung.
Nature’s peace in which all senses collapse
Become a show with words muffled.

I passed the test but didn’t,
I ran the race but walked,
I cried but remained queit ,
I was quoted.

Maybe they walk beside us
Those we lost in time
But unseen and unheard
We feel their aura
We think absurd
Actions speak louder than words.

By Ansh Sethi (Poetry)