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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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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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Stories Under The Sun

by:C

There’s a story I want to write about a man

Who lives in the house next to mine

Or in the house across the street

Or about a butterfly that interweaves a pattern

Around the pointed edges of a fern in my backyard;

A pattern that almost resembles a cocoon.

On most afternoons I see you before me,

Sweat glistening brighter than the rays of sun that

Burn dreams to a crisp outside.

In the moments I don’t see you, I envision you lying next to me,

Your face in close proximity.

Aren’t mirages supposed to cease?

The stories I want to tell never want to be told by me.

I want to write about how the man in the house

Stares at the butterfly every morning as he steps out

To collect his day’s newspaper;

How I am unsure if the butterfly dances for him

Or if he buys the newspaper as an excuse to witness

The former’s grace.

Of course, there are obvious plot holes in this story.

The butterfly wouldn’t live long enough for this to become

A habit for the man, and men do not need

Newspapers as an excuse to glance at a thing of beauty.

In the past, I wanted to be the kind of poet who describes

Her lover with only the most exquisite of metaphors

But I’ve realized I might not be the kind of person who

Likes to talk about her lover or even call someone her lover

For that matter.

To be honest, I’m not even a poet in the first place.

The thing about the sun is that you don’t talk about it.

It is enough to bathe in its presence,

To feel its rays on your skin even when you’re not looking.

It is enough to know it sustains you even when it is beyond 

Your hemisphere’s line of sight.

What I mean is,

On my most afternoons, when I press my eyelids shut,

You’re the glowing sphere of light at the back of my mind

And maybe for tonight, that’s the only story I need.

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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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His Absence

by:Panthalassa

His eyes spoke more than his mouth, 

I don’t know whether it was my thoughts, 

My reflection, in those eyes

Or that was his own?

I don’t know if he loved me the most?

But I know, I know for sure, that I loved him the most!

.

.

There’s more flesh & blood walking same foot with me, 

Closer beings around me I care about but

But his Absence seems a lot to be filled by these all.

.

.

And know that dear I will wait for you in each life, I swear!

I am not sure I will recognize you or not, 

I am not sure you will remember our connection or not, 

I am not sure you will come to me or not, 

But I am sure that I need you to come. 

.

.

I called you ‘handsome’, I meant that with all my 5 senses;

You are still the best boy I ever laid my eyes on !

.

.

You were the most graceful of any of your loyal kind,

.

.

I believed that you will die along minutes, hours, days & years with 

My fading memories but I was wrong, 

True! My memories are fading like it always does

But your absence is living by consuming mine inside,

.

.

It’s making me hollow !

.

.

But I am waiting, I am waiting for your love to fill me from inside

Cell by cell, feeling by feeling, it will;

.

.

I hope it does.

.

.

Because I know my love for you is stronger than your absence, 

Stronger than the absence of your touch, 

Stronger than your irritation for me, 

Stronger than your protectiveness for your food !

.

.

It is the strongest force in the universe!

It’s infinity times stronger than the strong nuclear force !

.

.

But my lord, that damn painful fact stands true 

that I MISS YOU!

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Literacy and Pandemic

by:Viraaj

International Literacy Day occurs on September 8th, founded by the proclamation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO in 1996 “to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights.” UNESCO continues to play a leading role in improving global literacy and promoting International Literacy Day with governments, communities, etc.

The day brings ownership of the challenges of illiteracy in the local community and the globe, starting with one person at a time, and is celebrated to promote human attention towards literacy and know their rights for social and human development. As food is important to be alive and success the same literacy is also important. 

It is a necessary tool to eradicate poverty, lowering child mortality, controlling population growth, attaining gender equality, etc. It is correctly said that literacy could raise the family status. Therefore, this day is celebrated to encourage the people towards getting continuous education and understand their responsibility for the family, society, and the country.

Through themes and several programs, it aims to highlight the role of literacy and skills development in the context of a changing world. For this year, the theme for International Literacy Day is “Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.

International Literacy Day (ILD) 2021 will explore how literacy can contribute to building a solid foundation for a human-centered recovery, with a special focus on the interplay of literacy and digital skills required by non-literate youth and adults. It will also explore what makes technology-enabled literacy learning inclusive and meaningful to leave no one behind. By doing so, ILD2021 will be an opportunity to reimagine future literacy teaching and learning, within and beyond the context of the pandemic.

We’ve talked a lot about International Literacy Day, but what exactly is literacy?

Well, the Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines literacy as the quality or state of being literate, educated, and being able to read.” But this ability is often taken for granted because we’ve been reading and writing most of our life. Being literate makes it that much easier for us to navigate the world, do tasks like reading a restaurant menu, a road sign, an exam, or even a novel without it being a blockade for us.

Literacy goals are a key part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDG agenda contains 17 goals and 169 targets, adopted in 2015 to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted in 2000. The SDGs are meant to be achieved by 2030, and the UN Resolution of which they are a part is called “The 2030 Agenda”.

These SDGs include ending poverty of all forms, ending world hunger, achieving food security for all, and improving nutrition for the people, promoting sustainable agriculture and its practices, and ensuring that everyone gets an inclusive, equitable, and quality education among others set by the United Nations.

Every International Literacy Day, organizations and individuals take charge and use their literacy to encourage and assist those who are facing difficulties on how to read and write. Students and employed people alike, volunteer to tutor children in the community, donating their books to libraries, and a student’s tuition and learning are sponsored to launch their life-long success. 

Literacy in the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the learning of children, young people, and adults alike,  magnifying the pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy and learning opportunities, disproportionally affecting almost 800 million non-literate young people and adults. Youth and adult literacy were absent in many initial national response plans, while numerous literacy programs have been forced to halt their usual modes of operation.

Even with the pandemic negatively affecting the world, efforts have been made to find alternative ways to ensure the continuity of learning, including distance and online learning, is used in combination with in-person learning.  Access to literacy learning opportunities, however, has not been evenly distributed. 

The rapid shift to distance learning also highlighted the persistent digital divide in terms of connectivity, infrastructure, and the ability to engage with technology, as well as disparities in other services such as access to electricity, which has limited learning options.   

However, the pandemic has shown us the importance of literacy. Beyond its intrinsic importance as part of the right to education, literacy empowers individuals and improves their lives by expanding their capabilities to choose a kind of life they can value. 

ILD 2021 explores the contribution of literacy to building a solid foundation for a human-centered recovery, with a special focus on combining literacy and digital skills that are required by non-literate youth and adults. It explores what makes technology-enabled literacy learning inclusive and meaningful to leave no one behind. In doing so, this year is an opportunity to reimagine future literacy teaching and learning, within and beyond the context of the pandemic.

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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 Window to the Past

by:Janani.G

On the 2nd floor of a certain apartment building, there is a window. 

Well, to be frank, there are multiple windows.

But in this story, only one really matters.

On the grounds outside of the apartment building, there is a perfect spot to peer into this window. You would just have to stand next to a certain flagpole, next to a certain bench, from where you could see everything that was happening through this window.

And inside, what would you have seen?

It depended.

Sometimes you would see a crowd of people gathered around a kindly old woman. A teacher, you could assume. Almost every afternoon, a group of people visited, bearing smiles and an eagerness to learn. 

During the evening, the old woman who was a teacher would be joined by an even older woman. She didn’t appear as gentle, but there was a harsh sort of love in her very demeanor. 

The old woman, and the older woman, would sit together, and watch something on the television while chatting about their day.

Other times, there would be an old man sitting alone, reading a newspaper. Or perhaps watching cricket, obvious from the loud commentary, audible even from our little bench, 2 floors below. The old man had a scholarly aura, exuding a sense of resolute seriousness. But no one could ever mistake his austerity for callousness, not when his eyes twinkled with the affection he could not express. 

The best thing that could be seen would be a group of children, gathered there. 

They could be sweaty and grimy from messing around too much, or wearing their best clothes, holding a bundle of fireworks. 

They could be playing cards with the old woman, chatting with the old man, or be chased around by the older woman, clutching a stolen bag of sweets.

But whenever they were there, being happy seemed like such a simple thing. Laughter echoed down, all the way from that 2nd-floor window. A haven of joy that would never change. 

Until it did.

Suddenly, the group of people that showed up to learn from the old woman, no longer appeared. 

The old woman had also grown thinner, and more sickly. 

Yet even her tired face never lost that gentle smile. 

One day, the old woman never showed up again. 

It was just the older woman and old man now. 

The children still appeared, but they were no longer children. There was a sense of moroseness, and grimness in them. Being happy didn’t seem so simple anymore, even for them.

Another day, the older woman was no longer there.

The old man is left alone, yet unable to leave that place, trapped with joyous memories of the past. As though leaving, would somehow take another part of him away. 

And so he sat, alone, by the window. 

In the end, the old man was gone as well.

If you looked into this window now, all you would see is a dark emptiness. No laughter, no smiles, no people. 

It was as though there was nothing of the past remaining.  

All that’s left is the memories of what once was. 

And maybe one day- will be again.

Perhaps the next time you look through that window- there would be another story, beginning anew.

For the ending of one tale, means the start of another.

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No monsters, only man

by:Harika

A few days ago, I was watching the Tokyo Olympics Swimming 100m finals and I was reminded of an incident that happened at our community’s swimming pool probably 5 or 6 years ago. What happened there transformed and shaped many of my opinions on humankind and I can never look at a swimming pool without being reminded of the mortifying sequence of events I had to witness that one dreadful day and I’m writing this because even to this day, I think of the boy who was there to swim just like me but became the victim of humankind’s nefariousness. 

And this is what took place on that one cathartic day.

As I see it, the swimming pool is an aggregation of not just water but a hundred thousand particles ready to conquer your throat and lungs, submerge you to make you their own: drifting, silent, dead. I stand in it, between the colliding currents that sway my knees, the blue grasping at my waist. A few meters away a man is wading through the thrumming liquid, his greying hair spots on his head, his bloated gut a ship’s hairy bow. Behind him a boy stands, his pale face twisted, black hair in wet, drooping spikes.

“Why did you throw your goggles and cap? What are you going to do now?” demands the man, turning to the boy.

The boy stays silent, or he mutters something unheard.

Either way, the man continues. “Listen to me. Your mother…”, and the man stops roaring with fury but I think what he wanted to continue saying was that ‘your mother is observing and listening, she is right over there: shut up, listen and behave. Your mother is watching, get yourself together and start swimming, with or without your gear.’ The breeze twists the other way or the water enters my ears, either way, I am too shocked by what just happened so I don’t hear what the man says.

Maybe the boy is now weeping silently, silver streams of tears bulging scars on his cheek, for the man erupts, waving his arms, “Why are you crying?”

The most entitled question: why are you crying? Why have you handed me a consequence, after I rammed the cause down your very throat?

The man inhales the wind, and in a sudden exhale it bursts out through his mouth. “Are you crying for sympathy? Pity? Let me tell you, boy,” and this he shouts, “the more you beg for the pity the less of it you have! Who will pity you?”

My shoulders shake. The boy, stunned, stands unmoving, his head bowed, his back bare. One day he will thank his wounds for being invisible.

“Retrieve your goggles. Retrieve your cap.” The man grabs the boy by his head. “I want you to succeed! What are you doing? Crying? I don’t want you to be a loser! Loser, do you hear?” The man’s booming voice bounces off the pool walls and pries into the boy’s ears, my ears, everyone’s ears, the ears of my cousin who spoke back to his father, my mother’s friend whose husband who would return home drunk at 3 am, all these generations and all these lives until the last hearing ear has been deafened. In his rage, the man spoke the language of humanity.

Then, the soft afterword. “This is for your own good,” the man finishes, calmed after an outburst. “Retrieve your gear, let’s swim.”

This is the thing with people: they vow on your life, praise Satan, talk about helping you get your life on track while all they do is ruin it, and then end with a smile, saying, “This is for your own good.” No, this isn’t for their own good. The boy is going to remember this incident for a really long time, probably even for his entire life, and even begin to detest swimming. For all I know, he could’ve been an Olympic swimmer if not for the man scaring him for life. And I think to myself, in a barbaric world where people are dreadfully cold, there’s no one who will do anything for ‘your own good’. That is when I came up with survival rules for the boy and for myself; rule number one, I think to myself and the boy, don’t believe him. Rule number two: hate him but don’t fear him. Rule number three: smile at him, smile and obey, smile and listen and nod, this is your life, you can change it but not now. These are the rules of the game.

While I watched the entire incident unfurl in front of me, I haven’t seen the man showing an ounce of love or empathy towards the boy instead all I could see was the man’s envy, anger, and hatred. 

Envy is a vice. Instead of focusing on your own goals, your goal becomes to throw other people’s goals off the rails, and at the end of the day, you gain nothing but a mischievous satisfaction that you have destroyed someone. 

It has been years since the occurrence of this incident but I can still recall the fear in the boy’s eyes. What was supposed to be a fun day at the pool changed my perception of the world entirely and a swimming pool, to me, was never again just an aggregation of water but a hundred thousand particles of human piss, saliva, snot, and tears, scoldings, quiet rivalries, and violent pledges, gushing into your gasping mouth and open throat. 

You swallow it and they make you their own.

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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.