Fear

Leave me, so I can embrace the joy completely,

Leave me today and forever set me free,

Leave me, so I can feel the wind beneath my wings,

Leave me, for I can have a life with new beginnings.

 

I see you, I’ve known you, you’ll get to know me too,

I can’t stand you, I reject you, you think me a fool,

I curse you, I’ll fight you, you know I won’t let down,

I’ll face you, I’ll chase you, I’ll win the final round.

 

Leave me, for I know better, I know what I can do,

Leave me, you’ll only hinder my quest for the truth,

Leave me, let me wonder and explore the world alone,

Leave me, for succumbing to you, I need to atone.

 

I’ll be thankful you came by,

I won’t forget, I won’t regret,

All the times you held me close,

So close I could’ve died,

‘Cause you made me stronger,

Kept me longer, in the game,

No one to blame, but your work here

Is done now, and I just have to be free.

 

I see you, I’ve known you, you’ll get to know me too,

I can’t stand you, I reject you, you think me a fool,

I curse you, I’ll fight you, you know I won’t let down,

I’ll face you, I’ll chase you, I’ll win the final round.

 

Hita Kumar is a final year student at National Law Institute University. 

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An Indian Street

High noon sun hammering down

Masses of people bustling around

Colourful merchandise up for sale

With the constant honk of a vehicle.

 

Black smoke from a wooden stove

Harsh lights from a shady shop

Selling bootlegged DVDs

And electronics smuggled

In the blare of a song from an eatery.

 

Mud beneath the feet

Winding and long like a snake

Familiar with the cries of children

Residence and commerce, all together

Made and unmade, changing everyday

Yet always the same.

 

Manan Mipun graduated from The Assam Valley School in 2011 and is an admirer of outdoor sports, especially riding and archery. He has been writing since his school days, and his interests lie in debating and fiction. 

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A Thousand Things on My Mind

Rolling down to my lips

What I wonder is not why I’m crying

But I’m amazed at how time slips…

I know it’s not your fault,

I tell my heart to stop pondering

Can’t help but think about

A thousand things.


With a thousand things on my mind

I try to sleep at night

But old memories haunt me

And I want you to hug me tight.

I never loved before

And now I can’t stop loving you

What I never told anyone before

Those funny things I told you.


I know time is different now

I can imagine if I were you

How difficult it would be to show

That you still love me too…

I know I’m not the best of all, that does not bother me

Because I know you accept me with my flaws

And I miss you with

A thousand things on my mind.


Vishakha Singh Deshwal is an occasional writer who loves to read spiritual literature and at times, self-help books. She also has an interest in reading up on Indian history, specifically the personal accounts of Indian kings.

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The Golden Rays of the Sun

Midnight blue faded away as the sky blue torchlight seeped from the invisible sun below the horizon. The winter morning was quiet with its spell of deep slumber on the town. No sound of birds and squirrels or of the wafting wind…just the crunch of dry leaves upon gravel was heard unaltered as I walked upon a gorgeous path up the hill. On the top of the hill above the sapphire blue glaze of the water, I stood waiting for nature to flick her wand and start the golden magic. This is how God must see it, I thought.

A sense of calm overtook me as I perceived the streak of silver in the golden horizon in front of me. The sky alternated between blushing like a newly-wed girl and turning pure white with highlights of green and blue. The lake was the blessed blanket for earth’s tenants upon which a few boats rested, waiting for their cackling companions to accompany them with their song of friendship. The smell of the terrain refreshed the core of my soul. Green trees, plants and even rocks were ready to welcome their Lord with gifts of live dewy pearls.

As the minutes passed by, the sky became clearer. Then from the deep horizon, came a streak of golden light widening at every second over the reddened sky. I watched as the sun woke up and changed the world in front of me, its light bringing everything to life. The dew drops lighted up like tiny fairy lamps, the lake reflected a golden aura all around, and birds acted as messengers, flying over trees as they chirped news of the breaking dawn. The blanket of slumber was blown away by the fresh morning wind.

After a while the sun opened its eyes fully and looked at me, its rays reaching out and touching me soothingly. I was absorbed by the light. I closed my eyes and felt a sudden rush of energy charging through the cells of my body. I was electrified, and filled up with a new vigor by the lovely warmth of the sun. I then opened my eyes to see my golden friend. The world had cheered up into a sunny sight. Yet it remained cool, thanks to the beautiful wind that blew. My hair danced in this wind in a shade of the most beautiful light brown, and my skin glowed golden. I could hear the squirrels playing and I could see the yellow butterflies and white ducks having fun. The sun had truly transformed us…touching the souls and hearts of all living beings of this earth with a ray of hope.

Prachi Shah is a first year student at the National Law Institute University, Bhopal. 

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The Cycle Days | The Beginning

The first thought which ran through my head the day I landed in Bhopal was, “This is a good place.”

Well yes frankly that was it, because I had expected that I would be trapped in some god forsaken city choking my dear lungs out ( mine are sensitive).  Not that I have a grudge against bumbling cities but yes, I do hold against the level of vehicular traffic. However in Bhopal, the weather was rainy and cold like back home. And as my first trimester waned, between a lot of romping around on foot and spending cash on those bandit auto rickshaw ‘pilots’ this idea of getting a cycle came to my mind.

The idea hit me while lazing around at Kerwa. At first I thought I had gone crazy. When  mid-life approaches so do the chances of becoming senile. It is only at an old age that certain things become apparent. The age of eighteen however, is for of conforming, of being with the crowd and not the age for becoming a hipster. Nevertheless, as I lay around the banks of the Kerwa reservoir, this idea formed into a kind of motivation. So I called home and got the funds arranged.

That being done, the next task before me was to choose my ride. There was a whole bunch of bicycles to choose from. I could not even believe that in such a short period of time, the market had changed so much!  So whereas five years ago, the bicycles on the market had looked like this…

…now I had the choice of this…

So yeah, that’s my bike.

In the beginning for a short period of time, I rode it around in some secrecy, but then I took off, the tyres squealing…

Faster and faster the small cycle went, the wheels turning furiously and squeaking as they rolled over the tarmac. The suspensions hissed over at the bumps on of the road. Above at the helm, on the “complex” controls, sat its master, its other half…like Captain Ahab or the airmen of old days, like the horsemen roaming over at the Mongolian plains.  With the machine, there was the heart powering it, together they rode across the land. Where is the machine? Where is the human?… It is not known.  The engine and the chassis both are a part of a whole… when they get together, the boundaries blur.

Yes I did enjoy riding my cycle. Of course, who would not like to ride their own? To feel the earth rushing under you, the wind in your hair, the fast pace of your heartbeat , your breath rhythmic with the piston, the movement of your legs feverishly pumping, building up speed…

…See what I mean?

However, the dust in your eyes and the numbness of your hands do slightly sour of holding the handle as you go off on the human powered two wheeled leisure trip. To ride a bicycle is no mean task for a bicycle is like the penny-farthings of yester years.  Riders in their bicycle suits face a similar ridicule as that old currency when they are outdone by a motorized two-wheeler. A bicycle rider may as well face the threat of being mowed down by a passing vehicle. Bicyclers need to grow enough spine in order to meet the disapproving stares of the mob in the eye and not be nicked by street mongrels or urchins. But one has to go where the vision of the bicycle pioneer Baron Karl von Drais was meant to go…no need to know, no need to find out put rationality in the pocket and the logic in the wheels, ride! Ride! like the thunder and the lighting, let the two wheeled panzer roam around the land. And the joy in that, one cannot simply put it in words!…

…So that’s my explanation for why I like to cycle despite of perfectly capable of using a motor vehicle.

Now let us ask what one can one do with such a lovely device as the bicycle? That is, except for rolling it about and muttering some paranoid lyrics like…“They see me riding, they hating”…

Well, on balmy Saturday mornings when it’s cool and dark, heading out with a bicycle can be extremely rewarding. Especially so, when one is met by a sight like this…

That’s a lot of water, yeah.

Manan Mipun graduated from The Assam Valley School in 2011 and is an admirer of outdoor sports, especially riding and archery. He has been writing since his school days, and his interests lie in debating and fiction. 

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Piracy is marketing

“Obscurity is a greater threat to authors than piracy.”

This quote from Tim O’Reilly, from the well-known American media company, O’Reilly Media, is quite thought-provoking. How often have we dreamt of becoming published authors? How often have we written something and said, “Pretty good! This ought to get published!,” and then stashed it away in an obscure corner? I, for one, sadly count among the many and sundry whose manuscripts are gathering dust in a drawer, waiting to see the light of the day.

Think about ones that do get published. It is just the start of a series of trials and tribulations for the author with the publishing house. The book’s published-kudos! But then the sales of the book and its publicity are significant as well. Promotional events, book signings and reading sessions by authors are some tools via which publishers try to give an impetus to the sales. But while these innovative methods may help to some extent, it is also important to stay in step with the times where digitalization of resources is ruling the roost.

Earlier, authors’ works proliferated by means of sales of hard copies of their works and getting access to those copies was a big deal. But with the advent of technology, the internet, and more so, social networking and self-publishing, authors are able to bring their work forth to the public by themselves bypassing intermediaries. The role of traditional publishing houses has therefore been minimized to a great extent. Additionally with the increasing use of technology, the piracy of creative works- music, books, cinema is on the prowl and not easy to contain. YouTube, Flickr, Napster and free file-sharing websites have made obtaining pirated copies a piece of cake, which makes them a bane for traditional publishers.

Piracy started off ages ago as VCRs and tape recorders and computers and the like made their way into the world. Earlier, the legitimate copy of the work was all that a person had. Later, however, photocopies and scanning and then e-copies made their way, encroaching upon legal distribution of creative works. Piracy, as a matter of fact, has been constantly shown to be a source of annoyance for authors in terms of financial and other losses incurred.

As far as the cons are concerned, understandably, piracy means illegal copies of the work available for free access to users through the internet and otherwise. A copy with one user translates into a million copies for others- there are copies created by a single click, in the cookies of the browser, on your computer and the inevitable file-sharing that occurs. It is not much of a riddle to solve that once free copies are available, people are less likely to purchase the work legally which will eventually reflect on the net sales that occur for a particular work. This means that if a publishing house notices sales for an author’s work deteriorate (courtesy mass piracy), they are most inclined to pull it off the market shelves, as otherwise their profits will be adversely affected. Or so it is argued.

But, with the evolving times, it is hard to ignore the positives that emerge from ‘piracy’. An intricate analysis of the ongoing trend clearly reflects that ‘piracy’ has in some cases, its own advantages as well. Bestselling fantasy author Neil Gaiman has embraced piracy on the basis that it has helped his sales. He compares piracy with lending of books and elaborates that when you lend a book to someone, it helps in spreading awareness about the book and the author; similarly, through piracy, knowledge about the author’s works gets disseminated. Russia is one of the oft-discussed examples in this regard. Gaiman noted how after pirated copies being released in Russia, his sales went up by a notch. He has advised publishing houses to gauge the effectiveness of the method by leaking pirated copies in areas and sure enough, a hike in sales has been observed, owing to the increase in popularity of the author’s work, by distribution of free content whether pirated or deliberate. Paulo Coelho, author of many books including the worldwide hit The Alchemist, leaked his ebooks in Russia on piracy networks deliberately. His sales went from 1000 to over 1 million per year. He says “Don’t be fooled by the publishers who say that piracy costs authors money“.

Joanna Penn, a published author and blogger of The Creative Penn fame (www.thecreativepenn.com/) recounts that piracy is bound to occur in this digital era. For instance, J.K.Rowling did not release e-copies of her books which eventually led to illegal copies leaked throughout the web. No doubt it is a cause for worry for authors but a middle path can easily be adopted to ensure that legal distribution of works occurs, but in tandem with the need of the hour, i.e. technology. Also, most readers happen to be law-abiding citizens and while it may sound too idealistic, I think most book enthusiasts prefer to buy e-books rather than lay hands on illegal copies by ‘theft’.

It would also help to remember that there are easy and effective remedies available in case of losses or any grievances suffered due to piracy. The author can report abuse or websites which he/she deems detrimental and mostly, objectionable content is immediately removed. Many websites like Youtube, Scribd, Tumblr and Pinterest have such operating functionalities in place. One can monitor your web presence through Google Alerts which will send you an email daily of any mentions of oneself on the web. One can set up one’s name, one’s book names and anything else one wants to monitor. Thus, a safety mechanism is well in place to help protect the author’s interests against piracy.

Books have, for long, been the thread of a tradition which facilitates conversation and link people. Ironically, it is with the help of adapting to the iPads and iPods of today that we can be sure to preserve and maintain that culture by effective proliferation of books and creativity. Thus, viewing from an overall perspective, it is evident that ‘piracy’ with regulated norms serves a three-fold purpose. First, authors get recognition and popularity, and the cocoon of obscurity gets broken. Second, this is turn, makes people aware of their existence and works and induces them to buy them. Third, this process catalyses publisher’ interests in that the sales of the books rise and consequently their profits. In this fast-growing digital world then one can then say with some good confidence that piracy is marketing.

Anujaya Krishna is a huge sports fan and tries to spin new tales and facts. She dabbles in poetry and writing whenever possible, while trying to add a twist to serious subjects in her writing, to make for an interesting read.

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Germinal | A Book Review

Author: Émile François Zola; Translated and introduced by: Larry Duffy

Published by: Wordsworth Editions (2007)

First published in 1885, Germinal is an intriguing work of historical fiction by the French writer Émile Zola. It is also the thirteenth book Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series, which is a collection that traces various characters from the fictional family line of Rougon-Macquart across several generations. Germinal in its turn, tells the story of one such character, Étienne Lantier, an unemployed man in his twenties who lands up in the mining settlement of Montsou in northern France of the 1860s in search of a job. He is helped by the Maheu family to secure a job as a coal miner and later also taken into their crowded home.

The novel depicts with much detail, the dreadful living and working conditions prevalent among the workers during the early days of the Industrial Revolution, thus providing an insight into the gory foundations of contemporary capitalism. It talks of an age when men, women and children all were employed in coal mines and made to work for over sixteen hours a day. Contrasts are drawn between the living conditions of the upper class of capitalists who abhor the lack of hygiene, ignorance and apparent laziness of the working class even as they chastise them with charitable contributions. The theme of communism runs strong with the protagonist, Lantier, being highly influenced by the ideas of unity of working classes against the bourgeois who eat off their labor. Lantier’s revolutionary indoctrination from the books he reads and his correspondence with the prominent communist figure, Pluchart, also results in him organizing a worker’s mutiny at the coal mines in face of strong capitalist resistance.

However what makes Germinal a remarkable read is that Zola is hardly a propagandist. Rather than telling just one side of the story, Zola indulges in several narratives- most prominently, both the capitalist and of the proletariat. He manages to deftly convey the hopelessness pervading the bourgeois mine owners in their plastic world cushioned by luxury and material comforts. Even as they ridicule the proletariats for practising what their bourgeois upbringing has taught them to be immoral, they long for the authenticity of experiences and emotions which the workers undergo. For the bourgeois, life is served according to a pre-decided menu with all the incubatory precautions to protect them from the harshness of the proletarian living. Yet this very protection makes them feel trapped. So M. Hennebeau, the mine owner, retaliates to shouts of “Bread!” by the striking workers with a violent yearning “to live like a brute, to possess nothing, to scour the fields with the ugliest and the dirtiest putter, and to be able to be happy,” none of which are experiences that his circumstances allow him to afford.

True to the naturalist literary tradition which was pioneered by Zola, Germinal manages to depict the role of social conditions in shaping the actions of a person. Consequently, the book carves striking characters to play some noteworthy scenarios against a realistic backdrop- be it either Lantier’s faith in communist deliverance, the genuine fear of Catherine, the teenaged putter girl, of landing up in prostitution if she gives up her miserable job in the mines, the disillusionment of the Russian anarchist, Souvarine with the principles of class struggle or the jealousy which fuels the actions of Catherine’s lover, Chaval, resulting in disunity among the striking workers. Germinal is the story of the hollowness of ideals in the face of human misery. It manages to reveal to the reader the ghastly violence underlying the perfectly ordered and the so-called prosperous society of modernity- a violence, which breeds not only among the labour, but also the thread of invisible violence laying foundation for the despair of the bourgeois. Though the story is set 200 years before, the issues it raises are quite relevant to the contemporary globalised society wherein economic divides persist and grow sharper even as the iron fist of the de-humanised institutions of the State and capital silences the wails of humanity. A much recommended read for the thinking mind, Germinal is likely to resurrect innumerable questions relating to the meaning of economic development in the face of gross inequalities and general unhappiness.

 

Smarika Kumar is an impractical girl who likes reading and thinking. 

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