City of Lights

City of stars
Are you shining just for me?

City of stars
There’s so much that I can’t see

Who knows?
Is this the start of something wonderful and new?
Or one more dream that I cannot make true?

One of my favourite songs from one of my favourite movies for one of my favourite cities in the world.

A Boy in School

There was a boy named Siddharth in her school. He was unlike the other boys, he looked like an old man with loose wrinkled skin. His purple-blue lips always had her attention every time he spoke. His voice was peculiar too, shaky and shrill. This boy was one of a kind with a bad temper. She would often look at him and turn away. One day, the teacher changed her seat and she was asked to sit beside him. It was a terrible thing to have happened to a 9-year old girl.

He sat in the corner by the wall and she was next to him. The girl did not dislike him for his looks but something inside her knew that this boy is an evil demon from hell in a child’s disguise. She felt like there were no bones in his body because he could never stand or sit straight, just loose hanging rubbery skin. He always slouched and looked like the letter ‘C’. But who would have imagined how strong he could be. He had a unique way of forming a fist with his thumb between his index and middle finger. He would often show it to her, feeling proud like he invented it. She can never forget that joy in his eyes every time he made that fist, because the next second she would be holding her arm in pain and rubbing it.

When he hit her the first time, the girl got angry and punched him back. But this made him angrier and it was followed by a quick succession of punches. He would go into a fit and punch the girl with both his fists, on her spine, shoulder, arms, and legs like a maniac. The girl was not crazy or as strong as him, so she would give up and say, “Okay, I am sorry please stop!” This would make him feel like a winner and he would stop. It was not only punches, sometimes he would poke her with his compass during geometry class, sometimes he would slap her hand with his steel ruler, and sometimes he would hit her with his bag while leaving. He was usually very quiet, did not talk to anyone or bother anyone much. But, he could lose his sanity any time and a series of punches could come her way, so she was always nice to him.

Every Wednesday, the school distributed The Times of India newspaper. There were four students per bench, every bench received two newspapers, and had to be shared with their partner. The girl’s partner, of course would be Siddharth, who would never share anything. He never let her read the newspaper in peace. Every week, one of the partners would get to take the newspaper home but the girl never got the chance to take it because he was a bully. The girl did not care much because she did not enjoy reading the news and there was always The Times of India newspaper at home. Soon, the girl started getting tired of the bullying and torture. Though, she feared his punches, she tried hard to punch him back with all her strength so he could feel the same pain as she did. Slowly, the fury of punches started to reduce. All the while, the girl was afraid of getting hurt and looking weak. But one day she decided no matter how much it hurts, “If he hurts me, I will not cry, I will not cause concern to my parents, and I will not complain to the teacher. I will find a way to deal with this bully in a manner that he understands.”

She stopped being nice to him. She stopped talking to him. She pretended like he did not exist. She knew this would cause trouble but she had to do this to save herself from his power punches.

He tried talking to her, she ignored.
He nudged her.
She ignored.

He pulled her hand. She turned sharply towards him with a burning rage in her eyes and yelled, “Don’t touch me!”, and she pulled away. He noticed the fearless anger and she saw his wide, shocked, ugly egg-shaped eyes. A slow evil smile formed on his lips, then came the punch with all his might. She used her strong, girly voice and screamed. She cried as loud as she could and hit him twice. Now the entire class’ eyes were on them. She hit him again and said, “Stay the hell away from me or I will complain to the teachers and bring my parents.” He tried to hide his embarrassment behind his hollow chuckle. But, he was a kid too and got worried that she would really do it and get him in trouble.

After this, he tried to hit her again a few more times, but she would face his punches without fear and hit him harder. Once she even called out to the teacher and said, “Excuse me sister, this guy is hitting me.” Nothing happened though, the teacher ignored her but this scared him. She started keeping the bag between them and drew a line over the desk. He would hesitate to cross the line, he knew that she did not fear him anymore so he stopped bothering her. Soon, the girl’s place changed and she never had to deal with his madness again.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

Let it Snow

It’s snowing and it’s so beautiful! My hands and feet are frozen, there is a winter storm outside, but please let it snow.

It is such a wonderful feeling to watch snowfall. This year’s first snowfall. It has been snowing since afternoon and I cannot stop looking outside.

Walking on a fresh white blanket of snow, making snowballs and sliding down slopes with snowflakes falling on our nose feels like a sweet happy fairy-tale.

In weather like this wrap yourself in a blanket and watch the snow fall outside the window with a hot cup of tea and some fudge brownies on the side. Let the smell of freshly baked goodies fill your house with warmth. If only I had a lap cat so I could run my fingers against its soft fur while enjoying this amazing view.

Educated by Tara Westover

Memoir|Self-help|Inspirational|Family

Book Review

Educated, is a memoir written by Tara Westover. Before I begin the book review I have to say that I am in awe of Tara, she is my hero and I aspire to be as brave, determined, and confident as her, someday.

This book recounts Tara’s experiences of growing up in a Mormon survivalist family that is always preparing to survive an Apocalypse. Tara does not get a proper education until the age of seventeen as her father believes that the public health and education system are corrupted by the Illuminati. Stuck between the curiosity of exploring the outside world and the confusing dominating views of her family, Tara has a troubled childhood. At the age of seventeen, Tara finally decides to join school and get an education. The path of self-discovery from hereon, though not smooth, slowly brings a profound change in her life.

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”

Tara’s life begins at the Buck’s Peak mountain in rural Idaho. She lives an isolated life with her Mormon family. Her father is paranoid, extremely religious and owns a metal junkyard. Her mother is a midwife and later gains recognition as a herbal specialist.

Tara is the youngest child and has six siblings – Tony, Shawn, Tyler, Luke, Richard, and her sister Audrey. The children are expected to work at the junkyard with their father from a very young age. They are loosely homeschooled by their mother. Tyler, was the first child who takes serious interest in studies and decides to leave home. Tara being close to Tyler feels betrayed when he leaves her. Soon, Tara like the rest of her siblings is expected to work at the junkyard.

The children face multiple accidents at the junkyard but they are never taken to the hospital, all injuries are attended to by their mother. Luke gets burned while working with his father, Shawn has multiple accidents at the junkyard and while riding his motorcycle, Tara injures her neck in a car accident, Tara’s mother has a serious brain injury, but every time the father refuses to take any of them to the hospital for treatment. He believes that it is all a part of God’s plan and they can only be healed by Him. Tara also faces abuse from her violent elder brother, Shawn, soon she starts believing that her actions must be sinful for which she is being punished.

“It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you.”

I often had my hand over my mouth or I found myself on the edge of my couch while reading about these horrifying accidents. But all these incidents do not dampen Tara’s spirits, she keeps going, keeps trying and believing that only she can make her life better. It takes tremendous amount of courage to continue on a path that is explicitly forbidden by your family. While reading the book, I could feel Tara’s state of mind being torn between her family and her idea that she controls her life. Tara through self-education passes the ACT examination and joins BYU. Her dedication, interest and enthusiasm to learn new subjects eventually earns her a doctorate in history at Cambridge University.

“He said positive liberty is self-mastery—the rule of the self, by the self. To have positive liberty, he explained, is to take control of one’s own mind; to be liberated from irrational fears and beliefs, from addictions, superstitions and all other forms of self-coercion.”

Not everybody has it easy. Children expect love and support from their families, they believe that their parents always know best and they grow up trusting them. But, every family has a different way of raising kids. Just because Tara’s parents did not bring her up in a conventional way does not mean they did not love her. All the tough times and trauma that the children face made them stronger. Despite the hardship, there is nothing that they cannot possibly do if they set their minds to it. The fact that Tara could articulate about the trauma and abuse that she faced in her childhood reflects how strong she is physically and emotionally. Her past experiences might have broken her many times, but she is now living her life on her terms and this is why she is a real trooper.

The reason this book feels personal is because each of us have been put in a situation where we feel like an outsider and do not know any of the rules. Her story is inspiring because of her absolute self-belief and determination to continue down the path that she has chosen. We can all draw on Tara’s strength while in a similar predicament. Educated, is a wonderfully written memoir by Tara Westover and I consider it a must-read!

“To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the conviction to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s.”

“But vindication has no power over guilt. No amount of anger or rage directed at others can subdue it, because guilt is never about them. Guilt is the fear of one’s own wretchedness. It has nothing to do with other people.”

Tara Westover

Let the Boat Row Slow

The wooden boat glided silently across the serene lake, passing through the misty air.

Floating plants drifted gently to the side making way for the boat to pass.

Old and mighty mountains stood still in the background reflecting golden morning light, glistening on the peaks.

He hummed softly in the boat so as not to disturb the quietness in the air.