Adios, 2016!

via Daily Prompt: Hopeful

It’s New Year’s eve and while most of you are partying,spending time with friends and family, reminiscing about what a great year it’s been(if you,like me,belong to what seems to be a minority of the population) or lamenting that this year couldn’t have been worse, I’m trying to create a false sense of productivity by putting up another post for this year.

Personally, I’ve had a good year and yes,the world has lost many great people across diverse fields, right from Alan Rickman to Muhammad Ali and most recently,Carrie Fisher but the amount of hatred and negativity on social media regarding this year seems excessive,even as the year draws to a close.

Shouldn’t we embark on a new year feeling hopeful and ambitious,rather than feeling weighed down by the baggage of the previous year?

The rants of my friends prompted me to do a quick google search,which led me here, to do my part in spreading some positivity as we prepare ourselves for the year to come.For a year that seems to have a been a major disappointment to many people, it wasn’t all bad and ugly as it appears.

Of course,the positives don’t make up for the losses but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth remembering.

Those of you who uploaded videos of pouring ice-cold water over your heads,your efforts haven’t gone to waste.The donations from the ALS ice bucket challenge funded a potential breakthrough in research.

Pandas and whales are not endangered anymore.The world tiger count has increased.

Africa doesn’t have to worry about Ebola anymore.World hunger has reached the lowest in 25 years.Several countires have taken large steps against global warming and the global carbon emissions due to burning of fossil fuels hasn’t gone up at all this year.Syrian refugees were welcomed into Canada.

As trivial as this might sound,a new Harry Potter book was released,followed by the Fantastic beasts film.For Potterheads like me,this was a big deal.In addition to being many people’s favourite set of novels, the books have also helped people through tough times.

Closer home,India made global headlines with demonetisation.The Indian athletes exceeded expectations in Rio, especially the women and the paralympians.The Indian Cricket team has topped the test ranking.The state of Kerala achieved 100% literacy. As part of the Paris Climate Agreement,50 million trees were planted in a single day.The country won’t need any new coal plants for the next three years.Netflix made its entry into the Indian market and Reliance came up with Jio.India is now home to the world’s largest solar power plant.ISRO launched 34 satellites.Net neutrality activists triumphed.An Indian acid attack survivor stole the show at New York Fashion Week.

Somewhere in the world,a child has been cured of cancer.A rescued puppy has found a loving home.A family raised a glass to its first graduate.An underpriveleged child has started going to school.Someone has bought their first bike,first car or their first apartment.A young graduate received her first paycheck this year.A young man overcame depression.A patient survived a heart transplant.A first novel was published.First steps were taken.

A victory,irrespective of its magnitude,is a victory.You owe it them to be hopeful.You owe it to yourself,to hope for the best.

To quote Andy Dufresne,                                                                                                               ‘Hope is a good thing.It might even be the best thing.’

Now all that’s left to be said is,Adios,2016! Happy New Year!

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A better place in the sky


Dear Abba,

‘Doesn’t that cloud look like a bowl of popcorn, Abba?’

‘Yes,but I think that’s an Anna cloud.You see,it’s got a tiny little head and pretty curls on top of that, just like yours’,you said on my birthday last year.Then we watched more clouds until mama brought out my cake with the big 8 on top of it.

I still have the gift you gave me,a notebook to write all my stories in.Mama said I couldn’t take a lot of things with me.I didn’t want to take anything else.

Remember how you and mama made jokes about my fussy eating habit? My superhero name was Ms.NeverHungry. A few days back,I told mama that I wish I really was Ms.NeverHungry. I’ve never seen her look more upset.

Yesterday, some nurses came to visit us.A lady took her baby to the nurse.Her face turned pale once she saw that the baby was covered in plastic.I laughed and told her that the baby would get wet otherwise, but no one told me why the nurse started crying after that.

In school,I told Ms.Sara that someday I would build a big and beautiful house and invite all the homeless people to live in it.Someday came sooner than I thought.Mama told me that Ms.Sara went to a “better place”.If she ever visits us,I’ll introduce her to the other 10 people Mama and I share the tent with.Do you think she’ll be proud of me, Abba, even though it’s not a house?

Why did those strange men take you that night? Why did Mama hold me close and cry after we heard that loud noise?

Mama and I miss you a lot, Abba.I saw that Anna cloud again this morning,so I thought I’ll write a letter to you.Omar uncle in the adjacent tent promised me that he’ll make sure the letter reaches you.I know he’ll keep his promise.Do you know why? One of the nurses who visited told me that he is very sick,but he’ll go to a better place soon,a place in the sky.Mama told me that’s where you went.

Do you like the better place, Abba?

Do you watch the clouds from there?

When can we come to the better place in the sky?

With love,

Anna.

Somewhere above the stars

It was a Tuesday morning like any other. Little did 16-year-old Samer know that his life was about to change forever.

He got dressed for school and went downstairs. It was a familiar sight.Everyday, as he climbed down those stairs, he could see his mother preparing breakfast in the kitchen and his baby sister playing with her stuffed blue panda.

School was a few blocks away from home. Even as he walked towards his school, Samer could see his house, the largest one on the street.

He’d heard about a civil war going on in the country. His family lived in one of the safest cities and although he was assured by his parents that they were safe, deep down, he was scared. The sight of the large white house, visible from the window of his classroom, calmed him.

That fateful Tuesday afternoon,  Samer looked out the window and saw his house. Moments later, all he could see was a fiery eruption of light. The explosion was followed by an overwhelming blast of sound. A mushroom cloud of fire rose into the sky. He didn’t realize what had happened until it was over and as soon as he did, his world came crashing down. Even as the teacher signaled everyone to calm down, Samer rushed out of his classroom.

The road which once led him home from school was covered in dust and debris. The acrid smoke irritated his eyes and blurred his vision and the smell of burnt flesh made him feel nauseated. Although people were shrieking in panic and crying , a deafening silence engulfed Samer. He was hoping against hope that they weren’t at home, that they were somehow given a warning and they made it out in time or his mother took his sister for a stroll in the park.

Tears came rolling down his cheeks as he ran into his father’s arms, who had rushed from his clinic as soon as heard about  the blast. Samer couldn’t imagine what he would’ve done had his father also stayed at home that day. They saw a woman’s body being carried out of the rubble. What he saw next confirmed his worst fears. In the woman’s hand was what once used to be a stuffed blue panda.

As a child, Samer had recurring nightmares. His parents told him that if he remembered that he could always wake up from them, they were nothing to be afraid of. As an imaginative 7-year-old boy, he always felt that there was a nightmare waiting for him, one that he wouldn’t be able to wake up from. This was it. The house he grew up in, was reduced to rubble. His mother’s beautiful face was injured beyond recognition. His baby sister, who spoke her first word a few weeks ago, didn’t even live to learn her brother’s name. One explosion robbed them of everything.

Father and son stood holding hands, not knowing that in a few days  they would travel miles away to another country, not knowing that once there, they would be looked at as a threat rather than as victims, not knowing that they’ve lost not only their past, but also their future.

Somewhere above the stars, a little hand clutched a stuffed blue panda and for the first time, the child said , ‘Samer’.

 

 

How much omission is too much omission?

You have an exam coming up. A friend texts you,  asking you how you’re doing. If your response to that was, ’I’m dying’, don’t you think for one second that you were exaggerating. Dying has five stages:denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Turns out, these are also the five stages of studying for an exam. Here’s why:

You’d made glorious plans to study , probably even made a time-table. Obviously, you were too busy putting the pro in procrastination to even consider sticking to the plan.

It all comes down to what I do the day before the exam, you tell yourself. Promises of making the most of the day and being super productive are made, only to be broken eventually.

It ‘s the day before your exam, and you wake up way later than planned. That’s when it all begins.

Stage 1: Denial

This cannot be happening. How could this be happening? You tell yourself to calm down and think it’s possible to do an entire semester’s worth studying in less than a day.

Ah, denial and the illusion of calmness it gives.

So, you have less than half a day and two pillow-sized books to read? What a great time to check every social media account you’ve ever created and a few hours later, end up watching Japanese commercials on YouTube!

Stage 2: Anger

You stop being in denial when you open a text from your friend and the only words you register are ‘prepare’ and ‘exam’.

You start to panic. Only, instead of getting to work right away, you direct all your energy towards blaming yourself. You blame yourself for all the mindless phone usage, for having chosen THE worst day to sleep in and more importantly, you’re furious at whoever thought it was a good idea to invent the snooze button.

Stage 3: Bargaining

This is the stage where you start rationalizing. You bargain, “I will never put off anything until the eleventh hour ever again if by some superpower of this universe I manage to study something by tomorrow”. You’re lost in a maze of “ifs”,only there’s no Triwizard cup at the end of this one nor do you have the company of a very handsome Cedric Diggory.Although at this stage, you’d much rather be Cedric and end up dead than study.

One look at the syllabus and you start wondering how much omission is too much omission. Whatsapp groups are buzzing, what with the fervent sharing of notes and people who actually are studying. Reality kicks you in the teeth and that leads you  to the next stage.

Stage 4: Depression

You’d known all along that you’re doomed to fail but this is when you acknowledge it. You’ve gone through the first three stages only to end up in depression.Science keeps telling us how the human mind works in brilliant ways. Yet, when you’re already feeling low, all it can do is remind you of every other time you felt this way, of all those times you felt the universe was holding up a big middle finger to your face.

In times like these,it is essential to remember that no matter how bad your level of preparation is, there is always that one person who has studied way lesser than you have. Hold on to that person. More importantly, store their number on speed dial and always, always call them before an exam.

One of the most underrated feelings in the world is the one you have after reading the following words, “I haven’t started studying at all”.

Stage 5: Acceptance

You’ve finally come to terms with the fact that although you’re screwed, if you try, you can maybe minimize the extent of it. You start trying, too. In the wee hours of the morning, you have a sudden bout of energy. Caffeine becomes your new best friend and sleep becomes a word so alien that you’re too busy to even think of.

Once you’ve accepted defeat that you’ve done all you could’ve, you tell yourself,”I’ve studied enough to pass. Let’s do this” and you hope for the best. You also make promises to redeem yourself, to plan ahead for the next semester and actually stick to the plan, promises which will inevitably be broken because, let’s face it, we’ve all been there.