Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cause




Religion


Two men fight
Try to kill-the other
The crowd watches, cheers
I ask a man,
“Why do they fight?”

He smiles and says,
“Each claims to have
An imaginary friend
Beside him”

“Then they should
Be friends!” cried I
“Oh no!” he said
“But they refuse
To believe the other’s friend exists”

Two men in white coats
Came, dragged the two away

“Mad men belong in the mad house”
Is there room enough for all?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Symbol


Another poem- a political one... (I know...forgive me)...& not very well written I'm afraid. I've been seeing far too many people sporting T-Shirts with Che Guevara's face splashed across.. & I've been wondering whether most of them realize the supreme irony underlying their garb




The Symbol




He waved
They cried Che!
Fight the capitalists
Change the power structures
Today

Workers unite
The owners shall die
Profiteering stopped
The poor shall thrive
We feign

The United States
Huffed and puffed
Blew him away
The people remembered...
His face

His face, his name
Anti-capitalist
The poor will fight
His face remembered again
And again

From flags to Tees
Badges, head-bands?
50 Rupees, 100 Rupees
500 dollars
A bale

We remember him on T-shirts
500 bucks if new
100 bucks old
The poor can wear it
Too

Looks like we’ve got him
Like we got the rest
His face for 20 dollars...
Capitalists rejoice
Again...

Monday, November 10, 2008

ACCIDENT


Another short story! I wrote this for an On-the spot Creative Writing competition recently. The topic was a picture clue: a hazy and distorted image of a road (not the picture on the right, that's just a similar one I found) . Well here's the story. Comments welcome!






ACCIDENT



Rene careened around the corner with tires skidding, fighting to keep control of the steering wheel. The road was swaying before her eyes, and the streetlights appeared as giant orbs, blinding her. She sped past the scant traffic, and hurtled into a side street. Her head felt heavy, and unconsciousness was threatening to overpower her any second. She tightened her grip on the wheel and shook her herself. She couldn’t lose control. The results would be disastrous. She must reach home safely before she collapsed. Once more she groaned aloud for not letting one of the others drive her home.
She was never any good at holding alcohol, and tonight the party had been especially wild, celebrating the safe return of the Zaffar twins from the Kalinga Empire. Rene turned into another narrow street at breakneck speed. Thankfully, the roads were all deserted. It was already past midnight. Through the corner of her eyes Rene saw the world becoming increasingly hazier. Tiny blue spots had started flickering before her. Rene cursed under her breath. Alcohol always affected their powers. But they still insisted upon hosting drinks at every get-together. Tonight again three time-travelers had shifted into another time after downing one too many. No one really worried, unless they took long enough coming back, like the Zaffar twins had done.
Rene shook her head violently to clear the mists and squinted ahead worriedly. If she reached too late the colony gates would be shut and her parents would come to know that she had been out past her curfew. She had almost reached. She just needed to hold out for a few more minutes until she could safely succumb to the waves of dizziness throttling her. The blue specks had become more pronounced. She stepped on the accelerator and the car lurched forward past the blinking red light in the crossing and into the dark street up ahead. She kept her foot pressed on the accelerator, moving at an incredible pace, her headlights dispelling the gloom in the otherwise pitch dark street.
Suddenly, a small dark form rushed before the car from the right. Becoming aware of the onrushing car, the figure froze directly in its path, putting up its arms to be shielded from the glare of headlights. Rene watched horrified, as the kid came ever closer. She slammed her feet on the breaks, and the screeching of tires filled the air. It was of no use- she was going too fast. She saw as if in slow motion the kid hitting the bonnet of her car and fly overhead. She heard the soft thud as its body fell on the road behind her. In her momentary distraction she had let go of the steering wheel. The car crashed against a tree on the sidewalk and came to a halt. Regaining her breath she glanced quickly at her rear view mirror. She could just make out the outline of the body lying in a crumpled heap on the road. It wasn’t moving. Fear and dread flooded her mind. Her conscience urged her to pick up the child and rush it to a hospital. However her mind kept conjuring up images of a court case, fine for drunken driving, or perhaps even jail. She winced at the thought.
She looked again into the mirror. The form was completely still. The kid was probably dead; there was nothing she could do about it. If she took it to a hospital now she would only get into trouble herself. Her conscience pricked her a little, but her conscience had through long association learned to give way to her more selfish impulses. Rene revved up her engine and drove home slowly. The shock had effectively cleared her head. She managed to reach her compound just before the gates shut for the night. Parking the car outside, she quietly let herself in. Her parents had gone to bed early as usual. She tiptoed to her room and sank thankfully into her bed. She tossed and turned for a quarter of an hour, and finally sank into a troubled sleep.

Rene came tripping down the stairs a week later and sat down to breakfast, pulling the newspaper before her. She scanned the news items carefully, and saw again that there was no mention of any accident in the area. Relief flooding though her she pulled a bowl of cornflakes towards her and started wolfing them down. She turned to the newspaper’s magazine section instead. She had been checking the news everyday for the past week but had found no news of a death.
Her mother came down just then and sat down in the place opposite her's, giving a wide berth to the empty chair on Rene’s left. Before beginning her meal her mother lightly touched a photograph that stood framed on the side table, as had been her habit for the last five years, and murmured a prayer, after which she picked up her tea cup and started sipping slowly. Rene paid no attention. At first this habit of her mother’s used to make her uncomfortable. But with time she had grown accustomed to it, just as she had grown accustomed to the emptiness of the room beside hers and the perpetual silence in the house. The death, when it had happened, had shattered her and her family. Ritu, two years younger than her, had been the only creature she loved outside of herself.
Memories of her death still filled her with a furious ache. Ritu had been returning home from a friend’s house late at night five years ago, and had been run over by a car while crossing the street. The police hadn’t even been able to catch the killer. They had found paint scratches on a tree on the sidewalk, but the discovery hadn’t led to any result. The paint scratches hadn’t matched with any car in the neighbourhood. The pictures of the car taken from the traffic light camera behind where the incident had occurred had been too unclear to provide them with a clue. The make of the car had been unrecognizable.
Rene flipped a page of the magazine section, and saw that it was full of glossy pictures of the latest car models. She stared at the page before her, hardly registering what she saw. If only the driver had had the humanity to take Ritu to a hospital, she might have been alive today. The post mortem report indicated that she had been alive for an hour after being hit.
A hot tear splashed onto the picture of a car. She saw that it was the same model as her own. The car in the picture was painted lime green- the same as hers- and the same as the colour of the paint scratches on the tree.
Suddenly, the world seemed to grow quiet. The air felt heavy around her. Her own blood seemed to move sluggishly through her body. She saw, as if in a dream, her own fists clenched around the paper. As with pieces of a jigsaw, her thoughts had fitted together to give a clear image. An unbearable thought. And a single word played repeatedly in her mind, echoing through the recesses of her brain, making it throb with its every syllable- ‘NO!...’

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Game of Chess


This is a poem I had written a long while back...I was going through some of my stuff when I found it again. I spruced it up a bit and edited some parts. So here's the only piece of halfway decent poetry I ever wrote :)  Comments welcome!



THE GAME OF CHESS

Twilight in the garden
All quiet in the house
The child is in the cradle
The mother sleeps without

The father’s in the army
He has gone to fight the war
Bring glory to his country
Will he see the coming hour?

The shadows in the nursery
Lengthen with coming night
A chess set in the corner
Gleams quietly with a light

The Ebony and the Ivory
They creak and wake and groan
The chessmen tall and noble
Or short in humble tone

All twist and turn and wake
To battle once again
Upon the checked battlefield
As yet without a stain

It had been there for years and years
And many a battle won
Some by Black and some by White
And then to start anon

This evening too they hoped to win
Each side getting in line
And face each other with brave hearts
And the will to triumph alive

So the battle ground was set
And so the battle lines had met
There they all stood brave and true
How many will remain?

The White as self proclaimed masters
Moved their soldiers first
And a pawn was sent to show
That the White have played their turn

The Black seeing the approaching White
Sent their own soldiers through
And a pawn was sent up front
To stem the coming foe

The names of pawns are not to be noted
They are too small and frail
They are on foot, the weakest links
The easiest to replace

Say nothing of their wives at home
Their children crying out their name
“Papa! Papa! Please return
Why must you play this game?”

“He’ll soon be home, don’t worry child”
Mama soothes the child and says
Little knowing he is out to die
The leaders to be safe

Don’t worry children, and don’t cry
This is but a game
Which will be played many times over
On yet another day

The same men will rise once more
To fall once again
The same story will be retold
In many different ways

For it’s not, you see, like real life
Where if once gone is gone
And for each new game we have to find
New deaths to depend on

For the game of chess, you see
Is but a crude imitation
The real battle still goes on
In the hearts of each generation

This battle like all battles
Is among different kinds
Who though same of heart and mind
All strive to kill their kind

For some excuse as colour
Caste, creed, religion
With god as their creator
They slay all god’s children

The same you see is in this game
Where White is fighting Black
And so they’ll fight in imitation
While sense is what men lack

But let us continue our story
Of the brave battle won
By White or Black- Do we really care?
Oh! When will mankind learn?

Friday, October 24, 2008

MAD ABOUT DOGS!


This is something I wrote on the spur of the moment. If you can identify with it please leave a comment :)




Mad about dogs!


A cute little pug or a friendly lab, an intimidating Doberman or an adorable mongrel, dogs can just make anyone’s day. Nothing beats the affection they harbor for you. Their evident joy upon seeing you return home after a long day chases away all your tiredness and frustration. Owning a dog is complete bliss, so why doesn’t everyone in the world hurry to the nearby pet shop to get one of these delightful furry companions for themselves?
The answer is simple. It’s because they know better than to believe everything a dog adoption pamphlet says. Let me clear up all confusions on this issue. Owning a dog is nothing but WORK. Caring for a dog is even more traumatic than caring for a new born baby. At least with babies there are chances that it will grow up and cease to be a burden, but dogs are a pain their whole life. They need constant care, are the most shameless attention seekers, and consider any moment of your time not spent doing a hundred and one things for them as wasted. Their ‘potty training’ can last from months to years, and they will still adorn your house with their oh so endearing faeces every once in a while for the express purpose of keeping you on your toes. Dirtying the house’s front entrance just when you are about to entertain special guests happens to be their forte. The number of medicines they need to be fed outnumber those had by the whole family put together, and each visit to the vet is fraught with peril for anyone in the vicinity. They happen to be the most ungrateful creatures on the planet, giving you the dirtiest of looks every time you force a pill down their throats or make them take a bath- ruining your own clothes in the process. You take great pains to teach them a clever trick but when you take them around to show off to your friends they mysteriously forget all that they had learned, leaving you looking considerably sillier than before. You have to brush their coat, file their nails, groom their skin, use particular shampoos, conditioners and perfumes until your bathroom cupboard gets completely filled with your dog’s cosmetic necessities leaving you no space for your small bar of soap. The family budget is clearly defined the moment you get a dog. Half the income must be reserved for your dog’s expenses and the other half can be used for less pressing needs such as the rent and the groceries and the college fees.
Our flea-bitten, tick-ridden lords and masters need us humble servants to do all in our power to keep them happy and contented. We must scratch their ears for long hours irrespective of our aching arms. If they demand to go out for a walk we must drop all other things at hand and rush to take them. Our requirement for sleep is less important than theirs, so while we are not allowed to disturb their precious napping hours, they may come and wake us up as and when they please. Our beds, pillows and blankets are there for their express use, even if it means shoving us off the bed to use them. They must not be expected to sleep in their own separate corner. They can and will take the best couch in the living room.
Yes, owning a dog means all of these hardships and much much more. So why are we so ready to embrace a life of servitude when we decide to adopt a dog? Are all dog-owners masochists to revel in such a life? Why do my eyes well with tears at the thought of losing my dog? You see, there is one thing that atones for all of this suffering, one irrational habit we develop which makes us look upon these demons through rose tinted glasses. Because...believe it or not...We LOVE ’em!

Freedom of Expression


Another story I have entered for a competition!  The topic was: Freedom of Expression








1633 AD, Rome


“Steady there”, exclaimed the driver, pulling at his reins as the carriage screeched to a halt. I jumped out impatiently, and ran up the steps. Kaeso, my manservant hurriedly picked up my belongings and shuffled out after me. I say man-servant, but in truth Kaeso was only two years older than my twelve years of age. I rushed past the manservant who opened the doors and went straight to the hall. My mother was there, instructing the maidservants who were dashing around holding precarious piles of cutlery or sheets. I dodged past everyone and ran to her side.
“Where’s father?” I asked anxiously, tugging at her voluminous skirts. “Is he back?”
My mother glanced down at me in surprise.
“Benito!”, she exclaimed, “When did you return? Il Rossi didn’t bring you back?”
“No, he couldn’t come” I said shortly. I had more pressing things to discuss than my tutor. “So is father back?” I asked again looking up at her.
“Yes of course he is back. He is in his office. He has got important guests with him so don’t go barging in…” but I was already off, tearing up the stairs before she could complete her admonitions.
I ran through the spacious rooms and corridors until I came to a room right towards the end. Its heavy oak door was slightly ajar and I could hear voices coming from inside. The voices were all raised. They seemed to be having an argument. I paused outside, suddenly uncertain. One of the people speaking was my father, I recognized his deep baritone voice without difficulty. However, I could not place the other voices. They were not my father’s usual friends or any of my uncles. Someone inside with a high pitched voice suddenly started shouting, but I couldn’t make out the words. Keen to know what the argument was about, I pressed my ear closer to the crack.
“…the fact that it has been published” the man was saying agitatedly, “ and is being read by hundreds as we speak is itself alarming. Who knows what ideas it shall put into people’s minds! He is making a mockery of the church!”
“And so you proposed the trial?” asked my father in his grave voice.
“Yes”. It was the other man who replied. His voice was low and hoarse, as though he was not used to speaking much. “It’s the best way”
“What’s your opinion” asked the first man, his voice sounding anxious.
“Naturally, I disagree with Galilei’s views. My loyalties lie with the church” said my father calmly.
“Excellent! Then you shall come to the trial?” asked the first man. My father must have nodded, for there was no reply. Instead the sounds of chairs scraping on the floor came from inside. The guests were no doubt getting ready to leave.
Panicking, I pushed open the door. The two men, who were in the act of reaching for the door looked at me standing there in surprise. “Father”, I exclaimed turning to him where he stood behind his chair, and covering the distance between us in quick strides. “You’re back! How was Florence” I asked, giving him a quick hug. “Much as usual” he replied bemusedly, “Why suddenly?” and before I could answer his question he turned me around to face the two men and said “This is my son, Benito. Benito this is Cardinal Barbieri and Cardinal Marcello” he swept his hand first to the man with the high pitched voice and then to the other one. I made a polite greeting. If the two men were surprised at my impertinent entrance or at being introduced to a twelve year old, they hid it well.
Cardinal Barbieri beamed down at me. “So Benito, what are your views on this whole controversy issue?” he asked jokingly, obviously not expecting a reply.

“Oh I agree with father. I believe the Earth is the centre of the universe and that it is the sun which moves around the Earth, just as the bible says. The Dialogue is wrong because it makes fun of the church”, I said glibly. I held in my laughter at the stunned expressions of the two cardinals. Father had already explained to me about the whole controversy surrounding this scientist called Galileo Galilei and his book The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. With the help of the telescope he had invented, he had proclaimed that the Earth was not stationary like the bible said, but moved on its own axis as well as around the Sun, which was the real centre of the Universe. The sun on the other hand, which we saw move across the skies everyday, didn’t move at all. Even to a child such as me it was evident that these theories were absurd. If the Earth moved would we not feel it? And we clearly saw the sun move everyday, causing day and night. Father, being a devout catholic, naturally brushed his theories away, and if father, the wisest person I knew, chose to discredit what Galileo said, there could be no room for doubt in my mind.
“That’s right”, said Cardinal Barbieri, recovering himself. “Galilei is indeed wrong to dispute the church. He has no right to say something that suggests the bible is a falsehood!” He turned to my father with an amused expression, “What an informed son you have” he said. My father smiled but made no reply.
“Perhaps he would be interested in attending the trial as well?” Barbieri continued, looking first at me than at my father.
I looked up at my father hopefully, but Cardinal Marcello interrupted.
“He is just a child, you can’t bring him to a trial hall”, he exclaimed, frowning heavily.
“You forget who you are speaking to”, said Cardinal Barbieri, turning to him and smiling.
“This is Marco Beccaria, he can do anything he wants, and no one would dare stop him”
I looked up at my father. For some reason he did not seem pleased by the flattery. He felt my gaze and looked down. “Would you like to go, Benito?” he asked softly. Unsure as to what reply was expected of me, I stayed silent. However my eagerness must have showed in my face for after looking at me for a moment he sighed and said “Very well”.

***

I squirmed in my seat which was wedged between that of my father and my uncle. Our chairs were right at the back of the room. The trial had been going on for hours and my attention had drifted immediately after the people had begun speaking. I could not follow most of what everyone said, and if I asked my father about something I didn’t understand the people around us would glare at me. I looked up at my father. He was listening with a rapt expression on his face. I sighed and turned again to look at the person on trial. I had been surprised when he had first entered to see how old and shriveled he looked. I had been expecting the creator of such controversies to have a more dynamic personality. Instead this man had a defeated air about him, as though he had ceased caring what happened to him. Right now his eyes were half closed, and he seemed oblivious to the procedure going on around him. I yawned and settled back into my place.
At long last the trial seemed to be drawing to a close. The Inquisition officers had finished presenting their case to the Pope, who sat in state behind his desk in the centre of the hall, and had finished reeling out their accusations against Galileo. Now, one of the officers approached Galileo and halted before him.
“You have already heard the accusations against you. You have only one option open before you, and that is to admit you were wrong in all that you have stated in your book as well as the beliefs you have harboured till date. If you admit your error, your sentence shall be lenient. However if you stick with your erroneous beliefs, you shall undergo severe punishment”
After a few seconds of tense silence, Galileo bowed. He then started speaking. I only understood fragments of what he said, but it was evident that he had relented and was admitting his mistake.
‘I held, as I still hold”, he said, “As most true and indisputable, the opinion of Ptolemy, that is to say, the stability of the earth, and the motion of the sun... I affirm, therefore, on my conscience, that I do not now hold the condemned opinion and have not held it since the decision of authorities… I am here in your hands—do with me what you please”.
Applause broke out in the room and the cardinals congratulated each other, triumphant smiles lighting their face. Everyone around me was cheering and clapping. Laughing with joy myself, I looked up at my father, expecting to see him as happy and relieved as the rest. Instead, his face was furrowed with sadness.
“Father, what’s wrong?” I asked worriedly, “Its alright, the church has won!”
“Yes’ replied my father, his gaze upon the shrunken form of Galileo, “but it has been the defeat of something much greater”
I stared up at him uncomprehendingly. “You mean Galilei? Or…” I remembered what Galileo called his own theories “science?”
“No”, said my father. He looked down at me, a sad smile upon his face “Freedom of expression”.

The Children of the Night

Another short story of mine which won a competition! The topic was a line from Bram Stoker's Dracula: “Listen to them, the Children of the Night, what music they make”






The Children of the Night


I stepped out of the taxi, holding my bag nervously. This was the fifth orphanage that I was being sent to. I never seemed to last long at any of them. The nuns and the doctor would whisper sympathetically about my traumatic experience when they thought I wasn’t listening. They seemed to think that it had affected my social skills, making me quiet and withdrawn. I could have told them that it had nothing to do with the incident. I had always been what they termed an introvert. I didn’t interfere with others, and it would be a lot better if they didn’t interfere with me.
The steps on which I now stood were of the Cross Academy, reputed to be the severest in the country. It was reserved for the worst cases among orphans, children who were the most ill-behaved or showed minimum potential. Brute force was said to be the mode of enforcing discipline here. The orphanage was situated in the outskirts of the tiny town of Pachmarhi. It was in a secluded grove which looked as though no man had come across it in a thousand years, and indeed no one would wish to. The building was an old English bungalow with a few more wings that seemed to have been added later. Behind it tall fir trees loomed, announcing the beginning of the forest. The forest surrounded the house on three sides, an effective shield. It seemed to be guarding the house along with its secrets.
Dr. Chetan, the head the academy, ran out of the large front doors at this point, interrupting my musings. His eyes glinted in a pleased fashion behind his shell-rimmed glasses as he looked me up and down. He extended his thin bony hand, deeply calloused with numerous burns, and let out a hearty welcome. I shook his hand briefly, and then followed him inside the house in silence, tuning out his enthusiastic patter.
I was introduced to everyone. During the introductions I noticed that everyone had the same sunken look in their eyes, as though they were well past caring about anything or anyone, and certainly unconcerned about any new arrival. The doctor alone radiated any energy. The only help he had running the establishment was from a girl who would be about eighteen years but looked much older. She cooked the food and swept the house. Otherwise the children were supposed to clean up after themselves. The children in this place were different from those in the other orphanages I had been to. Their faces had lost all colour and their eyes were dull and lifeless. They had none of the impetuous curiosity or wicked sadistic instincts that the children I had previously known had had.
I found that we had rooms to ourselves, another discordant factor, but a pleasant change from noisy dormitories. It was tiny, since each fair sized room of the bungalow had been partitioned into eight such rooms, but it was private. The partitions were hand made. Someone had put a lot of effort into this.
I could not sleep that night, not an unusual occurrence for me, so I did what I usually do on such nights- I went for a walk around the house. In fact my tendency to wander at nights was one of the reasons I had been sent away from so many orphanages. The night always made me feel more alive than the day ever did.
I wandered into the hallway and stood looking out of the large old fashioned windows set deep into the walls. The air was completely still outside. Suddenly, in the midst of all that stillness, a haunting melody arose from deep within the forest. It was as though many small voices were humming this eerie tune. The song slowed down for a few seconds, and then began with a new, even more haunting melody. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end.
“Listen to them, the Children of the Night, what music they make”, said a voice softly in my ear. I spun around, my heart hammering, and saw Dr Chetan standing before me, a strange smile playing about his lips as he too gazed out of the windows.
He then turned to face me, and said with an even broader grin, “You seem to prefer the night. That’s good”
When I made no answer, he continued: “I heard your parents were murdered”. I noticed that he did not say ‘are no longer’ and avoid the word ‘murder’ the way other adults did. Perhaps it was his bluntness, but his words made a scene rise unbidden before my eyes- My parents, covered with their own blood. Their eyes horrified, fearful, disbelieving… their voices pleading… to no avail.
“Yes”
“I see”
He stood there staring at me in silence for a few minutes.
‘The children here’, he began suddenly, his voice taking on a new tone-hushed and excited, “they aren’t ordinary kids. They are special creations of mine”
I made no reply as I continued looking out of the windows.
“I am a scientist, and with these children I have accomplished something extraordinary”. His voice was fevered now and there was a manic gleam in his eye. He gestured towards the forest as he referred to the children.
‘I came here thirty years ago and it was then that I heard the legends of the children of the night- creatures looking deceptively like children walking amongst us. They were supposed to be musical and possess great powers. Since then it had been my greatest wish to create such creatures of legend and have them do my bidding”
His words tumbled into each other with rising passion. His eyes, as they gazed into mine, were alight with a sort of religious fervor.
“I have experimented with the orphans under my care. Oh they can sing, but they are of little use besides...” his voice was filled with disgust. “Ah! But you…You seem different ... And you may have power…I need power!!” the last words came out in a shout, and the singing voices in the forest immediately fell silent.
He grabbed hold of my arms. “You, my dear, shall be my greatest project till date…you will bring me power, glory...” He started pulling me across the hall towards a room at the end, which had been heavily padlocked the day before, but now stood with its door wide open.
It happened in an instant. We were halfway across the vast hall when he abruptly let go of my hand and wheeled away from me. He fell with a thud on the floor and looked up, his face pale with shock. Blood was splattered everywhere, shining wetly in the moonlight. I leaned over and gently ran my tongue down the rip I had made in his cheek. Placing my fingers on his chest, I made another rip, causing a fountain of blood to burst out.
I bent down and started feeding hungrily, quenching the thirst of many years.
When I was sated, I straightened up and looked into his dying eyes.
“The children of the night cannot be created. They are born, to parents unfortunate enough to have them”
I walked back to the window and stood before it. Lifting my gaze to the crescent moon, I hummed a melody. Immediately I was answered by a dozen melodies as one by one the orphan children appeared before me. They came and made a silent circle around me, waiting expectantly.
“ I have found you, my flock, after much searching. Now we belong together”
I smiled, finally at ease amidst company of my own choosing.

Strange Adventure


An original short story of mine which won a story writing competition in a weekly paper when I was still in school :)




Strange Adventure


May Day…May Day! My hands froze on the controls as the plane lost altitude quickly. The pilot sat slumped beside me with a single hijacker’s bullet lodged in his forehead. 79 frightened passenger’s lives depended upon me…I had never flown an aircraft before! I wiped my brow, whispered a silent prayer and stared ahead at the onrushing mountain peaks…To think this had all started with a harmless family vacation.
It happened like this. My parents and I were on a flight to Srinagar when to my tremendous delight I found that I had won the pre-flight lucky draw, which enabled me to sit up front with the pilot. Halfway through the journey we realized that something was wrong. Two of the passengers had stood up with guns and were holding us hostage! They were hijackers! One of them opened the door to the cockpit and shot the pilot dead before he could call for help. They probably planned to fly the plane themselves, but before they could move a few passengers leaped up as of one accord and pinned them down. In the struggle that followed, accompanied with much wild shooting, we found that one of the hijackers had shot himself dead, while the other was stunned. In all the commotion the door to the cockpit had somehow jammed shut and refused to yield even to the combined effort of all the passengers and myself. I also found that a hijacker’s bullet had landed on the controls, making it go haywire with the result that we were completely off-course, rapidly losing height and about to crash on the huge mountain peaks ahead. So here I was, alone, and with certain death before me.
Averting my eyes from the dreadful sight of the slumped up figure of the pilot, blood oozing from his temples, I looked desperately at the controls and finally spied a big, inviting red button which I had a sneaking suspicion was not there before. Not knowing what else to do I pressed it hard. At first I thought nothing happened, then suddenly I felt the plane lurch and the entire bottom of the plane dropped below us! The passengers and I were hurtling through the air towards the icy peaks below!
We landed however on something surprisingly soft. I kept my eyes tightly shut, firmly believing that I had died and was now wherever it was that we went after death. I could hear strange musical voices above me, which confirmed my belief.
Do you think she is all right?”, I heard one voice say.
Yes, of course she is, they are all all right. My magic never fails”, another voice seemed to reply.
Two of them are dead though
They were dead from before”, this time the tone sounded offended ,“Anyway I have healed them”.
Are they supposed to see us?”.
Of course not! Once their plane is fixed they will be sent back and never know what happened, no one is awake to see us.

At this, I opened my eyes just a crack, and saw, to my wonder, tiny creatures who looked like they were carved from ice. They were shiny and cold with figures vaguely resembling humans. I quickly shut my eyes again, hoping it was all a dream, and I must have drifted off then for when I next opened my eyes I was back in the plane and the pilot, whom I myself had seen dead just a moment ago, was smiling cheerfully at me and saying, “Dozed off, did you? No matter, we have almost reached”. I looked back. All the passengers were in their seats, including the two hijackers, who looked a bit confused. Everything seemed normal. I wondered, was it all a dream? After all it was just too bizarre to be true. Still, it had all seemed so real. I was still wondering when we landed at the airport and went to claim our luggage. It was then that I saw it, a small icicle on my shoulder. And then I knew for sure. Something had happened out there. Something only I remembered.
Pocketing the icicle and smiling slightly, I took one long look at the distant and unexplored regions of the mountains where I had had that bizarre adventure and where those creatures probably lived, undiscovered and unexploited by humans, and then I quietly followed my family out of the airport.

The Joy Luck Club


Book Review




The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan



This book is about Chinese immigrants in America written by a Chinese immigrant in America. Often misconstrued to be an exact representation of her own life, this book tells the stories of four Chinese mothers and their four daughters growing up in America. Told through sixteen vignettes in which each character speaks for herself, except for Suyaan Woo who dies before the novel opens, the book provides an insight into the previously under represented lives of people from a certain ethnic background adapting to life in America.
All four mothers share a similar past, having fled from China during the Japanese invasion towards the end of the Second World War, and the four daughters share similar pains of growing up in American circumstances, but constantly reminded of their Chinese heritage by mothers who are not ready to let go of their past. The daughters undergo the familiar suffocating pain of being caught amidst conflicting cultures, while the mothers struggle to come to terms with their past. The togetherness of these women is felt by the reader rather than seen by the women themselves, especially the daughters. Each separate vignette could stand alone and be complete as a story, but the combination of all these fragments is what brings out the true meaning of the book and makes it hold universal appeal. Deceptively simple, the subtle interlinking of the different narratives is full of implied meaning as it lays bare the lives of these women, unraveling their secrets and their innermost thoughts.
The book is intensely personal, with each character pouring out their heart to the reader, and holding them in a spell until the last page is turned.
The book lends an insight into a culture that has remained a relative mystery, in spite of the country being one of our closest neighbours. The book becomes doubly interesting as it explores mother-daughter relationships amidst an alien culture and moreover shows how human emotions are binding and relevant in spite of all other differences.
A critically acclaimed book as well as a bestseller, this book is a must read for all ages.

Are you Game?





ARE YOU GAME?


MMORPGs- More than just a game




Attention all gamers. If you are still stuck behind your PC’s playing the age old video games, with man v/s computer being the only challenge you face- you need to be introduced to the magnificent world of MMORPGs. MMORPGs or massively multiplayer online role-playing games belong to a whole new genre in gaming which literally allows you to take on the world!
In an MMORPG, a large number of players from across the globe interact with one other in a virtual world. Players usually assume and control an avatar in the game which can then explore the world, fight monsters, or take part in adventures and quests. Players can play together in groups or even challenge one another.
The largest selling MMORPG with over 10.1 million monthly subscribers is World of Warcraft (WoW). Its popular catchphrase- It’s not a game, it’s a world- says it all. WoW holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG. In April 2008, World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62%
of the massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) market.
Before playing World of Warcraft, you need to choose the realm or server you wish to play in, after which you choose your faction. In the world of Azeroth, the Horde and the Alliance are opposing factions. True to its war theme, players from these opposite factions can only battle with each other, but not form groups or trade with one another. Once you choose your faction you can customize your character, choosing its race, class and appearance. The Horde races are
Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Undead and Blood Elves. The Alliance races on the other hand are Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes, Night Elves and the Draenei. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses
If there is a single flaw in the game it would be that it is all too addictive. MMORPG’s offer an escape from reality into an alternative fantasy world and people become all too obsessed with their in-game characters. Indeed there have been many disturbing incidents caused by an over-addiction to the game. MMORPG’s mark in popular culture is evident due to the acknowledgements given to it by many inspired artists, such as in the episode- ‘Make love not Warcraft’ of the Emmy winning series South Park. An episode of The Simpsons-‘Marge Gamer’- also satirized MMORPGs such as WoW.
You can play WoW in certain Cyber Caf├ęs which offer the game. WoW can also be downloaded from its website for a free trial period of 10 days, after which you can purchase it online for $39.99 or buy the CD. After that a monthly fee of $14.99 needs to be paid through credit cards or a game card. If all this seems a bit heavy on the pocket, there are versions of the game available for different prices, including Defense of the Ancients or DoTA which is more popular in India. Apart from World of Warcraft some more popular MMORPGs are EverQuest II and Lord of the Rings Online.

So all the gaming fans out there, Game On!