Tuesday, 20 February 2018

When Twilight hit me

I sit with a befuddled mind and a goofy grin, alternating my time between my kindle and laptop screens. A good decade or more after the book followed by the movie franchise is done with being the rage and heart-throb of scores of young teens, this old mommy digs into it out of a passing curiosity. Little did she know that this paranormal fantasy romance that she so belittled and trivialized years ago would zap her thus! After all this time...
Yes, my dears, I am talking about...err...the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer, something I scoffed at and refused to give even a passing glance has me totally hooked and irrevocably in love to the point of (I never thought I'd say this) obsession! Might as well attribute this episode of giddy-headedness to mid-life crisis!

How did this happen you wonder, well that makes two of us! A few days ago, cursory channel surfing and lack of nothing better to watch led me to freeze on Twilight, the movie. And...I liked the movie, hey don't raise those eyebrows yet, I was surprised myself! Rob Pattinson's intense, brooding good looks wouldn't leave me in peace. 
I thought, what the hell, lemme just check out if the movies and the books are worth the overwhelming rage they were all those years back. After all, for one who's grown up on a healthy dose of Rhett Butler, Darcy, Heathcliff and all the dashing Mills & Boons, Nora Roberts and the lot, with heroes from millionaire playboys to paranormal characters it was a matter of having seen them all. 
An instant later the book was on my kindle and hours later I resurfaced, a changed person, one my sane self looked at a tad disparagingly with a, 'Oh really?'! Back to back I read all the four books in the series - Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.

Edward Cullen
My life's mantra for the past few weeks has been Edward Cullen. Putting a face to this devastatingly good-looking vampire while I was reading was no easy matter, considering I had to contend with the official movie characterization à la Pattinson. What can I say, MY imaginary Edward is legions more desirable than him! Oh, the power of the written word and the flights of imagination! 

Sigh, it would all be pretty great if I weren't having such not so proper thoughts about a teen fixation, that too ages after the jubilation and frenzy has died down! Whether I like it or not, whether my age begets more mature infatuations or none at all, I am helpless for the deed is done - The immortal lover has taken a firm grip on my heart, while my mind continues to snigger disdainfully at such juvenile pash.

I wouldn't consider putting all these observations on record if it was just the matter of a whimsical one time read and the enjoyment derived therein. The Twilight Saga has something of an addictive quality to it that I am trying to fathom. I have already run through the entire series of four books twice in the last few days. When I am not reading the book, I devote myself to watching the movies online from dubious sites I've dug up, plaguing all my gal-pals relentlessly dissecting the book (read Edward Cullen), looking up Twilight fandoms, gazing at screensavers of Rob Pattinson and stalking him on social media for good measure. (Ye gods, the horrors I am upto these days!)

So what is it about the Twilight Saga, both the books and the movies, that I find so enthralling? 
What is it that has driven hordes of teens and women world-over to go weak-kneed in love-sickness? (I googled to check if I was the only one thus addicted
Isn't it just a teen-romance aimed to attract that gen? 
I am obviously not doing this as a proper book review but just picking bits and pieces of what stayed back with me about this book. (Family rolling its eyes, friends crying out, 'Enough already!' not withstanding!)

Twilight quite simply tugs at the inner romantic in you. The clumsy, regular-looking, self-deprecating, insecure heroine, Bella Swan is someone many of us women can relate to. Bella can never quite believe that someone as mind-blowing as Edward can reciprocate her love for him, it's kinda like something too good to be true and so it comes with a spanner in the works - the vampire angle. Bella is protective of the ones she loves and her willingness to go to extremes to save them warms you to her. The first person narrative from Bella's perspective, makes you feel more into the story.
The out-of-this-world (literally), super-natural, immortal, God-like, unbelievably attractive Edward Cullen however is hands-down the biggest draw! It is obviously not his physical traits alone that matter, even though Edward is this super-strong, virtually indestructible immortal who's agile, graceful, with a voice to die for, smells exotic, looks good enough to eat....well, I need to stop getting carried away!
The Edward that attracts you is this super-sensitive, intense guy with only one agenda on his mind, his all consuming desire to protect the love of his life (his only love in a century...sighh) to the point of obsession. 
His chivalry, his generosity, his old-worldly gallantry, his attentiveness to Bella, his interest in every aspect of her life, his need to be with her through her every waking hour, to watch her while she sleeps, his restraint, his broodiness, his desire to fulfill her every wish, for spouting the most heart-stopping dialogues (do give a look to some of my fav Edward Cullen lines at the end of this postand for being the most unselfish, self-sacrificing guy ever...swoon, swoon, swoon and swoon some more!

Logically speaking it makes no sense whatsoever to me that these are traits I would appreciate immeasurably or interminably in the man of my dreams. Gosh, what a psycho peeping tom, controlling freak and a stick-on leech I would say, especially considering Edward is technically a blood-sucking vampire for pity's sake! Then why are all the gals going ga-ga over him?

Because he panders to the illogical heart, places his love's well-being and needs over his own, because human nature craves attention and love, that belies all logic and chases after the impossible, the thrill of mortal danger, and probably because forbidden love is all the more enticing! 

And then there is the other lead protagonist, human-to-wolf shape shifting, Jacob Black. No love story is replete without the love triangle, remember? Jacob Black is the perfect blend of recklessly handsome hunk, brute strength, heightened passion with a vulnerable side, to create all those conflicting emotions within Bella. But like Bella, once you are smitten by Edward all else pales into insignificance!

The weird werewolf concept of 'imprinting' doesn't feel all that weird when it is described as,
It’s not like love at first sight, really. It’s more like…gravity moves…suddenly. It’s not the earth holding you here anymore, she does…You become whatever she needs you to be, whether that’s a protector, or a lover, or a friend.
Intense much? But it works...surprise, surprise!

Blood-thirsty, sparkly, centuries old vampires, shape-shifting teens, Bella's desperate desire to change into a vampire, werewolf imprinting, all this doesn't freak, disturb or revolt you as you might actually expect them to, now that is something worth pondering!
The other supporting characters of the story like Bella's brusque dad Charlie, flitty mum Renee and Edward's vampire family comprising Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie, are all individually well-essayed characters that manage to tug at the heartstrings, the intriguing Quileute legends in the background making up the visual imagery of this book. Bella and Edward however are the ones that will stay with you. 

The easy flow of the books, steady pace that doesn't wane, suspense that keeps building up, the simple yet lucid language and the author's love for classics like Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet (my favs too) shines through. Meyer's vivid description of the scenes and situations, be it the dull, perennially cold and wet weather of Forks or the beautiful locale of Isle Esme, the blood-thirsty fights, the book takes you right there. The characterizations are amazingly vivid without being overtly descriptive allowing the readers to cook up their own versions. The romantic scenes though pretty chaste are sensual in their restraint, which I'd say is a coup in itself, less is more sometimes!

Despite my initial chagrin at devouring a book for teen audiences, I feel happy I fell in love with it! Age no bar for love, right?
That said, I am definitely relieved that I didn't read this series at a more impressionable age, it is doubtful I'd have ever settled for anyone less perfect than Edward Cullen!
Any of you fellow OCD-ing (Obsessive Cullen Disorder) Team Edward gals out there reading this, feel free to reach out to me, let's gush OME (Oh my Edward) in the comments below 💓💓😍😍
Some Edward Cullen lines that make the heart skip a few beats...

Edward Cullen quotes RelaxNRave

Tempted? You could pick up these books from right here* :)

Linking this post to the #ChattyBlogs Linky hosted by my friend Shantala Nayak of Shanaya Tales

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy those products at amazon.in through this link, I will get a tiny referral fee, at no additional cost to you. 

­­Copyright © 2018 KALA RAVI

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

19 Memes to make you smile

Hiya peeps, so I've been hooked to memes ever since my kids kept bombarding me with them. And whaddya know? The electric bulb in my head flickered and hey presto! 
Here are some memes I created that will hopefully make you smile! Cheers 😊

1) When folks around you are discussing politics, tech, history, economics, sports...

2) When your kid sees you trying your new dance move at a party...

I wish I was adopted

3) When you come face to face with folks at the mall just moments after you'd called them to say you were down with the flu...

Just kill me

4) When it's time to get ready for a party...

I have nothing to wear

5) When you call the air hostess to ask for a blanket...

Call me again if you dare

6) When you come around for the umpteenth time to remind the offspring that the clothes-pile would be better off inside the cupboard instead of under his bottom...

Not you again

7) When you ask your pal to return borrowed money, books, bike, clothes etc...

There goes Shylock again

8) What everyone at an alumni meet is thinking...

I am better than these losers

9) When your boss is delivering his rote-learned presentation...

Try interrupting me

10) When your elder bro/sis sees what you've done to their favorite outfit that you borrowed for the evening...

Say your prayers

11) When you sob your heart out over the back-stabbing friends mom had warned you about...

Mom knows best

12) When you decide to run away from home...

Hotel? Trivago

13) When you are trapped sitting between the over eager couple you are visiting with their 50 kg wedding album firmly placed on your lap...

You can pray but you cannot escape

14) When your man is about to tackle that lizard on the wall...

Man on mission

15) When your man successfully navigates GPS to take you across town...

Im too cool

16) When your man concentrates on the immense task of getting ice cubes from the freezer while you are elbow deep in pasta, noodles and what not for the party ahead....

Relax baby, I got the ice

17) When you finish reading a brilliant, unputdownable book...

What will I do with my life now

18) When you ask your snooty colleague for help...
(This one's for all fellow Potterheads)
This is not Hogwart's, is it?

19) When people come to know that you have your own blog and it even has readers...

What is this world coming to...

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­­Copyright © 2018 KALA RAVI

Thursday, 4 January 2018

To Dance or not to Dance?

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Anybody can dance, they say.
Not everybody should dance, I say.

A peculiar childhood affliction that refuses to go away or palliate with age - The insubordination of limbs, especially under the influence of music. Yes, these are the confessions of a born non-dancer.

One remembers with a shudder those traumatizing moments of the wonder years when called upon by the elders of the family (a.k.a monster ragging committee) to take center stage and entertain the populace with one's accomplishments. Sadly for me and even sadder for my parents, I could neither sing nor dance, the mandated traits of a south-Indian upbringing. Well, to be fair the parents tried enrolling me for singing lessons but I couldn't make sense of learning the 'swararas', 'raagas' and 'taals'. Why would I want to learn them when I could sing 'Ek, do, teen..chaar panch, ....' perfectly? Of course, it wouldn't go down well with the stiff upper lip audiences to sing that number or 'Choli ke peeche kya he...', however tunefully! 

Dance on the other hand, I was very keen about and eager to learn. I gazed at beautiful femme fatales dancing in movies and knew I had dance in me, I could feel it in my bones, though they didn't exactly know it - the bones I mean. 
If I wanted to move my legs in a particular direction, they went the other way and if the arms came into the picture, it was even worse. And how on earth does the waist operate? Add music, and the situation becomes direr, not one step in sync with a beat! 
It's like this, I cannot comprehend what part of the body to move or how to move it to make a particular dance step happen! 
You can't get what I am saying? Watching me dance is like watching a remote operated dancing doll with a serious malfunction, yeah totally weird! Something to do with basic motor skills or muscular co-ordination, I would say. 
People just had to utter the word dance and the little me would set off in full steam. Arms, legs, head and whatever else moving in gay abandon! The parents seeing their offspring hopelessly gyrate thus, kindly refrained from encouraging me to dance for the said family gatherings. 

When a neighborhood aunty volunteered to conduct free kathak lessons, I jumped at the opportunity. But the ta-thai-thai, tat-a-thai-thai was too slow for me. Man, I wanted to groove to Bollywood and western numbers. Anyway by the end of three free classes, the danseuse aunty gave up the venture under the pretext of a bad back. And that was also the last of my formal dance training. Still my mom, the ever enthusiastic parent garbed me in her own version of a bharatnatyam costume and set me up on the fancy dress stage to perform my profound learning of 1.5 kathak steps. Till date I haven't forgotten the chuckles and sniggers in the audiences at my appearance and performance. Childhood scars take long to heal they say. 

Fast forward to college days. I felt terribly deprived and let down when the entire class went up on stage for a group dance leaving me to handle the music and backstage operations. Yeah, yeah I had auditioned, humphh!

Time and age mellow down old habits. Says who? My insubordinate limbs continued their way of life and I continued deluding myself that it was just that I hadn't found the right frame of mind to learn the trick of the twirl! 
I decided to observe and learn. Yes, I learned quite a bit then. See, it was nothing to do with grace and agility, one needed the right facial expressions while dancing. I observed that you had to lip sync all that the DJ played whether or not you knew the song, it looked so cool! You had to scrunch your eyes and bite your lips for certain raunchy numbers. Then of course you closed your eyes and lolled your head for trance numbers. Armed with this new ammunition I launched my new dance avatar at the next party. I tell you, I totally let myself go, emotionally connecting with the music. My face spewing a million expressions in tandem with the numbers being belted out. And what happens? A gentleman comes up to me with genuine concern and asks if I am alright. Another hurries to fetch me a glass of water and a third calls up the ambulance. Arghhh!

Dance like no one's watching.
Dance when no one's watching.

After that incident, I avoided all events which required me to dance. Of course if the event was held in dim light or even better flickering disco lights which make even a PT exercise session look like a terrific dance sequence, I took full advantage of the moment!

Years passed and I found a better half who was actually that, better, no, an amazing dancer! You can't imagine my apprehension at seeing my babies toddle and totter awkwardly to music or the profound relief when I see them today effortlessly glide and gracefully pirouette to any music. Yeah! The kind of relief that a deaf-dumb couple has when they see their child is perfect in every sense! Remember the movie Koshish, featuring Sanjeev Kumar-Jaya Bhaduri? The difference here being, only one parent (me) was dance-challenged!

Several years down the line, I am still on a self-imposed dance abstinence. I stoically hold on to a brimming mocktail glass or a loaded snack platter, merely tapping my feet to the music, off sync of course but still way more dignified than going on my dancepage (dance+rampage)! 
The spouse, the children, friends, every one implores me to dance but in vain. The more I refuse, the more folks pine to see me dance. They want the demure/timid me to let my hair down (little knowing of the tandav I am capable of unleashing). They drag me center stage and urge me to do just a wee shake, pretty please! At events, people start betting on whether I will shake a leg or not. It seems to be everyone's one point agenda and aim in life - to see me dance. 
Aha! Life has come a full circle. When you are free and willing to do something, no one values it and when you play hard to get, somehow you become all the more enticing!

So now at any event where dancing is involved, all eyes are riveted on me, waiting, watching and craving for the improbable to happen. Sometimes I relent graciously, doing a gentle body sway (mastered after hours of diligent practice) and on very rare occasions, a bit of foot tapping accompanied by a hip move (I figured this one by repeatedly pushing heavy sofas around the house) and whaddya know? The party erupts in convulsive happiness at having witnessed this incredible sight. 
I've found the solution to my dancepitude (dance+ineptitude), create demand by restricted supply!

Sharing a much loved ad from the 90's of this gal's dance of joy and total abandonment!

­­Copyright © 2018 KALA RAVI

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Exam Fever - Part 2

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Read Exam Fever - Part 1 - Burning the midnight oil

I Promise 

3.00 a.m.
The rains seem to be abating a little I notice with alarm. ‘How can you, ye Gods? This is the first time I am asking something of you. I have faith in you; maybe it’s still raining heavily in Sector-9. Please let it keep raining. I’ll study day and night henceforth. 10 hours a day, nay, 20 hours a day shall I study and walk all the way to Siddhi Vinayak wearing only one chappal,’ I vow.
With this fervent appeal, I attack with renewed vigor the dreaded mounds of knowledge. I pick out a slim stapled bunch and look at the theorem in front of me. They expect me to comprehend and reproduce this gargantuan piece? How come I don’t have the faintest recollection of having come across this stuff? I peer more intensely at the notes. The handwriting is not that of any of my usual notes-sources. I am smart that way! At the bottom right hand corner of the last page, I spy the name of the notes-creator. Hmm, the name doesn’t ring a bell…yes something is wrong. I finally deduce that these must belong to my brother, two years my senior. Cursing him under my breath for messing up my notes, I segregate the treacherous set of notes; mentally marveling that my brother has bigger horrors to deal with.
Ahh, the next bunch seemed promising, I know everything! My hands flick one page after another with amazing speed; my deflated ego, bolsters a mite at having studied something so well. A doubt niggles. I look at the date on the notes, they are dated a year ago. Who on earth mixed trashed, last year’s notes with my carefully sorted current study bundles? My mind wanders to last evening’s fight with my brother. But even by his standards, this kind of sabotage is too devious! Arghhh…just my kind of luck!
3.34 a.m.
A trip to the balcony informs me that the rain Gods haven’t heeded my prayers. The sky that had been pregnant with possibilities has aborted the mission and crushed my hopes.
I return to my study table. Anxiety and despair at rebuttal from the rain Gods, fuel me with a new kind of energy, one determined to even out the odds against me! I decide on a new course of action. In fact I wonder why I hadn’t thought of this earlier.
The Question Bank! I will simply go through this treasure trove which carries question papers and their solutions from the last five years. Why pore over countless pages of useless information, simply concentrate on the questions that are regurgitated year after year! Brainwave, this!!
I breeze through one set. It is rather easy to answer questions when they are accompanied by the solutions. My effortless run makes me itch for a challenge. I decide to attempt the next question set without looking at the answers. This attempt reminds me of a scene from my favorite Bollywood movie, ‘Lagey Raho Munnabhai’. I seem to have been afflicted by some kind of a ‘chemical locha’ wherein my brain responds to questions only when the answers are known or accessible. Without access to the answers, I know nada! I am well and truly in a soup!
4.15 a.m.
I need some cheering, like desperately. Food usually comforts me but tucking into another bowlful of curd isn’t appealing. I contemplate between waking mom for a cup of tea and making one myself. A bit of diversion will no doubt refresh me and of course the tea will keep me awake. So I potter around the kitchen and in a jiffy produce a brew much more fragrant than anything my mother concocts. I must tell her to make this…ermm…yes, Chamomile tea, it really is exotic! I take the cup upto my room and make myself comfortable on the bed. It doesn’t taste as good as it smells but still nothing beats the feeling of a warm cuppa on a lonely, rainy night. My eyes are red and itchy after poring over the mountains of notes. The rains have started pelting once again and their steady beat soothes my jangled, tensed nerves, slowly and steadily as formulas, diagrams, equations fly past me at a dizzying rate.
8.01 a.m.
The sudden, jarring grate of the mixer from the kitchen has me waking with a jerk and a palpitating heart! I snatch up the blasted bedside clock, knocking over the tea cup and staring at the time in horror! The day outside looks bright and sunny. So much for my prayers, no dawa nor dua can save me now! 
‘God, help me through this one,’ I chant desperately, jumping out of bed, hurrying through my toilette and grabbing my exam paraphernalia.
Mom is in the kitchen as usual, busy with breakfast, while dad and big bro are arguing over the newspapers. I can’t believe that these people are having a routine day oblivious to the trials I’ve been through the previous night or the disaster looming ahead of me.
I ignore the tantalizing smells of Aloo paratha wafting from the breakfast table and avoid meeting mom’s eyes that are following me. With the courage of a soldier off on a “Mission Impossible”, I hurriedly mutter a goodbye and make my way to the door, muting out mom’s plaintive calls asking me to sit down for breakfast. Such civilian niceties were not for me; I am off on a battle I can’t hope to win.
As I am about to slam the door shut, I hear dad asking mom, ‘Isn’t it a holiday for everyone today?’
‘No one tells me anything these days,’ Mom starts off. ‘Who’s been having my Dream Sleep tea and leaving the box open?’
I stop dead on my tracks. HOLIDAY?? I snatch up my bag and pull out the exam time table.
Who makes these absurd, NO, thoughtful exam timetables?
All I understood is I can die another day! Today Aloo Paratha beckons.
‘I promise, I promise, I promise God, I'll be better prepared, next time around!’

Phew!! Nina sure has some wacky experiences and memories tucked away in her diaries! 


Read other stories from Nina's World:  

Disclaimer: All the characters in the Nina's World series are fictional, any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.

­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Exam Fever - Part 1

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Nina was on her decluttering mission when she spied her old diary at the back of a shelf. Yes, she'd kept one with random entries. This was one entry she definitely wanted to keep away from Neel and Varun. Ahh, exam times, how traumatic they had been! But atleast those were the times when life had fewer distractions. No full day television or even worse the internet and mobile phones. But still she'd had challenges of her own during those nightmarish exams! She'd recorded one such experience in some detail, hoping to scare herself into working harder in future before things got too out of hand.....

Burning the mid-night oil

12.45 a.m.
I have finally sorted out the study material (basically Xeroxed notes of studious class-mates) into four different bundles based on my familiarity with them. This big task accomplished, now all I have to do is, memorize the stuff. I dispassionately observe that there isn’t a scrap of my handwriting anywhere. Didn't I make any notes myself?
Bundle 1 (the largest) - Never laid eyes before today
Bundle 2 - Looks familiar
Bundle 3 - Definitely attempted but still not confident
Bundle 4 - Done and dusted, to the best of my understanding
I note with distaste that Bundle 4 is the slimmest one and I need to improve its prospects.
I need a plan. Much like the Indian cricket team's required run rate based on Target score Vs. No. of overs / balls remaining, I calculate my required study rate based on the Total no. of pages Vs. Available time. This complex calculation takes some time since I can't find my calculator.
1.40 a.m.
At least now I know how deep the waters are that I am to wade through. I am astounded to see that the required study page rate is 5 pages/minute! Holy cow! Is that even possible? I mean just reading through a page takes me more than a minute, leave alone deciphering and memorizing its complexities!
Sagely, I decide to re-evaluate the bundles. Bundle 1 is relegated to the deepest recesses of my study cupboard. The required page rate still shows 3 pages/minute. Hmm, this is not good. More sacrifice is called for. With trepidation, I stuff Bundle 2 inside the cupboard. I decide to stick with only Bundle 3 and 4, the known devils. The stats have improved! I am down to 1 page/minute! That is the best I can do, isn't it?
2.10 a.m.
The house is so quiet, it feels almost eerie. I wander from my room on the first floor to the adjoining balcony overlooking the courtyard. From the corner of my eye, I notice a light pop in the house adjacent ours. Ahh…Shyam’s awake, finally! I have been inadvertently looking out for that light to come on. Good I will have some company in my misery. But the light goes off in a minute, most likely someone answering nature’s call. Morosely, I go back to my room. Didn’t he have to study too? During the long chat we’d had yesterday comparing study statuses, he had moaned and groaned about the pending study much more than me…humph!! That liar! He’d deceived and lulled me in to believing that he was worse off than me. What is this world coming to, when people lie about something like this! I browse through a few pages; there is still loads to study and most of it beyond my comprehension.
A wave of self-pity engulfs me. Poor me, awake, all alone and wretched at this unearthly hour while the rest of the world is sleeping in peace.
2.32 a.m.
It has started raining again, a gentle pitter-patter that progresses to a steady downpour. I pray to the rain Gods, ‘Hey Indra, Lord of the skies, pray continue with this downpour, if possible increase its intensity. Let it not lessen, please, please, please let it rain non-stop till at least 9.00 a.m. tomorrow.’ I have never prayed with so much fervor. I hasten to add, ‘You can send in extra heavy rains, enough to flood the exam center, located in Modern School, Sector-9.’ I don’t want my plea to be lost in tracking the right address for delivery or the Gods to waste their resources upon irrelevant areas.
I pick up the notes and plough through them steadily for the next 15 minutes. The stomach rumbles in protest. How can I be expected to maintain my concentration on an empty stomach? It is ages since dinner. Slipping on my noisy flip-flops I plod to the kitchen downstairs. I rifle through the contents of the large orange plastic container in which mom usually keeps snacks and biscuits for the unexpected guest. Guess she’s decided to discontinue that practice since the box now contains only empty wrappers. No one cares if I starve, studying my way all through the night. The fridge doesn’t seem very promising either. Finally I help myself to a large bowl of curd, add five scoops of sugar, throw in some chopped bananas and nuts and settle down to appease the rumbling demon in my stomach. 

READ NEXT >> Exam Fever - Part 2 - I Promise

Read other stories from Nina's World:  

Disclaimer: All the characters in the Nina's World series are fictional, any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.

Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI