So Contest 9 became quite a big hit. About thirty people turned up to write their stories, and there was a nice mix of the wistful, the lonely, the joyful, and those tinged with that little bit of sorrow. We had poems, short mood pieces, complete stories, memoirs and also essays.
Thank you all for entering! I had a great time reading each and every one of your stories.
1. The Ball Roller Award this time goes to Arpit Khandelwal. Writers tend to be socially handicapped people. We don’t jump in and start the conversation, though we’re often more than happy to keep a rolling ball in motion. For that reason, I always give away an award for people who dare to begin the proceedings. Thanks, Arpit.
2. The Committed Contestant Award, which we give away to those contestants who enter more than once, this time only had one claimant, which is surprising given the number of entries we had. So Arpita, here’s yours. Take good care of it. Previous winners of this award have said that it looks the best when mounted on a mantelpiece. You may want to do the same.
3. For the Rebel Award, which goes to that person with the most amount of disdain for the word-limit rule, I’m going to give one each away to Alisha Patel and DPR. I haven’t exactly counted, but their entries look the longest. Now I have to take a moment to remember Nitthilan, our resident rebel, who has won this award more often than anyone in the history of these contests. Where are you, Nitthilan? We miss you!
1. Shail Raghuvanshi’s poem on friendship threw out some nice images of rainbows and stars that I felt were quite apt to the spirit of the contest.
2. In her poem, Shivani Mankad introduced a nice twist to the idea of forgotten friendship, and talked about internal change, and how we miss old versions of ourselves, and how we undergo these small changes of character throughout our lives without even realizing it. Loved the concept.
3. Maniparna Sengupta’s heartbreaking account of a forgotten friend from her childhood reminded me of a few flashes from my own past.
The winning entry for this fortnight, after due deliberation, had to be given to Pradeeta Mishra (Wings of Harmony). Her piece was full of atmospheric detail, had a good balance of narrative, action, thought and dialogue, and overall read smoothly from beginning to end. So Pradeeta, congratulations!
I will leave her entry here in full for you to read. Enjoy.
Most of my village memories revolve around the lush green forests, ghost stories and the numerous thoughts of her. She was a wonderful companion whom I had met rather unexpectedly, since she was younger than I was. She was tiny actually, while I was four years older and certainly dominating. But the anticipation of meeting her always made me squirm with excitement as I would collect butterfly shaped clips, colorful nail paints and comics for her. Both of us were in that age of innocence trying to explore the differences between the glamorous city life and the laid back mysterious village ways.
There are so many memories of her that now I feel a strange knot in my stomach, every time I think of her. I remember how I used to love champa flowers but dreaded the tiny monstrous caterpillars that would be hidden in their leaves as they grew like wild gnomes all over the backyard of my village home. But she would wait for me to set a foot on the village road and come with handful of champa buds for me. During one such time, I remember it was the onset of summer vacation and we had just reached our village home. I had slept after a sumptuous lunch and was woken up with an assault of champa flowers in my nostrils. My mom saw me up and informed me that Anubha bought these flowers for me, and because I was sleeping, she left them on my pillow. It was the most beautiful gift ever and I was extremely excited to give her my gifts too!
She had come again to check whether I was up as I happily picked up the flowers and noticed a tiny errant cheery green worm on one of the stalks. Without realizing she was waiting to see my reaction, I showered all the flowers as a reflex action on her, with a scream to rival a banshee. She had run off, only to return apologizing. That day I felt small, in a different way – disgusted way. But thankfully, my butterfly clips (oh, the grown up caterpillars!) compensated for my behavior.
I recently met her and kept staring for a while. She had gone to the city and completed her degree, and had come to see me that year. I remember standing on the terrace, turning my back towards her, but not being able to face her. I could not find anything familiar in her face…because that old charm, the innocence that the both of us shared had gone missing. I just could not make a conversation and much to my dismay, neither could she. After few minutes of awkwardness, she took my leave and I felt some part of me leave with her. And that bond, it has disappeared into nothingness now, lovingly so.
What happens now?
The same thing that happens after every other contest. The winner will get his prize. And there will be another contest coming up quite soon. So see you all there!
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