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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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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.

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The Microtonal Beauty of Jazz.

by:Viraaj

First celebrated on April 30th, 2011, International Jazz Day, a day that highlights Jazz and its role in uniting people all across the globe. But what really is jazz? What makes it different from other forms of music?

By definition, Jazz is a genre that has its origins in the African-American communities of Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America. It has its roots in 19th and 20th century Blues and Ragtime. It is characterized by blues notes, swing, complex chords, poly-rhythms, microtones and above all Improvisation.

But, to me, jazz is a form of music that gives the player freedom to play whatever, freedom to interpret the music in their own way, meaning that no two performances, even by the same musician are never the same. Each performance changes with the performer’s mood, their interactions with their bandmates and their experience, this means that melodies, harmonies, solos and even the time signatures change with each performance. Jazz truly represents the diversity of the individual, and as a result of this freedom, we have multiple sub-genres or forms, each varying slightly from the other. This is in stark contrast to Classical Music, staying true to the source is important. Any and all deviation from what is written on the sheets of music in front of you is not perceived well.

Jazz bands usually have a soloist that is supported by a rhythm section that have instruments such as a piano or guitar, or both, a double bass and drums.  The rhythm section supports the soloist, giving them a solid base to build off of and often responding to the changes that the soloist makes, ensuring that the soloist is able to stand out to the crowd. In comparison to this, forms of jazz such as Free Jazz and Avant-Garde reduce this separation between the soloist and the rhythm sections, giving the other instruments a license to move away from the source based on their mood.

In Jazz, there is this requirement for the players to abandon classical notions of sticking to a scale or a time signature and explore the possibilities of what can and will sound good. As someone who had just completed what seemed like the basics of music theory, Jazz seemed like this over-the-top, complicated genre that only experienced players attempted. The complicated chords and the quick scale changes, were all too difficult to comprehend. And while I still find these techniques complicated, it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the songs.

Jazz takes you away from the 4 chord monotony that is present in a lot of modern songs (take for example Dusk Till Dawn by Zayn)  and stretches the limits of what is perceived as possible. Compared to other genres such as Pop, Rock and Punk, the variety in Jazz is what I find appealing, though Linkin Park is and always will be my favourite band. And this, at least in my opinion, separates the average album pop or rock song from songs like ‘Boy’ and ‘L.A. Girls’ by Charlie Puth and Bruno Mars’ ‘Leave the Door Open’, all of which are amazing songs. If you’re into anime like I am, then background scores produced by Studio Ghibli have some amazing songs that while not necessarily Jazz, do have a lot of influence from Jazz music. And if you like to waste time on YouTube or Instagram or even on Reddit, go look up Charles Cornell, Adam Neely and their likes.

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TELUGU NUTHANA SAMVATSARA SUBHAKANKSHALU

by: Rithika Palvayi

Hmmmm, if I’d have to choose between “3, 2, 1…..Happy New Year” and, “Ugadi Subhakankshalu”, I’d go with the latter, any day. Because apart from wearing our traditional outfits and clicking some of the best pictures, there’s much more than you’d expect there to be. You might be appalled by the revelation, but I’m guessing you won’t be if you kept reading. 

If you’re also thinking, “what the hell?”, you should take a trip to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (went by alphabetical order, no biasing) – the two profound Telugu states of India, during April, more or less. That’s when our New Year celebrations take place. The fun in waking up to the smell of the tamarind paste/juice stands unparalleled. The special delicacy we make that day is not only our favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner but also holds importance and much meaning in our lives. 

Bet you’re curious to know what’s so tasty about it. Let me walk you through.

I had to ask my Grandma for all the information. I definitely prefer her over Google and I’m intransigent about it. 

We start by grating off slices or chopping up fine pieces of jaggery which is the purest form of sweet. And it happens to represent happiness in our life. And we add much more jaggery than any other ingredient because we love to believe that no matter what, life would turn out well in the end. 

Then comes the unripe mango, also small pieces again. Preferably so, because it stands for the surprises thrown at us during this journey. I bet not many are fans of that surprise element, huh? 

Maybe they also have the greater good motive, we never know. 

Remember the tamarind I was flaunting about? Ah, yes. Woefully, being so tasty, tamarind happens to represent the feeling of disgust. That same feeling I happen to experience when I see pictures of couples on my Instagram. 

The real surprising element here is the neem flower. It depicts the sorrows. You might not know but it tastes bad. If you ever taste the ‘Ugadi pachadi’, do not bite on this flower. It’ll ruin everything, just like sadness does. Watch the movie Inside Out, you’ll know that sadness is the enemy. Did you also know that neem has antifungal properties? 

And then comes the Telugu people’s most favorite vegetable – chilies. I prefer chili powder to this, though. It’s here to show the anger. Be it pent up or that had been taken out on your soft toys. We add this in the least amounts of all because of obvious reasons.

This one ingredient makes its presence known. Yeah, it’s the salt. It represents fear. Maybe that’s why my mom adds extra salt into my glass when I have this because generally I’m a brave person, but you put on a horror movie, I’m scared more than a scaredy-cat.  

My mom also adds bananas for the sweetness. It only ‘engorgio’s the taste. Another choice could be sugarcane pieces too.   

You should also know that Ugadi means ‘Start of a new Yug’. This tradition of celebration was started by a great king, Gautamuiputra Shatakarni. Note that he put his mother’s name before his. On a side note: RESPECT WOMEN AS MUCH THEY DESERVE.

If you’d noticed, I womansplained six simple tastes to you all. They’re called ‘shadh ruchulu’ – literally meaning six tastes. Unlike most of our lives, this ‘pachadi’ has a balance of taste, which wishes the ones having it to also have proportionate amounts of right feelings and balanced life. 

Hope you visit the  Telugu states and have this beautiful and the tastiest traditional concoction which, I promise also is a cleanse to your body.

PS: Having too much on the same day might result in sitting in the bathroom the next day for a long time, so I’ll go charge my phone already. 

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Easter Eggstravaganza!

by: Prajjwal RT

Scattered and hidden all across

Eggs of different sizes, of different shapes, of winsome patterns

Few were hand-carved wooden, 

Few were plastic,

The remaining few, real

Concealed and camouflaged, 

With appetizing confectionery beneath

Oh, what joy it was to hunt the Easter Eggs!

And when you crack it open

You find the empty tomb of Jesus, 

Where the birth of a new life took place

The Resurrection

The belief in life after death

In strewing April flowers after the frigid winters

In spirits rising from ashes

In a new dawn, awakening us from a deep slumber

In a welcoming hope after morbid miseries

Each egg, entitled to fetch different rewards

A handful of them,

For your healing and reconciliation,

For mercy and compassion

For love and affection

And the rest of which which are bogus and insipid

Attractive from the outside but blemished within

The ones filled with a void

The emptiness and nothingness

Weighing you down

And Eastertide is all about rejoicing

For He has risen from the dead

Victorious from all the sins and vengeance

And the Jesus in you awakens,

To spread peace and joy 

To gather some eggs in your basket of life 

Keeping the good ones

And discarding the flawed ones

Wishing you all, a successful Easter Hunt!

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culture Day ethnic Family festival Friends India

Bura Na Mano, Holi Hai!

by:Viraaj

Holi – the festival where people rejoice and celebrate forgetting their biases/ grudges and come together as one with bright shimmering colours all over them, loaded with pichkaris and water balloons, sweet/ savories, and not to be missed – bhaang – the favorite drink of Lord Shiva. It is a festival that aims at teaching each other equality as people apply colour to each other’s faces regardless of their caste, gender, and religion. 

Being celebrated all over India, the festival goes by many names, Rang Panchmi in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Phakuwah in Assam, Basant Utsav in West Bengal, Manjal Kuli in Kerala to name a few.  It is also celebrated in Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Holi is celebrated in the month of Phalgun, which generally falls around February or March. The festival starts the night before Holi, marked by Holika Dahan, where a bonfire or Holika is lit around dusk and everyone gathers around it, eating or talking with their friends. 

Holika Dahan is followed by Holi, which marks the triumph of good over evil and truth over ignorance. There are many stories that talk about the origin of Holi, one such story shows the origins of Lord Krishna’s blue skin complexion. On being poisoned by the Putana’s breast milk, Lord Krishna’s skin turned blue in colour making him doubt if the fair-skinned Radha would like him. His mother suggested smearing colour on Radha’s face and changing her complexion. He did as he was told and Radha accepted him despite his skin colour. As a result, Holi is also celebrated as the festival of divine love of Radha and Krishna. 

Today, not one year goes by without articles on how harmful synthetic colours are and how polluting it is, but Holi was never a polluting festival. The colours used in ancient times were all extracted from different natural sources, such as flower petals and spices. These also had medicinal properties and benefited the skin. 

As industries grew, the production of synthetic colours became cheaper and their sale became profitable, this resulted in the popularisation of these synthetic colours and the decline of organic colours. However, with the rising concerns of the negative impacts of synthetic colours, organic colours have become more common during Holi celebrations.

Every colour used in Holi has a significance:-

Blue represents Lord Krishna’s blue skin complexion, 

Red symbolizes love and matrimony, 

Green symbolizes new beginnings., 

Yellow signifies health and happiness and 

Orange, though not traditionally used in Holi, can be seen being used frequently today, it symbolizes the sun which represents a new day.

This year, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and celebrating Holi as we did a few years ago may not be possible. This doesn’t mean we stop celebrating the festival, this year, we can celebrate the festival by spending time with our loved ones, forgiving the grudges we bear against each other, and accept people regardless of their caste, religion, or gender. This year let’s ensure that we are able to overcome the pandemic, following the rules set by the government, staying true to the heart of Holi, and overcoming the evil of COVID-19.