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The love-hate relationship

by:Aanchal

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

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The Thrilling Touchdown

by:Aasika

On the bustling dawn of June 24, 1982, the magnificent British airways flight 9 bearing 247 lives set off for its long journey piercing through several time zones from Heathrow, London to Auckland, New Zealand. Akin any other day, as the flight picked its customary route devoid of menace to Auckland, it was expected to perform halts at Bombay, Madras, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Melbourne to unload and load passengers before finally arriving in Auckland.

Moments after the plane landed in Kuala Lumpur, the aircraft fuelers barged into the runway and emptied 100 tons of fuel into its tank and the weary flight crew was relieved by the consummate captain Eric Moody, the avid first officer Roger Greaves, and a new cabin crew before it took off again to resume to Auckland. The passengers were experiencing a smooth flight and relishing the cozy inflight services. After ensuring that the midnight sky is lucid and the weather conditions are pleasant, Eric showed himself out of the cockpit to spend a penny.

The captain’s run to the comfort room was intruded on when the first officer called him out. Sensing the seriousness in Roger’s tone, Eric strode towards the cockpit. On his way back, the first red flag arose. Eric espied patterns of fumes escaping the ventilation duct. Given that the crew members were permitted to smoke in the plane until the late 1980s, the captain initially disregarded the smoke. Seconds later, the intensity of the smoke made it challenging for the captain to ignore it like a cigar corollary. The pilot slid the cockpit door open, still perplexed from trying to discover the source of the smoke.

As Eric entered the cockpit, he was hustled out of his thoughts as he witnessed the concerned first officer’s fixated look on the windshield of the plane which was now being ambushed by flashes of light. The captain calmed the perturbed first officer by explaining that the flashes are a resultant of the “Elmo’s fire” phenomenon which is caused by the thunder clouds producing static electricity and dismisses the arisen second red flag as well. When the metal surface of an aircraft comes in contact with the static electricity created by the thunder clouds, Elmo’s fire phenomenon occurs.

The pilots then cautiously checked the radar in anticipation of spotting the thunder cloud liable for this but to their astonishment, no such cloud was found anywhere around the airplane’s vicinity. This added up to the captain’s perplexity as now he hasn’t the faintest notion of what causes the light flashes. After exchanging glances of bafflement and letting out sighs of exasperation, the duo took a beat to process whatever had happened till now but certainly, they were not mentally prepared to process the series of events that’s about to transpire in the next few minutes.

The plane was approaching Jakarta and it was 8:40 PM in Jakarta now, and the amount of smoke entering the cabin was swiftly increasing. This issue started to create fret and panic among the passengers. The temperature in the cabin began augmenting exponentially and the people in the plane started sweating profusely and experienced breathing discomforts. Furthermore, the passengers seated beside the window witnessed weird sparks in the wings. All of this happened in a span of two minutes only and put the cabin in complete chaos and the attendants attempted their best to comfort the passengers.

At 8:42 PM, the captain received an alert call from the first engineer officer who stated that the plane’s fourth engine was on fire and instructed to shut it down immediately. Only now did the captain fathom the predicament their flight is in. It was 8:43 PM and the captain received another warning call stating that their second engine had failed as well. Taken aback by the instantaneous turn of events, before he could even have a moment to loosen up and clear his head, he received a couple more warning calls stating that the airplane’s first and third engine had failed as well.

Several thousand feet above the ground, the flight was now levitating with no functioning engines, or, the flight was now gradually falling. The first officer quickly garnered the facts, did the math, and eventually concluded that the plane can fly for another 23 minutes and that it is capable of covering only 168 kilometers more and the pilots hoped to find an airport to land in that range. The Jakarta airport happened to be the closest.

The captain contacted the Jakarta airport immediately and explained the criticality of their situation. The air traffic controllers meticulously listened and also enlightened him that currently, they were hovering over the Java Island area which is comprised of a multitude of mountains, and insinuated that they fly at least 11,500 ft above sea level to prevent collisions and reach the airport. Haplessly, the current rate of descent which the plane is undergoing makes it improbable to fly the plane at the required altitude and make the cut.  

The pilots looked around in hopes to sight an acreage to safely land the plane and the Indian Ocean turns out to be their only option. The pilots geared up to perform the intentional water touchdown right after the captain performed one more futile attempt to restart their engines. Even though the captain’s landing announcement rendered momentary solace for the passengers, their apprehension returned when they saw the flight’s engines on fire through the windows.

Individual apprehension transformed into mass hysteria in the cabin and the passengers were having a hard time pulling themselves together. Families snuggled together, the parents protectively embraced their children, youngsters supportively held the arms of their paramours, the elderly faithfully chanted prayers and the others in utter despair started writing for their loved ones.

Just when the passengers were dwelling in the presumption that their circumstance couldn’t deteriorate any further, the cabin started depressurizing and the lights in the cabin started flickering. Next, the oxygen level in the cabin instantly dropped and commenced another commotion as the passengers jostled to grab themselves an oxygen mask. However, the depressurization formed in the cabin was so high that not even the masks could avail the asphyxiation experienced by the members in the plane.

Acknowledging the jeopardy caused by the depressurization, the captain performs a nosedive by motioning the plane perpendicularly down and descends to an altitude of 13,500 ft now. Only now did the oxygen level in the cabin normalize and the passengers in the plane were able to breathe properly. Around 8:56 PM, the captain made one last attempt to start the fourth engine and to his surprise, the fourth engine started and miraculously so did the other three engines.

The captain’s ecstasy at that moment was inexplicable. At the current low-end altitude at which the plane was flying, the mountains were still a peril. So, the captain deftly lifted the plane to a decent sea level to elude the mountains. Minutes after the lift, Elmo’s fire phenomenon recurred and the second engine failed again. Not desiring the other obnoxious series of events to repeat and before the other three engines could fail, he steered back the plane to a lower altitude of 12,000 ft. 

After tackling several other hindrances, the flight finally approached the Jakarta airport. The fact that Elmo’s fire obfuscated the windshield and the landing wheels weren’t functioning perfectly didn’t make their landing any easier but the pilot succeeded in making a not-so-smooth yet safe touchdown. Thrilled by the successful landing the crew members let out sighs of relief and giggles of happiness and the passengers safely exited the plane with no major injuries.

Later, the investigators came up with plausible theories to explain the weird behavior of the aircraft. The airplane happened to have flown right over the Mount Galuggung Volcano. The ashes from this Volcano had formed a cloud at that particular altitude in the atmosphere where the plane was flying. Since the ashes were dry, the layer was invisible on the radar and the pilots were ignorant of the existent threat. The ashes of this Volcano, when it encompassed the aircraft, was liable for all the factors from Elmo’s fire to the engine failures. 

This route to Auckland was shut down for a while after this incident. A couple of days later, after a Singapore airlines flight encountered the same issue while flying over java island, this route has been permanently banned and an alternative has been provided for the pilots to fly.

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THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS – A REVIEW

by Chitteshwari

I don’t know about you, but when I think of books written by Indian authors, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is always the first that comes to mind. After years of putting it off, I finally delved into its world recently.

Published in 1997, it is a contemporary novel that is highly regarded by both, readers and critics alike. Set in the little town of Ayemenem in Kerala in 1969, it revolves around the lives of Ammu, her fraternal twins Rahel and Estha, and the rest of their family. The plot dances gracefully around one specific event in their lives that changes their world forever. 

The first thing you notice about the book is its writing. Roy is an impeccable writer and it shows in every single line. She works her magic so you can visualize every little detail of the surrounding she is describing. Certain phrases are repeated throughout the book and the result is haunting. In one chapter, she describes, over the course of multiple pages, a Kathakali routine performed by two dancers in a temple courtyard. The description is so startlingly vivid that when it ended, I felt as though I had just witnessed the first Kathakali performance of my life. In another scene, she narrates in detail a horrifying incident of police brutality that sent chills down my spine.

The book is not just an ordinary story, but an eye-opener about the severity of the caste system that exists in India. Throughout the book, Roy weaves a strong political commentary into the writing, giving insight into the advent and rise of communism in Kerala. If you venture into this novel thinking it will be a pleasant, comfortable read, you will soon realize that you are highly mistaken. The author does not sugarcoat things. She serves society in its raw form on the platter and yanks away the reader’s rose-tinted glasses. She does not shy away from exploring topics that are considered taboo even today, and the various court cases filed against her for it serve as plenty of proof. To witness a story so honest to itself and its world is quite refreshing, in the same way, that dipping your toes into an icy lake in the middle of the night is.

Arundhati Roy does not create any one-dimensional story or character. She gives almost never-ending depth to every element of the story, which is commendable, considering that this is her debut novel. The minor characters are in no way just props used to further the main storyline (something which many authors and scriptwriters of today could make note of). Even the local temple elephant, Kochu Thumban has his contribution to the way the lives of the protagonists are shaped, just like every minor element in our real-life surroundings affects our growth as human beings. The butterfly effect is something that comes into focus here. However, one (and probably the only) drawback of this book is that there are maybe one too many characters mentioned. Up until the first quarter of the book, this creates some amount of confusion because one tends to misplace their names and identities.

That being said, Roy presents her characters as they are, with all their uneven edges and rough textures. Everyone is reduced to their crude humanity, stripped down to their naked, imperfect morality. She makes the reader jump from hate to love to sympathy, all in the span of a single page. The reader’s heart is almost a puppet in her skilled hands and she masterfully tugs the right strings every single time. She evokes every emotion in the spectrum and in the end, you’re left with a flood of empathy. You’re not going to find any black and white characters on these pages.

The highlight of the book, however, is the sequence and pacing of the narration. The book starts at the end of the story and finishes in the middle. Roy delves not just into the events of a single night, but everything in the past that led up to the present, and the aftermath of the tragedy, over a decade later. Sometimes she describes only a couple of nights over the course of a chapter, whereas in other places, she covers years of the characters’ lives in the span of two pages. Throughout this narration, the reader is never in confusion, all thanks to the brilliance of her craft. She works the reins of storytelling flawlessly and (almost effortlessly) ensures that every change of pace and every switch in the timeline hits exactly as she intends it to.

The God of Small Things is a beautifully complex book, a mirror held to society and humanity. Arundhati Roy ambitiously takes on a lot of elements and gets most of them right. It’s a must-read, both for fans of artful storytelling and for those who look for books with a cause. A sure contemporary classic in the years to come, it completely deserves that spot in every reader’s bookshelf and heart.

Rating: 4/5

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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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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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Conspiracy Theories That We Wished Were True

by:Siddhaarth,Aasika and Aanchal

Conspiracy theories may seem strange, unreasonable, or even peculiar when you read them but one thing’s for sure, they are a hell lot interesting and fun to read about. They pique our curiosity and make us want to know what really happened or what could have happened, and some of us even wish, these theories were true. We wished that the theories such as the existence of the Illuminati, the 9/11 terrorist attacks being an inside job by the US Government, the assumption that we might be living in a simulation and many others, were true. 

As far as secret organizations go, the most well-known is probably the Illuminati. Their rumoured members include nearly every public figure in the world, including Beyonce, Paris Hilton, Barack Obama, Bob Barker, Adolf Hitler, and many more. Their supposedly powerful cabal has been implicated in the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, the death of Whitney Houston, and the Ice Bucket Challenge, and is said to be pulling the strings that make the world go round. 

The Illuminati was founded in Bavaria, Germany, back in 1776, by Adam Weishaupt, an anti-clerical professor who wanted to spread Enlightenment-era ideas, an attempt to shift the pro-monarchy, Catholic Supremacy movement into a rational, scientific, and somewhat more secular movement. They envisioned nothing less than a world revolution that would result in a universal republic. A new world order necessitated the destruction of Christianity and all other forms of religion. It also meant the annihilation of all governments, the new order would bring liberation from all social, moral, and religious restraint and embrace absolute equality and social fraternity. Religious superstition would be replaced with atheism for the masses and a kind of enlightened pantheism for the higher classes. The Illuminati gained momentum in its initial years itself, having about 3000 members, some of whom were both a part of the Freemasons and the Illuminati. 

Once the cult became too large to remain a secret, knowledge of the group got out. After being accused of publishing anti-religious literature, the Bavarian government banned all secret societies, seized their records, and published them. This effectively ended the existence of the group, but this is just what meets the eye. It was believed that the Illuminati continued to survive as an underground organization and kept meeting at secret locations and even planned greater events. Some believed that the Illuminati was behind the French Revolution, even conspired the 9/11 attacks, and had links with JFK’s assassination. 

There are also theories that the Illuminati has been killing celebrities and replacing them with clones to brainwash society. Also, the heavily militarized police forces hint at government involvement in the Illuminati and their goal of establishing a world totalitarian government. There is evidence for these. The first one is that many celebrities have been recorded to behave ‘abnormally’, like staring into space, changing looks, and abnormal behaviour at interviews. Also, the police are more militarized than ever, because heavily militarized police will be required to control the crowds and haul up anyone who tries to defy the idea proposed by the authorities. The number of people in America who believe in the Illuminati, according to research, was a whopping 30 million, which means they’ve got a huge population to believe in their existence and speculated involvement in various activities happening around us

I want this theory to be true, being interested in the supernatural things that happen around us and fairly good evidence of the Illuminati being on their mission to a New World Order makes me believe that these events are intricately planned and makes me connect the strings to something greater than what is suggested otherwise.

One of the darkest moments in modern human history is September 11th, 2001 known as the day when the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. These terrorist attacks were conducted by the Al Qaeda terrorist organization in the form of hijacking of planes.

Now, one of the many conspiracy theories regarding the 9/11 incident is that these attacks were instead planned by the Bush administration that was in power at the time. It is believed that Dick Cheney (the former Vice President of the US) and the top branch of the Bush administration had conspired with Al Qaeda and used Osama Bin Laden as a cover-up to help execute this attack. 

A lot of people might be curious as to why would the United States Government carry out such a dastardly act against its citizens. One possible explanation is that the United States and the Bush administration needed a reason to intervene in/invade the Middle East (Afghanistan and Iraq), but could not do so due to legal reasons and international condemnation.

Hence, after the 9/11 attacks had occurred, a United Nations Security Council meeting was called upon and in this very meeting, the US delegation had referred to the phrase “War on Terror” and the UNSC resolution 1368 was passed. This Resolution stated that any country could invade another country on the grounds of fighting terrorism. Hence, it gave the United States an excuse to invade Afghanistan, Iraq, and later Syria. I believe that this conspiracy theory could be true because all the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly in the sense that the attacks and their aftermath were truly in line with the USA’s agenda at the time, giving more credibility to the proposed theory. 

Technological advancement is transpiring at a rapid rate. The evolution of technology is making human life much more sophisticated, enthralling, and elementary. The civilians of this modern era, are coming up with incredibly indispensable inventions and astoundingly alluring game simulations frequently. The periodical amelioration of the current technologies aspires to make the simulations indistinguishable from reality. But what if this tangible world which we believe we are residing in is a convincing simulation by a super-advanced civilization and in reality, we are the creation and not the creators?

While some consider this conspiracy theory to be bonkers and some haven’t given it a sufficient thought to land on an opinion yet, the theory in actuality doesn’t appear insane after Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom initially claimed that we are living in a simulation and over the years astute scientists ended up garnering evidence to assist his theory. 

Uncertain assumptions like the impossibility to replicate the entire universe as a smooth simulation and to generate infinite power to incessantly run the simulation stimulates the civilians to speculate otherwise. Furthermore, a few other prominent and persuasive presumptions provoke us to contemplate the credibility of this conspiracy theory.

Several people are believed to have witnessed TV coverage of Nelson Mandela’s demise in the 1980s when in actual he passed away in 2013. This is the famous “Mandela effect” and it nudges us to think about the existence of a parallel universe and that the controllers of the simulation are attempting to change the past. 

Another important piece of evidence being the popular double-slit experiment. When electrons are directed towards a copper plate normally, electrons demonstrate wave-live behaviour and when the same experiment is conducted “under observation”, the electrons manifest particle-like behaviour. Hence, this makes us wonder if our simulation is conserving its existing resources and offers certain things only when it knows it is being observed. 

Elon Musk, in a lot of his interviews, has mentioned that he’s a firm believer of Nick Bostrom’s hypothesis. Given the realistic simulation games which were non-existent until 40 years ago and the present photorealistic 3D games with millions playing them simultaneously, the augmenting advancement would automatically lead to the development of more realistic games, making them indifferentiable from concrete reality.

Other compelling shreds of evidence being the ones generated by a group of researchers in the University of Washington which proclaimed that malicious computer code can be embedded in our physical DNA strands and hence hinting that our biological reality could have been a computer code all along. The universe is governed by a set of mathematical laws. Hence, we are again pressured to mull that the simulation is programmed to run with those laws.

I feel this theory would be awesome to be true. Firstly, if it was all a simulation and if the life we are living is utterly bogus then I speculate it is safe to assume that the after-life wouldn’t go hard on us. Secondly, it would be good to know that we aren’t liable for our feckless actions and reckless decisions. Thirdly, the post-human created advanced machinery showcases the magnificence of the humans who modernized the world. 

The assassination of the youngest man elected to the office, the 35th American president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, often referred to by his initials as JFK induced controversies all around the globe. The unexpected and unfortunate demise of every young president in the world remains a conspiracy and Kennedy’s death was no exception. On November 21, 1963, JFK, the Vice president, and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy embarked on a five-city fundraising trip to Texas. The president was warmly greeted by the audience and the presidential party settled to spend their night at Fort Worth.

The next morning, after delivering a speech at a Fort Worth chamber of commerce breakfast and Dallas’s love airport, he boarded his convertible Lincoln continental Limo with the Texas Governor John Connally and his first lady. The limo was on its way to Trade Mart where JFK was scheduled to address the gathering. Moments after the president’s car crossed the Texas school book depository building, around 12:30 PM, blaring noise of gunshots pervaded the atmosphere as the rigid bullets escaped the rugged rifle of a nefarious assassin.

A bullet pierced the base of Kennedy’s neck and eluded from the back of his throat and a follow-up bullet fired seconds after that, hit JFK right in the back of his head. The doctor’s efforts were in vain and Kennedy was officially declared dead around 1:00 PM on November 22, 1963. The word of the president’s demise propagated and shook the entire nation. From the sixth floor of the Texas school book depository building, bullet cases and an infantry rifle were retrieved, and later the rifle was identified to be Lee Harvey Oswald’s possession.

Oswald’s presence in the building before the firing was witnessed and when he was interrogated by a Dallas policeman, he gunned him down in front of several witnesses and entered the Texas Theater where he was apprehended around 1:50 PM. Officials started to doubt if Kennedy’s assassination was just an initial step by their enemies to destabilize the American government. Finally, when the footage of Kennedy’s assassination was shown in the ‘Good night America’ TV show, its reach went wide.

When the bullet hit JFK, his head jerked backwards, denoting that the shot came from in front of the president’s head. This indicates that it wasn’t from Oswald and establishes that there was a second shooter. Later, the Dictabelt audio recording made by a Dallas policeman revealed that three shots were fired by Oswald and the fourth one by another shooter, confirming the existence of a second shooter. Hence many people suggested that this is the start of something bigger and also speculated the involvement of Dallas right-wingers in this assassination. People truly believe that Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and Kennedy was also fed up with the actions of the CIA. For example, Kennedy was not pleased to hear about the assassination attempt of the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. Hence the CIA felt that Kennedy might disband them as an organization and hence people feel that they assassinated him because of this. I wish this theory was true because it appears more plausible and Kennedy deserves a rightful explanation for his assassination. 

However fascinating and intriguing the conspiracy theories are, they pan out as an unanswerable enigma that arouses controversies and keeps the ponderers packed.

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Making Meaning Out Of Madness

by:Harika,Netra and Sakshi

In recent years, conspiracy theories have been running rampant (thanks to WhatsApp university, viral Facebook, and blush-pink Instagram posts). We have all talked or heard about the famous myths surrounding the Holocaust, the CIA’s hand in JFK’s assassination, or 9/11 being an inside job and numerous other theories. We even made conspiracy theories out of fictional stories of cartoons and TV shows be it ‘Scooby Doo’, ‘Stranger Things’ or any other Alfred Hitchcock movie. Time and again, people have proven to love picking up clues, recognizing patterns, figuring out things for themselves, and ultimately enjoying the thrill that conspiracy theories have to offer. But is there more to it? Weaving conspiracy theories into real-life events makes them even more deceptive as they are all strung together in a dramatic and fictional manner. So, in some instances, these theories might make sense. But when you dig deeper, you begin noticing the lack of consistency and fact-based proof. And no, lack of proof shouldn’t be taken as evidence for the conspiracy. That’s the whole point. So what drives people to believe these poxy explanations or theories for such significant events? 

Conspiracy theories often take flight during unsettling times, for instance in a pandemic, after a terrorist attack, or during an election in a politically divided nation. It is natural and understandable to feel angry, frustrated, or saddened by these agonizing situations which lead people to find alternative ways to make sense of the situation. When people feel threatened and out of control, it’s natural to want to feel more control and bring order to the randomness. By cooking up a conspiracy theory, people try to understand the events and alleviate some uncertainty and anxiety. However, there’s more to conspiracy theories that we just need to make sense of.

If such theories are captivating and everyone wants to throw in their two cents, is everyone vulnerable to conspiratorial thinking? Not necessarily. It’s interesting to know that the people who believe in them have certain cognitive styles and personality traits. 

Researchers have found that people who believe in conspiracy theories tend to show characteristics such as eccentricity, narcissism, not being open to new experiences, low trust in others, a stronger need to feel special, a strong belief that the world is a dangerous place, and figuring out meaningful patterns when none exist. In a world where you are always hustling and battling for your position on the top of the rat race, it is logical to feel the want of being special which explains the increased belief of people in such theories. The higher the need to feel special and unique, the more likely a person is to believe in a conspiracy theory.

Just like how you need to plant a seed to grow a tree, you need to plant suspicion to build a conspiracy theory. Human minds seem to be prone to suspicious thoughts and paranoia which is considered to be an important evolutionary advantage. The paranoia that drives individuals to constantly scan the world for danger and suspect the worst of others probably provided a survival edge for humans.

So how do we plant this suspicion? 

There’s a mathematical explanation stating that any large structure will implicitly contain patterns if you pay attention. And here is where illusory pattern perception comes into play. Most of us, consciously or otherwise, have fallen prey to illusory pattern perception at least once in our lives. In my case, I’ve been going to sleep facing my left side for the past few days as I noticed that I tend to wake up earlier if I slept that way. There’s no logical reason behind that, except that, because it worked too often it felt like a pattern. Thus my mind unconsciously believed in this cooked-up theory of going to sleep facing my left side.

Pattern perception is the ability to perceive patterns and form meaningful connections between stimuli in our environment. These patterns can be real or something spun up by our creativity. While most of us seldom make huge decisions based on such patterns, we tend to take that direction in uncertain and desperate situations. In the case of conspiracy theories, conspiracy theorists carefully craft these theories, specifically highlighting these patterns. The more you think about these patterns, the more believable they start to sound and in no time you find yourself leaning further towards a claim that has no logical proof whatsoever. 

(Chuck E cheese conspiracy theory would be a great example if the article isn’t long already)

Pattern perception, despite being evolutionarily advantageous, ends up being a huge setback when unable to differentiate between real and illusory patterns.

But to talk about these particular traits and stimuli that drive people into believing in conspiracy theories, they can be broadly classified into three motives- epistemic, social, and existential.

The epistemic motive categorically deals with seeking causal explanations to something unanswered or uncertain. These explanations serve the need for people to feel safe and secure in their environment, giving them a sense of control. A related property is that they can protect cherished beliefs. The belief that vaccination is harmful or that climate change is a trivial concern falls under this category.

The social motive, on the other hand, is a consequence of our tribe mentality. We may find a social connection with like-minded people by being part of a community of believers. We also tend to identify with ideas held by those we find similar to us or feel obligated to agree with baseless beliefs to maintain a positive self-image in a group.

The existential motive justifies the behavior of folks accepting theories as a compensatory satisfaction when their needs are threatened. This motive is predominant in situations where people feel they have a lack of sociopolitical control or psychological empowerment. For example, in the conspiracy surrounding the 2020 US presidential elections, Trump supporters were overwhelmed when he lost the election. Fearing financial and social vulnerability, they endorsed theories that made them feel more comfortable.

Conspiracy theories are hardly based on facts, rather, they serve the purpose of confirming things we already believe in. Illusory pattern perception is one of the tools used in crafting these theories, in addition, theorists often build gripping narratives centered around you, the protagonist bound to propagating the truth, and the other believers play mentors and guide you through your journey. This storyline is one of the principal methods used by theorists to get you to join communities of believers. When people get too submerged in these stories, existing shreds of evidence become part of the conspiracy theories themselves. 

While the conspiracy theorists are responsible for conceiving an alluring and captive story, the internet promotes them. By prioritizing the most liked and shared posts, baseless theories end up being circulated uncontrollably.

Although it is difficult to keep calm during times of uncertainty, here are a few ways to avoid falling for conspiracy theories. Turn off the news, gadgets, or whatever is making you anxious. Stay away from social media or anything that repeatedly brings up concerning situations. Closely examine evidence and consciously tell yourself to think critically. Sometimes, even changing your perspective can help better your anxiety. Try to look at things more positively and visualize positive outcomes.

Last but not least, take good care of yourself. Remind yourself that your life lies in your hands and you’re the only person with actual control over yourself. 

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Mandela Effect

by:Akhil,Vaishnavi and Keerthana

I absolutely love conspiracy theories and everything to do with them. Sometimes they’re over-the-top crazy theories, and sometimes they actually make sense. But in the end, they are the gateways to imaginative and realistic stories that may be real. 

One of my favourite personal conspiracy theories is about the Mandela effect. 

The Mandela effect is a concept in which people, with no relation to each other, believe that a particular event transpired when it actually never did. 

An easier way of explaining the theory is implying that certain people share a memory of an instance that didn’t occur or occurred differently than how they actually remember it in their minds.     

The Mandela effect gets its name from an event in 2013 following the passing of world-renowned leader Nelson Mandela. During this time, many people believed that Nelson Mandela had already passed away in jail in 1980 despite him living on for another few years. The kick here is that the group of people that believed he was dead from 1980 were unrelated and had never met before. 

How then did all these unrelated people share a similar memory that had never happened? False memories?

Ok, let us assume some of them did have false memories of the event. But most of them went on to vividly describe the memorial service for Nelson Mandela and a speech given by his wife during his funeral. How could these then be false memories when each one of them recounted similar events that never transpired?

My conspiracy theory is that the Mandela effect is real (like literally!) and is not a mere play-of-the-mind. Many speculations (crazy people like me) support my stance, and I’ll be exploring the three most feasible and believable of the lot. 

The most appropriate explanation for the Mandela effect is the existence of alternate realities. To be more specific, parallel universes. The scientific approach to this concept is a wary and tiring path to tread, so I ask you this. 

Do you really believe we are the only planet blessed with life in this universe? Is there not a minute chance that there is one more lifeform out there? Is our universe the only one to exist? When we can imagine such a vast nature for the universe, then why not a parallel one? 

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that parallel universes exist, let’s explore how it actually works.

Basically, events transpire differently in our parallel universes. Different decisions lead to different outcomes and therefore lead to different realities. Like what if Hitler had actually won? That’s definitely not a reality I want to remember. So, sometimes discrepancies occur when these parallel universes accidentally spill into our reality. What causes these accidental merges? I don’t know. But are you seriously going to tell me that everything that has happened in history till now was supposed to be precisely that way? I don’t believe that. A small change anywhere in the past could cause changes in the future, and it would become so different that it would have to exist separately as an entirely new entity. 

That is why parallel universes, although with no proof of existence, are such a convincing way of explaining the Mandela effect. 

Next in line, we have an all-time favorite that is absolutely bonkers but also believable. Time travel.

The concept of time travel is reasonably straightforward. If someone traveled through time to the past or the future and changed the events of what had occurred or what was supposed to occur, the history of that reality would change. 

This concept actually ties into our previous claim of parallel universes. But here, instead of looking at reality like separate lines of existence, there is only one reality with an uncountable number of branches. Each branch, representing a change in that reality, would eventually grow into its own reality with branches of its own.  

Explained well by movies like Back To The Future and Tenet and novels like A Wrinkle in Time and The Time Machine, time travel caused different events to transpire in a particular reality. These events resulted in the creation of new realities. The interaction between these various realities is what causes the Mandela effect. 

In an iconic scene in the movie Star Wars, the character Darth Vader reveals that he is the father of Luke Skywalker to Luke himself. The original line goes, “No, I am your father.”, whereas most of the fanbase remembers the line as “Luke, I am your father.”. The fanbase swore that the line began with the word Luke, but on rewatching the film are bewildered to find out that that is not the case. They even found merchandise as evidence that supported their view, but it was never proven.  

This is a small but plausible example to prove the Mandela effect through the merging of realities.

Finally, the theory that even I would say is a bit far-fetched is the ideology that we are all living in a real-life simulation. 

Two factors question this theory but don’t disprove it. First, it would mean that everything we do to the smallest detail, like dropping a spoon, is written down and executed like a movie script. This, to me, is highly unlikely. Second, for us to be in a simulation, someone would have had to create everything in our simulation and would be controlling everything. This also seems too complex to imagine as it implies someone is controlling our whole lives. 

But some factors support the theory of a simulation. The number of reports and actual captured footage that show abnormal events like people appearing out of nowhere or objects strangely duplicated could all be ‘glitches’ in the system. These could all be errors that the ‘people’ running the program forgot to correct.  

Our constant development in the type of technology that humankind can create is another factor that proves that we may be able to actually run simulations like our world in the future. So, what if we are a simulation running in the future, being controlled by really advanced beings?

The story of The Matrix explores this unique, abnormal perspective on our reality and does an admirable job of convincing the audience that we are actually living in a simulation. 

Now that I’ve finished ranting about the Mandela effect and trying to convince you that it’s true, I’d like to end this by saying that the Mandela effect, at the end of the day, is a conspiracy theory. It may be true, although it has a higher chance of not being legitimate. But there is also no proof otherwise to state that the Mandela effect is not real. 

There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be either true or false.

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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.