September 26, 2014

The Suncatchers

Grabbing her estranged husband’s whiskey bottles, Gracy poured their contents into the sink, one by one. It was cathartic, allowing the pain, her tears and trauma, to ebb away along with the vile liquid.

The workshop acted as the catalyst, as she carefully poured in her favourite hues into the emptied, dried bottles; instructions playing in her mind: swirl the bottle slowly around till the colours spread evenly all over.

Gracy placed the transformed beauties in the wooden grooves and reveled in her new life as the sun-soaked tints of love, vitality and cheerfulness bathed her in the morning glow. 

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Marie Gail Stratford
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Word count: 100
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100 word story written in response to the photo prompt at Friday Fictioneers at Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You can post one of your own or read the other entries here

September 25, 2014

A dialogue

Aditi looked in awe at the colourful masterpieces around her at the gallery; different hues suffused together to form lovely imageries. Rakhee, her protégé, was certainly talented; a deep, wistful sigh escaped her, taking her by surprise. Was she envious? She wondered, afraid to look for answers within.

“Wasn't it true that it was she who had introduced Rakhee to the world of painting? When did her apprentice, then, surpass, her, the guiding force and light behind Rakhee’s success?”Aditi bemoaned.

“Shhh..don’t think that way! It’s not right to feel resentment against genuine talent. In a creative field, someone will always be better than you” chided her friend.

“But, why me?” Argued Aditi, upset with the miss goody two shoes, ever-right mate. “I work hard too. Why is that I have to struggle so hard to reach where Rakhee is now?”

“It’s not fair..” she continued her rant, forcing her companion to withdraw into an uncomfortable silence.

 “Look at her, busy with all the adulation. She doesn't need me anymore.” The rant now tethered at the border of a self-pitying sermon.

“…or is it me? I've always been an average achiever, never aimed for the skies, so the dust is what I get, isn't it?” the sermon now reduced to an inaudible whisper as tears pricked Aditi’s eyes and she slunk away from the crowd that didn't seem to notice her absence.

“Perhaps, you still need to polish a few corners of your talent…perhaps, you are very close to where you need to be…don’t give up yet” Aditi heard the same voice, albeit low and unsure now, the one that belonged to the same righteous friend who never knew how to shut up.

Sometimes, the friend didn’t know how to console Aditi, who in her opinion, needed to hear a few hard truths but wasn’t ready to face them, yet.  Aditi was good at her work but always sought motivation from outside rather than from within. As long as the outside factors favoured her, Aditi, remained focused on her goals. Any blow to the precariously balanced self-worth ultimately damaged her spirit and confidence. Aditi had nick-named her miss goody two shoes and never saw eye to eye with her, yet she was the first person Aditi sought to confide in. Such dialogues between them were not uncommon.

“Sigh! These conversations were getting repetitive.” the friend was losing patience. She even considered deserting Aditi, leave her to destiny. But, how could she, she was her alter-ego, her shadow after all.


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Linking this to the Light and Shade Challenge.



September 23, 2014

Mr. Murthy

Sharad stood defiantly in the corner of the classroom with his arms crossed tightly over his chest, eyes spewing venom, and his bloodied lip muttering silent curses at his teacher, Mr. Murthy, who had punished him for snatching the snack-box and subsequently getting into a full-blown hand-and-fist war with a classmate during lunch.

As the 10 year old walked nervously into the make-shift counseling -cum-teacher’s room in the small village school, Mr. Murthy sized up the insecure boy who now looked less fierce in his yellow-tinted shirt, hastily patched together at the seam on one side, and worn shabbily over faded under-sized shorts.

Mr. Murthy felt like the wheels of his own life had been reversed as his kind but perceptive questions revealed the unfair, love-shorn childhood of Sharad who having lost his parents to disease was living a difficult life with his uncle’s family; a story uncannily similar to his.

If not for his benevolent foster parents who re-instilled in him the hope and purpose to lead a respectful, honest and principled life, Mr. Murthy could well imagine himself leading a wastrel’s or worse a criminal’s life and for that he was immensely grateful to them.

Years later, Mr. Murthy saw the same gleam of gratitude in the youth's eyes as Sharad sought his Appa’s blessings to start a new life, in his crisp white naval uniform.  

http://bit.ly/1yppZED

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Five sentence fiction written in response to the prompt: Wheels at LillieMcferrinWrites


Write Tribe

September 22, 2014

Attitude

Self-deriding thoughts were pressed together in a tight knot as she studied the confident spread around. Nervous sweat mixed with tears of hard-work trickled down, as she plated up her dish, garnished with her mentor’s advice:

“Never let the others intimidate you”

Word count: 42
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September 21, 2014

Connect, disconnect

As the evening wore on, Sujata got a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach, as the enormous Banyan outside her room metamorphosed into an unfamiliar gaunt image on the reflective window pane.

Moments of confusion later, she relaxed!

This happened frequently in recent months when she’d wake up with a spring in her step, charged up to start her daily routine, but ended up gripping the window ledge, gnawing at the blank images the mind threw up.

Gazing at the mighty tree brought Sujata solace; its enveloping shade comforted her frayed nerves as she grappled with memory outages.  

Lyssa Medana _____________________
100 Words written for the photo-prompt at the Light and Shade Challenge and
for World Alzheimer's Day 2014 at Write Tribe.



Write Tribe

September 20, 2014

Abracadabra

Anticipating adventure, we excitedly dug out the dusty, old lamp from the attic at our grandparents’ house.

“Hurry, before someone sees us” urged my younger brother tugging at my sleeve.

“Stop!” “You’ll make me drop it” I barked in a low voice.

“Give it to me.” He demanded.

“No!..this lamp needs some dusting.” I snapped, wiping its surface, unaware of my miffed, mutiny-filled companion muttering sharply under his breath.

The cloud of dust billowed larger and I found myself shrunk in size, into an old woman; the cobbled pathway where I stood resembled large salt pans.

A voice echoed,” next wish!”

Copyright - Dawn Q. Landau


Word count: 101
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Linking the 100 word fiction to this week's photo-prompt at Rochelle's Friday Fictioneers, and




Divine

Uplifting despairing souls
Transcending physical folds  
Lilting prayers in joyous alley
Strumming raw nerves in melancholy

Oh Music, you’re truly divine!

A blessing, when known in its entirety
A means to experience divinity 
For, even He stands to be your slave
When offered in a humble way

Perceived as the spiritual ladder
 to reach consciousness, much higher 
It's a wonder, but a few 
can cross the borders yonder

You grace the heart, only that is pure
Even at your feet, we find Him near

Oh Music, you’re truly divine!


September 18, 2014

Finding myself

Have you seen me?

I look for myself in the anonymous dark lanes, fearing to find out what would be me. Deep down in my heart I know myself and believe I deserve to soak in blinding lights of fame, recognition and applause.

Will I find myself at the end of the lane?

My quest to meet myself is hindered by the countless number of ‘others’ in whom I see a part of myself. The way they look at me colours my mind and I take a detour. It feels like I’m stuck in a maze.

Can you tell me the way out?

I have come a long way and yet have miles to go. I need a friend who’d lend me an encouraging hand. I need a guide who’d help me read the map. I need a companion who’ll make the journey a happy dance.

Will you come along? 

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Linking this to the Wednesday prompt, I, me, and myself at Write Tribe

September 17, 2014

Why didn't you come with a manual?

R,

You are really growing up to be a fine kid on most counts. I do thank my stars for it and sometimes give myself a pat on the back too. After all, maybe I'm also doing my bit. However, being a mother, I do have my worries and concerns about certain aspects and thought I'd share it with you here.

Remember, I had this concern even earlier that you could not hold your interest on topics that dealt with relationships? I do worry that you are growing up to be a nerd because while you can rattle off the names of the car models and species of the animal and bird kingdom like they were family, you do struggle to get who's who in the family right.

You can play all by yourself, building blocks, racing cars or doodling whales, dinosaurs, aeroplanes and fishes. But, I have never seen you doodle a flower or even a house. You like playing with your friends but don't throw a fit when called to go home. It's like you are attached yet detached. Should it worry me? I'm not too sure.

I kept you away from the television and thereby cartoon viewing for a very long time. Not sure if this is the reason, but you get bored of watching cartoon after a while. You prefer to watch Animal planet or Nat Geo on television. While I'm proud of you for this, I also worry that you may never be able to talk excitedly about your favourite cartoon characters with your friends and might be considered a misfit.

It's a similar story with other gadgets; you have never played a video game on the phone till date. You have no clue about the temple runs, angry birds or candy crushes. Again, should I worry? Are there any benefits of playing games on the phone??

You've become a little self-conscious and do not assert yourself when in company of people who you think know more than you. This is definitely a concern because I want you to go out and mingle as much as possible and just let your hair down without caring a damn about how you sound or look.

I'd like you to have diverse interests and not be limited to only gadgets, vehicles and animals. I wonder if I'm not providing you with the right environment that makes you take interest in other subjects or if this is your innate nature.

Phew! whoever said parenting is easy? It's an overwhelming exercise always mired in self-doubt, at least for me. Wish you had come with a manual.

google.com



September 16, 2014

Lost Innocence #FiveSentenceFiction

Ambrose crept behind stealthily, eyes twinkling mysteriously, tip-toeing to where the sand-castle was being constructed laboriously and with a swift movement, his leg toppled the tower over.

He threw back his head in impish laughter as the cascading sand granules set off horrified pearls of tears to roll down pretty cheeks.

Ambrose’s mother ruffled the little boy’s unruly hair in mock anger; her eyes blinded by love for her child could only sense pure innocence and harmless mischief.

Years later, Ambrose’s sadist eyes laughed uproariously as his impudent hands disrobed a terrified, screaming young lady and outraged her modesty.

As the unrepentant Ambrose stood at the gallows, his old mother grieved the misplaced sense of motherhood that had overlooked sparks of deviance disguised cleverly as innocence.


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Five sentence fiction written in response to the prompt: Grief at LillieMcferrinWrites.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

September 15, 2014

Soulmates

She wrapped her arms close to his waist, digging her ashen face further into his hunched back, as he revved up the engine of his sports bike noisily and sped through the winding, up-hill roads. The cool wind lashed against her face and blew her hair away in a fiery motion, dancing wildly to her racing heart-beats. She loved him for this. She hated him for this.

He was as reckless as the wind while she was the epitome of calmness. No one made her laugh as hard as he did and she loved him for this. His don’t-care-a-damn-attitude, taking risk at the drop of a hat, living life dangerously, yet making the most of every moment, left her in awe, and in fear. He made every moment she spent with him come alive and she never felt as vibrant as she did in his company. Yet, she knew, he was not the committing kind and he’d never settle down for marriage and kids.

The view atop the hill was breath-taking. Silken, white sheets covered the bare, wet peaks seductively, while the naughty breeze gently pushed the covers away. The graceful mountains surrendered to the gentle showers of rain, their love, making bringing every blossom to life; the greens became greener, the browns becoming darker. The soft mud that lay beneath their feet, sprinkled wet, sent out a lilting earthy fragrance that tickled the two’s senses.

“I love you” he declared simply, taking her rain-drenched face that quivered with suppressed emotions, in his palms.

“Don’t give me false hopes. It’s not meant to be” She shook as words came out in whispered pain, flooding her eyes, drenching her face all over again.

“Trust me. We can do this. It’ll be fine. I’ll never let you down” He pleaded. He went down on his knees, took a blade of grass, twisted it into a ring, slipped it into her finger and spoke with solemn sincere eyes.

“Marry me. Grow old along with me the best is yet to be.”

She laughed at her incorrigible man.

“Yes” she said, even as the heart twisted at the thought of their future; an amalgamation of two diverse, complex and intense souls.

It was the most beautiful twenty years of her life. They fought, they cried, they laughed, they lived every moment. Together they survived the storms, embraced the rains and rejoiced the sun-streaked seasons in their life. He was true to his word and she never had to regret her decision.

The best one she had ever taken, she thought, creased lines on her forehead deepening, fresh tears stinging her sorrowful eyes as she knelt down at his tomb on his second death anniversary. 

Image courtesy of Janssenfrank and taken from Wiki Commons Quote:


Grow old along with me the best is yet to be.
Robert Browning

Word count: 450
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A fiction less than 500 words written for Light and Shade Challenge, combining the photo prompt and the quote above.


September 14, 2014

The Danseuse #WriteTribe

The soft notes on the flute played a melodious tune and the rhythmic beats on the tabla rounded their synergy into a soul-stirring number. Sangita paid keen attention to the beats-takita taka dhimi dha. She did the math and choreographed her steps in her mind. It was a prestigious stage and she could ill afford to slip-up.

Sangita’s graceful hand and feet movements were in perfect sync with the percussion, yet she felt a void. With a deep breath, she closed her eyes, letting go of rules. She, then, let the haunting flute guide her heart to a rapturous performance.



100 words written for Write Tribe on the following quote:

Write from the soul, not from some notion about what you think the marketplace wants.The market is fickle; the soul is eternal’.
― Jeffrey Carver

Write Tribe

September 13, 2014

Surprise!

People who are a regular to this space would be familiar with my rants of how the husband never 'surprised' me on special occasions despite subtle and non-subtle hints. You know, the usual accepted norm of giving flowers, or a cake, and the likes. In his opinion, and rightly so, these outward displays of affection are not needed when the concerned people are secure in their relationship and very well 'know' how much one cares or loves the other. Although, my practical side readily and completely agreed with his point of argument, my other illogical side always found a bone or two to pick with this casual behaviour. Too much of complacency is also not good for a romantic relationship, I'd say, rolling my eyes at him, pouting sadly, trying to emotionally black-mail him and even threatening him into 'gifting' me something!

I had slowly begun to make peace with the benign, indulgent smile or worse a mocking laugh that I'd get in return for all the badgering and nagging that I'd religiously subject him to. Twice a year. This year, I took one step closer to being the non-nagging kinds and gratefully and gracefully accepted the offer of dinner on my birthday. The husband came back from office early and I was happy. This, he always does-taking an off or coming back earlier than usual on special days. After a couple of hours, he asked me where I'd like to go for dinner. In my mind I was cheesed off since I expected some amount of thought to be already applied since he was the one who suggested dinner in the first place. Still, being the non-foodie in our house, I was quite OK with any place, so just 'hmm..hmm-ed' and asked him to decide.

Again, after a while he came up to me and asked if I wouldn't mind Chinese and suggested a restaurant that's quite near our house. In fact he almost pushed his case for this particular place and I was miffed again because I knew how much he liked that cuisine and also to dine at that particular joint. So much for my birthday celebrations! The last straw was when he made no attempt to leave the house early and I, being me, began hyperventilating about it being a Friday evening and we going out of table and having to just eat someplace. The pent up feelings came out like water squirting out of a pichkari. Even then, the conversation that happened next was:

He: Ok, get ready and wear something nice!
I: What do you mean nice? I only have what I have and I, anyway, always dress well!
He: Still, wear something nice.
I: !!!!
He: Ok,..ok..I've already booked a table, so don't get worked up, we have a lot of time on hand.

 The anger balloon deflated instantly since this came as a great surprise to me. Pre-booking a table at a restaurant was so, so unlike the husband.

My mood changed instantly and I was all smiles. The smiles widened on hearing that it was a place I was keen on visiting for a while now. It was a happy ending after all. Oh, wait! you thought the surprise was over? Well, I was already happy with this but seems like the husband had really decided to shut me up. As we relished the food, mid-way, there came a lovely cake for me to cut! Oh, my, was this really all the husband's doing? I couldn't believe it all. I was so overwhelmed with...surprise, y'know!

The past is all forgotten and I've decided not to..ahem...nag the poor guy anymore. At least until next year this time. *wink wink*.





September 12, 2014

When Chikmagaluru beckoned

It's been such a long while since I wrote on this space without the crutch of a prompt. And, what better way to write extempore than a travelogue!

Last month was a bonanza for me since we traveled twice in the same month. Quite an achievement for someone whose last vacation (if you discount the visits to the parents') was in April last year!

We decided to utilize the long weekend of 15th August and made our bookings for Chikmagalur. This was a place I'd been wanting to visit for a very long time but for some reason the plans got jinxed each time at the last moment. This time, the stars did align favourably :-)

We had a lovely drive to the place. The rainy season guarantees some great visual gratification on your getaways around Bangalore and this route particularly has some best ones in store. Views of pregnant grey clouds resting gracefully on dark green mountains, lush, verdant fields all along the 5 hour drive was such a soul-lifting experience. Intermittent, cool drizzles every now and then added to the whole holiday fervour. The beauty only just magnified on reaching Chikmagalur.

We were late in booking our stay (FYI, Twenty days prior is late when it comes to long weekends in Bangalore!), so the jaw-dropping home-stays that ranked top on my wish-list were out of my way and I had to compromise on my choice for the stay. And, unfortunately, despite good reviews on TripAdvisor (for the first time, I was let down!), I wasn't too pleased with our accommodation. They were clean, no doubt, but needed maintenance and we were to later discover that they did have better rooms (we did move into one of these by sheer coincidence) in their newer building. Somehow, I felt they could do much better overall.

Aside from this, we have a fabulous time. We even shopped around a bit on the last day of our stay; came back armed with Panduranga's coffee powder. The taste is top-notch, one of the best ones I've had.

A lot of places could not be covered as time was short. We have decided to do a part two sometime later.




Buttermilk falls



Galikere

Yagachi dam



Ayanankere



We made a quick stop at the Belur, Chennakesava temple on our way back. What an architectural beauty! A must visit, I'd say.












Where did you travel to lately? Any places you'd recommend or any travel anecdotes you'd care to share?

September 11, 2014

Reflection #FridayFictioneers

The quaint, English room seemed perfect to ease out my tired, work-worn muscles over the long weekend.

I was particularly taken in by the huge mirror on one side of the room that reflected off the valance-framed windows on the other side, with several books lined up on its sill. Even the hotel knew of its book-loving guest, I thought amusedly.

As I caught my reflection in the mirror a shiver ran down my spine. I was accompanied by the old manager who had regaled me with the villa’s haunted history.

But, I could not see him in the mirror.

Copyright – Janet Webb
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Word count:100
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100 word story written in response to the photo prompt at Friday Fictioneers at Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You can post one of your own or read the other entries here.

September 10, 2014

Finding new haven #flashfiction #50words

It's time for the weekly challenge at Shailaja's blog once again. Shailaja of The Moving Quill and The diary of a doting mom fame, hosts an interesting weekly feature, 'From 15-50' flash fiction challenge', on her blog every month. Do visit her blog to read all about it and participate.

I had fun participating at the challenge last month and was also immensely pleased to know that my ambitious attempt to write fiction in 15 words was adjudged one of top 5 posts. I'm a little late in acknowledging the honour here, but, as they say, it's better late than never. :-)


Here's my response to this month's challenge. I've chosen to use 50 words this time, using all the prompts :-)
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Finding new haven


The girls lined up, identically dressed. Their peasant parents had just a single cloth to cover them with. They had hoped for a boy to alleviate their misery, but had three girls in a row.

Blessing or curse is after all a matter of perspective”, said the Adoption center tagline.

Word count:50

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Word prompt: Perspective
Phrase Prompt: ‘Three in a row’
Picture Prompt:

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Linking this to the Fiction Challenge ‘From 15 to 50′ 

September 9, 2014

The Answer- Light and Shade Challenge

Sharanya set the loud alarm on ‘snooze’ multiple times until the warm white rays penetrated directly into her room through the translucent drapes, forcing her out of her tired slumber. Was it 7’o clock already? She got up with a start. It was an hour and a half later than she normally woke up, yet she felt like she had hardly slept. She glanced over at her side and saw her toddler sleeping peacefully. A quick peck on his soft cheeks and she swung off the bed and strode to the kitchen, mechanically beginning her day.

She scanned the refrigerator for the day’s menu as she kept the milk was kept to boil. Sharanya took in the cool air, lost in thoughts, numb. She lost count of the time until she heard a strong hiss behind her. She swirled quickly, but not in time, and the stove and counter got filled with large patches of white, sticky liquid. Today was certainly not her day, she cursed under her breath.

Sharanya began to fear the state of her mind that had recently begun to resemble a circuit with all the connections crisscrossing each other. The thoughts were far too many and they seemed garbled even to her. A career woman before she had Aarav, Sharanya had willingly given it all up to be with her son. Dhruv, her husband had stood by her and she thought she had had it all. Until of course the motherhood and all the care-giving slowly began to eat into her life, cutting her off from the social circle she’d thrived on earlier. Every now and then she was consumed with ‘what am I doing in life?’ or ‘is this all to life?’ Her mommy guilt would then, almost immediately, corrode her soul for belittling motherhood and its vagaries. Sure, she liked being a mother but she was losing herself in the process.

“Thoughts of self-doubt or self-pity are like invisible monsters. Don’t give them any space in your head” Sharanya, who held a master in clinical psychology, would often tell her patients who came to her counseling sessions. Sharanya let out a hollow laugh at the irony as she remembered it now. She had fought others’ monsters all her life but strangely could not prevent her own thoughts from turning into a giant monster. She had to think of a way to come out of the self-obstructing maze that she’d seemed to build around her.

Just then, Dhruv’s voice broke her thoughts “Say, why don’t we do a take-away today? It’s been quite a while and you’d get a break too!"
"And, I've been reading your blog for some time now. I didn't know you wrote so well! Quite a fan-following there! huh?” 
He smiled at her and was relieved to see her eyes smile for the first time in many months.

“She had always liked playing with words and her blog had become a refuge in recent times where she could give a sense of direction to her wild thoughts. Perhaps, writing was the answer?” Sharanya wondered. She had to give herself a chance to find that out. She decided.

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The word limit was 500 words or less. I overshot the limit by about 25 words :-)

Written in response to the Light and Shade Challenge. You have an option to choose one out of the two prompts or even combine them. I chose to combine the two:

Photo prompt:

Image courtesy of messi and taken from the Wiki Commons
And/or

The quote: 

Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.


Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

September 8, 2014

Disparity #YeahWrite #Gargleblaster

The affluent threw a lavish party
Swimming in riches,
discarding the excess
They made merry

An urchin nearby,
sought warmth, soaking dry
Hunger glowed, eyeing the spread
that had over-flowed

Eager hands  grabbed,
Desperate mouth relished,
the taste, now mixed with waste


Word count:42

September 7, 2014

Idiomatic conversation- Light and Shade Challenge

I shall cross the bridge when it comes” quipped Lindel priding herself on her quick thinking.

Always mend your bridges and never burn them” countered Esther calmly.

Hold the bridge!..wait..or is it the fort??” blurted Lindel, panic eyes darting between the swift-moving sand and the picture.

It’s all water under the bridge, now” scorned Esther, tapping the sand clock of its residue, signaling the end of the time limit.

“Now that your creative juices are well shaken, sit down to write that essay” bellowed Jonathan, an English professor and the picture-word game’s brainchild, secretly pleased with his children’s vocabulary. 
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Word count:100

100 word fiction written for the Light and Shade Challenge, combining both the prompts below:

Photo prompt:

Image courtesy of cheva and taken from the Wikipedia Commons
And the quote:
Shake well before opening
- instructions on a milkshake bottle.
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