Kinshasa: My Inferno
A Moving Experience
By Khadija Khan
When we reached there early morning at about 8am, we were greeted by a bunch of cheerful nuns. When we started moving around the ward, I saw many people groaning with pain. I remember this lady in particular, I can’t seem to forget the way that poor thing was howling in pain. We walked further ahead and saw an 11 year old child! He was younger than me and he had lymphatic cancer! I wondered how he would feel despite of knowing that children his age were outside playing and he was lying in a cancer ward, so weak and frail with most of his hair gone due to chemotherapy. We saw him sleeping. I still think about that child sometimes. I don’t even know if he’s still alive or not. Later I interacted with a few elderly men there and I must admit I was wooed by their lively spirit. They were all so vivacious. So full of life! No different from you and me. I got down to discussing Bollywood with them. Their eyes twinkled every time they talked about Amitabh Bachhan’s movies. But unfortunately they weren’t that keen to talk about my favourite actor, Shahrukh Khan.
She had tears in her eyes when we leaving. In fact, most people there did.
A few days later our class teacher told us that the gentleman we had sung for (the one whose family abandoned him) passed away last night. I swallowed a lump in my throat, fought my tears and decided never to forget what he told me. “Live like you’ve never lived before, and fight all the obstacles that come your way.”
Not Fitting In
By Anayasha Dalia, 17
“Oh, Please! Try once… taking just one puff won’t make a lot of difference! It won’t kill you!” he says. He sits opposite me with his group of friends, all smoking away to glory. His eyes are fixated on me, waiting for a response. And my mind is filled with a million thoughts…
You know the time when we were all kids and promised to live up to stay sober all our lives? We promise to live up to the expectations of our parents. Promise to make sure that our actions or words will never affect them for the worst. But,
Welcome Teenage Years, and all of it goes out of the window! We don’t do it intentionally. Oh, no! We still love our parents. We just crave for some freedom… freedom to do things our way, to make our own decisions, to learn from our own mistakes. And our parents, angels that they are, give us that freedom. To help us grow, understand and learn. That’s not where the problem lies… it is when people start to misuse the given freedom. Fall under peer pressure. The need to fit in or to not be left behind. To not be a new target of mockery.
But, I believe in myself. Believe in the values and ethics inculcated in me. I remember the promise to stay sober and never let me parents or anybody who believes in me, down. Believe that there are a group of people out there, who know how to have fun without causing harm to themselves.
To prove my point, I give a slight shake of head and walk out of the room bidding farewell to the cigarette, him and his group of friends. I don’t need to fit in, I’ll stand out!
Follow Your Dreams
By Zoe Subbiah, 16
I’ve been dancing for three years now. It hasn’t always been easy. Dancing is a lot of hard work but it’s worth it. I’m now on a Basic Intermediate Level. Dancing is my life and everything I think about but my parents don’t approve. Journalism is my back up option if dancing doesn’t work out. My parents insist I focus on journalism instead. But how will I know if I don’t try first? They don’t understand the passion I have for dancing. It dominates my heart and I just NEED to dance. I’ve fought with my parents a lot about it but I am going to try before I give up and follow what my head says instead of what my heart does. For all I know, I may become a great dancer and choreographer. I just have to try.
Our time on earth is limited. We aren’t going to live forever. We can’t waste our time living somebody else’s life. Don’t live by the thoughts and opinions of others. Follow your heart, your dreams, your intuition. When you give up your dreams, a piece of you dies. Only you know what you want to make of your life, everything else is secondary.
I believe when you love something, you should go for it. If you follow your heart and do what you love, success will follow.
Parents sometimes tell us “You can follow your dreams someday. This is more important”
When is ‘someday’? We never know when we are going to die. There is no guarantee that we will have a tomorrow where we can follow our dreams.
They tell us we’ll be in a fix if it doesn’t work out.
How do we know if it’s going to work out or not if we don’t risk it? We just have to have faith and leap in, sometimes.
Some say it’s impossible.
If we love it that much, I think we can MAKE it possible. Nobody can stop you from following your dreams except yourself.
Everybody says that only a lucky few make it.
Those “lucky” ones made it because they followed their hearts and DID something about it. They didn’t let others’ opinions dominate their heart.
There’s always that nagging feeling that we’re going to fail somehow.
So what if you fail a couple of times? Not everybody is perfect. Failure truly is the stepping stone to success and we can’t let that fear rule our lives.
Following our dreams may be scary sometimes, because we never know what’s going to happen. But in the end, nothing is more gratifying than following your dreams and knowing that you MADE it. It may be a lot of hard work but all we can do is be true to ourselves and success will come through our passion.
Reclaim Our Bodies
By Khadija Khan, 14
Nowadays most teenagers are unhappy with their body. Especially girls. They think they are fat and that being thin is the only way to live a happy life. And to be honest, it’s not really their fault. All around them flawless women with size zero figures are being glorified. In every movie the heroes and heroines are perfectly fit. All fashion magazines are filled with perfectly photoshopped pictures of models. In other words, their perception of beauty is distorted. They think being anorexic is being cool whereas it’s not even remotely cool. In fact, disgusting is the word I would use.
The other day I was sitting in my dentist’s waiting room so I started browsing through the magazines. Glancing through the pages of Vogue, Femina, Elle, and Seventeen all I saw were advertisements emphasizing on the NEED to lose weight,anoerexic models pouting away and articles on weight loss. These glossy fashion magazines are shouting out to everyone that, “If you are a teensy weensy bit pudgy or healthy then something is wrong with you!”
You go to any teenager’s birthday party and you will see that even though the cake is deliciously rich, creamy and oozing with oodles and oodles of the finest chocolate, they won’t eat it! Well most of them will just pick at it and won’t eat more than a spoonful. This is because today’s youth has a notion that they can get that perfect figure just by dieting.
A few of my friends skip their meals and hence they can’t concentrate on their studies or extra curricular activities. Everyone wants a perfect body. Just like the models in the magazines.
What these teens don’t realize is that they can eat anything at this age and not get fat because all the energy that the food gives us is used up in the process of growing up. This, as most of us know is called metabolism. Yet, these girls starve themselves to death making their body angry. The body gets irritated when it doesn’t get the nutrients and vitamins that it requires. You will vomit. You will puke. You will lose all your hair and you will eventually end up an anorexic which is disgusting like I mentioned earlier. Why should you suffer so much for a little puppy fat that’s going to bid you goodbye (naturally) in a few years?
A very talented writer’s perception about losing weight is this: Imagine that in front of you is a castle. That’s where you want to be. But surrounding that castle is a moat, full of piranha. The only way to get into Perfect Abs Castle is to swim across the moat and let the little fish painfully chew off hunks of fat. The real situation is exactly like that, only the swim will take years.
Don’t you all agree?
I really hope the girls who find themselves in a similar situation take my advice and eat that delicious piece of cake now. Because 20 years from now when they’ll still want to binge on delicious cake they won’t be able to do it because middle aged people don’t have a lot of metabolism taking place in their bodies and they’ll regret the fact that they didn’t eat it.
I Feel Left Out
By Khadija Khan, 14
Today I am very depressed and gloomy because I was made fun of when I went for tuitions.
I recently joined these tuitions. I have only been there thrice so I hardly know anyone there. I feel very left out. Whenever I try to talk to the popular girls, they’re always busy with the popular boys. When I try to talk to the quite and shy girls, they are always busy with their books.
The popular clique has been giving me a lot of trouble lately. I try to laugh it off. But later, when I think about it I feel a lump in my throat. These popular kids always laugh at my name. I know it’s unique and hard to pronounce and I have always felt very special about my name until now. They say things about me and I overhear them sometimes.
But what happened today was the worst. Today when the class got over at 7 in the evening, I had put my sunglasses over my head so that my hair doesn’t fly all around when I open the windows of my car. I saw one of the popular girls staring at my sunglasses and sniggering. Then she told another one of her friends and then her friend said, “Khadija it’s evening and you’re wearing sunglasses.” I didn’t see the need to explain the reason to them so I just replied, “It’s style. You won’t understand.” And then I left from there.
It took me a few hours to realize how silly I had been. And I’m sure that these people find me weird and think I am a snooty show-off. I never wanted this to happen. I wanted to be really nice to them even if they made fun of me on a daily basis. Now the next time I go to class I’ll feel worse than ever and these people will laugh at me even harder.
Gender Bias In A Temple
By Parina Muchhala, 11
Recently, I had gone to Shri Nathdwara, or Srinathji, as it is popularly known. We were very lucky there was not much rush, i.e. 1/10 of the everyday rush. I had a very good darshan and we were all very happy, except for one thing. The police officials there didn’t treat women as equals. The men were given priority. The women were considered secondary. I realized this when I was in the female row at the temple with my mother. All the VIPs were allowed to get in first. Then they opened the gates of the men – and they were kept open for 15 mins to 20 mins. It was only after half an hour that the women, who were squashing, pushing, hitting to go in first, were allowed to enter. Also, inside the temple those pandits were hitting everyone. Each lady pushed the other to catch a glimpse of Lord Srinathji. And, the ladies were very strong. They pushed really hard. We hardly had a second to pray before we were pushed out by the rushing crowd. For the other seven darshans, I decided to go in the men’s line with my father. I knew it was wrong, but women were not treated well. The officials spoke very rudely to them. And the other darshans of mine were not spoiled. I was astonished. How can gender-bias exist in God’s temple?