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The Hollow’ed Call

by:Siddharth

I was aimlessly walking down a quite pleasant yet quiet road, about a kilometer away from my office to the car park to leave for home. There was almost no noise at all apart from the sound of people whispering onto their mobile phones while on-call or the sound of the odd vehicle that popped up every five minutes. In the midst of this relative silence, I could eavesdrop on the whisper of the man in front of me who was on a call on his mobile phone, and what he said shocked me. My brain and my ears had to reset themselves to even believe the words that man had uttered. 

I quietly scrambled to my car in the car park, as if I heard nothing at all, sat in, and calmly drove off to my house. On the way, I could still feel the echoes of that call and it truly sent shivers down my spine. I just wanted to reach home immediately and have a nap on my bed to just process this information, which I still could not because on the way home, I was nearly getting into crashes with almost every car on the road, almost using the car as a battering ram. With all this emotion, I somehow reach home and immediately pop into my bedroom and crash onto my bed (weird I did not crash on the road).

I tried sleeping for hours and hours by making my room as cold as possible, tightly wrapping myself into my thick rug. But I just could not fall asleep because my brain keeps harking back to the echoes of that phone call that I just heard. My mind was just playing that scene over and over and over again in my head as if it were like a nightmare but I still did not know how to react to it. But my body did now how to react because, with each passing second, my whole body started trembling, my heartbeat spiked to a level it previously had not and I also started palpitating a lot. The anxiety in me just started to spike up and after a point, I had, had enough of the situation and decided to just get up from bed and go into my hall. 

I sat on the couch in my hall with my legs stretched out on the table in front of me. I decided to play the moment in my head for one last time to end this misery within me because I knew I could not do anything to reverse whatsoever happened. 

The man on the phone whispers “Remember Robert from the debacle at Egypt…I couldn’t find him yesterday. But, I did find his wife and son at the address you gave me.” and the other side exclaimed, “So what did you…you even do?” To this, the man first looks around him to notice any suspicious people around him (does not notice Robert behind him) and then proceeds to whisper “So I….I killed them both instead and burnt their bodies to ash”. Meanwhile, the other side of the phone screams with excitement “Wow….that will make Robert lonely and hollow from within. This will finally make him come to us and apologize. Great work!!” and the call was cut. 

That man was right, I was lonely and hollow from within because my family was my everything to me and I just could not imagine a life without them. With no will to proceed and fight on, I just decided to call it quits and went back to sleep. That day felt like a nightmare but also like an opportunity to start a new life, one where I could live it out without any luxuries and comforts I did not need. It changed me as a person and my worldview towards everything. 

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Marie Skłodowska Curie: The woman that defied ‘normal’

By: Johann

Cancer awareness day is recognised every year on November 7 in honor of Marie Curie, who was born on the day. Her story will long be remembered, not only because of the countless breakthroughs on the scientific front but also for the role she played in breaking the stereotype of what a woman can do. Her contribution goes much further than what can be put in words, but in an attempt to pay my tributes, I will try my hardest.

To start her story, we must travel to Warsaw Poland, a time where the nation was in the throes of nationalism and affectation. It was a time of radical change and transitions. Poland was not an independent country and was partitioned by Austria, Russia, and Prussia. To a young Marie Curie, whose family came from the poorest sections of society, the nation seemed to be a prisoner in chains. As she grew, so did the nationalist movement. Like her parents, she was a patriot and held the same pro-polish sentiments, which were in part, responsible for the family’s financial woes.  At 24, she left for Paris, as the University of Warsaw did not accept women. Since women and academic work were frowned upon in Poland, she fell behind, due to which she went out in search of actual laboratory experience. As fate would have it, she met Pierre Curie. Together, they opened up the world of science and changed its face. In 1911, she received the Nobel prize in chemistry, becoming the first person to do so.

On the occasion of Cancer awareness day, her scientific work takes on an even greater significance. As knowledge on radioactivity grew, radiotherapy was introduced as a possible means to cure cancer and is used in nearly 40% of all successful cancer treatments today. In World war I, she famously donated her Nobel prizes to raise funds to diagnose soldiers. However, being unaware of the harmful effects of radiation on herself, often kept Radium in her pockets or in a desk drawer. In line with her life, even her death has standardised several safety procedures that continue to save lives. The next time you hear of a person being treated for cancer, your mind will return to the amazing woman who made it all possible.

In the societal sphere, she broke down barriers, both in Poland and around the world. Peers were forced to stand up and take notice of her work. The Polish government was made to rue the fact that none of her scientific accomplishments could be affiliated with them. Without being the torchbearer, Curie was like the smoke that rises before the fire. Without her contribution, it could well have set back women’s movements a couple of decades.

Perhaps what makes her so appealing and intriguing to the young scientist is the simple romanticism that surrounded her like a halo. Her work was often conducted in wooden sheds, under skylight roofs, with her soulmate. It is the very fabric of what an aspiring scientist’s dreams are made of. It is this level of Utopian fanaticism that carves a niche in the mind of everyone that knows her story. Even the fact that she named Polonium in honor of her homeland and her work with radioactive elements caused her lifelong health issues can’t help but stick in your mind. People can see themselves in the person that was bundled up in the freezing attic in Paris, skipping sleep and meals to study. There are real movie protagonist vibes that one cannot help but feel empowered by.

In her story, there is renowned hope and belief that the grind eventually does cut it. And long after she has parted ways with her mortal self, her legacy continues to live on and inspire. Marie Curie is everything a student who is starting out dreams to be. And for all her contributions to Physics and Chemistry, while she was alive, there is a sense of irony that she cannot witness how her grit and dedication are saving lives all around the world. Finally, and perhaps most importantly (if there wasn’t enough already), there will never be a number for the number of lives of women she has changed just by being that hard worker who never gave up.

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Till death did us part.

by:Sumana

There didn’t pass a day you weren’t on my mind

There wasn’t an act that didn’t turn my thoughts to you

There didn’t exist a time you didn’t reside in my heart

There is not alive another soul like you

I can’t imagine a life without you

.

.

Yet here we are, 

On opposite sides of a fine, fine line

Nothing new, nothing amiss

Only this once, the line is an abyss

.

.

You dance with death

Whilst I stare from across a chasm

Living a lie

Knowing you court death

How could you leave me

To fend all alone

I know not how to live

Without you by my side

You brought out the worst in me

And you brought out the best

Yet there you are 

Caught in death’s tempest

There is no one else like you

No one I respect as I did you

Another quip, just one other taunt

Anything, anything to get you back

.

.

Whom will I thank for all that you have done?

Who will fill this void you have left?

Whom will I challenge, whom will I fight?

Whom will I grind to dust in my wake?

.

.

There was love in this enmity we shared

There was meaning in our story of hate

There was purpose in our every war

There was elation in our rivalry

.

.

There doesn’t pass a day you aren’t on my mind

There isn’t an act that doesn’t turn my thoughts to you

There doesn’t exist a time you don’t reside in my heart

There is not alive another soul like you

I can’t imagine my life without you.

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Confidence is key

by: Keerthana

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”

Self-confidence is unequivocally essential to living a fulfilled life. Self-confidence is about having faith in yourself and your ability to achieve what you envision. Confidence originates from the word ‘Fidere’ in Latin which means “to trust”. So, self-confidence amounts to trusting oneself. It broadly comprises attitude, body language, habitual behaviors, and response.

Is it really that important?
Being confident in yourself makes others have a sense of trust in you. People that often lack this confidence follow or believe the ones that have greater self-belief. More often than not, having low self-confidence is unappealing in a social or work setting. According to a report, 40% of interviewers reject unconfident candidates from the first stage itself. Confidence plays a big role in furthering your career. It helps you to get rid of activities that aren’t needed to achieve the bigger picture. So, effectively it saves time and extra effort.

So, how do you know if you have low self-confidence?
If you often hesitate to pitch in your opinions or ideas in conversation, you might have poor self-confidence. People may quit on their goals before they have even started working on them because they lack the belief that they could accomplish it. It can even come in the form of feeling worthless or thinking poorly of yourself. If you always find yourself agreeing with others when you don’t truly feel that way, it may be a lack of self-confidence.

Then what causes this doubt?
Surprisingly, according to studies, some people are just born like that. They produce less of the ‘Serotonin’ hormone which adversely affects their behavior and personality traits. But, obviously, their confidence too can be improved.
People diagnosed with anxiety or other mental health issues mostly have a poor self-image. Being surrounded by negative friends or family members also affects self-confidence as it can damage the way people see themselves. Sometimes, people set unrealistic goals and they get upset that they haven’t been able to achieve them. This ultimately, makes them feel like they can’t achieve anything right.

What are the traits of a confident person?
They take the necessary risks to achieve their goals.
They are strong-headed and stand by what they believe.
They aren’t afraid to take help when needed.
They don’t give up trying too soon.
They don’t tolerate being disrespected and set standards for how they want to be treated.

Finally, let’s talk about how we can be more confident.
People around you influence your thoughts and feelings about yourself. Ensuring that you’re surrounded by more positive people can help change how you see yourself.
Studies have shown that exercising and meditation improve your confidence. It improves body image and even helps to recognize and accept yourself.
Catching yourself when you’re having negative or deprecating thoughts is important. This is because if you aren’t cautious, the thoughts just keep on accumulating. After catching these thoughts, the best practice would be to replace them with reassuring and positive statements. Over time it would help you to feel more confident.
Accepting failure is important. This would help you to set goals and not be too hard on yourself if you can’t achieve them. You would feel more confident in yourself and your ability by accepting that you might fail but you will come out stronger than before.
Acknowledging your past achievements are equally as important. It will remind you that you have made it quite far and you should keep pushing.
Talking to psychologists or counselors can help you strategize how to develop your confidence. By speaking to them, you would discover any issues that might have been holding you back.

Building self-confidence can be a tough process but not an impossible one. By giving yourself time and energy, you can improve your overall self-image. By understanding the importance and how to build self-confidence, you can improve the quality of your life and those around you.

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The Elastigirl

by:Rithika

This is not about the movie Incredibles. I repeat this is not about the movie Incredibles. 

Now that that’s clear, I wanted to confess something. Not that I am flexible (cough, cough)  

But

I’ve been feeling quite invincible lately. Not the cocky or arrogant type, but the one that’s been motivating me to try out new and different things. Yesterday afternoon, I solved math problems on my own. That’s a pretty big deal to me. After that, I composed a dance routine to one of my current favorite songs. Which led me to buy a very weird-looking bucket hat. How are these two facts connected? I just thought that the dance would look better with the hat. Then, obviously, I kept scrolling and found a pair of jeans appealing. Something else you should know about me is that I find jeans horribly uncomfortable. Maybe because I’ve not felt very positive about my body. But when I looked at those pants, I was like, “Chuck it, I can rock anything I wear.” 

Yeah, and it gets even crazier after this. 

I tried drawing and then painting the “thing” I drew. This was the peak of my invincible feeling because it’s one of the known facts about me that I’m terrible at drawing. I’ve actually been asked what I was attempting to draw when I was “tracing” out a leaf.  

That’s not the point here. 

I was just thinking that maybe the fact that I’ve accepted the fact that I’m awesome however I am drove me to this feeling. Or maybe I’ve actually realized that, indeed, other people do have lives and they’re not thinking about me. Any aspect of me. So, I can just wear, do, eat, and be however I like. 

I don’t know where I’m exactly going with this, but I’ll keep going on because I need the word count.  

Oh, have I not mentioned that I’ve thought of becoming a stand-up comedian because lately, I’ve been watching a lot of stand-up comedies by various people? When I said this out loud and my brother laughed at my face right away, I became sure that I was meant to be a comedian. Then I realized that my extended family or the society wouldn’t be laughing at my jokes, but at ME if I went through with the idea.  

That invincibility chipped a bit. 

And after this thought, I was sure that my brain had bid adieu. I was thinking of becoming a “foot model” who would be showing off exceptionally large-sized footwear with designs that are not available after a particular size, you understand? But then I realized that I’d have to actually take care of my feet. Regularly get pedicures and stuff. And the train of thought went off the rails. 

What I had concluded, and this is a sane decision, is that first of all, stop underrating yourselves. And secondly that, whatever “peculiar” ideas your brain might come up with, just think it through. Because being engineering students, we all know so much about so many other things that seem very tempting than actually ending up as a legit engineer.

That’s all for the “Trash or Ted Talk?” today, guys. 

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The Stoic overflow

by: Prajjwal

Dinner table conversations at home are often unpleasant. It significantly revolves around how incompetent or inexperienced I am compared to other people of my age. I realized I wasn’t worthy enough to be a boy of my age.

Back in school, I was asked to man up whenever I went to seek help during distressing times. I learned that I should pretend to be fine when I am hurt, deep within.

One day I was shamed for not winning at a competition. I had to digest the fact that defeat was never an option in my life.

There are instances when I preferred to remain silent after listening to triggering statements or derogatory opinions. All credits to my conflict phobia.

Finally, I learned to tune myself with the norms and rules of society so that I could fit in and get some kind of validation for my existence, and this was when stoicism entered like a dreaded monster, extending its bloody hands to cover my mouth and cloud my emotions.

According to Greek philosophy, stoicism refers to the teachings or the ethics designed to lead a happy, virtuous, and wise life. It is regarded as a powerful tool for those in pursuit of perseverance, self-discipline, and master, or in simpler terms, it taught people to be free from any kind of passion, and unmoved by grief or joy. History’s great minds believed in stoicism and sought them out. 

Even though the core idea of stoicism is lucid and relevant, the modern version of it seems hyper-polluted. 

Society’s paradigm is quite a complex subject. As you grow up, you are expected to be the ideal man or woman who is capable of handling responsibilities without any flaws and mold into perfect shapes and sizes to please the people around us. And, this is where the misappropriation begins. You tend to suppress your agonies and hardships without any display of emotions, just so that you can avoid getting called ‘the fussy one’ and when you fail or break down, you silence yourself with phrases like Do not give up, Keep calm and move on when in reality, it just starts to snowball and multiply your miseries. 

The societal norms which define the dichotomy between genders have posed an unspeakable threat to the modern world. At places where patriarchy reigns, you can find a crisis of affection, especially in males. They have no female companionships except for the ones at their home, thereby tricking boys to signal their masculinity. They tend to follow the same rituals for generations unless cooped.

I too am emotionally sterile at times. I constantly worry about the visceral way I cringe when I talk on video calls. I waste my time significantly in “What others might think about me?”, unaware that this very notion has the potential to cripple my existence one day. No wonder, Gen-Z has mistaken the word depression for sadness, failing to realize the existence of a thin line between both. There are days when I feel that I missed a great number of opportunities to express myself, cry, voice out my opinions, vent out my feelings. Maybe I was just afraid of grief, which might make me look weak in front of other people.

It is exhausting to keep up to the expectations of people around us, especially at times when you are grappling with your internal self.  It is worthless to bottle up your emotions and choke yourself with unforeseen consequences. We as humans have the power to express our inner self, vent out our opinions. It has a cathartic effect.

Stoicism is brutal. It is capable of taking a toll on one’s mental health. You may opt for silence, but the echoes inside will remain and thrive, to haunt you forever. 

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A piece of peace

by: Netra

Everything around me was dull. The light glowed dim, at least to my eyes. The pale blue bed sheets, glass tubes and bottles, surrounded by freshly painted walls and no windows intensified the silence surrounding me. The air-conditioned room was unbearably cold. I was claustrophobic, but staying in the room was my choice. It wasn’t my fears that worried me at that moment, it was the expressionless man lying on the bed before me, draped in white hospital gowns, and an inhaler tube plastered into his mouth. It was the first time I’d ever seen my restless, talkative and constantly complaining dad lying still and unresponsive on a hospital bed. He was even more afraid of closed spaces than I was. I felt breathless or had headaches, but my father would puke and panic. I watched silently, internally picturing my dad freak,  jumping out of the bed to open windows and doors in his hospital gown. I smiled, tears welling up in my eyes. 

My father was brain dead. The doctors did say there was a 1% chance that he could survive if a miracle occurred. But thinking practically, I knew that was not possible(despite watching a million k-dramas where brain aneurysm patients somehow survived). A ruptured vessel had completely flooded his brain in blood. Nothing could be fixed. I’d already let my imaginations run wild when I’d heard “ blasted blood vessel”. There was no point crying over spilt blood.  

I scanned my father meticulously, memorizing every inch of colour, texture and hair strands on his body. I needed to remember for almost another 70 years( my father would have been proud if I’d memorized so carefully, inorganic chemistry, for my college entrance exams). I placed my palms into my dads. It was cold but not as cold as a dead person’s. If I turned off the AC, would he become warmer, would life magically flow back into him?  Would he wake up?

The nurse had said his sense organs are still functional, so technically he can hear, feel and taste everything but not process it. So, I tried experimenting with his ears first(Yes, I am kind of crazy). My dad had an obsession with radio Indigo 91.9(If you’re a Bangalorean and haven’t vibed to this radio station, shame on you). He would go crazy every time Trevor Daniel’s falling came on the radio. So on a low volume, I played the song and placed the speakers beside his ears. I stared at his eyelids, toes, and fingers expecting at least a slight movement. No Response.

My heart hurt a little. 

Never mind, I told myself, my dad had always been a little deaf. Another ridiculous idea floated into my head.  I wanted to pinch him, if he could wake up, he would wake up then. It felt like committing a crime as I had to avoid the nurse’s eyes. I carefully dug my nails into my dad’s arms and pressed, deeper and deeper, but he didn’t react. I kept pinching, with each pinch, my heart hurt harder. I couldn’t swallow the fact that he wouldn’t wake up. 

 As I was busy secretly pinching my father’s arms, the neurosurgeon appeared.

“Hey, you are the daughter right. Where’s your mom?”

“ She’s waiting outside,” I told him. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only one person was allowed into the ICU at a time. I felt slightly fortunate, I didn’t have to watch my mom scream and cry in front of me(If there’s one thing that made me cry, it was watching my favourite people cry). But my luck didn’t last long. 

“Oh no, that’s ok,” he looked at the nurse. “Let her in too,” he ordered. 

5 minutes later, my mom appeared. It took 5 minutes because she had to wear the disposable cloak, disposable mask, disposable hat and disposable gloves before entering the ICU. All thanks to the virus crisis. 

My mom, with her red, tear-drenched eyes, walked straight towards my father.

“Wake up, look, your daughters here. Your stupid careless daughter. You don’t want her being careless for the rest of her life. Wake up, watch over her and yell at her till she learns!” (It was just like in the movies).

My heart hurt unbearably now and tears clouded my vision. I silently cried beside my mom, still pinching. I had a long life ahead of me and a lot of new people to meet, but my mom would be so alone. I could tell she was trying to think about anything but the future.  

My mom was being a little scary. The three nights my dad was in the hospital, my mom, who hates being touched, hugged me so tightly while trying to sleep, the fact that there’s a 5% chance that brain aneurysms are genetic seemed to bother her more than it did me, she kept checking on me every 5 minutes. 

Three nights, we let him survive high on medication, so his heart would keep pumping at least until my brother arrived from the US. The last thing any of us wanted was my brother to come home after almost a year to find his dad no more. I wasn’t allowed to tell my brother anything about my dad’s condition either, he was travelling alone, couldn’t risk giving him tragic information. 

At 3 a.m, an hour after my brother visited my dad in the hospital, we were told the medication wasn’t helpful anymore. His pulse dropped rapidly and his heartbeat one last time.

That was the second time in all my life I heard my brother cry. 

“None of you are to blame. He was just unfortunate. He was born with a weak vessel in his brain. Some things can’t be controlled.” The doctor had said. But there must be a reason. Our quest for reason is what makes us human, after all. 

Since there wasn’t any physical sign as the doctor had mentioned, “It is undetectable. It bursts when it bursts”, my mom and I began exploring other kinds of signs. The lockdown was a blessing in disguise so that we could spend more time with him in his last days, maybe we visited our native out of the blue last week because he wanted to meet our relatives one last time, maybe we never celebrated birthdays as the others do because someday someone was going to leave the world on one of our birthdays.

But there was one sign that bothered me the most. It was an incident that happened the day before my dad was taken to the hospital. 

I was filling out details for my college application and I picked up my dad’s phone to get an OTP, that instant his phone shut down and I’d jokingly commented, “ What is this? Get a new phone. This phone looks like it’s going to die any day, just like you.” My dad didn’t like spending on fancy devices. He would spend loads of money on healthy foods and buy himself tons of fancy t-shirts and sports shoes, occasionally get us what we ask for but never upgraded his gadgets unless it falls very behind in technology.

My dad laughed and hit my back,” What did you say? I look like I’m going to die any day huh?”

At that moment it felt like a joke. It was like telling a healthy 6-year-old, he was going to die of a heart attack soon(My dad was nutrition and diet-obsessed and quite healthy for his age).

I replayed this incident in my head countless times and each time felt more bitter than the previous. I knew deep down, this incident had nothing to do with my father’s sudden death but it still bothered me, the absence of signs had made me look at otherwise irrelevant things. My mom didn’t know about this conversation. I wanted to tell her, but I couldn’t. I was too scared. My mom was rational enough to know I was not the one to blame but talking about my dad and death might tear her apart.

It’s been quite a few months, I tried to write it down, tell strangers about it. I couldn’t tell my friends, I was afraid it would make them feel uncomfortable. When I run out of things to do or shows to watch, my thoughts drift to this little piece of peace I will never be able to get back unless I tell my mom. Significant or insignificant, I believed my mom deserved to know. Would telling my mom make me selfish, or would it be the right thing to do?

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Growing Up

by: Muskan

I’m turning 20 next week which means that I’m growing up but it feels like I’m growing older, although I haven’t even begun to experience my youth yet. So I sit on the floor of my bedroom at 3 am caught between looking forward to my youth and looking back at my childhood. And I’ve never been good at decisions so I convince myself that I can do both. I can write a eulogy for all the parts of me that did not make it out alive and a love letter to those that did. I have no balance, it’s a funeral or wedding in my head.

  I stop to remind myself that this one is only a birthday and I’ve had 19 of these before but the problem is that I can’t remember growing up. I can’t remember when my mom stopped chopping my food into tiny pieces at the dinner table, or when she stopped checking on me for brushing my teeth every morning. I can’t remember when I stopped asking for goodnight kisses or sliding into my parent’s bed after having a nightmare. I can’t point out when adults started cursing around me without apologizing, or when I was allowed to make my own decisions. I don’t remember things changing.

I don’t remember when my morning routine changed from getting out of bed for breakfast to staying in and convincing myself that I am enough and I’m hardly convinced, so I repeat it like a prayer throughout the day in every mirror that I face. And I’m making an effort to face mirrors more often. 

I spent my teenage years being obsessed with how I looked and feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I’m very resentful and I’m very angry at myself for that, I had so much potential, energy, and drive but instead of doing anything that I wanted with that I directed all that fire inwards and burnt myself up, and tried to make myself beautiful and perfect. Now I’m planting wildflowers in that same ash, not because they grow beauty but because they grow happiness through thick and thin.

I believe that there is a moment in your youth when you don’t belong to anybody. A moment when I’m not really a daughter, a sister, or anyone’s partner. When I’m not related to anyone at all so that I can madly fall in love with myself. But I can’t love myself if I’m resentful at versions of my past, especially when I’m alone. I repeat at my reflection that I am more than a shrine of my past traumas.

So I owe the biggest apology to my past self because no one’s crueler to her than me. I forgive her because I know that she was only trying her best. And I remind myself that she does not define me, rather she will always be the context for who I was becoming, who I am today.

And I thought that I would have finally found happiness, but happiness and acceptance aren’t interchangeable. I still need to unpick parts of myself that I’ve created to protect myself, skin so thick that I wouldn’t drip with blood in case I brushed up against something. And I still don’t know what happiness feels like without the impending wave of sadness to hit like a tsunami. All that I do know now is that I’m not scared anymore, to grow up, to grow old, or to grow young, because nonetheless, I am growing. 

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Onam:A perspective

by: Joshua

I don’t really know how I’m gonna start this but let’s see how it goes?

I’m not a Malayali, so I was clearly shocked when I was tasked with writing a piece on Onam. I was asked to write about Onam from my perspective and thanks to my ‘mallu’ peeps I have some content.

Also, I’m guessing almost everyone knows why Onam is celebrated but just in case someone is unaware, I shall specify. Onam is a harvest festival usually taking place around August and September. It is celebrated for 10 days with various festivities and activities. 

All the knowledge I have about Onam is from my ‘mallu’ friends(all “amazing”). My best friend is a Malayali, so growing up I spent a fair amount of time at his place, chilling. I spent last Thiruvonam(last day of Onam) at his place and I was a bit surprised looking at the food(Obviously I’m gonna talk about the food). Essentially, I don’t really eat vegetarian food much and it being a festival day, well….there was only veg food, so I was a bit like umm…okay…

The meal is called Sadhya and is eaten over a banana leaf. I sat at the edge of the table, getting ready to eat when one by one the dishes were served and instantly filled the entirety of the leaf. The amount of variety was insane and really overwhelming at first. I don’t remember what the dishes were called but I have to say, they were DELICIOUS. I rarely say this for veg dishes but they were amazing and I was stuffed to the point where I couldn’t move(whew). 

In school, all our teachers would wear the traditional white and gold saree and we would have a huge pookalam(flower rangoli is my best description) in the lobby. The best part was even the teachers who weren’t from Kerala would join in and celebrate, showing their love for Onam.

Okay, so I took a break in between writing this piece since I was out of ideas but I think I might be onto something small.

Since I joined VIT I’ve met a lot of new people and made quite a few mallu friends. These people are so annoying yet so chill, especially this one character(inserts upside-down head emoji) but I’ll tell you about them some other day. So essentially they’ve introduced me to Malayalam media and I wasn’t really expecting it to be so good. From movies to songs and even a youtube channel. Coming to my point, so the aforementioned channel is named Karikku and they make hilariously funny videos in Malayalam(since I don’t understand a lot of it, I use subtitles) and they have like two videos based on Onam which feature short stories. They show how bachelors miss celebrating Thiruvonam with their families and try to make things work among themselves but don’t really succeed. It also involves various plot points which make it hilarious. Towards the end, they are shown united and together and how the spirit of oneness bonds them together. Just like it’s shown, Onam is a festival that is fun when celebrated with one another, with friends and family. My friends have opened my mind to new experiences and I thank them for that(if not for them I don’t know how I would’ve written this piece). Unfortunately this Onam I won’t be able to go have Sadhya(inserts crying emoji). I do not exaggerate when I tell you how tasty it is but it is yummmmmm. 

I don’t know what more I could add to this but considering I went from eating Sadhya to talking about a Malayali youtube channel and I am surprised I had things to talk about. Honestly, never have I struggled to write a piece like this but at the same time, I genuinely loved writing this. Lots of memories came running back to me while I was thinking about this, made me a bit happy 🙂

Happy Onam to everyone and especially to my Mallu Kuttis( the word means small)<3. Hope y’all have an amazing time!

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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.