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The Polar Express

It’s 8.57 p.m. as I write this and I know all too well that I would be better off studying for my less-than-two-days-away exams. But here I am. I hear the sounds of people having a party downstairs. They sound happy and cheerful. There’s a lot of singing, a bit of drunk laughter, and it’s all in good fun. Isn’t this the state we are always supposed to be in?Won’t we be at our happiest when we are laughing like that? When we let go?

In a world like ours, I think that’s easier said than done.

For the last few days, I have been plagued with outrage posts every time I’ve opened any one of my social media accounts. The topics range from offensive remarks by Mira Rajput to all the wrongdoings that festivals like Holi cause. And that’s just local news. When I open international news sites, the majority of the (often clickbait) titles have to do with the revelation of a new layer of President Trump’s craziness or the dire threat of Russia (as well as its ties with the United States). If I’m smart enough to go onto the right news sites, I may find a greater array of information and news to add to my knowledge but, I have realized that, in the past, I have mostly opted for the more accessible sources of information (read: accessible meaning anything that comes up on my Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram feed). Yes, I realize that this is one of the weakest methods of learning anything.

Sure, I enjoy laughing at a meme or two, liking my friends’ rant statuses, or checking out photos posted by people I follow. However, more often than not, I close these applications feeling nothing but agitated. Angry, even. I read articles about feminism that polarize me to the core of morality, making me feel as if the entire world is against women. I am a feminist, yes, but I also realize that the light we are portrayed under isn’t what the actual case is. Yes, I do think Mira Rajput’s ‘..the new wave of feminism is destructive’ comment was quite uncalled for, and it angered me for a long time. But I also realize that she is a 22-year-old who has just recently entered the public limelight, someone who still doesn’t know the ropes of being an influential personality. But yet again, she is a woman and since she is for accepting other people’s choices, maybe she should put the 22-year-old brain to use and realize that sometimes leaving one’s child alone (like a puppy) is not a choice, but a necessity. However, knowing she comes from a relatively privileged life, I do not expect her to necessarily understand these ideas.

I engage in a monolog that moves back-and-forth in this very manner. Just when I think it’s okay for people to express their opinions, when I think that it’s okay for Mira to feel what she feels, that her words were maybe just phrased in the wrong manner, I read articles on the issue that make me feel like she’s one of the oppressors, like she is part of the group of people who are trying to push back the feminist movement.

But is it really so?

Why am I supposed to feel this anger, this incessant irritation, by the words of a woman who just happens to have become a public figure? Okay, so she said something that was controversial, something that I disagree with, but does that mean I am going to rip her apart for it? Is that what I’m supposed to do every time someone opposes my views? Why am I subconsciously being told what to do and feel through these posts? Why am I being emotionally drained by such things on a constant basis? 

Apart from this, I have a question that has not left my mind since the beginning fo this year: is President Trump really that much of a threat? Sure, he has passed some executive orders, one of which even prevents U.S. aids from providing any support to foundations even remotely linked to abortion. But does one not realize that a lot of his orders and pleas do not always go directly into effect? There is a procedure wherein either the Justice System or Congress has to actually accept and vote for the bill/order and then it gets implemented. President Trump gives out these orders which are reviewed and put into motion only if the other parts of the democratic body are in alignment with it.

Why is it that a lot of people don’t know this? Maybe there aren’t enough Facebook posts about it.Maybe we’ve been made to focus on how Donald Trump should be scaring us (CNBC, The Guardian, The Philly, The Washington Post, News24). Maybe the only reason we are terrified is because we have been instructed to be terrified.

Why is there an increasing sense of polarity in the mainstream social media today? Facebook’s move to filter out fake news from people’s feeds was a good step in moving towards a better understanding of the world but it really won’t be effective until we, ourselves, decide to do something about it.

I refuse to be polarized by yet another article that tells me how much of terrible person President Trump is for saying that he wants to build a wall: the proposal is now in the hands of Congress meaning my anger will be directed at someone who isn’t even in charge of the decision anymore.

Why are we being provoked with every word?

Why is it that the number of ‘clicks’ an article gets is so much more important than the content?

Why is everything suddenly becoming an us-versus-them situation?

It’s 9.42 p.m. now and, as is my habit, I scroll through a bit of my Facebook news feed for my daily dose of annoyance. It takes me lot of control to not click on the post that will tell me why ‘Holi is the worst festival that exists’. I’m so tempted. I close the tab and stare at the screen of my laptop. I feel frustrated. There really is no way to cut off from this extremization of events, is there? 

Oh look, my phone just buzzed with a news update. All aboard the Polar Express.

 

 

Short Stories

Tick Tock

Tick tock.

I sit on the edge of the window pane, my legs dangling outside. Tonight, the darkness besieges me with a greater force.  Fourteen stories up, I know no one can sense my fear. 

Tick tock.

Is it midnight? I can’t tell. I’m too engrossed in a conversation with my silent partner.  The flow of thoughts in this exchange is exhilarating.

Tick tock.

They say that the darkest phase of the night comes in the hours preceding dawn. Is that true? Where is my sunrise?

Tick tock.

I find myself fascinated by the oddest of sensations. The smooth granite I rest my hands on seems to emit the most peculiar sort of sound when I tap on it.  It almost sound like a raindrop teetering down a window on a rainy day. The air under my bare feet feels rough and disturbed. I think it’s trying to get somewhere.

Tick tock.

My mouth is dry from talking too much. I love talking around my friend. He seems to understand everything I say, although I can never be sure, because he hasn’t ever responded to me through words yet.

Tick tock.

My friend likes the soothing sound of the wind on a silent night. I can only talk to him on such nights. It’s when he is in his softest, most innocuous of forms.

Tick tock.

My friend is my only companion. I cannot fathom life without him. After all, what good is light, if all I have ever seen is darkness?

Tick tock.

I wonder about the color of light. I wonder about the color of my face when I’m in a fiery rage.  What is the color of rage? Is it anything like the color of the nothingness I have been betrothed to?

Tick tock.

I smile at my companion and I hope he sees it. I’ve been told smiles light up the world. I smile each time, hoping it will light up mine.

Uncategorized

My Time.

Would you prefer collecting my body as it washes up on a beach or would you rather find it hammered into the wall with your invisible screws?

Would you rather replace all the figurines in our home with my little fingers or would you rather stitch up my mouth permanently?

Would you hang the blood stained sheets on the terrace, for everyone to see? Or would you use it to strangle me for something that isn’t my fault?

Would you rather pluck out all my feathers and leave me bare or would you leave my skin scalded and scarred, like those before me?

Does it really matter which one you choose? Does it really matter if I have anything to say?
Am I a secret that has to be hidden? Am I a disgrace, too shameful to be let loose?

No, Mother, I am none of that.

I am a part of you, Mother. I am a part of your journey. You created me. You made me. Now, you suffocate me. You dismiss me. Is that why I constantly have hot, scarlet, ringing ears?

I am too little to tell you how to raise me. I know you know best. You can tell right from wrong, can’t you Mother?

I wonder why my friends are scared to come to our home. What could be keeping them? Is it Father’s violent look? Is it your incessant screaming?

I never hear you scream at Brother. I have seen him done some very wrong things, but he scares me into keeping shut. Can’t you feel my pain?

Oh Mother, I don’t think I should smother you with these little troubles of mine. You would never listen anyway.

I wonder, as I do with everything, why Father has never objected to Brother’s actions. I wonder why you never object to his actions, actions against me. Am I really that trivial?

Some people had come to our house yesterday, Mother, and you told me to get dressed for them. I wore the yellow kurta for the first time in my life. I didn’t know new clothes could feel so nice.

There was a man, amidst all those people yesterday, who kept staring at me, Mother. I didn’t like his eyes. They told me that his smiling face was just a facade. Why was he staring, Mother? I wanted to leave the room, but I couldn’t risk you or Father staining my walls after they left. It has happened before, and painting my wall yellow after it had been tainted with a deep red was a tedious task and it made my hand hurt, in addition to my back.

Is this my eternal cycle? What happens when I grow up? Can I do something for myself then? Can I choose what to wear, where to go and how to dress? Will I be subject to the decisions of the unknown person you sell me off to?

What is my fate, Mother? Is it the same as yours? Will my children’s fate be the same? Will they be murdered before they learn how to live? Will they have to learn to struggle with the mind games and the torture?

No, Mother, I won’t let them.
I will not be brushed under the carpet.
I will fight. I may be little, but I know what I can do. I have seen countless of my kind aquiesce to this life, but not me.

There’s a little voice inside my head, a voice strong enough to reach out to the entire world, if I want it to. You know everything, Mother.

I may be small, but I know I have a place in this tiny world, and that place is not beside him, Mother. He is rich. He will give me nice things, but he will not listen to me. I could see it in his petrifying glare.

I belong in a different world. A world where I won’t be made a slave to my own family. A world in which I am not the caged admirer of the soaring bird, but the free bird itself. I belong to a world where my Father would be proud to have me and my Brother would protect me.

Is this world really so hard to create? Won’t you atleast try? I know you know best, Mother, but I cannot wait any longer.

This is my time.

Short Stories

Home

Another night of dealing with the aftermath of your profligacy. I was sitting patiently on the worn out couch, listening to you struggling with the front door. Listening to the tingling of your keys, to the sound of your key chain.

I take a deep breath and remember a happier day. You used to complain about how you kept losing your keys, maybe because you forgot where you kept them or maybe because you left them somewhere. In light of this, I gifted you a key chain. Not any ordinary key chain, though. This key chain played our favorite song – ‘I’ve Got To Be Close To You’ by Jonathan Clay. This may not have been the brightest solution to your forgetfulness but at least you managed to keep your keys with you at all times.

‘…Maybe it’s the way you get that look in your eye..’

You open the door with mighty force and a grunt. You spot me, your eyes bloodshot. You dawdle into the kitchen, muttering incomprehensibly. My gaze follows your movements. It would be futile to censure your behaviour. You grab a bottle of water and make your way to me. You have left your key inside the keyhole. The music is still playing.

‘…I’ve got to be, got to be, close to you.’

‘How long have you been waiting?’

‘Depends on how long you’ve been gone.’

‘You shouldn’t have waited.’

‘You shouldn’t have left.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘No, you’re not.’

You let out a sigh and sit down beside me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know where to look. I just don’t know anymore. I adore you, but you aren’t you anymore. I shift my gaze from the floor to your face. I can see the scar on your left cheek, right next to your lips. You got that the first time you flung the glass vase at the wall. I had cleaned the cut and bandaged it with caution, all the while ensuring you wouldn’t notice my trembling lips and watery eyes.

I look further up, above your right eyebrow. It’s still red. It must still burn. That was the first time you tried to hurt me with fire, as if the fiery rage inside you wasn’t enough to burn me.

Isn’t it funny? Every time you tried to hurt me, you got hurt in the process. You can’t hurt a part of yourself and not feel it. You can’t hurt me without feeling the pain yourself. You can’t destroy me without destroying yourself.

‘…I think we know there’s no way to stop what’s in motion…’

You touch my hand. I flinch. I have my share of scars,too, don’t you remember? My right hand still hasn’t fully recovered from the blow it received just last week. Don’t you remember that night?

You reach for my hand, gently this time, and hold it in yours. If this were two years ago, your stench would have made me squirm. Now, it’s just an integral part of this insipid void that you’ve got me in.

‘Your hand is cold. You’re all bones now’, you say, with genuine concern in your voice.

I continue staring at this familiarly unfamiliar face, saying nothing. You gulp down a couple of sips of water.

‘…Doesn’t take a song to say how I can’t stand when you’re away..’

Suddenly, all those routine feelings come whizzing back to me. The trepidation, the fear, the ardent fury, the fervent love. On cue, adrenaline begins pumping all throughout me. I look into your eyes. Your expression hardens. The concern is replaced by an apathetic gaze.

‘..When you’re nowhere around, I lose the clarity I’ve found.’

You strengthen your grip. I whimper as the pain makes its way back into my system. Your eyes are now redder than ever. Your lips are pressed together tightly. You get up with a jolt, pulling me up with you. My hand is now being twisted in the most unimaginable of ways. I dare not let out a cry. Your hold gets stronger, my pain gets more brutal. My vision starts blurring, bit by bit. This unconscionable pain that you are causing me, is it for your pleasure?

Amidst all of this, I manage to look back at you and I see a helplessness in your eyes. Are you sorry for your actions? I smile ever so slightly. You grab my other hand as well, but I see you smiling back.

‘…Maybe it’s the way you get that look in your eye, the way you captivate me with the hint of your smile..’

I know it will be okay.

My vision is now deteriorating at a rapid rate. I look around the loft, my eyes searching for something. The key? It’s still in the hole. The bottle of water? It has spilled onto the floor. The picture of me and you? Ah, yes. There it is, on the wall, right behind us. With whatever strength I have left, I push myself backwards, causing you to crash against the wall. The picture shatters into pieces. Glass flies everywhere. I free myself from your grip with a gasp, and then I look back at you. Your bloody head matches your bloody eyes. It matches the bloody love we share. It matches the bloody rage that is boiling inside of us right now. My hand is throbbing. Your hands are placed on your bleeding temples. But you’re still smiling,

I let out a small laugh.

You stay in place, our eyes fixed on each other. You stutter some words but I fail to catch them.

The glass has covered the worthless carpet. Not caring, I make my way towards you, the glass piercing through the soles of my feet with every step.

‘You still have a lot of blood to lose to make up for what I’ve lost.’, I say with a smirk.

I trip on a large shard of glass and land with a thud. As savage as our love may be, it is just as functional. Your bloody hands manage to catch me somehow and my face is saved. I am now lying with my head on your lap, with cuts and bruises all over my body. This is our happy place. This is why we are still here after all these years.

‘This is the parfait you used to talk about, isn’t it?’, I whisper with the energy I have left.

‘Yes. This is that paradise. This is where we belong. Together.’

I close my eyes with a smile on my face. We are home. Happy. At peace.

Poetry

Yellow Post

So I took a trip to yellow post
And I bumped into a seemingly innocent ghost

I felt a chill as a turned around,
My first thought being: ‘I hope you don’t drown.’
I looked back at my ghostly friend
And asked him: ‘Is this the end?’
He looks at me with his empty eyes
And says: ‘It’s time to say goodbye.
Far away from this madness,
You may just find some happiness.’

Having faith, I take my last breath
With which I embrace my serene death.
My life flashes before me
As I fall into a dreamless sleep.

However, I remember you, and nothing more
I can see you walking out the front door.

Teary eyes, stained windows,
Is this what one sees when they’re on the death row?

I called out to you, I tried to make you stop
But you kept on going, as steadily as the clock went tick-tock.

This is a humorous(ish) type of poem that I found while rummaging through one of my old notebooks. I’d written this in the 9th grade and this is the completely unedited version of it – mistakes, weird storyline and the works.

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Emotions

Guilt.

I am overwhelmed by the intensity of these emotions. They’re slowly taking over my thoughts and they are getting settled in my chest and creating lumps in my throat.

The emotions creep upto me without any warning, without any signal. It is always the usual gang: Sadness, Anxiety, traces of Irritation, and,of course,their leader, Guilt.

The parasites, once comfortable in my lungs, start to eat their way through my chest, trying to get my attention. Unfortunately, their efforts are never futile.

-Prakriti Sharma

(Untitled) Story

Part #1 – Untitled

Her pale green eyes were just the beginning. Her tall, lean figure provided her with a delicate, nymph-like appearance. Her caramel complexion so perfectly suited her hair, which resembled a cascade of raven tresses. Her ingratiating smile made her charm even harder to spurn. Despite all this beauty, what really caused her to be on the receiving end of quick glances and longing stares was her dance.
Her ever-so-fluid movements were a remarkable sight. Her fierce twirls, her sharp expressions, and her elusive flaws made anyone in her vicinity drop everything and simply observe. Observe the mischief of her smile as she swayed her hips to the beat in such a graceful,lively manner, giving one the impression that she was neither dancing to the music nor listening to it; in fact, she was the music. She was the serene sound. It was all her.
It was war time. Disaster. Despair. Death. Most of the people were too afraid to step foot outside their homes in fear of being annihilated.
She, however, was something else altogether.
She was nothing like the people. Nothing at all. She was made out of something much greater, much more courageous. She had, inside of her, the oldest, most undaunted of souls.
Bad things shouldn’t happen to such majestic beings.
Bad things shouldn’t have happened to her.
So what was this??