The final act of Rajkumar’s life opened to neither cheers nor applause. 

He looked down at the gentle, placid Rapti flowing fifty feet below. It should have been a raging torrent at this time of year, but the river had no sense of occasion. He held the bridge’s railing tight with his left hand, the other inspecting the iron weight tied to his ankle. 

He had no choice. All his life, Rajkumar had only wanted to be a jadugar. Unfortunately, he was a very bad one. He could never distract an audience, so his illusions never worked. Tea sets shattered when he pulled tablecloths from under them. His white pigeons defecated liberally into his turban. The rabbits bit him. Card decks flew out of his hand, prrrrrrr-uh! and scattered on the stage. 

Exploring all that Bhishma did to order and protect the lives of two generations of Kurus, Neera Kashyap dissects his character to bring out the finer nuances.

Bhishma Pitamah, the grand patriarch of the Kuru clan in the epic of the Mahabharata lived a long life spanning five generations. From scholarly estimates, it appears he may have lived for over a hundred years, for he enjoyed the boon from his father King Shantanu of choosing his own time of death – ichcha mrityu. He earned this boon by making the most astounding vows: giving up his claim to the throne and taking a life-long vow of celibacy so that there would be no claimants to the throne from his own bloodline.

Living with a pandemic can be testing and full of surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant). Verena Tay shows us a glimpse of her journal entries during the pandemic to show us life, as she sees it.

Some say there is value in writing down the minutiae of life, no matter how trivial, as a record of what happened for posterity. In this pandemic period, some say it is even more important to do so because these are unique and historic times that one must remember. Surely future generations will be keen to find out about the experiences of those who lived through Covid-19 so that they can draw some kind of significance for their own lives?

However, why journal about these times when so many of my contemporaries are making their own chronicles, now that literacy and art-making are more widespread? What about the importance of noting down my own perspective? Ah… Not much has really happened during the last few months for me. 

The incessant screams of the sparrows alighted on their coffer under my slanted roofing ceased my sleep. I lay awake watching the petite chicks persistently growling in hunger while their mother was  endearingly feeding them one by one with soggy stems, perforated leaves and slyly hoarded worms. How lucky these fledglings are to have a parent who wouldn’t probably abandon them before teaching them the necessary survival skills of foraging and feasting. I sprang out of my bed hastily hearing the whistle of the garbage collector and wormed my way through the living room with the overflowing dustbin on my left hand to find the main door with withering green paint and rusty knob, wide open, like every other morning. The waste picker rummaged through the discarded materials with bare hands and flung the scrap iron, half-broken toy pieces, segregated shards of glass into a plastic bag dangling from the handle of his van. Without exchanging a word I tossed the contents of my dustbin, littering the eco-warriors van, and stayed back for a few minutes to see him salvage through the newly gathered waste. The elements in the plastic bag were going to get a new lease of life, but unfortunately, not all frayed edges can be sewed.