Thanks to everyone for entering Contest 12.
That rounds off a good twelve fortnights of writing for us all. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves as much as I have. Going forward, there will be a few changes to the contest timetable. I will announce it here and also at the beginning of the next contest, so that between the two posts we can catch all of you.
The changes are as follows…
1. So far we’ve been working on a ‘weekly timetable’, meaning that the contest post goes live on a Sunday or a Monday and stays live until the Friday of the following week. Then the new contest goes up on the following Sunday or Monday. Now we’re moving to a ‘monthly timetable’, which means that I will put up a new contest on the first of every month.
2. This means we’re going from a fortnightly contest to a monthly contest.
3. Some people have complained to me about the ‘cheapness’ of the prize that I was offering. ‘What can we get for 500 rupees these days?’ they say. So I’m jacking up the prize from contests henceforth to 1000 rupees for the best entry. I’m also changing the word limit on our entries to 500 words. So now you can write slightly longer, more considered pieces.
4. I will also run monthly giveaways on the 15th of every month. Giveaways are slightly different in the sense that they will likely be linked to reading and lucky winners as opposed to any merit-based prize.
5. As you can see, to reflect these changes, I’ve separated the ‘Contests’ tab from the ‘Giveaways’ tab on my blog’s menu bar.
1. Vinisha, who blogs as britestarlite, bags the Committed Contestant award for herself this time. She has written three pieces in spite of having a toddler to take care of. Commitment doesn’t come any deeper than that. We hope you will stay this way, Vinisha!
2. The Ball Roller, this time, is Kalpak NB, who set things in motion with a nice poem about remembrance and lost love, when an old man walks into a church and encounters a rather surprising guest.
As of this time, I’m striking off the Rebel Award from the roster, because we’ve made it almost an official position now that the word limit is a soft one. This means I have to come up with another award. I promise I will in time for the next contest.
I was struck this time by how good many of the entries were. Picking just three of them to give them an honourable mention would have been unfair. This was one of those contests where almost every comment made me think, read deeply and reflect. I’m not just being lazy or making it up; you will see the same sentiments reflected in the personal feedback I gave to each entry.
So this time, no honourable mentions. Please go to the contest page and read them all, because they’re all good!
Having said that, since it is a contest, a winner has to be picked. It was a rather close thing between Sania Heba and Shivani Mankad, both of whom wrote brilliant pieces. They were both atmospheric, well-conceptualized, and mesmerizing. But by the slimmest of margins, I’m giving the prize away to Sania.
For those of you who’d like to read her piece, I’m copying it here in full. Enjoy.
The envelope is plain, unmarked and yellowing at the edges. When the strange man in the Armani suit and bow tie had handed it to me, I had almost told him to get lost. But there had been something about his eyes, something ancient, something cold, that had made me hesitate. Weird. I run my finger along the seam, sitting down on a bland park bench. Who are you?
I slit it open and a piece of even yellower parchment slides out.
The letter slips from my surprised fingers, but I manage to prevent it from falling. Oh Z…
You are sleeping as I write this. And I can’t help but notice how peaceful you look…
Memories. So many memories. Love. Laughter. Surprises.
I know things haven’t been great between us…
And anger. Shouts. Screams. The words on the page start to blur and I look away dreading to read more. Accusations. Oh so many accusations. But I have to look back. A part of me wants to read more. A rather smug part of me.
…I am scared. I don’t want this to end. But sometimes I look at you and it’s like you’re not even there. And then when I look away there’s a prickling sensation at the nape of my neck. Like you are watching, planning…
A hint of a smile appears across my face. Planning, yes. Wonderful planning. Crafting an entirely different personality for her. Making her appear depressed, schizophrenic at times. The beast inside me purrs. I don’t know what happened officer. She went to the market and didn’t come back. Acting weird? No. No wait. Now that you mention it… Planning, yes.
…but I tell myself not to worry. Because you wouldn’t harm me, would you? Because…
A cyclist passes me and the sound of the wheels take me back to the sound of that wheelbarrow. The night was moonless. The grave was perfect. Her body still warm.
…Because I can be mean too. And you of all the people know that…
Crazy woman. The pixie had tried convincing me of her evil. But then, it were my hands around her throat in the end. I chuckle. Only a few lines left.
…And so I write this, as a warning. You can pretend that you are innocent (and this letter will find you only if you are not). You can try to kill me and bury me or burn me or drown me but I will keep coming back. And I will find you or you will find me with a smile on my lips; like the one I had when I hunted my first deer. It may take time but I will return because only your agony will be my salvation…
Ha ha. Six feet under the ground and the woman still won’t stop talking.
…And even when everything crumbles to dust and years after that, you will find me. A whisper in the screams of your torment. A shadow in your moonless nights. You will fall thinking you only tripped. But on your back you will find the imprint of my fingers. On the coldest of your days, my breath will be the unforgiving, impenetrable fog. In every prick, every wound, every broken bone, you will remember me dear husband.
So remember me now. Because I have returned…
Insanity. With my own hands I had vanquished the light in her eyes. I crumple the note and feel a sudden jab of pain in my palm. A trickle of red rolls down my wrist as I examine my hand. Ridiculous.
What happens now?
The same as what happens every single time. I will give Sania her well-deserved prize, and we’ll move on to Contest 13. The page will be up in the next day or two, and of course I will make my usual noise about it. It will be a longer contest with a fatter prize, so make sure you don’t miss it.
See you all!
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