How Blue Is My Sapphire – Chapter One

I wake up just as the sunlight starts to pierce through my bedroom curtains, filtering the air with a soft glow. Gentle rays bounce off the walls and reflect onto my mirror, directing a faint beam right onto my bed.

I stifle a yawn and lazily blink my eyes open before I remember; today is no ordinary day.

All of us live with our past.

My mind struggling to recall yesterday’s events, I slip off the bed and shrug on a bedraggled robe, clothing my feet in a pair of slippers I don’t remember owning.

A dull throb spreading through my head, I make my way to the bedroom door. My fingers grasp the knob and gently twist it open. I step out of my room and give my eyes a moment to adjust to the blinding light I suddenly find myself in the midst of. Someone forgot to turn the bulbs in the living room off last night.

Speaking of someone…

“Ashton??” I call out, my hands tracing the unfamiliar, rough wooden banister rolling along the short staircase just outside my room. This banister… It was marble last night, was it??

“Ashton?? Are you there??”

All of us die with our past.

Silence. Deafening silence.

Cautiously, I place one foot on the top step and inch myself forward. “Ash??” I repeat, a hint of panic dancing around every alphabet.

Still nothing.

I try to suppress all the frenzied thoughts fighting for attention in my brain and pad down the stairs, firmly clutching the handrail for support.

“I don’t have time for this,” I think to myself and quicken my pace. “I don’t have time to waste.”

The moment I reach the bottom of the steps, I notice the little changes. Different cushion covers, a set of washed-out blue table cloths instead of the lavender ones I laid out, the space on the wall where I hung my French artwork now lay barren… Subtle and insignificant, but urgent and worrying.

All of us try hard to last.

With a sharp intake, the most drastic change of them all finally registers; this is not my floor. These are not my walls. They’re similar, but worn-out. And tired-looking. And everything’s much, much smaller.

Scanning the room, I find the telephone strung up on the kitchenette’s wall, just where I’d left it. Relieved that some things were just the same, I stride over, pick it up and dial my sister’s number.

In three and a half rings, I am comforted to hear her voice on the other end. “Fletcher residence. Emma speaking,” She chirps.

“Em, it’s me,” I whisper into the receiver.

“Juno!! What’s up, love??” She says confidently, but I can hear her falter.

“Emma… Something’s wrong,” I tell her.

“Tell you what, I’ll be right there,” She briskly states and before I can say anything else she cuts the call.

But life whirls by us too fast.

I hang up the phone and walk to the kitchen. The granite of my kitchen counter has somehow changed to a stained plastic and the little ledge where I usually keep my framed Harvard degree is empty.

Reeling and thoroughly perplexed, I convince myself that a glass of cocoa may be just the thing I need to stop my head from nervously buzzing.

Grabbing a large mug and a packet of chocolate powder from a cabinet, I set about heating some water.

“Today was important, for some reason,” I ponder to myself, settling a kettle onto the battered stove. “I can’t seem to remember why…”

My thought whizzing, I close my eyes and breathe in deeply, the sound of the water boiling doing wonders to calm my frazzled nerves.

“What on earth is going on??” I wonder. “What on bloody earth??”

Everybody’s Got Something To Say

“Drink up all your water, dear,”
My Mum coos from the kitchen,
“It’ll give your skin a natural glow
And save you a lot of stitchin’!”

I grab a pitcher in both hands
And am poised to chug it down,
When my Dad shrieks from the other room
“Your insides are going to drown!

“Too much water leads to disease,
And intestinal bugs!”
He shakes his head so vigorously
That I put down the water jug.

Right then, Uncle Tony struts in
His hips swaying to the beat,
“Water is the kryptonite,” he says,
“To this wretched summer heat!”

He brings a bottle to his lips
And barely has a taste,
Before my father slaps it down
With a weary, worried haste

“Whatever did you do that for??”
Tony asks with indignation
“Well, I only just SAVED YOUR LIFE!”
Dad shouts in retaliation

“We’re all drinking way too much!”
He yells out, without trace of flounder
“Well, I say we don’t drink ENOUGH!”
Tony decides to counter

The men start to quarrel, then,
Their eyes and cheeks ablaze,
While Mum tries to put it out,
And I heave a sigh, amazed

It’s That Time Of Year Again… *Groans*

My all-important 10th grade examinations are right around the corner and I’m starting to realize that every single time the exam season rears its ugly head, I’m left feeling like my guts have been pumped out of my ears [yes, my similes are almost always this disturbing], so that alone should give you an idea that I’m not exactly in the best of moods at the moment.

To add to that is the unwelcoming fact that the upcoming exams aren’t just any old tests but a set of quizzes that are designed to simultaneously trip me up and define the rest of my high school career, so I’m sure you understand why I now feel like the school girl equivalent of the “La La Land” crew at the Oscars – dazed and so, so confused.

Don’t get me wrong, though; as contradictory as this may sound, I’m that annoying nerd in your class who absolutely LOVES answering exams. I adore the buzz of the exam hall moments before the question papers are handed out and the sound of pens scratching against mahogany desks and the smell of bewilderment and panic that cuts through the early morning air as students try desperately to salvage the situation.

The only part I don’t like is the guilt.

You see, where I come from, kids are INSANELY dedicated to academics and I’m not just saying that. I mean, I have classmates who started cramming the final year’s syllabus way back in the sixth grade, and that’s just the slackers!!

Apart from completely and totally freaking me out, being surrounded by students who study pretty much around the clock has a way of making me feel super guilty for ever even thinking about taking a break.

Every time I decide to play a few levels of Mario Kart or go outside for a run, I feel a wave of shame surge through my body as if to say, “Shouldn’t you be studying??” Every time I want to catch an episode of my favourite series on TV or binge on Youtube cat videos, I see visions of kids surrounded by mountains of text books and my desire to have some fun evaporates.

Thanks to this, I’m now forced to crawl under the bed every time I want to kill a couple of hours on the iPad [because everyone knows that you aren’t wasting time if nobody sees you do it] and I can only read chicklit under my blanket [because what happens between the sheets, stays between the sheets] and I’ve started to watch TV with the volume set at the bare minimum [because the lesser the volume, the lesser of a disappointment you are to your Mom – duh].

And for that I just have to say thanks to my dear, sweet classmates; thanks a whole lot.

Surprise, Surprise!

We’re not even two months into 2017 and Beyoncé, queen of just about everything, has already made my year.

Two weeks ago, the music mogul broke the news that she is pregnant with twins and the internet had a total MELTDOWN; from Twitter to Instagram to Tumblr to Snapchat, Queen Bey’s announcement took social media by a complete storm.

The picture she posted of her baby bump smashed the record for the image with the most likes in Instagram history, getting over seven MILLIONS thumbs ups in less than an hour [if that doesn’t show you the tremendous power she wields on us mere mortals, I don’t know what does].

The fact that she’s managed to keep this from us from us for so long just goes to show you that impossible really is nothing; Beyoncé is easily one of the most closely-followed pop stars today, yet she manages to maintain an impenetrable curtain of privacy around her personal life.

Even though she’s got paparazzi trailing every move, obsessed fans analyzing every aspect of her life, the entire WEBSITES dedicated to dissecting everything she does, Beyoncé manages to stay in control. We only see what she wants us to see.

Just last year, she dropped her smash-hit, multi-platinum album “Lemonade” out of the blue. Fans went CRAZY, tabloids were dumbfounded and streaming websites crashed because of all the sudden traffic.

NOBODY saw it coming, despite the fact that in 2015 Beyoncé pulled the same exact stunt and dropped a surprise album outta’ nowhere.

In spite of all our collective stalking, Beyoncé manages to surprise us Every. Single. Time.

The fact that she has always managed to stay three steps ahead of all of us despite being one of the most closely-scrutinized celebrities in the world makes me wonder how many more secrets she’s keeping carefully hidden, waiting for just the right time to unleash them.

Till the next bombshell, though, let’s all sit back and admire the perfection that is Queen Bey. Among the million reasons we ought to worship her for, we can all shout out an enormous “THANK YOU” for proving, once and for all, that women can be Moms AND run the world at the same time.

Everything Is Never As It Seems – Chapter 3

For chapters 1 and 2, scroll below

“Hello there! How may I help you?” The cheery voice of the receptionist greeted us as we entered the lobby – if you could call it that. Apart from a rickety table plonked right in the middle and the placard on it that read “reception,” the room was devoid of any furniture. A ceiling fan whirred lazily and did little to soothe the dry heat that poured in from the windows.

“We’d like a room, please,” Lily said, flashing him a dazzling grin. “We’re on our honeymoon.”

“Ooh, two little lovebirds, are you?” The receptionist grinned, and that was the first time I noticed it. Something was slightly off about his appearance; something was wrong, in some way. I felt my stomach inexplicably lurch.

“Well, I’ve got just the thing for you,” He ducked under the table and emerged with a brown key. “Follow me,” He beckoned.

He led us out of the room and to the rows of dumpy cottages spread out across the property. It suddenly occurred to me that he was the first person we saw since alighting from the train; we didn’t even spot anyone at the railway station.

I was about to whisper this to Lily when the man spun around and I saw something that made me let out a blood curdling scream.

Ashes To Ashes

2016; what a time it’s been. The year of tragedies upon tragedies, disaster followed by disaster, catastrophe heaped on catastrophe. Brexit happened, the US Presidential Elections hit us like a sack of bricks, Kim K decided to have another baby and, just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get ANY worse…

Jayalalitha, the beloved leader of a generation of Tamilians, passed away in a hospital bed.

Amidst the sound of what feels like a million people mourning, there’s a beautiful lesson to be learned from the fiasco and it’s this;

No matter how many people would pay to touch your feet, no matter how many beach side holiday homes you own, no matter if your name is splattered on the headlines every Thursday, no matter if you rake in a bajillion dollars every day, the fact of the matter is, we all end up in the same place.

Dead.

Cremated, buried, fed to the vultures; it doesn’t matter. One day, we’re all going to stop breathing and that will be the end of that and none of the things you thought were so damn important are going to matter one bit.

So consider this a plea from a fellow human being; don’t chase after riches and fame and fortune because, at the end of the day, it’s not going to be of any consequence.

Instead, be kind. Be good. Be a nice person to be around. Because THAT’S what’s going to make the difference. THAT’S going to be the legacy you leave behind. Not a bank balance, but a throng of people willing to stand up and say, “Hey! You’re an incredible person and I like you, and you know what? I’ve got you’re back.” THAT’S what it all boils down to.

Trust me on this one.

Superman

Ben Quadros is my grandfather. Is and not was because to me, and to everyone who has ever loved him, he will always be very much alive.

I know it’s hard to feel happy at a time like this but we really should because my grandpa led an incredible life.

He’s spent over fifty years with the girl of his dreams, he’s had two amazing children who he loved to pieces and he saw all four of his grandchildren grow up and love him unconditionally in return.

He’s lived all over India, spent several months vacationing in the United States and he’s made hundreds of lifelong friends along the way.

To add to that, my grandpa has impacted more lives than I can count; from all the stray animals he took under his wing and protected to all the people whose lives he’s lit up with his infectious laughter and entertaining stories, he’s been there for everyone who ever needed him.

The memories I’ve made with my grandpa over the years are ones that I will cherish for as long as I live.

All the times I stayed over at his house and watched Gene Kelly movies with him, all the time he took me for rides on his beloved bike, all the times he gave me ice cream and let me watch TV when my milk teeth fell out… They are moments that will stay with me forever.

In a way, my grandpa was a true superman; the number of people whose lives he’s brightened is amazing and has blessed him tremendously.

I’m proud to be able to honestly say that I think I have the best grandfather in the whole world. And today, as we prepare ourselves to bid farewell to his earthly vessel, I’d like to urge you not to be sad that he’s gone, but to rejoice for what he was and what he continues to be.

I love you, grandpa.