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Daughters Of The Sun by Ira Mukhoty (Book Review)

My failed attempt at that fancy Instagram book picture. I’m lacking coffee and my glasses look strange.

That book though, is perfection.And I’m not just referring to its classy, aesthetic hardbound cover.

It has a fresh perspective on the Mughal Empire that ruled India for over 200 years and came to be known for its grandeur and rich culture that left a lasting impact on Indian history.It managed to capture the rich history of the Mughal dynasty from the perspective of its women; the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives whose contributions played a huge role in the lives of the rulers.

Ira Mukhoty’s writing gives a voice to this new perspective of Indian history, introducing us to the brave, intelligent and politically savvy women behind the scenes.

I didn’t even know these people had existed, but knowing about them now changes everything.I’ve never been a fan of history books, but this book caught my attention and managed to live up to my expectations. It was an incredible read.

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Dear society

Dear society,

I’m tired of people telling me that you decide how this world works.

You decided that being a woman makes me deserve less.

That I must behave, dress and think a certain way so as not to attract unwanted attention.

That I am required to be ‘ideally’ beautiful to be accepted.

That fair skin and a thin body are necessary qualifications to belong.

That my having a loud opinion on things that make you uncomfortable makes me crass and therefore, undesirable.

Your ideals are outdated and in certain ways, oppressive and I am done trying to please you.

If I have to be at war with you to live my life the way I want to, then so be it. I would rather battle you to death than let you take away the person that I am.

I would rather go against the current than with the flow even if it makes my journey difficult.

You don’t decide how the world works. I refuse to let you do it. If a fight is what you want, you’ll get it.

Yours sincerely,

Maya.

Saying goodbye to everything familiar.

So I just graduated from the 12th grade!
I thought I was going to be an emotionless robot on the day of my graduation while everyone else would be crying. That’s how I am with goodbyes. The tears don’t come until much later. And I was right for the most part.

Goodbyes though, are the absolute worst. We all dislike them.
Moving to a new house, parting ways with a friend, finishing a good book, they leave you with a sort of emptiness that’s hard to fill.

But goodbyes are inevitable. And forever is a long time. So it’s selfish of us to expect things to last forever. Human beings are inherently selfish though, so I guess we can’t blame ourselves for that.

I wish saying goodbye was easier. But maybe the fact that it is so difficult is the whole point of it. Maybe goodbyes are meant for us to notice the good things in our lives, right while we’re about to lose them, making us want to cherish the things we still have.
These are revelations that a gazillion other people have probably already had, but the fact that I’m having them now is making me see the world a little differently.

I did cry when it hit me that my school life had just ended and that everything was going to change. I graduated yesterday. And I cried today. It happened a lot faster than I expected.

But now that I’m having these revelations, I realized goodbyes aren’t the end.

So to all of the important people in my life, this isn’t over. One day we’ll find each other amongst the 7.5 billion people in the world and meet. And it’ll be great.

To everything in my life that was comfortable and certain, I’m grateful for the stability, but it’s time I moved on, past my comfort zone, and explored the innumerable possibilities the world has.

I bid thee farewell
Dear comfort and certainty
My future awaits

And to all of the memories I’ve made, I’m glad to have you with me, keeping me company, not letting me forget the important things in my life and reminding me to make the most of everything.

Taking criticism

Their harsh words were supposed to tear me apart,

Rip me to shreds like a piece of paper.

They were supposed to seep into my skin,

Corrode it, like they were acidic.

But for once, those words didn’t faze me.

Those words repeated themselves over and over in my head with a catchy rhythm.

A chant that seemed to cause vibrations in my body.

Until those words weren’t words anymore.

Instead, they were strong feelings coursing through my veins.

Feelings of enthusiasm, positivity and passion.

Feelings I wanted to channel into everything I loved to do so I would one day achieve something amazing.

I’d have proven myself to the world and to them.

And then I’d never have to hear their words ever again.

She’s A Woman

You think she’s fragile, like glass

That she’ll shatter into a million shards

Because your crass words affect her

The way wind does a house of cards.

But she’s stronger than you think
She’s like an ocean in a storm.
When the calm waves have been disturbed
She’ll swallow you in her mighty form.

You think she’s pretty, like a painting
But her head is hollow inside.
She sits quietly there and smiles
For she’s just there to boost your pride.

But she’s more intelligent than you think.
She’s knowledgeable and witty.
She’s entitled to her opinions
And she doesn’t need your pity.

You think she’s created solely for your pleasure.
Something that’s meant to be used.
And then thrown away like garbage.
It seems her purpose was to be abused.

But she’s not a toy, like you think.
She’s worth infinite times more than that.
She’s alive and breathing and human.
She’s not an object to misuse and look at.

She’s not whiny and emotional.
She’s not naive or gullible or frail.
She’s not rude or crass or ugly.
She’s not always meant to fail.

She’s brilliant and graceful and tough.
She’s warm like the Sun in the sky.
She’s funny and ambitious.
And she deserves her shot at flying high.

She’s a woman, a remarkable one.
Like every other woman out there.
She’s unique and she’s a survivor
Who endures in a world that’s not fair.

Dracmere’s Fight

I wrote this story for a school assignment. And I’m kind of proud of it even though I cut out so much of it so it wouldn’t exceed the word limit. It was still more than a hundred words above the word limit when I turned it in though. I think. Anyway, here it is.

It’s been 1 month since Alluria won the war against us. And 15 days since they found me in an underground bunker and took me prisoner. It’s dark, damp and cold in here. I’m dirty, weak and hungry. I’m slowly going crazy. My calculations of how long it’s been since everything, are probably wrong. I have no real sense of day and night here.

You coward! You hid underground while your people fought for your country! You didn’t deserve to be Queen!” I can hear my step-mother’s voice yelling in my head. For once, I agree with her. And with everybody else in my mind, screaming obscenities at me. Insulting me. Joking about me. “‘Ganymede the Destroyer’. That’s what we should call her.” “You’re the reason our country, our beloved Dracmere is dead! You’re a traitor!” The voices in my head are terrible company.

I hear footsteps and the jangle of keys. I see a burly figure opening my cell door. I hope with all my heart that they’re getting me out of here. I’m not disappointed. They put me in a large, significantly brighter room with no ugly iron bars. And I’m not alone.

There are around 15 people staring at me. I walk in and the guard locks the door behind me. I notice they’re Dracians. They’re my people. Or rather, ‘were’ my people. Suddenly, I’m afraid they’ll recognize me.

“Hi. I’m Vince. What’s your name?” He holds out his hand for me to shake. He smiles at me. He has ink black hair, prominent cheekbones and a warm smile. I grin before taking his hand. They don’t recognize me. I probably don’t look like me. With my dirt-caked skin, my ugly, knotted brown curls covering half my face and my overall disheveled appearance, I’m not ‘Queen Ganymede’. I’m relieved.

“I’m Raine.”, I say quickly, surprising myself by speaking normally after being alone for so long. Raine was my mother’s name. It was the first name I thought of. Probably because I spent the last few days wondering whether I’d caused her death. She’d died of an unknown illness. There is no way I could have caused it. It’s strange what happens to a person when he’s left alone with his own thoughts.

I take a quick look at everyone. They’re all scruffy and thin and wide-eyed. I’m the same as them now.

Vince starts to introduce everyone to me. I only manage to register a few names and faces. He sits me down on the floor next to him. Redheaded Rudy (that’s what they call him), a buff man in his mid thirties with red hair, starts to speak, disparaging the image of ‘Queen Ganymede’. And I don’t know whether to laugh with relief because he doesn’t know I’m right there or attempt to defend myself. I smile awkwardly and listen.

They say I betrayed Dracmere. I didn’t. What I did was let myself be hidden and safe from the events of the war until it was over. I suppose being a coward isn’t that much better than being a traitor. But my intention was to not get hurt myself. I didn’t intend to let Dracmere get destroyed. I believe my motivations make me slightly better than a traitor. What’s left of Dracmere doesn’t believe it. They hope I’m dead. That makes me wish I actually was.

A woman named Alexis starts to speak. “They’re offering us a choice. Embrace their language and culture or stay here until they decide what to do with us.” “Well, I’d like to get out of here and live my life. And if moving to Alluria and becoming one of them is how to do it, I’m all for it.”, Rudy says.

“This is all my fault.”, I mutter and Vince catches it. I cover my mouth immediately. Vince leans towards me and whispers. “I know who you are. I believe you’re not a traitor. But if you wanna make amends for what you did, now is your chance. Convince them not to give up.” I realize he’s right.

I stand up and clear my throat. “Listen,” I say. They look up at me. I’m a stranger to them right now, but for the first time, it’s better than being their Queen. They have more of a reason to trust me.

“We can’t give in to their threats.” Vince smiles reassuringly. I go on. “We lost the war. We lost friends, family. They took away our country. But we can choose whether or not to let them take away our identity. If we take their offer, become one of them, they win. So we need to hold on to what is ours. Our language, our culture.”

I feel my words making a difference. There’s a murmur of agreement among them. Vince stands up. I feel a strange sense of admiration for these people. Except it’s not strange. I may barely know them, but I can tell they are some of the bravest people in Dracmere.

“Those of you that still want to take their offer, go ahead. The rest of us need to take control of our lives again. When those guards come back, we need to be ready.” He holds out a hand to me. I grab it. The others hold hands too. Rudy stands aside, hesitant to join the rest. Vince holds out his other arm. “We need you, Rudy.”

The energy in the room is suddenly different. 15 pairs of eyes are focused on Redheaded Rudy. He shares a look with Vince. I know nothing of their relationship, but that look tells me enough. They had gone into the Allurian war together, watching each other’s backs, following each other into hell. And they are going to do it again. I understand their bond because I had had a similar bond with someone. Someone I’d lost. I know from that look that Rudy is going to join us.

They guards don’t take long to appear, bringing our meals. They seem unnerved by the rebellious energy of the little group of people holding hands and taking a stand against the Allurians. One of the guards draws his sword.

In that moment, Rudy squeezes Vince’s palm and says, “Dracmere’s not dead yet.” He lunges at the guards and everyone follows suit. The Allurians had underestimated this little group. We’re more powerful than anyone would’ve thought. So no, Dracmere’s not dead yet.

Top 5 Feel-Good Shows

5. Glee

I can feel people judging me right now. But trust me. There’s a good reason Glee made it onto my list.

The only reason I started watching it was because I wanted to see what Harry Shum Jr. And Grant Gustin were like on it. I never intended to watch the entire thing. I got through all 5 seasons pretty fast. It’s partly because I skipped most of the songs.

But here’s the thing, it had a decent story and a number of great characters. And even though it had a kind of clichéd premise, it was worth watching. Because Glee deals with controversial topics like bullying and sexuality in such a heartwarming way. It’ll have you cringing at times, but sooner or later you’ll end up getting really attached to the characters and the story. It was something I never thought I’d like, but I did.

And although I skipped most of the singing parts, Glee does have some awesome covers of great songs. It really surprised me and it just had to make it onto this list.

4. On My Block

This one’s got only one season so far. It’s a Netflix original. I’m dying to watch the second season because I just loved the first one. It was funny and beautiful and I couldn’t help falling in love with it. It’s about a quartet of teenagers just entering high school, trying so hard to hold onto their friendship through the downs of their lives in their neighborhood.

There’s a long wait to the second season and it ends in a cliffhanger so brace yourself if you’re watching it.

3. Castle

Castle is a show that’s important to me. Very important. It probably holds second place in my favorite tv shows of all time. Sherlock takes first place.

You could watch any episode at random like I do once in a while. Or you could take your time and watch all 8 seasons. Either way, it’s amazing.

I love crime shows. I’ve also taken a recent liking to comedy. Castle’s got both. And even though I didn’t watch much of comedy earlier, I’ve been a Castle fan for a pretty long time.

It’s about a crime fiction writer named Richard Castle who meets a cop named Kate Beckett and wants her as his muse for his next novels. He uses his popularity to get the opportunity to tag along on her cases and they end up solving them together.

Every episode’s got a different crime so you don’t necessarily have to start at the beginning. But the relationships between the characters develop through the episodes so it’s worth watching in order. It’s always been my go-to show when I need something that’s serious and funny at the same time.

2. Friends

You might’ve already assumed this would make it onto the list. Friends is a classic. You’re totally missing out if you haven’t watched it.

Honestly though, I liked How I Met Your Mother(HIMYM) better. I only recently binge watched both. I’d been missing out for a long time.

Anyway, I’m not including HIMYM because after a point, it got really heartbreaking. From season 7 onwards, there were so many episodes that made me want to cry. In general, I was way more attached to the HIMYM characters than to the Friends characters.

But Friends is a classic. It constantly has you rolling on the floor, laughing. It’s one of the best feel-good shows to ever exist.

Before I get to number one, there’s somethimg I have to mention. If there are a lot of really funny or light hearted or feel good shows that I haven’t mentioned, it’s because I haven’t watched many. I haven’t watched ‘Modern Family’ or ‘Parks and Recreation’ or ‘New Girl’. Trust me, I’ll get around to watching those. I’ve just already made up my mind about these 5.

Crime and Dystopia are my favorite genres. I wouldn’t be watching anything light at all if something hadn’t forced me to sit down and watch Friends. Now that I realize how much I like the genre, I have a lot of shows to watch.

1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I fell in love with this show so quickly, it’s crazy. I watched every episode like the world was going to end if I didn’t. It’s hilarious, it’s got great character development and good storylines. I think it’s the best feel-good show out there. It’s like a constant ray of sunshine. It clearly goes above my usual favorites and it’s raised my standards so high, I’m not sure I’d like anything else as much.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine totally gets to be on top of this list. But that’s just what I think.

The Patient

Salut mes amis! So I write these kind of incomplete short stories that I think are pretty good. I’m a good writer(not to toot my own horn). Anyway, this is one of them. I like being the person who posts the randomest things on her blog. I can write anything, I guess. So I’m adding my short stories to the list of things I can write here. So, yeah. Here it is.

Dr. Pillsbury softly tapped the arm of her cream leather chair. She looked into the doleful grey eyes of her patient as she tried to get him to talk about his feelings. “Did you ever want something so badly that you were ready to do anything to get it? Even kill for it.”, Mr. Riverton asked. Dr. Pillsbury fidgeted with the pearls around her neck. “Do you want something that badly right now?”, she asked. “Why can’t any therapists ever give straight answers? You’re always being cryptic or replying to questions with your own ‘rhetorical’ questions! Yes. I do want something that badly.” Mr. Riverton looked down at his large feet, seeming a little embarrassed.

“For once, Dr. Pillsbury, just answer my question. Have you ever wanted something so badly you would do anything, I mean anything for it?” “Yes. I have.”, she replied with a straight face. She betrayed no emotions and no thoughts. Her whole job was about her patients and she focused on getting them to deal with themselves and the deep, dark parts of their minds.

“Tell me then, Dr. Pillsbury. What was it you wanted?” Samuel Riverton stared at her, waiting for her answer. He sat opposite to her, just a little distance away. His hair was dark and curly, she noticed, unlike her own blonde locks. He was a big man. He had broad shoulders and a burly figure. He could overpower me easily if it came to that, she thought. He scared her. She didn’t know why. He licked his lips slowly. It made Anne Pillsbury uncomfortable, but once again, she showed no emotion.

“I don’t talk about myself with my patients. At least not unless I think it will help.” “It will help. More than you think. So please, tell me.” Mr. Riverton pulled his couch a little closer. He observed Dr. Pillsbury’s face. Her dark eyes, the wisps of golden hair around her heart shaped face, the curve of her eyebrows, her full lips, the faded scar on her chin. He noticed everything as she spoke.

“My sister’s boyfriend. I was in love with him and I wanted him. I did some terrible things to get him. So yes, I have definitely gone through what you seem to be dealing with right now. So what is it that you want?” “No. We’re not done talking about you, Dr. Pillsbury. How did you get him? Your sister’s boyfriend.”

Anne hesitated. She didn’t like the direction the session was going in. It was almost like she’d switched places with her patient. But she answered anyway. “I doctored some pictures and made it look like my sister had cheated on him. Then I comforted him after he dumped her. He fell in love with me and then married me. But I regret what I did. The guilt eats away at me all the time. Now let’s get back to you, Samuel. What do you want so badly?”

Samuel smiled slyly. He leaned forward so close to her that she could feel his warm, minty breath on her face. “You. Anne Pillsbury. I want you. And I’m willing to do anything.” Anne jumped back, her eyes wide. Samuel laughed, like he had expected that to happen. His maniacal laughter rang in Anne’s ears.

The sound of his terrifying cackling was the last thing on her mind before Samuel lunged at her with a knife in his hand and slit her throat. She bled out on the floor as her whole life flashed before her eyes. Every horrible thing she ever did consumed her mind in the last few seconds of her life.

Samuel waited to see the life leave her eyes. He put her carcass in a body bag which he wrapped in the large carpet on the floor. He’d been waiting for that moment. He was going to stuff her pretty head and mount it on a wall. He walked out the building just like he had come in and disappeared into the crowd with a rolled carpet on his shoulder.