Saturday, April 28, 2007

Grandeurs with Grandpa

-By Swetha Amit
Grandparents love marks its specialty by being bountiful. It can indeed make one resort to reminiscence and evoke them to stroll down the memory lane with feelings of nostalgia.
I am no exception.

Those glorious days with granddad were certainly unforgettable. The wonderful memories of spending my childhood with him make my eyes moist as I think of my late grandfather even today. A quick flashback brings forth the memorable instances which clearly play right in front of eyes now.

Being an early riser, his regular morning walks would be accompanied by me holding his hand delicately. Trotting by his side, my little voice would indulge in non stop chatter. The red hibiscus flower would greet us everyday allowing itself to be held in my tiny hands.
He used to take me to see the cows being milked each morning. My grandfather who was known for his impatience surprisingly chose to make an exception with me. He exhibited the patience of an ox as he stood by me while I gazed at these gentle creatures and fed them with green fodder. His stupendous and repeated narration of tales belonging to various genres depicted its similarity to that of a flowing river.

I can recall the numerous times we have played cards and the game of dice along with my grandmother. His devotion towards God and teaching me prayers made me strike an early friendship with the Almighty

I was told that I was the first grandchild to be carried by him and was proud to be his sole object of his affection. His unmistakable pride in me manifested itself in his never ending praises about me to his friends and neighbors’.

As each vacation ended and I got ready to go home, he would wistfully ask the time of my next visit. I used to eagerly look forward to every term holiday of mine. Every visit would leave me with an enthralling experience.

However as I grew older, my visits to him slowly diminished with my studies demanding a lot of my time. My interests swayed me into a different direction altogether, making me deviate from granddad and God. Perhaps the new entry of my younger cousins at a later stage entwined me into the pangs of jealousy. The fact of sharing his love with the other two triggered bitter feelings and drifted me away from him.

Years grew and so did I. One instance of seeing my grandfather at the hospital engulfed me with guilt as I realized my folly of having neglected him all these years. However his stay during summer made me relive those childhood days all over again. I got a chance to play those same games and hear those enthralling tales but now with a new sense of maturity. It was then I realized his eternal affection for me which had never vanished but he was mystified with my sudden indifference towards him.

Little did I know those summer months of April were the last I would see of him? I missed a chance to visit him one weekend thinking that I would do so the following one. That phone call after a few days about his unexpected fall changed things completely. He slipped into the battle between life and death. He was brought home to my place where he was treated day and night. I would often sit by his side talking earnestly as that little girl hoping for a response from him.

I wondered about the reason for his state. It was probably his way of spending his last few months with me and making up for the gap that occurred. Maybe it was his manner of making amends for my feelings of insecurity. And also steering me to the right path from which I had drifted. I renewed my friendship with God discovering the road less traveled to spirituality.

As he closed his eyes forever, a new realization dawned like a ray of light. It embarked the emergence of a stronger person in me. The knowledge I possess today is attributed to him. It has taught me not to take anything for granted. Though he is no more, I still feel his omnipresence as he showers his eternal blessings on me from above.

I think it is essential to spend quality time with grandparents. One can be amazed at what they would learn from these old and wise souls. What one passes on to each generation is inherited from these aged couple. Basking in the affection of old people is indeed a form of blessing. One should refrain from procrastinating visits to their grandparents. Life is filled with twists and turns with uncertainty lurking at every corner.

As the minutes tick away, the clock says that it cannot bring back the lost time of the past. So why not make it meaningful and loving by devoting some of it to revered people? Instead why should we allow ourselves to fall prey to remorse and guilt for not having fulfilled a certain duty/desire when we had the chance?

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Appeared as Editors choice and story of the day


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The starry event

-By Swetha Amit
It’s no mystery of April 20th being a 'special' day for more than one reason. The junior B has managed to win a million hearts and have the world bow before his feet (on a literal basis). After much speculation, the D day for Ash to be accepted as the Bachchan Bahu was decided upon.

The media seemed to go crazy hanging around ‘Jalsa’ and Prateeksha’, eager to get a glimpse of the most happening news. The wedding happened to cover the main page of most leading newspapers and marriage between two celebrities seemed the only news that reporters were running after. It appeared that all other crucial happenings were eclipsed behind this ‘drama’ and resulted in taking a back seat. Perhaps to view this entire celebration? Wasn’t that going overboard? This was especially, when they were kept deliberately out of the so called "private "ceremony.

It was portrayed to be the seemingly biggest event that ever took place on this earth. Well, they say marriages are made in Heaven, but does one have to make it appear like some divine wedding was taking place? Everything from the names of the dress designers to the guest list were repeated like some gramophone record. All the news channels seem to video tape the wedding procession. Reasons to why other celebrities were cold shouldered were cited. Does the public care?

To make matters worse, the roads were blocked and people were forced to take another route which disrupted their normal movements. The police force seemed to direct their activities towards taking care of the wedding alone. Was such excessive number of force needed at the cost of neglecting their other ‘duties?’

The entire paparazzi were caught up with the wedding ‘virus. Nothing else appeared to have occupied their minds and the TV screens. For full two hours or more, everything else seemed to virtually come to a stand still. The obsession of getting a glimpse of the stars caused them to ignore other important issues happening across the world. Not as much coverage was given to other current affairs occurring around the globe, as much as this ‘starry event’ was.

Unfortunately today is the era where news channels seemed to cover a majority of their segment on entertainment. Other deserving issues which are essential to be brought to the limelight are forcibly omitted.
Not to mention the ‘new twist’ that was brought into the so called fairy tale. Sort of a filmy drama where the villain (vamp in this case) was trying to sabotage the wedding?

Even after the celebrations are over, the obsessive persistence has certainly not died down. The newly weds' trip to Tirupathi, has received an extensive coverage in the print media as well. Speculations are rife about their honeymoon plans and adjustment of the new bride with her in-laws’. What next? Haven’t the media said and done enough? Is marriage between two stars such a big event that can cause the dereliction of other important mishaps? Isnt it high time to concentrate on the real issues instead of reel ones?

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Akshaya Tritiya

It’s no mystery of today being a 'special' day for more than one reason. All the news channels and headlines of leading newspapers are splashed with the news of the big fat Indian wedding.
The junior B has managed to win a million hearts and have the world bow before his feet (on a literal basis). After much speculation of their wedding date, April 20, 2007 had been chosen as the D day for Ash to be accepted as the Bachchan Bahu.

This day marks the auspiciousness of Akshaya thithi.A day revered by most Indians especially for weddings. This day embarks the purchase of gold in abundance. It requires a golden heart to also indulge in donation which ultimately bestows a dazzling smile on the Almighty, giving the heavens a scintillating effect.

The biggest donation is attributed to a father humbly giving away his lotus eyed daughter to her husband and begins a new journey in life. The specialty of this day lies in the fact that one needn’t keep track of that 'auspicious time' at all. Every minute and second is spelt with the world reverence. They say marriages are made in heaven. Of course weddings taking place on Akshaya thithi denotes the descending of the divine on earth to bless any couple. It causes the stars to shine down.Abhi-Ash are indeed lucky to have found this date to 'tie the knot' and to be blessed with eternal bliss.

A certain coincidence can be traced back to not so far ago. Reminiscence can help one recollect the same day (Akshay thithi), diff date: April 30, is when Amit and I entered this sacred institution. So I wonder if that makes us stars.:)

A lot of speculation was being made about our wedding date. First to Feb. 2nd and miraculously to April 30th.This was despite being met with a certain resistance by a few and being reminded of it of coinciding with other events on a continuous basis.

A lot of wishes are sent to the starry couple hoping that a reel Abhimaan doesn't convert into a real one. Anyways, it gives me immense 'Abhimaan' to thank my dad and mom for giving away their one and only apple of their eye to a wonderful husband like Amit. I am lucky enough to have many people grace this occasion in spite of other people's prior' family commitments’.

It is believed to be a fact of God's grace to be one among the lucky few. And I'm proud to chosen as one of them. It gives me more reason to feel that Amit and I are certainly God's favorite children. They say man proposes God disposes. But in this case, it seemed like God's own proposal with no other hurdles or family thithi's on that particular day.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Campus terror

-By Swetha Amit
The shootout at Virginia has caused a commotion in the minds of millions. Many are perplexed and baffled at the acts of terror occurring in a supposedly secure educational setting. Students especially are shaken by this entire episode. Colleges/schools which are considered as a ‘safe’ zone are now viewed as a threatening belt.

The grave act of the 23 year old South Korean campus resident has caused several to tremble with fear. The merciless firing of bullets has resulted in many casualties and injuries to innocent individuals. One of the deceased victims was Professor Loganathan of Indian origin, who was a campus resident. His unexpected death has left behind a helpless family, mourning over the loss of their pillar of support. His aged mother is unable to gain clarity in understanding as to why her son was a target of such terror.

The culprit was reported to have apparently been residing in the campus. The mere thought of having been living amidst a killer, all these days would have indeed sent shivers down the spine for other students. It is reported to be the deadliest shootout ever in the USA and has left the whole world shocked.

It is horrifying to realize that such incidents occurring usually at country borders and war zones can even extend up to the neutral grounds of a prim educational set up. It is even more shocking to see professors being tormented by cruel acts of terrorism. Going by past instances such as the incident occurred in Ujjain of a faculty being killed by the aggressive stance of the students, certainly propels one to think: Is this the respect they get in return for their noble acts of imparting knowledge?

Education and terrorism which are two separate words in a dictionary are forcibly merged together resulting in a negative impact of the society. At the rate of which crime is increasing, makes one wonder about the future existence of the words ‘safety’ and ‘humanity’. Faultless beings such as professors and students have to pay for sheer acts of fanaticism. Is it fair to let others suffer because of such delinquent behaviour?

It propels one to trace the motive behind such acts. Is it revenge? Is it plain sadistic pleasure to see others going through misery and anguish? Does it spell out power for the killer by just mere pointing of the gun? Is it cowardice that is veiled behind such devilish demeanor? This can indeed assure a case of simplicity replaced by the complex malfunctioning of the criminal’s brain.

This unbelievable massacre is something that will be submerged deep into the minds of people. The physical injuries of the affected are likely to leave psychological scars on a permanent basis. A question that lingers is how safe are American universities? Will it necessarily bring down student applications? Will it denote the fearful stature of each academic oriented individual? Or will this also pass as just another incident? Time will reveal it all.

Meanwhile, it is high time to initiate methods to prevent such events henceforth. Education must certainly take up a stand in imparting knowledge on the ill effects of such violence. The hazardous consequences of delinquent acts must be emphasized upon. One should state the grief that is caused to millions due to these Hannibal actions. An in-depth study as to how to gain control over one’s behavior will make a world of a difference. Anger which is known to be one of the causes should be taught to people on its ability to be controlled. One should realize that assertiveness can be achieved successfully without resorting to aggression. The prime example is Mahatma Gandhi who proved his supremacy and power with his non violence Stan.

It is of immense importance that schools and colleges include a course that teaches one the prevention of delinquency ultimately leading to reduction of the unwarranted bloodshed. In other words, students should be engineered into the management of their deadly emotions which will prevent the of spark violence in any form. After all, we all want to do away with campus terror, don’t we?

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Appeared as Editor's choice and story of the day


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bachelors pad no longer a fad?

-By Swetha Amit
It appears that the ‘bachelors’ club is losing the eligibility criteria. Yes, this is in relation to the shunning of these single Martians by housing societies in Mumbai. Apparently residential buildings seem to oppose the inhabitance of single men in their buildings considering it as a disturbance with late parties and being 'unsafe’ for the women.

Mumbai is a city of maximum prospects and opportunities for single career oriented men. In addition to which accommodation tends to pose a problem. Ambitious men who dream big come to the island city like charged bulls to make it big before settling down. Not surprising, as the contemporary situation demands the man to earn in 5 figures, to fall into the ‘prospective groom’ category as per the matrimonial columns.

In such a scenario, concentration on career becomes top priority, followed by bagging an apartment in a convenient locality. However such obstructive demeanor by localities’ indeed poses a source of worry of survival for the twenty something guys.

Numerous cases of these young unmarried men asked to vacate/not given accommodation have been reported in the recent times much to their indignation. This differential treatment meted out to them leaves many baffled. Many wonder if they are being punished unreasonably for one odd case occurred earlier. Men only with spouses are handed over the keys to the houses and are considered a safe bet. The ‘safety’ factor leaves one to ponder: Is safety guaranteed only with a woman around?

It’s a terrible misconception about ALL SINGLE men misbehaving and has been exaggerated to a large extent. There have been several instances of married men being a source of nuisance and misbehavior. Is it justified to map on any particular case/event in order to generalize a theory. What is the guarantee of single women or even a couple not throwing wild parties or causing inconvenience to neighbors’? Why the discrimination?

How is a man supposed to work during his bachelor days in a new city without being rendered appropriate accommodation? Is it fair to bring about gender discrimination here? It’s a shame to withhold a place only because of blind illogical suspicions. Trying to protect the fairer sex, results in UNFAIR acts to the opposite gender.

Such unreasonable notions and uncooperative gestures could result in disrupting and discouraging ones future prospects. It is improper to punish the whole clan for a folly created by a few black sheep. It seems like dire straits for single men. We always emphasize the fact of only single women having a difficult time. It appears that, at this rate men will soon join the ‘tough’ club.
Although judgments have been passed out as such acts being illegal, it hasn’t prevented housing societies from indulging in such practices.

It is even more surprising to see such instances and behaviour occurring in a cosmopolitan and tolerant city like Mumbai. Strangers turning into friends during crisis stricken situations are what the city is well-known for and proud of. And not for evading people and render them helpless.

Prolonging the current situation will result in the disappearance of bachelor pads on a permanent basis. Will that lead to an increase in the number of men marrying early ONLY for the need of a home to pursue a career? So, is a guy supposed to tie a knot in order to tie up with residential societies? Or, are they encouraging a "tie-up" without tying the knot?

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Provoked: Truly applause worthy

-By Swetha Amit
In prison she found freedom. An ironical statement which is bound to make several faces portray mystified expressions along with a lingering question in their minds-Freedom from what?

‘Circle of light’ is one such autobiography by Rahila Gupta and Kiranjit Ahluwalia, bringing to light the dark side of a marriage. Adapted from the book about an ugly issue of domestic abuse depicts the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia that inspires the making of this film.

Provoked that takes you through the unbelievable events which provides an explanation to the rather queer statement.

The film starts with a strange figure holding a candle and setting fire to a man who goes up in flames. The identity is then revealed to be that of a quivering Kiranjit (Aishwarya Rai) trying to kill her husband Deepak (Naveen Andrews).An allegation by Deepak and further investigation by the law discloses the attempted murder by Kiranjit.

A flashback traces back to her life 10 years ago. Kiranjit a simple Punjabi girl was married off to Deepak-a guy based in London whom she barely knew. To her horror, her husband turned out to be alcoholic, abusive and irresponsible. Not only did he indulge in shameless acts of infidelity but also resorted to violence as he mercilessly raped her for several nights.

Terror struck the docile Kiranjit who was unable to bear the brutality of Deepak. Things reached a saturation point after one such incident when she decided to ignite her angered and fearful mind into literal burning flames that would destroy her husband.

She is put under prolonged trial. Odds go against her as the witness to her case turn hostile, including her mother in law.

Kiranjit is sentenced to life imprisonment. Her days in jail help her find solace in her room mate Veronica Scott (Miranda Richardson) who befriends her and stands up for her against the bullies. She provides immense support for Kiranjit going as far as helping her brush up her English skills. Kiranjit almost finds the meaning of freedom and enjoys the company of her new found friends. But she suffers from dozes of her traumatic past which continues to haunt her in the cold cells of prison.

Meanwhile Kiranjit also sees a ray of hope in Radha (Nandita Das) who heads an NGO dealing with women related issues. With grit and determination Radha fights her way to bring justice to Kiranjit. She wins the latter’s confidence and even manages a meeting between Kiranjit and her children. With flyer campaigns and support from Veronica’s contacts, Kiranjit manages to surpass her appeal and she begins a new life altogether with her children.

Life is a roller coaster ride, consisting of ups and downs. However there are a few provoking lows which leaves one shocked beyond words of description, but comes a full circle.

It’s a brilliantly portrayed film in English by Jag Mundhra which belongs to Aishwarya Rai. Applause worthy performance indeed. Sans makeup, her eyes convey the multiple emotions of fear, distress and peace to perfection. Nandita Das does her part well as the energetic social worker. Others contribute in their own special way. Dialogues are excellent. The soulful background score by A.R.Rahman manages to find its way into this serious film and is quite commendable.

Kiranjit Ahluwalia’s tale is one of the domestic issues amongst the million cases prevailing in India and other parts of the world. This emphasizes the horrendous plight of such victims who maintain stoic silence over such humiliating treatment meted out to them. The concluding speech of Aishwarya Rai in the film sends a message to mothers to bring up their sons; to respect and regard women and their wives in the future.

This film is certainly bound to provoke and stir the minds of many by its hard hitting story. Hopefully it should bring about a drastic reduction of spouse- abuse cases to being remote.
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Friday, April 06, 2007

Shakalaka boom boom: A musical trip in doom

-By Swetha Amit

Music is usually associated with fun, joy and merriment. However it also has a dark side to it. Shakalaka boom boom depicts a story which may not sound musical to the ears.

The film is about two competitive and ambitious singers set against the backdrop of the music industry.

AJ (Bobby Deol) is the most popular singer in New York who has 5 consecutive successful albums to his credit. His shrewdness and suavity in the business are factors that contribute to his success as well. He strives to be at the top which is achieved with his perseverance over the years.

Enter Reggie (Upen Patel) who is an upcoming singer with a stroke of a genius. He yearns to be what AJ is. Ruhi (Kangana Ranaut) is another aspiring singer whom AJ falls in love with. Though Ruhi respects and is in awe of AJ, she ends up falling for Reggie after the prolonged pursuing by the latter. He manages to get an introductory meeting with a well known producing company through Sheena (Celina Jeitley) whom he uses professionally only to discard her later much to her dismay. Sheena is shattered and nurtures a grudge against Reggie.

A dangerous game begins as AJ realizes the unmistakable talent in Reggie which he foresees as a threat to his position. Jealousy and insecurity gradually creeps into AJ until it touches the brim of obsessive degree. Manipulation begins to rule AJ’s mind that refuses to pay heed to anything including his Guru’s (Govind Namdev) word of advice.

Treacherous scheming along with revenge thirsty and grudged Sheena slowly leads to the destruction of Reggie from the singing world. Pretending to be the latter’s friend AJ manages to win his confidence only to backstab him later.

However just as AJ enjoys his new album’s success, he is struck by a tragedy that ends up being a reprimanding lesson to him for his misdeeds.

Bobby Deol and Upen Patel are decent in the confrontation scenes. Kangana Ranaut has opted for a new look and plays her part well. Celina manages her negative shades in her role. Suneel Darshan attempts a different storyline altogether compared to his earlier works. Music composed by Himesh Reshammiya is average with one or two catchy numbers.

The film portrays the complexity of emotions engulfed in the minds of the two ambitious men. Greed, jealousy, insecurity and anger are dangerous to the human mind if occurred in degrees of extreme severity. It teaches one not to fall prey to these evils as it results in ones self destruction in the long run. Such malice brings out the vile nature of humans propelling us in the wrong direction to harm others. The consequences of such acts make us the sufferers later. Before we allow these little demons to engulf us, why not put an end to even small spurts of its growth in the initial stages itself? In other words, such devils are bound to make life go in doom instead of being a pleasant musical journey.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Decision making

Received this via email.

This one is quite interesting and really gives us an insight into DECISION MAKING.

A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track. The train came, and you were just beside the track interchange. You could make the train change its course to the disused track and saved most of the kids.

However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed. Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make................

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child. You might think the same way, I guess. Exactly, I thought the same way initially because to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally. But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was. This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are. The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

The friend who forwarded me the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens. If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe. If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids. While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

"Remember that what's right isn't always popular... and what's popular isn't always right." Everybody makes mistakes; that's why they put erasers on pencils.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007


-By Swetha Amit
”Expectations reduce joy” is one of the famous pillars of the art of living. A simple quote and yet, a most challenging principle to follow in life.

Akshay and Rakesh were best friends from childhood. What one did, the other was always aware of. Their friendship was one that would cause envy to many others in their lives. Both matured into young handsome adults and as fate always predicts, their paths took two different directions into the further journey of life’s expeditions. Solemn promises were made not to let such opposite routes come in the way of their friendship, thereby assuring one another of the going-on in each others lives.

Akshay joined Hotel management while Rakesh went on to climb the corporate ladder of a multinational firm. Their professional lives took a toll that promises once made had to be forgotten as the demands made on each of them stifled them of their personal lives. But it did not hamper the bond and closeness shared by the duo. Akshay was trapped in the perseverance of realizing his dreams.

One fine day, he was given a project of being in charge of a huge socialite wedding to be conducted in his Hotel. He went on to ensure that the necessary preparations and arrangements were being made in order to make it the most eventful evening for the to-be married couple and their guests. Finally the great day arrived and he was given the honorary job of extending a warm welcome to the bridegroom.

As Akshay was awaiting the man of the evening, a car pulled up and a man decked in a black Armani suit got out in a poised fashion. On seeing Akshay with a welcome committee, he froze with a dismayed look on his face. A shocked expression slowly clouded Akshay’s face as the bridegroom was none another than Rakesh.

Sooner or later, everyone you know will disappoint you in some way. They'll say something or fail to say something that will hurt you. And they'll do something or fail to do something that will anger you. It's inevitable.

Unfortunately, you make things worse when you stew over someone's words and deeds. When you dwell on an insensitive action made by another person, you're headed for deeper problems. In fact, the more you dwell on these things, the more bitter you'll get. You’ll find your joy, peace and happiness slipping away.

And you'll find your productivity slowing down as you spend more and more time thinking about the slight or telling others about it. These occur due to expectations one has out of another. It is considered as a normal thing for us humans to think of ourselves as of great importance to others. What one fail’s to realize is that others may not place us on the same height of pedestal that we place them on.

The above story is a perfect example of teaching people a lesson of not to have expectations. One can imagine the current of emotions that would have engulfed Akshay like a whirlwind, causing him to feel shattered and let down. LET DOWN……..a feeling that we are solely responsible for.

Before we allow this demon of an emotion to rule our lives, an analysis of the occurrence of such a feeling must be done. Are others causing this feeling or are we choosing ourselves to let this feeling creep into our healthy minds? Such analysis would ultimately lead to a logical conclusion and realization that our happiness is in our hands and not in others’.

The sooner individuals condition their thought processes in this channel, the better they learn to realize the consequences of expectations. The world is full of such people like Rakesh.One should prepare them to be withheld or not be told of some trivial information by their own kith and kin. Such preparations make one stronger and lessen their involvement with others’ lives and concentrate on theirs’ more.

This would enable people to develop a certain kind of enigma that would set aside them from the normal people. It is an enigma that sets such people together, yet apart. An aura that would enable humans to move on and realize that wounds caused by loved ones are sometimes the conflicts that builds a strong character as a famous quote states” Conflict builds character, crisis defines it.”
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