poem

Break

As the innumerable specs of dust

Adorns the dark walls of the sky

Countless the bubbles dancing, desperate 

To fly away from the water — ferocious

The scatter of ants buzzing away

As you drop into their equilibrium

The sandy rocks that roll down in haste

From atop the bite into the cookie

The blot of resilient colour in water 

Dismembered; piercing into molecules

The one white that paves light 

Torn apart to a band of seven 

Lying sharp, filled with glistens

From the past that as you step; slices 

Into you, leaving stained footprints

My heart that bleeds sugary syrup

Bite into the jalebi’s orange circles

Every step ahead that pulls you back 

The aroma that refuses to exit nose

Pictures dance past you — out of reach

The decibles that echo through ears

Shattering the bloody glass walls, weak

What keeps me alive. Today. 

Illustrations by Sitara VS ©
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poem

Dark

As light flees fast, past,

Rushes to our cover, envelope.

Plunge in the black sea, for the light 

At the end of its smooth horizons.

The color that ceased to live on,

To reflect the brightness in iris.

The one that disagrees with all —

Nevertheless brings out best in them;

Brings out the beauty in you.

The flakes of light against this despised one

Or the silent tide we yearn to drown?

Picture by Neha Menon ©
short story

Interstellar Love

The galaxy was at unrest. The situation was such that Soorya and Chandra had to join forces, which was only possible during dusk or dawn. Together, they managed to banish the meteorite from the galaxy ; but Soorya was hurt.

Aysha was strength in beauty. She emanated everything she believed in. Whispers of her footprints echoed through the Palace of The Night. She left behind silver wisps as she twirled around the Palace —her home — and her long white hair obeyed accordingly.

A hurt Soorya had been resting in the Palace, when he woke up to the twinkling of laughter. That was the first time he saw her, the Moon Goddess; daughter of Chandra. Night was just about to set in. 

It was her birthday, and she was her brightest self. Fireflies adorned her hair, and he found her happiness empowering. She was the only one immune to the effects of night and day; and she created a temporary shield for Soorya  to protect him from the night – he belonged to the day.

That night his mind was in a storm — he could not rest. She sparkled in his eyes, and stirred his heart. The following dawn, he left to rise.

They met again often, and their lives instantly fell into place. She found a reassuring warmth in him, and she brought about a cool- headedness in him. They met at dawns and dusks, away from the celestial responsibilities and disturbances. They would talk effortlessly on everything and anything beyond bounds, but it was never enough. Then on a day when lightning illuminated the ambience, and the rain showered on them, they confessed their love to each other. 

Their love could no more be a secret ; Chandra was unhappy. He and his daughter belonged to the night, and Soorya belonged to the day. He was convinced that this union was a bad idea, almost forbidden. Aysha did not oppose her father, but she stated clearly that she could not imagine her life with anybody but Soorya.

After quite a delay, Chandra finally gave in. The two got married at a grand ceremony, and that was probably the best day of their lives. They were the happiest that day. 

Lightyears passed by, and their lives got busy — Soorya with his work, and Aysha with her heavenly chores. The dynamics of their relationship changed —it had become quiet, and they had fallen into a routine. Dates to the garden went down, and they often ran out of things to talk of. Or perhaps they were not required to speak up, they knew each other well. But with new founded leisure, Aysha found herself unimportant to the love of her life.

As time passed, the insecurities took a toll on her, she formed cracks over her body. This was a time when there was much turmoil around, and Soorya went away to protect the galaxy, fighting alongside Chandra. The fear of losing him made her realise that she still loved him the same, and perhaps even more. She had only got so used to him that her love had become latent, but it had never gone away. But this worry did much more harm to her.

The war had been over, and Soorya rushed back to Aysha. He held her in tight embrace the moment he saw her. She was overwhelmed by this gesture, assured that the warmth and coolness in their relationship was very much alive.

But by the time Soorya noticed her cracks, it was too late. He woke up to loud gasps. She lay near him— all ashened, shining through her cracks. The light in her eyes had shrunk, and her hair no longer had wisps. He held her face in his hands, looking into her eyes : “You dare not leave me.”

Tearful, she gave him a weak twinkling smile.

“I had to pay a huge price for rediscovering the magic I thought we had lost. Change is inevitable, but perhaps it does not mean love has to dissappear. You have to let me go.”

He watched as she disintegrated into shards, and slowly disappeared.

Day or night, she was always with him— though she was only visible in the night sky.

Illustration (and featured image) :
Baba Yaga.

poem

Waiting for the End

*This poem is dedicated to Linkin Park — for all those strongly worded songs that made my life survivable. There are obvious references to several song titles (including the title of the poem), with no intentions of violating copyrights.

That brown evening I found my soul,

Met my mind, that often turned Numb  .

Beyond, drifted off higher than

Every one of our Hands Held High.

Leading all of our battles,

But perhaps the toughest was within….

The sphere will say, all day

Never knows to be In Pieces;

The cracks, the bits, the shards —

What it took for this Castle Of Glass.

So Leave Out All The Rest, for

Who shall decide what is best? 

Memory, name and body diffuse in air.

Forever it resonates the voice,

That will agitate more ripples

Through this vast New Divide.

Happiness, and inner peace

Never so easy In The End;

In this dark wordplay with life

A Light That Never Comes.

 

Linkin Park (http://pianinoty.com) | Featured Image: LP Twitter
adventure, College, description, travel

Footwear, Kitchen and Ropes 

Somewhere in the middle of the 30 feet descent, I walked backwards, araam se, like I do every once in a while. Only I was hanging on a rope. My legs stood firm like they had never been – for once they decided to listen to me. But only a few minutes ago, they had been quite an oxymoron – on vibrate mode.

Outbound Training Programme it was called, and true to its name, it was outside bounds. From rock climbing and rappelling, to crawling under rocks, it was as exciting as it was scary – one slip of the foot, and you could end up in an AC room for a decided amount of time – in a hospital.

The climb left me quite breathless – I don’t even bother to climb stairs. Sheeet, how it made me wish I had climbed all those floors in my apartment. The beauty of the place — right in the lap of nature – was that if you stayed still, everything around you came alive. Everything that you had assumed to be still, is not so anymore.

But at the top, everything around me was still, except for my own body, with my heart gasping for breath. So loudly that I could hear it everywhere– including my arms and legs. Here, one of the instructors divided the eight teams into two large ones: Spartans and Warriors. After a few breathing exercises, and a few games out there, we decided to return.

Games ©NM

Now if anybody ever thought that climbing down was easier, I urge you to think again. The hill, combined with the Earth’ gravitational force, has only and only one aim in their lives – to pull you down; literally. At one point, we had to slide down a bit. How I wish they had actually made a semi cylindrical depression, with bars to hold on to. But this was more of strategic sliding. You had to slowly almost sit and crawl, sitting in the tiny craters so as to not slip. But unfortunately, my body weight easily pulled me down, and if those two guys had not been standing at the end of it, I am sure I would have effortlessly made it to my destination in lightning speed.

This was followed by walking on a slope — through it. The only thing around were bundles of lemon grass; comfortably rooted, sitting like fountains, laughing at us while we struggled to get a grip. And right after this, was a big rock – and we were to go under it. I began contemplating whether I will fit in there at all. Finally I did manage to fit in — barely. I crawled out of it as fast as I could, during which I wondered if anybody would know if something or somebody had died in there. Once out, one of my teammates apologised for having scrapped my bag a little – the only two girls in our seven member team decided they wanted to carry their bags; and we all took turns carrying them (only two bags were allowed per team). That poor guy did not realise I was too happy that we all had managed to get out of that tiny cave in one piece.

In spite of having such co-operative and supportive classmates, as well instructors, I had been carrying all this while the one most uncooperative thing with me — or rather I should say wearing them: my shoes. The soulless creature’s soles were coming off. Sadly, irrespective of whether the footwear I am wearing belongs to me or not, they are most rebellious – this definitely was not the first time this had happened.

Three years ago, in the last year of schooling, I was on a study tour with my class. A hosteller at that time, for some reason that I don’t remember now, I ended up borrowing somebody’s chappal. We had stopped somewhere near a beach, in the nattucha veil (burning hot afternoon). The chappal decided to die on me; and since the only support in it had fallen apart, I had no option but to walk barefoot. On the sand. Till the bus.

At a point in the descent, he asked us to stand with fellow Spartans and Warriors. He then asked us to find our way back to the kitchen. A beta version of human GPS managed to find another stone underpass. Thankfully, it was more spacious than the previous one. It did not really matter to me, as long as it took me to the kitchen.

The kitchen. (http://gurufreddyacademy.org)

After a satisfying meal, we all chatted for a while. None of us really had any idea what they had planned for us. All I wanted was a nice spot under a tree and a good nap. An instrumental version of the All India Radio whistled away, while we relaxed. And then two instructors, went into a room for equipment. Equipment??

I dragged myself, following others to another part of the campus, where military and police recruits trained. While others ran and jumped through the first obstacle, which looked like stepping stones on land, I preferred walking through it. Then there was one where slabs of stone projected off a wall: you had to climb through a side and get down the other. I don’t really recall how, but I managed to climb up, after which I was stuck. The instructor suggested I watch somebody else do it, and I agreed. I called out to a girl and warned her that I was already up there — hence it was not a good idea to climb up. I did manage to turn around and keep my foot on one of the projections, but after that I could not see anything except for the huge slab I was holding on to. I climbed down a little, and then jumped. The instructor said I was lucky to not have been hurt by a pointy slab.

It seemed wiser for me to simply stare at the rest of the obstacle course, while a few others tried some out. From there, we were taken to the cliff, or rather a 30 feet rock, where the Spartans were climbing down, with ropes and harnesses. Warriors had barely begun, when it started raining, and we were asked to return. I walked around in my Sherlock Holmes raincoat, even though the rain stopped the moment I had put it on. I had to consider the effort I had taken to put it on. Five minutes later, we were called back, as the weather seemed to have improved.

Heights of cracking jokes. ©NM

I sat down, looking at others climb down, and another who stood at the bottom to help them. Though, I was extremely tempted to try it, I did not trust my shoes at all. My classmates encouraged me to try it out nevertheless, and one of the instructors (who was sitting with us) reassured me the shoes were not a problem. Since the shoe was still in one piece – somewhat, I decided to go ahead anyways. One of my other classmates, also changed her decision: she decided to give it a try.

I knew that walking down backwards was not the challenge, it was to begin smoothly from the edge of the cliff. And that was the only thing that worried me. I collected the harness and gloves, and climbed up. Here, I almost lost my way— which I had suspected I would — but managed to climb up. It was then that I realised that it was less spacious than it seemed from down there. Three of us were waiting for our turn, two instructors were giving a fourth instructions, and there was another who clicked pictures.

I tried to stand still, so I would not tumble down. Looking around, or looking down was not a good idea, because this cliff was on top of a highly elevated landmass. As I waited for my turn, one of my classmates started thinking out loud, “What if I leave this hand?” I begged him to shut up. As he climbed two steps down, he paused to ask, “Are you not clicking pictures?” The other girl decided to go back, but nevertheless she did not move. And then, one of the instructors told her, “There is only one way down from here.”

I was initially standing so still, that I could barely move. I walked towards the edge, and one of the instructors spoke to me in Malayalam, while the other tightened the straps of the harness. For the first time, my knees were dancing — even though I didn’t ask them to. As if to show one last sign of rebellion, my shoelace came apart. I thought it could go die, I was not going to tie it.

Just hanging in there. ©NM

I managed to begin smoothly, holding on to the ropes real tight. As I climbed down, I felt as if I were riding my office chair in reverse, back home – which I do when I am too lazy to get up and open my door.

 

poem

Hold My Hand


Where the sky is so magnificently blue

Where nothing is untrue

The earth is looking so green

Here, I have never been

Beautiful flowers that decorate

I promise I will not be late

Because I know you are waiting for me

Under the shade of the largest tree

Come, hold my hand

As we walk across this land

Feeling the earth on our feet

Smelling the flowers so sweet

Watching the golden sphere in the air

The wind blowing our hair

We sit near the sparkling lake

And you say,”for God’s sake”

When I spill water on you

Bt then yo do the same too

We spend our day talking and laughing

Immersed in our past, remembering

But all of this will have to wait

As time stands between us, a huge gate

The day it’ll open is yet to arrive

And till then, without you, I’ll have to survive

We bonded as time passed by

Now you are bidding me goodbye

Life has made us apart

But it cannot stop you from residing in my heart

My love for you shall never flicker

Even if my life from now on turns bitter

No matter how many years away

I’ll keep waiting for that day 

©NM

short story

The Emotional Gene

​In a mad world, only the mad are sane. And into a highly advanced, no nonsense, seriously mad world Mo was born. She was seven when she first displayed that she was not quite normal. The majority say she is cursed, and a minority claims she is gifted. She was not sure of anything, until she had been sent to the Reset Centre. There she had had a late realisation: that this war had come to a climax.

She remembered that day very well, eleven years ago how she had failed miserably in her practical telekinesis class. Her blood pressure was going haywire, and she could not speak. She had cried out loud that day. That was the first time she had displayed her defect. As she grew up, the defects increased, and after her seventh public display of defect, the Social Affairs Court had taken matters into their hands. 

Homo sapiens did manage to achieve a lot: they found a way to overcome global warning, they got rid of all the various currencies and came up with Solars and Lunars. Money was no longer the priority, it was just a means to maintain social and economic stability. Humans even managed to make water, and other resources which had been categorised non-renewable years ago. But the most important ‘development’ was that they had managed to upgrade their brains.  From Homo sapiens they became Home cogno sapiens. 

They had finally become a superior race, but in this long journey they had sacrificed a lot. A lot of people lost their lives, and the world population came down tremendously. Earth – or what was left of it – was dying. Humans had to sacrifice life – the joy of life. They no longer experienced or expressed emotions. And that is where Mo went wrong, or rather her DNA.

Mo was certainly not the first case to have reported display of emotions. One was only allowed ‘the first cry’ at birth, as it enabled the baby to take in gulps of oxygen. But after that, there were machines to assist the baby in everything. The whole idea was still under strict research, but the scientists believe that it is due to the absence of a mutated gene. Usually, genetic disorders are due to the presence of a mutation, but in this case, the gene was similar to the ones found in Homo sapiens. This led to decreased cognitive abilities, and also emotions. The scientists were unable to find out why there was a negative mutation (where the mutation takes you backwards in the chronology of evolution.).  Thus, this special genetic disorder was named Inferiority Cognition Disorder and the gene was named The Inferior Gene. 

Thus, people with the gene is often considered genetically inferior. There are people who believe that the gene is in fact a gift; that nature is trying to teach humans something they have long forgotten in this race for success. These people are mostly scientific and psychosocial historians, who have studied Homo sapiens in detail. They, in spite of being genetically advanced, are experimenting with emotions. 

A Reset Centre is where people who suffer from this disorder is sent to be rectified. It is a huge white building where every corridor leads you to another, walls after walls. Seven. That was the ultimatum. There were people who tried to hide the disorder, but then emotions became complex as one grew – and thus more difficult to hide too. If the disorder was not treated privately, then the Social Courts Affairs would take matters into its own hands. They wanted a perfect uniform society of advanced cognition.

Mo had experienced her seventh attack on her seventeenth birthday. It was similar to her first, but much worse. Her parents were both engineers, busy building the city. They were not at all bothered about their only daughter, or that she was suffering from the disorder. They did not show up for her birthday either, and she broke down in front of her guests. It was mixture of anger, sorrow, loneliness and failure. She didn’t know what exactly the emotion was, but it was burning her heart. 

All her life, she believed what the society told her: she was cursed, genetically inferior, a major failure for her family genealogy. Her parents regret the genes they passed down. They soon had another child, a boy, when she was nine. She hardly saw him, they kept him away from her. But, at the Reset Home, she came across so many others like her, and asked herself why should it be abnormal at all?  There were various exercises meant to help upgrade their mental abilities. And after one year at the centre, she was at peace with the whole controversy.

One day, after one of the Reset sessions, she heard voices from behind the door marked ‘RESEARCH’. Entry was limited to staff, mostly scientists who were using the centre’s data to research further into the issue, and to try and avoid such a genetic combination in the future. You could rectify this genetic error, but only if you are able to detect it within the first trimester. This gene, for reasons unknown, could not be detected at such an early stage. The rate at which the ‘defects’ were infecting the population was increasing. Representatives from all over the world decided that this was unhealthy, and had to be cured soon.

But what made Mo stop in front of that door were the voices, and that particular noise which she was unable to comprehend. One of the voice is …. Speaking fast, and in a rude tone. Yes, he sounds angry. And the girl… is crying.. no almost crying. Sob..sobb..sobbing? yes, sounds like that. That’s weird, I thought we were not allowed into the room, wondered Mo. Just then the man walked out the door, almost bumping into Mo. She ran away before he could shout at her, but not before she saw that the girl was in fact one of the researchers.
The centre was divided into various wings (A, B, C, D etc), and they were identified by their numbers, and not names. Mo was G7. Once back in G wing, she shared her experience with her mates. They pondered over it for a while. Finally, G16 asked what the argument had been about. 

“Well, I couldn’t make much sense of it, but it sounded like one of their experiments had gone wrong, and the man was furious.” she replied.

And then, all of a sudden everybody began talking at once, wondering what could have gone wrong. But Mo, was confused. She silenced her mates, and said, “We all know that normal human beings can  feel only one thing – and that is a sense of dissatisfaction or disappointment. Nothing more than that. But we can. And that is why we are here. The important question here is what went so wrong that the man was so angry? That the women was sobbing? What went so wrong that they became like us?”

There was a moment silent realisation, when the dinner bell rang. It was decided they would try to gather as much information possible during dinner. And the next step would be decided afterwards. 

After dinner, they gathered again to discuss what might have happened. There had been rumours that extreme and irreversible defects were often experimented on for research purposes. But nothing more than that. Finally, G20 beckoned everybody to be quiet, and shared what she had overheard. 

She had not made much sense of it, most of it was barely audible. But an experiment had gone terribly wrong, it was meant to ‘switch off’ the gene that was responsible for emotions. She was not sure what exactly went wrong, but it was very contagious, since the rest of the staff were asked to take precautions. Mo knew she was almost there, just one last piece of the puzzle was missing. And she had made up her mind to get to the bottom of it.

The lab was full of workers, but it was not the same after what had happened. Lab Workers 271 and 165 had been put into quarantine. Anybody could be next, and the workaholic air had transformed into one of stress and confusion. Everybody was trying to act normal, to not express anything. But things had gone beyond their control, and their fears were confirmed when LW119 collapsed, his face in his hands, tears rolling down his cheek. One more down. 

Mo was hovering over the Q wing, as she wanted answers. She had heard that it was once used as a quarantine, but she had only recently heard that the members had been shifted to a different wing, so as to use the wing as a quarantine –for special cases. Cases that nobody really knew. She was there to find out more. But she was hardly even let into the wing. She told the staff on duty that she was there to meet her friend Q2, but they merely informed her that the wing had been evacuated. She tried to argue with them so as to try and peek into the wing, but all she could see was that there were three members – 2 males and a female. And then, suddenly, another scientist came up and pulled the staff aside. The staff motioned her to leave, and she nodded her head in obedience. But not before peeking into the wing one last time.

Back in her wing, her mates were eagerly waiting for her to share what she had seen. But Mo was not sure what to make of it. She had seen the same woman, the one who had been crying in the lab. She was also pretty sure that the man who had shouted at the woman was also in the same wing. And also another ‘defect’ was to be added to the wing. She had heard the scientist whisper, one more bed required. 

They all gathered later, after dinner, to discuss the day’s findings. G10 suspected alien invasion, G21 suspected a scam. Most of them were clueless, and finally G9 said something sensible: some sort of contagious disease had broken out, that were turning normal people into defects. But Mo had a better theory. 

What if the experiment had backfired? That was the only sensible theory that she could come up with. What if the experiment that was supposed to ‘switch off’ the gene in defects, had completely backfired. And what if that experiment was ‘switching on’ the gene in normal people?

G9 gasped, “That means…”

“Yes, that means everything we were told were wrong. Everybody must have the gene in them by birth, only ours is active.” said Mo.

The Head of Research had was under a lot of criticism, he was almost fired 5 minutes ago. Who the hell was responsible for that disaster? You should not have measured emotion more than you can handle, the subject was obviously overwhelmed. The public should not know of the radiations that were emitted by the subject during the disaster. This was what the President had to say. 

The gene had always existed, but humans had forgotten to use it. As a result, it had become quite redundant. The effort had always been to remove the gene from the coming generations completely- as per the unanimous decision by the world leaders. But what they did not want to face was the fact that the gene was turned on at least once in everybody’s life. Only the ones with no control whatsoever were called defects. And the lifestyle was such that the gene only become active three or four years after birth – which was why you could never detect it within the first trimester. The whole ‘defect program’ was a scam, a lie. The world leaders believed that emotions could hamper development.

The HOR never really believed that one could feel nothing – the world leaders in fact were scared. They would not call it so, but he knew that was what it was. They had tried to extract emotions from a subject. But the experiment had failed miserably – as the subject turned overwhelming, and overloaded the machines- which exploded- thus emitting radiations. Theses radiations were in fact triggering this gene – turning it ‘on’.

Mo was watching the Q wing closely. More people were admitted every passing day, and she also saw a lot of new people in the centre. The news reported rare cases where people had become defects during old age – an unlikely late discovery. Suddenly, people everywhere were becoming defects, and within months, all centres were full. Mo’s theory was beginning to substantiate itself.

And then, finally, the day came when history was about to repeat itself. The world leaders had ordered a genocide of the defect population. The defects were furious, and they became violent. The President was to declare the genocide at People’s Square. But a mutiny had already broken out. Two of the Reset Centres had completely broken down, and hundreds of defects walked into the Square, as the President was speaking. They were not going to sit simply this time; they had already been tagged defects – they had nothing else to fear. In fact, being a defect gave them the freedom to react, unlike the ‘normal’ ones who were trying hard to keep it together. 

One of the defects threw his shoe at the President. The President was completely taken aback for a second, scared the next, and then it finally turned into rage. But before he could shout, his guards escorted him. A man immediately took the stage – it was none other than the HOR at Mo’s centre. And he revealed the truth that had been hidden from them all along – and what better evidence to present than the president’s reaction?

It remained the headlines for a couple of weeks. More people gave into their emotions than suppressing it. It took time, but people started to acknowledge the truth. They too started seeing it as a gift, and broke into centres to free other defects. The Discipline Force could not control anything anymore – the world as such had fallen into chaos. The leaders had to meet again, and they quit. And within two months, a new set of leaders had emerged. Reset Centres were converted to Research Centres, to help people understand emotions better, and also to improve the emotional quotient of the world. 

And once again, the human race learned how to live. Emotions were no longer looked down upon, but respected. They were given the importance in life. They learned to care – for each other, about other species, and also about their wonderful planet that gave them life. After all, emotions are what makes us alive, than being vegetative.