Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Eat, drink and be merry!!!!!!"

A very Merry Christmas to one and all!!!!
Enjoy life folks and keep smiling......

Enticing Festivities

“Tis the season to be jolly.....fa.la.laa” sings a merry voice inside my head. Yup. It’s that time of the year again. The time to spread cheer, love and hope. The time for stars, cribs, Christmas trees, greeting cards, gifts, for the practical minded-discount sales, and of course, baking. You guessed it! Christmas is here.

The world over, celebrations and food share a deep, intimate, inseparable bond and it is no different in my home either. The kitchen is the heart of all celebrations. Mom loves cooking. We love eating. Onam is a season for the oil to boil. Murrukku, achappam, banana chips, kozhalappam all take their turns to get dunked into hot oil, sizzle and get fried into fresh, crisp and sinfully delicious (a.k.a calorie packed) snacks. Onam being the traditional festival of the land of coconuts and coconut oil, it’s inevitable that oil hog the limelight.

But with Christmas, it is a whole new story, oil and frying take a backseat and watch the fun as the oven takes to centre stage. The traditional fare gets replaced with cakes, cookies, puddings, breads, roasted chicken etc. The home-made wine blushes with pride into a deeper red at all the attention as she steps gingerly on stage.

The preparations for the big day begins months ahead when dried fruits, after a screen-test for quality, are selected, coarsely chopped and soaked in brandy for the Christmas cake. The regulars on the list include raisins, cherries, cashews and dates.

Mom ensures that the cakes are not baked until two days before Christmas because with three ever hungry kids at home for the vacations, the kitchen is always at risk of being plundered.

Cake making is a gala event with the entire family joining in. Mom, the supervisor assigns duties to us the three children and Dad retains his privileged post-the Royal Food Taster. The stereo is turned on and smells of vanilla essence, beaten eggs, cake batter all mingle with the strains of music in the air. Soon the eggs are beaten, butter and sugar whipped, flour, brandy sodden dried fruits and caramel added, batter mixed, fingers licked and remnants of cake batter on the spoons and vessels fought over.

Empty egg shells lying around in clusters, an egg beater dripping gooey threads of egg onto the black granite kitchen counter, a sink piled up with used pans, dishes, ladles and measuring cups, smileys smirking from the white blanket of flour and powdered sugar spread on the slabs are all that remain.

Before long, tummies rumble and minds fantasise as the enticing, rich fragrance of freshly baked cakes waft through every room in the house. But Mom puts her feet down firm on the one area where she rules, “No eating until tea-time.” she says and for once doesn’t let her heart waver to the best of our entreaties.

With the cakes baked and safely locked away, all that remains is for the wine to be bottled and to wait for the big day to walk in with all its high spirits.

The breeze whistles, birds sing, squirrels chirp and Christmas day dawns bright and beautiful. The very air crackles with excitement. No one is surprised when the two boys of the house are up and about in time for the early morning shopping and preparations.

The menu for the day, the highlight of any festival is Christian fare with a western touch. The day starts with a breakfast of fluffy appams and spicy egg curry. Soft home-made bread , a roasted full chicken stuffed with potatoes, a thick savoury gravy to go with it , fresh cucumber and tomato salad and tall glasses of lemonade complete lunch.

The curtain falls on the celebrations of the last festival of the year when the specially decorated Christmas cake is cut and relished at tea.

As Night sneaks up outside our window on Christmas night, all that she can hear is snatches of conversation. The thrilled chatter of a small family making plans for the New-year bash.

“Who wants chocolate pudding?” asks Mom and three hands shoot up.

“So chocolate it is. Should we have a biscuit crumb base or ...........”

Night drifts off to sleep listening to the lullaby of our voices.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Not Wives Waiting to Happen

“But why not mom?!? It’s my life!” Amy cries in exasperation.

“Amy, we’ve been through this a hundred times. I told you, it’s not safe. You yourself pointed out this morning that the newspapers are replete with reports of harassment against girls and women of all ages. How can I let you go all the way to Delhi just to do a Post Graduation and be at peace at home? Besides, you can very well get the same degree from any college here in Kerala. I know it’s not the same experience but all you need is a degree right? Why don’t you try to understand my fears?

Amy and her mother were alone at home. It was afternoon and they had just finished with lunch when the subject of Amys' future cropped up. Amy was once again the first to bring it up.

A final year degree student, Amy is a young girl born and brought up in a typical middle class family. Her parents are conventional and have their concepts of how a good Indian girl should be. Concepts which don’t always coincide with what Amy wants out of her life.

Though not purely career oriented, among her dreams about her future, what reigns supreme for Amy at the moment is a job in the field of writing. But her parents’ ideas differ. They want her to get married as soon as possible and then settle down as the perfect wife, daughter-in-law and later, mother. It is this point that infuriates Amy the most.

Amy gets up and goes to the washbasin to wash her hands as her mother starts clearing away the dirty plates and dishes on the table. She knows that this battle of words with her mother is not going to take her anywhere. But for the time being, that’s all she can do. She looks up at the dark haired girl staring back at her from the mirror. Frustration gleams in her eyes. She lets out dejected sigh, dries her hands on a white towel hung beside the maroon washbasin takes a deep breath, turns to her mom and gets straight to the point.

“O.K mom, I understand your concern for my safety. But......What problem do you have with me taking up a job? Don’t you see how happy I would be if I could land a job in the field of my choice? Besides, safety is a concern not just for girls. It is an issue for everyone. Life has to go on, right? Why don’t you like the idea of me working?”

Her mother carries the pile of dirty dishes into the squeaky clean kitchen, dumps them in the sink and starts to wash them. The sunlight falls in slanting columns through the bars of the open windows onto the white marble floor. The clanging of the steel plates and the hiss of the running tap are the only sounds heard.

Amy follows her into the kitchen and stands behind her with arms folded waiting for an answer.

Her mother looks up from the dirty dishes in the sink at her 20 year old daughter. “Amy”, she said, “Do you know why divorce rates are so high these days? Why more and more young children suicide? Why the number of drug abuse cases etc. among young children is rising? Divorce rates go up because today’s girls don’t have tolerance and tend to be selfish. Financial independence makes them arrogant. So they don’t bother to try and patch up when relationships get strained. The lives of young children go haywire because with both parents working, the child is not properly taken care of. The parents are so preoccupied with their own lives that they don’t have time for their children. The role of a mother and a wife in a family are so demanding that, to have a job would be a hindrance to giving complete dedication to your family. Besides, you should understand that financial independence and money are not everything. There is lots of other things in life that matter more and the foremost amongst them is your family.”

Amy gapes at her mother.

“Whoa! Mom!! What are you even talking about??? I’m just 20, I’m single and I’m NOT a mother!!!!! I am talking about now. Not 10 years later. I want to take up a job next year alongside my studies. It’s not about money mom. It’s about doing what I love doing. Don’t my dreams mean anything to you?”

“I don’t care what you say. You’ll get married someday right? As long as you are with us in this family, I’m not going to let you travel for work or anything else. After you are married, you may do as you please. If you are lucky you’ll get a man who is not as boring and conventional as your parents. Happy?” Having said as much, her mother rinses the soap suds off the last plate in the sink, washes her hands, dries them on the kitchen towel and walks off leaving behind an irritated daughter.

Amys' is not an isolated case. In 90% of such cases, the child ends up doing what her parents want her to because, well, they are the ones in charge. Argue as they might about feminism, equal rights etc, at the end of the day, there are plenty of Amys out there who lead lives akin to that of a baton in a relay race - passed from hand to hand. First taken care of by their parents, then handed over to the hands of the man of her life and in due course of time onto the hands of her children.

But what happens when a girl decides that she wants more? What happens when a girl dreams of a life beyond the fences of a domestic existence?

How can dreams and aspirations, (considered to be must-haves in guys) be considered selfishness in women?

Girls too are human beings with dreams in their hearts and NOT ‘wives waiting to happen’.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


A drizzle of droplets dribbled by,
Fading away the candles fair,
Stood on to the coffin's head,
Where you,my friend slept in peace.

Dressed in gloomy white you lay,
An angel at her well-earned rest,
Brief was time and hard was life,
But perfect were the moments you spent.

Life was a cross hanged on your neck,
Like the one in your folded hands,
But the vim with which you met
The questions of life made you great.

Never did fate smile upon you,
Ever did friends ignore you,
But I think the time has come,
When God cared to look at you.

Oh! dear look at them cry,
Whom at death-bed ignored you,
They weep their hearts out,
Soon to be filled again with blooms of joy.

The way you filled my paths with love,
Made you a good pal of mine,
Never will I forget how you cared,
Me, who had only pains to bear.

The deafening silence your mind conveys,
Like sword pierces my inner soul.
Ah! I feel the world around me,
Collapsing into grains of sand.

Now, with tears streaming in my eyes,
Let me kiss you for a final time,
Time to move on to a heavenly world,
Where, May your soul rest in peace.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"French And English"

Go through this essay by one of my favourite writers. I admire the wit and the way he use the language. He has an affection for long sentences but they are nevertheless, complex or intricate.


It is obvious that there is a great deal of difference between being international and being cosmopolitan. All good men are international. Nearly all bad men are cosmopolitan. If we are to be international we must be national. And it is largely because those who call themselves the friends of peace have not dwelt sufficiently on this distinction that they do not impress the bulk of any of the nations to which they belong. International peace means a peace between nations, not a peace after the destruction of nations, like the Buddhist peace after the destruction of personality. The golden age of the good European is like the heaven of the Christian: it is a place where people will love each other; not like the heaven of the Hindu, a place where they will be each other. And in the case of national character this can be seen in a curious way. It will generally be found, I think, that the more a man really appreciates and admires the soul of another people the less he will attempt to imitate it; he will be conscious that there is something in it too deep and too unmanageable to imitate. The Englishman who has a fancy for France will try to be French; the Englishman who admires France will remain obstinately English. This is to be particularly noticed in the case of our relations with the French, because it is one of the outstanding peculiarities of the French that their vices are all on the surface, and their extraordinary virtues concealed. One might almost say that their vices are the flower of their virtues.

Thus their obscenity is the expression of their passionate love of dragging all things into the light. The avarice of their peasants means the independence of their peasants. What the English call their rudeness in the streets is a phase of their social equality. The worried look of their women is connected with the responsibility of their women; and a certain unconscious brutality of hurry and gesture in the men is related to their inexhaustible and extraordinary military courage. Of all countries, therefore, France is the worst country for a superficial fool to admire. Let a fool hate France: if the fool loves it he will soon be a knave. He will certainly admire it, not only for the things that are not creditable, but actually for the things that are not there. He will admire the grace and indolence of the most industrious people in the world. He will admire the romance and fantasy of the most determinedly respectable and common-place people in the world. This mistake the Englishman will make if he admires France too hastily; but the mistake that he makes about France will be slight compared with the mistake that he makes about himself. An Englishman who professes really to like French realistic novels, really to be at home in a French modern theatre, really to experience no shock on first seeing the savage French caricatures, is making a mistake very dangerous for his own sincerity. He is admiring something he does not understand. He is reaping where he has not sown, and taking up where he has not laid down; he is trying to taste the fruit when he has never toiled over the tree. He is trying to pluck the exquisite fruit of French cynicism, when he has never tilled the rude but rich soil of French virtue.

The thing can only be made clear to Englishmen by turning it round. Suppose a Frenchman came out of democratic France to live in England, where the shadow of the great houses still falls everywhere, and where even freedom was, in its origin, aristocratic. If the Frenchman saw our aristocracy and liked it, if he saw our snobbishness and liked it, if he set himself to imitate it, we all know what we should feel. We all know that we should feel that that particular Frenchman was a repulsive little gnat. He would be imitating English aristocracy; he would be imitating the English vice. But he would not even understand the vice he plagiarised: especially he would not understand that the vice is partly a virtue. He would not understand those elements in the English which balance snobbishness and make it human: the great kindness of the English, their hospitality, their unconscious poetry, their sentimental conservatism, which really admires the gentry. The French Royalist sees that the English like their King. But he does not grasp that while it is base to worship a King, it is almost noble to worship a powerless King. The impotence of the Hanoverian Sovereigns has raised the English loyal subject almost to the chivalry and dignity of a Jacobite. The Frenchman sees that the English servant is respectful: he does not realise that he is also disrespectful; that there is an English legend of the humorous and faithful servant, who is as much a personality as his master; the Caleb Balderstone, the Sam Weller. He sees that the English do admire a nobleman; he does not allow for the fact that they admire a nobleman most when he does not behave like one. They like a noble to be unconscious and amiable: the slave may be humble, but the master must not be proud. The master is Life, as they would like to enjoy it; and among the joys they desire in him there is none which they desire more sincerely than that of generosity, of throwing money about among mankind, or, to use the noble mediaeval word, largesse - the joy of largeness. That is why a cabman tells you you are no gentleman if you give him his correct fare. Not only his pocket, but his soul is hurt. You have wounded his ideal. You have defaced his vision of the perfect aristocrat. All this is really very subtle and elusive; it is very difficult to separate what is mere slavishness from what is a sort of vicarious nobility in the English love of a lord. And no Frenchman could easily grasp it at all. He would think it was mere slavishness; and if he liked it, he would be a slave. So every Englishman must (at first) feel French candour to be mere brutality. And if he likes it, he is a brute. These national merits must not be understood so easily. It requires long years of plentitude and quiet, the slow growth of great parks, the seasoning of oaken beams, the dark enrichment of red wine in cellars and in inns, all the leisure and the life of England through many centuries, to produce at last the generous and genial fruit of English snobbishness. And it requires battery and barricade, songs in the streets, and ragged men dead for an idea, to produce and justify the terrible flower of French indecency.

When I was in Paris a short time ago, I went with an English friend of mine to an extremely brilliant and rapid succession of French plays, each occupying about twenty minutes. They were all astonishingly effective; but there was one of them which was so effective that my friend and I fought about it outside, and had almost to be separated by the police. It was intended to indicate how men really behaved in a wreck or naval disaster, how they break down, how they scream, how they fight each other without object and in a mere hatred of everything. And then there was added, with all that horrible irony which Voltaire began, a scene in which a great statesman made a speech over their bodies, saying that they were all heroes and had died in a fraternal embrace. My friend and I came out of this theatre, and as he had lived long in Paris, he said, like a Frenchman: "What admirable artistic arrangement! Is it not exquisite?" "No," I replied, assuming as far as possible the traditional attitude of John Bull in the pictures in Punch - "No, it is not exquisite. Perhaps it is unmeaning; if it is unmeaning I do not mind. But if it has a meaning I know what the meaning is; it is that under all their pageant of chivalry men are not only beasts, but even hunted beasts. I do not know much of humanity, especially when humanity talks in French. But I know when a thing is meant to uplift the human soul, and when it is meant to depress it. I know that Cyrano de Bergerac (where the actors talked even quicker) was meant to encourage man. And I know that this was meant to discourage him." "These sentimental and moral views of art," began my friend, but I broke into his words as a light broke into my mind. "Let me say to you," I said, "what Jaurès said to Liebknecht at the Socialist Conference: 'You have not died on the barricades.' You are an Englishman, as I am, and you ought to be as amiable as I am. These people have some right to be terrible in art, for they have been terrible in politics. They may endure mock tortures on the stage; they have seen real tortures in the streets. They have been hurt for the idea of Democracy. They have been hurt for the idea of Catholicism. It is not so utterly unnatural to them that they should be hurt for the idea of literature. But, by blazes, it is altogether unnatural to me! And the worst thing of all is that I, who am an Englishman, loving comfort, should find comfort in such things as this. The French do not seek comfort here, but rather unrest. This restless people seeks to keep itself in a perpetual agony of the revolutionary mood. Frenchmen, seeking revolution, may find the humiliation of humanity inspiring. But God forbid that two pleasure-seeking Englishmen should ever find it pleasant!"

-- G. K. Chesterton.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Risking Life or Journalism

Janine was one among the top female war journalists at present. She has covered almost all the wars during the last two decades. Here is a fine piece from her about her life as a War Reporter.........

Love and War
Janine di Giovanni: She is the author of the forthcoming book “Ghosts by Daylight: Love, War, Redemption.” 

MOGADISHU, winter, 2002. The sun was beginning to drop as I climbed the roof of my guesthouse and began the finicky task of setting up my satellite telephone.
From the roof, I could hear the call to prayer from a nearby muezzin. It was the time of evening between twilight and night — what the French call “entre le chien et le loup.” I took out my flashlight and began to phone the other world.
The other world was where I lived when I was not on the road more than three-quarters of the year, in war and conflict zones. The other world was my second-floor flat in London, my family in America, my friends scattered across Europe.
The other world was where I thought about the future, about bills, options, choices. It was a place, unlike war zones, that terrified me.
The first call was to a friend, Julian, who had left an urgent message.
“Sweetheart,” he said gloomily. “Sit down. I have some terrible news.”
The day before, he told me, one of our closest friends had taken a gun, pointed it to his head and fired. I held the phone steady in my hand, pointing toward some remote satellite in the sky, and thought about his corpse, unmoving and still. It was impossible: Juan Carlos was the most vital person I knew. Like me, he was a journalist who had reported war for many decades. That night in Mogadishu, I mourned my friend alone. I cried, not just for him, but for all the evil we had seen: the mass graves, the rape victims, ethnic cleansing, the sewer in East Timor where a dead man, purple and swollen, floated in dark water, the relentless, constant misery.
The images never seemed to fade. Neither did the suffering. That day, I’d been to a hospital that didn’t have enough beds for those who suffered bullet wounds. People lay under trees, groaning with pain. I sat for hours with a little boy who had been blinded by shrapnel during a firefight between rival clans.
I wept not for the little boy and for misery in general, but for myself, too. As a war reporter, I’d been in various danger zones for more than a decade. I was exhausted. I had not experienced motherhood, or a routine domestic life. The female combat reporters who served as role models for me, Martha Gellhorn and Gloria Emerson, never gave birth; both died alone. I did not want to end my days that way.
My life was the opposite of cozy domesticity. I slept with a pre-packed bag with clothes, and had a wardrobe consisting of “winter war” (Chechnya, Balkans, Afghanistan, northern Iraq) parkas and boots and “summer war” (Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Guinea, etc.) baggy shirts and trousers. I had a collection of Middle East and “strict Islam” head scarves, abayas and kurtas. When I went on the rare holiday with friends who had children, I listened like an alien as they talked about schools and real estate.
The next day in Mogadishu, the teenagers with AK-47s I had hired to protect me, heard of my sadness. One by one, they brought me little presents: a lighter, a seashell, a single cigarette, and offered words of condolence.
One told me we were all on a train to death. “In Somalia, it just happens faster.”
In the middle of this trip, I had another astonishing telephone call. It was from Bruno Girodon, the French reporter I had met and fallen in love with in Sarajevo in 1993. We parted after a brief affair. We met again during the war in Algeria in 1998. That time, the love stuck. I felt I had met someone who spoke the same language, who shared my compulsion to follow wars and disasters, who knew what it felt like to come home at night feeling ashamed to be human. But our lifestyles didn’t seem to promise much of a future.
We had broken up in Tora Bora a few months earlier; he retreated to his home in Abidjan, where he was covering the violent conflict in Ivory Coast. I wandered through Africa — from Nigeria to Zimbabwe to Kenya to Somalia — with a single bag.
Somehow Bruno tracked me down. He was in Rwanda when he reached me in Ivory Coast. He’d made a decision.
“Let’s get married,” he said over a crackling satellite wire as I watched the sun drop in the sky, leaving darkness, stars and the pop of gunfire. “Let’s have a baby.”
Two years later, I lay in a grimy French hospital drugged out of my skull. A doctor handed me a still and quiet baby who had arrived seven weeks early. (I had been working in Gaza when I began dilating at 21 weeks and was ordered on bed rest.)
“Is he dead?” I whispered, looking at the quiet form. “No, he’s not dead,” said the shocked doctor. “Hold your son.”
And so Bruno and I — two very wounded souls who had seen truly terrible things — began life as new parents. We believed the baby — who laughed and smiled and was utterly untouched by coups d’état and genocide — was our redemption. We called him Luca, the bringer of light.
Family life in Paris seemed a miracle. Water that ran out of taps and was not contaminated! Working phones! Doctors who had antibiotics and painkillers!
For some time, there was great beauty. Then it all started to grow dark. Baudelaire wrote of ghosts in Paris that tug at your sleeves. The ghosts of our past started pulling at ours. I was haunted by the awful feeling that, no matter where I was, something catastrophic had just happened. I watched for flares in the sky. I listened for AK-47s and turned on the radio to BBC for news of a coup d’état — in Paris.
And Bruno began to have nightmares, and to drink heavily. A devoted father, he stayed up all night to take care of the baby, and never seemed to sleep. He played bizarre video games, all about war and destruction. Terror, the kind that freezes your stomach, became an odd presence in our lives.
Civilian life was tougher for us than life together under bombardment. Why did we function better in a world in which death was constant, where we saw men with hands tied behind their backs, naked, in our front yard after death squads had done their dirty business? I don’t know. But Bruno and I both operated best in a war zone.
WAR reporters may not be ideal parents. In 2010 alone, 44 journalists were killed worldwide. Of these, 6 were killed in combat and 11 on dangerous assignments. Many more have been wounded or narrowly escaped death.
As I write, Bruno is in a military hospital in Paris recovering after being shot in the face by a sniper in Tripoli. He has a hairline-fractured jaw and has suffered hearing loss, but he is all right — and is healing. But this will not stop him. “I felt so alive,” he said when he described the moments before he was shot. And I am going to Libya later this month to continue his work. I don’t work the high-risk assignments the way I used to, but I still go to places I probably should not.
In fact and by choice, except for short, sharp assignments I can finish in five or six days, I’ve been home with Luca for five years. This was my response to parenting advice I got then from Ahmad Chalabi, a controversial Iraqi politician when I was in Baghdad, and Luca, then 4 months old, was at home in Paris.
“There will always be more wars,” he scolded me. “But if you miss Luca’s first tooth, or his first step, you will never forgive yourself.”
I took his advice, missed Falluja and Afghanistan and Gaza, and instead learned how to bake cupcakes and enroll in children’s art classes at the Louvre. Eventually, the pull took over and I went back.
As I was leaving for Benghazi last spring, Luca turned to look at me as he walked down the stairs, hand in hand with his father: “Mama, can’t you go somewhere less dangerous?” It did and always will break my heart to say goodbye to Luca. But I still went.
People often ask why I still do it. When they do, I think of Dili Babu, an Indian boy I wrote about when Luca was an infant. Dili Babu was dying of AIDS. He looked like an injured sparrow. I spent hours on the floor with him, feeding him bread and water. I wanted so badly to take him back to Paris with me, to make him better, to will him a better life.
For months, I kept a photograph of Dili Babu above my desk, next to one of sunny Luca, and I wired money to a bank in Chennai for his treatment. Then one day, the director of the orphanage sent me a message: Pray for Dili Babu. His soul is no longer with us.
I am not sure that what I do as a mother always works. Like every parent, I try. I make huge mistakes. But my son is loved, wanted. As cinematic and passionate as it was, my love affair with his father could not sustain itself, perhaps because of the damage we have witnessed. We parted with sadness and immense love.
And there is Luca, bringer of light, promise, redemption.

@Copied from The New York Times

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Facebook as a narrative tool........

Ian Shapira is a features writer on the local enterprise team. He joined the Post in 2000 and has covered schools, youth culture, criminal justice, and technology. In 2007, Shapira was on the Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. 

How brilliant he weaves this story using Facebook as a narrative tool. Just read it. Thanks

A Facebook story: A mother's joy and a family's sorrow

Even before Shana Greatman Swers got pregnant, the 35-year-old married consultant had a habit of posting on Facebook about nearly anything. She loved writing about her husband, Jeff, her friends at work, and the prospect of having a baby. People who knew her followed every turn on the social network, starting when she wrote on March 10 that "Shana Greatman Swers and Jeff are thrilled to announce to the world that little baby Swers will be joining our family this September. Good thing we bought the bigger house!" But the chain of messages that the Gaithersburg resident wrote over the next eight months would ultimately become a modern interactive narrative of the joys of pregnancy and the harrowing uncertainties that develop when medical complications set in. Even in her toughest moments, she tapped out Facebook updates from her iPhone to relatives and friends -- a mix of people from George Washington University, where she went to college; the Corporate Executive Board, her workplace in Rosslyn; and her old buddies from back home in California. With permission from the Swers family, The Washington Post has edited and annotated her Facebook page to tell her story from pre-baby date nights to a medical odyssey that turned the ecstasy of childbirth into a struggle for life.
Shana Greatman Swers
Shana Greatman Swers My fabulous husband just brought be some Rita's. He knows how to keep a pregnant lady happy!
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Andrea Billups likes this.
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Andrea Billups Hold that puppy in until Sept. 17. :-).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Details open the window

Readers want a picture – something to see, not just a paragraph to read. A picture made out of words. that’s what makes a pro out of an amateur. An amateur writer tells a story. A pro shows the story, creates a picture to look at instead of just words to read. A good author writes with a camera, not with a pen.

The amateur writes: “Bill was nervous.”

The pro writes: “Bill sat in a dentist’s waiting room, peeling the skin at the edge of his thumb, until the raw, red flesh began to show. Biting the torn cuticle, he ripped it away, and sucked at the warm sweetness of his own blood.”


“Manu was tired,” the reader arrives at a mental dead end, left with no imaginative opportunities for envisioning. Compare this to a description such as “Manu shuffled into the kitchen, yawning and blinking. Collapsing into the chair, he closed his eyes, crossed his arms for a pillow, and slowly tucked his head on to the fold.”

Friday, September 30, 2011

Savouring 'The Good Short Life'.

 Please read this only after you go through Adarsh's post 'The Good Short Life.'

Thank you Adarsh for sharing that wonderful homage to life and its meaning. Let us read it again to see the nuts turning inside the great writing which touches our hearts.

“We need to go buy you a pistol, don’t we?” he asked quietly. He meant to shoot myself with.

“Yes, Sweet Thing,” I said, with a smile. “We do.” 
(See. A conversation always puts you in a place. We want to overhear).

The nerves and muscles pulse and twitch, and progressively, they die. (The action and the sudden crisp death).

From the outside, it looks like the ripple of piano keys in the muscles under my skin. From the inside, it feels like anxious butterflies, trying to get out. (Metaphors take you a long way. They are the ladders in 'Snake and Ladder' game, that's another metaphor)

But it’s hard to smile, and chew. I’m short of breath. I choke a lot. I sound like a wheezy, lisping drunk. For a recovering alcoholic, it’s really annoying. (When emotions run high, people use short sentences. We get choked as we get caught in a deluge of them).

If I let this run the whole course, with all the human, medical, technological and loving support I will start to need just months from now, it will leave me, in 5 or 8 or 12 or more years, a conscious but motionless, mute, withered, incontinent mummy of my former self. Maintained by feeding and waste tubes, breathing and suctioning machines.  (Look at the series...your article must contain at least one series. It has the effect of a drum roll. And see the role of a fragment sentence at the end. It works whenever there are things go out of balance)

When the neurologist gave me the diagnosis that November, he shook my hand with a cracked smile and released me to the chill, empty gray parking lot below. (At the turning point, the writer jump-starts our senses. Chill(tactile). Gray(Colour). And a specific place- The parking lot. Suddenly the spectacle pops into life).

It was twilight. He had confirmed what I had suspected through six months of tests by other specialists looking for other explanations. But suspicion and certainty are two different things. Standing there, it suddenly hit me that I was going to die.(Understand the implication of twilight. It is half here and half there. It reflects the moment described).

I had a dinner scheduled in Washington that night with an old friend, a scholar and author who was feeling depressed. We’d been talking about him a lot. Fair enough. Tonight, I’d up the ante. We’d talk about Lou. (Using humour at a pathetic situation can deepen the melancholy the reader is going through. And I believe that the phrase, 'to up the ante' was once formed just to be used in this article. So apt. So touching)

The next morning, I realized I did have a way of life. For 22 years, I have been going to therapists and 12-step meetings. They helped me deal with being alcoholic and gay. They taught me how to be sober and sane. They taught me that I could be myself, but that life wasn’t just about me. They taught me how to be a father. And perhaps most important, they taught me that I can do anything, one day at a time.

Including this.
(Repeating the word taught. Music. Monotony in learning. And see the short sentence single para at the end).

She was being bathed and diapered and dressed and fed, and for the last several years, she looked at me, her only son, as she might have at a passing cloud. (no comments).

I have a plan. If I get pneumonia, I’ll let it snuff me out. If not, there are those other ways. I just have to act while my hands still work: the gun, narcotics, sharp blades, a plastic bag, a fast car, over-the-counter drugs, oleander tea (the polite Southern way), carbon monoxide, even helium. That would give me a really funny voice at the end. (Using another series of specific things. And at the end again humour at a sad situation).

The song that transfixed me, words and music, was “Dance Me to the End of Love.” That’s the way I feel about this time. I’m dancing, spinning around, happy in the last rhythms of the life I love. When the music stops — when I can’t tie my bow tie, tell a funny story, walk my dog, talk with Whitney, kiss someone special, or tap out lines like this — I’ll know that Life is over. (I wish, the writer had stopped here, but he continues.)

It’s time to be gone.

Language as a lens

"The writer can zoom up on any part of the picture that is already framed by the original sentence. In the following example, that means zooming up on either the container or the palm.

For instance, assume the branches of the palm are the detail of interest. Without any word of transition, only a twist of zoom lens represented by the comma, the sentence can now read: "The rhapis palm sat in a large, white container, the branches stretching into the air". The writer can place a comma after air and zoom up something framed in this part of the sentence. This time the zoom can only be on the branches of air bcause the "camera" has focused on them, cutting the general description of the palm and container out of the picture.

Suppose there is nothing of interest about the air, but the branches have interesting joiunts or nodes. Zooming in on those, the sentences would now read: "The rhapis palm sat in a large, white container, the branches stretching into the air, fibrous joints knuckling the otherwise smooth surface.""

                                                                                - Writeful (Gary Hoffman)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Good Short Life

A Simple, elegant piece.

I HAVE wonderful friends. In this last year, one took me to Istanbul. One gave me a box of hand-crafted chocolates. Fifteen of them held two rousing, pre-posthumous wakes for me. Several wrote large checks. Two sent me a boxed set of all the Bach sacred cantatas. And one, from Texas, put a hand on my thinning shoulder, and appeared to study the ground where we were standing. He had flown in to see me.
“We need to go buy you a pistol, don’t we?” he asked quietly. He meant to shoot myself with.
“Yes, Sweet Thing,” I said, with a smile. “We do.”
I loved him for that.

I love them all. I am acutely lucky in my family and friends, and in my daughter, my work and my life. But I have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., more kindly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for the great Yankee hitter and first baseman who was told he had it in 1939, accepted the verdict with such famous grace, and died less than two years later. He was almost 38.
Read the story: 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Taste

Like smell, taste conjures up memory. Read Marcel Proust. His descriptions are evocative.
He gives us a taste of a tea cake made in a remote village. "With the first taste, the village rose up like a stage set” in his mind. See the mixing of Visual+gustatory. He borrows qualities from other senses.

 Proust says about 'Madelaines', tea cakes,  From the sense of sight he borrows colour and shape "squat and plump" shaped like "the fluted valve of a scallop shell", "which is  richly sensual under its severe, religious fold". From the sense of smell he borrows “a decoction of lime blossom.” And borrowing from the sense of touch to describe the madelines soaked in tea, he writes that when “ the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate…a shudder ran through me.” If the madelines had been crunchy Proust might have included their crispy snap; had they been spicy, he might have described the degree of heat or discomfort the spiciness might induced, perhaps a tingling sensation at the edges of his lips.

Another of Proust’s techniques is to set the scene in which the cakes were consumed,  a childhood scene the narrator is recounting. Memory mixed with the present taste makes it more appealing. So the next time you go to a sea side restaurant and have food, can you say "it tastes of the ocean?"

The Sound

Mary Hood’s ‘How far he went’.

Early on in the story, the grandmother hears at a distance “the pulpwood cutters sawing through another acre across the lake. Nearer, there was a racket of motorcycles laboring cross-country, insect-like, distracting.” Later in the story, after discovering – they hear “the glissando of locusts, the dry crunch of boots in the flinty beach, their low man-talk drifting…” After several terrifying hours one bike starter up, the other “ratcheted, ratcheted, then coughed, caught, roared.” Finally when the motor cycles were gone, “crickets resumed, a near frog bic-bic-bicked.”

“Dry crunch” (not loud, harsh, high-pitched) – the writer employs an adjective not usually associated with the sense of sound. (Keep list of your favourite sound words). There is no word 'bic-bic-bicked' in dictionary. But he has created the effect

The Touch

“Next day Madame brushed my hair like Momma  does at home. There is real surrender in letting my head be tugged by a rattail comb in someone else’s hands. First she parts, scoring my skull like a map, separating strands into smooth threads. Little teeth nip hair by hair out of tangles and the preliminary comb is ritual before the hair brush. That begins with bristles skimming like sea urchins down the contours of my head. Madame lifts the brush quickly off to make my hair fly, like a held music phrase; each strand slips back like a whispered note. With my eyes closed, I pretend I am underwater, head bumping, and sand scratches my scalp, currents tug me like seaweed ropes; I shiver. Bristles quiver near my ear, tiny nylon nails.

“You cold?”
“No I’m fine. Makes me shiver.””

(She accurately names the objects of the story’s world: rattail comb, little teeth, bristles, strand, tiny nylon nails. Then she describes the act patiently. The hair isn’t merely brushed and combed; it is tugged, parted, scored, separated, nipped, untangled, lifted. Each step matters)

The Smell

“Both men were smoking; the air held it low because the kitchen was steamy from cooking and the storm windows sealed us in, the smoke blending with the milk smell of the room, the room soured every inch by milk slopped and stirred, churned and set by, year after year, may be seventy of them passed together.”

Very few words are out there to describe a smell. What is the solution? How can you touch the sense? Some writers find a way out through giving their readers a cocktail of senses. A room stuffed with milk smell (for the last seventy years), smoke and cooking can easily be imagined. Some other writers try to mute other senses to accentuate the sense of smell. When the character moves through darkness, the reader also try to grope things in the darkness, heightening his sense of smell. See this:

“Hand-in-hand we climbed the dark stairs, knocked on the doors. I shivered, held Grandma tighter, remember still the smell which was curiously fragrant, a sweet soup of talcum powder, folded curtains, roses pressed in a book. Was that what years smelled like?”

The Sight

“Flour swirled in a slant of light and lined the creases of the baker’s neck, salting his hair. He doused the work table with flour and kneaded the dough until it felt soft as an ear lobe, then cut pieces of the mass and balanced them on the enamel scale. He flattened the pieces with the palm of his hand to make thin disks, which he slipped into the oven. In the intense heart of the fires the loaves puffed up, hollow in the center. Once out of the ovens they collapsed as they cooled, and he wrapped the bread in towels or muslin to keep it soft enough to fold around an olive or fresh cheese or a slice of cooked lamb.”

About a baker.

The senses

Now I am going to give you five passages penned by famous writers touching different senses. Read them carefully and master the trick.

Keats, the master

St. Agnes' Eve - Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith. 

Learn from John Keats how to convey images. You can feel the cold from those visuals- an owl, inspite of its feathers. the hare limping through the frozen grass. But the prize goes to the image of the beadsman's frozen breath going towards heaven and his 'numb fingers'. Writers, learn from poets and lyricists the way of evoking a visual with words.

Play with verbs

 “When she cooked the entire kitchen was galvanized by the strength she put into it; the dishes, pans, knives, everything bore the brunt of her strength…The fruit was stabbed, assassinated, the lettuce was murdered with a machete.” 

Look at this. The fruit getting stabbed, assassinated, the lettuce murdered.... Those are not the proper verbs needed there in the strictest sense. But now these  hot, frenzied, perverted verbs show the hyperactive character behind ir. It opens a door to the mind of the character. It shows her grit. Look at the verb 'galvanised'. I think that word is from the world of science. The whole meaning changes when you pick a word from a different register to illuminate a point.

Killer verbs

“Bond climbed the few stairs and unlocked his door and locked and bolted it behind him. Moonlight filtered through the curtains. He walked across and turned on the pink shaded lights on the dressing table. He stripped off his clothes and went into the bathroom and stood for a few minutes under the shower…He cleaned his teeth and gargled with a sharp mouthwash to get rid of the taste of the day and turned off the bathroom light and went back into the bedroom…

Bond gave a shuddering yawn. He let the curtains drop back into place. He bent to switch off the lights on the dressing-table. Suddenly he switched stiffened and his heart missed a beat.

There had been a nervous giggle from the shadows at the back of the room. A girl’s voice said, “Poor Mister Bond. You must be tired. Come to bed.”

(The one time, the simple past gives way to a perfect tense, was when Bond lost his control. He was suddenly made the object by the presence of that girl and hence the tense shift)

Verbs carry the action. Question every adverb. “She ate her soup noisily”. Or, "She slurped her soup"?

The importance of nouns

“The owners had felled big-leaf maple, Douglas fir, Lombardy poplar, red cedar, that black locust and a little cherry. I cut about three cords of locust, maple and cherry, using my truck like a tractor to skid the big logs free of one another and swamping them out with a limbing ax and a bow saw.”

Look at this piece. Why is it special? The writer has taken pains to get the proper nouns of all the trees and tools he has to use in this writing. when we read such piece we feel safe in the writer's hands. He knows the stuff, he deals with. So next time you write get those names right and give a good journey for your readers. Many famous writers make a word list(terminology) of a particular genre before they get down to write about that subject. 

So here is the question: What is the English name for that particular tool we use in our backyard, called 'manvetti'? (Mal)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Miss All

hey where is everyone??
all has been taken away by onam??
lolz its boring out here without anyone...
hope the college reopens!!

Monday, August 29, 2011




_ O _ _ I _ _ E _ _







Years passed...
i felt..
and it was a feeling after all..

When the rain splashed on my windows,
When the cool breeze caressed me,
When the turned to wind...
I realised this is heaven afterall,

To close i felt to my past,
Felt like i have felt such am emotion,
Lives ago...

Today i sit beside my window
looking past the grill,

A cuckoo sat on the branch,
Occasionaly cooing,

Each time i heard her,
I knew am not home,

I missed ma home even more,
more than ever,

A tear fell from my eye,
along with a rain drop on my window sill,

contentment filled me...
i smiled...
few more days
to huddle on my bed,

The breeze again
i drifted along...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First favourite thing on Mind!

Hey all!

Could have some more colour here? Why don't we all pick a thing of our interest, a pastime, a picture, a celebrity,a book, a place,a movie, a historical event, a favourite dish? And write about it. The first ten things that come to our mind when we think about them!  This has got to be fun.Add a little punch, maybe a slide in a storyline, or perhaps pleat a poem out of it. Who's in?


To step out our home require a lot of thinking.Its scary, after reading all those crimes around the city.Amazing that there has been no effect to lessen crimes watever the government does or are they doing something???

Do you guys think capital punishment would stop the crime??Time to scratch heads.Just think if it was just here and there we could handle but this is recurring.

On my way to the lab in tvm i actually saw criminals guared by police.And almost in the whole month there i saw new ones most of the days.And the shocking part is, all were charged with sex crime.On my way in train I had to travel with similarly charged criminals guarded by police.I noticed the criminals too late,lest i wouldnt have choosen that bogie!!Just scared people..dont know,once bold person surely gonna change after reading those crimes.

God knows where the respect for eachother have gone!To travel alone have become a third thought.Maybe later a history.

Hoping to a change of human mind.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

To be Honest

Am like tide..once i get onto the shore i sweep of almost everything i get in ma hands...

I actually have deactivated my other account in public sites because i realise how important wordsmaid is for me...I sign in for a short span and waste time on the mails i get...

Wat to do?But now am free and back..hopefully ill be seen surely...

A strong comeback


Time and tide waits....

Time is a factor we cant stop.Wish we could,but imagine if we could how corrupted our world would have been!This is better be.Everything is made right by mother nature.No objection.

I wonder where my puntuality have gone...thanks to these drastic traffic!!Lord knows wats happening....to travel just few kilometers i spend an hour.I look at those certificates and badges i won for my puntuality...mere memories now.Its not us alone but the society,the life,the development that have robbed our time.

Who cares the financial crisis or the rise of petrol charge??Still the vehicles keep introduced to the potholes..

There is no hope afterall...wherever u go its all almost the same...

Its true that 'Time and tide waits for no one'.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


science explain...

We all or maybe most of us believed that it is a custom for the decisions to be made by older adults.Maybe the thought made we youngesters fume.There are moments when most of us longed to take up the decision making job.Usually when it comes to gals,when they actually do want to elope from marraige and continue studies.The excuse(or rather we felt for the truth) our elders gave was that they were far more experienced than us.

But, the fact is even science has proved that older adults are better at evaluating the immediate and delayed benefits of each option they choose from. They are better at creating strategies in response to the environment.And the younger adults were better when only the immediate rewards needed to be.Sad but true.

But what I felt is its better to let them decide because people like me are better when with a guide than alone.lolzzz...
And am happy about that too except for the fact that if my elders were wise enough at 40 I would maybe take ten years extra...

Its truly said...'With Age Comes Wisdom'.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One Hundred Posts!

Trumpets and drumrolls! Tatadadaaa! Out rolls the red carpet and a hundred synchronized bursts of confetti! May I steal the Hundredth post on Wordsmaid !

Well, officially, including the drafts of them lazy writers, this is the hundredth post! First of all, congratulations all! Thank you everybody, on behalf of everybody, to have contributed to Wordsmaid with so much enthusiasm (don't smirk now, I did post a few right?). A communion of amateur writers is the, pardon the next word, Funnest place to be! It's a raw cacophony of genuine thoughts and emotion, true to the last strand, rough and unpolished yet evolving. I think it's better than stereotyped and predictable. Then again, we just get conditioned without wanting to, but the words we speak are etched with designs from our prime. So go! Find beauty, find love, find what you want to find! At this junction where time meets space You are here for a purpose.Now is all you have. Okay the reality rope that binds me to the earth is starting give a little tug, I can get pretty high on this whole "Life is awesome" talk huh? Anyway, keep posting. I love reading wordsmaid.

And what are you guys reading now? I'm reading the shelf off as I have nothing particular to do these days; Hemingway was the best of all what I read last.I'm awaiting the allotment for my college.Architecture is what I have wound up with at the end of it all. I'm looking forward to it, surfing famous architects and all.Enough of my rambling. Take care.

The cats have disappeared

It wasn't sudden.What didn't happen was,one fine april evening as the sun smiled down thruogh the trees,Amy stepped out into the backyard to discover that,each of the 13 stray cats who usually fringed the compound walls of her neighbours' home, creating a scene as they sat,stood,meowed, licked and touched up their hairdo;all perched as though posing for a photoshoot as they awaited their daily meal of boiled rice and leftover fish,had disappeared without a trace.

It was gradual.A cat at a time.

Amy noticed it only when,one evening as she sat reading a paperback novel reclining on a chair placed under the cool shade of the trees,she heard a meow.She glanced up.Her eyes settled on a snow-white cat crossing the grassy yard.

Amy looks around and realises that something is amiss.She can't remember the last time she saw the cats on the wall.Was it last week?Or was it the week before that?Or even longer?

Where did they go?

At the moment,Amy doesn't know that 10 yards away from where she sits,deep in the undergrowth,lies the answer.Two coiled sacks of neurotoxin,ready for the pump.

Seven days later,Amy joined the cats.

Amy Andrews,18,died of multiple snakebites on 24th April 2011.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pls help Dr.Wordsmaid

What do you mean by the 'voice of a writer'?How does one develop it?
How important is reading aloud our write-ups?

Monday, August 15, 2011


Wonder as years pass by..how technology could change develop so magnificiently...There are still moms or grand moms who still cant properly use or hold a mobile.I still do know how their children and grand kids sarcastically comment them.What we still dont think of is technology never dies till human mind is alive.One day surely is gonna come when the most simple gadget of our son couldnt be handled by us!
The generation has changed...so has the nature.Thankgod history is something we consider!Or else just imagine today never being remembered and erased....
After all there is always a way to everything.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Excuse me Wordsmaid, a Doubt

"Polishing a story off with questions is a good technique."

what does is mean?

Romancing The Letter

A sudden void.A gut instinct tells me I left behind something that is mine.I take a deep breath.A hint of a shudder runs through my heart.The void reluctantly vanishes.I walk on away from the read Post Box into which I had just dropped a letter.

My bond with letters began two years ago when I penned my first letter to a dear childhood friend.I had just shifted out from my hometown to a strange place for higher education when nostalgia bit me.It was a long one, the letter.It ran into 3-4 foolscap sheets filled with descriptions of my new environs.The college,students,teachers,friends,grandma,cousins,food,the atmosphere,everything.I even included a tid-bit about a weird looking eatable that our college canteen served.

That was just the beginning.Since then,I have ,when inspired,turned to the fascinating experience of penning a letter.

To buy an envelop, the right stamp and paper.To steal a little while from my selfish schedule.To settle down at my table all alone with just my pen,paper and thoughts for company.To write.

As my pen runs accross the white sheet of paper,in the deep blue ink is congealed my joys,sorrows,fears,worries,thoughts and feelings.The words hold within them bits and pieces of my mind,my heart.As I write, I pour my self a little at a time into each word.When I sign it,I embalm the words with the love drawn from the well of my heart.

Concern and regard is enclosed in the gentle folds of the letter before it is inserted into the carefully chosen envelop.

A pinch of anxiety is sprinkled on the address as it is jotted down....Will this reach my friend.......?

The stamp is stuck and confidence pressed onto it.The letter is ready for it's perilous journey preceeding it's rendezvous with my friend.

I clutch the letter afraid of losing it.For now,what I hold in my hand is not just a piece of paper with some ink on it but a peice of paper with a bit of my heart sealed within the dried ink.

What I feel now, as I walk up to the red Post Box is,I guess,a sliver of what a father feels as he leads his daughter to the altar to be handed over to the uncertain arms of matrimony.

When finally I let go, a void.A momentary sense of loss.

My romance with letters is fresh,young and one-sided.I have only had the pleasure of writing them.Not reading.

I've always wondered what it would feel like to recieve an envelop addressed to me.To hold it in my hands.To run my fingers over it,relish the thrill,suspense and excitement of not knowing what the contents of the virgin letter tucked snugly within are.To open it and know that I am the first to do so.......

Yesterday,while arranging books in our college library,my friend stumbled upon an old inland letter hidden in between the aged pages of a huge,dusty Economics text.A letter written,posted,recieved,read and forgotten in a library book 18 years before I was born.

The date on the yellowed,frail paper said, 28-5-1973.

The pain of the writer at being forgotten by a dear friend and the anxiety with which she awaits a reply still echo in her words.A voice from the past.Did she ever get a reply?Or, is she still waiting after 38 long years.........?

A letter, a chip off a heart.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A walk with my thoughts.

The monotonous voice dictating notes drones on.I force my heavy eyelids open.My tired eyes stroll accross the class envious of those who sleep peacefully.My thoughts wander to my lunchbox.The tummy utters an impatient growl.A glance at my partner's watch advocates patience.

My thoughts take a walk around and settle down on this morning.Today,a fresh batch of first year students arrived.

Hesitant steps.Anxious faces.Frightened glances.The air was heavy with a heady concoction of apprehension,excitement and tension.Hearts pounded in the darting ,lost eyes.

I accompany my thoughts to my first day of my college life.My initial impressions about the campus.The frustration,disappointment,anger and dislike with which I approached my college and classmates.

The loss,despair and sadness I felt in being rudely uprooted from my homeland manifested as a deep sense of dislike,contempt and anger towards anything and everything associated with the new place into which I was dumped.

My family had just shifted from Kochi-the place where I grew up-to Kollam,my parents hometown.

It feels like yesterday when I,a thin,defiant,lonely girl with a serious 'attitude' walked into this campus for the first time.A girl stubborn not to gel with the surroundings or fellow students.I refused to notice anything good or positive around me.I slammed the doors of my mind shut.

The campus knocked ,then banged at the doors of my heart until I yeilded.The campus which was once a hostile stranger soon became a good friend.

Today,as a final year student,I sit by astounded at how fast time flies.Two exciting,eventful,enriching,enlightning years later,I can't begin to think of leaving behind this campus,my teachers and friends who have become a part of me and my life.

This campus has filled my heart with innumerous warm memories,it pointed out a direction for me to pursue in my life,blessed me with the honour of being in the midst of good people and gifted me with a small handful of sincere relations.....I have no regrets whatsoever with regard to my tenure here........

The teacher stops dictating.I summon myself and my thoughts, back to the classroom.The teacher looks around at the half-asleep class.Heads look up in hope.

"Thats enough for today",she says.A wave of relief surges through the students.

She steps out.The class leaps back to life.Jokes,laughs,chatter,merriment.