Spilling the Tea

By: Aparajita D B

About two weeks ago, I heard that May 21st is International Tea Day. Frankly, I find it astounding that as a novice tea connoisseur myself, I was unaware of its existence. Clearly, Tea is being overwhelmingly ignored. In a small attempt to rectify this blatant transgression, I did a little digging, and it turns out that Tea wasn’t actually trying to keep a low profile, and has agreed to an interview. Please enjoy.

INTERVIEWER: So, Tea, where have you been these last few… months? I don’t I caught you at the New Year’s party.

TEA: Oh, here and there. Sometimes life becomes far too mundane, and sightseeing always cheers me up.

INTERVIEWER: Didn’t your last “trip” end in mid-December?

TEA: Yes, and?


TEA: …

INTERVIEWER: Right. How was your trip?

TEA: Absolutely marvellous, darling! You know, I thought I’d go back to my roots for this one, so I visited Darjeeling. Oh, it’s quite beautiful this time of year, you know. The visit would’ve been absolutely perfect if not for a few little details. 


TEA: I ran into a, uh, mutual friend of ours, who took it upon themselves to inform me of some rather interesting “life hacks” that some people have come up with.

INTERVIEWER: Is that so?

TEA: Apparently, humans are of the opinion that putting teabags in your bathwater is an acceptable alternative to bathing salts.

INTERVIEWER: … don’t tell me you didn’t already know this.

TEA: I’m just saying, if you let the teabags soak in water, and you are also soaking in the water, does that mean you’re making yourself part of a giant teacup? Or worse, a giant’s teacup?

INTERVIEWER: Aaand we’re going to leave that horrifying thought right there-

TEA: Oh you thought that was bad? Some people put teabags in their shoes! Who do they think they are, Americans??

INTERVIEWER: I don’t think we should-

TEA: All those innocent teabags desecrated, and for what?? Have these barbarians never heard of perfume??

INTERVIEWER: Now, just a minute-

TEA: Seriously, the main reason I consented to this was so that people know that I most certainly do NOT APPROVE!


TEA: …

INTERVIEWER: Are you feeling better?

TEA: Much, thank you.

INTERVIEWER: Alright, we’re going to gently move away from that topic. This question is a rather persistent one, so care to talk about your relationship with coffee? 

TEA: Of course. Coffee and I are wonderful friends, when we’re not too busy cranking each other. I was half-convinced that the tip they gave me was another prank, so imagine my shock when-

INTERVIEWER: Please let’s not talk about that anymore.

TEA: Oh, alright. You know, despite our reputations, I always feel like Coffe is the steadier of the two of us. 

INTERVIEWER: Really? I would have thought it was the other way around. 

TEA: I know, most people are shocked, but it’s true. When Coffee gets out of the house, you can always predict their behaviour to some extent. Loud, jovial. Mostly sticks to cafes. At their fanciest, they’re at Starbucks. Me? I’m all over the place! One day I’m at Buckingham Palace in my regalia having the time of my life, the next day you see me at a random street stall like a miscreant who forgot about haircare. 

INTERVIEWER: Well, that was certainly insightful. Any plans to disappear on the world again?

TEA: I’m afraid not. Coffee and I have to deal with a situation. Apparently, someone in one of the VIT messes had the genius idea of mixing Instant Coffee powder into a cup of Tea.

INTERVIEWER: Wait, what?!

TEA: Oh, look at the time! I must leave now.

INTERVIEWER: But- You can’t just- 

TEA: Talk to the handle!

INTERVIEWER: … What would you even call such a thing?


The Sting

By: Adya Bhalla

Arvind dreamt up swarms of bees. He continued to do so for months after he had been stung. He felt the fear and he felt the pain creeping up his calves as he sprinted through the tall crops. But not the burn of the sting itself. Never the burn. When he would open his eyes to the timid, mellow Sun at dawn, Arvind would anticipate pain. Fear would tiptoe behind most naturally. Until it halted, all of it did. The familiar buzzing under the Banyan tree died down. So did the mild humming through the wheat crops. Baba’s farm fell quiet. Eventually, Arvind came to know how silence also, in fact, stung. It breathed down your neck and smothered your protests to whimpers. And when apprehension droned inside your veins, silence buried its thorn under your skin, ever-present, forever making you itch and ache. At school, they’d tell him Albert Einstein once claimed that it won’t be possible to feed ourselves if bees are wiped off the face of the Earth. But the people waving torches in front of hives didn’t know of Einstein. They knew of hunger alone, and hunger only knew to grow, grow until it cracked your roof and the sky came crumbling down. Arvind often wondered about the verity of Einstein’s claims. But the lines on Baba’s forehead grew so dense, that there was little room left to wonder. Yet, every time Baba came back with another batch of those chemicals for the farm, Arvind would imagine himself painting another line on his forehead and Amma’s chapati shrinking further in size. And each time they’d set fire to another hive, the smoke would sting his eyes and run its razor-sharp teeth down his throat. Arvind would dream of a swarm of bees. Not chasing, but being chased now. He saw himself entangled in the tall crops with Baba’s lines etched on his forehead. He would sense the urgency of a large fire but not feel the burn of it. Never the burn. And when he would open his eyes to the blushing dawn, Arvind would anticipate pain. Fear would tiptoe behind most naturally.


World Hypertension Day

By: Niranjana Naveen

Every year, May 17 is observed as World Hypertension Day across the globe to create better awareness and educate people about a medical condition that arises due to high blood pressure. What is blood pressure? Well, it is the force exerted by circulating blood against the walls of our arteries.
According to the NICE guidelines (2019), Hypertension is when the blood pressure reaches 140/90 mmHg in clinical reading or 135/85 mmHg in ambulatory or home reading.
But why does blood pressure shoot up? 95% of hypertension cases occur without any external triggers. However, secondary causes broadly include Renal disease (associated with the kidneys), obesity, pre-eclampsia and Endocrine conditions like hyperaldosteronism.
Based on the blood pressure readings and their consequential severity( heart attack, heart failure and sudden cardiac death in worst cases), it is essential to consult a medical professional regardless of the Diagnosed stage.
So how do medical professionals fix this? Initial treatment involves investigating and ruling out possible risk factors such as organ
failures and providing advice on improved lifestyle changes, including a better diet, proper exercise, reduced intake of salt and alcohol and additional potassium supplements. Treatment varies according to age group, gender and other factors.
An interesting point to note here is that African/ Caribbean descendants are more prone to developing this condition. However, the cause of racial disparities in elevated blood pressure and hypertension-related outcomes remains unclear.
Even with a staggeringly high casualty rate and substantial effects on patients, HBP is barely considered a medical threat or even remotely severe. Thus, we need a global commemoration day for better global awareness of preventing and curing this “silent killer”.

To know more about Hypertension:


Our Technological Heritage

By: Joshua

The 11th of May is regarded as National Technology Day but what does this day signify? For most of us, it probably wouldn’t matter and, you might think that it’s just another day in our country but, the legacy behind this day is like none other.

At a time when the country sought freedom from the Britishers, few souls strived to make our country great, and a few scientists and mathematicians studied and took great leaps in the field of science when others might have thought it unnecessary. This essentially acted as the spark that we as a country needed to move ahead and show the world that we weren’t a country that was to be taken lightly. 

The testing of Pokhran II on the 11th of May in 1998 showed the world that India was as capable as the superpowers, not only in making weapons of mass destruction but in our determination to move forward and that when pushed into a corner, we wouldn’t take it lying down. The sanctions imposed by various nations were indeed a drawback and further nuclear testing was banned but it gave us the confidence and the will to push beyond our limits. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if not for one Dr Homi Bhabha, the man who saw the potential we had, the man who gave birth to the Indian Nuclear Program.

The Indian Space Program, started by Dr Vikram Sarabhai and other prominent figures, paved the way right into the future, our present. Many technological inventions made under these programs have also helped the nation grow and further the curiosity in young minds like ours. The first rocket launched from Thumba in 1963, lit up the sky with hope and showed the people of this country that we too could be among the stars.

While we were dreaming of going among the stars, there was one man who worked to improve the foundations of our country with his engineering skills. Sir M Visvesvaraya, regarded as the first engineer of India, contributed to our country’s well-being in very subtle but impactful ways. He worked on various dams and flood protection systems throughout his life. One of his most notable contributions is the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam which still stands strong to this day.

The age we’re living in is right at the edge of a breakthrough. The future we look forward to is very uncertain and we as a species could make or break this future with our technological advancements. By looking at the figures that led us to our present, we can only hope to create a future that will prosper and thrive. The advancements we make as a country are just as important as the ones we make as a species and as a future engineer (hopefully) and Indian, I can only hope to take our country forward. Even if it is a small step, I’ll be glad that I’ve done so.



By: Shatakshi Mohan

‘I’ll be alright,’ I said because I have pals, and yeah, I am fine. Do I get downhearted because it has been 12 days since I last embraced my mother? Yes. I miss how she hounded me, the look on her face that said no(because she isn’t a hug person). But it got me thinking; I miss the roti I ate at home, the comfort of my bed and restroom, but what is it that makes my separation from my mother unbearable? It’s as if my life, like breathing, depends on it.
And I realized it’s maternal love, not only my mother, that I miss, which led me to a different leitmotif. When my friends continuously urge me to eat food or wear a mask whenever I go out, I still experience the emotion of parenting. I have never been away from my mom for a long time, so the idea that I would miss her never crossed my mind. But these days have made me understand how much I take my mother for granted, and at the same time, I’ve discovered that maternal love is not confined to my mum but to everyone who provides us with it, and that’s what I miss.
Walking down a kilometre to get food and then standing in a line to eat it only to realize that it isn’t the food I got at home. It reminds me of when I sat at the table, howling like a dog, impatiently waiting for mom to bring me food and forgetting to say how delicious it was after eating to my heart’s content. I often forget to dry my clothes here after washing them as there is no nagging reminder. And then a friend of mine starts reminding me of these small minute stuff. Does that make me miss my mother a little lesser? No, but I feel the maternal love from a friend, which satiates my craving for that love.
Love has always had various aspects, but a mother’s love is the purest since they are inclined to protect and fight for what is theirs until their last breath. Our mother may not be enraged by things that damage them, but one scratch on us seems like all hell breaks loose.
Do you see how I am trying to conclude? Did I discover something that’ll carve my name in the papers for future generations to read? Maybe not, but today, we can honour maternal love, motherhood, and everyone who reminds us of our mother. Be it your mother, gay parents, the aunt you adore, the grandma who keeps annoying you, your best friend who acts like your mother or that roomie you didn’t like initially.
Let them know how much we appreciate everything they’ve done to make us feel the love we desire and require. Unconditional love. The love that pushes you forward rather than holding you back, the love that encourages you while also scolding you, and the love that pampers you while also calling you out on your wrongdoings. I am talking about the same feeling that wrenches your heart every time you video call home or hear them cry. Let’s take our first step in acknowledging their efforts.
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to the mother in us and the mothers we have found outside our homes. Happy Mother’s day to all those people that have shown us what unconditional love feels like


The talkies

By: Tharun

Woken up by the sound of the alarm(aka an extremely busy mother), I got out of my bed and headed to the bathroom. I took my brush in one hand, paste in another, and thought to myself, “Here we go again, another day in the life”. I had been having an exceptionally bad week. Monday, I flunked my class test. Tuesday, I stepped in dogshit. Wednesday I got called a “flight risk” and Thursday, well everyone knows how Thursdays are. But wait, that made today Friday. And not just any Friday, it was the last Friday of the month. That’s when my family and I go to the movies!

Each month we take turns to pick the film for the night. Mom generally prefers mainstream flicks or Malayalam films if they’re screening them that week. My younger sister always picks a superhero film. My parents say that it’s her age for films like that. But I know for a fact that she does it just to annoy me. As for my dad, he doesn’t take part in this elaborate ritual. He’s just happy that for one night at least, there’ll be peace at home. This month it was my turn and boy oh boy was I prepared for it. There was a local film festival going on in my town that whole week. They were screening old classics such as Citizen Kane, The Sound of Music, Cinema Paradiso, and their likes. That day, they were scheduled to screen John Huston’s, Moby Dick.

This film is very special to me as I used to watch it with my grandfather. He recalled how mesmerized he was to see that huge whale leap onto the screen for the first time as a teen. Everyone in my family tells me that I’ve inherited this passion for cinema from him. I think so too. He used to tell me stories of how he used to collect the ticket stubs from Minerva Cinema and Gaiety Galaxy. Even after so many decades, my grandfather still had his tickets from when he went to watch Deewar. He used to claim that that flimsy pink piece of paper was his most valuable possession. I wish he was with me today to watch Moby Dick one last time.

It was almost time. I came back from college an hour ago and mom and dad just came back from the office. My sister’s been pestering me the whole day asking about the film which we were about to watch. I purposely wasn’t telling her. I didn’t need her to whine about how I chose an old black and white film to watch for tonight. All I told her was that we were going to watch a “children’s film”. Don’t blame me! She had it coming for picking all those superhero films. Besides, all my efforts of hiding it from her went to waste when my dad told her on our way to the festival. As expected, all hell broke loose. She refused to let my mom drive the car any further and insisted that we went back home. It took 15 minutes of rigorous consoling and bribing to finally get her to agree. We all decided that she’d pick the movie for the next three months. Now, under no circumstance would I agree to a deal like that but such was the situation. That’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.

Finally, we made it to the festival. We were running late. The screening was to begin at eight and it was already 7:50. We hadn’t even bought tickets yet because someone(dad, obviously) thought that we’d have ample time for such things after reaching. All the good seats were gone. Somehow we managed to grab the last few seats left in the front row. After a lot of muttering, name-calling, huffing, and puffing, we settled into our seats at 8:05. Thankfully they hadn’t started screening yet. Despite everything that had happened in the past hour, when the lights dimmed, the screen lit up and the credits started rolling, I thought to myself, “This is going to be the best day of my life.”


The Active Mush

By: Siddhaarth

We all know how busy and hectic our lives have become and technology hasn’t helped us ease that mental stress. Speaking from experience, I can definitely say that my brain is slowly turning into a fried mush, garnished with bits of parsley because that’s how you make food look fancy (granted this isn’t food but I think we all understand the pain). So what if I give you a few minutes of relaxation through this piece of writing that helps you relax your mind and turns your brain into a solid active bunch of muscle. 

Before you start reading this, I would ask you to close your eyes (metaphorically) and imagine the scenes and sounds in your head.  

A person just like you is sitting cross-legged on what looks like a sandy beach at the side of a lake. The sand seems to be copiously moist yet smooth enough to feel like it were water. The sun was just rising up from the darkness of doom to lighten up the mood of the scene. It lightens up the sand, lake, mountains and the sky up above the world so high (there aren’t any diamonds up above). The sandy shores were christened by the beauty of the seven colors which elevate the appearance of the shores. 

The feet of this person are blessed by the cold and chilly water of the lake that has completely transformed its look due to the sun’s light christening its surface. The lake turned from a shade of gloomy blue to sunny bright orange. It is not too deep and is about knee height for an average height individual, hence why there are a few teenagers swimming around in the lake with some of their mothers shouting at them to come out, due to fear of them catching a cold. While some other people are bending down and drinking the sweetest and cleanest holy water that resides in this lake, others are busy fishing on their boats.

This amazingly beautiful lake has a gigantic set of snow-clad mountains in the background. The snow on these mountains is so white that it almost seems like God had personally painted them by hand, using the best quality of white paint. The snow was really thick and bright. The sun had again worked its magic by adding shades of orange to the white snow making them look like someone had spilt orange juice onto a white piece of paper. 

The sky up above the world so high(that was void of diamonds. I don’t hold a grudge against the nursery rhyme. I swear) was originally dark and miserable as doom hit during the night but as the sun rose up from the ashes like a phoenix, the sky shone in the color of orange like someone had pointed a bright orange light to the sky. It was so orange that it almost felt like it was the sky that caused the brightening of the surroundings. 

Lastly, if you are super curious to know who is the person that gets to experience this serene environment  (I mean even if you were not curious, you’ll still get the answer), it is you, the reader. I hope you feel more calm and composed now.

Poem Uncategorised

Endangered adolescence

By: Vaishnavi

The implausible wishes of an adolescent,
Riding on Unicorns and cuddling dolphins,
While their peers, tantalising them,
Unaware of the fact that they too shall face the same fate.
When can I meet Santa, they questioned in glee,
For, they entrusted him to deliver their presents by midnight
Their smile melts your heart,
for all they wish is to ride a reindeer,
With well-shaped beautiful antlers and a red nose
This being just the beginning,
Their childish desires know no bounds.
For, in their whimsical world,
Even a mere toy seems to understand their gibberish.
Tiny objects seem more lifelike,
The sight of colours amuses them.
They yearn to dance on rainbows,
and enchant those around them.
A small present or a mere gesture,
be it a candy or a simple hug seems amusing,
They are simply bundles of joy.
So jejune and puerile,
Their imagination is truly fascinating,
Each day they have irrational wishes.
Their innocence needs to be preserved,
before they break free and come out of their shells,
As they grow more mature and leave behind their childishness,
They look back at this chapter of their life and wonder,
Was I really that doltish?
For, now all they dream about is their present goal.
“ I miss the old me”‘, they sigh!
Their innocence is now long gone.


Still Waters

By: Janani

A battered jeep drove down a lonely road through a stretch of barren land. It had a sturdy metal ramp fixed haphazardly on the front, attached by a couple of alarmingly thin bolts. Abandoned cars adorned the side of the road, gathering dust, as they were slowly rusting. Weeds had sprung up on the cracked and lifeless soil, and the occasional tumbleweed popped up.

There wasn’t a single living soul in sight.

Emphasis on living.

The black tinted windows of the jeep rolled down, and a teenage boy appeared, moving half his body to the outside of the window. He had stern features, but was overall, rather attractive to look at- if you ignored the grime and soot on his face and clothing. 

Now, on that stern face, was an expression of unhinged glee, as a spiked bat dangled in his outstretched arms. 


The bat hit its target, and a human-shaped head went flying several meters, while the decapitated body stumbled onto the road, before slowly rising back up. The head had been cleaved rather messily, so the decaying flesh and bones splattered all over the road. A flock of crows circled above, but even they didn’t dare come close to feast on what would normally be a meal for days to come. 

Not when there were still dozens of them mulling about the area.

The teenage boy plopped back into the passenger’s seat, and rolled up the window, looking quite pleased with himself.

“Did you see that, Five? Huh? Did you see how its head went flying?”

The person named “Five”, was another teenage boy, slightly older than the one next to him. Unlike his wild and dangerous looking acquaintance, Five had a very gentle demeanor. His face was just as grimy as the other boy, but somehow, he still appeared pleasing and kind.

Five frowned, and clenched his hands slightly tighter on the steering wheel. His eyebrows furrowed, as he turned to the side, a hint of disapproval in his expression. 

“You shouldn’t do that, Seven. There’s no need to attack them unless our lives are in danger. Besides, that could have very quickly gone wrong, if one of them managed to grab a hold of you, or bite you. “

Even though his words were meant to be scolding, there really wasn’t any harshness put into them. Just like his face, even his chides were gentle.

Seven rolled his eyes, as he wiped the congealed black blood from the surface of his bat, slowly rubbing each spike. 

“I knew you would be like this. You take everything so seriously. You’re so nice, that it’s stupid. Who cares if we attack them? It’s not like they’ll die anyway. What’s the harm in having a little fun?”

Five shook his head in exasperation. 

“It’s disrespectful-”, he said softly, not looking away from the road. 

“Hah! Let’s see if you keep saying that the next time they try to eat you alive, rip you limb from limb, and turn you into one of them- mindless, flesh eating, disgusting rotting creatures.”, spat Seven, clearly annoyed by Five’s disapproval. 

Five didn’t react like he wanted, and a disappointed frown hung on his lips.

“They used to have names. Just like us. They were once human too.”, replied Five, even quieter than before.

 He didn’t say anything more, but it was clear what he meant. 

If one of them turned like that…….

Seven opened his mouth, but promptly closed it, lost for words. He had wanted to say that even if it was Five, he’d still do it- but somehow he couldn’t bring himself to actually utter that. 

The silence went on for several kilometers, before Seven slumped down into his seat, and closed his eyes.

“You’re so annoying,” he muttered, as he drifted off.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Five smile slightly- the sight was somehow unbearably reassuring.

“I know.”

It had been 3 years since the world- with no better term to use- had ended. 

In the beginning, there was order. World governments took charge. They tried to control the spread, look for a cure, and enforce strict regulations. 

But the disease was unstoppable. 

Just one infected individual was enough to devastate whole cities. In a matter of days, all the major cities fell one by one, like a stack of dominoes. It was a chain reaction of chaos and it was impossible to defeat.

You can only win if there is a fair chance to play in the first place.

“Defeating” was no longer the goal, it was just “Surviving” now.  

Seven first met Five a year into “The End of the World.”

Any semblance of order and law had died with the rest of the world. Most areas had become overrun with those things, or were dominated by the worst kinds of people.

Perhaps these people hadn’t originally been so awful, but in a world where you could die a horrible death at any moment- humanity was pointless. It was a lonely existence, but you could only trust yourself. 

 There were a few pockets of stability, scattered here and there- but people like Five and Seven would never be accepted there. 

That didn’t mean Five and Seven were alike though. 

They had just been born with shitty, unfortunate lives, at the bottom of the barrel, and had to scrape through mud for just the tiniest bit of dignity.

Seven strongly believed that there were two types of people that could come out with circumstances like theirs.

One was Seven- where they became the scum of the Earth. He would drive everyone to misery, and cause nothing but trouble. 

He was filled with every sort of sin imaginable, and there was nothing he wouldn’t sink to. Truly depraved, disgusting and utter filth. 

He despised everything and everyone.

Including himself.

And then there were people like Five. Who also had nothing , but instead of resorting to his levels of depravity, they become nothing more than tools for people like Seven to exploit.

Meek, cowardly, pathetic.

Idiots that constantly lost everything, even though they barely had anything in the first place.

Yet somehow, there was a light in their eyes, a naivety, where they believed they still had a fighting chance, even when fate had always spit on them.

It made Seven envious sometimes. He had long forgotten what it meant to hope after all. 

Both of them had met after being captured by a group of traders. 

Trading what exactly?

Humans, of course. In a normal world, it would be called trafficking, but now human lives were simply commodities. They didn’t even have names anymore, just numbers. 

There was no other “good” in higher demand than humans- whether it was for labour, bait, or any other unsavoury purposes. 

Five was pathetic, and the traders liked being extra harsh on him. He always got the most dangerous, disgusting, and difficult tasks.

It was a miracle he had even survived through half of them.

On the other hand, Seven was malicious and vindictive- somehow the traders liked that. 

Scum recognized scum, he supposed.

Which is why he was surprised they didn’t see his betrayal coming.

Everyone died, except for Five, by that same miracle that allowed him to make it thus far. 

At first Seven planned to kill him as well, and finish the deed- but Five begged for his life.

It was so funny. So amusing- seeing that light of hope in his eyes. He wanted to quash it, but in the end he found that he couldn’t. 

That had been 2 years ago. 

When Seven finally woke up, he found that he was no longer in that dusty old jeep. Instead, he was lying on a lumpy cot inside an abandoned warehouse. A ripped jacket that was so filthy, its original color indistinguishable- had been placed on his shoulders. He pulled the jacket closer, and shivered lightly. It was almost dark and they were still in the desert. 

The temperatures would drop drastically, and they needed to gather some material to make a small fire to keep warm.

Seven realized that he had been saying “they” all this time, but Five was nowhere to be found. 

Immediately he stumbled out of the cot, his heart pounding furiously. 

Had he left? Did he finally run away? 

He dashed out the warehouse, a million thoughts running through his head. 

If he’s really gone…. 

What would he do? Bring him back? Threaten him again? 

Although countless ideas came to him, the very thought of simply “letting him be” was never one of them. 

“You dare try to escape after I warned you so many times…”, muttered Seven, furiously looking around the vicinity. 

The sun was low, and the chill was beginning to set in the desert. A gust of sand flew into his face, and he sputtered, trying to expel the abrasive grains that choked him.

 He had no choice but to close his eyes, even though every second he spent not searching made Seven feel as though Five was slipping away from him- like holding water in your palms. 

With much difficulty, he forced his eyes open, ready to trudge into the open desert.

Yet this time, standing right before him, like a mirage, was Five, holding a black bag in his arms. He looked a bit surprised to see Seven standing outside the warehouse, with a dumbfounded expression. 

That gentle grin he had given him when they first met, slowly formed, as though he were amused seeing Seven run around like a headless chicken.

Seven doesn’t say a word, watching him drag his feet through the dunes, walking back towards him. 

“Why didn’t you just stay and rest inside? I told you I was getting dinner.”

Seven can’t even find it in him to be angry at  Five, so he took it out on the sand beneath him, kicking little plumes into the air.

Five started coughing, bothered by the dust, and Seven instantly stopped.

 He settled for just glaring. 

“I was fucking asleep, how was I supposed to know where you went?”

Five started to apologize, but even that was irritating Seven, so he grabbed the black bag from Five.

“Dinner huh? What the heck did you find in the middle of the desert?”

“There’s a small abandoned gas station just over that ridge. I found some canned food-”

“There weren’t any of those things right?”

Five shook his head. 

“No. There weren’t any.”  he muttered, crossing his arms. He looked slightly uncomfortable, and Seven remembered that Five had always been terrified of those creatures.  

A calloused hand reassuringly patted his shoulder. 

“Relax a bit, and let’s see what sort of trash you brought to eat.”

The flames flickered even brighter, and a soft glow settled on Five’s warm features. He silently munched on a few saltines, his eyes drooping, and movement sluggish. 

 Seven was laying on the ground, observing him intently, and wondering how Five looked good even when he was covered in grime. 

Maybe it was his eyes. They were dark, but held an indescribable sparkle. Those eyes shone no matter what kind of filth it had witnessed. 

How handsome. 

Five looked at him startled, almost spitting out the saltine he had been chewing, and Seven realized he had said it out loud. 

Seven had always been shameless, but in that moment, the foreign feeling known as embarrassment washed through him. 

He coughed a few times, trying to create any sort of distraction from what he had just admitted.

“Don’t flatter yourself, I was just…. joking around.”, he mumbled, all too aware how pathetic he sounded. 

Five assessed him for a good few minutes, without saying a word, before nodding. 

“Of course.”, he replied easily, and then resumed nibbling his crackers. 

No one spoke for a while after that, and eventually, Five stopped eating. More than half the can was filled with food, and most of the saltine packet was untouched. 

 He also laid down near the fire, and huddled his jacket around his shoulders, shivering slightly. 

Seven had been pretending to fall asleep all this while, as he was unbearably ashamed. 

Yet also incomparably unsatisfied.

This wasn’t what he wanted at all. 

And then it occurred to him- since when had he ever shied away from expressing what he wanted? 

He had no shame, why must he start now? Why beat around the bush and waste time in a world where every moment could be their last?

He sprung up from the floor, and crawled over to Five, shaking his shoulder. 

“Five! Just now! I wasn’t joking.”


“I wasn’t joking.”

Five finally gets up, his eyes still bleary, but he doesn’t say a word. 

Wondering if he perhaps didn’t hear him, Seven blurted out again- “It wasn’t a joke-”

“I heard you.”, cuts in Five. 

Still there is silence, and Seven couldn’t bear it.

But he also didn’t want to stop now. He needed to say something- anything.

And then he knew. 

“Your name. Tell me your name.”

He had once told Five that it was best they never use their real names anymore. Even after they escaped the traders. 

That it was a part of themselves that could stay hidden. In a shitty, terrible world, where you had nothing to call your own- not materialistic goods, nor family or friends- you always had your name.

An identity, to show that you were still human,  that you were still alive, still surviving, despite everything. To show that you had once been more than what you are now. 

They had both agreed to never tell each other their real names- the last untainted part of their identities. 

Seven didn’t trust Five with it, and Five definitely had no reason to tell him either.

But now, Seven was desperate to know. He wasn’t eloquent, he was foul-mouthed and illiterate. He had no other way to express what he wanted to say. 


Five looked at him, his eyes terrifyingly bloodshot. The veins on his face throbbed and bulged. 

“Why do you want to know my name?”

“Who cares why, just tell me!”

“….My name is Five.”

“I mean your real one! The one your parents must have given you! The one you used before everything went downhill. The one that… makes you.. you

“…I thought we agreed that we wouldn’t tell each other our real names.”

The longer Five tried to avoid answering, the more frustrated Seven became. 

He couldn’t understand what it was that he actually felt, but all he knew was that he wanted to know Five’s real name. 

It was a part of Five that was missing, and he wanted all of it. 

“Fuck! Why can’t you just tell me when I’m asking you nicely? Do I need to beat it out of you?”

The instant he said it, he regretted it- especially when Five’s face turned even more stony. His eyes were twitching, and jaw constantly clenching. 

“No.”, he spat out, even more resolute.

“Why? Haven’t we been through so much together? You’re telling me that I’m not worthy of hearing your real name?”

Seven’s anger was rising greater and greater by the second, and it took all his willpower to not do anything rash. 

Why was Five being so frustrating? He had always been meek and had no backbone whatsoever. Now suddenly he was being so stubborn?

Or was it that all this time he had just been acting patient with Seven while secretly despising him? And this was simply the final straw?

The thought caused Seven’s chest to feel tight, and throb painfully. Before he could reassure himself that it wasn’t truly the case, the words that exited Five’s mouth next made his heart drop. 

“That’s right. I think you aren’t worthy to hear my name. You’re fucking trash, and you know it-”

“YOU-”, roared Seven, grabbing Five’s collar, to make him shut his mouth, but Five kept on going. 

It was like a dam had broken open, and tons of polluted water and scum flowed out. 

“You think I would consider you a friend? After everything you’ve done to me? You rescued me from the traders, but being with you was no better! You fucking broke my ankle, my ribs, used me as bait- why the fuck would I be kind to you if I didn’t have any other choice? To you, we may have seemed close, but all this time, I was just trying to stay alive, and keep you satisfied. You think I fucking cared about you? You’re nothing but scum in my eyes!”, 

Seven just looked at him blankly, processing everything he had said. His grip on Five’s collar loosened. He couldn’t deny a single thing Five had said. 

At the beginning he was just having fun, but somewhere along the way, he knew that he could no longer bear to be apart from Five.

Bear to be alone again.

“If you were just pretending… all this time… then… why did you stop now?”, he choked out, unable to ask anything else. 

Five sneered at him, beads of sweat rolling down his face. 

“I just finally got sick of it, is all.” , he whispered, groaning lightly.

Something wasn’t right.

Five’s pallor was sickly, and he was shivering violently.  

“Five….. What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing. Just fuck off. Leave.”

Seven grabbed him by the shoulder, only to be slammed into the ground.

“Fuck off, don’t come near me, I can’t stand you!”

As he spoke those venomous words, he groaned even more, and whimpered, clutching his arm. 

“Are you hurt? Let me see! Stop struggling!”

Seven rolled up Five’s sleeve, and all the colour drained from his face.

On his forearm, was a large bite mark.

The wound was sickly green, with shades of purple and yellow.  Blood and pus oozed from the deep indentations, and clot protruding veins throbbed around the mark.

Blood pounded through Seven’s head, and a faint buzzing noise enveloped him. He felt lightheaded and terrified like he had never been before. 

“…..You… got bitten. W-When?”

Seven felt dizzy with dread the longer he looked at the wound. 

Five rolled his eyes and snorted.

“When else?”

“….While you were getting food. But you said that there-”

“No creatures around? I lied.”

Seven was quiet for a bit longer, before he spoke, so hushed that Five could barely hear him.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

No answer.


“Why would I? To have you decapitate me on the spot?”

Seven flinched back, horrified. 

“No! No! We could have treated it! If we cut off your arm, there was a chance we could stop it from spreading!”

Seven rolled up the sleeve even further, and pulled up half of Five’s shirt, wondering if there was still a chance. 

The sickly green colour and protruding veins covered his entire chest and neck region. The skin was starting to become more translucent, and he could faintly see the outline of his organs. 

“Oh my god.”, he choked, unable to hold back the tears he had been furiously fighting. 

“It’s too late. There’s nothing you can do now.”, murmured Five, too tired to push away Seven. 

Seven knew this too, and he didn’t protest any longer. Silent tears trace down his face, and that horrible sense of sheer powerlessness overcame him.

Clenching the crumpled parts of Five’s shirt, he muttered once again- ”Why didn’t you tell-”

But before he even finished the sentence, he knew why.

If Seven hadn’t decided to ask something so outrageous, to say something so bizarre- he never would have known that Five was bitten. 

Five would have never gotten upset with him, upset enough for Seven to discover the bite. 

He never would have known, and when morning came, only a creature would have been left behind. A creature that would have mauled him the moment it was born, while Seven would be unguarded and asleep.

Five had intended to drag him down into hell with him. 

“…..You really hate me that much?”

Five’s eyes were closed, and his breaths were shaky.

“You already know. Now leave. Fuck off. At least let me die in peace.”

Seven doesn’t move, and he just sat there, staring at Five wheezing for air.

“Are you deaf? I said leave.”

Seven slowly shook his head. His words were careful, and measured, like he feared to hear Five’s reaction. 

“…..It’s not like I have any place else to be.”

“……..Do what you want.”, scoffed Five, his gaze never once leaving Seven.  “Die with me, for all I care. You’re so damn annoying.”

“I know.”, replied Seven, a tiny smile forming on his face.

Five had never cared for Seven’s grins before- they were usually downright menacing. But somehow, he no longer felt the aching loneliness that had been haunting him throughout his life. 

He wondered if meeting Seven had been the greatest misfortune of his life, or his only solace. 

The faint rays of morning sunlight peeked through the shattered glass windows of the warehouse.

It felt like time had frozen in that moment, and everything was still. 

From the winds, to the din of the fauna, and even the mountains of sand.

It was just Five and Seven, alone together in the world. No one, or nothing else existed.

The faint sounds of Five’s rattling breath was the only thing Seven could hear.  

The flushed and sickly face of Five was all Seven could see.

A cold hand wrapped in his, was all that Seven could feel.

Five’s eyes had turned milky, and he barely registered what was in front of him. A high pitched ringing noise flooded his mind, and he couldn’t even hear the world around him.

His extremities had gone numb, and the rot of the disease was spreading, so neither could he feel. 

But he knew Seven was there.

It was like he had been plunged into the ocean, sinking deeper and deeper, knowing he’d never reach the surface again. Even if Seven was up there waiting for him.

 He had wanted nothing more than to leave him in the past, but in his final moments, Five couldn’t think of any other person who he’d want beside him. 

That thought didn’t make him particularly happy or sad.


Seven was saying something, but no matter how hard Five strained his ears, he couldn’t hear. 

“….my name….is….”

Five doesn’t move, or show any hint of recognition. 

Seven’s tone is pitiful, and dripping with sorrow. He repeated his name over and over again, hoping that Five could hear him.

“Can… hear… name….my name….tell you…”

Five finally nodded, as though he had got it. 

In reality, he had no idea what Seven had told him, but he could feel his despair rising. He nodded, trying to reassure him, to show him that he understood.

Even if he didn’t.

A jolt runs through him, and he knows he has hit the ocean floor. 

His last thought was how nice it would be, if there was someone who did know his name. Even if it was Seven. 

Know that he was once human too, and had a life. 

But it died with him, buried inside a shell of what he once was.

There was no turning back, and he felt the last semblance of consciousness he had dissolve like sea foam, turbulently fading into a vast nothingness.

At the end of it all, the waters turn still again.

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The love-hate relationship


I remember the day when my brother took me along with him to an old temple dedicated to Lord
Hanuman. I had been reluctant to go at first because I thought the place would be as creepy as the
area where it existed. It was late in the evening and as we were nearing the temple, the place and
the people were already giving me creeps. Every now and then motorcycles and cars would trudge
past us and for some reason I could not be convinced that the place was safe. He parked his bike in
the parking lot and I accompanied him there, for I refused to be left alone at such a place. We
walked up the gentle slope to the main temple premises. It was crowded but not as crowded and to
my relief, most of them were children. I saw the five-faced idol of the deity and thought about how it
could be scary to look at it, sometimes in the dark, when everything is silent and empty. I was still
not quite much impressed by the place and I only thought of going back home. It was only after the
pooja that he showed me the real thing – A sky full of heavenly pink clouds, all filled up to where my
eyes could see. I could not help but stare, in bewilderment and awe. I wanted to be there forever,
not letting my eyes lose sight of what I had just seen. All my life, I had wanted to see sunsets, the
most beautiful ones, but provided the pollution and crowdedness of the city, the lack of time these
days, and the towering buildings that surrounded our house, the sunsets eluded me. They still
continue to. But for the moment, it made my day, my entire year full of harshness was melted into
this moment of immense serenity, of divinity, of peace. All I could think of, on our way home, was
how my brother happened to discover such places only to astonish me later. As to how he did so
much for the things that made me happy. He has never been the expressive one when it comes to
love and affection. We fight like we are the biggest foes of each other. I tell him sometimes that I
wish I were alone, I had no sibling at all. But then, I look up to times like these, times when he makes
me laugh when I’m crying after a long, rough fight, times when I reach for his shirt when I see dogs
coming towards me in the street, times when I rely on him to make the school bus wait when I’m
late in the morning, times when he does not let me lift heavy things, saying he is stronger than me,
times when I look at him with a babyface when it’s already 11:50 and I have a DA deadline, times
when he smiles softly but says nothing when I achieve something, times when he does not return my
“Bye” when he is headed to his office, and all those uncountable moments and memories which
can’t fit into words. I think about how we are just a year apart but he seems centuries wiser. I have
seen him at moments where he supported me to learn things I could not learn otherwise, I have
seen him take a stand for me in front of my parents. One more thing that comes to my mind when I
think of his un-expressive nature is how he never said a good word about me when I got ready for
an event but how he told me that I looked beautiful, the way I am, for the first time when I wore a
suit. I think of how the love-hate relationship continues to grow despite everything that falls in the
way and that I’m glad to have a brother like him, but hey! Don’t get carried away, we just had a fight
and I’m writing this with my left ear still ringing. XD