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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Past Tense – Part 1(Experiment of Will)

An average guy with a below-average resume, “Sam,” said my father. “This is the 36th rejection you have faced from a company; I think we don’t have any more left here.” he continued. I knew that very well, and they never told me what the issue is. All they say is, “we will contact you.” My mom says my father started earning when he was 16, and here I am, 25. Getting a job is not at all difficult, but getting a job matching your passion was what I craved for.


A call brought some happiness to my family. It was a job offer. One of our tenants, we had good relations with, their daughter was working in a hospital as an assistant manager. She said that the hospital is going to need another manager, and she recommended my name. The pay is handsome, better than what others provide. She had left our house with her family two years ago; still, she remembered me and wanted me to work with her. That was my charm.


It took me around 14 hours of train travel and 2 hours in a cab to reach the place. A hospital in Noida named “Hope”. It was a multi-speciality hospital having three gates and some part still in construction. She was standing right in front of me, at entrance no. 2. Having a flashback of some part of my teenage, might be evident in this situation. Wearing her uniform, she walked towards me smiling. “There are rooms for staff in the hospital for stay, and I have already asked them to keep a room ready for you. It’s 31C, and you can freshen yourself up, take some rest and call me after that.” She said while walking with me towards the accommodation building.


After around 4 hours, I called her. She asked me to come to the reception. I have to walk straight from the exit and take the second right. “He is the guy you were talking about.” said the receptionist. I was given some forms to fill. Due to my experience, I filled 12 documents in 10 minutes. The basic pay mentioned was Rs 60,000 plus different allowances. The receptionist said my interview is scheduled after 45 minutes. By that time I can have lunch in the nearby canteen. I asked Anisha out for lunch.


Anisha has changed a lot, lost some weight, has more of a sad and pale face and talked a lot less. She answered my questions saying that it might be due to pollution and water in this city. “Working in a hospital is very different from working in any other sector. The people who come here are already stressed and on the verge of losing hope. You might feel their sorrow, pain. Try to give a hand in their mourning. But they might never believe you are doing it for real. Initially, I used to be sad all day, and slowly I started to adjust by becoming more emotionless, not much engaging. It’s a different life here, from the outside world.” These words by her were the only important part of our conversation, rest all was remembering our childhood. They postponed the interview, as seniors were busy, and I was selected on a provisional basis and asked to start work from tomorrow.


As she said, working in the hospital was different. My part of the work was to check if there is any communication error in the various departments and make sure everything goes smoothly. On my first day, I was given the dermatology department, as there were fewer sub-departments there than in other places. In between, I used to see people in pain, suffering, confused emotion. They were running from one place to another. Helping them was also an essential duty for my conscience. Anisha accompanied me to most of the places so that I will be familiar. She was doing it, in so much hurry as if there was no tomorrow. I had to carry a notebook and make notes of all the places. My first working day lasted for more than 10 hours, but she said, don’t worry, it is just for today.


After having dinner, she came to drop me at my room. While at that gate, I looked into her eyes. She held my hand and said, “take care, good night.”


Sending me butterflies in my stomach, she went to her room, which was on the fourth floor. I felt like my life was now setting itself up. I had a proper job, probably a girl who is in the same field of work.
It was early morning, and I heard some noise outside. I looked out through my window; there was an ambulance standing there. People surrounded a dead body, which was lying in what I assume was a pool of blood. Someone from staff jumped from the building. I wore my jeans from the last day and rushed down to see who was it. A moment of complete blackout struck me, realising it was ‘Anisha’.
The following two days were difficult, explaining to her and my parents what happened. Her parents didn’t attend her last rites; it was weird.


My father asked me to come back while I was looking at the piece of paper, which she might have put in my jeans, that night. I found it in my pockets after she died. It read –


“I am sorry, I had no choice. If you want to escape this fate, find the one who ran from here seven years ago. That person can only help you. I tried a lot to look for him, but my time was over. And don’t try to run. They will find you! They are running an experiment called “Past Tense“. Find our favourite place in my room.”

To Be Continued…

Written by Satyam Kumar Tiwari

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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Selfie culture – an obsession

Selfie Culture:

Selfie is a self captured photograph with a smartphone or a camera. It is a picture of independence. People, especially teens and young adults are more obsessed with the selfie culture. Taking selfies and posting them in social media has become a trend over the past few years.

Selfie trend

With the advancement of technology and introduction of more modern devices, nothing is impossible. Earlier days, people depended on someone to take pictures of them. With the progression of new technology and more new features, people are obsessed with trying them.

With the existence of social media, people are focusing on others’ opinions. It is the symbol of the modern era. Children are getting easily influenced by it. It causes mental depression. It causes various psychological effects.

Addiction:

It is all good and fun unless you take it too seriously. People are so careless that they attempt to take selfies at dangerous places. Several accidents occur due to this and they ruin their life illogically.

People go selfie-maniac. Psychiatrists report that they meet so many affected teens due to the selfie addiction. Selfie culture has lowered the originality of the individuals. People tend to feel insecure of their appearances.

Those days there were no devices to capture the moments. There were no such means to restore as a memory. But people enjoyed and lived in the present. Though they never had all these advancements, they never missed any moment. Today, with the modern devices people forget themselves and the world. Teens are so concerned about their looks and physical appearances. They wanted a perfect picture of themselves. They never compromise which leads to a lot of takes.

Pictures are taken to relish the memory. They are something that is to be cherished in the future. To cherish it, we must live in the present.

Written by R. Varsha

How Indian media is disregarding the core issue happening in India

Media has forgotten its responsibilities, becoming the butt lickers of the politicians

Media

There is a surge in daily coronavirus cases and a plummet in GDP, but headlines are all about the Bollywood.  There is an estimation of 41lakh job loss among youth in the country given by the recent reports of ILO (International Labour Organisation) and ADB (Asian Development Bank), which might increase in the coming days.  Many co-operate sectors have swiped out many of their employees or a massive amount of pay-cut in the salary, making a dire situation for the families to make their ends meet.  The tourism sector has been hit the most challenging crisis following the door-to-door, retail, food, fitness, and construction services. The government conveyed no accurate data of the immigrants dying due to rampage in the parliament monsoon sessions. 

Perceiving the unprecedented menace, the government had imposed a lockdown when there were nearly very few cases. Since the lockdown has started, India has seen significant fallout in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which has been overlooked by the mainstream media.  There are no debates, or any questions raised by the fourth pillar of democracy. The only answer to this question is juxtaposing with the underdeveloped countries and making the virus a scapegoat.

The spike in the coronavirus cases has forced the future generation to get confined only to the house and halt their education.  A country like India, which comes among the list of developing countries, the pandemic has created disparity within students’ mass to get access to education.  Only 8% of the population has internet at their homes, which is helping the privileged ones. Still, the underprivileged are abandoned from the education system due to the lack of internet connectivity. Meanwhile, the media was busy finding spicy-fake conspiracy on a late actor; many students were already being deprived of their dreams. The same late Indian actor was criticized for promoting love jihad while he was alive. 

The farmers from all over the country have taken the streets to protest the new farms’ bill. The states like Haryana and Punjab are mainly protesting since the new bill has been passed in the parliament monsoon season.  The new bill will leave no grounds for co-operates to exploit the farmers.  The only demand of the farmers is to retain the MSP (Minimum Selling Price) and improve the structure of APMC, which goes unanswered by the government. Highlighting the arrests and inquiries done by the NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau) in the news channel is pulling the wool over the public’s eyes.

A 19-year-old Dalit girl was raped by four men from the Thakur family, which is still a prevailing act in the Harthas village, and the media paid many more all over the country less attention. A Hindu man’s killing over a fake message forwarded on Whatsapp was never a topic to discuss. But the encrypted chats became the sensational news to gain more TRP. The mysterious death of a few actors in Bollywood overshadowed one of the essential news of an increase in domestic violence. 

Is media purposely blindfolded to the pivotal by the authoritarians? Or has it lost the essence of the journalistic approach?

Written by – Debnath Saheli

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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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