school

Boring Stuff About Reading

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I am my wisest, strongest, rawest and also most secretive this year. Or, this second half of the year.

I have a psychology practical tomorrow. Logically, normatively (literally according to norms), I should be dropping things at this stage, lashing out at people, downing coffee  and donuts like water and be buried in my practical file. Instead of that, at this exact moment I am shutting close files of two side projects I am on, and writing my blog. I know full well that the ripple effects of every action like this and hence my performance on every little or large test this year has a compound effect on my future- the one I don’t care for and the secret one that is my Achilles’ heel, both. Yet, I am not panicked, in the least.

If you’re thinking I’m a master in psychology or your adorable right-out-of-the-movie book geek, drop it. I am just attuned. Attuned, to the years and years (and years) of lecturing in school and fortunately not so much outside school: “Take this seriously, kids! Your future rests on this. You know how important these exams are now with the nth new curriculum! YOUR kids are looking at you with hungry eyes, growing hungrier with every minute you waste on the net or in a cafe or just about an inch away from your books, because they are malnourished and there’s no food in the house because you never went to college.”

Probably not that last part. But just as threatening. Maybe I’ve said this before but the ONLY effect such fear mongering has on students is that most of them give reading up at the earliest possible age, chastised with such negativity.  Many others learn to fear reading, and everything that goes with it, until the classroom just becomes a group of children who either no more respect reading or know no hope without it. Everyone does become successful robots though, and if that was the aim of education, we’ve nailed it.

I fit in this class too, of course. I’ve never turned away from reading. But I know that a world is not impossible without it. I may not be a candidate for either tight fit category, but I’ve bounced between them, just like a work-vacation time division. Currently, I am in a highly motivated, ‘blood only has adrenaline’ kind of rush for knowledge (being better/ touching glossy pages/ checking out writing styles/ especially looking for acerbic people and texts), and I STILL DON”T FEEL MOTIVATED FOR TOMORROW’S PRACTICAL.

I’m sure I’ll score good. That’s… not really the point of reading but it matters, on the ripple effect level. I’m also pretty sure that after it ends tomorrow, I’ll be lighter.

That’s because of the deadpan, silent acknowledgement I have that I don’t enjoy school anymore.

I mean the curriculum, really, but since the “studies” are the basis of time division at any school, I don’t find much joy in the plain brick structure either, anymore.

Yet, it has been nearly 14 years. Our outward behaviour and intrinsic delights find ways to merge. I am indeed my wisest, strongest, rawest and most secretive this year. That’s because nobody else sees that when I walk the corridors that everyone walks, I picture the Windsor Castle, I see the Danube, I smell burgers and I hear the piano, like the other secrets no-one needs to know.

I will continue to have a pleasant time at school, despite my unsatisfaction and despite my hopes, because that’s just who I am. I’ll find ways to put the fun back in reading.

So that’s how Perfect feels like

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There’s good grades and then there’s perfect grades. To get a 98%, which was what was expected of me would be good grades, but I didn’t live up to those expectations…

I kinda broke through them 🙂 I nailed it, got a perfect 100. 

I have already posted twice on Facebook about my major feat, called a lot of people, and taken calls from most relatives who were as shrilly on the phone as my mother has been for two days now. Well, in explanation, the deal is this:

Class 10th and class 12th in India is a big deal. These two classes are when our examinations matter a lot, and hence it’s all under control of the national Board, CBSE, how they are run. The results come a little later and we are already in the next class by the time they are out.

So here I am, in 11th class, in the result declaration month of May, checking the newspapers for the date they are going to announce my fate. It’s a day to go, and my mother is looking at me every other minute and asking me if I messed up somewhere and it’s going to be 96%, or was everything okay and we’re looking at 98. 

I mean, every two minutes! We were playing a gambling game that’s pretty cool and I ask her what hand she’s going to decide and she says, “Ruchi…. not 96 right?” 

Yep, like that. So you can imagine how I went to sleep that night, because we were almost certain the result would be out the next day, it was my lizard brain’s feeling. 

Look at how things turn out, I usually wake up with my cell phone screaming in my ear (Yes I take the phone to bed with me, haha) and today, the big day, the alarm didn’t go off. Why? Ask my phone, it will probably be better friends with you than it will ever be with me. Instead of that, I get woken up by a phone call. Well, so much for alarms. It was my dad, who’s far from where I am right now but closer to a computer than me. And the result was out. 

“Don’t tell me! Talk to mom.”

I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me what had happened. I had to see it for myself. I thrust the phone in mum’s hand, went to brush my teeth because good news or bad news, it isn’t worth bad breath. And I was jusssst about to finish, when my mom thumps on the bathroom door and tells me, “Ruchi it’s 10!!!!” 

Sigh. Well, at least I can rinse in peace. 

I open the door, and there she is, giggly as a school girl herself, “Sorry! I couldn’t help it! It’s a 10!”

She wasn’t sorry. Not at all.

Well, now for a little technical explanation. We don’t really get percentage results, we get grade points. It’s called CGPA. The scale is from 1 to 10 and we get even decimal CGPAs. So, for example, if a 98% was expected of me, the CGPA we were expecting was 9.8 and if I had done miserably and got 96% we were talking about 9.6. Hence, 10 means 100%

But there’s a catch. The board offers some bonuses, and if you have them, you can get up to 2 upgrades on your grade point. Since we only deal in even decimals, a person scoring 9.6 can get 10 with two upgrades. And 10 is what they will be telling everyone, 10 is what will be written on all the report cards and results. Yes, it is VERY unfair, and I absolutely loathe this system, but now the question was, did I make it 10 with upgradations? 

I ran to the nearest computer, looked up my roll number on the school’s website, went to the board’s website and punched it in. All this while I was already getting phone calls from relatives congratulating me, and I was wondering how many people my mom could have reached in that short time. Eventually I had to make my aunt hold while I saw the result myself.

And there was a problem. 

I had an A2.

You see, to have 100% you need A1 grades everywhere through your result. And I had a small A2 in one Science Assessment. But I couldn’t see the star that marks if we got any upgrade so I was confused:

A- I made it to 10 with an A2

B- There’s a glitch that I can’t see the star and I have indeed taken a stupid upgrade.

Do you see the irony? It’s all hanging on a little star whether I am gonna be a star myself today or not… I have got 100% before, but this exam was big. I had qualified for both those upgardes, they’re easy, but I’d like to go around saying “10, no upgrades” more than I’d like to say “10” and hide the fact that it’s because of a bonus. 

My friend Apoorvaa came to my rescue. I stayed in dilemma till eve because I had no way of knowing what had happened. And then I called her and she told me that A2 I got was a very small margin away from A1 so I might have pulled through with my other assessments into a clean 10. These are things you might not understand, but it got clearer by the minute thanks to Apoorvaa’s photographic memory that I had indeed… nailed it. 

So that’s how perfect feels like huh. It’s pretty cool.

And now I’m sitting back and looking at my friends, relatives and more importantly, my mom freak out with the result and shower some gifts. Yay! 🙂

I’ll write to you soon about how I’m enjoying these new luxuries, right now I am just thinking of walking on stage for my 6 years Scholar Badge in all subjects and leading my class. Also, being one step ahead of Apoorvaa who’s great friends with me, and it was always between the two of us who was gonna lead. I’m getting shy too, saying it’s going to be me. She got a 10 too, but none of us is very happy that it’s with one upgrade, or that she fell back in English which she didn’t deserve. (She’s good, the teacher has a grudge.)

Oh swell, I just remembered a funny thing. My gran, paternal, promised me a lot of cash If I got above a certain percentage. When people in the house got to know that that percentage she decided to be 90% everyone laughed and told her to count the money, because I have never gotten less than 95.

Yes, I just wrote this entire post bragging about me, me and more me. But this is all that I have done. This is my one year of work paying off and this post on the blog is all the bragging I have done, and all the bragging I plan to do. Well, except on Facebook too. 

Start Up Days

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The best thing about being in India, in eleventh grade, is that Craziness is CERTIFIED. It’s not just the scheme of my school, the thing is, in eleventh grade every one every where goes ballistic down a rat race to form, form, and form a winner profile, and then to apply to BIG colleges.

The sad part about this, is the moment you let your passion be your sole concern, that’s when you start getting Ifs and Buts in your plans. The Indian education system is perfectly moulded for the Science and Commerce people. Talk about the Arts/Humanities and you mean Problems.

In very simple terms, we have a cut off system in eleventh grade. In the results of tenth, those students you get 9/10 or above are eligible for Medical Studies, 8/10 are eligible for Non Medical Science, 6/10 are eligible for Commerce and anyone else, gets PUT INTO Humanities. I repeat, Anyone Else gets Put Into. Of course you can always OPT for Arts, as I did following passion, but then you are greeted with very very raised eyebrows. Are you stupid, they ask. If you’re not, are you bent on wasting your school years, they ask then. Oh you want this field, so you ARE stupid, they spell verdict.

Anyway, this isn’t a whiner post at all, today. This is a celebration post. I found sense in eleventh grade, and in the first two weeks too, hurray.

What is the good part about humanities. Field trips. Taken for granted, so kinda free. Time to breathe as there is no extra tuition or coaching centers. We do get the maximum holidays too. Pluuuusssss, we get to waste time.

No seriously, that is very important, cause Imagine a day after a lot of heavy theory subjects, like Political Science and History, and all this in a school where you read from textbooks only and other resources are your own extra digging. So when we get lots and lots and lots of reasons to waste some time, we like Humanities.

Today, for some abstract reason I haven’t yet fathomed, eleven-thees were on the prowl, roaming free and frolic. There is some kinda Math Conference tomorrow, so we had something that resembled a trial run today, and many volunteers, most of them from the ‘useless humanities’ were “busy” with that. That left the rest of us innocent bystanders with very less class strength and very disinterested teachers. Ohh, it gets better!

So, to put all us eleven-thees under one roof to make it easy to watch us, we were called in the Auditorium, where some silly film about an Indian mathematician, Ramanujan, was played for us. Now everyone knows that was just a herring, no one expected us to actually listen or the volume would be appreciable, the teachers only wanted us in one place and all accounted for.

That’s where my friend circle comes in. When you choose a stream, you choose YOUR stream, and all your friends from the previous class are dispersed. Now we are all teenagers, and we are all rather emotional and possessive. So I took my nine periods of school today as The Opportunity to meet anyone and everyone I knew. And that worked just fine.

I have friends in every class, and every sphere I engage in. Sure, some are very special friends, but it’s pretty established that I’ll find someone to talk to anything I sign up for. When you’re just separated from long friendships and put in heavy streams like Humanities, this is important.

Back to the Auditorium we are. So we are “watching” a film, and we are all talking. Two of my friends from the row behind me engaged me in a debate on how good (they said) and how bad (I said) a new TV programme was. I said it was so typically American that it wasn’t really American at all. They laughed to that, and I cried after that, as another friend aimed a paperball at my head.

This guy is Ankur. He has symptoms of ADHD (just kidding), is destructive (not really kidding), and has very similar interests as mine. First we talked about upcoming Video Conferences, Debates, Seminars, Student Exchange with Foreign Countries, Blogging and also some tests like SATs… Then, drained of such mundane things, we dismantled a fallen ID card and shot it into the crowd. I don’t know how I became so senseless.

He then shrieked “Eish hairy!” looking at Ramunjan’s chest in the film, and while I recovered from the laughter, he was moving towards the front rows where the chairs became sofas and I followed him, with two other friends. It was a tight squeeze for all four of us to fit in one sofa, but we did it, part because we really all just wanted to sleep, and part because it was fun fighting for space.

My friends, are saviours.

Later in the day, I had a seminar about education outside India planned with the insane dude from above, Ankur. Secrets of the trip include why we were going for this particular seminar. We are interested and blah and blah.. but we admit, Most of the reason for attending was because it was held in a Good 5-star hotel.

Ok everyone, lay back, and imagine…

Golden and cream doors, with polished glass and valet service pronto. Scented air conditioning. Wide corridors, flower decor, carpet to muffle the footsteps, huge crystal ball afloat a porcelain saucer that together made a sort of fountain. A second fountain where the steps at the end of the hall began, and this one with tiny orange and golden fish in it. Violet and deep blue flowers in every nook. Glossed handouts outside the seminar hall and inside, a BUZZ of ambition and a JINGLE of intelligence.

It’s these kind of places that remind me what dreams mean. Dreams… are our personal world of 5-star.

Tonight, so, my word for all the eyes that read these words now is, Please do remember to enjoy. New beginnings I find may be hard… But with friends and a little dreaming, these start up days can become bliss.

First Days, First Tries

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It takes some free time and the right opportunity to try out something new. So, when Charles from the British Council presented an open invitation for anyone to join the Conversation Clubs that day, I thought, why not. I had already missed an important day at school, and instead of returning home and wallowing about it, I might as well stay back from my class at the Council, and attend this one. You know, check it out.

And to be very honest, I was expecting good conversation, classy people and a smooth system. That’s just what I associate with British Council, or in fact, anything British.

Disappointed.

I should have been smarter. I was probably expecting a filtered group, those who could be expected to operate on the same wavelength. What i got… A hopelessly vivid version of the general Indian crowd. Fussy housewives, business men, boys that looked good only as long as they don’t speak and laid out the level of their confidence, despo gals, gamers… I am making it sound much worse than it was… But that’s just the after effects of a negative experience. Please only believe, that the crowd was NORMAL. The usual common man, and woman. With their normal lives, of faults and specialties, duties and responsibility, and the one goofy thing everyone has unique to them…

I’ll now try make it fair. I’m just let down. Maybe that has to do with the general feel of the whole day. So anyone affiliated with the British Council, I now hope, will be just as pleased/displeased with this article, as anybody else.

The club started on time, the facilitator was engaging and moved pretty swiftly between the many discussion groups, the topics and the prompts provided were pretty great.

My group was in fact much better than the usual scenario, as I was told. There was a woman from Ukraine who broke tradition of marrying from the locality, and is not settled in Africa, something she once dreamt about and left hopes for after seeing how far it was on, on a map. There was a boy who looked so confident I thought he was an easy talker. Turned out he could barely follow the convo, and was from a village. He has driven a tractor, and hopes to work at NASA, but after studying Physics for two or more years he thinks it isn’t his cup of tea, so now he wants to be a politician. Oh correction, he wants to be a CORRUPT politician. Cause that’s where the money is. Oh and he would never leave his family, a clause to all of his decisions.

There was a gamer boy. (Hey, please understand right away that I call anyone who isn’t cynical a boy, for as long as I can. Think that’s enough definition of who’s young and who’s not.) He has his loyalties with XBox and me being backed by some ardent Play Station fans in my family, I had to ask him Why Xbox? Just his choice. He also wants to go to Harvard Business School.

Two people in the club were from my class at the Council, we were trying out together. One is a lawyer, and one a reporter.

A girl was aiming for Oxford for English Literature, and in compelte generosity, should she ever ever ask anyone if that’s a good plan, the person should just say a clear decisive NO. The girl has all her basics wrong.. Nothing that can’t be corrected. But she also is high headed, thinks her rules of grammar are in fact the ones in line and she kept correcting everyone’s CORRECT English throughout. She’s just one of the people who hear of the big leagues and think cool, that’s my place. They don’t believe in earning it, they just see the big golden bell and wanna ring it. I have no sympathy for these kind of people, and sadly, am meeting more of these…

Another girl, was really who could keep the previous Oxford gal in line. God bless her soul. While I dealt with the girl by clearly showing my disinterest, she did by asking her questions and then engaging others, which was the right thing to do really. Her stories were all interesting, in fact, hers and the woman from Ukraine were all that made the talk any interesting.

She wanted to be a model, which I admitted instantly was what I was thinking of her. She had a battle with her parents about learning to drive. She wore goofy green specs. And she was willing to laugh, which I loved.

Looking at what I just typed, it does seem like the whole event was a pretty fun thing after all… But just because I was lucky doesn’t mean the chat was fun. We talked about Wishes.. how they had changed, would be fight for them, would we settle or would we keep trying to come true…

On a pretty topic like that even, the Indian effect seeped in. Pessimism. Indian society, in complete truth, is a very pessimistic place lately… people just don’t have hope, or the belief that good happens, and just as much as bad does…

There was bitching about the government and the ‘system’ in general. There was verdict passed that “nothing in life is possible if we don’t have money”. There was negativity, and cross talking, and though most of the times these were suppressed, they kept happening. As we started warming to each other, it declined a lot. But its doubtful if this wont just repeat if I try the ConClub again some time…

My first day at school was pretty bad too. But that perhaps is another tale. The Indian education system is a peculiar arrangement, that is difficult to blog about.. it’s something you have to accept, and blogging is about exploring, not accepting.

So my first day at two much looked forward to places has been pretty horrible, in plain terms… And though I necessarily have to go back to school, do I have enough patience to try the ConClub again? I hope so, otherwise, I am ending something on a pessimistic note myself. Bad idea.

Volleyball Days

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I have been away for some time, and the site stats show the result. But I’m back, with justification for the absence. I don’t think you’ll mind it now, you know, because I won a tournament while I was away? 😀

I play volleyball for my school team. Feels good. But what feels better is competing and winning, of course. 🙂

A few days ago, the All India Bal Bharati tournament was organised. Bal Bharati is the name of my school. It has about a dozen branches all over India and they all come together for this tournament to compete for various sports.

Last year, my team won the first prize. This year, our hopes got shattered in the final match when we suffered a humiliating loss in the finals. But the time of pain and horror has passed, thankfully, and we’re all trying to be okay with second place. 🙂

Take a look at the pictures, after a tiring day, under the heat, having battled desperation and loss, having calmed ourselves, having calculated our losses and placating ourselves they weren’t too big!

(Except me though, I still can’t completely let go that this was my last year at this tournament and I missed a Best Player trophy by a millimeter. Eish. Writing does vent!)

P.S. The pictures are a bit hazy… that’s some parts sweat, some parts sun glare, some parts dust and otherwise just bad cameras. 🙂

Trophy
First a look at the team trophy!
Team!
The team in front of a thermocol cut-out for volleyball. And WE didn’t break the girl’s arm off, in the cut-out 🙂
All trophies!
And lastly, less than a shoddy quarter of my school’s athletes and all the team trophies we have won!

I tried clicking a good picture of my personal trophy, but it’s part transparent and part black so the picture’s weird 🙂

From my own class, six students went for this tournament. Oh, we made a point to get a picture of us to shove into our teacher’s face the next time she complained we were missing classes for “ruddy sports”.

Yeah, like SHE is making MY school reigning over-all champion for the last six years. (This was the sixth Inter Bal Bharati 🙂 )

 

 

 

Dear Secret Hater

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Dear Secret Hater,

I am grateful for your letter in Math Class today. I never knew I had a secret hater, but you made me feel very special. Specially when Ma’am caught hold of that letter while I was reading it, and was cordial enough to read it out aloud, so I don’t have to repeat it myself. She’s such a gem.

I was exceptionally surprised by your mentioning that I wear my House T-shirt out of my skirt, I would never have thought anyone would notice it since rarely anyone has it inside. Great observation skills! We’ll make you Sherlock Holmes one day.

Of course, that little fact makes all the difference. You know correct, and mentioned as much, that I don’t get time in the morning to tuck it in, which in  turn shows I am a lazy bum who rushes who gets up late. I probably trouble my mom too, since I persistently choose to be untidy in my dressing. Yes, even constant scolding by teachers to put the shirts in doesn’t get to me, I am just incorrigible. And certainly also thick. I am amazed by how much you got to know about me through that simple shirt sticking out. Of course, everyone else in the school must do it because it looks convincingly heinous inside, but me, yes, I do it because I ma all the vile things you mentioned. So apt. Thank you for understanding me correctly.

I almost forgot! You mentioned volleyball. I see you noticed. Again. Sometimes I think even the coach doesn’t. Speaks volumes about you! Do I have a dedicated follower? I don’t know why the whole class laughed when ma’am read aloud your letter- when you said- “my suggestion to you is, Abandon. You play god knows what and are a huge burden to your team. At least save your own face, you’re doing no one no good. ” That’s so well-wishing of you! Seriously, why would they laugh?! Maybe because I’m Captain of the Senior team? Maybe because my team only recently got humiliated publicly for skipping practice while they awarded me Best Player. Maybe because I am the best Attacker in the school right now? I don’t know.

And the photograph! I, am so touched!

Where did you take that snap of me pushing that little kid? I thought no one was looking. But apparently, a very special person was! Did you happen to notice also the bus that was coming and that the kid was standing in it’s way? Only the visor was visible in your picture. But no sweat! I am so glad someone appreciates my efforts, even outside school!

I really must go now, Dearest Hater. Even though I realise I am being rude, not thanking you for all the things you said, I am SURE you won’t mind one bit. I really got to go write my blog (which you also happened to mention!) I have a party at my place later, in lieu of it being my birthday today. So thoughtful of you to send me that letter today- my first present of the day!

I’ll get back to your faithful reviews of all my activities every minute of the day,

With great respect for your time management skills, as you sent me that 14 page letter even when the exams are coming this Friday!

Yours,

Most most sincerely,

Mutual Hater.

Love and Light

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(I have listed some very good ideas to write on over the last two days. Yet, I feel like rejecting even the very best and writing about love. It’s just a strong gut feeling. And only yesterday someone said I must be in love when I was caught thinking about rainy days. Anyways, here’s to the tickle of love.)

What is it about eyes? Brown eyes… warm, to melt into… Green…That make your heart freeze every time they turn to you… Blue… Soft, ever so soft… Grey… grey… like his.

What is it about voices? Sharp… that keeps you hooked, hanging on every word, as it comes as a sword through ice. Wispy… that mesmerizes you… Low… ever so low… that makes you believe the world is a sweet mystery. Joyous… that bounces off everything it hits… like his.

Why do people believe in love at first sight? Can they really see into a person so deeply and find something so comfortable that they are willing to commit their hearts? I hear they can. But what do they see? When I saw him for the first time, a dozen rows across me in that filled Hall, I only saw what God must have intended summer morning to be. Bright and glowing. Like a sunflower amidst wild lemongrass. But was that enough? Was that love? Is love like that? Like sunshine?

I didn’t know. So I tried to think through it. But for once my heart and brain didn’t seem to settle on anything. Is that how chaotic it is? Love? But isn’t love supposed to be beautiful?

I bowed my head for prayer. But my eyes strained under a sharp glimmer. It broke through the gaps in the rows between us. He got brighter and shinier with every second I stared. It was too painfully lit up to close my eyes. I was blinded. A visage through a flood of yellow and silver, dancing light. A dream…

But now I was getting scared. And when I’m scared or anxious, the whole world seems a shrewd conspiracy. A bad lie. Very very bad.

So much light… it’s wrong. It’s nor true. It’s a trap. It’s not true…

He isn’t real. THIS isn’t real. It’s too good to be happening. Too much light. Too much fantasy. People don’t light up like elves in real life. Glowing skin only belongs to Fantasy Novels and Alluring Ads.

Something’s wrong. I don’t feel so good. What’s going on! If glowing isn’t real, what’s wrong with him?! What’s wrong with me? Am I hallucinating?!! Am I ill! Why is everything spinning?

Oh-kay… why is the ground revolving so hard? How does everyone else have a perfect hold? Why is no one listening! HELP me! He’s still there… across these rows… he’s beautiful… he is…

Darkness. No people. No confusion. No radiant skin. No him. Just serene darkness. Perfect darkness.

Noise. A whimper at first. A cry. A low cry… Some light… some more… the hard cold feel of solid concrete crushing my arm.. and pain.

More light. He’s here. So is everyone else. I am on the ground. And my arm is aching.

What is it about fairy tales? Why do we read them as children, never to make much sense? Why do we grow up to live by them? Why do we expect every new admission in school to be our prince come to get us? Why do we believe every single time- this is it?

Why do we HOPE, that when we fall and hurt our arm and can barely even open our eyes, a prince will ride by and scoop us up? Why will we never believe any of these things, will see none, have no reason to expect anything like it… but yet, HOPE, that something as ridiculous as being picked up by a glowing-skin beautiful boy when the assemby hall is next to the medical wing?

We hope…

We get not much.

But we see the radiant shimmer in the grey eyes stunned into shock,  in the joyous voice that gasps and the beautiful boy that stands alarmed, as we are lifted up and rushed off to the hospital… as blood drips behind us in a trail.

A trail he suddenly wants to follow. Follow to the girl that lit up like the moon, and was swept away like the sun cutting  cruelly through the calm night.