Pralayam: a disaster that united Kerala

Tanya Mary, II B.A. English

Kerala, a state well accustomed to rains and whose main attraction is its climate, faced a disaster which most current generation Malayalees would have never experienced before. This year, Keralaites were taken aback by the torrential rainfall which caused flash floods (pralayam) in many areas.

The flash floods were majorly caused due to the release of water from the dams rather than just the sheer magnitude of rain. People who live along the banks of lakes and rivers are not unfamiliar with water levels rising and entering their houses but this is the first time that the rainwater had reached so far inland. It even affected major cities like Kochi, sweeping them all off their sense of reality.

The sight of catamarans, rafts and boats traversing the roads, the completely submerged inland houses, the floating carcasses of animals, etc. were indeed sights that scared the living daylights out of the millions of Malayalees living outside Kerala. It sent them all into a panic mode as they worried about their friends and relatives living in Kerala. Mobile phones could not be reached as the people hadn’t charged their phones and were not quite prepared for the continuous power outage that lasted for days. Thousands of people had to be evacuated and moved to relief camps.

Malayalees all over the world showcased their unity, their spontaneity, their undemanding love and support for their fellow countrymen; setting apart all their differences. Even the political parties did not blame each other or cash in on this predicament as all of them were worried about their state and worked together as a team for the welfare of their naadu. The media also did a very commendable job in this case. They did not try to increase their TRP rating by only showing the worst affected areas and playing sad music but served as a tool to reach out to the masses by continuously broadcasting helpful information, contact numbers and was an important link between the help-providers and help-seekers.

Social media was put to the best possible use by providing and sharing information at almost lightning speed. There was a lot of fake news doing the rounds but channels like Manorama News and Asianet News crosschecked the news items and debunked any wrong information. Many Malayalee actors, singers and other celebrities used their large fan base to share important information and actively participated in the rescue operations.

The help rendered by the Armed forces was really laudable. But the real heroes were the common folk who did not wait for anyone to offer help. Most able-bodied men and women were directly involved in the rescue work without expecting anything in return. They did this because they could not bear the sight of their fellowmen and women suffering and wanted to reach out and help instead of staying back and watching the ordeal.

This year’s Onam celebrated the ability of humanity to transcend all differences and help out during the time of disaster. I would like to quote a slogan that has been doing the rounds now, “Kerala is not only God’s own country but it is also the country of Gods.”

Each person who helped is a God who saved lives.

 

 

 

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Humans Of Stella #2

-Photographed by – Samyuktha Shivachandran, II B.A. English

-Samyuktha Shivachandran, II B.A. English

For as long as I can remember, my brother and I wanted a dog.
My parents finally said yes, after about five years of begging them. Our uncle was supposed to bring a dog home on the 15th of August. However, even just a day before the 15th, my mom was wary about us getting a dog, so nothing was set in stone.
On the 15th, my uncle showed up empty handed, and we were heartbroken. But, that only lasted five minutes, because waiting for us in my uncle’s car, in a Saravana stores bag was none other than my goofball, Zack.

After we brought him home, he peed and pooped everywhere! But the fact that we had finally convinced our parents to get a dog made us so ecstatic that we didn’t complain about all the mess that Zack had made.

Over the years Zack has helped my brother and I mature a lot because of all the responsibilities that come with taking care of a dog. All this happened when I was just 8 years old. So, Zack and I have basically grown up together. Zack has gotten all the love and pampering from our family. What was once my parents’ room is now Zack’s room, and my parents just happen to sleep there.
One thing about Zack is that he hates being left alone. So now, being clingy is a huge part of his personality. But then again, how could anybody possibly complain about that? From my perspective, getting any attention from a pet is such a blessing.

I can’t imagine living without Zack; the house and our lives would feel extremely empty.
My grandmother recently started having issues with hearing, so whenever the bell or the phone rings, she wouldn’t notice at all, but Zack would make it a point to show her by barking, and that’s the only way she would know that someone is at the door.

The relationship that Zack and I share is a lot different from how he is with the rest of my family. They all do different things for him: like taking him on walks or feeding him. So, he respects them in a certain sense. I, on the other hand, am not used to doing any of that. So, I always joke about it saying, ‘Oh, I am his least favorite family member’, but in my head, I know it isn’t true. Zack may respect them a lot or even listen to them more, but the two of us share a different kind of bond. A bond similar to what two best friends would share; it’s very easy going but is also filled with a lot of love.
After a long day, when I come back home tired, Zack will accompany me by sitting on my lap, and we just laze around together. We’ll sit together for hours doing absolutely nothing. That’s one part of my day I really love and look forward to.
If I had to describe Zack in a couple of words, I’d fail terribly. For how could I possibly put all that he is, all that he means, or all that he has given us, in just a few words? I can’t. He is the most precious and loving being I know.
Zack has always shared a special bond with humans. In fact, he is so much more of a ‘people’s person’ than I’ll ever be. But, at the end of the day, it serves as a perfect balance
In fact, he notices everything. If he sees anyone fighting or upset he immediately runs up to them. It’s not like he actively does anything, he’ll just come sit next to you, and that by itself is a lot more emotional support than you’d get from any other human in general. Small but impactful things like this truly make me believe that dogs are a lot more sensitive and loving than human beings will ever be.
As cheesy as it sounds, Zack has definitely taught me a lot over the years, and I would not be the same person I am today if it weren’t for him.

-Nichele Venkitachalam, I Zoology

Letters to the Unsung. #1, Ian Curtis

Image source : Paul Stolper Gallery

-Krishna J. Nair, II Year B.A. English

Hey Ian,
We both are from different timelines and different parts of the world. I know you through the music you made and from the words your wife and your bandmates wrote about you. I can only imagine the amount of pain you went through when you were alive through the words you wrote. I hope you are liberated now.
I wonder what was in your mind when you were alive. You put your thoughts so abstractly into the poems that you wrote that finally came alive on stage through your beautiful voice. I hear raves about your magical performance, but were you really performing and dancing? Were you in the midst of a painful seizure, but you held it back, and continued to perform? Maybe that’s why I can’t watch a video of you perform. It breaks my broken heart.

Ian, how is it up there? Are you finally free from all the pain and confusion? Are you able to dance and sing ferociously and still able to write those beautiful words? I know you wrote that love will tear us apart, but Ian, I also know that you were alive for however long you were because of that love. I think about whether you were as scared as I am now. Whenever I turn the pages of that book, I see myself somewhere in the roads your love mentioned, watching you perform and love and live.

I hope you find peace wherever you are, Ian. I am able to find that peace in the music that you made. You were haunted for the most part of your life, and I have that conversation with your words and the world seems less lonely.
If you and I were in the same timeline and in the same place, maybe we would have been together. Or maybe, we would have departed together.
Thanks for creating your music Ian. You were brave enough to leave a mark in this tiny world.

Love,
A person who believes that love will keep us alive.
For Ian Curtis of Joy Division.

Happy (?) Endings

– Aswathi Menon, I B.A. English

All these fairy tales and
happy endings
Ever wondered if they are really true?
A gorgeous princess wearing a long pink gown, sleeping so peacefully but unfortunately forever
Then came a prince out of nowhere who kissed her awake
Did it really taste like consent?

Cinderella Cinderella
It’s a very pretty blue dress that you have
Anyone would fall for those sparkly gloves
And those shoes made of glass
Thanks to the fairy godmother who transformed you to someone else
But don’t you think the prince should’ve fallen in love
When you were yourself?
In the torn clothes and the messy face?

 

Independence Day Celebrations

– Akchayaa R, III B.A. English

 

The seventy second Independence Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm amongst the students of Stella Maris College. This momentous occasion also marked the seventy second birthday of the College. The celebrations began at 9:00 a.m in the morning with the Tamizh Thaai Vaazhthu followed by the N.C.C cadets displaying their skills with their drill. After this was the arrival of the chief guest Shri C. Rajendran who is an I.R.S Officer serving in the Customs department. He has also been a part of the Revenue department and in the force against cross border smuggling.

Sr. Susan fmm, the Secretary of the College, invoked the Lord’s blessings with her prayer. The welcome address was delivered by the Principal, Dr. Sr. Rosy Joseph fmm. The flag was hoisted by the chief guest as the national anthem played in the background.

When invited to address the gathering, Shri C. Rajendran spoke about the power of truth and the principles that Gandhi followed that earned him the ‘Mahatma’ status. It was an enlightening and a thought provoking speech.

After the speech, the college magazine for the year 2018 was released by the Principal and the first copy was given to the chief guest. The students then danced and performed songs; this was received very well by the audience. This occasion came to an end with the vote of thanks proposed by Dr. Geradette Mary, head of the Botany department.

No Tax to Bleed

-Kavya Vishwanath, I B.A Economics

 

On 21st July 2018, the government of India decided to remove the 12% GST (Goods and Services Tax) on sanitary pads. After yea rlong protests and signing of petitions, sanitary pads have finally come under the list of goods exempted from GST.

The petition to remove tax on sanitary pads was started by Sushmita Dev, a member of the Lok Sabha, under #taxfreewings. The petition needed 1,50,000 signatures but earned around a whopping 4,00,000 signatures. She stated that only 12% of the 355 million women use sanitary napkins and in the rural areas, only 2% of the targeted 75% use it. An estimate of 70% of women could not afford pads. Such a situation has caused an impact on the attendance of girls in schools as well as their participation in the work force.

 There have been many reports stating that a 12% tax is needed due to the Input Tax Credit which manufacturers are entitled to (as they are taxed on inputs like cotton for manufacturing the pads ) and that there will be no significant difference if GST is removed since the manufacturers might raise the price to make a profit. However, GST on pads has been removed due to an override of sentiments from women who emphasised the fact that menstruation is a natural process which cannot be controlled, hence making sanitary pads a necessity.

 Even if the removal of GST does not make any difference and if manufacturers increase the prices to compete with imports, we can only hope that efforts will be taken by the government to ensure that this commodity is available to women across the country since pads are not luxury goods and cannot afford to be caught up in price politics.

 

 

 

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