The Ramblings Of A Madman

The Ramblings of a Madman[1]

by Kashfia Nahreen Arittri (Class 12)

 

Once I came across this person who had the heart of gold. She was amazing and everything she did she did it for the people, people who didn’t even know she existed. I asked her, “Why do you work so hard when you don’t even get any appreciation?”

She replied, “You don’t do good deeds for appreciation, you do it because that’s the right thing to do. You do it because you want to be honest to your conscience. I don’t need people’s approval, all I need is to know that what I do affects people in a positive way. As long as I am able to help people I will be happy.”[2]

That was the day I started seeing the world in a new light. The day when I realized true happiness doesn’t depend on material things. True happiness lies on finding a purpose in life, a purpose that will help others, and working hard to pursue it. [3] I don’t even know what the person who changed my world was called, but I know as long as I live I will follow in her footsteps and I will do what I can for the betterment of this world. I will never forget her, she will always be in my heart. She will forever be my inspiration. [4]

“We are the monster that kills the song in a bird.”
[5]
Everywhere I turn I see broken pieces, torn clothing, shattered windows, demolished houses, fallen trees and I know that all if these are the results of human deeds. Misery, sorrow, pain, hopelessness and desolation I see in every corner of the world and the knowledge that all of these too are the work of human beings eats me up. It seems like all we know is how to inflict pain, how to cause violence; that all we are good at is making each other suffer.

Time after time we have proven to our own selves that destruction and wretchedness are what we know. Cruel, greedy, vain, conceited, violent, jealous, sadistic, unsympathetic, indifferent, heartless and cold: all these are our worst qualities. These are the qualities that command us to vanquish all the good, to annihilate all the happiness[6] .[7]

We claim we want to be happy. We also claim we want others to be happy too. And yet when we see someone other than our own selves being happy, we try our best to ruin [8] their merriment. We let jealousy get the best of us. We can’t stand to see someone doing better than us. Yes we do smile and say we are happy for them, but in truth we are far from happy. [9] We pretend to be civil but on the inside we are as discourteous as it gets.

But we do possess the quality to be genuinely happy for someone else; we do have the ability to be kind and compassionate[10] . And there people who are kind and full of goodness. But for many of us, we let our worst qualities take hold because following the wrong is much easier than following the right. Our worse traits have an allure to them that is hard to resist, and often times than not we let ourselves be carried away by their temptation, however evil may it be.
[11]
Causing violence is one of our main traits. Since the beginning of our existence we have instigated so much pain, so much sorrow that at times every good deed we do seem like nothing compared to the bad ones. We have now almost existed for 200,000 years[12] -a very long time-, and yet after all this time we are still as uncivilized as we were back then. Yes, good indeed does exist among us, but we crush it again and again.

We say we live in a civilized world, where people are kind and generous. We say we live in a world where we have freedom but not cruelty, a world where we all get along. We say we live in a world free of injustice, where all is fair. We say we no longer discriminate based on race, age, gender, sexual orientation or religion, where we are all viewed as human beings.  [13]  And yet after claiming all those things we have wars, where people viciously, mercilessly kill each other. We have our freedoms snatched away by the government in a moment’s notice. Yet we constantly keep on infringing upon the rights of others. We have corruption ruling the world. We still discriminate and stereotype against people. We still do the things we insist we don’t do.

Yes we no longer live in caves, we no longer roam around not properly dressed. We now live in houses, we work in clean offices, we use cars, we dress ourselves well, and yet we somehow are more uncivilized than we were back in the olden times.

Back then whatever we did we did to survive, and now whatever we do seems to be for our own personal gain. Whatever we do seems to be done in order to satisfy our insatiable greed. We ruin countries, kill billions of people just because they have something we want.
For years we enslaved people and made them do our bidding. We deprived them of their rights and called ourselves their masters, when we were and are all the same.
[14]
Hitler tried to annihilate people belonging to the Jewish religion, and what did we do? We let him torture and kill them while we pretended to live normal lives. Children and elders were killed in gas chambers, families were separated, people starved, beaten and tortured in Auschwitz and we let it all happen. The only reason we finally helped was not because we wanted to help the Jews but because it was what would benefit us.
[15] [16]
We saw Afghanistan fall apart. From a beautiful country it was turned into a rubble and once again we did nothing. We watched quietly as women were suppressed, -degraded to the status worse than that of animals. When we finally did act it was because it finally affected us. [17]

We saw Syria and Iran and so many other countries struggle and then fall to pieces, and did nothing. We watched as they were torn apart. Once again we acted when we knew it’d benefit us. Even now the Syrian refugees are being turned away by different countries who are unwilling to take in refugees.

Why do we stand by and let it all happen? Why do we not speak up?
If all us stood up together and fought against all the evil and injustice the world would be a much better place. Why does it have to affect our lives for us to act? How can we turn a blind eye and let other people suffer? How can we[18]  live with ourselves?[19]

How long are we going to let all these go on? How long are we going to remain silent as countries crumble down to dust? As people turn into mere skeletons? How long are we going to let unfairness reign freely? We have the power to fight for the good. We have the ability to do what’s right. If we only fight and beat the inner demons within trying to overpower us; if we only put our minds into doing what’s right; if we all stand together and wage war against the corruption, bigotry and inequity around and among us; we can make this world a better place.

I was walking home the other day and I saw this homeless boy by the side of the road and suddenly I started wondering what it would be like to not have a place to call home. That wasn’t the first time I saw a homeless person, the streets of Dhaka are filled with them, it’s just something about this particular boy spoke to me, something about him made me wonder. He didn’t look much older than me and I couldn’t help but think that in another life, if he wasn’t homeless, we might even have been friends.  [20]

Life is unfair, isn’t it? I mean what right do I have to have a home when someone else doesn’t? I look around and I see all this pain and misery, and I wonder what the point of life is. Do we even have a purpose to be alive? Why is it that some people get whatever they want while others don’t even get what they need? [21]

We, human beings, possess both the good and the bad. Despite all our bad traits we do have some good ones. We have a conscience and we have our intelligence. We are capable of doing things other creatures are not. We can use our mind, our brains to make this world a better place, -a better place not only for human beings but for every living being.

There are so many among us who devote their entire life making the lives of others better. Mother Teresa dedicated her whole life into serving others. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr spent his life fighting for justice and equality for African American people. Begum Rokeya fought so that girls could go to school. She fought for the basic human rights that girls were deprived of.
[22]
We do have kindness in our hearts, we do possess compassion. We just need to focus on our good qualities.

People say we would never know what good is without knowing what bad is. But how much more “bad” can we take? Isn’t this high time we stop and learn to live in peace and harmony?
[23] We are all human beings and we need to learn to live with each other without tearing one another up. It is time we take a step and stand together and fight for what is right.
[24] We need to stop the violence against each other. We need to embrace our good and vanquish the bad.
We are intelligent beings with so much to offer. We have so many talents and so much to give back to the world. We can all use all we have to make the earth a better a place to live in.

We need to respect one another and do what is right. We need to stop hurting others and help each other. We need to be kind and compassionate. We need stop trying to dominate and suppress others. All these tiny efforts will make the world a better place. Life would be so much more wonderful if only we try and do what is right[25] . [26]

Poem
I await a day;
[27] A day when the sun will shine brighter than ever,
A day when the light will glisten in every corner of every hallway.

I await a day;
A day when human beings will rise above violence and cruelty,
A day when happiness will take all the pain away.

I await a day;
A day when laughter and gaiety will fill every street,
A day when for the new tomorrows we will make way.

I await a day;
A day when war will be a thing of history,
[28] A day when lives will not waste away.

I await a day;
A day when humanity will stand together and be brave,
A day when corruption and deceit will be shooed away[29] .

I await a day;
A day when rape and sexual assault will come to cease,
A day when we will keep crimes and violence at bay.
[30]
A day like that I await,
A peaceful world I dream of;
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow,
Maybe a hundred years from now,
I just know that someday
Will come that long awaited day. [31] [32]

Continue reading “The Ramblings Of A Madman”

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Charmolypi

Existence In A Nutshell

You sit there in the epicenter of the interrogation room beneath a suspended light. Your thoughts are at a standstill. You tell yourself that there is nothing of importance to see on the other side of the one way glass. Nothing that matters to condemned men such as yourself, anyway.

Summoning every last ounce of courage, you walk up to the mirror and make faces like the childlike   Mr. Bean you are  at the people standing perplexed on the other side of the screen. Satisfied, and with a similar smile to Caspar the friendly ghost on your face, you sit back down on the last of the musical chairs.

Metallica had a song for this moment, they called it ‘Ride The Lightning’. Which is why the lyrics, “Who made you God to say, ‘I’ll take your life from you!’?” was looping endlessly in your head. Fortunately, your spirit wasn’t as broken as the prison system or the justice system so it was bearable.

They weren’t able to forgive you, but you saw past your faults and knew that you were merely human, and to err is human, so you forgave yourself. The only forgiveness that matters.

ventriloquists would have a tough time imitating the wail that was sung by your vocal chords when the lightning struck.

All your feelings and memories filled to the brim with hope, regret, repentance, everything that made you- you, they were all gone in a flash, just at the flick of a switch, erased like a bad satirical cartoon sketch in a second rate newspaper.

 

T.I.M.E: Time-travelling Imbecile Masters Empathy

Chapter 1: Leaving something to be desired

Written by: Not Anonymous

Featured image

The sky was painted red during the twilight. I was surrounded by leafless trees and snow in the courtyard of what I believe to be the school building. I don’t really know for certain, although it appears to be the most likely answer. And of course, it was cold. Oh, so very cold. Winter, it came, and I didn’t even get to brace myself.

All that aside there was one thing confusing me. What am I even doing here? I mean seriously, I don’t know. I don’t think that I’m that absent minded to find myself wandering into slightly familiar courtyards with an absolutely unfamiliar serious-looking girl in front of me.

Speaking of the unfamiliar girl, why is she talking to me? I just stare blankly at her. She had short red messy hair, gray eyes and wore an auburn scarf. But what caught my eye was her clothes. If I remember correctly, it’s the uniform of the school I’m supposed to take classes in starting tomorrow. A black blazer, a tie and a long skirt for girls, pants for guys.

I realize I’m starting to stray off the subject. I will try not to digress. So, here is my objective: Go home. Hopefully, with a clear cut SMART objective in mind, it will spur goal oriented behavior which further motivates my typically lethargic self. I mean really, what the heck am I even doing here? It’s best to just think about it when I get home.

But here’s the problem. It’s the girl. What does she want really? I haven’t really been giving her any attention. Though she didn’t notice so I’m glad about that. I might not be fond of my fellow human beings, but I dislike discourtesy. I’m strange that way.

“I see…” I say interrupting her speech. I wasn’t trying to do that but hey, least she stopped talking. Socializing has never been my strong suit.

She looks up facing the setting sun as a cold breeze makes the scene quite dramatic. I cared little about that and hugged my dark blue scarf for warmth.

“I… see…” She said in a low whisper just enough for me to hear. Dear lord, this is confusing.

“Will you be coming to school tomorrow?” She asked with strong eyes facing my way.

“Sure…” I say nonchalantly. I mean tomorrow’s the first day. If I could’ve skipped classes, I would have in a heartbeat.

Her reply was  barely audible, and she ran off soon afterward into the building. As I take a closer look at the building I realize that this IS the school I’m being admitted to. So why am I even here? I was still clutching my scarf. And once I become slightly self-conscious I realize I am wearing the school uniform too, much to my confusion.

But fretting on that is bothersome. I just want to go home already. I find the main gate after wandering around the school grounds trying to find the damn thing, just to find two figures standing there. One of whom calls out to me.
“Lucius, over here.” The taller one said as she raised her arm beckoning to me. Her, I knew. Perhaps much too well. This was my identical twin sister Lucia. Her being the dominant twin… I look like her almost to an uncomfortable degree. Lucia has emerald eyes, a slender face, a short nose and long straight black hair. As far as facial features go I look exactly like her much to my discomfort. Although my hair is much shorter, barely reaching my neck. Also. I’m male. But I often do get mistaken as a girl……damn people.

“What happened?” She asked me as if she was interrogating me. As she ended her sentence the other figure approached us. I knew her too. Why wouldn’t I since she comes to my house at least once every week?  How could I forget Margret, my twin sister’s best friend! She is not as tall as Lucia and me. She has auburn hair tied up in a somewhat long ponytail, blue eyes and an eager face. I don’t know what I mean by that. I thought it was the most appropriate adjective.

As my train of thoughts end, I realize how dull it is to describe people. And as I mull over that, I realize I’m being talked to. Maybe I am a bit absent minded.

“So?” Asked Margret. Who seemed to be holding a poker face…I don’t know.

But then I realize that they’re asking me an unreasonable question since even I don’t know what the heck is going on. I mean really how am I supposed to answer that. So I try to end the conversation.

“Nothing really.”

There was a brief pause for a moment when all of a sudden I was shoved down by my sister in a rather aggressive fashion. Me being the frail boy I am fell to the snow embracing the cold. My scarf landed gently beside me. “I can tell. Just from the look on your face I can tell.” She says. “You really are-

“Make sure you take your books, Lucia.” All of a sudden I hear my father’s voice in front of me, my gaze fixated on a half-eaten toast.

Wait, what?

I take a look around to find myself in the dining room. Lucia was sitting across me munching on her toast while eagerly faffing about on her phone. Doing what people with friends do I suppose. And my dad lecturing Lucia about her usual forgetfulness.

Dad, what are you doing? You look like you’re going to pass out any time now.

And pass out he did once he went into his bedroom. If it were three years ago I would have worried. But now this is just part of his daily routine. Write articles all night, prepare breakfast, and collapse. My father is a stay-at-home husband who writes articles to make some money. My mother, on the other hand, works abroad.

As both me and Lucia ignore the loud thump that came from the master bedroom (it was our father just passing out.) I was in a state of utter confusion. I mean c’mon what just happened. A few minutes ago Lucia was glaring at me with killing intent. And now she’s staring at her phone eating her toast in a child-like manner. To put it bluntly, I’m spooked. Was I day-dreaming? No way that was way too realistic to be me simply day dreaming. What was I, Azathoth? This was surreal. Much too surreal.

At that moment, Lucia finished devouring her breakfast and looked at me with much excitement. In the midst of her childish eating she stopped and asked, “What’s up? You look more confused than usual.”

“Are you implying that I normally look confused?”

“It’s true. Whenever you space out you look either excited or confused.” She takes a moment to swallow. “Also you look more motivated than usual too.”

“Are you saying I look unmotivated?”

“Yes.”

Well, I’m too unmotivated to retort.

“Anyway, we’re walking to school with Margret. So be polite.”

“Why do I have to be polite?” I ask expressing annoyance.

“Because we’re all in the same class and she’s part of the health committee.”

“So they decided all that in the orientation? Just like that?”

“Oh yeah, you didn’t go to the orientation.”

“It was yesterday; how could you forget?” I only went to the school for the entrance exams. Ah, shit I completely forgot about that weird vision. I guess, I really was day dreaming. I wonder how spooked I would be if I went to school to find that red haired girl…. shit what if I do?

“You’re spacing out agai-

At that moment, a doorbell was heard. And I was dragged to it violently, a black figure falling off my lap and hastily scurried away. So Hera had been sitting on my lap? How did I not notice? Maybe I really am Absent minded. It was Hera, my cat, entirely painted (Not literally. No animal abuse.) black. I feel slightly disappointed that I didn’t notice sooner.

Well you see Hera is basically the only sentient being I adore.

I exited the house. It was cold. ‘I wanna go home.’ – I repeated that in my head like a mantra. My heavenly chanting was interrupted with a heavy pat on the back from Lucia.

“This here is my baby brother Lucius!” She said rather proudly. As I shifted my gaze from the snow, I noticed Margret, clad in the school uniform, staring intensely at me.

“By a day, damn it…”  I reply with a grunt.

“Just when I thought the world couldn’t handle two Lucias.” Margret burst out laughing.

“I don’t know why it’s funny to her, I found it to be quite annoying. I give her a menacing glare, which was met with more laughter. I don’t know why she’s making this such a big deal. I mean we’ve seen each other quite a few times. In my house. Eating my food. All under the accompaniment of my sister. You see this is why my only love is Hera.

“And this is my friend Margret.” Lucia started looking to me and back to her. And again looking to me and back to her. As if realizing I’m not her.

“Now that we’re formally introduced, let’s shake hands!” She offered my hand and laughed at my reluctance. Geez, why the heck does she laugh so much. It’s annoying. Shut uuuup.

I place my hand ever so hesitantly and receive the most hyper handshake I have ever received. Now that I think about who was the last person I shook hands with? I can’t remember. Must be very far down the past.

We begin commuting to school on feet. Already hating it. “So Lucius, are you excited?” Margret asks with a big grin on her face. Oh, do I look excited to you???

“You wouldn’t believe how much he was complaining when the entrance exams ended.” Lucia weighs in her unwanted statement.

“Oh c’mon, it’ll be fun. Right, Lucy?” Margret replies when instantly I cringe. Lucy. That was my nickname all throughout school. Being in an all-boys one can easily imagine how that is totally not a good thing. Being girly looking and unsocial, I wasn’t really the apex popular kid in school. And it was through their mockery that I learned that people are a bunch of assholes that need to die a slow horrible death. I like my life solitary. I should be called the Dragonborn.

“We worked really hard to get into this school, you know? I wonder how our classmates will be like.”

“Oh yeah, Anthony and his sister are in the same class as us as well.” She briefly pauses and looks at me. “Teehee, two brother-sister combos.”

I knew Anthony. He too, albeit very rarely, came into my house and ate my food under the accompaniment of my sister. However, I Don’t know about this sister of his.

“Well, Anthony and Eliza aren’t twins, Eliza just skipped a grade!” Lucia said trying to kill Margret’s hype.

Well that’s reassuring. I’d be very random quirky development ex machina if they were twins too.

And this point I realize. This is boring. So and utterly boring. I’m pretty sure, I’m not the only one bored.

For now, I just wanna sleep. And thus I begin my ever so cunning plan of taking a nap in class. Napping in class on the first day is a bad idea, but I’m too tired for this shit. Lucia and Margret’s boring conversations about our soon to be classmates is boring.

*******************

We finally reach school— FINALLY. And I begin preparing myself for the self-satisfaction of sleeping in class. I dunno. For some reason, it’s more fulfilling to sleep in class.

Lucia and Margret point me towards my classroom. Margret leaves for some errand involving the health committee. Lucia joined her to faff about. And I take a look at the seating arrangement to find my name. Around the center eh? Oh well. I take my seat and try to sleep. Bliss here I come. It might have been just a short while, but it felt like forever. I feel like with this, I can end all of this, whatever that’s going on.

“Ummm…. excuse me.” A voice called out while I was trying my goddamned hardest to sleep. I respond to give a glare but…. the messy red hair… the eyes…. there is……no doubt about…. What in the heck…

“Ah, um…” She seemed rather taken aback by my dumbfounded expression. “Ah…t-that’s my seat.”

End

Any and all feedback would be appreciated.

When Life Gives You Lemons Just So That It Can Take Them Back

The boy who called himself No Name stood stock still like a silent specter seeing his life laid out before him for the first time and being underwhelmed by the proceedings. To add to the effect, he decided to play Saturnus’ ‘All Alone’ on the Bose Bluetooth soundbar that he had recently purchased with his parent’s money.

For those who are genuinely curious about the choice of name, let it be known that the story behind it isn’t all that interesting. No Name had simply never gotten to know anyone on a first name basis. Also, while the bullies wanted to call him names, they had deemed his existence unworthy of their attention. Hence, he was simply referred to as No Name.

This had gone on for an incalculable amount of time, as a result, even the boy could not recall his real identity. Not that it mattered! He was one of those faces you see on the high school senior yearbook without really caring to know who is behind the picture. In fact, his quote read: “I am the sum total of all that has not happened to me. Sometimes it’s the things which never end up happening which affect us the most.”

Having decided that ‘Falling Snow’ By Agalloch would be a better song to listen to before kicking the bucket, he did just that. He needed to numb himself in order to imitate the feeling which had come to haunt him in his dreams. Nothing hurts more than frostbite of the soul. Losing oneself one chunk at a time. Unfortunately, it was always sunny where he lived so he tried to make up for it by turning the air conditioner to ultra-low-temperature mode. The attempt failed miserably since his car’s batteries had died. Guess he wouldn’t be the only one dying today.

With a deadpan look in his eyes, he decided that he had stalled enough. He got out of the car, the same car whose engine had stalled as soon as he drove out of the driveway and limped towards the lawn gnome that had made its home on his property-Well his parent’s property, but let the lawyers worry about that.

After arriving at his chosen destination, he unholstered the patient gun and pointed it at his temple. Right at that fateful moment his mind went blank. Why was he doing this again?

No, he was not terminally ill. Au contraire he was in good shape as he had hit the gym so the bullies wouldn’t hit him, it seemed like the rational thing to do at the time.

He never had a girlfriend so that ruled out a devastating breakup. Besides, he was one of the few people who had seen the last episode of Tom & Jerry, ‘Blue Cat Blues’ for what it was- a joke. He knew better than to throw his life away for a relationship. Ships were meant to sink after all, the flagship being Titanic which had split into two, another way of symbolizing divorce.

His parents were neither doting nor disapproving. Once in a blue moon would they speak to him, justifiably it was a request for him to pass the salt.

True, he didn’t have any friends, but that just meant he didn’t have to be anyone’s secret Santa.

That garage band he wanted to be a part of didn’t even let him audition because his house did not include a garage. The band never managed to take off or find an audience so it didn’t matter in the end. The only audience No Name needed to play for was himself. The less the merrier.

Worst of all, or perhaps, best of all, the only person in his school who knew his name was none other than the janitor. Unlike Will Hunting from the movie Good Will Hunting, the janitor was a typical fellow.  An Honest bloke who was just smart enough to figure out when he saw a good human being, which was exactly what he pictured No Name as.

Although the lad had been forced to quit the community service club because the president had taken a personal dislike to the taciturn boy, he continued to do his part in what way he could. Every day as soon as everyone had left the school premises and the only ones left would be No Name and The Janitor, both of them would get to work.

Any lost articles which the dynamic duo bumped into would be returned within the week. However, unlike the janitor No Name would resort to indirect means to return the possessions in question. He would leave a note along with the personal effects telling the loser not to weep but to keep their possessions under hawk’s eye so as not to repeat the same mistake.

Yes, he never did get any credit, but Luca Pacioli need not always be right. Not every debit must have a credit.

Regardless of recollecting the time he had made a difference No Name pulled the trembling trigger.

The water gun splashed his face with a bitter alarm call. The lemonade he had filled it with made his eyes tear up and as he sank to his knees he could feel the acerbity in his mouth- it reminded him of his life. The sweet lost in the bitter, further enhancing the flavor.

  • Death is inevitable, suicide is optional.

Abstract: Reaching out to the vacuum we know to be space

Silence. Eternity stretched thin, yielding naught but yet another influx of rhetorical questions. None, save my own personage was present to answer them. Now that I had finally grown accustomed to the zero-gravity environment, things weren’t so bad. My makeshift corporeal silhouette faced away from a glaring omnipresent sun. I had to visualize a shadow trailing behind indefinitely, making non-existent snow angels, as outer space is, to be frank, quite vacuous.

Was my mind playing tricks on me?’.

Had it not been for my watch, surely I would have lost all remnants of sanity by now! It was true, what they say about a dead-man’s clock that is. Time waits for no man. If not for the incessant ticking, this dimension remained resolutely mute. Hearts do not beat when there is nothing to throb for. And so resigning myself to this, I gave up on hearing the rhythmic pit-a-pat of a human heart ever again.

‘Why must we become emotionally detached to cope?’.

Stars would occasionally spring up, materializing from some unknown origin. They must have devised this just to show me that I was outnumbered. Strive as I might to shut out their black looks by closing both eyelids, it was ineffectual. Like floodlights, they bore into my soul, shedding light on corners that were best left alone. Never before had I felt so empty, my secrets, excruciating as they were, had been something to call my own. There would be no more ups and downs on my cardiogram line. In an instant, everything became linear.

Should they covet the truth?’.

Numbers, lots and lots of numbers, a whole myriad of them spiraled out from null. What’s more they were colorful. “My god!”, I gasped. A bull’s eye was hurtling towards me, at 10 m/s^2 free fall acceleration. This was too much. Overburdened, all my mind could do was replay scenes of the harrowing harassment I had undergone as a child. “Teacher’s pet” they had called me, ironically I was the one who consistently looked out for everyone else, the “scapegoat” if you will. Subsequently, the red mark enveloped me, faintly echoing of past failures. I was literally seeing stars. Colliding head on against one’s fear with such unsettling force could not possibly bring closure.

Do problems when left to themselves reach astronomical proportions?’.

                                                        *

Once upon a time, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a timorous kid had happened upon the answer to life, the universe, and everything. It was so simple! The answer was obviously the question. Yes, that was all it took to handle his predicament. The comic relief it provided was deep-felt and immediate. He had realized that even if he were to ponder about the purpose of his existence for an infinite infinity, he could never attain a satisfactory answer so long as the query was unsuitable. Newly armed with this knowledge he set out to change his world, for the better or worse.

THE END IS NEVER THE END

^ The above is an allusion to The Stanley Parable…try the game if you haven’t already.

Keeping Time via STOPwatch

There was darkness all around me. Just a few fleeting images fading into oblivion kept my solitary figure company.

They all start this way, every one of them. I’m talking about dreams in the dead of night. A momentary suspension of time as if I’m stuck in the past until it abruptly unfreezes and begins to flick through my life. It’s happened so often now that I’ve grown accustomed to it, but still I can’t shake off the feeling that someone has been observing me for a very long time now, silently watching behind the scenes, studying my every movement.

You’d think that by now I would have reached some logical conclusion as to why this recurring phenomenon takes place, believe me when I say that  I’ve tried, but I’m still as clueless as ever.

“Ugh, not this part again!”, I say as I feel a tug from all sides.

All warmth recedes and the very air itself feels heavy.

“Difficult to breathe isn’t it?”, echoes a familiar voice.

“Go away; you already know my answer, so why don’t you just go back where you came from? “, I hear myself say.

The pale figure only chortles in reply. Suddenly, from the corner of my eyes I spot a glowing radiance. It pulls me towards it as if we’re invisibly connected somehow. The light threatens to overwhelm me and I’m not sure if I’m more bewildered or excited. Up till now it’s always proved elusive and the more I tried to get closer, the more it pushed me away. This time though, this time, things were definitely dramatically different and it was finally going to happen, I could feel it…

*

An audible gasp resonates through the empty classroom. “I was this close to finding out” mutters the boy. He absent-mindedly keeps time to his racing thoughts by drumming his knuckles on the table. His dark blue eyes focus directly ahead on the chalk outline board which was only partially visible in the dimly lit room. On it, in bold letters are scrawled the words: Beware, if you do not learn to move on, all current opportunities will eventually be gone.

Instead of showing surprise he walks past it casually and heads out a door which wasn’t there a minute ago. After expertly moving through snaking hallways he reaches his destination. There standing in the center of yet another uncrowded room was his old locker. In brisk steps he walks closer and briefly stares at an old curving ‘Arren Pace’ which is just to the right of the Dial.

‘This isn’t the time to reminisce,’ he thinks to himself before quickly dialing his combination which is confirmed by a click. Inside lies an old photo album with a leather cover clearly showing signs of age. Having had Gently picked it up, he looks at it fondly before putting it back and closing the locker shut.

“I see that you’ve finally found some solace in memories, and as touching as that may be you know what I’m really here for I presume” says a voice which is actually his inner demon.

“Yes, I want to spend some quality time with you demon. It’s about time we sit down for a chat over some tea don’t you think?”, Arren responds.

“Splendid! The fun has only just began”, remarked the manifestation of fear.

And what great fun it was. (sarcasm)

The end.

The Pilot Testing The Pilot Project

Written by:

Banin Abrar, Class XI, Orange.

The horizon lit up with an unfamiliar glow, but not very unlike the prospect of a rising sun. In a matter of seconds, the untamed glow had lit up the entire vicinity with a vile revelation, bestowed by ingenious men of their generation.

High atop the landscape, the pilot perceived of what was once a tiny box, giving off a dense, over-sized cloud, that was now forming the familiar shape of a mushroom, but indeed very horrific to look upon.  The glowing ripple was extending its base at a staggering rate, and the cloud right at the center of it climbed higher, curling inwards, punching through atmospheric layers, and forming rings which seemed like the halo of an angel.

The pilot had come to know the bitter truth; he was only a pawn in a game of chess played by others. And now, no matter how hard he pushed on the throttle, the catastrophe would engulf him and his aircraft indiscriminately.

“A positron with a Y boson down quark, disintegrates into two daughter quarks and emits a gamma ray of 511 kilo-electron volts.”

And with that complex theory the professor put an end to his intricate lecture which had managed to baffle even the brightest mind present at the advanced research facility.

Gently professor Bourden slide into his battered old brown overcoat, and with a flick of his skilful fingers adjusted his thick-framed spectacles to a comfortable angle.  Checking his wristwatch rather tentatively, he retired onto his desk, and withdrawing from his cupboard a folder with extreme caution, and after checking his immediate vicinity within an interval of every few seconds, he finally proceeded to put the folder down on his hand polished plywood desk. Beads of perspiration hung loosely on to the wrinkles of his forehead as he ran his fingers through the confidential files. His eyes were all over the paper. And he was at a loss for words.

Suppressed excitement followed along with a tinge of  anxiety, like a thief all alone in a museum surrounded by priceless antiques. At once his eyes rolled over to the corner of the page, reading out the names of Albert Einstein, Nicholas Flamel, and many others. The headline read, ‘Project Manhattan’.

“It is a hit and run. You drop it and try cover a distance of at least a 2 kilometer radius. For confidential reasons, I cannot elaborate on the purpose of this mission and the package which is to be dropped. All I can say is this: It will end the war. Good luck sergeant Dashner, God be with you.”

The flight commander ended his ended his long speech in his own fashion, and in a few long strides he entered the control room. For sergeant Dasher it seemed that his job was simple, or so he thought.

“Drop in drop out.” he kept reassuring himself. Soon enough he would be flying over the hostile Japanese territory of Hiroshima. It was necessary for him to make full use of his aircraft maneuvers in order to avoid being shot down. If successful he would drop a lead box, the contents of which he knew nothing about.

Quite unfortunately, he did not even begin to suspect that he would have to find out the ultimate truth in such a dismal manner during the last few seconds of his tormented existence.

Reyner reluctantly turned over the pages of his Eighth grade history book; Quite clearly he had a knack for science rather than the arts and Literature, nevertheless, something from the contents of the book had hit him. Upon reaching the chapter ‘World War II’ he began piecing together his scattered attention. The casualty list read over 1 million; it also read how a patriot pilot named James Dashner sacrificed his own life to win the war.

Upon flipping the page there was a little name, ‘Project Manhattan’, and farther down below it were the names of various scientists who were recruited by the project directors. (Somewhere down in the list lay a name- Dan Bourden.  Further ahead in the last few pages a quote from British President Winston Churchill went on to defend the decision of the nuclear strike)

“We all agreed it was too late to do anything about it. It was inevitable for a peaceful world”

Something Borrowed

Written by: Kashfia Nahreen, Class XII

(Inspired by one of my Favorite Novels: Pather Pachali)

The late afternoon sun shines on the deep sea-blue water of the lake. The sunlight reflecting back from the water casts a soft, warm glow. The trees surrounding the river allow a little shade to the girl sitting by the river gazing off into the distance. The warmth of the sun embraces her; the warm, gentle wind ruffles her chocolate brown hair that falls about her round face. Butterflies fly past her; insects crawl about in the grass. The late afternoon sun slowly fades away into distant memory giving the sky a pinkish hue.

The girl still sits there with something small clutched in her tanned hand. Her deep grey eyes have a distant look about them as they stare at something far away. A voice calling out to someone can suddenly be heard. The voice is loud and worried. It pierces through the silence, calling out,

“Durga, oi Durga, koi geli re-where are you-?”

A little boy of about 10, with dark, untidy hair and perfectly drawn eyes, comes running, still shouting,

“Durga, oi Durga.”

His eyes fall on the girl sitting by the stream,

“there you are,” he says panting.

He hunches over and put his hands on his knees.

“Where have you been?”

The little boy asks in Bengali with a hint of urgency in his voice.

“Just around,” the girl replies.

“I have been looking for you for a while. Ma is furious with you, Durga di-sister Durga,”

the boy tells her with a note of sympathy is his voice.

A flicker of fear passes through the girl, ‘does ma know?’, she wonders.

She possibly couldn’t, she reasons with herself.

“Why?”

she whispers barely looking her brother in the eye.

“You were supposed to help ma stitch the katha- the blanket, she has been waiting for you for so long.”

“Oh,” she says, looking relieved.

She doesn’t know, thank the Lord.

“Where did your mind wonder off to again?” her brother asks,

annoyed by his sister’s constantly distracted self.

“Sorry, Opu, let’s head off.”

There is commotion inside the small brick hut, loud voices can be heard: people yelling, arguing. Durga and Opu approach the door with hurried yet apprehensive footsteps.

“There she is, there is your beloved girl,” says a shrill, loud voice,

“ask her, why don’t you? She took it, I am sure of it.”

Durga’s heart skips a beat as these words register in her ear. She looks around, there is ma looking defiant and angry. And there is Shurmila di with her mother, -the woman with the shrill voice they called mashi- aunt–, from the big house at the end of the road. All were looking at her, ma with anger, Shurmila di with embarrassment, mashi with accusation.

Opu stands behind her, completely bewildered. He had no idea as to what was going on, but Durga did. And the thought of what she had done makes her stomach churn. I am going to hurl, but I can’t. Oh Lord, why did I do it?

Earlier in the day:

She is running, trying to find a place to hide. Her worn out clothes get stuck in a tree branch and she tugs at it, trying to free herself but managing only to tear the dress. Ma is going to be really mad. But before she could do anything about it, she hears a voice say,

“ready or not, here I come,”,

and rushes off into the big room on the left to hide herself.

Durga crawls underneath the bed, and stays tucked in, waiting for the seeker to find others. What a nice room Shurmila di has, she says to herself. I wish our hut was half as pretty as this room. She signs. Why are we so poor? she asks herself. I just wish, I just wish we were able to afford nice things once in a while.

She hears footsteps right outside the room and is shaken out of her reverie. She holds her breath in order to not make any noise. The footsteps pass by the room, no one even bothers to look in. She waits quietly for someone to find her, seconds turn into minutes but no one comes. Have they forgotten me? she wonders. No they couldn’t have, she assures herself.

She waits some more, but finally she scuttles out from under the bed and goes up to the door, ready to leave, when she halts. A burst of laughter reaches her ears, followed by voices.

“That was the best mithai -sweetmeat- I had in a while. Thank you, really thank you, Shurmila di.”

“It was my pleasure,” replies Shurmila.

“Oh, um wasn’t Durga playing with us too?” ask Shurmila.

“I guess she was,” someone answers.

“Did anyone find her? Or know where she is?” Shurmila asks with concern.

A general answer of “no” follows her question.

“Well who cares where Durga is? It’s not like we want her to play with us!” someone says.

“Exactly, I mean she always latches herself onto us, like a leech. She follows us around all the time. Why can’t she realize that we don’t want her?” someone else pronounces.

“Hey, don’t talk like that, come on she is nice,” Shurmila tries to interject, but in vain.

“Have you seen her clothes? They are more like rags.”

“And she always has dirt sticking to her face.”

“So disgusting.”

“She should really play with other poor people and not try to play with us.”

Comments after comments hit her. I…I thought they were my friends. They don’t want me? What did I do? How is this my fault? Is being poor a crime? she asks herself, as tears pour down her cheek. She bites her lower lip in an effort to stop sobbing and backs away from the door, afraid that someone will see her. She doesn’t want to be seen, not by these people. How can they be so mean?

I am just another kid like them, then why am I the one they don’t like? Why does it matter if my parents have money or not? She sighs and gently sits down on the bed. Suddenly her whole world seems to have turned upside down.

She recalls the time, a few months back, how everyone had refused when she had asked people to come and have some sweetmeat at her house for her 13th birthday, well everyone other than Shurmila di. Kind, sweet Shurmila di, whom she loved. Shurmila di is one of them too, she is. Durga tells herself. She is as bad as the others, maybe not as mean.

She sits on the bed quietly waiting for everyone to leave. They were never my friends, never. Why was I so naïve to believe they were? Ma was right. Rich people do not care about us poor ones. We will forever be looked down upon.

Bit by bit the voices quiet down, Durga rises from the bed, and peaks out through the crack in the door. A few kids still stand outside, chatting. She steps back, and glances about the room. The entire floor of the room is tiled; from the roof hangs a beautiful fan and a sophisticated chandelier that looks rather out of place. Pushed against the wall with a big, wide window is the bed where Durga had been sitting a minute ago. On the corner stands a desk with books and papers littered on it. Among the mess lay a plain but elegant white pearl bracelet, twinkling faintly.

Durga’s eyes fall on the bracelet and she is mesmerized by its beauty. Drawn to the bracelet, just like a moth is drawn to a fire, she approaches the desk and picks it up. Ki shundor- so beautiful. She twirls it in her hand, and instantly is in love with it. I wish I had a bracelet like this. But I know I never will. And suddenly her fingers close around the fragile little bracelet. I want to borrow this, just for a day. I hope Shurmila di won’t notice. I will come back and return it tomorrow. I just want this to be mine for a day, just a day.

Ensuring that no one was outside she sneaks out of the room and runs to the riverside. She sits down, holding on to the bracelet tightly like it was a lifeline, a lifeline to a better life. Is money the only way to get beautiful things? Are the rich entitled to all that is good and beautiful in this world? Amra ki kichui pabona- aren’t we entitled to anything?

“You took it, didn’t you? You big thief. You saw the pearl bracelet and you took it, you stole it. Didn’t you?” mashi shouts at her.

“I… I,” Durga stumbles, tears filling up her eyes.

“Did you?” ma asks her, her voice as cold as stone.

Suddenly a chill passes through Durga, and the tears spill out and trickle down her cheeks. Unable to move or speak she simply stands there, still like a statue.

“Open your palm, Durga,” ma commands.

And slowly, unwillingly Durga forces her palm to open.

“I told you she took it, I told you. And what did you say?

‘We may be poor but we don’t steal, my daughter will never steal.’

You poor people, you are all alike. You have your so called ideals and pride, but in truth you all are just a bunch of lying thieves. Yes, that’s all you are,” mashi says with contempt.

“Mama, stop,” Shurmila di utters, her cheeks red, her eyes averted.

“We found the bracelet let’s go. Please,” she pleads.

But mashi doesn’t move, she stands there glaring at Durga.

“Did you steal it?” ma asks Durga with a murderous voice.

“I, I just borrowed it,” Durga mutters.

“Borrowed it?”

“Yes.”

“Did you ask Shurmila if you could ‘borrow’ her bracelet?”

“N..n..no.”

“So you stole it?”

“No, ma. I just borrowed it for a day, I was going to give it back tomorrow.”

“You were going to give it back?”

“Yes, I just took it for a day, just for a…” but before she could finish her sentence ma’s hand connects to her cheek. The contact is hard and loud, ringing out throughout the tiny room. And then there is another thump, followed by another.

“You stole, you little bitch? After all I taught you, after all I told you, you went ahead and became a thief?” ma yells at her.

“We do everything we can to provide for you and you go and steal?” she screams, raising her hand to strike once more.

“Ma, ma, please, it hurts,” Durga cries out. Her cheeks are red and burning.

“Oh it hurts, does it?” ma mocks, a maniacal gleam in her eyes.

“Because of you bitch, I got to hear an earful of insults. Just because of you. Don’t you think you should be punished for that?” She raises her hand again.

“Ma, stop, please you are hurting di,” Opu begs with tears pooling in his eyes.

“Ma, ma, calm down, please you are scaring me,” he mumbles.

“Mashima -aunt- please stop,” Shurmila implores as mashi stands by, her mouth gaping in surprise.

“Get out, get out of my home,” ma yells at Shurmila and mashi. Mashi walks out haughtily, Shurmila di walks out with a saddened face, glancing back once at Durga with a guilty and sympathetic look.

Ma sits down on the bed that stood in the other side of the room, and suddenly begins to sob.

“Did I not tell you never to steal? Did I not tell you to not want things that you can’t have? Oh, it’s all my fault, it’s all mine. I can never provide well enough for you. You two are just children, of course you covet things every other kid has. I wish your father was here with us today, we wouldn’t be suffering if he was,’

ma rambles on. “I am sorry, children, I am truly sorry for not being a better mother to you both,” she cries.

Slowly Durga and Opu move towards ma. Sitting down they gently embrace her. Durga wipes ma’s tears off, and says,

“No, ma, you have done enough for us. I am sorry I took the bracelet, I just…”

“I am sorry too, love, I am sorry. Does it hurt?” ma asks softly.

“Just a little.”

The End IS NEVER THE END.

The Lesser Evil Is Not The Greater Good

Written by:

Aaida Nawar Arpa, Class XI

I watched as the sun, our sole beacon of hope, rose above the horizon to illuminate the world with its glorious light. In this place, with each daybreak comes a promise- for peace, calm and serenity. Along with the slow, gentle tide of the ocean, the momentary gushes of sea- sprayed wind, and the warm glow of the sun, we cannot imagine this place to be any sweeter than it already was. Nevertheless, it always felt as if the intensity of happiness and tranquility we were experiencing increased day by day.

A seagull squawked overhead as I stared into the distance. many might think that standing in the same position for hours on end is quite monotonous. However, captivated by the gentle lapping of the waves, it felt as if every sore wound from the treacherous nights were being slowly being healed. The world seemed silent, now that all the gunfire and explosions of the war had ended. But all that mattered to me was that my family was safe and well-protected.

I was not alone on the beach. The ecstatic laughter of small children rang all across to the harbour where a few fishermen were hauling up their magnificent catches. Mostly, I saw elderly people with the same grin of happiness spread across their faces as I had on mine. At only rare moments would encounter teenagers like me, wandering around, skipping rocks, or just contemplating deeply, soaking in the breathtaking aura of the environment. And how could they not? Just being here could wash away all the distress from one’s mind.

Just when I had fully accepted the fact that life could actually run smoothly here, I noticed the sun slowly making its way down towards the horizon. “No not again…”, I thought to myself as my heart started beating faster. All of my survival instincts perked up, but I knew that there was no running from this. It was inevitable.

Time seemed to have quickened its pace since the sky already turned dark-red. For a while, everything remained still as a cold jolt of wind went up my spine. All of a sudden, someone screamed triggering all the others to feel a soul screeching shout and answer a frantic call for help. But I could not move- not when my body felt as if it had been run over by a hundred-ton tractor. Even though I desperately wanted to scream like the rest, something was preventing  me from that freedom of expressing the pain. Without warning, the ground gave away and I fell down into an endless pitch black pit, only to hit the ground again with a sickening crunch. My ears erupt as the throbbing of the blood engulfs my senses, sending jolts of pain to my head now and then. Slowly and steadily the throbbing sensation flows down my body, dead centre on my chest- to the point I was shot.

A piercing white hot flame shocks me where the bullet was still embedded into my skin, making me double over in agony. Against my will, my limbs twist, deforming me while the fire continued to burn inside of me. The pain. The unbearable pain. It was too much for me, but there was no escape from this. The place that had seemed hopeful before, now was bleak. “Murder!”- unrecognizable voices whispered. Warm tears ran down my face as I tried hanging on to my consciousness, hoping this torment would end soon.

They say there are two places we can go when our life has ended- heaven or hell. I now realize why they had merged into one. A person is rarely completely good or bad. But they have to be punished and awarded accordingly. I am probably let off easy since the only crime I believe I have done was to kill people in the war. If this is what I deserved for my paltry sins then I shudder to think what the real criminals were going through.

I forgot how many days and nights I have been here, nor do I want to think about it. The daylight rewarding enough for my life on Earth.

As I surrendered to slow lingering torture of the flames, I await the sun to rise again and bathe us in its forgiving light, denoting our release from hell for it is to be repeated all over again.

Meanie The Genie: Recycled Happiness

Written by Ruminator (Also known as Abrar)

‘What is true?’

That was all it took for a solitary thought to impart some semblance of meaning to me: truth is an ageless face with creases of worry sketched into its forehead. Truth no longer has any self-esteem. It suffers at the hand of a sycophant known to me as ambition. In short, Truth is not a chronic worrier, rather it is a chronic warrior, one that has been fighting from dusk to dawn just to remain free of bias. There is not a shadow of a doubt that Truth has fallen prey to the wily charms of its cousin the ever so sweet prevaricating lie.

Mother always told me that if I ever went in search of the absolute truth, the first place I should look must be our local convenience store. There I could purchase it at half the typical retail price.

                                                                        *

which brings me to this moment…

Riddled with bullet holes and smelling of moth paintball the gray curtains could not help but watch in horror as unadulterated daylight passed right through them. A rather opaque sight for the mind to digest. Then came the ghastly wind, giving the poor curtains goosebumps. Droplets of rain soon joined the fray soaking a chillingly cold cloth in acid rain. The general stationed in the sun must have noted the dismay in my eyes for he sent more troops. Before long sunlight burned through my ragtag defenses, spiraled and nose-dived into my eyes like a kamikaze pilot. I must have fainted because my mind went blank, kind of like your answers or lack thereof in response to a surprise math quiz.

Nothing works the way it’s supposed to. Nothing. I wouldn’t even be in this sorry mess if I hadn’t been ruminating all night. In fact, It was now impossible to tell if the real nightmare was just a bad dream or reality. More on that later, first let me kvetch about the situation at hand.

Picture this: Majestically lying inside the world’s most hygienic dumpster-a metaphorical one- was a kid. Littered all around him were pieces of scrapped paper. Either he had writer’s block or he harbored a grudge against trees. Had the RRRR- radical, reduce, reuse and recycle – environmentalists found him, they would surely have taken pity on him and upgraded his status from tramp to trampled. Safe to say, to the boy that topic- one rife with social justice warrior’s tears- was #1 on the list of tabooed taboos.

Who could the person in question possibly be?