Chapter 2: The wrong questions.


Eva did not know what she was doing here, or where ‘here’ was for that matter. They didn’t ask her that. Maybe if they did, she would know. They weren’t asking the right questions. She had come so close a few times. Close enough to know. Close enough to remember and then it would go away. And a man would come and he would ask the same useless questions that made him sweat. Questions she didn’t have answers for. They weren’t asking the questions that had answers. She felt like if she could just push past it, just once, push past this wall of haziness, she could almost see, but then her brain would take up the chant of push, push, push, and the wall would slam back down again. If only they would take her near enough to the wall.

Just as she musters up enough courage to push again, the door opens, and a man steps inside. Has she seen this man before? She doesn’t know. He walks slowly and sits down on the chair before her. The chair creaks, and the lights above flicker once. He keeps the silence.

She can feel him looking at her. His mouth curves up and his eyes crinkle and he begins to talk.

“Eva are you cold, dear?”

Well, what sort of useless question was this. Though she did know the answer to this one.

“Yes.” She says.

“Do you want to leave, go see your parents?” He asks.

“No. ”

He seems taken aback at that and starts sweating. Like all the others. Eva sighs. She had hoped this one might help her.

“Do you remember how you got here?
Where are your parents?
Did someone drive you here and leave you? Who?”

I don’t know.
No. ”

How they could come up with so many useless questions she didn’t know.

“Talk to me Eva. I can help you. I can be your friend. But you have to talk to me. ”

She opened her mouth, and it seemed as if she would finally say something, but her brain went off on a tangent again. Talk to him. Help. She didn’t need help. But she had to talk to him. Talk. What about?

He only looked at her while her brain clamoured behind its walls.
Talk. Talk. Talk to him.
But he wouldn’t say what about.

Officer Sanders:

The days were becoming more and more bizarre. They find a girl, and instead of helping her get home, they were interrogating her in what was pretty much a dungeon. The girl appeared out of nowhere, there was a box she had with her that nobody could get open, and the weirdest thing of all was the girl.


She wasn’t normal. She didn’t ask where she was, or when she could leave. She didn’t know anything about herself other than that her name was Eva, she was 18, her parents are doctors, and she didn’t know anything else.

Except, when asked the year, she gave them a number. Nobody counted years in numbers.

Besides, she made them sweat. He didn’t know if it was the girl, but the whole thing gave him the chills. What kind of 18 year old, had eyes like that, didn’t know who she was and had orders to be watched 24/7?

As if this wasn’t unusual enough, this guy had shown up at the crack of dawn with orders from ‘high up’ and had gone in. After switching off the cameras. Sanders couldn’t help it, but he sort of felt sorry for the strange girl. It was always bad when high up sent a faceless man.


A new year, a new beginning

With this year tidily wrapping up, a year of surprisingly chill studying, some hectic TV show watching, I look back, with what it seems like everybody else.
The Hindu published an 8 page tribute to women this year. Women who are pushing boundaries, breaking ceilings everyday, got 8 inches of tribute each in the newspaper. It doesn’t seem like a big thing, but to young girls, who read the paper and see these names, these stories, it gives them hope. That they too can be the kind of woman that other women want to be.

I have noticed, more and more frequently this past year, that I tend to censor my own writing. Not to cut out the bad words, or the excesses of thought, but to seem not too radical for my conservative family and friends. After a while I grow tired of this, and write exactly what I want to write, but then I leave it in my drafts and give you a whitewashed version. Because I remember that even this whitewashed version is considered radical.
So this year, here’s to saying what I want to say. Because no one will censor me, not even myself. Because I have things to say I want this world to sit up and hear. Because we have a voice, no matter who we are, and we deserve to be heard.

All this entitlement then strikes me as too much. We don’t deserve anything. The world does not owe us anything we don’t make for ourselves. I read Sapiens- a history of humankind, and this brilliant book told me that the human superpower is storytelling. That the ability to tell and believe stories is what put us on top of the food chain. But that that also means that all these concepts, countries, patriotism, equality, justice, fairness, feminism, kindness, virtue. All these are stories we have made up and believed in to make our soceity run smoothly. None of this actually exists. We are not equal. We are decidedly different. The real world has no justice or karma, no kindness or equality. There is only the unforgiving rule of survival of the fittest.

And in this world we live in a dual reality, and fight for imagined rights, and teach imagined virtues, and we stay on top of the food chain.
And in that world of dual reality, we talk about female achievement, and this year, and what we have done in it.

I have watched movies and read books that inspired me. Perhaps inflamed the ‘radical’ unattractive aspects of myself. And I promised to talk about the things that I really want to talk about.

I want female equality, and equal rights and opportunities, and gear up for a fight against the patriarchy and find that most often, it stops with that. The major opposition to the realisation of this ideal is not the male part of the patriarchy. It’s the females – Of course, the male part of it threatens to rape or kill any female who dares to raise her voice against a man, and this is, sadly condoned, endorsed and followed by our leaders-  but the females, they want us to listen to the male leader of the family, to take care of his needs because he is the working member. They want us to stay in our houses because it’s not safe, they want us to not wander out in the dark or even the dusk because it is not safe. They want us to dress conservatively, and cover everything up because it’s not safe. They want to give dowry, because that’s the societal norm, even if neither party wants it. They want us to be realistic and not talk theory that won’t help in the real world.

But I do live in the real world, and it doesn’t stop at dusk, because that’s when it’s unsafe for women. It doesn’t have men who are all monsters who prey on innocents. It has good decent men, who are treated with suspicion, because our mothers have taught us to be careful and ever vigilant. It also has monsters who prey on the innocent and we have worse monsters who say, look what she was wearing. Look what time it was. Look where she was going. Monsters who say she deserved it. And these being men, and women who raised me, who lead this country, who show the next generation how to live. This is the practical world I am supposed to fit into.

I don’t like it. I won’t fit into it. So if I have to be radical, I will be. If I have to be too theoretical and idealistic, I will be. Because these same people who taught me all these things, taught me to think for myself, to stand for the things I believe in, to not give into peer pressure. These same people taught me to be the change I want to see in this world.

So this year, I resolve to be a little more vocal. A little more firm, to believe a little more in myself. And be the change I want to see. Because this world needs me. Or atleast, that is the story I will tell myself, and that will be my superpower.

Minute to midnight

With the release of the Avengers Infinity War trailer, I was engrossed like the rest of the Marvel loving universe. Everybody except my mother seems to like/love these movies. I do too. 

But two days later.

They’re so popular because there’s a tangible villain who’s an alien with superpowers. A hero is born/created with superpowers who fights and destroys the supervillain to save the world. Same old. Same old. 

They’re popular because this is comforting. That the world and us, if we are destroyed, will be by an alien, and that a fight can save us. That’s just wishful thinking now. 

What’s killing the world is us. Overpopulation and pollution and global warming. It might not be the end of the Earth. But might be the end of us. Surely we are headed into an ice age or a world class drowning. This time there won’t be a Noah’s ark. 

We are what is wrong with this earth, no matter how you look at it. Kali Yuga, climate change. Corruption, pollution. Greed, evil, ambition. We might starve or drown or burn or get buried. By our own hands. 

We are a minute to midnight. 

And there is no hero that can fight this villain for us. They’re both us. The hero and the villain. This earth that we were born into, might not be here for our children to be born into. We’re changing it too fast for us to evolve with it. The fight is not as simple as a fight. No matter the amount of special effects. 

So these movies remain ever popular. Because they sell a dream. That it won’t be our fault. And that we’re the good ones. And that we will be saved. Wake up. This isn’t a good dream. 


what do you do when you’re lonely and lying awake at 3am?

only the whirring of the fan to give you company when you’d do anything for a hug, a word. 

The sky rumbles with thunder, but there’s no rain. There’s no relief.

Just oppressive heat and the silence that is only annoying noise. 

What you would give for someone to be here, at 3am, just for you.

Just to take comfort in knowing that there was a person who’d wake up and stay to make sure you stayed away from the edge of madness. 

The edge that shows itself when you’re lying awake at 3am unable to get comfortable.

When though you know you’re stable and put together and not insane, it feels like you are falling apart,

And all you need is another presence. 

Is this why people believe in God? To have a presence who’s always there?

I don’t feel it. There’s no comforting grandfatherly presence in the cosmos. 

There’s only the vague threat of thunder with no chance of rain and the irritating buzz of a fan that won’t cool you down. 

No. 3am is the time of the devil. His comforting presence is always there. He’s waiting to give you a push past that edge of madness. With glee. 

Help, cosmos. 

Saturday special

Because teacher solli kudukala?

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure,
obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli.

Reality is plywood and plastic,
done up in mud brown and olive drab.

Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves,
rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer.

Reality is beans and tofu,
and ashes at the end.

Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland,
a parking garage in Newark.

Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast,
the halls of Camelot.

Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines.

Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colours again, I think.
To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang.
There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us,
to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night,
and feast beneath the hollow hills,
and find a love to last forever
somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.

– George.R.R.Martin

Magic. 20 years of it.

It seems a new world record has been set for the most people dressed as Harry Potter. Of all the strange things to set records for. But it only serves to prove what a phenomenon it has become. 

These children’s books, about magic, and wand waving wizards, of all things. Now an international sensation.
Well, I’ll tell you why.

Because they’re not just books that you thumb through and forget about.
They shaped the lives of millions of people.

We opened a book, an entire generation of children and adults alike, and found a story about an ordinary boy, who got an extra ordinary letter. Maybe he’s not so ordinary after all. 

He got a letter to go to Hogwarts, the greatest wizarding school in history, and we were all excited to go with him. A fresh eyed boy pushed into a whole new world. A magical one. 

He shops in an alley full of magical shops, he boards a train on a platform that isn’t supposed to exist, and he’s at Hogwarts. He’s finally home.

Where he learns not only about magic, but about friendship, loyalty, courage, bravery, a little bit of stupidity and sheer dumb luck. He beats a troll, becomes a quidditch legend, and passes through a seemingly impossible puzzle set by the most intelligent witches and wizards in the country to meet He who must not be named. (He who must not be named being the invincibly powerful antagonist of our story, the most powerful dark wizard the world had seen)
And Harry prevailed.

An eleven year old boy, who does all these things not because he had extra ordinary powers, but because he wasn’t alone. 

Forget Newton’s laws and the Pythagorean theorem. For here we learned the rules of life.

That there are far more important things- friendship and bravery. 

Help will always be given to those who ask for it.

It is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light. 

Love. Love is what makes the world go around. 

As we grew up with this eleven year old nothing special boy, we laughed and loved and made friends. We learnt how to fly and how to travel by Floo powder. We cast patronuses. We learnt to stand up to our fears (riddikulous, really). We learnt to be merciful, to be fair, to be generous. We learnt how to love people different from us, be they giants or elves, or a little cracked in the head.

He saved Ginny, rescued a hippogriff, freed his godfather of dementors, won a tournament, fought off death eaters, destroyed horcruxes and saved the world. Of course.

But he wasn’t a superhero. He wasn’t a god. He wasn’t special in any way. He just did it without giving up. Without losing hope.

He showed us by example that we could all achieve extra ordinary heights, because all you have to do is be the change. Be brave enough to believe You Know Who is out there, even when nobody else will. Because Harry Potter didn’t hide behind more powerful people, he got up and faced his destiny. 

We learnt big things and little things. The power of laughter. The beauty of a happy thought. The joy of breaking rules. The love of friends and family. That what mattered was not your face, but you. That you would be okay even if you turned into a monster once a month, because you had friends with you. The bitterness of misunderstanding. The loss of a misled youth. The pain of losing a loved one. 

This book was a landmark, because its influence was phenomenal. It held sway over generations. And at the core of it all, it was simple. 

The power of love and friendship. 

Because what else in the world matters really?

So today, as we cross 20 years of Harry Potter, we acknowledge one of the best things to happen to our childhood. 

Thank you, JKR. You gave us a place to go when we needed a little magic in our lives. And we always came back and woke up to the actual magic in ours.

And yes, you could ask, after all this time?