Friday, 25 September 2015

Interwoven



NOTE: Your words haunted me. So here you go.

DISCLAIMER: The poem is not mine, but was written for me.


The rain strikes the ground and with it strikes raw emotion. 
The smile on the farmer's face... 
The drumming hearts of two lovers... 
The force of life, all set into motion. 
The rain cares, the rain consumes.

The light strikes the ground and with it strikes raw energy.
The sweat of a worker's brow... 
The colour of the world...
The dance of nature, all light up in glory. 
The light illuminates, the light rejuvenates.


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Nostalgia

She sat on her bed, snuggled within her blanket. Albums from the days past lay beside her, stacked one on top of another.
She leafed through each one in turn, running her hands along the old and crinkled paper. She knew that there were those regulars - a picture in the park, snapped with the wind blowing in her face and a glowing smile. Another of her with her first ever trophy, holding it up in the air where the sunlight glinted off it. One of her with her best buddies, drinking orange juice at the corner store.
Then there were other pictures, ones she had taken herself. In those days, she would carry her camera around the town, snapping pictures of everything that caught her attention. There was the picture of that knotted tree in her school grounds. The treasured picture of sunrise in her town - she had stolen away to the creek in the wee hours of the day to get that one. The beautiful constellations of the sky, reflected by the still water of the lake.
Those were the days of light and happiness and zeal and zest. The days of playful mischief and carefree wandering.
Her eyes would light up at little things, she could find beauty within everything and everyone.
But those days were no more. Now, all her world was black. Darkness surrounded her, like a chasm impossible to cross. Every so often, an extremely bright spark of energy would span the chasm and reach through it to her. But it would be lost too soon and she would resign herself to her solitary existence.
She had lost her sight in an accident, and now she lived in a world of herself and her thoughts. Nostalgia crept up silently into her thoughts and once more, bitterness flowed through her veins until she was a chaotic mess of longing and despair. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Flash! Friday - Blood in the sky, blood on our fate

Link : http://flashfriday.wordpress.com/

Flash fiction is a style of writing fictional literature, that is short and concise.
Is it possible to write an imaginative, deep and meaningful story in a mere 150 words? Test yourself at Flash! Friday.
This website hosts a flash writing competition every week on Fridays. If you want details, just follow the link to the blog and read up!
This is my first ever attempt at writing flash fiction!

Volume 2 - 40

Blood in the sky, blood on our fate - (149 words)

Our feet thudded on the sandy desert floor as we ran. Shy thorns peeped from the ground beneath us. The sky was blood red and the setting sun cast an orange light on the expanse.
Time was running out.
We had to get there before nightfall, or the villagers would be slaughtered in their sleep.
We ran until we couldn’t breathe. And then we ran harder. We ran with the fury of racehorses in their last lap. This was, in a way, our last lap. Then it would be decided, for better or for worse.
The edges of my vision began to dim, but the village was just a stone’s throw away. I didn’t stop.
I bolted right into the Circle, around which the ramshackle houses were built.
Then, my feet slipped. I slid into a pool of blood. When my eyes closed, it was for the last time.

Dreams


“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”   - Langston Hughes

A dream... It creates a dying urge within you, a roaring passion to accomplish something.
It fires up your nerves. It makes a thousand different emotions - determination, courage, hope - spring to your mind all at once.
Dreams are powerful.
Dreams can change you. They can change those around you. They can change the world.
It might seem a silly thought that your achievement could change the world. But imagine if the person who discovered the bulb thought that!
Is the bulb glowing now?
Yes. Each dream makes a difference. Humanity's hope is a sum total of the little dreams, the little hopes, that we all cherish.
A great person once said, 'When all else is lost, the future still remains.'
No matter how much you've lost, no matter how discouraged you feel, cling to your dreams. Make them come true and let them take you to places you've only dreamt of before!



Thursday, 1 May 2014

How It Began

A/N - This story is dedicated to one of my friends. Happy 16th birthday, Kshama!
Description - It's a prequel-of-sorts to another full-length novel that currently resides in my head! The novel (the plot) belongs to me and four other friends. And to those of you who know the story - hope you enjoy it!
But to those of you who don't - don't worry, this works as a stand-alone (mostly!) But on the brighter side, maybe this short prequel will convince you to buy the novel, if it ever gets published!


Click to enlarge (wonderful banner by SeverusLove @tda!)
                                                   
-1-

Vivienne.
The name sounded alien to her. It was a mere day after she had abandoned everything familiar – her home, her family, her village – and already she felt the need for a greater word - a word that encompassed more meaning, one with greater depths - to define her.
Vivienne was the name of a simple girl with rosy cheeks and an innocent mind, ambling along the dusty paths of her village and exchanging greetings with the village folk she knew.
It was not the name of what she was now. Even she couldn't define herself now. Her… powers... had shattered all limits; they had expanded beyond all boundaries. She didn't know what she was anymore and her ignorance petrified her.
From the beginning, her powers had been growing. Each passing day, she was aware of a hundred new forms her energy took, a hundred new ways in which she could manipulate her surroundings. And had she been anyone different, the power would have corrupted her. But Vivienne had been a simple girl, satisfied with her lot in life; she had been ready to be the damsel in distress for any Prince Charming who might come her way.The role of a musketeer, however, had been thrust upon her too suddenly for her to accept it. So she had taken the easy way out – she had run away, not only from her home, but from society. She feared persecution too much to risk the village finding out about her powers.
Sighing, she brought back her attention to the vines she had been trying to hack. They were barring the path she had been following – a well-worn but ancient rabbit trail through the forest. She continued her efforts at hacking, ignoring the beads of perspiration lining her forehead. The cloudless sky darkened just then and the last rays of the sun vanished altogether. Cursing, Vivienne threw her blunt-edged axe to the leaf-strewn ground and sat down on the huge rock she had been using to sharpen her axe.
The sun had set, and soon even her eagle-sharp eyesight would not penetrate the darkness. Vivienne sighed and reached into her little bag of possessions that she had gathered together before running away. She took out a large flask of water and drank deeply from it. She surveyed the rest of her things – a wine cask, a hunk of cheese and a loaf of stale bread, some odds and ends, a rope, and a warm sweater. She also had some traps to catch rabbits and squirrels that she had 'borrowed' from the hunter's shack on the hill overlooking the forest.
Her meager supplies would keep her going for a few days more, at the very best. She would have to find a stream much before that, though. Her water would run out within a day, and surviving on wine was a last resort for her.
Her mind made up, she glanced at the vines. They were growing thickly, but with a proper hacker, there would have been no trouble chopping them away. Now, though, she would have to improvise with the blunt axe. Of course, there was another way…
She immediately pushed the thought away. But it kept resurfacing, and she considered trying it… It would certainly finish the job easily. And the sooner those vines were hacked, the sooner she could move forward. Maybe using her powers once wouldn't hurt. After all, she had to learn to control them. That was the reason she had run away…
She looked once more at the vines, and channeled her thoughts towards it. In her mind, she imagined a blade-sharp cleaver cutting through the brambles with practiced ease. She pulled back suddenly as she felt the familiar tug on her… mind? Her thoughts?
As suddenly as it had happened, it stopped and Vivienne sat down again, relieved. But nothing had happened to the vines. They glared at her, and she glared back.
Without knowing it consciously, she directed all her emotions at them - her anger that she had had to leave her life behind, her confusion about her powers and their capabilities, her determination to make a new life for herself and find the reason she was endowed with this strange magic; everything she had felt since leaving her home.
And the thoughts shaped into a blade in her mind, directed at the vines that blocked her path. She still wasn't ready for the tug, though, and this time it came with such force that she nearly blacked out. She jumped back, afraid that it might pull her physically too; so strong was the force. And just then, the offending vines exploded in her face.
Exploded was the right word, because they shattered to pieces and flew out in all directions. Vivienne fell to the ground on her back, and in that moment, she felt pity for the vines.
She hadn't known that she was that strong… that her emotions were that strong. The realization dawned upon her that all her magic was born from her emotions; that her feelings fueled her powers.
She tried to stand up, but to her alarm, her legs collapsed beneath her. Her mind clouded and her thoughts became fuzzy. The effort to hack the vines had taken most of her energy and now she could barely think straight. Unable to do anything else, she closed her eyes and listened to the sounds of the forest – birds tucking in their feathers to go to sleep, squirrels bounding across the trees to get to their homes…
A fleeting thought of her home passed through her mind, and then she blacked out.


 -2-

 A flurry of rain pattered against the roof of her cave.
Vivienne jerked awake and sat up on her straw bed, looking around wildly before realizing that it was just the rain.
She smiled fondly to herself as a memory came alive in her mind.
*
“Vivienne! It’s raining, child! Will you go outside?” a voice echoed through the empty hallway of her house. 
Her mother knew her all too well. All, except for her most guarded secret. She considered it trivial, yet she hadn't told a soul about it. You couldn't foresee people’s reactions about certain things, and this secret was one.
“Oh… yes, mother! I’ll be there in a minute!” she replied.
She favored her father’s portrait with a last lingering glance, and then began packing up the trunk. Whenever she felt nostalgic for their times together, before he had left her and the world behind, she took out his trunk from the attic and read his letters and journals.
Now, she hurriedly put all the contents of the trunk back, and slid it into the narrow space in the attic. Gathering up her thoughts, she walked to the bedroom of the house.
“I’m going out now, mother.”
“Be good and be back soon, child,” her mother called out from under the blankets on the bed.
Vivienne turned and went outside the house.
She stood for a moment on the steps leading up to the house, and looked at the rain pouring down in sheets. She had always loved rain. Even when she had been a child, she had loved to run out into the rain and dance and frolic around with her friends.
She went down the steps, gathering up her voluminous skirt with both her hands, and walked straight into the rain.
She twirled around and around and pretended that she was a little girl, in her fairy world of magic, where the rain would turn into mist as soon as it touched her and would cling to her, like an aura around a princess.
Vivienne never knew why this fantasy appealed to her so. Her friends mocked her for it, but she knew that this was just one of the strange wishes people had; wishes that could never come true, but were haunting.
*
A devilish smile appeared on Vivienne’s face. She might have been pretending then, but now, she could actually make it happen.
It was a long time since she had entertained any thoughts of her home and family – she constantly guarded against it - but the onslaught of rain had brought it all back to her mind.
The deed’s done, so I might as well enjoy it, she thought and stood up hesitantly.
Shaking all the apprehension out of her mind, she went out of the cave and into the pouring rain.
It was stronger and beat upon the ground with more force than she remembered. Or maybe that was because of her powers. They made her more aware to the movement of things around her. Even in this thunderous downpour, she could hear the rustling of the leaves beneath her foot as the water droplets beat upon them incessantly.
Letting her instincts take control, she twirled in the rain. All of a sudden, the memories came thudding back into the forefront of her mind.
Rain… calling out to her friends.. dancing.. laughing… carefree again…
Rain… the first time after her father died... pirouetting in the rain… drowning away her sorrow…
Rain... dancing in solitude… twirling in pensive joy... forgetting everything that meant anything…
Rain.. the drops on her skin… the feeling of bliss... happiness, after so long…
And in that moment, her undirected thoughts, her overflowing emotions, all took shape. The tug came and her senses blurred ever so slightly.
The drops falling at her feet evaporated. The mist clung to her, surrounded her, created a veil about her.
Before she knew it, a laugh of delight escaped her lips, and she found herself, for once, enjoying her powers, thanking them.
She danced in the rain. She danced in solitude but not alone – for her memories danced with her.


 -3-

 The first rays of the sun fell into the cave, brightening it up.
Vivienne’s eyes flew open as the light landed on them, but she shut them again in a vain attempt to get some more sleep. She had been up late and was tired to her bones.
She had decided to stop avoiding what she was, and try to explore her powers. The day of the rain, she had felt a freedom of sorts; a strange happiness that swelled up in her like an expanding balloon.
Who would've thought it, Vivienne the innocent girl - feeling the fire of curiosity...
But the bright light falling on her eyes had other ideas. Try as she would, she could not go to sleep again. Sighing, she plunged her face in a stone basin of cool water and stepped out of her cave.
All the animals of the forest were up and about. The sparrows were chirping away merrily, the squirrels were bounding from branch to branch. A black jay flew by her head, its wings slapping the air next to her ear, as it passed.
Vivienne walked to the stream near the cave. But it was not walking as much as hiking, for the forest had spots of undulating terrain here and there and the shortest path to the stream involved crossing one of those.
When she reached the stream, she filled her flask she had carried from home, with the gurgling stream water. It would stay cool until midday, and last her until night if she rationed it well. There had been a time when the flask would have lasted her three or even four days, but while practicing her magic, she got very exhausted and needed much more water than usual.
After washing up a little, she decided to return to her cave, when a small sound made her freeze. It had sounded like someone’s footsteps.
But of course, that’s silly, she thought. Who would be wandering here?
Yet, she retraced her steps and crouched beside a huge, prickly gorse bush that hid her from view completely. She waited for a minute, but nothing happened. She released a breath she didn't know she had been holding and stood up.
“A fair morning to you,” came a voice.
Vivienne jumped at the voice, and whirled around to face it.
“There’s no call to be startled,” said a man, who was standing some distance away. He came closer and Vivienne saw that he quite tall. He had strong arms, a square jaw and deep blue eyes full of merriness.
Then he blinked, and she saw a glint of steel in those twinkling blue eyes.
Vivienne prided herself on being a good judge of character, and though this man seemed harmless enough on first appearance – he was wearing a ragged tweed jacket which was frayed at the edges and a pair of cut-off pants - she discerned a lot of depth behind his calm demeanor.
“What are you staring at? I’m human like you, alright,” he said.
Vivienne met his gaze and spoke, “Who are you? And why are you here in the forest?”
“I have as much a right to be here as you do, fair lady. More so, because I am a hunter, one of the Forest Keepers.”
“Forest Keepers? Who are they?”
“Surely you must have heard of them, if you live within the boundaries of this forest!”
“I have not. Please enlighten me,” Vivienne replied politely.
“Well, well… does that mean you are all alone?”
“If you mean to ask if I live all by myself, you are correct.”
“That will not do at all. You must come with me and meet the rest of us.”
“And why should I trust you?” Vivienne asked, with more than a hint of doubt in her voice.
“Have I given you a reason not to?” the hunter replied, just as merrily as before.
Vivienne gazed into his eyes, trying to detect any falsehood, but he met her gaze surely. And truly.
He did not seem to be lying, and now that she thought of it, why should there not exist a soul apart from her in the huge forest? Vivienne herself had never wandered deep inside the forest and she did not know until where it extended. Maybe this was a chance to find out…
Seeming to realize that she was hesitant, the hunter said, “Well, if you do not trust me right away, that’s all right. I shall walk with you to where you live and wait until you make up your mind. But heed my advice - if you choose to live here, you will have to meet the Forest Keepers one day.”
“I’ll lead the way,” Vivienne said, her mind still dazed.
The hunter followed her wordlessly as she led the way through the forest to her cave, giving her time to observe and think.
The man seemed quite at ease in the dense foliage, avoiding tree branches and hacking away ivy with ease. He seemed a born woodsman, the way he navigated the paths of the forest and scoped out easy routes across the rocky area they had to cross.
Vivienne could not help but admire him. In the one month or so that she had lived in the forest, she had gained many useful skills for navigating through the undergrowth and brambles, but they were a far cry from the hunter’s. He seemed to do it all naturally and without a second thought.
From time to time, he would look to her and half-smile, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. Perhaps he did.
After a while, they reached the clearing at the far end of which her cave was situated. She walked inside, but the hunter did not follow. He seemed very interested in a huge rock outside the cave, which she used for various purposes.
He bent down and brushed a bit of dirt away from its surface. He peered at something and then stood up again.
“This cave was once a dwelling of a Forest Keeper,” he said, without any preamble.
“What? How do you know?” Vivienne demanded, going closer and bending down to look at the stone herself.
She studied it closely, and saw a mark carved into the hard but smooth surface of the rock.
“What is that?” she asked the hunter.
“It is the symbol of the Keepers. A four-point star in a circle.”
“What does that mean?”
“You will know that when you join the Keepers. Of course, if you decide I’m not lying.”
Vivienne was intrigued by the mark. She ran her fingers along the groove of the design, and wondered how someone had managed to carve it on the hard rock.
She was about to voice her question, but saw that the hunter had gone inside her cave. She followed him, and saw that he was looking around with great interest at the mostly-bare dwelling.
“One of the Keepers lived here. That must have been a long, long time ago,” his voice reflected his awe.
He looked at Vivienne’s confused expression and elaborated, “A long time ago, the Keepers lived in caves such as these. They moved from place to place, protecting the forest and the people who lived in it. Each time they left a dwelling, they left a mark, like the one on the rock outside. It was always left somewhere noticeable so that if any other member of the order passed through the place, they would know that a Keeper had spent some time there and that it was safe to spend the night.”
Vivienne thought for a moment and said, “But if that’s the case, there must be marks all over the forest, is it not? Why is it a novelty to find a mark such as that one?”
“Ah, you’re a clever one. But what eventually happens to rocks and trees over centuries?”
“They crumble. Or die, in the case of trees. I see…” Vivienne replied.
“Precisely! Most marks were made so long ago that they have faded by now. But some were carved on lasting structures - again, like the one on the rock outside – and even after centuries, they remain.”
“Interesting,” Vivienne replied, her voice toned with an enthusiasm that she rarely displayed. Her cold reserve faded away in that moment and she smiled broadly.
The hunter smiled back at her, his eyes twinkling. She had been deprived of human company for ever so long, and now that she had it, she wasn't sure she could let it go. And maybe these Forest Keepers would have some answers for her…
“One last question: What is your name?” she asked him.
“Everyone just calls me ‘Hunter’,” he replied.
“Well, Hunter, lead the way to the Keepers.”
He grinned once again, and the solitude in her mind vanished as if it had never been there.


 -4-

 “I still think we should go on,” Vivienne told Hunter, a determined expression on her face.
“And I still maintain that we shouldn't. Darkness has descended. It is not a good idea to continue climbing in the dark. One wrong step and you’ll fall to your death,” Hunter replied, equally obstinate.
Vivienne sighed and gazed out at the thick forest beneath her. Hunter was right, but she didn't want to admit it. Now that she was so close to her destination - so tantalizingly close! - she didn't want to stop anywhere.
Almost a month ago, the Keepers had told her of a shrine, located at the peak of a rugged mountain in the forest. They kept their deepest secrets there and guarded them fiercely. And then it had struck Vivienne that she might find something there which would explain it all. She had made up her mind right that moment, to visit the shrine.
But what the Keepers hadn't told her was that the mountain was extremely dangerous to climb. And that there were an infinite number of ways one could die while undertaking this journey. Of course, this protected the Keepers’ secrets much better than any guard ever could have. Only one path existed that led a person right to the top of the mountain, and though it was fraught with dangers of its own, it provided a way to get to the shrine. And this path was only known to a few. Hunter was one of them.
“You can wait one more night, you know. Tomorrow, you will find out all that you ever wanted to know.”
“That is,” Vivienne reminded him, “if my answers lie there.”
“Oh, they will. There is an answer to every conundrum there.”
“You seem very sure.”
Hunter did not reply. He was warm and friendly most of the times but on this journey, Vivienne had noticed that at times, he seemed to sink into himself. He would not respond to any questions for a while, he would just stare into space. She wondered if he had memories of the shrine that he wanted to forget. But then, why did he volunteer to come with her?
Shaking herself out of her reverie, she gathered up the soft straw that she had brought with her, and flattened it out on the ground. Then she lay on her back, and watched the stars overhead.
In a while, Hunter lay down too.
He was snoring as soon as his head hit the straw. Vivienne glanced over at him enviously.
Usually, sleep evaded her like a cunning thief. And she was the bumbling law-keeper, tripping over herself and trying in vain to capture the wily robber.
She returned her gaze to the stars, and counted all the constellations she could identify. The knowledge of these patterns had been passed down in her family from generation to generation and like all the other things she had left behind, she treasured it.
Slowly, her mind started drifting to other things. Finally, it came to rest at the one thing she couldn't bear to think about. Her powers. She had not used them for a long while now. She had thought that the lesser she used them, the lesser they would grow. Unfortunately, she could still sense them expanding. They never stopped, never paused. Fraction by fraction, they continued widening. And what confused her most was that she didn't know how she could tell that her powers were growing. She just knew it, and there was no explanation how.
And though she had stopped using them, they felt like a deep part of her. Something that she would miss as much as an amputated arm if it left.
Strange how I think of it as a living, breathing thing that will jump up one day and decide it's going to leave, huh?
Her desire to learn more about them could not be quelled. Why had she been bestowed with this magic? How was she supposed to use it? Why was it expanding?
And all these answers, the Keepers had said, would be found in the shrine.
The impatience she had been dealing with rose up in her again. She couldn't wait to get to there. The darkness impeded her path. If only it would go away… Of course! That was it! Why hadn't she thought of it before?
Because it’s a terrible idea? A small part of her brain told her, but she ignored it.
There was a way to get up to the shrine and she would take it. And anyway, she would prefer it if Hunter was not there when she found her answers. As much as she trusted the Keepers, she didn't think it was their place to receive such forbidden knowledge.
She stood up slowly, and concentrated on her eagerness to get to the shrine, her determination to unravel the secrets that had been kept for so long. There was a tug on her mind, and all of a sudden, a ball of bright light appeared on her palm. She didn't know whether she had created light, or was merely channeling it from elsewhere.
And for the first time, she didn't care.

*
She was nearing the peak. If she craned her neck, she could just see the tip of the shrine’s roof.
Slowly and laboriously, she continued climbing and after a while, she was standing on the flat land at the peak of the mountain.
Vivienne allowed herself a minute of basking in the moonshine, and regaining her breath. Then, she walked to the entrance of the shrine.
It looked very much like Hunter had described it, serene and grand. Two massive turrets rose out of the shrine and brushed the dark, night sky. There seemed to be more than a hundred slit-like windows on its top level. From the outside, it looked very much like a fortress. And she supposed that in a way, it was a fortress, designed to keep the intruders out and the secrets in.
It exuded an aura of mystery even from afar, and now that she was close to it, she could almost taste obscurity in the air.
She hesitated for a second at the door, but then pushed away all her doubts and gathering up her nerves, knocked on it. Hunter had told her that the way to gain entrance into the shrine was to knock on it thrice. It was that simple. 
She was jerked out of her thoughts, as the door began to swing open with a grating sound. She marvelled for a second at the mechanics of the door. It must have been ages since anyone had been here, yet it swung open as easily as a door with all its hinges oiled.
She stepped inside the shrine, and squinted. A bright yellow light cascaded through the room, and straight into her eyes. In a moment, her eyes adjusted to the brightness and she stepped inside cautiously.
She was in a huge room with a very high ceiling, which shone gold everywhere she looked. She deduced that this was the treasury. As she went further in, it was obvious that she had been right. Gold coins fell in small mounds from chests, jewelry lay in heaps everywhere, and daggers encrusted with gems were hung on the walls.
She was confused as to why all the treasure lay in the entrance hall. Surely, they should have been hidden away in some vault which no one had access to…
And then the answer hit her – maybe all these precious things were the least valued treasures here. Of course. The very first thing she had found out about the Keepers was that they valued knowledge the most. The knowledge lying within the fortress was much more important and precious to the Keepers than the gold and riches.
She ignored her urge to run her hands through the sacks of gold coins and examine the ancient swords that lay on the floor. Keeping her eyes ahead of her, she crossed over to the other side of the hall and found herself facing three doorways. She picked the middle path and walked down a narrow, dusty corridor. The walls on either side were lined with mounted heads of birds, deer, stags and some strange looking animals she could not identify.
There was so much to see here that Vivienne was sure she would never find the answer she was seeking. She could keep roaming the corridors forever and get lost. Eventually, she would starve to death, and no one would be able to find her body…
She shook her head violently in an attempt to stop thinking. Then, taking a deep breath, she walked through the corridor and into the next.
*
It had been hours since she had entered the shrine, and exactly like she had predicted, she was hopelessly lost. And exhausted.
Missing the previous night’s sleep had a worse effect on her stamina than she had thought. She could tell it was morning because at one point, she had come to an open window – one of the slit-like ones she had noticed from outside – and she had seen the red sky and the sliver of brightness that meant the sun was rising.
She had tried to figure out which part of the castle she was in, but as soon as she turned a few corners, she was lost again.
Trying to fight her weariness and the increased feeling of despair, she stumbled forward into a room. It was small and dusty, but at one end, she saw that there was a hammock hanging from the ceiling. She wondered why the hammock would be placed there, for there would certainly be no sunlight falling upon it even in the day.
But whatever the reason, she was happy it had been placed there. It meant that she could catch up on her rest. One part of her mind – the sensible one – cautioned her about approaching the hammock, but unable to resist its pull she found herself climbing in to it and lying down on her back.
She thought of pleasant things – bright sunlit days in her village, playing around with her friends, talking to her mother until late in the night – and drifted off to sleep.
*
Vivienne woke up with a jerk from a particularly nasty dream. She had been standing on the top of a cliff, trying to keep her balance, but in the end, her foot had slipped and she had been on the way to becoming mince-pie when she woke up.
For a moment, she was confused to see the gloomy, dusty room around her but then memory thudded back into her head at a painful speed. She looked around herself for a moment, then jumped off the hammock and ran out of the room.
The sleepiness vanished from her mind altogether and she was finally able to think clearly. The panic hit her in waves, gently at first and then like a tsunami.
Her emotions burst forward into her mind – her guilt at having fallen asleep, her anxiety to find her way out of the shrine and at the same time, her desperation to find the answers she sought – in a sudden flurry and she found the edges of her vision fading. And again, the all-too familiar tugging...
Then her knees fell beneath her and she found herself on the floor. When she opened her eyes, she gasped. She was in another room. And it seemed like an exact replica of the entrance hall, except it shone bronze.
Her mind grappled blindly with reality and slowly, she guessed that she had used magic to transport herself to where she wanted to go. The room that held her answers. And by the look of it, many more that she didn't know the questions for. Yes, she had landed in a library of solutions.And it was time - at last! - to look for hers.


 -5-

 Vivienne gasped to regain her breath. Her knees gave way beneath her and she thankfully sank to the floor. Her eyes stared at the ceiling of her cave, tracing the cracks on it. She found herself admiring the beautiful pattern they created on the hard stone. Beautiful, yet unsymmetrical. She dwelt upon that phrase for a moment and decided that all beautiful things must be so.
All beautiful things must be imperfect. The imperfection sets them aside, gives them that beauty. But beauty, like all things, will fade. One day.
And one day, she would fade too.
And maybe that day would come very soon. She willed her mind to think about something else, anything else. But her thoughts lurched towards the shrine… the parchment…
Fear.
Fear cloaked her. It was like a veil. She could see past it, but it distorted her vision of the world. It twisted everything she saw, and made her feel even more afraid. Like an endlessly accelerating loop.
No, it can’t be! It’s impossible… She found herself thinking.
But it was possible. She had seen it with her own eyes. For a minute, it hadn't gotten through to her and she had stared blankly at the ancient parchment, uncomprehending. And then, like the piercing of an arrow, the meaning behind those innocent words had shot into her mind.
And she had refused to believe it.
Yet, the parchment had been right about everything else – her powers, the way it felt to use them, the ever-expanding feeling that went with it - all of those! Surely, everything else it said must be right too.
Sighing, she had brought herself to the conclusion that she didn't want to believe it, but it was true. It had to be.
A sudden feeling of panic and apprehension had bubbled within her chest, and she had transported herself right outside that shrine and to the foothills of the mountain. And then she had run. She had run blindly, between the trees, over the streams, across the clearings.
She had run until her lungs were bursting, and her vision was beginning to blur from all sides. It was only then that she had slowed down. Even then, she had reached her cave faster than she could have though humanly possible.
Of course, I’m hardly any ordinary human, she thought.
And then the fears were back. How could she live without her powers? They were a part of her, as surely as her eyes and ears were.
But what other choice did she have? It was the only way she could live…
With another huge sigh, she realised that she had known. She had known that it would come to this all along. Never for a moment had she imagined that she could keep her powers forever and live in the forest forever.
She had rather thought that it had all been a mistake – a mistake that could be erased someday.
But when the time had come, finally, she found she wasn't ready. She wasn't ready to give up this life of freedom. She wasn't ready to give up her powers.
But she had to do it. Or face the terrible consequences.
Her thoughts were getting blurry now. She couldn't discern one thing from another. Her eyes closed, and before she lost consciousness, a thought ran through her mind, followed by calm acceptance:
I must give up my power. I must give it up to those who deserve it better. I must divide it between some others, or I will be consumed in the searing white light of my magic…
















Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Most people in today's world know of the atrocities committed during World War II by Adolf Hitler and his crew of nasty Nazis. Hitler ordered genocide on the Jews in Europe, and thousands of people were killed. It was not only the victim families which were affected, but some Germans who suffered as well.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne talks about a German family, in which the father is a Nazi General. Hitler - the F├╝hrer - is happy with the father's work, and decides to send him to the Auschwitz concentration camp to oversee the project there.
And so, the general's family is forced to move out of their comfortable house in Berlin to a dusty, old, solitary house near the concentration camp, which was separated by a long, huge fence. Nine-year-old Bruno is especially affected by the move, having to leave his three best friends and come to a place where there was no one his age except for his irritating elder sister.
But one day, Bruno notices some people - boys, fathers, uncles, grandfathers - across the fence, all of whom were wearing the same clothes, that is, striped pajamas. Bruno is surprised to see boys of his age there...how come they never came over to his side of the fence to play with him?
Bruno asks his sister a few questions, who immediately says that they were Jews, who were bad, and that Germans didn't like them. Bruno wonders why, for they seemed to be just like others. His sister, however, was horrified when he voiced his opinion, and he decides to shut up and keep his ideas to himself.
Bruno goes exploring, and one day finds a small gap in the fence. Later when he comes back, he sees a boy sitting across the fence near the gap. The two begin to talk, and find that they were born on the same day and are both nine years old. Over time, they bond and Bruno is finally happy to be living here. The book ends when Bruno decides to go under the fence and explore the boy's world dressed up in striped pajamas, and he sees the world there. He is shocked to see them living in such dire, extreme, dirty conditions. To avoid spoiling the ending, all I will say is that at the end of the book you are left with such...regret, such deep thoughts.
The book shows you a child's point of view of the second world war, and all that happened in Nazi Germany. There is never any actual mention of killing, gas chambers, Nazis, Jews, death, war...nothing of that sort at all. The nine-year-old little boy is oblivious of all that is happening around him. Really, all he cares is that they moved to a weird old house and left his school and friends behind, then he had no one to play with, and then suddenly he did.
The book makes you think about how the world was at that time for children, and especially Nazi family children, since Bruno's father is a Nazi General. The book makes you realize that though we all know about the war and all the horrible things that happened, no one really knows how it was to live in such times as a child; a child who just wanted his life to be normal and have fun with his friends...a child who, being completely innocent and pure, could not understand why Jews were classified as 'bad'.
In simpler words, the book gives you a different outlook on the same old thing which most of us have read about and studied about in school. It shows you a different view, and it's startling how accurately the author, John Boyne, has depicted the child's feelings. It's a must read for all those who enjoy a little historical book every now and then...especially since you don't have to mug it up for an exam. :)

Friday, 21 March 2014

The Real Anne Frank

It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen - John Wooden.

I think everyone who’s reading this has heard of Annelies Marie Frank - probably the most famous Holocaust victim of all times.
And for those of you who have not - she was a young girl who lost her life, simply because she was a Jew, as many others in Hitler’s regime did.
What was it that made Anne Frank’s name so commonly known throughout the world? What was it that makes her name pop into our minds immediately upon hearing the term ‘Nazism’ or ‘Holocaust’?
It was her simplicity.
If you read her diary (The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank) you know at once, that Anne was completely normal. She was no different from you and me.
Her thoughts were not those of a philosopher - just of a child who was put in a very confusing and terrible situation. Yet she was not a child. She was more mature and conscious of the world than any child of her age would have been (having to hide from society for years does that to a person, you know!)
She went about her daily activities with cheerfulness. Even though she was in turmoil inside, her exterior remained clam and composed. Her vibrance and energy displayed that she believed in a happier life for herself. She believed that she would be alive and free one day. She wanted to fly out into the world, her wings unfurled and the winds carrying her to a greater destiny.
Her positiveness and hopeful outlook to the world is radiated through her thoughts. She believed, even at the time of her death, that the world was a good place to live in and that men were humane (pun intended!)
And now tell me - What are the odds? What are the odds that this girl’s diary would be found years after her death? That her name would be put down in history forever?
Despite being one of millions of people killed in the Holocaust, she stands representative for all the victims of the Nazi cult. She wasn’t a great freedom fighter (I’m using that term loosely here). No, she wasn’t. She wasn’t a Jew leader who saved hundreds of lives. No, she wasn’t.
She was merely a little girl who, through her personal diaries, taught the world something important. She taught us that when all else is destroyed, the future still remains.
And that - that tiny iota of hope she had in humanity despite being at it’s cruel end - taught the world a vital lesson.
Little things make big things happen. Little thoughts lead to bigger thoughts. Little ideas can change the world. Little actions can set off a chain of life-changing events. And why, little things like these could make or break an empire!