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What does an artist desires most? A world beyond limits and beyond horizons; horizons which hold back human potential and beauty of art. We at Germ are a bunch of writers struggling with our way through the complexities of life and voicing our beliefs and emotions through magical words.

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This time, we decided to let our hair down and have some fun with words. Fiction is the word for this issue. We bring to you some seasoned poets, some first attempts at poetry, book review of a book close to our hearts, a short story and honest heartfelt confessions to read, marvel and take delight in.

Happy reading!

Our Moon Has Blood Clots (Book Review) – Saburi Pandit

Story – Abhyuday Gupta

Oblivion – Arvind Chatterjee

The Dead Ocean – Arvind Chatterjee

Diary Entry – Anonymous

Different – Prerrna Vijayeni Panda

Crossroads – Rahul Chaudhary

Who Am I? – Kamlesh

You’re The One – Pia Roy

Musings – Akhil Menon

Writers – Aditi Agarwal

Our Moon Has Blood Clots

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“The issue of kashmiri pandit’s exodus is nothing  more than a matter of laughter or ‘a little something where people had to migrate and for which their children got reservations in colleges’- for many kashmiri pandit’s struggle is minor upheaval. There are many who still  do not know what really happened. To know one needs to read the story of The Pandits of Kashmir, and that too firsthand accounts. And that is what this book provides, a detailed firsthand account. To understand the kashmir issue, the struggle of kashmiri pandits needs to be understood first, here is the book review of Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita.”

‘… and an an earlier time when the flowers were not stained

with blood, the moon with blood clots!’

our-moon-has-blood-clots

Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita is the truth of the life that Kashmiri Pandits have lived, their exile, their ancestral history, discrimination that has been part of their life, since the 14th century. 

Rahul Pandta has written an insightful, and easy to read history of Kashmir Pandits, and how with many Muslim rulers since 14th century, many Pandits had to convert to Islam. How since then, Kashmiri Pandits were ridiculed, humiliated and till date are subject to the same treatment in Kashmir.

Just before this book I read, Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer, and though that book has a different approach towards the story of Kashmir. Both these books, talk about Kashmir on common grounds, and both these books, help one understand, how not only Kashmiri Pandits have had a tragic life, but the Kashmir that once was, no longer is.  The brotherhood, the culture that was, no longer is.

I was born three years after my family migrated from their homeland, Sopore, Kashmir.  In a way, I had lost everything, much before I was born. I had no cultural heritage, no ancestral history that I could be shown, no place or antiques of my family. I always saw one photograph of our home in Sopore that was a three storey bungalow. And then I saw another photograph of that same, grand home reduced to a single storey, burned down.  Then, as a child, I could not understand the graveness of the matter. Though I had been told how we had been made to leave Kashmir by Muslims, but never the reasons, never the humiliation of it all. The human tragedy was very less talked about. Apparently we have moved on. But, whenever Kashmir flashes in front of their eyes on tv, their eyes and heart are glued to it. When they talk about that Kashmir, the pain that you hear in their voice, of having lost their homeland it will make you helpless, as helpless as they were then.

I always asked my father one question, who was the one fighting for us? I failed to understand, that in a country filled with freedom fighters, how come no one raised the issue of the oppression and discrimination Kashmiri Pandits had been subjected to. Outside our community, was there anyone who raised their voice for us? Nobody. And there still is no one. I love Rahul Pandita’s book more so, not only for the first hand accounts and brilliant narration, but for the fact that he has mentioned this fact that nobody fought for us ever. ‘There are no grants for research on the Kashmir issue.’  I agree with his point of comparing our sufferings with those of Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz camp, the campaign against us by Muslims in Kashmir and Pakistan was much like, Hitler’s campaign in Germany, against Jews.

But, we only lost our homeland, never our humanity. And that is the sole reason of our existence. We may still be a minority, but we continue to live a prosperous life because we did not treat anybody else the way we were treated. We did not kill Muslims, the way they killed us. Because in spite of everything, we remembered those Muslim friends who in spite

of the insurgence wave, did not waver and supported us, maybe, discreetly, but did. I was never told to stay away from Muslims, ever. One of my first best friends was a Muslim Kashmiri girl, and my parents loved her as much as they would a Kashmiri Pandit.

Brutal killings of Kashmiri Pandits, the struggle of setting up a home in a place much, much different in culture, language, temperature, and temperament of people, with nothing and as refugees,  thousands of Kashmiri Pandits shifted to Jammu, living in one room. Six people living in one room. Thousands living in slums, who had nothing. These stories, rather these realities have been told with as much pain as we had suffered them.

The details of the raid by Kazakhs from Pakistan, in Kashmir, in 1947 has been told as a first-hand account. This raid was the reason why Kashmir joined hands with India and again, Rahul Pandita’s expression and writing style will move you.

Overall, this book will not only acquaint you with the Kashmiri Muslim, and Kashmiri Pandit brotherhood, but also the reasons of the struggle of the Pandits because of many other Kashmiri and Pakistani Muslims.  It will help you understand what happened in Kashmir and if you are a Kashmiri Pandit, it will help you understand your struggle and existence.

This is an excellent book about the Kashmir issue, a true book, written very well, with first-hand account of the author himself; it makes the book much more credible and a very interesting read.

For those who want to understand what happened to Kashmir, not just the Kashmiri Pandits, Curfewed Night will help you understand how even the Indian military created problems for Kashmiri Muslims, who were innocent. But, Our Moon has Blood Clots will make you understand why Indian army had to stay in Kashmir.

Curfewed Night, is a good basic book with first-hand accounts of a Muslim Kashmiri, who faces a world, where because of the Kashmir situation he is tagged as a militant if he is a Muslim and who lives a threatened life in Kashmir because of both the militants and the Indian military.

Kashmir has been an issue of debate since 1947. Our Moon Has Blood Clots’ best part is that it talks about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits not as a happening or a sad tale. It talks about it as brutally as it was, as that life shattering experience that changed the entire  life course of  Kashmiri Pandits and as worse an experience as was of the Jews in Nazi Germany.
To understand the author’s viewpoint http://www.newslaundry.com/2013/01/nl-interviews-rahul-pandita/ Please watch this interview of Rahul Pandita.

- Saburi Pandit

Story

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She stood behind the other people who had come to see off their children and friends, she looked on quietly as she saw him smiling, responding to people, shaking hands and hugging them. She hoped that he would come and hug her, tell her that he’ll miss her but she knew he wouldn’t. Something about her made him uncomfortable in public, he was conscious never to hug her, never to say anything affectionate. Oh how much she hated him for this, she wasn’t asking too much, was she? A hug and a spoken word were not too much to ask from the one person you’ve loved the entire time. She stood there, staring at him, silently crying; she was doing a good job at holding back her tears, the last thing she would want is pity. She didn’t want pity, not anymore, she wanted love. It’s funny, this idea of loving someone; you pick a human and you allow him to wreck your life, she thought to herself as she smiled at the absurdity of her thoughts.

Isn’t that what is told; everyone is drunk on the idea of love and only love can heal our brokenness. She felt the whole impact of the words now. She realized how messed up she had been for the last couple of months while she thought she was actually moving on, when she thought she could see other men and had better chances at her love being reciprocated. But it has been hard for her, too hard. Only she knew how much her head troubled her, how confused and fucked up she felt. Aashma didn’t understand too, she always did but this time she didn’t. She was yet to fell the absence of love. She was moving towards a void, she could see it and could predict the distress waiting for her at the corner of the road she was trudging on, but there was no stopping now.

While she stood frozen, lost in her thoughts, she didn’t realize that he had come and stood in front of her, smiling, waiting for her to feel his presence.

Bye!

What?

I said, bye.

Oh ya. Bye, umm..

Say something.

What?

Anything, don’t you wanna say anything.

Umm.. I’ll miss you.

I’ll miss you too, and I’m really glad that you came.

How couldn’t I?

Before she could say anything else, he was gone. Someone dragged him away, talking of something she didn’t know. She realized it was time to say her goodbyes. It’s been long, it’s been awfully long but she was still here, standing behind, hoping he would notice, hoping he would see how much she loved him, he hurt her so many times, brought her down so many times yet she loved him with all her broken self.

She smiled at the futility of her attempts, she was hopeless and she knew there was no walking away. He still held her heart captive effortlessly. At that moment she realized that he would continue evading her and she would continue chasing him, there was no visible end, no horizons where he and she could meet. He would never be hers, she would never move on.

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-Abhyuday Gupta

Artwork by Salvador Dali (girl standing by the window)

Oblivion

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In the breath of dingy oblivion, a grain of muse decides to knock at the contemplation that is yet to sigh.

He encounters a harsh swarthy gate, whose mocking wet spikes gives him shivers of despair, because he knows what awaits him inside. Preoccupied with a pacifying hymn in the air, grins he back at the torments across the gate.

Sees he, a habitation of eternity which resides upon the shoulders of thousand years of mortality. Tears of dark cloudy eyes have silenced, the once spirited walls. Walks he still to witness a deceiving breath of death. Climbs he, the stairs, with a throbbing heart. Shadow of helplessness walks alongside too, because muse knows what awaits him inside.

Opens he a door which doesn’t get locked anymore, smells he dead faith and rotten happiness around, standing on a broken ground. He smiled at the ghost of deathlessness. Two lifeless eyes give him a sight of antipathy from a chair of wet wood, a pale face reflects infinite damnation, white & black. Drenched in melancholy laughed he within because he knew what awaited him.

Smoke all around may be of the pyre, ‘once they burnt him alive’ muse remembers, yellow dried leaves of knowledge and solace scattered around. Chilling breeze from the pane-less windows gets ridiculed by the mature alcohol, lightened up in darkness, a shadow of isolation. Turned then the muse back in comfort, because he knows, whats awaiting him would wait, but come.

-Arvind Chatterjee

The Dead Ocean

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Upon the shore of a dead ocean, he sits and stares at his own reflection, realizing how much this still water has blackened. How it doesn’t ripple even when a stone’s been thrown on it.
Does it mortify mankind?

Of course. Ponders he sometimes, what made this water dead? Maybe it is too rigid or in a wrong state, maybe, its too jealous of the flow or too insecure of those missing currents.

He feels sad for the dead ocean, as the ocean itself loathes its inertness. He sternly believes that this deadness once had raging liveliness. But now, it just feels life around in someone’s laughter, cry & unquenchable thirst but it doesn’t emote a bit.

He knows this suffocating deadness in the air. Does this stubborn ocean want him to run away? Or can his presence be a solace to it?  But how does it matter to him? Wonders he.
The reality is waiting for him to come back and get drenched in the sweet-bitterness of life. But now he wants to sit on the shore with the oceans inevitable grief. He smiles at the lifeless ocean and gives it a drop of his own existence and got drenched with its inexplicable existence.

-Arvind Chatterjee

Diary Entry

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17th January 2014

Saturday

2335hrs

What an eventful week it was, and conclusion of such a great week with a day like today was just like a cherry on top of a cake. Friends & Fun go hand in hand but this was something different. It’s like an unconditional attachment towards each other. It was just a show that we performed in together but still it felt it was something more, I might sound confused but trust me I’m not. These two people I only met them few days ago but it feels like it has been ages since I have known them. Walking from the green to the stage, then back, going for a break and have food without telling anyone, when I think about it, it gives me chills. Once while taking a walk in the park beside our college, holding hands, we didn’t let anyone pass us, like the park was our fortress and we three its rulers. A feeling like this, even thousand words fail to help me express it.

Things we did were just normal talking about all silly stuff, taking metro rides together and endless moments that if I start describing every one of the moments, pages might fall short of lines, and lines might fall short of words. Our connection so strong that we know what we want from each other and what is troubling us. It still feels like a waking dream wish fulfillment but everything is true to the core. It’s like one of the phrases I read somewhere that relates to the most beautiful day of my life, “Another month, another year, another smile, another tear, another summer & another winter too. But I can never find someone like you.” Well it’s not that I have fallen in love; it’s about a bonding we share. Yeah it’s about my two beautiful friends who have given a plethora of memories in such a short span of time. Do I love them? Yeah, for me they are the best thing that has happened to me in some time. I might sound exaggerating and contradicting but this is what it feels like. And someone even asked what happens to us in the future, well I believe in ‘ Live for today, dream for tomorrow ‘, I’ll just go with the flow and hope for greater memories in the future.

Sometimes in life you are downtrodden and you feel like giving up but if you manage to survive, the most beautiful thing in life awaits for you on the other side. I was very depressed few weeks back and I felt like giving up but now I have a reason to celebrate life. It’s true that whatever happens happens for a reason and sometimes it’s good not to know the reason. Through this experience I have learned a thing that taking risks in life, make living worthwhile.

Just want to conclude my beautiful experience with a quote by Thema Davis that “When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.”

-Anonymous

Different

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I am different,
But I still am a part of you,
Yes, we do exist,
In numbers no matter how few.

I am as different,
As the Moon may be from Stars,
You may well imagine,
But I am not that distant, not that far.

I am as different,
As a Bee may be from Birds,
I may be little,
But I refuse to be ignored, to go unheard.

I am as different,
As a Poem may be from Songs,
I may not be on every lip,
But I too have a rhythm all along.

I am as different,
As a Bud may be from Flowers,
I may never bloom into one,
But my presence isn’t a landscape mare.

When everything big & small,
Cease to exist together in this Universe,
Then, Why is that I am caste aside?
Then, Why is that I am cursed?

Different notes make a symphony,
Seven colors a Rainbow,
Different elements put together,
Make nature’s spectacular show.

Only the kind, deliberately color blind,
See the World in Black & White,
Ignoring nature’s  brilliant colors,
Perhaps serves your misplaced pride.

I am not afraid to be different,
But I  am afraid to be you,
You, who cannot embrace me,
For I am different, for we are few.

Tel Aviv-Gay-Pride-Parade-000

-Prerna Vijayeni Panda