Fortune Favours The Bold
By Aditi Kabra
It was getting hot. Even for Hydrogen atoms H1 and H2, being on the star’s surface could be trying. At 6000K H1 and H2 did not like their super-heated life at all, and wished to cool down and unwind.
One day, while making one of their daily rounds of the star’s gaseous outer layer, H1 and H2 discovered a current on the star’s surface that would lead to the inner, hitherto unexplored regions of the star. H1 and H2 could ride on the current, and boldly go to the lands inside the star in hope of better conditions. However, timid H2 was afraid. What if the inside was even worse than the outside? Bold and adventurous H1, on the other hand, decided to take a leap of faith. H1 took the solar current and went into the nether layers of the star, while H2 remained on the surface of the star, sighing and contemplating over whether it had made the right choice.
Inside the star, it became progressively hotter. H1 kept being drawn further in. Finally under the intense pressure and heat, it succumbed, and combined with another hydrogen atom, to become helium, releasing a huge amount of energy through the nuclear fission that powers the sun.
Being helium was much better than H1 had imagined. You were inert, heavier than the rest, sort of aloof, above and superior. Happy to be helium, H1 boldly rose to the challenge as he was drawn further into the star’s core.
The pressure had become even more intense. The temperature was 1,45,00,000 K. Exotic new elements were being formed left right and centre. Awestruck, H1 witnessed this all, and with the joy of having reached the next level, fused to carbon.
H1 kept improving itself. It had just acquired the venerable status of iron – the magnetic heavy metal – when the star’s fuel got over; gravity could no longer be resisted. As the star died, shells of it started peeling off.
Alas! H2, who had run away from risk and chosen to stay on the surface, could never transcend the state of hydrogen, and floated off as interplanetary matter. For H1, however, courage paid stellar dividends, for at last when the star died, it did not float around in space, forgotten by the world. Rather, atoms and molecules clung to it, due to its greater weight. It became the founder of a new planet, a new world, the base of life. It became the very centre of Earth’s iron core.
Copyright 2014 Aditi Kabra
Image courtesy: http://www.universetoday.com
Review Of Dina Roberts book ‘The Dead Are Online’
The novel ‘The Dead Are Online’ is a masterpiece. The author has really given to her readers via this novel, a different way of looking at our social media sites which is innovative, unique and thought provoking. The book is easy to understand and the flow of the story is smooth. The author through her marvellous narrative skills has put forward philosophical ideas also through this very same book. Truly, Dina Roberts has challenged the way a 21st century modern novel can be written.
The work penned by Roberts is carefully formatted in the form of chapters based during a particular month where in each chapter a certain group of characters sharing an overall common bond is spoken about. This system of chapter formation reminded me of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ where Stoker presents his chapters as diary, Dictaphone or journal entries. The language is simple and easy to understand and the flow of the chapters is smooth. Although the author has introduced many characters in her story, her style of presenting her chapters makes it easy for the reader to remember all these characters and the common link they share with one another. Reading the initial chapters will make one so engrossed in the plot of the book that it will surely turn into a page scroller (page turner) for the reader.
The characters in the story are lifelike whom we can understand and empathize with. In the novel we seem to be drawn into the individual lives of these characters in a way that has never been done before. Through the unique subdivision of chapters, we are drawn into the lonely atheist life of Dennis, the unusual life of Christina and her daughter, the successful life of Philip who dominates the lives of all those who care for him, Jennifer who suffers from an inferiority complex, Taylor who is obsessed about her weight and food intake, Zoe who wants to get away from the man her father has chosen for her to marry, Arthur who is madly in love with his gay husband, Eugene who is having trouble with his fiancé Anna etc.
The plot of the story is unique and very modern in keeping with the social media we use on a daily basis like FaceTime, Twitter, Facebook etc. Through these mediums, the author shows us a way of connecting with the dead which is fanciful but nice to read and ponder over. Through this unique novel, Roberts has manipulated time, innovation and the supernatural to make us want to devour the contents of the book at a really fast pace.
Although the story is mainly centred on characters belonging to one family, many themes crop up during the reading of this unusual book which has been indirectly tackled by the author in a very professional way. Indeed, the book is the work of a professional and Roberts through her writings gives ample evidence of this. The themes tackled in this book are:
- Life after death
- Heaven and Hell
- Evil Spirits
- Agnosticism etc.
The book is inviting to read and the title is apt to what is contained in the book. There is a certain amount of suspense in the book which is placed in the right place at the right time in due measures without leaving the original plot. The book deals with everyday themes which a reader can relate with.
From this work of Dina Roberts, one can take home the following key ideas:
- That death is not the end of love
- That the supernatural is a phenomenon which is interesting to research upon and
- That we must shower our love on our loved ones while they are alive for we may never be able to do the same after their death…well, at least not in the usual way.
Lastly, I want to thank Dina Roberts for enriching the world of literature with her book.
Copyright 2014 Fiza Pathan
War and Peace
By Varun Jacob
War, ravaging our world, destroying the Earth,
Martyrs created, Children enslaved,
Religion, money, oil, greed,
Petty things given importance by our feeble minds.
Governments spreading their own propaganda,
Privately funding their own agenda.
Battles fought out in the open, lives taken for granted,
Some are fought silently,
The true cost of them, never to be known.
Peace, an eternal goal of human existence,
A struggle that fails many a times.
We think of peace in our own lives,
While we fund the corporate democracies,
Desecrating millions, taking us closer to oblivion.
While the nations implode,
Leaving behind the ruins of the forgotten race,
The remnants suffer, contaminated by the fatal nuclear weapons,
Weapons that kill both sides in a single blow.
Most pray for a saviour to float down from the sky,
Others have lost hope and faith,
While the children cry, orphaned by this horrendous plague,
The others enjoy the comforts and benefits reaped from the War,
Before the ballad ends, remember this my friends,
You reap what you sow,
The benefactors today will be the victims tomorrow,
Those who were so feeble and broken,
Will without doubt rise in rebellion.
Only in the arms of death, will we find sweet caress,
For that is the only salvation on this path.
Copyright 2014 Varun Jacob
Image courtesy: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/199936
My dearest one, beloved of my soul – I love you more than any other non-living entity in the world,
Your chambers are the places where I escape from cruel reality and in your cells of wood do I smell the odour of the ancients – you mean more to me in every letter of the alphabet, because you are my bookcase, my house of treasures.
Men often change their moods and spit out venom at my touch, but you dear bookcase lend your paper bindings gently upon my palm,
You shelter me from the storms of the day and the crack of lightning at night – you show me the world that I cannot access…you show me the people who I cannot love.
But dearest old bookcase, I love you and will enchant your senses of sawdust by adding more treasures of papyrus to your collections,
I hug you when sorrow over powers me and when in deep thought, I plunge my hand into you…not to pick a book dear bookcase but lo and behold, I pick your very heart!
Silver fish are your enemies and white ants your predator,
So I drive them out from your bosom with malice upon my face, how dare they touch your smooth dead bark skin…my love…my enchantment…I will never leave you naked to these gnats.
I’ve indulged you dear bookcase to many a splendid polish in wax and in return, you have pleased me well with your bountiful gifts in paperback and hardcover,
Dickens and Thackeray, Milton and Shelley, Wordsworth and Frost, Joyce and Collins, Shakespeare and Wilde, Conan Doyle and Christie, Verne and Wells, Moore and Aquinas, Augustine and Homer, Hemingway and Bradbury, Twain and Carroll, Dahl and Walliams, Salinger and Rand, Huxley and Fitzgerald, Stevenson and Stoker…..they are all here encased within your pure teak bosom, my jewel, my love!
You tease me with the ruffle of paper and your charms outsmart the book lover in me,
I want no other man but you dearest bookcase, make me your bride and spread the scandal of our elopement to the bookstores – so that we may fill our hours in marital ecstasy, by brooding over books which then I shall purchase to cover your nudity.
Dearest bookcase don’t say you surfeit of my excesses for indeed I do but only give this foolish world a sample of this love that is shared between you and me,
Let me tickle you dear bookcase under your stern chin and while doing so, pick a bookmark that I have left in one of the Bronte sisters’ breasts…how naughty and careless of me!
I’m not a pervert nor a nutcase but for you dear bookcase, I can be both and much more,
What man cannot do for a woman you do to me dearest bookcase, the keeper of the wisdom sent to us mortals by the gods of literature and history.
I pray now…don’t allow me to be away from you, for I am but your human slave and you my rhapsody in wood,
Literature and Language, History and Geography, Biology and Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, Logic and Sociology, Philosophy and Psychology, Economics and E.V.S, Art and Hobbies, Music and Comics…what more can I say… I love you dear bookcase and your shelves strewn with the knowledge of the cosmos.
One last word to you in the night of symphonies I say aloud – kiss me dear bookcase with the parted pages of sweet breath,
Let me then pick up yet another book from your shelf so tenderly took and peel away my days in the wonderland of our little small galaxy.
Copyright 2014 Fiza Pathan
By Elsa Thomas
He looked handsome in a zardozi coloured bandgagla. A silver brooch was pinned to it. He looked nothing less than a prince from an Indian masala flick. He looked perfect. As he walked out of his palatial house, he stopped and turned back. His eyes were searching for somebody. “Where is she?” I made my way out of the crowd, the baraatis. “Come here. You were supposed to walk along with me. Why are you hiding behind?” I reached up to him. “Shall we?” he asked as he extended his arm. The crowd started whispering, “Who is she? What is she doing with him? Why is she holding his hand?” He could hear all of their loud whispers. His stern eyes sent a message to all the whisperers. He led me towards a car in which his mother, he and I were to be driven to the mandap. His mother kept scolding him for having me share the car with ‘her son’ and her. “Please mother, it is high time you accept it all and besides she is not responsible for this.”
She kept cussing at me until we reached our destination. Just as we stepped out, his mother put on a façade of being the happiest woman on Earth. She greeted her folks and the other guests with a traditional Namaste and touched the feet of the elders, seeking their blessings. He got down the car and asked me to stand by him. I felt uneasy after all that had happened in the past forty-five minutes. I tried joining the crowd that thronged to enter the marriage hall. He pulled my hand as I tried to escape his eyes. “Wait here and don’t you hide.” I stood there obediently. His eyes were now soft. He smiled at me in excitement and happiness.
His mother kept a watch on him and her eyes were requesting him to abstain from doing what he was going to do. As we entered the hall, his mother-in-law to be performed some rituals before he could take his place at the mandap. I was with him like a shadow and the girl’s side also tried to play a little game by trying to woo the groom’s relatives to know who I was. He could sense it all and was well aware of my condition too. He could feel the kind of awkwardness I was being subjected to. The priest pundit called for the bride. She followed by her mother and many other girls came out of a room with some flowers and other ritual related items. She sat where she was indicated to sit. She looked like a goddess. She wore a beautiful dress that matched his bandgagla. She looked beautiful, very different from what she looked when I first met her. The rituals began. The priests started chanting some shlokas and mantras. It was time for the most important ritual, the pheras. As his little sister was about to tie the loose ends of a cloth that connected him and her, he stopped her. “Come here. You have to do this for us,” he said to me. Shocked, all the guests whispered into each other’s ears. People accused me of malicious things. I could not hold on any more and when he saw tears roll down my cheeks, he lost his cool. “What is the problem? Is this all because I asked her to do this for us? Then listen to me.” “Stop it! Not a word further”, his mother screamed. He paid no heed to her. “For all those who do not know her, meet my sister, my older sister.”
The crowd went silent for a minute. I could feel the shock on their faces. His mother was left speechless. His bride too stood by him. She knew of me. The guests kept discussing things that were unbearable. Some of his folks knew my truth but kept stressing on the fact that I was an illegitimate child and that it wasn’t my father’s fault but that of my mother’s. “Bad blood”, “like mother, like daughter”, “Her mother is the solely responsible for all this.” He sensed my uneasiness. His eyes were now red with rage. “Oh just shut up. Shut up you all. She is my sister, half-sister in conventional terms. She is my father’s daughter.” His mother was now in tears. She looked at me with hatred. Her eyes were telling me things that I could not stand. It broke me internally but my half-brother, no, my brother and his bride stood by me. “If her mother was wrong, so was my father. If her mother was characterless, so was my father. If she has bad blood in her veins, so do I. I have accepted her, it will be better if you accept her too,” he said looking at his mother.
My stepmother screamed at him for having spoiled the reputation of his late father and for having maligned the family name. He affirmed that anybody who is unhappy with me was free to leave. I could feel the strength in him. He, my brother stood beside me when the world looked down upon me. He, my brother ignored all the allegations that the world bestowed on him for me. What more could I have asked for? The guests remained seated, some in support of my brother; some just to complete their duty of being present there and some who were in wait for some more drama. Somebody’s life was the subject matter of their entertainment. The marriage took place in an uncomfortable air. In spite of it all my brother and his wife were happy. I did the rituals as per their wish.
Today I was recognized by the world in the real sense. Today, I have a new name. Not that of my late father but that of my brother. I was his sister and he my brother. I did not need any other relation to define me.
Copyright 2014 Elsa Thomas
Image courtesy: Google images http://images.styletagassets.com/products/390793/large/MSUTHA0514_1.jpg?1395167322
The Worthless Heart
The numbed bleeding heart of my senses never knew how to fear separation,
But your love enlivened it into animation and your departure from its dark red shores brought misery and silence.
I picked up the red liquid from my chest and tasted its saltiness to season my sadness with your memory,
For your recollection is my repast and your name I have engraved with a sharp dagger of silver steel upon the arteries.
It throbs in pain and makes me gash my teeth to stop the escape of bile so bitter from my parted lips,
You took the forbidden fruit from my Eden and now I fancy myself the cursed serpent who has to slither upon a shore of recollects to its shame – what was my sin o lover of mine?
Love is the thirst that turns wine into blood and blood into unhappy drunken faints,
The God who made my body of metal…gave me a heart of glass which you o lover have broken, shattering our togetherness.
Sometimes I see red but yet I live, but dead; in your recollection I breathe out worms so ghastly from my mouth,
I have become a leper whom no one wishes to touch; insane yes but whom you did love and I see your image in the setting of my sun.
Your amour to me beats my breasts to a pulp and I clap my hands to this doleful song for sometimes love ignites but in my case it has deadened its steps,
It has paced the cardiac walls so dark pink finding no warmth but only a cold shelter to please the God of eternal damnation and anxiety.
I pray that you would turn back your blessed steps and return a song of sweet tidings back to me but you have moved on leaving me on my own,
So now I play the lute with blood stained fingers – slashing my wrists and my chest to remember the forgotten love of our time.
O worthless heart of mine──why must you slither your grey veins around my throat when I am mourning the loss of my one true lover,
He gave me a push and I fell off the cliff, wounding myself into pieces and tatters over the petals of the yellow and pink rose.
Now that he has married another, I cannot bear to look into my inner recesses for the hour of doom awaits me there,
So I keep myself busy by singing couplets to kings and queens of poetry while you, dear worthless heart, sell yourself to the vultures of the Zoroastrian dead.
If ever I need your counsel, do not shirk my tears away just as my lover did,
O worthless heart, pour thy life giving red blood into the cauldron of my witchery, to beguile a stranger into falling in love with me so that I may exchange you for his beating bloody organ, his red heart.
Copyright 2014 Fiza Pathan
Image courtesy: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/677113
The Transporter Of Galaxies
- Sushanth Kamath
It took me a while to realise where I was as the haze in front of my eyes slowly cleared. A throbbing pain on my forehead instantly brought back the memory of what had happened that evening. A stream of light filtered through the dark passage where, by now, I had gathered the strength to get up. Last known, I had faltered from the picnic group of the school visiting the Asian Science museum into this passage curiously painted in red as “Confidential – No Entry”. I remembered banging my head onto something and collapsing in great pain.
I rummaged through my backpack, found the water bottle and poured some into my mouth. Feeling little better I picked up the torch,(“everyone should bring along a torch”) Mr. Dey our science teacher had thundered-how nice of him) and switched the beam on. There it was──the passage had an abrupt ending with a door that had two wooden logs piercing out at the middle. I seemingly had banged onto one of them. I wondered, how my group left the place without me, blast them!
Munching some biscuits from the backpack, I gathered myself and looked at the strange door. Just then providentially enough, I had seen this only in movies before, my foot tripped on something and voilà, the door opened sideways. Behind this, in the light of the torch beam, shone a large box with some strange inscriptions on it. I could not decipher anything written. The box also looked made out of a different material- seemingly changing colour right before my eyes.
Somehow I was feeling a sense of immense peace and calm standing before the box. (I now wonder being alone and in a strange situation like this, why I was not afraid. The box seemed magical, soothing my nerves in a strange way).
I noticed the box had a heavy lid. Curiosity getting the better of me, gathering all my strength I lifted the heavy lid, and was stunned by what I saw.
There was no need for my torch. A bright glow of light emerged from the box. I saw inside it, a large cube as if made out of transparent glass from which this light was emanating. I had to hold my breath──and this will forever remain etched in my memory- I beheld the most celestial view I had ever seen.
It was as if I were looking at the NASA picture of a universe from a distance. The cube seemed to contain hundreds of galaxies- stars and planets suspended without any support, as if someone had compressed the whole of the sky into a cube. Curious, I reached my hand towards the cube.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I were you,” I heard a strange sounding voice-as if someone is speaking with an effort. Startled, I looked around and found, to my surprise only a flicker of a shape-bluish gaseous ever changing like a smoke, gathering near my very eyes. “Don’t be afraid my child,” it said.
I was again getting this feeling of peace and calm. “What you see is right my child- it is sort of a universe as you call it. It is in a state of high compression,” the voice said. I was amazed. It was reading my mind. “Who are you?” I asked.
“You are a curious boy aren’t you?” said the voice. It continued, “to put this simply, like your place what you call earth which belongs to what you call Milky Way galaxy, the cube contains several such galaxies.”
“But it looks so small, how can it have galaxies?” I protested. There was a chuckle. “Small or big is your relative concept. Imagine you are an ant or a termite living in a large colony. For you, the world is where you live in-everything other than that is “outside” and anything you can not reach is “large or far”. Now imagine if you were to stand somewhere outside milky way and──you had some powers to pick up milky way and put it in a box, For you it is just a box which happens to contain an object called milky way, with all its thousands of stars, planets that includes your earth and all your life forms. You interpret──the universe from the limited perspective of what you know, or what you think you know. In my opinion you know nothing.”
It sounded an unbelievable story to me. I repeated──“Who are you?”
“Never mind──in your language you may call me god. As for me, I am only a transporter of galaxies as you call them. We are all part of a larger project of a shape and size and purpose, which is too premature for you to know. I’d thought this corner was safe from any of your people. But you happened to come by and were lucky enough to venture into here. I have no worry about your intrusion as your people to whom you may reveal this tomorrow will never believe you. Anyway, I am here only for a while waiting for my refuel supplies, and should be gone in a short while.”
The image flickered. As if ordered by the image I slowly closed the lid, but it fell with a forced bang almost crushing my finger with a pain that shot up through my nerves. I remember slumping to the ground.
I woke up in a hospital. I was told the school informed the police that I was missing from the group and later they picked me up from the passage and admitted me to a hospital in an unconscious state. The memories of the previous night came rushing to my mind. Was it a dream? The pain in my fingers reminded me it was not.
I have not revealed this to anyone. As the figure had said no one is likely to believe me. Because what we know is all that we want to believe.
Copyright 2014 Sushanth Kamath
Image courtesy: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/144027