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Bound By Darkness

by:Joshua

T’was the eve of Halloween, the sky was covered with clouds, blocking out the crescent moon. The trees had shed all their leaves, standing bare against the cold wind. The yellow streetlights had cast their gaze around the silent street, leaving the shadows of the autumn trees to look like hands emerging from the depths of hades, waiting for an opportunity to drag you with them. The clouds began to rumble and the wind wailed like a banshee. At that moment, the sky split as lightning tore across it. Devilish thunder accompanied the lightning just seconds later. 

Damien who was asleep in his bed, jerked awake as the thunder rumbled in the night sky. His heart, pounding so hard he could feel the pulse in his throat. He sat upright in a cold sweat and reached for the bottle on his nightstand. As he quenched his thirst, his phone began vibrating viciously. It was his girlfriend Anna calling him. They had been dating for a while now but had known each other since they were children. As the light from the phone hit his eyes, he squinted. The darkness had not yet left his eyes. He picked up the phone and her soothing voice calmed him down instantaneously. She asked him if he had left home yet. They had planned to roam around together on Halloween eve, as it would be one of the few chances they would get to spend together before they left for college in the summer. He replied with his rough but gentle voice, “Sorry, I fell asleep. I’ll be there to pick you up in 10 minutes”. He told her he loved her and got up to get dressed. 

He placed his feet onto the cold floor and stood up. The wood underneath creaked eerily. The rains had turned the entire house into a creaking wonderland and the sound always made him uncomfortable. Switching on the lamp by the corner, he stood in front of the dusky framed mirror and fixed his dark brown hair. His purple eyes gleamed through the dull light the lamp gave off. He put on a pair of torn jeans and wore the T-shirt that Anna had given him for his birthday. Leaving the room, he pulled his leather jacket off the back of the door and snuck out of the creaking house, and made his way towards Anna’s house. She lived few blocks away, in a small and dingy-looking house. It was just her and her dad. 

Damien walked to her front door and before he could knock, she had opened the door and flung herself into his arms. The cold weather made his warmth more prominent and comfortable. He was happy to see her. He looked into her blue-ish green eyes and saw her soul. Her golden-brown hair fell back as she looked up to see his face, revealing her captivating smile. She was everything he was not. She was clumsy and always had a smile on her face, even through the tough times. Her laugh was beautiful and she danced her worries away, like a graceful swan surrounded by a multitude of lotuses. But alas, this would be the last time he felt her happiness, for the night ahead was not going to be a pleasant one.

They began to walk down the street towards the lake, where they always sat down and stared at the sky while talking about nothing and everything. The cold wind pushed them closer to each other. The wind had an uncomfortable feel to it, like as if it had a presence of its own. The yellow-lit streetlight had begun to flicker and slowly take a reddish hue. The feeling of being watched only grew more intense as time passed. Carved pumpkins, that were placed outside the doors of the many houses on the street began to turn towards our young couple. The carvings on the pumpkins lit up as if they were on fire but they weren’t burning. Damien held Anna’s hand firmly and they started running towards his house. The ominous presence seemed to follow them or rather, it never left them. 

The thing about Damien was that he always felt out of place. Like every other teenager, he felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with him. Every Halloween, he felt like there was something inside him. No, he knew there was something that was trying to come outside and every year, the presence only grew stronger. He would call Anna up and listen to her melodious voice, which calmed him down to a point where his fears could no longer reach him…

As they ran for his house, the blood-red lights went off. The darkness of the night had surrounded them and all the pumpkins were facing them. One by one, all the pumpkins simmered down. Damien knew that this time, nothing was going to stop the presence, it overpowered him…

It took over his will while Anna took few steps back in fear… She could hear whispers around her, like an enchantment, slowly growing louder and louder until it was unbearable. She fell to the ground, holding her hands against her ears to keep them from bursting.

The whispers suddenly stopped, Damien started walking towards her and picked her up, and waited until she could steady herself. The crescent moon began to peek through the clouds, shining onto our couple. Damien moved his hand upwards slowly like he was making for her cheek but at that moment, he stabbed her through the chest, his hand emerging from her back, with her beating heart in his palm. Anna was losing her strength and as the moonlight fell on Damien’s face, she looked into his eyes, but they weren’t purple anymore. It was as if there had never been any eyes in there, empty, hollow… 

Damien pulled his hand out of her writhing body and watched her fall onto the ground. Her heart was still in his palm. Blood spurted out of the slowly beating heart and onto his clothes. The T-shirt she had gifted him, was now covered in her blood. Her now lifeless body started going pale as she bled out all over the moon-lit street. Her golden-brown hair, covered with her blood now had a crimson glow. Even though it was Anna who died, it was Damien who lost his heart… The clouds began to cover the night sky, hiding the crescent witness. The street lights began to glow yellow again. The presence had left him, all alone… Seeing what he had done he broke down into tears and wailed loudly. His pain was immeasurable. At that moment, the sky split as lightning tore across it and Damien woke up in his bed in a cold sweat. He looked at his hands and found no blood. He was relieved that it was all a dream and went back to sleep but… his shadow moved across the wall and onto the ceiling, covering it in its darkness and staring at Damien with a devilish grin…

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Blues of the Rain

by:Anshuman Gupta

One of my favorite activities that I look forward to each day is going up to my terrace for an evening walk. Popping in my earphones, listening to different genres of music on different days, gazing at the scenery around me, mostly the skies. Sometimes I even go up late at night to just gaze at the moon. Therefore, it does stand to reason that Monsoon would be my least favorite season, all that rain dampens (pun not intended) any chances of me going up and hanging around for a while by myself. Yet in some ways I’ve come to appreciate this solitude that follows with me cranked up to a windowpane, sitting instead of walking, still listening to music as I watch the raindrops splatter on the ground. 

It does give a person a chance to reflect on things, after all, think mostly, maybe gain new perspectives in the circumstances a person may be in. Sitting in solitude and listening to the raindrops falling one by one does provide a better chance to concentrate, for a reason, I do have some speculations for and will get back to in the end. First, I want to address the themes Rain is usually used for in literature, our best friend. 

Rain has always been used as a literary device to primarily portray two types of atmosphere: the first being the atmosphere of romance. We know how it goes, it starts raining, the couples are enthralled by rain for some reason as if they have never seen it in their entire lives despite being in their twenties or thirties, they step out into the rain and dance the Bollywood dance. *Cham Cham* ensues. Oh, so romantically they then spend hours in the rain, dancing and looking at each other lovingly as they lean in for a kiss, kissing as frequently as a rain droplet falls on the ground. Hypothermia, so romantic isn’t it? Shudders 

The other atmosphere primarily portrayed by rain is that of a bleak atmosphere, with the rain being a metaphor for a cynical and dour mood. The dark clouds bursting with rain as the protagonist looks out his window in sadness or with a sense of purpose, an aura of so much edginess around them you would think it’s a Zack Snyder movie. 

Personally, where do my thoughts lie when it comes to rain and how do I view it? I’d say both these takes are something that resonates with me in a weird quirky mix. I’ve always appreciated the philosophy of the balance between Yin and Yang. As an advocate of that philosophy, I tend to fluctuate between these two atmospheres. 

It is prudent to point out however that which atmosphere I currently immerse myself in when met with rain depends on many factors. Of course, the choice of music can influence an atmosphere as well, the right song creating the right vibe but personally, when I find myself pressed to that windowpane, looking out to the wet scenery before me, that music just becomes background noise to me. A way to keep me at peace more like; but the lyrics don’t hit me like they usually do. Instead, it provides a bubble for my mind to then work its magic, the magic of overthinking and screwing up my sanity. 

Coming back to the two rain atmospheres, a boy my age definitely has his share of romantic thoughts, it’s only natural after all, I’m human. But mix in cynicism with those thoughts to traverse a completely different route and you may get aligned to what I think during this season. I don’t mean I’m cynical of the idea of love or if it will ever happen, I’m not a spoilsport like that. It’s more the idea of how you decide which human complements you. It’s more me scoffing at certain romanticizations present in the media. For example, I’m completely against the idea of “love at first sight” or “opposites attract”. They feel like an attempt to simplify what love is supposed to be, reducing it to a silly genre used to sell literary pieces for a crowd to fawn over, it doesn’t feel true, it doesn’t feel right. 

Besides this, I think of myself a lot. Not in a narcissistic self-absorbed way but more in a trying to figure out myself way. It’s always fun to converse with and debate yourself in that regard, after all, isn’t every human being trying to figure out who they are and how to best improve to be as virtuous as they can be, make decisions that make you happy and a will that makes you be of some use to the world we live in. Cynicism does take a walk around these thoughts as well, satisfaction with oneself is hard after all, especially in this age and time where you just sit around in one place. I’m in my second year of college yet it feels like I have never moved past the stage of graduating school thanks to the same old environment and inability to move forward in life physically as well thanks to the pandemic. Maybe getting lost in the vortex of all these thoughts isn’t such a good idea, but when it rains, and you just look at the raindrops falling down one by one, an imagery not quite hard to imagine, it’s just so easy to get lost in the chaotic rambling of your mind. This entire piece is one chaotic rumbling of the mind thanks to the rainy season. The concentration indeed is absolute, and as for why, as I mentioned earlier, I think I do have one speculation towards this whole conundrum. 

You see, the thing about rain is that it has a rhythm to it. Splitter – splatter, as the raindrops fall one by one, one after another, it’s a beat on its own, a pattern. Human brains are by nature susceptible to patterns and work well with them. Not surprising then that it’s easier to think more and ponder stuff in this season and get lost in the vortex, compared to the linearity of thoughts in other instances……

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A Tale Of Two Nights

by:Tharun

14th August 1947

Loud noises of the Gypsy Jeeps were echoing in every alleyway. Alleyways stuffed with people as far as the eye could see. While most of them were rushing to listen to The Man in White speak, a few seemed to be making their way out of the crowd, almost as if they were looking for something precious that they had just lost. Pandemonium. This was the only possible way to describe the night, right in the middle of which was a young girl. Orphaned at birth, she had never known a life of certainty. While many had tried to foster her through the years, none of them ended well. Yet again, she was back on the streets. Although this wasn’t unusual for her, she could sense something very different this time.

She looked weary of her journey. She lost count of the days for which she had been on the road in search of a home. At one point when she thought that she’d found one, she was told that they could only take her brother in. A brother whose existence she didn’t even know about till that moment, but the loss of whom felt as if she had lost a part of herself. Many miles and several horrifying visuals later, she had finally reached where she was now. She didn’t really know if she could call this place home, but she was too tired to go any further. 

The people here looked no different from what she’d seen. What was different about them was that they seemed to have a strange sense of hope. The kind which could be easily mistaken for unrest. She heard someone yell that all their troubles had come to an end. She scoffed at them. Although still a child, she knew not to fall for this illusion; she could see with her own eyes that nothing had changed. Buildings were being swallowed by flames and people were being slaughtered for fictitious reasons. What was funny was that everyone knew this, yet their desperation for hope superseded their ability to sense the horrors of reality.

Suddenly, everything went silent. People stopped right where they were and the Jeeps turned their engines off. The only thing that the girl could hear was the faint voice echoing from the loudspeakers. Someone said that The Man in White had started speaking. Everyone was listening to him as though he were instructing a new way of life. Though she had never believed in hope, the fact that everyone else did, comforted her in a way. Reassured by this, she shut her eyes with a feeling that things would change for her this time, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. 

14th August 2021 

It’s dinner time and everyone is glued to the television. With a plate in their hand, they’re listening to the interview of The Man in Blue, Olympian Neeraj Chopra talking about his historic win. As the interview finishes, everyone is forced to get off their seats by a lady, who just seventy-four years ago was a scared little girl. 

The same girl who once feared for her life now runs a proud household. She has children, friends and family whom she can confidently call her own. Truth be told, not much has changed for her. It’s just that the years have given her the strength to keep a straight face while dealing with troubles. One of her sons succumbed to Covid while gasping for breath. She listens to her friends talk about the way they are subjected to mental and physical trauma at their homes. A few years after that night of 1947, someone once told her that the brother whom she was separated from was actually two people… or something like that, she can’t recollect exactly. Every day she helplessly witnesses her children quarrel with each other for the same reasons that she had seen seventy-four years back. The only difference is that now they pin it on her honour rather than the other person’s cowardice. 

She feels the hope which people once shared is now transformed into something different. It has now changed into arrogance. The arrogance that breaks off a friendship. The arrogance that threatens others to prove its supremacy over them. What hurts her the most is when one of her own children is labeled an outsider. As someone who toiled for years to build this family from the ground up, she feels she let down that little girl who for once came close to believing in the concept of hope. 

Everyone in the household is excited for tomorrow. It’s one of the only days where all of her kids spend time at home together. She personally has mixed feelings about the day. On one hand, it reminds her of the story of a little girl who grew into a beautiful person against all odds. On the other, it reminds her of hope. The same hope which is now synonymous with unrest. She fears for the lives of her own. She wonders if the Man In White lied to the people that night. 

There is one thing that she is certain about. People are not evil, they are simply misguided and afraid. In 1947, her house didn’t have a head. Now, there are far too many, with all of them tugging about the roof in a separate direction. She knows the cost at which her freedom came. The tears, the bloodshed, the unbridled sacrifice that she had to witness to even think of a probable future, let alone a prosperous one. She only hopes that people realise the struggles of those who gave her and many others the chance to have a place to call home, rather than glorifying them mindlessly. But then again, she never fully believed in hope.

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ANTHROPOS: TO FEEL

by:Preeti and Sutanuka

Anthropos is a Greek word that means “human being” or “Man”. Digging deeper, Anthropos is to feel, is to convey, is to rage, is to yearn, is to feel all the emotions on a bone-deep, molecular level; so much so that it becomes a part of you, it overtakes your senses in every form, until you’re nothing but what you feel. 

Yearning has a soft place in her heart for the lonely. She comes home, the red wooden door of her quaint house a dull reminder of everything. The lock latches in with a click and Yearning leans against the door. It’s a heavy thing, constantly feeling like Atlas in her robes, the red thread of fate always a touch away; people trying to bend the thread always end up wrapping it tighter around their throats. Yearning thinks the picture frames on the walls are something more than an illusion and every time the phone rings she jumps three feet into the air before crumpling up like paper because the name on the caller ID isn’t familiar. Yearning wishes upon every shooting star and at every 11:11; it’s been months and her wishes haven’t changed. It’s hard to want something so desperately that you start to melt with your want, the atoms colliding and forming a part of you, eroding your walls of will. Yearning is a deep-seated guest, refusing to leave until you pick apart every fiber of your being.

Angry is gloomy; she constantly complains and is always in a bad mood. She never feels sorry for what she destroys – people mostly. She wants control oozing out of her fingers. The pressure from wherever she looked, encouraged Anger to grow up long before her mind and body were ready for it.  She thinks it is because of perceived inadequacy, frustration, and a fear of failure. Whenever her parents and teachers ask her angrily to improve her behavior she says “Stop irritating me!”. She gets easily offended and often takes the slightest setback as a personal attack. She constantly blames others for her misfortune. Anger spends a lot of time complaining about the transgressions and shortcomings of other people. Compassion and empathy were as foreign to her as the depths of her anger. Listening isn’t her virtue and it flows down to her jittery knees, whenever she has to pry open her ears to listen. Watching the world burn down because of her has always been her forte.

Fear wears her clothes in two shades – a rotten block that seeps through the seams or a pale shaky blue, a robin’s egg blue. There’s a tremor down her spine with every step she takes and Fear has her eyes clouded over always. Carrying your heart in a glass jar is a two-edged sword when you realize that when the jar breaks, your heart gets stabbed too. Fear takes calculated steps after thousands of calculations and she still trips on the tightrope. Fear thinks every breath she takes coils around her throat and she has to watch herself wither away with the knife to cut it apart in her hands. Fear is crippling. 

Happy is extroverted and runs low in neuroticism. She is content with what she has and doesn’t waste a whole lot of time worrying and stressing over things she doesn’t. She leads a balanced life which means she makes time for all things that are important to her, whether it’s family, friends, career, health, etc. She treats others with respect. She is sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people. She is compassionate and gets treated this way (most of the time) in return. One of the biggest things Happy does differently is that she lets go. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Happy realizes this and can take things in stride, and move on. Happy isn’t perfect, and she is well aware of that. Whenever she screws up, she admits. She recognizes her faults and always works to improve on them. Happy lives by the mantra: “There are two types of people in the world: those that do and those that make excuses why they don’t.” She often exhibits the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness. She would rather give candid feedback, even when the truth hurts, and expects the same in return. She can find her passions in life and pursue those passions to the fullest. Happy accepts challenges and uses them as opportunities to learn and grow. She turns negatives into positives and makes the best out of seemingly bad situations. She doesn’t dwell on things that are out of her control; rather, she seeks solutions and creative ways of overcoming obstacles. She is grateful for “the now” and focuses her efforts on living life to the fullest in the present. Her philosophy is: There’s a reason it’s called “the present.” Because life is a gift.

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CIRCE: THE CURSED GODDESS

by:Sutanuka

The first time I realized Greek mythology was something I could click with, I was fifteen. I was mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest and I came across an Anais Nin poem on Hades and Persephone. I barely remember the poem but I can recall that it revolved around Persephone’s willingness to walk down the dark and deathly – pun intended – paths of Hades’ Underworld. Those were the days where I was blissfully unaware that the pomegranate seeds were used as a symbolism for Hades’ seeds.

Fast forward to when I am nineteen and bawling my eyes out, reading Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles. The years in between have helped me shape my flimsy knowledge of Helen of Troy, Aphrodite’s vanity, and Zeus’s ever-growing family tree that is hard to keep track of unless you are sixty and a Historian, specializing in Greek Mythology. The story of Achilles and Patroclus is best described as gut-wrenchingly sad, and sprinkling in the fact that Alexander The Great believed in their love story, defying many historians who say it was platonic (cue snorts), just makes their love story even more precious.

But this is not a book review on The song of Achilles where I go on and on about Madeline Miller’s brilliant quality of making me cry every twenty pages. The trojan war is a tree that sprouts many branches – all of them equally important – and has tragedy written in every breath of it. But as tragic as the elopement of Helen and Paris was for millions of people, this is not what I want to focus on.

Under the shadows of Miller’s pen, resides Circe. Circe is a goddess, the daughter of the Sun God Helios, and a nymph. She is more of a sorceress than a goddess, but more than anything, her heart is mortal. All of this becomes achingly apparent when Helios exiles her for witchcraft. Circe has never had a life befitting that of a goddess. She was shoved and bit and ridiculed for everything because Gods are vain and ruthless and she looked like a mortal.

Circe falls in love a lot; failingly. The first man she loved was a sailor who ached in his bones, living the common life of a poor Greek. She wished upon a flower growing on the land of Kronos’s blood and turned him to a God; her first signs of witchcraft. She dreamt upon patches of grass of life of immortality filled with love but a spear pierced through that dream when that man revealed his fickleness and left her heart in the dust.

The second man was Daedalus and he was an engineer in every way that matters. Strength flowed through his fingers and Circe was drunk on it and every moment she was acutely aware of his mortality and her lack thereof. This is the love that affected me the most. Years down the path, after they went their separate ways, on a turbulent day after entertaining Medea and Jason, when Aetees comes, she talks of Daedalus and he reels back in curiosity,

                                      “He’s been dead for decades.”

I think this was the moment Circe became painfully aware of the fact that she will never die with her love, something she has been yearning, for years, that her immortality is a curse. It was definitely the moment I became painfully aware of how time slips through my hand like grains of sand.

Daedalus spent his last years in Egypt after his son Icarus went down with Apollo. But we don’t know that. Circe doesn’t know that.  What I do know is that I am on borrowed time, and I don’t have the power to shift the ropes of fate according to my wishes.

It’s a terrifying thought. Reading about how Circe suffers because of her immortality and yet it doesn’t lessen the weight of time slipping on my back. At this moment, when I am writing this, I could drop dead. In the next moment, when I am submitting this, I could drop dead. At the moment this comes out, I could drop dead and I wouldn’t have done a thousand things that I haven’t even solidified on paper. But Circe had all the time in the world and she was hurting every second.

At the end of the book, Circe denounces her immortality in favor of a life with a mortal man. She is scared and she has no knowledge of how frail mortality is, but she gives it all away so she can die. So she can live a life knowing that she lived every day on borrowed time; giving her the push.

It’s hard to say which is a bigger burden to carry – to have it all or to have it in scraps.

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The Supporting Pillar

by:Siddaarth

On the 9th of May 2021, the world got together and celebrated Mother’s Day, where we appreciated the contributions of a mother to our lives. Similarly, on the 20th of June, we came to appreciate the contributions of our fathers on Father’s day. But a lot of us forget that it isn’t the contributions of either the mother or father that shape our being, but it is the combined morals of both of them, whom we proudly call parents. Hence, the fourth Sunday of July every year which is the 25th of July this year is celebrated as Parent’s Day. It is celebrated across the world to recognize the tremendous sacrifices that our parents go through to raise their children in the best way possible without leaving a single unturned. 

Parents can be anyone who is raising a younger soul, be it the parent of a pet, your elder siblings or even your “parents”. It might sound a bit cringe or something but I truly feel that parenting isn’t really defined by age but it is a concept. 

Let’s say you are currently a 5-year-old kid currently chilling without any sort of responsibility whatsoever, all you would do in a day would be is to watch the television, play games, and stuff, and then sleep. In the midst of this “chill” life of yours, you suddenly have a new member into your family, say a young puppy or even a younger sibling. Obviously, the parents will take care of the young one, but it isn’t always that easy for the parents to be with the child for the whole day. Hence you as a five-year-old, start to take care of the younger ones by taking care of them by doing the smaller chores like feeding them food or playing with them, or sitting down with them when your own parents are not at home. Stuff like this might not make you a “parent” but it goes a long way in making you understand how hard a parent works for your own sake. This helps in maturing your personality and your behaviour towards others, and also makes you appreciate the work your parents put in just for your betterment. 

Now some might ask, how do I show my love and appreciation to my parents. To that I say, you can show that love and appreciation through extravagant means such as a grand party at the Hyatt or the Taj or at that nearby party hall. Sure that is a great way for you to celebrate Parent’s day and show your appreciation towards your parents, but it really isn’t that realistic because a lot of us don’t have that kind of money to hold grand parties. Hence you could also wish them a happy Parent’s day, express your feelings in words to your parents on how much they mean to you, sit and chill with them, play a game with them or go out with them on a drive or something (when COVID-19 is completely gone of course).  

As the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung once said “Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.” I completely agree with this statement simply because I feel like humans, in general, wouldn’t necessarily do things that are told to them unless they see the other person also doing the same thing. This trait also applies to parents and children, where the child generally is the culmination of the actions of the parents that the child has observed from a young age. Hence it is extremely important to practice whatever you said to your children to do yourself. The quote “Practice whatever you preach” truly applies to parenting. 

The most important thing about Parent’s Day is that all of us identify the contributions of our parents, how much they work for us, be gratuitous towards them, express our love for them and not take them for granted. This is all that we would want to achieve through the celebrations of Parent’s Day on the 25th of July 2021 and every other fourth Sunday of July in the coming years.  

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Of Gratitude and Affirmations

by:Prajjwal

Gratitude and affirmations. We all might have come across these two words several times, maybe on our socials, or whenever we surf “How to be successful in life” or something congenial to this. This article is basically a review/experience of how gratitude has transformed, not just my life but the greater good as well. It does sound philosophical or scholarly, to begin with. I, for one, found it worthless and stuff even before I could go on to discover it, only to realize its actual power at a later time, especially when I hit the rock bottom. Everyone does experience their ‘rock-bottom’ phases in their lives. You might be just stuck with some work, you might be in a dilemma on how to proceed further, unable to pull off the burden upon you while you are left with no other assistance to heal your mental wounds. And this is when gratitude can prove to be your knight in shining armor. Also, this is not some kind of a summary of Rhonda Byrne’s gratitude books. It’s just one of my little ‘secrets’, I’d like to share with you.

There are a zillion things out there that go unappreciated or for which we are ungrateful. We all have succumbed to a mundane robotic routine of ours. How often do we realize the importance of people in our lives? How often do we feel lucky to have a roof above our head, pure air around us, the pettiest things we use daily? Be it our gadgets, accessories, or trivial stuff around us. How often do we thank our own existence? To start off with, I’d suggest you maintain a gratitude journal. You could savor your gratitude to all the things or people to whom you are grateful and appreciate their existence. Take a vow to recall moments of gratitude associated with the ordinary events, your personal attributes, things that pique your interests, in order to interweave a sustainable theme of gratitude in your lives.

Second off, practice affirmations. Gratitude and affirmations go hand in hand. Want a new car? Crave for a new outfit? Want to overcome your bad habits? Want to improve your grades? Affirm it! (Nothing to boast, but the secret to all my exam results lie here:)) And slowly you start manifesting what you affirm. You start to attract what you speak. This is the whole concept behind affirmations- the law of attraction. So make sure when you stand in front of a mirror the next time, to affirm good thoughts instead of holding an empty gun pointing at your head. Every syllable we speak manifests energy, towards or against us.

The science of gratitude is omnipresent. It is vast. It is relieving. It isn’t unrealistic wishful thinking. Luminaries such as Plato, Socrates, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, Newton had discovered it way back and have delivered the same through their works. 

Change your perspectives, drink loads of water, exercise daily, think of grace, gifts and reap your rewards. You do feel a gush in feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin once you shift your thinking from negative to positive. Replace your feeds with gratitude pages, group your apps on your home screen with affirmative titles, consider yourself lucky if you see repeating numbers, download apps that help you practice gratitude, practice freelancing, start writing letters (it’s okay even if you don’t have to send them), and reinforce positivity back into your lives.

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Ace-in-the-hole

Author: Aaditya

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou

Alright. First off, can we all just agree that heteronormativity is the absolute worst? I mean the amount of overthought and confusion that it has caused in me, is almost inexplicable. With that out of the way, let’s proceed with the article. 

For those of you who don’t know what heteronormativity is, it is the belief that opposite-sex relations are the ‘normal’ mode of sexual orientation. Heteronormativity assumes gender to be binary, and considers hetero, often marital relations to be ‘better.’ This is a  highly problematic thing. To name a few reasons–people with gender and sexual identities that aren’t heteronormative are often forced to explain themselves to people, or justify their sexuality or gender identity. Assuming that everyone is straight leads to erasure of sexual identities. Heteronormativity leads to severe implications for those who aren’t heteronormative– discrimination, rejection from their families, mental health struggles, to name a few. 

Asexuality and the myths around it

To many, asexuality seems to be a new concept around human sexuality. However, asexuality isn’t a new concept, it is just gaining much more traction now than it has ever before.

Nearly 1% of the global population today, that is around 70 million people worldwide, are open and out as asexual. And, quite a few more people are in the closet. This is a significant number. Despite this, the concept of asexuality is not very well known, and there are some myths and misconceptions around asexuality. This article aims to analyse and deconstruct a few of these myths. In addition, I have tried to study a few of the problems faced by people from the asexual community. 

For starters, like all other sexual identities, being asexual isn’t a choice. Asexuality is not a mental disorder, it is not a ‘phase’ that people go through. It is not a fear of having sex. People who identify as asexual aren’t just people who haven’t sexually ‘matured’ yet. Asexuality isn’t caused by mental health issues or traumatic experiences. And, asexuality is not the same as  celibacy or abstinence, both of which are things people CHOOSE to practice, for  various reasons– personal, religious, health and hygiene, etc. 

Asexuality and aromanticism aren’t the same thing. One can be asexual and aromantic, and they could be asexual but still want to be in romantic relationships. This misconception arises because people assume romantic and sexual attraction to mean the same. Sexual attraction stems from a sexual desire towards someone or something, whereas romantic attraction is wanting to have a romantic relationship outside of sex. 

Another common myth around asexuality is that it can be ‘fixed,’ if asexual people just had sex. This often leads to a problem called ‘corrective rape.’ More on that later. Furthermore, asexuality doesn’t mean that asexuals cannot or do not have sex. Asexuals have sex for a few reasons, most often to please a non-asexual partner, or sometimes even for purposes of reproduction. Last, but not the least, asexuals can and do masturbate. Masturbation has more to do with libido than with sexual orientation. Masturbation is something that is personal and depends on person to person. 

Unfair exclusion from the LGBTQ+ Community

There has been a debate for quite some time around the inclusion of asexuals under the queer umbrella, since the term was reclaimed by members of the community. Some people within the queer community believe that asexuals aren’t ‘queer’ enough, and are not considered a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Others believe that asexuals haven’t been oppressed, or discriminated against, in the way members of other communities have. This is a form of in-community acephobia known as gatekeeping– which is policing the ‘gates’ of spaces of certain demographics. Gatekeeping is a more general term, which can apply  to other members of the queer community as well, it is prominent with ace and aro people. And, some asexuals choose not to associate themselves with the queer label– sometimes, people believe that there is unnecessary baggage that comes along when someone identifies as ‘queer’ or as a part of the lgbtq+ community. Others just don’t prefer the label, as they feel that asexuality is different from being queer. Asexuality is as valid an orientation as any other, and people from the community must be included in the queer community. However, with that said, identifying as queer is a matter of personal choice, and no one should be forced to adopt certain labels. 

Oppression and Discrimination

There is a belief that people from the ace community haven’t been ‘oppressed’ or discriminated against as much as people from other communities have. This isn’t true. Asexuality has received its fair share of oppression and discrimination, and most of these problems are different from what others in the LGBTQ community experience. 

Ace erasure is denying the legitimacy of asexuality as an orientation. In addition to systematic erasure, there is a constant insistence that even the problems faced by asexuals aren’t real, or that they face little to no difficulties. There is a severe lack of representation of the community in the media, and due to this, information and awareness are very less– not a lot of people outside the community even know what asexuality is. This sometimes leads to sexual harassment and assault, and something known as ‘corrective rape.’ Corrective rape is forcing someone to have sex in order to ‘fix’ their sexuality. This is experienced by other members of the LGBTQ+ community. A lack of proper representation, sometimes almost no representation, leads to a level of disbelief, hostility and even prejudice towards people from the community, both by heterosexuals and other members from the LGBTQ+ community. Most people consider the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ to stand for ally, and not asexuality. 

And, in general, our society believes that having sex and being in relationships is what defines us as human. People who don’t desire to partake in sex are considered unhealthy, or even abnormal. There is a notion that humans should aspire to achieve sex and relationships. 

I couldn’t figure out how to conclude this piece, so I thought a lot and finally decided to do this: 

Here are some useful resources that’ll help in learning more about asexuality. 

1. AVEN – The Asexual Visibility and Education Network – https://www.asexuality.org

This has become somewhat the “official” website on asexuality, mostly because it’s been around for quite some time. The forum on this website is extremely vast, and has a lot of useful information.  

2. The Asexuality subreddit on Reddit – https://www.reddit.com/r/asexuality/

Reddit is an extremely resourceful and helpful platform, and it also has a well established Asexuality sub, which has also been around for a while. The subreddit itself has a lot of resources that people can use.

3. The Asexuality Archive’s Glossary for asexuality related words- https://www.asexualityarchive.com/glossary/

Other than these, there are some useful pages on Instagram and channels on YouTube. I don’t have specific links, but you can just search for the keywords you’re looking for.

Categories
change culture social speculation

A Queer Eye-Fashion and Influence

Author: Harika


Flashback to when Jaden Smith wore a Louis Vuitton skirt and when Harry Styles broke the internet after posting a picture of him in a Gucci dress on Instagram, unapologetically rejecting traditional gender norms in fashion. Ever since then, I’ve read several articles about the fashion industry’s “gender-fluid movement”. Having read enough of these pieces, it would seem we are living in an unprecedented period of gender revolution, a time when traditional expectations of what constitutes men’s and women’s dress are being blended, blurred, even reimagined altogether. Society has broadened its trends and moved(if not completely) towards a more fluid conception of gender and sexuality, respect for other cultures, and queer lifestyles. People are talking about gender and sexuality and how we make the boundaries of it more fluid for the modern world we live in. The context of experimental fashion choices has come to the surface, where there are no negative connotations to being a girl or being gay, there isn’t much pressure to constantly demonstrate your manliness and heterosexuality by rigidly sticking to a conventionally masculine appearance. Gender and the blurring of traditional gender boundaries is, now more than ever, a perennial hot topic in the modern fashion industry.

What we now call gender-fluid fashion has existed as long as there have been gender norms to change and even if not necessarily new, something about today’s fixation with fluidity feels different, it is more substantial and politically engaged. The gender-fluidity  we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the fashion ramp stages is accompanied by a growing awareness of and sensitivity to the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community.There is so much at stake for the people of the community through mainstream fashion’s involvement in the larger cultural ‘gender-fluid movement’. For them gender-fluidity is not merely a style, but an identity. When queer-identifying youth see queer representation on the runway and in media, they become symbols of hope for them and nonetheless, today’s gender-fluid movement has helped expand countless people’s perception of how people can dress besides their sexual orientation. It has even exposed the public to a fuller picture of the whole constellation of genders with which one might identify. To summarise it, fashion is genderless. Get over it. Wear that dress, swirl in that skirt, rock that suit, strut in those heels because the best look is wearing what makes you feel like you. 

While fashion has given the community an avenue to embrace their identity and express themselves, over the years social media has lent its space where a diverse range of people can find a platform for their voice. Despite experiences of bullying and harassment online, LGBTQIA+ youth indicated the internet is a space that offers safer opportunities to express who they are, find peer support and gain access to resources which are not necessarily available in person. The visibility of LGBTQIA+ youth as influencers is changing the game on the internet and not just that but are changing the community by encouraging countless people to come to love and accept themselves.This is evident through the Indian queer community, which ranges from artists, authors, poets, illustrators, and designers, who all have the common goal of educating their audience about pertinent issues around homophobia, transphobia, and inclusion. From raising awareness about socio-political issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ space through art, to creating campaigns for queer advocacy. So, in honour of the LGBTQIA+ community, who are proof that being true to yourself can have a real impact, we’re throwing in our two cents by talking to a trans influencer, Krishna K, a singer-songwriter who uses they’re platform to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and helps others who are struggling with their identity and sexuality while making amazing music. 

Krishna established they’re presence in the music community on social media as a transman and it sure wasn’t done overnight. “Music has always been a gendered industry and no matter what it is people are always going to label your voice as their female or male voice”, they say. People blatantly assume pronouns when they hear a person talk and it is disheartening because the identity that you’ve assumed for them is not the identity they are comfortable with. Krishna felt the need to let people know whose music they’re listening to, where the music is coming from, help them understand their experiences as a transman and most importantly, let people know who they were. Who they are; first a human, and then a person who is passionate about music and then comes the fact that they are not a girl. Krishna has worked in the film industry as well, and says they did get lucky to be working with an amazing team who never even once misgendered him. Indian film industry which is driven by binary roles, lacks queer representation and if by chance there is any sort of queer representation it was always demeaning or inappropriate. However, to them Krishna was just another talented singer no matter what gender and hence Krishna says they felt remarkably comfortable, affirmed and respected. When the song was released, people were shocked to know that the female singer wasn’t a girl, it shook their beliefs and it was out of the ordinary to them but here’s the fun fact, nothing was out of the ordinary, it was just Krishna making music, making art and being themself. We all want to see a change in the world and we’re definitely working towards it. We believe that education is the only way to progress but by education we mean, verbalising people’s experiences, respecting them, learning about people and learning from people. It is about being considerate about the fact that we all are unique with unique experiences and unfortunately, a major chunk of people do not align with such a perspective. They do not support something because they know nothing about it and have been influenced by someone who has a negative perspective. They simply do not want to be ‘educated’ which as Krishna says, is inconvenient for the existence of people. Why must someone repeat themselves and their basic identity expression for years together to experience the basic rights of dignity and respect that some people simply deny to provide them with? 

‘Foundation must be laid for people to be open to learn from others. Just because I am of an experience doesn’t invalidate your experiences and this itself paves a path for discussion on issues that people aren’t willing to change their opinion on’, says Krishna. For Krishna, their self growth journey was a massive one. Starting from YouTube to building a community on Instagram, they have found so many supportive people not only through the internet but also in real life as life progressed. Krishna states that they had no confidence in themself just when they began this journey 5-6 years ago and it was because of the support system they have found on social media, they have started to believe that maybe they do have what it takes and have actively started to work. Yet, social media can be a dark place with our mental health at stake. For Krishna, their mental health struggles started way before social media happened. Putting yourself out there, talking about issues that people are just starting to learn about or have already created opinions about, even before giving those opinions a second thought is quite a challenge. Receiving uncanny messages, threats and invalidation has always been a perpetual dread not only to Krishna but to many other members of the community. Krishna realises the economic and caste privilege that they have and says that they always watch what they’re talking about because they don’t want to obstruct anyone else’s space. Krishna talks about how they want to be there for people and amplify the voices of those who want to share their story to the world and believes that they are on the road of doing so by putting themselves out there in the world sharing the fact that they care deeply about this.

Whilst the internet made amazing contributions to Krishna’s mental health as they found family here, they say they’re still trying to find that sweet spot of balancing their mental health and being vocal. Krishna loves giving their all to the things that they care and are passionate about. They say it is their passion towards the queer community that brings in a surge of motivation to give their best on their platform. ‘I have people in my life who are my anchors, who make me a better person and help me believe that. People all around me from all different angles keep me afloat and it is my passion towards these people that I keep moving forward’, says Krishna. They add on by saying that they’re working on being their own cheerleader in life and we stan!

Krishna ends by leaving a message for all those who are on a path of self-discovery and I am forwarding the very same:

  1. There is absolutely no pressure to figure out what pronouns you want to go by or in figuring out your identity.
  2. You do not have to choose a label. You just have to be your authentic self. Nothing matters as long as you are respectful towards humans. Just be you and be loving (unless you’re aromantic, then be loving but platonically).
  3. Remember that it is natural to experiment with your sexual orientation. That does not invalidate you. This is why we have a questioning flag in the community.
  4. Coming out is what you do only when you’re comfortable, it is a ‘you’ thing. 
  5. This is your life. All that matters is your comfort. Always prioritise yourself. While there are other people who will prioritise you but the person who has to mandatorily do it is YOU. 

Categories
change conspiracy culture death Efforts Family feelings Government History India Justice Lessons life News social society

Crack of Dawn

by:Siddaarth

National Anti-Terrorism Day is remembered on the 21st of May and gives us all a chance to stand together as one united front against the evil force of terrorism and tells us to salute every single life. It is also a day where we remember all those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the protection of the Nation. 

The message of humanity and harmony must be spread widely and the Indian Government took this initiative to spread these messages across the people to emphasize the importance of combating terrorist activities. The objective of the  National Anti-Terrorism Day is to help spread the feeling of harmony, peace and unity amongst the people.

The National Anti-Terrorism Day is remembered on the 21st of May to commemorate the assassination of India’s former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi that occurred on the 21st of May 1991 at an election rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. During the campaign, a lady who was a suicide bomber and was a part of the terrorist organization Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE), had approached him. The lady had explosives under her clothes and approached Rajiv Gandhi with a garland and then touched his feet. She denoted the bomb as soon as she approached him and touched his feet. Around 25 people were killed along with the youngest Prime Minister in Indian history was assassinated on this day. Ever since then, the National Anti-Terrorism Day is commemorated every year to ensure that no innocent soul would be killed from any sort of terrorist activities. 

Even after the tragic assassination of Mr Rajiv Gandhi, many terrorists have tried to attack India, its various sights and its people. But we as Indians have always shown a sense of pride, belonging and a feeling of bouncing back from any sort of difficult situation. After the 1991 assassination, India faced many such acts of terrorism on its soil like the 1993 blasts in Bombay in which 13 locations across Bombay were bombed and around 260 people were killed. The terrorist groups known as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked the Indian Parliament building on the 13th of November 2001 in which many police officers and parliament workers were killed. Three other terrorist attacks have occurred after these, namely the blasts on the Mumbai suburban railways, the 26/11 attacks and the Pulwama attack. 

Even after this, India has truly bounced back from these heavy scars on our nation. Though India follows the policy of forgiving but not forgetting, though in the case of terrorism India would never forgive the perpetrators and would never forget about the wounds. To conclude, I would want to quote the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi who stated the following: 

So many nations have suffered due to terrorism. Terrorism is not a challenge to a nation, it’s a challenge to humanity.