This post must begin with two words: Thank you.
When I told my wife that I was planning to run contests on my blog, she kept quiet for a minute. Then she said, ‘Are you sure you will get more than one entry?’ As you can see, I married the right girl. My estimate was slightly higher – I thought if I got five entries, it would be a success.
Well, life has a way of surprising you. I got thirty-nine entries. I have just finished writing personalized comments for each entry. You know, just to prove to you that I have indeed read them all.
And the breadth of character choices was great to see. One of our participants chose to be Balaram, for example, because he abstains from fighting the war and thereby makes the most sensible choice in the story. Another chose Prometheus, because he saw the fire-wielding God as an allegory for the modern whistle-blower. There was Medusa the Gorgon, Loki and Heimdall from the Norse myths, the Griffin and the Phoenix from among the mythical beasts, and many others.
The most common choices were Karna, Rama, Krishna, and strangely enough, the Phoenix. I suppose the theme of resilience and facing failure with courage resonates with many of us.
The winning entry belongs to Reecha, who wrote three of the crispest paragraphs of the competition on Medusa. I’m pasting her entry in full here for you to read.
He ravished me. He couldn’t take his eyes off me and I knew there lay no other pleasure in the world, the knowledge that my beauty had unnerved the mighty God of the Seas. It could not matter we were in the sacred temple of Athena. The white marble had turned blue with age and rage. I scoffed at her warning eye. And closed my eyes.
I awoke, left alone at the temple. A trail of blood and hair at my side. My hair. I touched my head and felt a pool of snakes. I cried, red droplets hitting the floor. I looked up and men were frozen with my unforgiving appearance. Men who wanted me to live only to satisfy their own desires. Who felt I was a burden to the world and had nothing more to offer than a submissive sigh. Frozen.
A power in exchange for my vanity. To freeze. And to be eternally remembered. To realise there is a certain assurance in being able to unleash yourself on an unjust world. To be transformed from a “delicate maiden”, to be freed from the taunting stereotypes that men bring down upon us and to come out just as powerful and even more. I looked up at Athena and thanked her.
I am Medusa.
This piece ranks quite high on clarity, because the grammar Reecha has used is picture-perfect. There is a clear structure, with the whole scene leading up to the ‘awakening’ of Medusa, so to speak.
Note, also, the meaning, from which the personal touch arises. The writer obviously does not think of Medusa as being cursed, as conventional wisdom has us believe. She looks at this incident as an act of liberation, to be transformed from a delicate maiden to someone powerful. It’s not hard, having read this scene, to imagine what Reecha’s own feelings are as a woman.
The beauty of the prose is there for you to see. The images are rich, the scene is visual, and it feels like you’re there in the temple, with Medusa.
When you have to pick one winner out of nearly forty entries, there will always be others that have come close. Here are a few:
1. A special shout-out must go to Prerona, who is the only entrant in this contest who made full use of her ‘three entries’ right. Great job, Prerona. Each one of your comments was a delight to read.
2. Bubka42 (AKA Ritam Bhaumik)’s entry on Heimdall was evocative and beautiful. If I could give away a second prize for this contest, it would go to him.
3. Jumi Das’s piece on why she would wish to be a lady version of Krishna, if she could have her way. Her comment made me laugh. Seriously, who could say no to pool parties and a silky smooth love life? Certainly not I.
4. Palash’s entry on Karna, though it decimated the word-limit rule, threw light on a little-known story that deserves mention, in my opinion.
What Happens Now?
I will email Reecha and give her the prize that she so richly deserves. And tomorrow, I will put up the post for Contest 2. See you all there!