We all love to talk, don’t we? I know you do. Also, I know that you think you’re smart. If that’s the case, let me give you a platform to showcase your smartness. Here’s calling all the closet Shashi Tharoors to tumble out of your closets and join us on this magical linguistic journey we endearingly christened TALK TITANS 2.
Time: 12 noon
Talk Titans 1 was an in-house event that turned out to be a huge success. That is why decided to make it big this time. Hence Talk Titans 2. This is an international event where students from all colleges are invited to participate. What are the rules and regulations you ask? Please read on:
Each college can send a maximum of 1participant
Participation by registration only
The session will be held online – however using the internet to answer the questions will lead to disqualification
Participants need to keep their cameras/video ON throughout the event
Participants can use either a computer or a mobile phone as per their convenience – but not both at the same time
Dress code: participant’s college uniform
Zoom Link for the event will be sent on the day of the event
The participants must be:
Well-groomed and Confident
Fluent in spoken English
Good awareness of current affairs topics
(On the day of the event) Must be in possession of a computer/mobile phone with a decent camera and stable internet connection
Warning: The post contains the description of a burn victim.
Hello friends. I’m back after another hibernation. I’m also capable of going into aestivation – but I will explain that later. I wanted to start the new year with a blog so, here I am. Today I want to let you in on a page from my history.
Disclaimer: Names of the people involved have been changed for privacy reasons. I do not have their express consent to quote their names – there’s no way I could contact them for seeking consent, in the first place. Also, the pictures used in this post are purely representational. No actual/personal photographs have been used.
This incident dates back to 1993 – my FYJC days. The bucking bronco that I was, one would hardly ever find me home unless it is after dark. That day was no different. Two of my classmates asked me out to a movie. How could a 17-year-old refuse such a wonderful proposition? More so when someone else offers to pay. I joined the twosome and the movie we planned to go watch was Jackie Shroff’s Gardish (released 10th September 1993). Thanks to Wikipedia, I could confirm the timeline of my story.
Almost 2 hours into the movie there was a gruesome scene in which the villain sets Dimple Kapadia’s character ablaze. People of that ghetto run helter-skelter or just watch awestruck as she goes up in flame. Little did we know that in another scene, in my real life, something more gruesome lie waiting for me. Talk about coincidences – mine was terrible. Something that still gives me goosebumps. For statistics – we went to the 3-6 pm show of that movie. So, the immolation scene unfolded at about 5 pm or a bit later.
After the movie, the three of us were not done yet with our gallivanting. We decided to pay a visit to a good friend and classmate, Selena (name changed). We planned to take her along to visit yet another classmate. That’s when she broke the tragic news of the suicide attempt of one of our classmates – Jane (name changed). She had tried self-immolation. What an eerie coincidence – the time of her attempt coincides with the immolation scene from Gardish that we had seen a while ago.
That was the first time I had even been INSIDE a Burns Ward. For the uninitiated, that’s a section of the hospital where burn victims are treated. I get scared watching burnt faces/bodies. Just mere mention of the word ‘burns ward’ or ‘immolation’ brings back memories of that fateful day (even to date). We carefully paced into the ward, towards her bed. Since she was burnt to almost 95%, she was placed in a ‘burn cage’. Now that’s hospital equipment used to cover a burnt patient’s body so that the hospital linen does not touch their practically skin-less body.
There laid my heavily sedate beautiful classmate. She had almost no hair, no eyelashes, no lips and above all – she had lost most skin on her body. That means she could not be CLOTHED in any way. Also, her skin-less body could not have been exposed to the elements either for fear of septicemia. All in all, an effervescent, short-tempered, talkative girl lay there almost lifeless. She was thirsty, but could not be given any water since her throat was leaking and water could cause infection.
While we were still trying to process that frightful scene, we noticed her bandaged hands twitch. We were relieved. At least she was alive. That’s when we got the frightening revelation that she was AWARE of her surroundings. I still cannot imagine her condition – no skin, no strength, no self-esteem, no future but full awareness of the surroundings and excruciating pain. We spoke in hushed tones to her uncle who made a laboured effort to introduce her to the fact that her classmates had come to see her. We could hear her moan (with great effort since her vocal cords were damaged too). Suddenly she raised her hand and called out the name of one of my classmates. That’s when I skipped a heartbeat. I could hear my heart beating loudly. That’s how scared I was for that one moment. The classmate who she called out, had the never to take her hand in his – and talk to her. He spoke to her as if nothing happened. He asked her to rest and get back to school on Monday. This was a Thursday late evening. She got the humour and tried her best to laugh. Selena, who by now was in tears, ran outside the room, plonked on the hospital bench and wept like a baby (muffled though – we didn’t want Jane to hear our cries).
Somehow her uncle convinced us to leave since we were still school kids and had parents at home who would be worried by our absence. Not quite convinced and with a heavy heart, we walked away from the ward, picked our bicycles and pedalled our way home. No words were spoken. We first left Selena and later went to our respective homes. I was still shaken and apparently distressed. I slowly narrated the grim story of that evening. Even my parents were speechless. I could not eat that night – and for the first time – my mother allowed me to go to bed without dinner. She knew that after what I saw at such close quarters that night – I could not even think about food.
The day passed and Friday dawned. We went to school – but kept the fact to ourselves. Others thought Jane was unwell and hence absent. Somehow toward the end of the school day – someone got a whiff of the news and quite diligently spread the news. After school, we paid Jane a visit. That day she was weak, fighting a losing battle. We were not allowed to stay for long – doctor’s orders. We had to beat a hasty retreat.
The next day, we got the sad news that Jane’s battle was finally over and now she could rest in peace. Her pain and agony were over. A flower was nipped in the bud, that day. A girl who harboured the desire to become a pilot and soar in the air was being consigned to the flames. A beautiful (husky though) voice was silenced forever that day. Her reasons for suicide were shrouded in a mystery that continues to this date. Now, even if I knew it – I would never disclose it here.
I talked of coincidences earlier – this was the one I meant. While Dimple’s character was set ablaze on-screen, Jane had set herself ablaze the same day – almost at the same time, in real life. We could never have imagined that such a horrifying coincidence was waiting for us just around the corner. Although 29 years have passed – the mere mention of that name (cannot be mentioned here) – still brings back a mixed bag of memories and emotions. All I can say today is – may her soul rest in peace. At the same time, I’d like to request everyone reading this to take life seriously and not end it on such a gruesome note.
The other day, I just got back from a 15-minute a.k.a short break during my ‘Communications Training’. My trainer had a wonderful activity in store for us. We had to introduce ourselves in a story or poetry form. No names to be disclosed. At first, it seemed a herculean task – but as I started writing, I figured it was worse. It just didn’t sit well with me. I had to do something different – something that helps me express myself. I didn’t want to cut a sorry figure mouthing lines like a parrot. That’s when I decided to go extempore (Show-off, did you say? Well… then, show-off it is). What came out of my mouth the other day was an excerpt. Here are the whole nine yards. Read on!!!
Several blue moons ago, in a dusty town, which by the way is also known as Orange City, landed a lanky yet handsome blue-eyed man with his lissom wife. No – they didn’t meet there, didn’t fall in love there (arranged marriage, you see), didn’t get married there (that happened in God’s Own Country) – they just reached there from yet another town, about 250KM East. This was the beginning of an epic journey called Marital Life that they embarked on, in the year MCMLXXVI AD, a leap year, the year in which Eagles released Hotel California.
It was not a bed of roses – far from it. While they could just make ends meet, I’m sure that’s not what every man/woman dream of after entering the sacrament of Holy matrimony (no – we’re not Catholics). One thing led to another and they brought their first offspring into this big bad world. Seven pounds and a half – a healthy baby – the firstborn – a SON. In a patriarchal world, this was good news. Now knowing any better – they named him after the erstwhile reigning superstar of what is now called Bollywood.
The day is special too – it was a pleasant winter afternoon-going-on-evening. 1620 IST if I could be precise. It was the very day, several millennia ago, a messiah was born in Bethlehem. I’d like to quote a few lines from the famous Boney M song – Mary’s Boy Child (released in 1978 – that’s not my Y.O.B.)
Wait a minute, my Christian brethren – I mean no disrespect. Just a coincidence, here. Peace?
Not a king – but the apple of their eye.
Not a manger – but a small hospital in the urban area of the largest city of North Malabar. The place has a sobriquet too – The land of looms and lore.
That’s where this skinny boy was born. 25th December. Don’t get funny ideas – the boy was far from what you’re already thinking. If you thought of the devil – we couldn’t agree any more than this. Good Job.
This family took the boy to his new home – back to Orange City. The house was a rented apartment in a pre-independence building. This is where he would go from crawling on all fours to riding on two wheels (driven by a moderately powerful 125cc engine). He spent the first 29 years of his life there. More on this here.
In 2005, this boy – now a young man moved bag and baggage to what is also called the City of Seven Island, City of Dreams, Maximum City etc. this was where he knew what a five-figure salary feels like. He also got a taste of Adrenaline rush, some Ethanol derivates, some Cortisol, some serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins etc. This city looked like a nuthouse to him, in the beginning. He never knew he would settle down here and start a family one fine day.
The boy who once got into trouble for NOT SPEAKING to classmates – now instructs his students NOT TO SPEAK to classmates (only while he’s teaching). From ‘getting scared of teachers’ to ‘getting scared of the boss’ – life has come a full circle. The boy – hereinafter called ‘man’ who has lots to say – but only a few open minds to comprehend the contents, in toto. The man – who stands 6 ft. tall but stands humbled before his 5 ft. something queen. The man who reprimands students for not completing their assignments – but gets reprimanded for not cleaning the house (even after a seemingly arduous day at work. The man – who excels in Communication Skills – but still struggles to get a word in edgeways at home. the man who teaches students how to debate – but has never won a single debate with Her Majesty. the man with a face only his mother could love – now has an eight-year-old who calls him a Prince Charming (Kids!!!).
The man must now rest his tired fingers before Carpel-Tunnel syndrome sets in. I’ll be back soon – in a millennium maybe. Going back to my ‘hiding under the rock’ phase.