Love You Amazon- A Song Dedicated to the Largest Bookstore in the World

Love You Amazon- A Song Dedicated to the Largest Bookstore in the World

Amazon… I’m just an author selling books on your store
And I wanna sell more…
That’s why I’m coming knocking at your god damn door.

Amazon… You’re the world’s biggest marketplace,
And kindle’s a big craze;
A platform writers ought to chase.

Though there’s one thing that I find funny,
That we write fiction, poetry, fantasy…
But still we don’t as much money,
‘Cause you want us to add some… sensuality.

Yes erotica is your favourite genre,
It is your reigning star performer;
Since it’s the only thing that you fancy,
Time for some good ol sycophancy-

So love you Amazon… You’re the diner, I’m the cook…
‘Love you amazon’ is gonna be this song’s hook…
‘Love’ you Amazon, is what I call my next book.
And it’s your favourite genre.

Borrowed: A Letter from Tomorrow

Borrowed: A Letter from Tomorrow

“Time is money”. It has been a principle preached by the wisest of the wise, paradoxically since the beginning of time itself. Human beings are naturally born with a fixed span of lifetime. Nevertheless, one couldn’t actually realise the significance of this most limited resource till the time the very phrase ‘time is money’ came to be true. Yes! As the prevalent global cryptocurrency dissolved in the 23rd century A.D., a phoenix, in the form of a new solar currency, emerged from its ashes- Time.

My name is Sasha Kumari, born in the year 2447 A.D. Just like every human born in my era, I was given a basic quota of 150 years to leverage during my supposed lifetime. The rest… Well, I had to earn it. The phrase ‘Spending time’ meant differently for us. With the advent of advanced genetic engineering, nanotech and holistic synthetic healing, human beings could be presumably immortal. But, with such a godly power in the hands of a few, it would have just created chaos. So, just as we do with every godly power we have possessed since time immemorial, we limited our ability to channel it through restricting organisation. Laws and Protocols were formulated to regulate the use of this power and normalise access to it across the solar system. Eventually, it aided in the evolution of time as the sole currency in the known Universe. Every child born had to be implanted with the soul-clocks, that were small chips in our wrists that controlled everything from our existence to our well-being. It was a metaphorical as well as literal symbolism of an hourglass that showed our worth in the form of the time we have left. Everything from remuneration to penalisation had a new form. The punishments for crime were in terms of time, with the minutest of crimes cutting off days from your clock whereas the harshest of crimes turning your clocks off. And as soon as they went off, so did you. The crimes that were considered the worst often had something or else to do with stealing time. There was no disease and very slight chances of permanent injury since the self-healing was near-perfect. Still, people died. In such an apparently utopian society, you would expect that there be no classes, right? But there were. And worse than earlier. Penury diffused through the evolution and sustained. Now, the poor were lacking in time. Because of two major reasons- Firstly, with a day’s work, they could only earn a few hours; some only a few minutes. And secondly, many chose to barter their time for other resources. The soul-clocks couldn’t save people from hunger, or the lust for comfort and leisure. As has been, the rich became richer and the poor poorer. I still remember how we used to find clock-beggars round the clock at every nook and corner of spaceways and skyways. Those desperate to just get a few days’ worth so as to buy a quarter meal for their loved ones; some to buy the cheapest liquor they could find.

A few years back, the raid on the human trafficking network, the one to put a halt on underage selling of time, put a cork to the network of beggars. It also inadvertently restricted stealing of time and limited the advancement of the unethical hacking community. Now, they were merely surviving on the bits and pieces they could scrape from all the not-for-profits. Yes, those self-proclaimed philanthropists who all competed like foxes to get temporal accolades for their so-called contributions. The highest honour, the Nobel Prize for Peace, adding 300 years to one’s lifespan. Well, procuring a few years for the needy paid off well for the few lucky ones. The rest spent their lives in a miserable bubble, that often burst as catastrophic failures, pushing them to the edges of psychosis and thereby extinguishing their remaining time. Oh yes! There weren’t any diseases since your soul-clocks were constantly fixing you, all for a price. This was programmed into them to let consequences of actions persist. Otherwise, human beings would have merely indulged and not been of any use.

You have a few questions in your mind, don’t you? Well… to be honest, just two of them matter. The first is- why am I telling you this? For starters, I started interning for this time-management organisation last summer. It was one of the few organisations of the solar system valued at more than a million-years. The owner of the firm was the richest man of our system, Dimitry Selkov. My brother, a full-time employee of the company, referred me to it (if you’re wondering). My stipend was less, something around 72 hours per month, but the work was adding weight to my resume. The thing is, a few months back, while I was working on the International Space Station, my brother had departed to our Martian Settlement for what he referred to as a company errand. Failing to hear a from him after some time, we began asking questions. Very soon, a narrative came out that he never went to Mars. Whoever talked about it was indirectly or directly silenced by the management. Being the inquisitive being and the worried sister I always was, I took the onus of finding the truth myself. A few weeks back, I snuck out on one of the transporter drones to Mars. On reaching there, I had to be stealthy and make my way to the archive repository, the system my brother’s team was working on. The company that Selkov primarily owned worked for allocation and de-allocation of time along with records keeping. Hopping from archive to archive, I reached the end of the dome. I was supposed to hide there for a day at least before I could have made my way back undetected. But, prior to the lapse of the day, the impossible happened. Selkov made his way to the terminal along with numerous boxes of shipments that were supposed to be carrying battery-powered drives. But, as the containers slid open, they revealed numerous cryogenic glass containers with infants inside of them. Yes! Selkov was committing the worst of crimes. The secret to his capital was, literally, sucking the lives out of the poor. Overhearing their discussion, I came to know that Selkov had been the kingpin of this organised cartel since centuries. I was shocked at that revelation since time-tech wasn’t that old even. Or was it? After that, I waited amid the shadows so as to know more. As soon as they left, I started hunting for information through the Archive databases. And just as I thought, they were maintaining off-the-record data warehouses to store information regarding their dubious activities. Technically, they were just channelling the persisting capabilities of humankind to their full potential. But, subject to some unbreachable protocols in place, they were only able to do it at the cost of others. That was their pursuit to become Gods. There wouldn’t be Gods if there were no humans. And those protocols were just making sure that only a few get to reap the entirety of the forbidden fruit of immortality.

Now, coming to the second most important question that you might be thinking of right now- how am I telling you this? In my pursuit to find my brother, and subsequent seeking of the truth, I came to know that my brother was aware of their plans and was himself working on something to disrupt their cartel altogether. The archival recordings showed that he was clocked off by Selkov. As I reversed through the recordings, I saw how he had reached the settlement in search for the life sustenance engine that powers the settlement on Mars. He had a purpose. We cannot essentially travel back through time. And ages of human experimentation has taught us that we can neither communicate with the past. Or, can we? My brother learnt a way. Human experimentation with time had given us the power to de-age matter. As matter de-ages, we see a version of it that was long lost to history. Counteractively, my brother found a way that leveraged gravitational waves to speed up the ageing, which impacted the past versions of matter itself. For example, if I increase your age today by 10 years, yet keep time for you generically still and also relative individually, your age 10 years ago would be as it is now. In fact, your birth might happen 10 years later, thanks to the impact of the space-time continuum. Nevertheless, it is impossible to implement this for organic beings. But it is very much possible to do in the case of lifeless matter. The gravity pen creates engravings on a rock that ages it many years to the future, hence sending the message years to the past. But, for it to travel to 2022 A.D., it required an energy source as strong as the life sustenance engine itself. He came to Mars to find it. Instead, he was found. And so am I. Even though my soul-clock shows a healthy 115 years, I am dead sure that I’d be surely dead in the next 10 mins. Therefore, I have chosen to complete my brother’s last wishes. To save the future from the past and to save the past from itself. You… who are reading it… there’d be a race to Mars lead by the richest of your time. What seems, what you see… it will never be what actually is. The power of the Gods has been created as of 28th June 2022 A.D. You have to stop them from becoming Gods… from anyone becoming a God. This is not the world you want… Trust me. Save your time… so that we would never have to save time ever.

The Last Hope (A Sci-Fi Story)

The Last Hope (A Sci-Fi Story)

A massive stroke of wind gushed through the dusty roads of what seemed like an abandoned and isolated town. It was though not as waste-clad as one would presume since the debris had either withered away or had become one with the stationary. There was no sign of any life anywhere. The absence of any traces of beings indicated how the place had long been deserted. A squirrel came out of a small opening to the sewer. It moved about for a while, searching for something to eat. The window-pane that lay behind her slightly gave way to reveal a dark pair of eyes staring directly at the little animal. All of a sudden, the window slid open as a woman, with her face wrapped in cloth, jumped out towards the squirrel. She chased the animal for a while. Then, a large number of humans started barging out of the different structures and corners of the block. They were all wholly wrapped in rugged clothes and were all chasing the small squirrel. A riot began amid the road as more people kept joining and jumping on each other, beating each other down and trying to grab the squirrel.

Suddenly, the public address system attached to the posts started sounding a substantial and long Siren, the sound of which could’ve rendered anyone deaf. The vast mob immediately started dispersing in a terrified manner, trampling over a few who couldn’t carry themselves well. The stampede left behind a few of them crippled, unable to reach back inside. The Siren went on for a few minutes and then became silent. No one was coming to help the fallen. The woman observed from her window-pane as the injured looked towards one side of the road with terrified expressions. They cried out for help, but no one listened. The winds started gaining pace. Everyone inside rushed further indoors. What followed was an enormous dust-storm. It continued for some time, causing no conspicuous damage to the buildings and other structures. They had apparently become used to it and had shed whatever they could have. As soon as the storm subsided, the woman slowly walked back to the window. She was shivering as she dared to look at the ones who had been left behind. They were all dead, and their bodies had turned black as if charred.

“Three more lost… They could’ve been fed to the scavengers…” said the young and muscular man standing on the window-pane beside her. She slowly turned back and walked inside. She then slid open a wooden cover on the ground, revealing a stairwell. Walking down, she reached a dark and small basement.

“Aasha…” she whispered as her sound reverberated.

“Aasha…” she repeated louder after hearing no reply. A small warm hand came and clasped hers. She took out a solar torch from her coat-pocket and switched it on. The light revealed a little girl sitting beside her in the dark. She was wearing half-torn and saggy clothes but had nothing covering her face.

“How many times I told you to cover your face?” the woman said in anger, as she looked for cloth in the little room.

“But… I don’t need it you told me…” Aasha said.

“No… but the world needs one on you or else they’d be afraid of you…” the woman said as she picked a ripped piece of cloth and started wrapping it around Aasha’s face.

“I feel Hungry, Mother…” the young girl said.

“I know… The storm hit before we could get any food. I’d be going out again soon. Did you finish the water-bottle I gave you? Preserve it. Asmit is acting weirder every day. He might not let many take their share of water next time…” the woman said. A rattling sound started coming from above immediately followed by someone saying “SCAVENGERS…”. The woman quickly pushed the child to a corner of the basement.

“No matter what happens… DO NOT MAKE A NOISE… AND DO NOT COME OUT…” she said while shutting her lamp off. She then climbed out of the basement and shut the lid, putting broken rubbles to cover it up. Everyone had gathered near the windows again. Outside, two black motorcycles had stopped, each ridden by one person. They both were completely covered in grey bodysuits which extended as helmets over their faces. They took out some electronic devices from their backpacks and put them on the road. Inside, everybody had picked up a piece of wood, knife, sword or any broken piece of equipment they could’ve used as a weapon.

“I have never seen such scavengers before…” said a young man standing at a corner of the building in which the woman stood.

The two riders were doing something with a signal-dish on the ground. One of them walked up to the charred bodies of the people who had died earlier. The other one said looking at their device “Radiation is low here… So is the groundwater… We can stay here but cannot extract for long.”

“Radiation is low… No Kidding… These are freshly burnt… We should expect company” the other one said while gazing at the charred bodies.

“Guess what… this place reported merely seven hundred thousand cases at peak…” the one sitting at the computer said.

“They must have migrated to the camps long ago… Damn, I feel hungry…” the other one said.

“Grab me that bar when you take one for yourself. I would do a pulse mapping of the place. We then move ahead. Sounds cool?”

“They have food…” said the muscular man standing inside the building. The woman looked at him and whispered: “Please do not do anything foolish Asmit…”

“Sarita… Why do you fear fights so much? Don’t you have that little girl below to feed? Feed her well, or she’d become too weak… and possibly scavengers’ food…” Asmit replied.

Sarita looked back at him with anger. He then gestured towards some people to come forward with their weapons. He reached inside his pocket and took out a revolver.

“Asmit… Where did you?…” Sarita questioned.

“It is just the two of them… We apprehend quick and steal whatever they carry.” Asmit said.

“And what about them?” Sarita questioned.

“We leave their fate outside… Storm or the Scavengers… whichever comes first.” Asmit replied. He then quickly opened the door, pointing the gun towards them. They were both startled. A crowd gathered behind him as he slowly walked forward.

“You are not from around here… What brings you?” Asmit questioned.

The two riders had both stood up and raised their hands slightly above their waists to show that they were both harmless.

“We are not here to take anything from you… We just wish to scan the red zones for habitable land… And then we’d be gone…” the rider next to the computer on the ground said.

“Hahahaha” Asmit laughed as the others behind him followed.

“What decade are you living in? There are only red zones here… Here… if you’re unarmed, you’re a settler. Or else, you are a scavenger…” he continued.

“Kill them and take their stuff.” A man behind Asmit said. “Yes…” many others followed.

“Are you a scavenger? Well… We come a long distance from the green zone…” said the other rider, as instant silence prevailed. They all looked at them in awe.

“You’re lying… There is nothing like that anymore… We were abandoned years ago…” Asmit said.

“No… we do… he is not lying. We’re from the Federation…” the rider near the computer said.

Everyone started discussing amongst each other after that revelation. Then, there was a gunshot. Asmit was holding his revolver up in the air. He pulled the revolver’s hammer to load another bullet and pointed his gun at the rider near the computer.

“The Federation is a myth… And those who speak of myths… Must die…” Asmit said furiously. Suddenly, a loud voice was heard from inside “NOOO”. It was Sarita. She came running in front of Asmit.

“If what they say is true… we can find the haven we once longed for…” Sarita said.

“Get out my way… I cannot waste bullets on the weak…” Asmit said. All of a sudden, another gunshot was heard. This one, not from Asmit’s gun. A man standing behind him had been shot in his leg. They all looked towards the other side of the road to see shadowed figures rising above the horizon. They were all riding horses.

“SCAVENGERS… RUNNN…” screamed one of them as they started escaping back inside. Sarita had run towards the fallen man. She tried to seal his bullet wound with her arm, trying to find a piece of cloth to tie over it. One of the riders came to her and said “It’s a waste… He’d die. Save yourself…”

Sarita looked up. Her eyes were desperate. She took off the cloth wrapped on her face and measured it. It was too small to be torn in half. She wrapped it around the injured leg of the man. One of the two riders pressed a button on their helmet, which slid open to reveal another glass coating beneath it. The rider’s face was visible. She was a woman.

“Let me help you get inside…” she said as she began to help Sarita drag the wounded man inside the building beside her. Meanwhile, the other rider was busy packing their equipment. After doing that, they pressed a few buttons on the electronic device attached to their wrist. They went close to the motorcycles and stood beside them. The scavengers had reached the spot. The heavy man sitting on a horse at the centre stepped down.

“My My… Someone give him a fancy-dress award…” he said, as the others behind him laughed.

The woman rider walked outside. Her face was still visible.

“We’ve got a pair have we now?” the man said.

“Who are you?” the woman rider asked.

“My apologies… My name is Mandeep… Though, with all the love that is due, around here they call me Rakshasa…” he said as he punched the woman in her gut.

“Hey… We want no trouble… We are here for the Federation’s work. We’re under oath and are protected…” the other rider said.

“The Federation you say… Vali…” Mandeep said as another man stepped down off his horse. He carried a substantial automatic rifle in his hand and a long knife on his side.

“They are from the Federation… I have heard of it before… much before the bright-night. You were one of them… those fighting for the cure… Weren’t they Vali?” he said as Vali replied, “Yes Sir…”

“It was because of a war of wealth that you and your likes waged that humankind was destroyed… My family… All our families… Everything. We lost. And with humankind… we lost our humanity too… And now you shall suffer a worse fate. Tie them up… A Man and a Woman… They would satisfy both the of hungers of my men…” he said as his men stepped down and rushed with ropes.

“Don’t go too close to my brother… He’s positive…” the woman said. Mandeep turned around.

“Brother… So, you’re siblings I see. He’s positive…” Mandeep said as he made a gesture towards Vali. The latter brought a small leather satchel to him. He took out a shiny metallic from inside and loaded it inside his pistol.

“The thing I have put in my gun is a raider-tech from the days of the civil war. When the ballistics of the world had expired, and the human-race still survived… Millions of these were made after the bright-night. The weapon of domination has never been the one to inflict the most harm. It is the one to inflict the most fear. The virus, in its most lethal mutation, was frozen with its carrier blood in these bullet capsules. Fear… The weapon of the Gods… Well, why am I telling you all this? Let’s see how positive your brother is…” Mandeep said, pointing his gun at the rider. Suddenly, the Sirens started sounding.

“It cannot be… So soon…” Mandeep, alarmed, said nervously. The scavengers behind him started climbing their horses.

“Fools… we cannot escape the storm… Find refuge inside… We would deal with them later… Come on” he said as the scavengers stepped down again. Mandeep and his men started trying to get the horses inside but to no resolve. The openings were too small to fit them. They then abandoned the horses and rushed inside the building where Asmit and Sarita were there.

“Everyone move inside… Whoever moves a muscle will be thrown out in the storm. Everyone other than my men are to drop whatever they hold…” Mandeep said in a commanding tone. They all followed his command. Then, Asmit spoke up “Mandeep… We told you… You’d find nothing here. We have been looted many a time by the eastern scavengers.”

“We still happen to find you every time, don’t we? Don’t push me to take more of you. We’d search… If we don’t find something… we take one of you. If we do find… I would take you this time…” Mandeep said. His men dispersed with their solar-torches trying to find anything of value. They grabbed all the little water containers they saw and collected them.

Meanwhile, the two riders sat in a corner on the floor near Sarita. The latter was trying to mitigate the pain of the man who had been injured earlier. The second rider also pushed a button on his helmet to reveal his glass-covered face.

“Hi! My name is Abdul… That’s my elder sister Inaya. We were not expecting… so much turbulence here…” the man said.

“Hey… I am Sarita” Sarita said, as she kept gazing at the rubble she had earlier kept above the lid. Abdul followed her eyes and observed meticulously to see the small wooden latch.

“What’s down there?” Abdul asked.

“Nothing… What? Where?” Sarita said anxiously.

“Abdul has the habit of troubling people. Ignore him. Why did you save this guy?” Inaya asked.

“We… Kill. We have been killing only. For once, I wanted to feel how it is like to save someone. But I couldn’t…” Sarita said as she left the wounded man’s hand. It fell down. He wasn’t breathing.

“It is a survivor’s world right now… Tell me. When was the last time you ate?” Inaya asked.

“It has been more than a week…” Sarita replied.

“We have food in our backpacks outside. We would give it to you… Don’t share. We only have one person’s worth extra, and we would want to give it to someone that believes in saving for a change.” Inaya said.

“But it is going to rot and burn in the storm outside…” Sarita said.

“There is no storm… I triggered the Siren.” Abdul said.

“What? You did? But… I would just need a little… not for myself…” Sarita said.

Abdul turned towards the rubble again. “For the one who is down there… Your child?” he asked.

“Not mine… She… I found her. I adopted her…” Sarita said. Just as she did, a scavenger tripped over the rubble. He fell and saw the latch.

“Sir… There is a lid here…” he said as he moved the rubble away. They opened the lid. Sarita began tightening her fist out of worry while Abdul and Inaya tried to calm her down.

“There is nothing down there…” Sarita screamed.

“Let’s see…” Vali said and went inside. There came a screaming sound of the young girl. Then, Vali came out, grabbing her in his arms.

“We have found a hidden treasure…” Vali said.

“Dessert today men…” Mandeep said. He then raised his gun towards Sarita.

“I have said to never hide anything from me… You shall get a reward for this…” Mandeep said, as he turned his gun towards Aasha and pulled the trigger. The bullet pierced through her shoulder. The little girl screamed in pain and fainted. Sarita got up and was held back by Abdul and Inaya. The scavengers were pointing their guns at them all.

“Reminds me… Why hasn’t the storm struck yet? Vali… Go outside and check…” Mandeep said.

“Me? Sir? Outside?” Vali asked.

“Don’t make me repeat myself…” Mandeep said. Vali asked a few men to follow him and went out. Mandeep walked towards Asmit. “You lie and lie and lie…” Mandeep said, moving his gun around Asmit’s face. He turned around over his shoulder and asked Asmit’s people “What should I do with him?”. Simultaneously, Asmit slowly drew his pistol. He immediately grabbed hold of Mandeep’s neck and turned him away from himself, pointing the gun to his head.

“I would kill your boss…” Asmit said. Everyone began laughing.

“You know why they laugh? You kill one head of a Rakshasa, and another takes its place…” Mandeep said as he threw Asmit over his shoulder. Utilising that distraction, Abdul and Inaya took out their guns from their suits and started shooting at the scavengers. Mandeep got shot in his right foot. There was an all-out battle. Suddenly, Asmit picked up his pistol and shot Mandeep in his head. The scavengers were shaken. They were immediately overpowered by the people around them and rendered weaponless within seconds. Vali came inside again with his men and was shot in his leg by Abdul.

“Seems like the head of this Rakshasa was without brain… The one that replaces (turned to Vali), hopefully, HAS a bran. Return now… There is no storm coming… The alarm was fake. We’d let you live.” Inaya said.

Vali asked his scavengers to retreat. They went out, climbed their horses and started back in the direction they came from. As soon as they did, Asmit said “Everybody… Grab all the plastic you can. We need to wrap the little girl. None of her blood or body remains here…”

“What are you doing? She would bleed out…” Sarita said. Asmit turned his pistol towards her.

“You stay out of it… We’re not going to die of the thing we have successfully avoided for so long…” Asmit said with determination.

“No… SHE IS IMMUNE…” Sarita said. Silence prevailed in the entire building.

“What… How can that be?” Asmit asked.

Sarita lashed out in tears “Yes… I found her… Post the bright-night… When those raiders unleashed the civil war and created fomites in every possible corner of the country… I was a health-worker for one side. We were sent to look for survivors. I initially didn’t know what they had planned for them. Eventually, I learnt that the immune were too big a threat to them… To all of them. They were ruthlessly killing them all. That’s what happens when you have cowards giving commands… But I found her. She was merely an infant… covered in too many bodies of the dead. All who died of the virus. Yet, she lived. I hid her from them all… And ran. Became a scavenger for as long as I could, but kept moving till we got tired. Then we became settlers with you… But she would never be infected of the virus. Let me heal her… or she would die of the wound…” Sarita said. Everyone was shocked to hear her.

“The risk is too high…” Asmit said as he pulled the hammer and started moving the gun towards Aasha. “Hey, Big Man…” Abdul said, trying to intercept him. Asmit, startled, shot Abdul twice in his neck. He kept pulling the trigger, but his barrel was empty.

“Nooooooo… Brother…” Inaya said as she rushed to her brother. Sarita ran to have a look at Aasha. He took his last few heavy breaths and then passed away. Inaya lost her senses and ran towards Asmit. She pushed him down and pointed her gun to his face and screamed at the top of her voice “I AM GOING TO KILL YOU…”. Everyone grabbed some or the other thing and assembled around Inaya.

“STOP IT… PLEASE… NO MORE KILLING…” Sarita screamed.

“Why are we humans, so hell-bent on just thinking of ourselves… First, the Pandemic… Then the war for the cure… We bloody launched nuclear missiles on each other. I don’t know why we call the darkest of all nights as the bright-night. Worse is what followed… a species already divided into so many warring nations was even further divided. ‘Every Man for Himself’ they said. What did it give us? WHAT DID WE GET FROM ANY OF IT? LOOK AT US… We have destroyed everything… and we keep on destroying each day we extend our hands to take away from another… rather than spreading them to help another. They say a virus defeated us… No… Not a virus. We alone defeat our own bloody selves…” Sarita said as she tried to stop Aasha’s bleeding. Inaya got up and kept her gun back inside. She was still furious. She walked to Sarita and got down on her knees. She then took a small tube out of the belt-strap she was wearing and applied the jelly-like liquid inside on Aasha’s wound.

“That’s an instant coagulant. She won’t bleed out. But we’ve to get her bullet out soon…” Inaya said. Sarita kept crying. “I’m sorry about your brother.” Even Asmit burst into tears as he sat up. “What have I done…” he said to himself. Everyone kept their weapons down and sat in circles around Inaya and Sarita.

“Can you save her?” Sarita asked.

“Yes… And she can save us all…” Inaya said as the Siren started sounding again.

“Is this you again?” asked a woman sitting beside them.

“No… This time it is for real… I have to leave immediately…” Inaya said as she lifted Aasha over her shoulder and started walking outside.

“My brother’s body… I would come for it…” she said as she walked to her bike. She kept Aasha over it and sat behind her.

“WAIT…” came Asmit’s voice as he came running out with a water-bottle.

“That’s the last of my water… Take it…” he said.

“Then keep it for yourself… You would need it. And wait (grabbed the two backpacks from the ground). Take these… Share the food and water with everyone. And, my brother’s guns… They hang by his sides. This time… Use them to protect your people…” Inaya said as she started her bike and moved forward.

After covering a little distance ahead, she tried to establish a connection with her base. “Foxtrot… Come in… This is Dr Inaya Rehman… Can you hear me?” she said over the radio.

“Yes, Dr Inaya… We can hear you loud and clear…” a woman’s sound came from the radio.

“I am reporting from the heart of the north-western red-zone… in the province of Awadh. Requesting relocation to nearest safe-bunker due to incoming storm.” Inaya said.

“Finding the nearest location for you, Doctor. Is Dr Abdul still with you or had you already parted your ways for mapping?”

Inaya took a pause. She then sighed and said with a shivering voice: “Dr Abdul was killed in action due to scavenger raids”.

“I am sorry to hear that…”

“One more request… Please make sure there is an infirmary at the bunker since I carry a wounded with me…” Inaya said.

“A wounded… Who?”

“It is a little girl. She has a bullet wound. But she has to live. She is Immune to the virus…” Inaya said.

“What? Immune?”

“Yes… We have found a Naturally Immune Subject…” Inaya said.

“What? Can you confirm that you said “Naturally Immune Subject?” the woman on the other side of the communicator said.

Inaya looked at Aasha. She controlled the tears dripping down her eyes for her brother, concealed the pain that was still fresh and was engulfing her heart, gave in to the small spark of faith that the little girl had revived inside her, smiled and said “Yes… We have found… Hope…”

Beyond The Pandemic: A Journey of Self Actualisation

Beyond The Pandemic: A Journey of Self Actualisation
 “The Greatest pursuit is that of finding oneself.”

Millennia worth of efforts in enhancing the comfort and convenience within our households has brought us to the world of today; a world presumably ready to fight obstacles of any magnitude. Nevertheless, in our incessant attempts to improve the external, we somewhat lost track of everything that is within us. This is not a tale of fiction or a euphemistic or eulogistic account, but a brief narration of experiences of the pandemic of 2020 from my perspective.

It all began on the 14th of March, when all of a sudden, my University announced that it was shutting its classes indefinitely. Although the fear of the virus was prevalent yet it hadn’t yet materialised for any of us at a personal level. The rumour of a nationwide lockdown started making rounds, coercing those from outside Mumbai to book their tickets back to their hometowns. I did the same. Coming back to my family under such circumstances was both relieving and worrisome since their fears became mine too. The pandemic hadn’t spread to a large extent in India till then. Yet, the uncertainty was terrifying. Though, not as terrifying as the thought of isolation and loneliness.

The pace of life today has made it robotic and monotonous, all the while making that monotony inconspicuous with the veils of ambition and achievement. At the beginning of the quarantine, we all resorted to virtual socialisation trusting the tested deft of the digital. It sufficed for some time, but after a while, it started feeling unnatural to me. Virtual could be a momentary substitute for the real, but never a replacement. Soon, my online classes and courses ended too. It was then that began my actual quarantine; one filled with solitary thinking, introspection, experimentation, and the pursuit of true and unrelenting happiness.

The first few weeks were the most difficult. There were always so many things that I wished to do but couldn’t, owing to the density of my schedule. Sans the lack of time, I still didn’t. Perhaps time was merely an excuse I had always used to fuel the superficial bubble in my head of my ability. It was the primary realisation I had that my joy had become completely dependent upon diversion and distraction, which further bolstered my internal excuse and satiated my guilt. To evolve beyond that dependency was my primary goal. Then, as I had just resolved to find true happiness, something happened. I stepped out.

Mask, Gloves, Jumper, Full Sleeves, Face Shield and a bottle-full of sanitizer, and I was ready for my very first day out for grocery shopping. I trod carefully and bought everything on the list, but just as I was walking back home, my eyes fell on the roadside. A family of homeless sanitation workers was cheerfully conversing as the children played with sticks and stones. I felt an urge to walk up to them, and I did. I naturally asked them if they had eaten that day, to which the kind lady replied that a van had dropped by and had given them each a course meal. I was devastated on my way back home. I checked online and found that the biggest indirect victims of the lockdown were the migrant workers and the homeless. I called up my friends and we started investigating as to how we could contribute, even minutely, towards easing their plight and pain. We took due permissions from the authorities and started cooking, collecting, and distributing food to those in need. To serve the needy was something I had always wanted to do but had presumed that I would need a much more stable economic condition to be able to do that. I was wrong.

Another disadvantage of the lack of distractions was that escaping any kind of information or following the principle of ignorance for the preservation of one’s sanity became impossible. The news of deaths, riots, suicides, rapes, Etcetera started taking a toll on my mental health. Facing the negatives of life became real for me. I could finally address with confidence what I felt wrong about the world. I could’ve only influenced the world in any way if I had considered myself a part of it as a whole, which further required me to lend it my eyes and ears. Calling up everyone I thought I had lost touch with, texting anyone I thought I need to be in touch with, ranting about anything and everything on social media or talking it out with friends, or discussing endlessly on subjects with my parents viz. misogyny, patriarchy, the LGBTQ+ community, casteism, religion, Etcetera, I did everything I always wanted to but wasn’t able to due to my procrastination.

The unpredictability attached to the idea of following our passions and dreams, or just doing what makes us happy develops our affinity towards the mundane and the monotonous. That affinity eats away our happiness while making us feel like it is channelling it. I cooked, I cleaned, I exercised, I wrote, I sang, I composed, I talked, I expressed, I heard, I shared, I created, I consumed, yet there was nothing that I did which I didn’t want to do or hated doing. The pandemic and the subsequent quarantine taught me fear, taught me how to overcome that fear through action and not ignorance, taught me my privilege and what I can do with it, taught me to address my internal sadness and work on it, taught me to acknowledge my dreams and passions, taught me the significance of both outdoors and indoors, taught me the overlooked importance of those who silently do our routine tasks for us, taught me a plethora of cuisines and recipes to impress even the most sceptical of tongues; but most importantly, in a world where we are endlessly seeking knowledge about others, it taught me who I am.

A Memoir of Insomnia and Dreams: Mumbai

A Memoir of Insomnia and Dreams: Mumbai
 “You should be ready to move a few steps back to take the leap of faith

Mumbai… A city with millions of stories and journeys, of success, of failure, of happiness, of loss, of love, of heartbreaks, of reaching the top, and of hitting rock bottoms, Etcetera. This one is a short amalgamation of a few such experiences that one goes through when they just begin their journey in the city of dreams. Of course, it is completely from my very own perspective, that of a middle-class hustler who didn’t come here chasing his dreams but did so while being oblivious to the existence of his dreams altogether.

I first came to Mumbai in 2007, as a kid, and then once again in 2012 as a late teen. Was awestruck at the sight of this strange contemporary city where nothing seemed to stop and everything appeared to be so organised. Well, it was the opinion of a tourist… not often considered an apt assessment of anywhere. This was something I came to know of much later when I visited Mumbai again in 2014. This time I had not come as a tourist. I had come as… I technically do not know what. I was lost at that point in time. It had already been a year post my schooling and I had spent it in pursuit of what I wanted from life. I remember like it was yesterday, how I joined the prestigious St. Xavier’s College for my BSc. IT, but couldn’t go through with the course for more than a month. I then joined NIFT Mumbai too, and that didn’t work out for me as well. I stayed alone in Mumbai for a while after that. Not physically, but psychologically alone in my own mental space. I was not at a good spot in my life. Opportunities which others were struggling to procure, I had casually let go. I couldn’t see much of the city then.

So, I came back to my hometown to return to the majestic city the following year. It was 2016 and I had taken admission in a technical course at NMIMS. The sheer paradox of choices that appear to a common reader… well… I was definitely confused in life. Not about my passions or pursuits, but finding a balance amid the pragmatic and the utopian. College life began as usual on a high note. The one-year sabbatical had helped me work on my own mental health. I was now ready for the majesty of the city in its entirety. Commenced the beginner’s exploratory phase where I tried everything new (for me), from beach-walks to food, midnight Gedis to unplanned brunch, from walks at the marine drive to those at reclamation, from the tea at Powai to the one at Band Stand… and much more that the city had to offer. As soon as the honeymoon phase subsided began the observational phase. I realised that everyone in the city was always behind schedule… always in a hurry. It was an anomaly that bothered me for quite some time. Be it in a local train or on the western expressway, the expressions were always tensed, the foreheads sweaty and the kinetic energies high. Regardless of the time of the day, one could easily find an abundance of such extremely motivated individuals all around Mumbai. It was a very monotonous way of life. Or was it? Spending more money than I had imagined on a lifestyle much lesser than I desired, traversing to and fro each day, sleeplessly working on my freelance projects to make the extra buck and then scraping down on the little rest and sleep I could get to start the next day… I had soon become a part of that monotony.

At first, I couldn’t cope with it. The pace of the city was effortlessly defeating that of mine. I couldn’t keep up with my schedule while pursuing my passions and supplementary desires very easily. The ambiguity was getting on my nerves. I couldn’t at all strike the correct balance to manage them both well. I was losing my sleep, my health and my energy, and it felt like I couldn’t have carried that on forever. So, one fine day I just gave up… rather gave in. I weighed in on what I absolutely had to do at that moment for the preservation of my long-term mental peace. If at that moment, it was something part of my curriculum, then I continued… if it was something else then I completely halted whatever I was doing and did what I felt like. I ended up compromising on one thing each moment. It had to be done. A single human mind cannot carry multiple targets, milestones or expected outcomes every second. There has to be just the one thing or one would be clouded with restlessness. Then, whatever decision I was making was a conscious one and not made out of desperation. It was then that I could be exposed to the real Mumbai.

Came the third and last phase of illumination. I went back to the same places… the same local trains, the same beaches, the same roads… but this time I didn’t see any monotony. The people paced not to be somewhere or achieve something, but simply because they desired to make their compromises worth it. Many had left behind their ‘well-settled’ lives to pursue their dreams, whereas many had forsaken the best of opportunities due to their underlying circumstances. But the thing common amongst them all was their resolve to not let whatever they had left behind, whatever they had compromised go in vain. Everyone had their own ends, and own means towards that end, but the city had a place for all. It had a way for us all in its routine and accommodated all of our dreams, desires, purposes and ends within it. I had become one with the city. Seeming sleepless and desperate to the world but being content within.

Today it has been more than four years for me in Mumbai. I have been sleepless, I have overslept, I have laughed and cried and what not. I came here aimlessly but it reignited my passion for writing. I completed my first novel post coming to Mumbai and have published five so far. I have pursued my childhood hobby of music. I have wilfully absorbed my education and learnt a lot. Moreover, I have formed great bonds of friendships and have been fortunate enough to find love. I owe it all to the city for teaching me the significance of making a choice in life. For so long, I was chasing the balance which never existed. That chase had taken a toll on me. Coming here made me comprehend how it is neither possible nor desirable to have it all. The right balance is not about having finished everything that’s there in front of us, but about selectively choosing and doing whatsoever makes us truly happy.

To be one with the city of Mumbai is to know your truest desires, not the ones channelled by your circumstances or your urges. The city is both what makes us and what is made by us. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from… The city would treacherously test your resolve but also be the biggest bolster in your pursuits. It would accept all our dreams, and at the same time make us realise the harsh reality of how difficult it is to walk the path towards those dreams. To be one with the city of Mumbai is to be one with yourself.

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To Those Independent… And Those Not

To Those Independent… And Those Not

This wish of mine might be offensive to some. I would come to ‘whom’ and ‘why’ later. Firstly, let me start by saying Happy 74th Independence Day to those who have been independent for the past 73 years. I am excluding a few. Why? Because I don’t think they are independent. At all. Curious? Let me elucidate.
Most of us are celebrating 73 years of Independence in our households with a general consensus of being free within the house. Look beyond that consensus. It veils the plight of the mother, who has surely not been independent for the past many years; that of the grandmother, whose only chunk of freedom lay in her ailments and age, which one day had her excused from the duties of a household slave. A patriarchal world can never be totally Independent.
Talking about patriarchy, look towards the daughters now. Maybe your family is quite forward and has not placed any restrictions on their children. But what’s the gut feeling you get when a young girl in your house wants to go out alone after it is dark? If it’s that of fear, I am sorry to say that she is not independent. There is a rape reported every 15 minutes in the country. We cannot imagine the number of incidents not being reported. More than 50 lakh cases of crimes against women were reported in 2018 alone, including acid attacks, domestic violence, molestation, rape, Etc. Those who are afraid are not independent.
Coming to fear now, there are still those in the country who are victims of fanatic violence. There are so many who are expected to ‘prove’ their patriotism merely because of their religion. Furthermore, there are those who are consistently facing the barriers of caste, language, etcetera. If you are afraid to speak your mind, if you are afraid of going to certain places, if you are afraid of socialising with someone else, if you are made to feel lesser than anyone else who calls themselves ‘Indian’, if you are still to find your identity within this nation, then you are not Independent.
Identity… Yes… For more than 70 years, many of the people in India didn’t have an identity at all. If you exist but are told that your existence is illegal, I don’t think you are at all free. Even after winning the ‘legal’ battle, the one that exists in the social sphere is greater. Our society doesn’t understand the LGBTQ+ community. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have had to make a separate community in the first place. If insults are hurled at you, if there is a social boycott against you, if just generally you are not considered ‘normal’ because of your gender identity or your sexual orientation, I am sorry but you are not independent.
So, this is just a summarisation. There is so much more we can talk about. Firstly, just like me, if you have not personally experienced the aforementioned, congratulations, you are independent. We generally tend to assess the world from the level of comfort and support it is providing us, ignoring others along the way. That brings us to why this wish of mine is offensive to a few. Many fear that in the process of making the world comfortable for a few others, their own comfort might be usurped. They are the ones who get offended by the very idea of someone else’s plight, simply rebuking it. They either corroborate the differentiation by re-iterating it viz. ‘Girls should wear longer clothes’, ‘If you are not free here then go to XYZ country’, ‘We gave ‘them’ reservation, they are the privileged ones’ or ‘How can you love someone of the same gender?’, Etcetera; or they take offence and start abusing you for seeking freedom and in this case even me. These are the ones who are definitely independent in the country. So, once again, to those who are independent, it is time to compromise a little of your comfort for the freedom of others. And to those who aren’t yet independent, the fight is not over. Jai Hind!

To Make Love

To Make Love

What ’tis to make love?
To take that ‘step’ in life?
Be it with a partner or stranger,
Or that with a husband or wife…

Is it just an act of the body?
Or does it need something much more?
More than a simple orgasm…
Something that is rooted and pure.

It takes courage to show your nakedness,
Even in front of a mirror.
Only love embraces your bare self,
And not only for the sake of pleasure.

It can be self-love or by someone else,
To find the beauty in even a scar.
Both kinds accept your reality,
And they both hold their separate power.

Self-love is not just of the body,
But also that of your soul.
It isn’t the mere self-gratification,
But a gift to yourself as a whole.

Similar is the love by someone else,
Where ‘to please’ isn’t the only motive.
But to also peep within each other’s souls,
To share, to experience and to live…

Making love doesn’t end with the night,
It continues beyond the so-called ‘climax’.
Holding each other’s bare, warm bodies,
As they both, in their dreams, relax.

Having sex is pretty normal,
And neither an achievement nor a crime.
It is simply not an act as special,
As is finding love in one’s lifetime.

But very few accept it as it is,
Keeping the feeling locked up in a box.
‘Robotic’ prevails over the world,
And ‘human’ is considered orthodox.

But if you’ve still kept that feeling alive,
You’ve already transcended above.
Blessed you are… if you know,
What ’tis… to make love.

Featured Image Credit: Alexander Krivitskiy (Sourced From Pexels)

A Love Lost Across Continents

A Love Lost Across Continents

I have a story to tell;
Different…yet all the same.
Don’t know if it all went well.
It all comes down to one name.

Two thousand and Fourteen.
A year of my aspirations.
I was a robotic teen
Fidgeting over my ambitions.

‘A little different’ is what they called me;
For my apparent lack of emotions.
But I knew that for me
‘Love’ wasn’t ever a notion.

I thought I knew everything;
Especially what the word meant.
Never had I had the feeling;
I think I was over-confident.

Came the month of September,
I was active on the internet.
Facebook brought the strangest wonder;
A name that requested to connect.

Blamed for having unfriended,
I fought with all my might.
But soon we had concluded,
It was ignorance that caused the plight.

The 25th day of the month;
Our bond was on a new hype.
The talks reached a new length.
The only option was Skype.

The talks became very regular;
Though there was no such intention.
My departure to passion was the trigger.
She had become a strange compulsion.

Then came the news of my failure,
Dejected, rejected, loitering around.
She became my only pillar.
It was new what I had found.

It took me months to really know
What exactly it was;
Recalling the events in a row,
I wondered why our paths did cross?

There was that strange urge in me
Accompanied by a dark fear.
‘Does she feel the same for me?’
It was yet not that clear.

I saw her with different eyes,
She sat there with a halo above.
Saw those heavenly eyes,
Yes… I had fallen in Love.

The end of the first month,
My fear had almost subsided.
I was a soldier on the battlefront,
With his life, all decided.

My plans were postponed;
When our friend found our dire need.
But then my heart condoned…
I cannot delay the deed.

Came February the 12th.
I restlessly read my verse.
I could have given all my wealth,
For a ‘yes’ from who meant me my Universe.

Long Distance was difficult,
I knew it was not impossible.
For it was true what we felt.
Nothing else seemed as credible.

It took us a while to share,
The beautiful three-word phrase.
It was all more than fair.
A reality we had to face.

The bond strengthened in your visit.
We were still shy and conserved;
The relation had been tightly knit.
It was what our bond deserved.

You returned, a sad day indeed.
The few days thence were painful;
Understanding my life’s only need,
I tried to make yours colourful.

We achieved in long distance,
What few achieve together.
Trust, Love, and Patience;
To sum it all together.

Months of cries and laughter;
As if we always held hands,
Sitting beside each other.
It all went as planned.

Until the day I came to this city,
In the midst of all my fears,
Confounded, in a bad self-pity,
I couldn’t then see that clear.

What was the most beautiful,
I made it so dark for you,
Trying to grasp with a handful,
My horrors had all come true.

I couldn’t give you what you needed,
That was my biggest mistake.
I had already conceded…
That my actions would lead to your heartbreak.

Desperate to find a solution,
Though it was straight in my sight;
I had dissolved myself in confusion,
Couldn’t give circumstances a fight.

Came that unfortunate night,
It was long that I had been away.
My actions were never right;
I led it all to that day.

It all hit me in a go,
All the wrongs that I had done.
In my desperate attempts to grow,
I had lost the one.

I was born stupid.
That is needless to mention.
When I had all that I needed,
Follies were all I had done.

Apology is a minor repentance,
I shall regret being myself for life.
I have no excuses for my ignorance.
Myself dropped my heart on a knife.

I regret being so senseless.
So much more I could have been.
Born with an inability to express,
I came between our own dreams.

Can give anything for what we held.
Those were the best times.
I have so much more to tell.
Can’t get it all in rhymes.

I was a big failure,
But that’s not what I wanted to be.
I have shed my idiotic demeanour,
I just wanted her to see.

These past months were difficult for me,
Even if it was all my fault.
What I needed, I couldn’t see,
Our bond had come to a halt.

But that doesn’t change a few facts,
Even if we have missed out a lot.
I couldn’t show through my acts,
But live without you, I might not.

I failed my first promise,
I cannot hate myself more.
But I want us to have what we’ve missed,
I won’t hold it back anymore.

You have always deserved the best,
That I couldn’t be.
Fate had laid down a test,
I failed at it, miserably.

I want to make amends,
To make up for what we lost.
It is not here that it ends…
I just need the last of your trust.

I know it would be very hard,
The fear of feeling that pain.
The pain of being so apart,
You do not want to feel again.

But trust me when I say this,
I fear losing you even more,
Won’t commit the same mistakes.
Won’t ever shut the door.

It has always been so very simple,
That a complex answer is what I sought.
Talk, share, cry and giggle.
But my absence formed a clot.

The journey would be unparalleled,
If you are a part of it.
You have done all you could have,
To me… Leave the rest.

These aren’t mere flowery lines…
I tried to be as real as I could have.
I think I took a lot of time,
To say what I just should have.

I don’t want you to leave me,
I know I couldn’t be more selfish.
But I know, you still love me.
I cannot let ‘us’ perish.

Whatever is your decision,
I would ever be there for you.
I would give you every reason,
To start it all anew.

Just one last thing I need to do.
I really think I owe it to tell you.
Even through the darkest of blues,
Girl… I will never forget you.

The Perfect Imperfections of ‘Love’

The Perfect Imperfections of ‘Love’

After a decade of experiencing the innately patriarchal Indian Society and witnessing certain chauvinists and misogynists dominate over specific females of modern India, a group of four heterosexual male friends had taken a latent yet resolute oath that when-so-ever any of them would be granted the grace and opportunity of a female partner in life, he would let her superintend the general decisions and hence bring balance to the natural ways. Roger and his three best friends. This is a narrative of certain events, recent and past, entailing the experiences of two of the other three. Their names are Andre and Simon.

It was the dawn of the month of February 2015. Roger and Andre sat in a corner of Roger’s house. The usual hookah and the melancholic melodies drew teardrops out of Andre’s eyes, just like every other yesterday. Roger had to play the role of the best friend and act bothered and hence he was compelled to put forward the query “Why are you crying, bro? She’d come back to you; you know?”

“I am not crying… I just feel something getting on my nerves…” Andre said, fidgeting through his statement.

“Come on… Chill bro. She has just left you to concentrate on boards. She’d come rushing back to you right after the exams…”  said Roger, trying to ward off the gloom out of the room.

“But why did she leave me in the first-place man? All those years of dreaming to be together… and towards the end of my high school, our relationship was on a new high… then suddenly she left me. Why? She called me obsessive… called me desperate…” Andre said.

Roger replied in the routine fashion “Dude… you have been neither obsessive or desperate… Although I don’t call either of them insults… I mean Gandhi and Lincoln were both obsessed with the idea of freedom and desperately tried to achieve it through their patient means. Don’t worry… everything would be fine… Okay, let me check on Simon… It has been almost an hour since he hasn’t tasted the hookah. I wonder what he is doing…”

“He must be having those gushy pushy conversations with her… why do you think he wants isolation?” Andre followed.

Roger left the room to go and check on Simon. Co-incidentally, he entered the room right at the moment when Simon had hung up his silent conversation. Before even inquiring him about it, he came up with the reply “I just got fudged, man”.

Simon and Andre had seemingly permanent and exemplary relationships back in school. Both of them were intensely committed with their respective girlfriends. Andre had once left his girl for a day over his ex, but that was pertaining to an emotional blackmail of his ex to undertake that action immediately. Other than that, he had always been true to his commitment, never even trying to glance at other girls, live or digital. His girlfriend, Susan, was the most possessive and controlling person that can be ever witnessed on the face of the earth. Not that any of them ever judged her back then. As long as she kept their buddy happy, she was nothing less than a protagonist in their eyes. They had a decent relationship. Simon, on the other hand, was famous to have the coolest of relationships ever. Checking out other guys and girls was like the common past time for him and his girlfriend, Marla. Out of Susan and Marla, these friends could always hang out with the latter because she could present herself easily as a friend. They all loved her and somewhat knew that Simon and Marla are definitely going to be married. But the past few years have been nothing less than Buddha’s cycle of enlightenment for them.

“She left me man…” came Andre’s sobbing voice over the phone. It was Summertime and Roger was enjoying the regular deck-chair sunbathing in Goa. Andre had called over another one of his breakups. Roger couldn’t really grasp the significance of the situation back then. Maybe he was too relaxed… or maybe Susan had broken up with Andre for so lame reasons and so many times in the past and then patched up again, that the Déjà vu had become quite monotonous. Andre and Susan had recently celebrated their third-year anniversary and that too pretty extravagantly. Susan always came out as a cheesy and controlling immature girl, not that they ever said anything to Andre. This is a redundant statement. Why would they risk losing a best friend? He was being controlled. He had taken up the medical field as per her ‘instructions’ and fought with various guys and girls as commanded by her will. In their eyes, she was the puppeteer and he was the puppet. But whenever there was an emergent conversation about her, there always came the convoy of her praises and compliments from Andre’s mouth, seemingly hypnotized. Roger used to love those conversations where Andre used to mention his plea of her anger. One time when he was committed, he had mentioned that she was furious over the physical boundaries of the relationship. Andre could only talk of her as being the omniscient party, although she came out as a wannabe control freak.

“If she hugged you herself… why is she angry with you for being desperate? If she kissed you… then why are you the bad guy?” came Roger’s nonchalant worry.

“No man… that’s not the point. I have no problems with her anger. Her anger is completely justified since she is angry because I forced her to cross her boundaries, directly or indirectly. I am just sad that I am not able to live up to her expectations… She is right man. I being the elder one should have taken the call on whether we should kiss or not. So, what if she wanted to… she had earlier declared that she wanted ME not to and I failed in doing so…” Andre said.

Roger thought to himself “The Hell… Whatever he ever does is whatever she always asks. I mean she is still angry… God save the earth man…”

Such conversations had become a default regularity of their telephonic talks. After Simon’s breakup, they became the subject of their sittings. Yes… even he faced a ruthless breakup. His was more ruthless… you know why? Because, unlike Susan, his girlfriend started acting a jerk only towards the end of his relationship. So… both of them lived in their respective bubbles which kept their partners in high esteem. Andre’s bubble was one of his own creation whereas Simon’s bubble formulated over the years giving to the Oscar Winning performance of Marla.

Simon and Marla had a very healthy relationship… both physically and mentally. On the other hand, Andre and Susan had a relationship which anyone in their right mind would call nothing but ‘toxic’. Simon and Marla had more of a symbiotic relationship than Andre and Susan’s relationship where whatever Susan said was the law and whatever Andre said was wrong. But both of these two relationships seemed lasting to Roger, Simon’s for obvious reasons and Andre’s because of his submissive nature and gullibility. Nevertheless, they were wrong.

Why did they break up?

Susan failed in her 10+1 finals and was given promotion on trial. The blame inadvertently came on Andre and he had to face the guilt of her failure.

Marla broke up with Simon because she couldn’t bear with their long-distance relationship, and all of a sudden fell incestuously in love with the batch-mate she had introduced to Simon as her brother.

Simon’s relationship was quite healthy and approaching, even in its dying days. This was more because of the fact that he never even had a fight with his partner, leave it be a breakup. So, when Marla revealed her sudden intention of leaving him and rather instantly cut off from him, he immediately travelled to her city to mend the gaps. But to his horror, after a three-and-half-year relationship, she completely neglected his presence in the city and was more like dicey about even meeting him. She even cursed him for destroying her life by being in the same city as hers. Till then, Simon was not aware of her illicit relation. Well… till the moment he went over to her college and saw the two of them embracing each other in front of him. The sight, as described by him, was even disgusting for his three friends. The girl they remembered, either she had been possessed or had always faked her attributes. Roger used to get regular notifications from his sister, whose place Simon resided at during his time in Marla’s city. Their irritation amplified to furious trepidation when Marla direly abused Simon and asked him to ‘F Off’. Thankfully, Simon took a trip to a place of worship and meditation and calmed down his suicidal tendencies and returned safely to his city, where he stayed with Roger for the next week. Why? They had planned only a day of that… but as soon as he left after a day, he tried to kill himself by ingesting poison. Realizing the magnitude of his pain, Roger recommended that he stayed with him under strict supervision and counselling of friends and family. There was a moment where he somewhat unintentionally lured Roger into tears as well, who rather rarely cried. But he was always the one who was considered the ever-happy ‘Soul’ of their group. He shall always remain the ‘Soul’ but the ever-happy fragment of his had been lost to just a façade he takes over to divert attention off his pain. Their hardest of attempts to make him take it all in good sport and remain genuinely happy, all went in vain to no resolve.

 Andre and Susan were more on a track to set the world record of breakups. Susan used to always make Andre take the blame for her wrongs. Not being able to score in ANY exam, being scolded by parents, hugging and kissing Andre with her consent, not wanting to talk to him (trying to ignore him) and thus blaming him for being obsessive for trying to speak to her, Etcetera. Once, she broke up with him when she called her best friend more beautiful than herself and Andre, just like for any other thing, gave his innocent consent. Making him change career streams, instilling fake chivalry in his mind to show off her ‘idealistic’ boyfriend to the few people she called friends (that is those who could stand her existence), trying to change his dressing sense and also making him follow some untoward extreme celibacy, all in all, she never accepted him and just wanted to change him miraculously into her showpiece partner. All giving in to her inner ego, her complex. Susan lived in complete denial. She wanted to be someone, to present her as the best, and when she couldn’t at all do it, she needed someone or something to blame or else she would have imploded. The only thing that was more expendable than her friends and family was this relationship at her leisure disposal. So, she left Andre. He cried for a year and controlled his tantrums because of the assertion by Susan’s elder sister that she would definitely come back to him after her boards. He waited… and waited. He never disturbed her for she had asked him not to if he wished for her good. And all he ever wanted was her good. Then the judgement day arrived… the board exams had passed. It seemed like a year of Easter Eggs from Susan who seemed to have been indicating towards a possible reunification. But… when contacted… she seemed to have been even blunter than the last time. She refuted any feelings for Andre and called her relationship a mistake. People cease to cry at the fall of hope. He did that as well. The pain he had kept close to his heart… still rebuking anyone and everyone that whatever that girl did was not all wrong… he gulped that pain down and tried to move along. He now only cries in solitude.

Now comes the part which is most painful. Justification. They wouldn’t leave you just like that, would they? They would use all the force in the world and try their level best to justify their actions making you feel the antagonist. It happened here as well. Marla blamed Simon for not understanding her various gestures signalling the detachment from him. When he put the argument forward as to why was she being physical with him when she didn’t see a future, a faint reply came back saying “I was just trying my best for everything to be normal so that you are not hurt…” In a moment, her actions had become completely righteous in her eyes. Now she didn’t care he lived or died. Rather literally… because she had acted extremely ignorant of his quite realistic suicide attempt. Now Susan blamed Andre for a variety of things ranging from not loving her and leaving her for a day for his ex like 3 years ago, to loving her a little too much and in turn irritating her. She could easily justify all her actions. Of course… only in her eyes, that is. The Alibis, the only things remaining that don’t defile their reputation in their very own eyes. If at all these alibis formulated by them over various periods of time were negated, then their minds would have gone haywire. Hence, they completely transfused into a new life, shedding the past relating to their partners and hence founding a new self so that their past doesn’t haunt them.

Overall, two famous and envied relationships came to unfortunate ends. Years have gone by now, but both of Roger’s three best friends cry still. They find their solitude to surrender to their sentiments so that they can rejoice in the other hours of the day. Andre is working hard in the very field he had undertaken for Susan, that is the medical field; whilst Simon is all set to enter the business field as a stepping stone to his future tycoon status. They are both quite focused in their lives and are completely ready to take on the adversities the world would put against them. One thing that came out well from the breakups. The other thing is that they have both shed kilos of weight and have adhered to a healthy lifestyle, now that they have time for themselves.

A relationship is neither about the exploitation of freedom nor its encroachment. An intimidated Susan once commented that she would leave her father if he ever slapped her. Why…? They don’t understand the concept of love… which is more about forgiveness than grudges… more about accepting the wrongs than expecting the rights. Love is something which cannot be merely orchestrated as per someone’s whims and fancies. It is a symbiotic and mutual relationship. Understanding is the most important part of a relationship… ‘Favour’ is not a word in the dictionary of love. If you ever stood in the afternoon sunstroke and waited for your partner and saved your share of water for him… then it is not a favour you shall present before him while breaking up with him… Do you know why he never did anything like that? Because he did way more and never made you realize it by telling it again and again… and forgot about it himself. Love is not a give and take business. It is not to keep it as complicated as they both did. It is very simple. There are no prerequisites to love. It just happens.

Susan wanted a fairy tale life and love story where she was the princess of limelight everywhere. For Marla, she was never in love with Simon. She was just his fan and that confounded her in making that decision. But at the end of the day, we cannot blame them for the tears of Simon and Andre. It is love which is to be blamed. For loving someone nowadays is a bigger rarity and moreover a crime than hating someone. What is their fault? They couldn’t have faked all their lives with someone whom they didn’t love, right?

The phrase ‘I love you’ comes and goes so often nowadays. It is the phrase of the century, thrown around every now and then to friends, acquaintances AND strangers. People say it without even thinking twice. Of course, it is not compulsory to know someone to love him/her. Sadly, ‘I Love you’ is no more the one-way journey it used to be. It is retracted as easily as it is released. We need to keep a check on the urge to convey this beautiful message. It is not compulsory to know people to love them… but it is imperative to know yourself to love them forever. I would just request my readers… before you tell someone that you love them… think it over. Think if you can commit yourself to be with them. And most importantly, ask yourself why do you love them? If you can answer this ‘why’, then never say it to them. The love pillared on reasons falls when the pillars break. By doing this you would be preventing an innocent soul from breaking apart.