Scent of the rain

Short Story by Akansha Bhardwaj (Entry No. 4)

Strong winds blow my hair from my face, soothing my body. Giving me the feeling of someone being there, patting my head as if saying: “it’s okay”, “you’re okay”. Being in the rain, staring at the clouds, brings back the memories of those days where I used to slide across the rooftop with my brother, carefree and spirited. The scent of rain used to reach us way before the rain ever did. The excited giggles that used to fill up our home, the loud footsteps and shrieking, betting on who would reach the rooftop first, are now mere memories I look back on.

Were those the good days? I wonder, now standing on the very same rooftop with the absence of those footsteps and a presence of silence that defines my closed-off relationship with my brother, the same scent of rain brings me solace as if telling me to let go. And so, I step into the pouring rain. It feels nice, cold and warm at the same time.

My clothes stick to my body, and then I laugh. I laugh as I feel the rain around me, making me wish I was a child again. The rain does this to me, making me feel whole. I question myself did I change or was it, my brother, that now we won’t even look at each other? Did we finally grow up? Was this how growing up feels like? Is it time to let go of my childish wish for my brother to once again push me across this rooftop that now I stand on? The rain hits me hard this time, bringing me back to reality, me standing alone in the middle of my rooftop. I lay down and close my eyes, letting the rain and its scent make me feel safe again. That’s where I am now: a safe place, lying with my eyes closed with no worries about what tomorrow brings with it, where I can cry and blame it upon the rain. Ah, I think to myself, “if I could stop the time, now would be the perfect timing”. It feels ticklish, though now that I’m laying down facing those dark clouds, afraid of the thunders that are sure to come by any second now. I think to myself, “I better get up and head downstairs”.


“Are you planning on staying there forever?” I hear.


Keeping my eyes closed, I smile to myself, recognizing that irritating voice. If I open my eyes now, would he know that I had cried or would he too pretend to blame the rain? I hear footsteps. Not long after, I feel the warmth of a body lying down beside me. I turn my head and look at him. He sure did grow a lot, looking tired from the last time I met him. I feel him grabbing my hand and squeezing it.


“How did we end up like this?” he said.
We stayed like that for a long time until we could hear our parents shouting for us to come down.
We laugh hearing those familiar words.


“It feels nice,” he says, and hearing him say this, I could feel the melancholy leaving my body just like that.
“It sure does,” I reply, and as the thunder starts to hit, we get up to leave.
I turn back and look up at the skies and think, “maybe not that much has changed” the feeling of a hand squeezing mine, I turn back to look at my brother looking down at me with warmth in his eyes, and I smile back.
The scent of rain that lingers after the rain now holds memories of my home feeling whole once again.

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Unheard Part Four

After they bought chau to their livelihood, they made him free and were watching him with full concentration.

He was scared that what’s going to be happened next, but!!!

They offered Chau some food and stuff to eat. He was surprised and happy. He thought they are good people and will not hurt him.

Suddenly when he was busy in his feast he heard people outside are singing

“TSAEF YAD”. After many attempts he didn’t understand what they are singing, so he wrote it in a paper and jumbled them in many ways but was not able to understand.

So he left it, wondering why to exhaust

mind in this.

He started preparing for his missionary for what he came, he opened books and carried a notebook in his pocket.

Then he went out to call everyone, but the scenario he saw lasted him in terror.

The senitals were putting on the same fire chau saw when he was entering to their place, where there were legs and skeleton of human bodies. He was shocked, that why are they preparing the fire now.

He went inside the tent and started thinking of what to do suddenly his eyes struck the paper where it was written “TSAEF YAD” when he again pressed the brain he came out with the right meaning “FEAST DAY”.

And then he started linking the incidents of setting him free and making him eat, so that he can become the good, fatty, desired food to satisfy all of their hunger.

When he realized the reality he decided to escape silently, and buried feet he went out, but it was too late now.

The senitals were just in front of him, they came to make him fry out for their lunch. He begged for his life and to let him go.

But they refused, they first tied him with a rope and then tied both his hands and legs with a wooden rod but it broke somehow. So they decided to tie him with a metal rod.

As they carried him on their shoulders to

the big fire hole, on the way the block dropped and stuck to the surface since the magnetic field of the forest was very strong (as explained in—) Unheard Part Two

Chau thought that Jesus gave him a chance to save his life, so he somehow stretched his body and tried to open the ropes, and he succeeded.

He escaped from there, the senitals followed him all over the jungle. He ran so fast and saw a cave and decided to hide there. He was so much happy that after all he’s alive.

But this happiness didn’t last when he saw the same wounds and rashes as he saw in senitals.

This disease was spreading in him too as he came in contact with them. He was totally unaware of what’s happening to him.

He took out notebook from his dictionary and started writing his last notes and letters—-

That how he came, he’s going through something he didn’t know, but he strongly feels that his death is near….

The most horrible part he mentioned was that he was Willing to die, because his condition was very critical the infection caught him.

After that what happened to Allen Chau is still a mystery……

What do you think???

Do the senitalese ate him or is he still alive escaping from them on the island somewhere???

Based on story of an American Tourist – John Allen Chau

By Palak Thakur

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MY NEW ROOM(PART ONE)

I was never passionate about studies since my childhood. This always made my parents worried. Now, since I had graduated their worry increased on daily basis and so were their scoldings. I was preparing for UPSC CSE and my dream was to become an IAS. But my concentration was not supporting me in achieving my goal. So, to help myself I started watching motivational videos on YouTube. A two-hour motivational video motivated me enough to study for one hour. After some days, the one hour reduced to 40 minutes and the time I spent on watching motivational videos increased. Days passed and the exam was coming closer. After so much scrolling on YouTube for topics like “How to study?”, “How to increase study time?”, “How to make my subjects interesting?”. I came across a video, which made some sense. The guy in the video recommended that living alone for preparation of exams will help. He said, “At our homes, there are so many distractions like the TV, computer, smartphones, sibling, friends and sometimes parents. If we live alone in a single room without any of these distractions, just with our books anyone can clear even the world’s toughest exam.” At that time this advice made a lot of sense to me. Told my parents about this idea, they found a room for me around 10 km away and all my belongings were shifted there, then I was blindfolded and dropped there so I won’t be able to find my way back(my idea). As decided I just took a small cellphone which was able to just make calls and as a deal, I would get the smartphone during the weekends for clearing my doubts.

My meals were going to be delivered by my parents or sometimes they would order at my place using any food delivery application.

The room was an extended part of a big bungalow where my landlords lived. My landlords were an old couple in their 60s having a son working in the US. They had asked their maid to clean the room as told by my parents but when I entered, it didn’t seem clean. There were spider webs in corner and lots of dust on the floor. I cleaned it myself. So the walls of the room were pale pink and one wall was half-covered with tiles maroon in colour with floral design same as my curtains. The room was unusually tall. As if extended later on. The wall was half brick and half wooden on the upper side as if extended later on. It had a small kitchen and a bathroom. 

I started studying, wrote on board, wrote on the tiles with an erasable marker. The first day I studied 8 hours continuously!

My father came with dinner and asked me about the room and progress in studies. Hearing that I studied for 8 hours he was really happy and ignored my concern about the unclean room and the unusual height. After a day of hard work, it was time to sleep. It was around 11:30 PM when I started sleeping. I was disturbed by a sound knock probably at my door. When I came to my senses, I got confused that whether the knock was in a dream or real. The landlord’s had told me that they would close the main gates 10:30 PM. I saw there the keyhole, there was just darkness. I grabbed a knife from the kitchen and opened my door fast holding the knife very tightly behind my back with my right fist. A spine chilling breeze blew inside my room through me. No one was there. Closed the doors and went back to bed with a knife beneath my pillow. When I was about to sleep my heart rate would fasten up and I woke up with a feeling that someone passed close to me. I thought probably this is because it’s my first day sleeping alone at someone else’s house and my heart is not feeling safe. I slept at 6 am as I was feeling safer during the daytime. Woke Up around 10, opened my door to get fresh air, saw my breakfast in tiffin lying near the door. As I went to freshen up, while sitting on the toilet seat, I noticed there was a space between the wall and the ceiling of the bathroom. A gap of around 2 feet. I was really curious about what was there, but there was no way to climb up there. 

I started studying in the night and sleeping during the day time as it felt more secure. One night around 1 I heard a noise of an electric racket used for killing mosquitoes. The sound is basically like really small crackers bursting. Grabbed my knife and opened the gate to see who was there. It was my landlady! Killing mosquitoes of her garden which is in front of my room at one 1 AM! It was the first time I was seeing her, she was pale white, wearing a nightgown and somewhat healthy and lacked eyelashes. Suddenly she stopped and looked at me with her expressionless face. I smiled and quickly closed the door. I was unable to study after that. As I was lying still, I noticed a cockroach which was going inside my mattress and I was too late to respond. I uncovered my mattress and caught the cockroach and flushed it in the toilet. When I was to cover my mattress, I noticed a hole in it and saw that the fabric used in the filling was black. As I put my finger inside the hole to see what the fabric was made of, I realised it was not a fabric but hairs! I was horrified and called my parents, and dad said this kind of mattress is common, it might be a horsehair mattress. I asked him to get the mattress from my room.

As decided, I got the smartphone on Saturday. During the night time, I was face timing with my girlfriend, telling her about my new initiative and concerns about my new room. As I was showing her my room, I noticed a shadow moving towards my bathroom. 

Me- Did you just see that?

she- See what?

Me- The shadow! near my bathroom.

She- No, I didn’t see anything, that might be yours or a glitch. 

And then we started to talk about other things. As she was showing her new tattoo which was on her leg, I noticed a shadow behind me in my video. No, it was not of me! It was bald oval-shaped head and a really big body with no ears. 

Me- hey, just see behind me.

She- what?

Me- I mean the shadow. Can you see the shadow which is behind me?

She- No, and I think you are trying to freak me out. 

Me- No, I swear I saw it.

She- I didn’t see anything, probably you are tired, get some sleep. We will talk tomorrow.

Immediately I called my parents. And told them that I saw a ghost in my video while taking a selfie with Snapchat(of course, brown parents won’t accept an unsuccessful son’s girlfriend). My father laughed it off by saying, “was that ghost getting the Snapchat filter too” and asked me to sleep. But how could I sleep or study now? To distract my mind I started watching porn.

Next day I woke up hearing a blast during the afternoon. Stepped outside to see what has happened. The transformer of my landlord’s bungalow had a short circuit and has caught fire. Everyone in the locality came to see what has but my landlords were nowhere to be seen. The society security guards started to throw sand on it to extinguish the fire. I got inside my room. Everything was working fine due to inverters. At around 10 pm there was a knock at my door. The landlady was on the door. She asked me to turn off everything as the electrician was fixing the transformer and to put that knife back.

During the afternoon I decided to see what was in the gap of the bathroom ceiling. Rang the bell of my landlord’s but no one came out. After 3 attempts, I decided not to disturb them further. As I was about to leave, the gates opened. She asked me what happened. I asked for the ladder as I need to clean my fan. I said I can take it by myself just tell me where is it. She told me to stop. And she brought it by herself. As I was taking the ladder from her, I smelt something. Something rotten, it was coming from her. I couldn’t handle that anymore. Quickly took the ladder and came to my room. It was a ladder made of bamboo. As I was climbing to see what was there. The bamboo stick beneath my leg broke and I fell. The planned failed with a wound. As I was putting the ladder in the garden, I noticed the maid was cleaning the veranda of the bungalow. I called her.

Me -Can you please clean my bathroom ceiling.

maid -No.

Me -I will pay you.

maid – I don’t enter the rooms of this bungalow.

Me – Why?

To Be Continued…..

Written By – Satyam Kumar Tiwari

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Why is Phase-3 of Vaccine Trial Complicated?

Written by Inshaa Siddiquee

The Covid-19 outbreak has proved to be one of the most challenging phases in our lives. However, many companies are racing towards developing a safe and effective vaccine to protect against Covid-19. Moreover, Phase 3 trials of investigational vaccines are underway.

How are vaccines developed?

New vaccines are tested in clinical trials to determine that they are both safe and effective. After the successful completion of clinical trials, they get licensed in US.

A lot of testing is done before a vaccine ever gets tested in humans. There is a long process of development in the laboratory.

The vaccine is firstly tested on various animals like mice, rabbits, hamsters and primates that have similar human physiology. After which their responses and reactions are studied. Because it is unclear whether these vaccines will work or not, a very structured set of clinical trials begins.

If the vaccine has proven itself it enters the Phase-1 studies.

What Happens in clinical trials?

The phase involves healthy volunteers who are informed about how and why these vaccines are being tested and also about a new potential harm. This process is called Informed Consent taken place before entering the trial.

The clinical trial comprises of 4 phases.

PHASE -1

PHASE -1 includes human pharmacology and safety. Testing takes place among a small group of people (roughly 30-60). It’s given in small doses and monitored to see if it is safe and well-tolerated.

However, a drug’s side effects might be subtle or restricted to a few people. In reference to this Phase-1 trial are not expected to identify all the side effects

PHASE -2

Phase-2 includes testing with a large group of people around 100-300 to determine the safe dosage range to get the desired response.

In reference to Covid-19, AstraZeneca vaccine had been put at halt at this stage. The pause was due to a harmful side effect reported by a volunteer in US who had been injected with the vaccine.

Nevertheless, promising vaccines that are safe and generate strong immune response move into phase-3 trials.

PHASE-3

Phase-3 is a larger version of phase-2 trial. It is held in multiple locations to capture the demographic variability in the population. It a complete randomized and double-blinded trial. Half of the volunteers are given the vaccine, whereas the other half are given placebo (salt water). As the process is double-blinded, neither the participants nor the study staffs are aware about who is getting which type of injection.

Furthermore, the study compares the rate of infection and placebo groups. It tells us whether the vaccine will be able to prevent the infection and if so, if it is effective enough in all of the volunteers or only a sub-group. Along with the safety data that is collected in all phases of vaccine studies, this efficacy data is used by the FDA to decide if the vaccine should be licensed.

In the case of Covid-19, there is an occurring trial of the US-MRNA vaccine.

The CEO of Moderna, Stéphan Bancel said, “The phase-3 for vaccine is a typical clinical trial, it’s a very large one of 30,000 people, 15,000 will receive the vaccine, whereas 15,000 will receive placebo and we will be able to see through data what is the safety of a vaccine and what is the efficacy of a vaccine”.

Across Europe, Brazil and other locations the Oxford vaccine is likely to be tested in the same way.

PHASE-4

A vaccine which clears all the phases is further sent for approval and license. After which the entire company is devoted to creating the vaccine in bulk, safely without it degrading or losing potency.

Post marketing studies delineate additional information, including the treatment’s risks, benefits, and optimal use. As such, they are ongoing during the drug’s lifetime of active medical use.