Sunday, 4 August 2013

Of Suave Hoops and Big Ears (For the Motion)

This post has been written FOR the motion:

Religion has done more harm than good to society.


Religions are cool. They have probably earned more revenue than any other franchise – wars and Justin Bieber included – in the history of this rather earthy planet that goes by the rather unimaginative name of Earth. Despite the fact that they have managed to destroy dozens of civilizations and thousands of goats and have still retained their X-factor speaks volumes about how remarkable a concept it is.

Things weren’t really bad in the early days. The Ramapithecus used to stomp around the Sivaliks and converse in grunts:

Young male Ramapithecus: Grunt1 (food).

Adult female Ramapithecus: Grunt2 (ask father).

Young male Ramapithecus: Grunt1 (food).

Adult male Ramapithecus: Grunt3 (get lost).

Basically, things were really simple, especially in the Indian subcontinent. This was in an era when the potter’s wheel was considered smart and trade was regarded as hep, so there were few hassles inside the society. Of course, there must have been squabbles regarding which adult female Ramapithecus owned the most suave tiger-skin, but things like these were usually sorted out over a matter of clubs.

In other words, it was a rather simple world where clubs were the only form of entertainment.

In India it probably began with The Vedas, which is a seriously imposing quartet of books that everyone was supposed to read but almost nobody did. As a result of this strange psychology there arose a group of individuals who decided to take advantage of the situation.

These were the people who had actually read The Vedas or could at least market themselves enough to convince the others that they had. The ignorance of the mass came to their aid: slowly this assortment of people began to gather power: they managed to acquire followers who would listen to every word they said (mind you, whatever they said was in Sanskrit, so it was imposing anyway).

These men were smart. To retain and enhance their power they incorporated two seriously strong devices among the masses: blind faith and fear.

Blind faith is when you simply are in awe with some solid superpower that governs over the Universe. This superpower was supposed to control commonplace events like fire and rain, and freak events like eclipses and earthquakes.

Fear is when the same superpower may suddenly have a bad mood turn against the humans who had refrained from worshipping him. Or maybe it may decide to do it to intimidate them – or even for fun.

As a protection against this double whammy, the ignorant people – who had been making love, inventing useful things and honing useful skills till then – were asked to do something completely worthless for the first time: worship.

How was this worshipping done? You needed to use the smart men of religion as a modem of sorts to convey your messages to the outer world that included the superpower these poor men were made to believe in. Performing good deeds and helping the needy were not enough: you needed to bribe the superpower.

Ponder over this for a while: you were being told that your performances were not good enough to earn you benefits at your workplace, but you needed to bribe the authorities. What was more, the bribing had to done through a handful of touts – people who ironically called themselves ‘religious’ people.

These men continued to acquire all kinds of niceties: this included money, neat gifts ranging from cattle to cabbage, and most importantly – power.

The religious people gained enough power to control even the kings. In those days kings ruled the world: they were emphatic men with crowns on their heads and impressive moustaches. However, like all common men, the kings also believed in the superpowers – and resorted to both bribe and fear the men of religion.

Things were shaping up the same way throughout the world. The Chinese, the Egyptians, and the Mesopotamians had their own pool of superpowers which were significantly different from those worshipped in India.

However, since these people lives thousands of miles away from each other and there was never really a clash between them regarding whose religion was the greatest. It was not that it would have affected the common man to the slightest, but the men of religion would definitely have loved to be involved in a battle of power and inflated egos.

Then, along came a big-eared man called Gautam Buddha. He explained certain things that the men, blinded by religion by now, had utterly forgotten. These were simple things: be nice to people, help each other, resist from being violent, and not succumb to ugly things like greed.

These principles obviously clashed with the intentions of the holy men: they did not dare to do anything to this man (whose simple thoughts had turned immensely popular by now), but his friends were imprisoned and his followers were slaughtered like livestock. The religious men, now aided by the military forces of the king and the blind faith of the commoners, had emerged victorious.

Mindless, atrocious acts were committed in the name of some obscure superpower that no one had actually seen, heard, or felt in person. And it had nothing to do with the size of the ears, either.

This was not a one-off incident. There was another nice, bearded man from Bethlehem who tried to explain others that being pious and simple was actually a rather cool attribute. He ended up being nailed (yes, literally) on a cross.

Then the men of faith did something even more neat; they called men like these (that Buddha guy and this Bethlehem dude, and many others) messiahs. They now had another means to add another convincing intermediate step to the entire process: they used real people.

This was what the three-step algorithm became: you worshipped these men (who had, by now, started to dress in robes of all sort); they would then send the message to the messiahs (who they themselves were responsible for killing); the messiahs would, in turn, transmit the messages to the superpower, to whom they were obviously related.

Funny things began to crop up, meanwhile. As the world progressed (if it can indeed be called that) the religious communities began to meet each other. They were now involved in serious, spine-chilling wars against each other – to prove that one’s religion was superior to another.

What they did not realise that the holy men who had instigated these tussles did not get involved in the bloodbath themselves; they had temporarily retired to the quiet shelter of some medieval resort, allowing them to assortments of non-alcoholic beverages.

Of course, they resorted to being more and more vocal, prompting ‘their’ men to pull of extreme acts of courage – which was to kill, rape, and capture as slaves people who believed in other religions. If you had managed to pull off such deeds you would be hailed as heroes; if you had turned up in the receiving end you would be hailed as martyrs.

In other words, it was a win-win situation anyway.

Fast-forward now to the current era. The men of religion still exist, as do the messiahs (who, despite being human beings, have been elevated to the status of quasi-superpowers – which is something they possibly had never intended to themselves); and of course, the superpowers exist as well.

In addition to this, several strata of minions have cropped up to act as bridges between the common people and the men of religion. In other words, religion had finally managed to convert itself into a franchise.

To make things worse, the people of religion have attained levels of authority they never had before: previously they had been ruling over people who were not equipped with the power of knowledge. Now, they are exercising their control over people who have knowledge, and worse, logical reasoning, in their repertoire.

There are few kings any more; they have been replaced by politicians. Unfortunately, the nexus still remains, and given that the men of religion and the men of power are seldom nice to anyone, people have forgotten the same.

Catalyzed by the two-pronged phalanx of leaders the seeds of mistrust for other religions that were reaped centuries back have now risen to their full pomp. They stand firm and upright, infallible and oblivious to the basic concepts of logic.

The concept of religion – created by a rather nice group of people ages back for the good of mankind with the aim to bind them to a group with peace and harmony in mind – has been brought down crashing to the ground.

As a result we have conveniently managed to forget the main characteristic that used to separate us humans from other creatures: logic. When a religious guru makes a stray comment on how women should be held responsible themselves for the sexual crimes committed against them (or something equally unreasonable) we frown at them – or maybe share the comments on social network: but while clicking that button we perhaps cast a careful glance at our fingers to check whether the ring used to ensure our success with women is still there.

That is precisely what religion has made us do: we have scowled at obnoxious comments and activities but never had the courage to act: what if these men were really speaking the truth? While putting the rings on we have forgotten to ask ourselves whether our lives can really be controlled by cute-looking metallic hoops with a stones cast on them.

The worst bit, perhaps, is the fact that despite having cringed in history classes at the atrocities committed over centuries we are still hoodwinked to take up weapons against people of other religions, overlooking completely the fact that we are simply taking forward the ‘deeds’ done by these esteemed men.

As we’re get sucked into the quagmire of loneliness and insecurity with the passage of time we feel the need to rely more and more on external sources. The chasm between the handful of logical and the ocean of illogical people continues to increase as the hungry vultures keep feeding on our existence, making us succumb to their incessant love for power.

Dark days lie ahead. Very, very dark days.

And it still isn’t about those ears.


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'The Call for Internet Censorship' (Against the Motion)

This post has been written AGAINST the motion : 

The call for internet censorship is completely justified and should be implemented immediately.


It is amazing how a project that was intended for internal usage within a research organisation began to be used later for a defense organisation and slowly emerged as a powerful tool that has well and truly bridged distances. Yes, it is the 'Internet,' the all encompassing network that connects us together.

The rise of the internet is synonymous with the growth of the computer - from huge complicated machines from the ENIAC to the personal computer that seems to shrink with every passing day and now the mobile-phone, which offers the world in our hands.

The very premise of the title 'A call for internet censorship' makes one wonder how can we be sure that the government is already not spying on what I am doing when I am connected to the internet. This is not the blabbering of a paranoid schizophrenic - this is the reality of the affairs that led to the earth-shattering revelations of Edward Snowden and how the National Security Agency spies on unsuspecting people - hand and glove with the giants of technology like Microsoft and Google.

Snowden is a man who is unsure of his future but he is the symbol of truth and rebellion who is now wanted by the USA - I am ashamed that India did not offer him asylum; we cower at the might of BIG BROTHER, the great nation of the United States of America. Russia has offered him asylum for a year! But the future remains uncertain.

With projects like the Aadhar card wherein every citizen of this great land will be reduced to just a sequence of numbers and everything from subsidies related to the purchase of cooking gas cylinders to bank and tax-returns all in the name of an all-in-one identity card - the government of India is hell-bent on learning all about you and this data is not secure!

In such a scenario, it is but natural that we shall be Talibanised and there will be censorship! Look at West Bengal - a professor gets arrested for a cartoon on Mamata Banerjee, the sovereign didi; when all of Maharashtra came to a stand-still for the final rites of the great Bal Thackeray - a tweet and a post on Facebook led to the arrest of two college-going girls and more damage.

Where exactly are we heading to....?

Social Networks offer a power of posting information immediately; if I see a traffic cop asking for a bribe - I can take a photo and post it; any injustice that I notice - the frustration of delayed trains, impolite public servants; every bit of ire can be put up online. I can also use it to share inspirational true stories of a poor orphan overcoming odds to secure a gold medal in high-school; a young girl designing an innovative machine.

The power of the social network is limitless and with great power comes great responsibility! Like every other sphere and medium, a black sheep shall exist on the social networks as well; that does not mean that a watchdog authority examines our posts and censors our posts and pictures!

As and when censorship happens, groups like 'Hackers Anonymous' will wreak vengeance! The government needs to worry about more important things like generating employment, protecting the environment, ensuring the safety of women, tackling poverty and malnutrition; the list is endless.

As civilized adults and responsible citizens censorship if necessary should come from within - not from an external agency. Anything that offends the sensibility of a group or an individual should be posted only if it is absolutely necessary. What may appeal to you might not necessarily find favour with someone else.

An Orwellian and dystopian future is what I see - though I may sound pessimistic, the way we appear to be headed - it seems that all our actions are being monitored in one way or the other and censorship of the internet is something that will happen in the not too distant future.

It is time that the internet-using community of this generation takes up cudgels against the dystopian and Quixotic rulings passed by those in power!

We do not need censorship - we need freedom - forever - in word, deed and action both online and in day-to-day life!


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Semi Final Results

So we have been cruising through the IBL journey beyond the expectations of many people. However, the organizers and judges have been kind enough to appreciate our posts which have been an outcome of extreme hard work and dedication by our team.

Here are the semi final results and we are through to the finals with the second highest score.

Wish us much luck for the final, dear readers.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Déjà Vu

Early in the morning

Corpuscular rays of sunlight

Filter thro’ the trees—and

touch me fleetingly

I can’t hold myself, slip into the veldt;

Foliage almost topical on the forest-floor

Entwine around my feet- what luck!

The rustle of the stag-ferns, the murmurs

of the torrent stream rushing with bushes,

twigs through the ravine; all play together,

to enlighten me…initiate me

- Puzzled, I peek around the bushes;

Whipping affinities, analogies…

And progress….

Time rolls by, as I keep picking

The mysteries through the gossamer

caught in yesterday’s frames; and


For a sip of that stupor or trance

I enjoy being released into the

Musty images of yesterday…

Screeches of birds, the gushing water,

the smell of moist earth,

the mass of green velvety moss ,

bird-burrowed holes on tree-trunks; they all

help me taking off the blinkers at last,

I spot the wooden arched bridge over a creek

And recognize…goodness me!!

A bubbling stream fleeting, swinging,

crashing over the boulders; transforms

my hearing and seeing –

Silence follows~

Play of sunlight rolls over the boulders

Gets hazy for a second…

Lo! It disappears again…

The old bridge opens windows of another world

I've been here before, I grasp - -- a dream Déjà vu..?

The yellow sunlight gets intense,

Each stone seems more dazzling than before

'Yes, such awakening is possible,

Déjà vu moment pitches in because images

dwell in our consciousness, as long as we live.


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No More Us

It took me four years to go back. Four quick years, all this time, I avoided facing what I knew I would have to eventually go back to. I was through with my mechanical engineering, there were stuffs, I needed to see through. Confusing and complicated was my life. More than my life was my emotion. So far, I had excused my absence back home with studies. Surprisingly everyone believed me.

Raurkela, my adopted city had devoured me, physically drained me and had me occupied. There was always something happening, always some lecture to attend, some projects to prepare or some movie to see. There was always someone to crowd my life. Friends in the canteen, batch mates in class and roommates in the hostel.

However, my village never left me. What they say about, “You can take the man out of the woods, but you can't take the woods out of the man.” My village slumbered somewhere between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack: tucked deep into nowhere. There were fifty houses and a high school. There was an all season stream and countable water pumps. A few street lights and no proper hospital. Surprisingly, my father, mother, uncles and aunts all were healthy and robust. There was no case of any serious disease or unnatural death that I heard of. Except the accident that choked my life.

In the name of a bus stand, there were a couple of tea stalls on the high way. It was 9 pm and I had dozed off, when I was shaken and shown the bus door by the conductor. I thanked him profusely and got off on a sour note.

No one was around, not like I was expecting an entourage. I had not bothered to inform my parents. I took the wiry track to the now famous wooden bridge and the stream underneath. Summer usually had more visitors to this place. The path remained muddy and slippery. This was the route for villagers to carry fresh water. It was a moonlit night and I could see each tree. I pulled at some branches to disturb sleeping birds. I spotted a few rabbits or were they mongoose; I was not sure. Yet their presence assured me of company.

It took me all of twenty five minutes to reach the wooden bridge and yes I was keeping track of the time. Once, I reached it, I knew I would lose my sense of time. Time took a timeout. This was where I had played hide and seeks as kids. Here on these planks, I had sat for hours telling stories. I had slept on this bridge at night looking up at the stars.

I walked to the bridge and watchfully chose my spot. Not too far from the center and not near it either. The barricade stood perfectly broken at the middle. I found the bridge damp as I rested my hands beside me. I hung out my legs and sat on my denim back. Water gurgled and made a contended sound. Early, rains had pepped the place with greenery. I wished, I had carried a few pebbles to throw aimlessly into the water. I sat there doing nothing. I had no clue how long I sat there. And then I saw her.

A first, she was a mere shadow. When I focused on her, she came into light. She stood at the edge of the water bed. I was relieved that she was there. I was getting fed up of myself. She wore an orange shalwar suit that looked like burnt red in the night. Her hair was tied loose in a pony and she was bare feet. I had often teased her that she had prettier feet than face. Right then, I realized, I was wrong. She had a most fascinating face. Her skin was silk and her eyes were pools of water.

I saw a touch of excitement in her eyes and some madness in her smile as she came and sat next to me.

‘I was kind of hoping you would be here’ I said.

‘I wouldn’t be anywhere else’.

‘You look unreal’.

‘What? I take good care of myself’ she burst out in giggles.

‘Strangely funny’ I joined her in laughing.

‘How have you been, Su?’ I asked.

‘Susanna is my name. Su is no more’ she teased me.


‘Do you miss me? Did you miss me in the city?’

‘What kind of a question is that? I loved you…deeply.’

‘I did not understand you like I understand now’.

‘How so?’

‘Now that it is all over, it does not matter whether you loved me or not, belong to me or not’.

‘Oh’. I was pensive.

‘I know, I love you and nothing could change that’.

‘You still love me, after all the trouble I put you through?’ I looked into her eyes.

‘Trouble does not trouble me but love still weakens me’. She looked away. Was she crying?

‘You weaken me, Su’ she did not mind me calling her Su again.

‘I know, I am here to tell you, it was not your fault. It was nobody’s fault’.

‘I should have caught you. Better still, I should have jumped after you’

‘Yes, you could have. The bridge is low height. Fear did not stop you, shock did. There is a difference’.

‘Low height, hun? How come, you were hurt’?

‘I hit on a stone, that one over there. Some people are plain unlucky’.

‘Did that hurt a lot’?

‘Nope, it was quick. My last most dominant emotion was the excitement of your mouth on mine’.

‘But…’I tried to reason.

‘It was an accident, accept it’.

I love her, I had always loved her. Our homes were as entwined as our destinies. Our parents worked in the same farming field. We went to the same school. We were born a few days apart. We grew into adolescence together. She was the one for me and I always knew that. Often, I would force myself on her, in the field, near the bridge, in the river. She would threaten to spill the beans but she never did. I knew she loved me too.

My engineering admission was done with. I had always been a bright student. I did not want to go away. I did not want to be away from Su. She was upset and had not been talking to me for almost a week. That was my last night; I had plans to get close to her.

At night, we met on the wooden bridge, our common meeting place. I was all excited. She was still upset. I was impatient and she was awkward. She did not realize time was running out. We ended up fighting. She tried to detangle herself, I caught her and pinned her hands behind her. I pushed her into the barricade as she struggled and tried to bite at me. When I kissed her, she eased against me.

The entire village was sleeping and I was living my dream. I felt all grown up. I release her hands to cup her face and then she kicked me. I got all worked up and pushed her back. The old wooded bridge creaked and complained. I was too far gone to care. The middle of the barricade opened up and she fell, her back facing the river.

I wanted to hold her back, to collect her into my arms. Instead, I could only balance myself from falling. I had let her fall and hit on a stone, while I stood there breathing abnormally. She hit her head first and there was a distinct sound of death that came from her.

‘I sat there looking at your body, until morning.’

‘I know.’

‘I never confessed to anyone about how it happened.’

‘I know.’

They believed it was an accident. Everyone knew, we kids always came here at night’.

‘I know.’

‘They found me on this bridge, too. I had not moved from the spot’.

‘I know.’

‘There was a big scandal. Some people said you were pregnant’.

‘A scandal or two does not hurt the dead. It only makes them famous’. She was smiling. I could not take it anymore, I needed a hug. Tears were forming in my eyes and clouding my vision. I turned to her after wiping my tears and she was gone with the winds. Soon, it was going to be another day. I got up, dusted myself and was on my way home.


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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Round 2 Results

The results for Round 2 of IBL 2.0 were announced on 14th July. We are an extremely proud team right now on achieving the second place and cruising to the Semi Final which will be held from 15-18th July.

Check out the results and wish us all the luck, dear readers!

The Human

(The 3 ingredients used in this story are - An Orphan, A Building on Fire, The Last minute[of my life])

“Are the reports out Doc?” asked Pooja as she took longer than her normal strides, trying to catch up with the head of Neurology at ARC [Advanced Research Centre].

“We are baffled, his brain is one that every human would love to evolve to,” said the doc.

“Are you telling me that he is not human? “ asked Pooja and the doctor stopped and looked at her for few seconds and said with a smile, “He is more human than what humanity accounts for right now.”

Two Days Back

The MAANAV neighbourhood that is generally desolate had turned into a live wire with the sudden blast that was reported early in the morning. What people believed to be an uninhibited farm house now housed corpses of an old couple and an unscratched and unconscious teen. The whole town was talking about the teen now, as reports of every electronic device malfunctioning within his vicinity started to spread like a wildfire.

“I knew that a devil lived in that house, things moved on their own and I would often hear strange voices,” spoke the area postman into the reporter’s microphone. There was not a single channel that wasn’t reporting about the MAANAV mishap and the mystery that surrounded it.

“The doctor said that the boy is breathing normally and his pulse is normal too, but for unknown reason he is unconscious and we cannot electronically monitor anything… Forget MRI even an electronic watch won’t work around him,” quipped Inspector Gautham into his mobile and right then the nurse arrived with the news that the survivor has gained consciousness. That was exactly what Gautham had been waiting for, so he immediately sprang into action, grabbed his notepad and started walking fast towards room number 314.

“Patient is still under shock, just 10 mins Inspector,” said the nurse and left.

Gautham was looking an athletic teen around 6’1”, jet black hair that were curly beyond explanation, deep and well set eyes with high cheek bones and a long pointed nose. As he was wondering how to address him,

“Mithun” said the boy, as though he as reading Gautham’s mind.

“What? …. I mean .. Hi, am inspector Gautham, Can I ask you a few questions?” words stumbled from the inspector.

“I have no place to go in this realm, no parents, never knew them. I also know that my caretakers are dead, so am all yours.

No, I am not responsible for the blast but what I know is that it’s not advisable to keep me here for long.

Yes I have lived in the farm house all my life.

Yes I am fine and will always be.

So you can tick the last question on your notepad , I have answered them all,” said a smiling Mithun, leaving Gautham gaping like a gold fish . He wanted to ask many more questions, but he simply couldn’t and for once he was scared.

Few minutes after Gautham’s report , Ms Pooja Vishwanath from PET [ Paranormal and Extra-Terrestrial Wing] arrived.

“Hello Inspector, let this be something solid and real as you claimed,” said Pooja in an authoritative tone.

Room 314

“So .. Mithun is your name, eh? How old are you?” asked Pooja with a plastic smile.

“It’s not advisable to keep me here for long, you are risking lives.. I would be more than glad to answer you in a less populated, rather secluded place,” said Mithun and right then the hospital lights started flickering . “Too late already,” he quipped.

The static screeched in Gautham’s walkie talkie.

“716 reporting fire, 2 blocks from ARC , SICAL warehouse, over.”

Gautham immediately responded with “I will be there in 5 minutes,” and stood up to leave when Mithun called out his name and like an insect attracted to a light source, he moved towards Mithun. As Pooja watched he held Gautham’s wrist and the inspector twitched, not in pain but as though something very bright and blinding hit him.

“Are you OK inspector? Let him go, kid,” panicked Pooja.

Right then she heard herself saying “Its OK .. He knows what he is doing,” as if her subconscious was talking to her and she couldn’t help but keep quiet and watch.

In a few seconds , the inspector nodded and left the room. He was on his way to become a national hero .

A DAY Before

What was regional news yesterday has become a national sensation today, Inspector Gautham saved 19 students from a burning warehouse.

They were not mere students, they were the intellectual elite picked from INDIA as “Child Prodigy”, a part of the ruling party’s anti brain drain campaign that was initiated a year back and was a grand success. Everyone in the country talked about it. Gautham has become a national hero by saving the greatest intellectual asset that the country possessed. Little did people know that the whole rescue mission was planted into Gautham by Mithun!

“Are you serious? He literally showed you what to do in your head?” asked Pooja with utter disbelief. All Gautham could do was nod.

“We have to run tests on him, but how? No equipment would work on him.. What is he?” Asked a frustrated Pooja.

“Maybe ask him his permission, this was his last note to me,

‘You have to ask me when you need something'
That didn’t make much sense then, but now it does,” said Gautham without looking up at Pooja, his gaze fixed on the question mark pattern that the marble flooring had.

They both walked to room 314 and as they entered they realized Mithun was not in his bed. They knew very well what Mithun is capable of and knew he can walk out anytime he wanted.

“He kept saying it’s not advisable to keep him here for long, we didn’t listen, now …”

Before Pooja could finish the sentence Mithun walked out of the restroom and smiled at them, “What? I am as human as you are” said Mithun with a wink , “…and yeah… You have your permission” he winked again!

“Permission for what,” asked asked pooja with PUZZLED written all over her face and Gautham gently squeezed her forearm and said.. “To run tests”!


Pooja and Gautham sat right opposite Mithun and he spoke,

“I'm afraid I might not speak to you again and have very little time, your tests would tell you facts from what is known and I am not from there. To reach to the unknown you have to travel in unchartered waters and you map won’t help you there.
What am I? A mere projection of the same thing you all are made of, but from a different part of this multiverse, to speak in a language you better understand you can call me a time traveller . If you tread right, all would evolve to be me”

“You sound like Lord Krishna ! Are you quoting from Bhagavat Gita by any chance?” Asked Gautham.

“Oh ! Do I? Maybe your Krishna too was a time traveller” Mithun grinned and winked.

“How much more technologically advanced should we become to evolve like you,” asked Pooja.

“True evolution can happen only when Humanity surpasses Technology and not the vice-versa,” smiled Mithun.

“Are you God?” asked Gautham unable to come out of the KRISHNA STATEMENT that was made few seconds back.

*Knock Knock*

As Pooja and Gautham turned, their last minute with THE HUMAN was over.

Good that he didn’t answer that. For it would have forever remained a gaffe!


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