तू सच है

EDITOR: Gyan Akarsh

मैंने खुद की एक कहानी लिखी है
जिसमे तेरा भी एक हिस्सा है
नहीं जानता मैंने तुझे ढूंडा है
या लिखा है
तू सच है
या मेरी एक रचना है?

तेरे इर्दगिर्द घूमती मेरी कहानी
तुझसे मुझे कुछ जोड़ती सी है
मेरा ज़िक्र तुझमें करती सी है
मेरा साया दिखता है तुझमें
तू सच है
या आईना है?

तेरी बातें मुझसे आती हैं
जैसे तूने मुझे पढ़ा है
ये बातें मेरी हैं
या तेरी हैं
तू सच है
या मैंने तुझे गढ़ा है?

तेरी मंज़िल मुझे दिखती है
तेरा सफ़र मुझतक आता है
तेरे रास्ते तूने चुने हैं
या मैंने तुझे दिए हैं
तू सच है
या मेरी वही ख़्वाहिश है?

तेरी अदा में मेरी हरक़त है
तेरी साँसों में मेरी हरारत है
मेरी आहट पे तेरी निगाह भी है
तू मुझसे इतनी जो जुड़ी सी है
तू सच है
या मेरा वोह सपना है?

मैं पहले तुझसे मिला हूँ
तेरी तस्वीर याद है
तेरी आँखों से शुरू हुई
ये बात आज यहां है
मैं जानता हूँ
तू सच है
लेकिन तेरा सच मेरा नहीं
ये कहानी तो मेरी है
लेकिन मेरा किरदार मेरा नहीं।


EDITOR: Aditya Prakash Singh

ख़्वाहिश है दिल की
जब चेहरा दिखेगा
खिलखिलाती हँसी
कानों से होकर
शहद सी लगेगी
जब होगा ये सबकुछ
कुछ अच्छा लगेगा
जब हम मिलेंगे
जब तुम दिखोगी।

तपिश के वो लम्हे
आँखो का फेरा
आफ़त कदमों की
सफ़र ही सफ़र
तेरी नामौज़ूदगी
बस, ‘था’ एक अंधेरा
सब, बस रह जाएँगे
जब तुम दिखोगी।

अंजान होगी
वो जब दिखेगा
कँपकपी उसकी
अलग सी रहेगी
हो आस पूरी
एक दिन आएगा
जब हम मिलेंगें,
जब तुम दिखोगी।

वो मेरे भगवान नहीं

EDITOR: Aditya Prakash Singh

बारूदों के जलने से ही जिनकी पूजा होती है
कैसे वे खुश होते हैं धरती माता जब रोती है
और धरम के नाम पे बकरा जब कट जाता है
सत्य अहिंसा और धर्म का पाठ धरा रह जाता है
कर्म कांड के कचरे का अब गंगा बोझ उठाती है
आडम्बर के कारण ही तो झोपड़ियां जल जाती है
इन्हें कौन बताये मंदिर मस्ज़िद नफरत के पैगाम नहीं
और खून से जिसकी रोटी सिकतीं वो मेरे भगवान नहीं
वो मेरे भगवान नहीं।

तलवारों की नोकों पे अब धर्म दिखाई देते हैं
संग्रामो के शंखनाद और बिगुल सुनाई देते हैं
चुपके चुपके मंदिर में गीता भी अश्रु बहाती है
जब मंदिर से नफरत की ज्वाला सुलगायी जाती है
चरमपंथ के पंथी जन को धर्म सिखाने आते हैं
ढोंगी और पाखंडी सारे अब बाबा बन जाते हैं
इन्हें कौन बताये ज्ञान ध्यान सब बिकने के सामान नहीं
और जो बाज़ारों में बिकते हों वो मेरे भगवान नहीं
वो मेरे भगवान नहीं।

The day I ate too much

EDITOR: Ashmy Achu Shinu

It’s been 3 months since my Patti (grandmother) passed away, and this is the first time I’m writing something in 3 months( except her eulogy ).

So , nothing has changed much… except that our house is much quieter and we occasionally go out to spend some time outside. Every corner still reminds us of her presence and nothing has sunk in yet.

So, this was just another day in our routine lives, except that I decided to have my dinner brought from outside. So I went to the market from where I had to buy my food.

But before I left the house, I felt weird, not because I didn’t feel well or anything, but just that some memories came back to me from that market… the same market which I used to visit everyday for my grandmother for three months, for that medical store, to get her diapers and medicines.

All of that hit me at once and I felt a strange fear to go there again to see that place.. the same place where I had walked three months ago, unaware of the grief that’d strike us. But I had already told my parents that I’ll eat from outside, so I had to go.

I went there, bought my food and on the way back, I drank my most favourite Banta Soda with loads of ice despite having a bad throat, and on top of that had chat and pani puri .

I had dinner after all of this and it was a miracle that I didn’t throw up.

Maybe that over stuffing was a great way of distracting myself from the flashbacks and the pains that came with it.

Well, this wasn’t a way of avoiding my pain, it was a way for me to distract myself till I was really ready to face it.

Humans have emotions, and accepting that one has pain greatly reduces it. But in my case, I already know what has hit me, but facing the same place in a completely different situation does feel odd.

Sometimes unexpected things that make us feel depressed or hopeless actually make us stronger and emotionally matured.

They say Time is the greatest healer, and so I leave it to time. Maybe the next time I visit that place, I’ll get the flashbacks of my fond memories with her and not the painful ones. 🙂

To each his own

EDITOR: Ashmy Achu Shinu

This is for all those people who have found themselves on the receiving end of the phrase “log kya kehenge?” (“what will people say?”) with respect to academic and career choices. Disclaimer: This is not an attack on parents, guardians, teachers and other concerned members of society. We know you mean well.

Do you know that for every child who turns eighteen, two adults (plus a few unnecessary additions) start asking, “Engineer ya doctor?” They get bonus points if they start this charade at sixteen. (After all, coaching classes get filled up pretty fast.) It’s ironic how we are often told not to succumb to peer pressure by those who end up putting the worst kind of pressure on us: expectations.

Let’s get real for a minute. If my friends invite me for drinks and I turn them down, the worst possible outcome would be that I would no longer get invited to social events. Chances of them ever bringing it up on a later day are slim to none. But if I score the 74826916346th rank in CET, you can bet your life savings that no one would let me forget it. I would become the talk of every birthday, wedding and funeral. (Here lies ____’s career. RIP.) I would become a social pariah, a cautionary tale, the monster that parents tell their children about at night. I would get shunned for being the proverbial square peg in the round hole.

For future reference, here is an extremely sarcastic and wildly exaggerated list of sins according to the average Indian family, ranked most to least abominable:
– Not doing engineering or medicine
– Failing an exam
– Talking back to your parents
– Crossing your legs in front of elders
– Swearing/Using profanities
– Drinking/Smoking/Things that may actually kill you someday

“But what’s wrong with studying what my family wants?” you ask, shaking your head in disdain. “It makes them happy.” Yes, I understand that every child aspires to make their parents proud one day. Most of us would rather do something we don’t particularly enjoy than disappoint those who believe in us. But it doesn’t end there. Pretty soon you’re met with, ‘engineering degree toh sabke pass hai, tum MBA karlo’ (Everyone has an engineering degree, you should do an MBA.) Or ‘MBBS kafi nahi, MD bhi karlo’ (An MBBS degree is not enough, do an MD.) And knowing that our parents and theirs before them were also once subjected to the same societal pressures (some still are) makes it extremely difficult to point accusatory fingers. The truth is, expectations form a part of every human interaction. I expect the bus driver to take me to my destination safely, I expect the waiter to bring me what I ordered, I expect my partner not to murder me in my sleep. Hence it is perfectly acceptable for those who have invested their time, love and money in me to expect some return. But it’s important to draw the line somewhere. There’s a clear distinction between wanting the best for someone and wanting someone to be someone else. (Not that a career defines who you are, but if you’re going to spend a substantial amount of time doing something, it might as well be something you love and not merely that which looks good on paper.)

Man (herein includes woman) is expected to work so that he may provide for his family, for which he must learn a profitable trade. At one point in time it was hunting, farming and money lending. Today, the opportunities are endless. A profitable trade may even be carried on from home. You can make money by uploading videos on the internet. You can inspire people by drawing comic strips and caricatures. Your fan fiction might just become the next bestseller. Your song cover might get you a record deal. We are constantly reinventing the conventional definition of a ‘job’. Granted, it’s a lot more difficult to become established in that line of work. It takes time, patience and a strong internet connection. But then again, what doesn’t? Life and its many exploits are dazzling only in retrospect.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re one of the many people who have chosen their field of study out of pure unadulterated interest, I applaud you. If becoming an engineer makes your heart sing, or if medicine is your calling,kindly disregard everything I’ve said so far. But on the off-chance that you’re not one of those people, I would like to remind you that you will never change the world by trying to be like it. The world needs ambitious, motivated, passionate individuals who hunger for more and do not settle for any less. So I implore you, visionary, to follow whatever it is that keeps you up at night, no matter how utterly ludicrous it may seem to others. Become artists, rock stars, personal trainers, ornithologists, photographers, sportspersons, architects, chefs, professional translators, screen writers, masseurs, masseuses, astronauts, actors, therapists, YouTubers, and bloggers. Become engineers and doctors and lawyers. Just think of how many national treasures we would have lost had their relatives simply said, “That’s not a real job.”

And here’s something else, it’s never too late to change your destination. (If you listen very carefully, you’ll be able to hear the sound of my CET coaches grinding their teeth.) At the risk of sounding philosophical, I ask you to chart your own course. Pun intended. Let your life be an admixture of different adventures. Make mistakes, but do it with passion. Do no wrongs but for the right reasons. Neither success nor failure has a predetermined formula. We’re all just making it up as we go.

And there’s more than one road to the top.
Learn because you want to know more. Study what you believe will make you the best version of yourself. Do whatever it is that you find meaningful. Work towards making the world a better place. Succeed on your own terms. Create something of value. Become an inspiration to others who come after you.

And watch your approval ratings go up.

Do I?

EDITOR: Abhilasha Ramakrishnan

Anonymous btR

Everything mentioned here is purely fictional. Any coincidental similarities are simply a swing of luck. No harm intended.

I am often forced to think about my ignorant attitude towards how I look. I forcibly avoid dressing up. I knowingly maintain a ragged appearance. I try to act as weird among people as I can; all of these for one sole reason. To avoid social interactions. I am not essentially an antisocial person. But I am not outwardly open also. I tend to avoid people. Because once they get to know me, they avoid me. I carry a mentality, a method of thinking, an ideology which is completely alien to most of my peers. They simply don’t bother to maintain an ideology, or are simply creeped out by the way I make them see things. They hide behind closed eyes and pretend that they don’t see it. Or even if they see it, they simply refuse to acknowledge it. Those are the type of things that make my way of thinking ‘alien’. Getting out of all that philosophical crap, the only reason I was so loquacious was to get to a single point. I am uncomfortable around others.

Especially girls. Especially girls who are beautiful. Especially girls who are beautiful and smart. And mostly, girls whom I have crushes on. When I was a kid, my teachers taught me not to talk to girls. They taught me all girls around me are a different species. Boys shouldn’t interact with girls as they do with other boys. I was under such guidance for better than half of my life. Well, it definitely has left some hefty marks on how I interact socially. Having certain feelings for certain people is something one can’t avoid. We all have them. Towards our parents, our siblings, our friends. And when it comes to the ‘one’ person, that feeling becomes unique. Many have tried to explain it in terms of ‘flutter of butterflies’, ‘warmth’, ‘joy’; well, you are free to read romance and find out. Point here is, that particular feeling is the hardest to control. And when you are as socially awkward as I am, controlling them is something that you must do.

‘Smitten’ is something I won’t use, but it might be the most relevant word. Being smitten with someone leaves me in a position where I must control my emotions, since I don’t have the 1) Luxury, 2) Appearance, 3) Personality 4) Social skills to do anything about it. ‘Way out of my league’ is a suitable statement that I’d like to make. I know that I don’t look good. And in the world I live now, no amount of talent will make the girl look at me twice. That’s a fact I’d accepted quite a while ago. I don’t exist as long as it concerns her. This particular situation led me to an interesting situation. While trying to control and contain what I while in order to keep the rest of me from going awry I learnt how to control my emotions. It may feel surreal, but it isn’t. I can control my emotions. To a great extent. I am never sad. I am always, perfectly, genuinely happy despite the situation. I can control anger. Petty things like greed and jealousy are something I left quite a way ago on the path I’ve taken. I am content. I am happy, I am optimistic, I am looking forward to my life in a way that I never did before. Thanks to that one crush, that one person who struck home, that one person who’ll never know I exist; I have learnt something which is going to be there with me as long as I am sane. It’s not like I’ve given up on her, it’s just that I never tried. Because I know my ‘limits’. And I know what’s worth more in my life. Getting to the conclusion, my story wasn’t all that interesting. But the thing I learnt is, you cannot control all your emotions (unless you turn into a hermit). But you can confront any one emotion of yours. Constrain it with all your willpower. Use its turbulence to drive your other emotions into a streamline. It worked for me, and it will work for you. Since I know that I am also a human being, just like you are.

Or… Do I?

The Platform Analogy

EDITOR: Abhilasha Ramakrishnan

I’ve never seen life as much as I have in trains.
Indian Railways is such a mastermind; it brings together all places, all cultures, all kinds of people, all sections of people. And to write about a single train journey would mean a lot of work, especially for a ‘the smallest of the smallest details explained’ person like me. But then, from one yellow board with bold black letters to the next, it is ‘everything in life explained’. Well, every train is destined for a particular destination, but not every life on that train.

With one yellow board starts all of it. Announcements, cries, laughter, joy, hugs, warmth, tears, sweets, gifts, you are here. And every other life that surrounds you comes to a pause. For a moment, you just hear the ‘Welcome to’ announcements, and that is pure joy, that is childhood. And then you don’t hear them at all. They start demanding your attention; they start putting all the train numbers, names, sources, destinations, everything into your ears. They notify you when every train is about to arrive, they warn you when every train makes a stop for you, they turn back and grin at you with a big ‘X’ when every train leaves. And then, when the person at the ticket counter decides to give you a ticket, and when every life surrounding you decides that you are ready for it, you are put into one of those trains; the train which they think will take you to the right destination, via the right paths, at the right time. It is only after a few yellow boards, a few rounds of hustle and bustle, a few green flags, that you get a steady seat, that you start looking out. And you see nothing but endless fields, long rows of grass and trees, a few houses here and there, until the next yellow board. The yellow board is when you stop looking and start watching, start analysing, start experiencing. It isn’t going to change a lot in the beginning; a group of youngsters laughing over something they saw on one’s phone, a well dressed man nodding reluctantly to the old woman’s laments, a man with spectacles still on his laptop typing in codes without break, a young girl playing with the lonely lady’s children, an unhappily-alone face, a happily-alone face, a want-to-be-alone face. And then you start hearing the announcements, you are in the midst of all the hustle and bustle; you see a lot of money being exchanged. That is, for you, the most exciting part of the journey. You may get some coffee, you may get a new co-passenger, you may get the most unpleasant of smells. You can feel the train slowing down, coming to a halt. And before you can explore all the businesses happening there, it starts taking you away. A bit more of crowd, and then you are back to the same old stuff; people rushing to become one among the crowd, people running to catch the train, people struggling to find a comfortable place to rest their tired legs. You can see the whole world and its struggles between the wrinkles near the old man’s eyes, you can see the experiences of a lifetime on the old worn out bag on the wanderer’s shoulder, you can see peace in the plain eyes of the yogi that hold depths. You can see stray dogs fighting for food, running behind each other, licking each other’s wounds. And more yellow boards, more green flags, more announcements. It goes on.

But then, there is always a chance to get down. There is always a chance to go out of the trainbox and experience. Every time you are near the busy place, you fear that you may get lost if you go out. It is diverse, it is new, it is immense, the experience of the busy place, but it is risky at the same time. And you try not to let go. Someone inside you wants to get out, take the over bridge just to look down and see what your whole life has been, get lost in the crowd, feel the sun outside the station. But you try so hard not to let go. And then, as the green flags smile at you, you realise what you’ve lost. You grow desperate and you try to get down. But it is not that easy. The train has already gained speed and it’s a bit hard to let go of the journey you’re on to explore something you aren’t certain of. And even if you get down, it takes a lot of time and a longer way to get to the busy place, to find your way to the exit of the station, and just get out. You have to try harder, you have to walk longer. But it is a way too. It happened because you weren’t disheartened. Getting down always poses a risk, and that risk is worth it because it is for a new world, new experiences, new groups of people, new memories, new sights, new insights. And then, you come back to embark upon a new journey. Sometimes, you may catch a train to the same old destination and arrive there a bit late, that isn’t failure. Sometimes you may end up at an entirely different destination, a worse one maybe, that isn’t failure. That is life. And sometimes you may end up at a destination nobody, not even you imagined you to reach. You may create and inspire a group of lives to find a new train, a new destination. That is what life is.

This isn’t all about the analogy though. And yes, I’ve never seen life as much as I have in trains.