Literature Live! 360@ Campus organized intercollegiate Story and Poetry writing contests across the city in the months of September -October 2022, to encourage students to put their creative writing skills to practice.Though held at St Andrew’s, St Pauls Institute of Communication Education and Wilson College, students from all over the city participated . First and last line prompts were provided for the budding writers to weave their story /poem through.
This is what some of the participants had to say – never participated in a contest and now want to attend more…chose the contest over a growling tummy but forgot all about it once the writing started … events like these keep literature alive…nervous but stories kept flowing out…fun meeting like minded people …that’s why I love writing so much ….endorsed my poetry skills…. A spectacular, amazing experience …got the creative juices flowing ….my first literature competition… I want to be a great poet in the world ….
Winners from all these contests will join some of our guest writers to a Tea With The Authors event at the annual Tata Literature Live! literary festival to be held from 9-13 Nov ,2022
Read the winning entries below which appear in alphabetical order . No rankings were given
First line: The moment the metal box speaks her name…
Last line: … turning the face toward the light
The moment the metal box speaks her name, she shook up from her deep slumber and opened her huge eyes. Which was utterly in a shock. She couldn’t accept the fact that she didn’t make it to top 5. “Oh, that was a dream” she exclaimed jerking up from the bed.
This planet has a mesmerizing story to recite but we are occupied with the clumsiest things on earth. Her only motive was to be a “TOP 5 AUTHOR OF FICTION” but things were not easy going for her. Some nights were solely amazing. Some had nightmares which she couldn’t overcome but will she able to make it to the top 5? Was her biggest fear within which was her achievement too.
It wasn’t easy to give-up. All her life she was used to the word failure but for once she wanted to taste the success, the power it holds, the U-turn that it brings and the glee of achieving her dreams.
Years of working, betrayal from beloveds, pain of words and of course her dedication had brought victory to her passion. Never on earth had she dreamed of being on the top list that too over the 2 row.
It took numerous nights to build her dream. It takes immense courage to shine on those nights like a star. Sometimes its burning too.
But once the sun comes up it’s turning the face towards the light.
First line: For as long…
Last line: …horrors and glories
My Little Corner
For as long as a human lives, they crave one thing- attention, wanting to be heard. Being the only one to know who they truly are, can be pretty lonesome… and humans are social animals. Yada Mori was yet another human being. An average girl who couldn’t stand out in the crowd even if she dressed like a clown. Being a human, she wanted people to notice her. Reality however, is very disappointing. In a room full of guests, Yada would stand in one corner next to a giant vase. Coming out of her shell felt too difficult of a task for her. That is until she was invited for a dance. Agitated by the news, she went to her grandmother who was a witch and cried for help. Her grandmother shared a spell that could stop time and bring every eye on her.
“But never blink… or it will end everything,” she warned.
At the ball, Yada gathered the courage and stepped out of her shell and shouted the spell… It worked. She danced alone, gracefully. This was the happiest she had ever been. She looked back at the corner, her shell and all the memories rushed back to her. She realised she wasn’t there. She then closed her eyes and opened them back again and there she was, back in the corner. She smiled.
Human life is scary yet beautiful. To see the beauty, you have to accept it with all its horrors and glories.
First line: The car swerved…
Last line : … someone is coming
The car swerved onto the main intersection, avoiding a tall slender man who seemed to appear out of thin air. I stood by the scene of chaos, watching the driver argue intently with the man. I walked into the saloon behind me, where I worked as a barkeep cum whore
My break had ended. As I got back to serving drinks , his slender figure burst through the door. A regular at the bar, Martin, always wanted to have his way with me, and today he seemed adamant on fulfilling this wish of his. The tall man walked past Martin, scoffing under his breath. He walked up to me and introduced himself as “The traveller, Theo.” Mighty Martin saw me talking with “Theo” ,rose from his seat and made his way through the saloon. Theo hastily spoke, “I grew up here, this is home to me. Thank you for everything, Nancy Mark Carven.” I was shocked. He knew my full name, one I had revealed to no-one, ever!. “I came here for one purpose only.” He drew his revolver, and just as Martin placed his nasty clammy palms onto me, a loud BANG! rocked me to my core
Martin fell to the ground with a loud thud! I looked up at Theo, confused. “Goodbye! Until the circle completes itself, signing off, Theodore Martin Carven.” And just like that in the blink of an eye, he vanished into thin air.
Screams erupted from the back of the room. “Clean it up! Someone is coming!”
First line: We slept in what was once a gymnasium….
Last line: ….someone is coming!
To Prey or not to Prey
We slept in what was once a gymnasium. Huge and well-kept, it was no different from any other gymnasiums I knew , because I have been here since it existed. My only companion was a guest having spent a day. “Oh! You will get used to it,” I told him, because he flinched at the scattering of rats there . Dark alleys and abandoned apartments were no more our preferred spots, I had learnt my lesson the last time I tried to discover those. “Anyway, how did you turn up at the spot I found you in?”
I had found my little companion shivering with bright eyes on the roof, only two houses away from the place that we slept in. Was he trembling with excitement or fear I couldn’t say. “Well, I was new in town and that roof pulled my curiosity. I came from a village in Andhra Pradesh where roofs like that building don’t exist, plus it was a great view.” “Curiosity killed the cat! But you died with a wonderful view for sure,” I replied. Since he didn’t make any more comments, I quickly taught him the rules of the supernatural world and how we’ve to prey humans. This wasn’t an ideal place, but we could go hungry for a night. But we were in luck tonight. We heard the door slam, and with hungry eyes, he spoke, “Ami ko adak! Someone is coming!”
First line: Do you know…
Last line:… cradling me softly
Do you know I found a way to put an end to the saas-bahu drama? It’s quite simple, really. All my life, I have seen my mother and my grandmother quarrel over trivial issues. The award for the argument was invariably my father’s attention. And when I got married, the same story played on loop. My husband’s time and approval were the key factor of tussle between my mother-in-law and I. I had to put it to an end. So, I went to my father to understand what it is that men really want. “Best of both worlds,” he shrugged. “Women really need to learn to share.”
That was where he was wrong. I could share. Even though that would mean my husband would smell a little more, need a cooler room and start losing weight, I could do it. They say the heart leans a little towards the left. So, don’t blame me for claiming that part. I am the wife after all. But that gratuitous woman had to shriek and have me locked up in an isolated room. Yes, I lacerated him. Into two parts. I hid the left half. I am not giving that to her. I hang on to the hope of reuniting with him soon.
I imagine him, when I do, cradling me softly.
First line: He spotted her the moment…
Last line: … waits on the other side
Light and Death
He spotted her the moment she ripped into his flesh. Teeth elongated and bleeding the blood of another, she hissed at him.
It was too late to walk away. She had seen him. Born of the nightmares that parents tell their children to walk away from.
Maintaining eye contact, she drank each drop of blood of the innocent victim she murdered. His body seemed to have frozen, sweat dripping down every pore of his skin. There was nothing for him to do except watch her suck the joy and life out.
They say that you see your life flash before your eyes in the moments right before you die. He saw nothing but his murderer’s blood-red eyes. Tinted with hunger and thirst so great, he was sure that another was going to end up dead.
In that moment, nothing mattered but Heaven and Hell. His brain was churning thoughts and ideas left and right but there was nowhere for them to go. His mind died with him and he would die soon.
As she sunk her pearl white teeth into my neck, I closed my eyes and wondered what waits on the other side.
First line: I believe that a well-known anecdote…
Last line:…but once we were the girls
I believe that a well-known anecdote to relieve stress is through laughter. I, vividly remember the times my girls and I got ourselves into the craziest of problems. The well know clique, fond of everything and everyone. I sit in my armchair reminiscing the good old days when we went to a waterfall and Lia the shortest but loudest screamed “oh my gosh! a monkey” she was the animal enthusiast. She then proceeded to pet the monkey, as she extended her hand the monkey swiftly maneuvered his body and bolted, but Lia wasn’t one to give up. Despite the constant no’s from Rachel she followed through with her quest. Summer and I stayed back to watch the fun as spectators. Lia bought a banana for our hairy friend. The monkey was sitting on a rock close to the water, Lia took that as an opportunity to go towards the monkey who unfortunately had other plans. It jumped on her, snatched the banana causing her to fall right into the water. The entire way home she was drenched and the three of us laughed till tears ran from our eyes. All through my schooling days these were the people who made it bearable. Now, we’re old and unable to walk but once we were the girls.
First line: I died just after the clock struck
Last line: …..I am large- I contain multitudes
The Corpse of an Old Year
I died just after the clock struck. I am the corpse of the old year and as I have seen with my predecessors, I will be reduced to just a number eventually.
I have seen billions suffer and prosper. Many remain stagnant and let the time I give them slip through their fingers. I have also seen many change and evolve and grow, refusing to stay in the cocoon my predecessor made for them. The sacks of flesh evoke equal parts of pity and hope in me: while some choose to rob, cheat, and murder their fellow creatures, there are others who remain moral and kind, in the face of all unpleasantness. That is what I admire most about humans; they possess a certain strength in the face of uncertainties. I could not imagine what that feels like, for I know when I was born and when I must die. Three hundred and sixty five days is all I have, all I can call my own. I yield time, yet I am powerless against it.
My predecessors offer nostalgia and lessons and my successors offer hope and new possibilities. I have a lot to offer as well. I am large- I contain multitudes.
Sayed Nasreen Abdul Razak
First line: Her youngest grandson entered the room…
Last line:…began to wind the windows up
Her youngest grandson entered the room as she was about to sleep. He ran to her cheerfully, her tired smile had a glow. Mathilda, a 76 year old woman, lived alone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Although she needed great care from her own family, she had drifted apart because of her actions. Her son was annoyed and didn’t want to live with her which led to them making her live alone with a nurse for her treatment.
She loved her grandsons as much as she loved her sons but it was a surprise seeing her son, John and wife, Daisy with her grandson, Ken. her daughter-in-law came in greeting her oh-so sweetly which did make her heart warm as she was not used to such affections lately. Her son came in with the stern expression he always had but what he said next was to her utter shock. He asked her to join them for a “family” picnic. She felt all kinds of feelings of happiness at that moment and she agreed right away. Her grandson laughed at her expressions.
They left for a park in town which she loved since her childhood. They felt like an actual, complete family to her after so long. As she was in the car, breathing the fresh air, her son finally spoke telling her to close the windows as she’ll get sick from the cold air. She felt the best kind of happiness. She laughed at her grandson’s cute moments, as her son began to wind the windows up.
Honourable Mentions – Story
First line : The house stood.,
Last line : …. are our friends
The house stood a little extra firm in its foundation tonight, waiting for her grief to embrace its walk like a web of durable vines. She entered the room with calculated steps as if one slight error and she might as well dash straight outside the house with the determination to never look back. Ma would appreciate a cleanly maintained room, especially in her absence. The body knows its workings. Being on autopilot mode can help finally son the her mother’s belongings. Maybe then, it would be easier for her to face her mother everytime she would picture her in someone else at the market, down the ‘cherry blossom’ alley, as she had excitedly called it once and left a memory forever
Focus on the body that commits itself to its surroundings, not the mind that finds the tiniest of a gap to leak out of and think of Ma. She never got to clean the house with her ma before the Diwali food preparations. “ This house will never pass a year by without the Diwali cleaning, Ma,” she pledged, and finally started to make sense of the mess under the kind gaze of her Ma’s house.
Did she have to watch her Ma leave her like that? Cleaning the room, so many things, old and new, felt like a piercing encounter. The house silently watched her every move, every controlled tear. The house felt her anger, as much as it felt her anguish. The house knew nothing would be cast away. After all, Ma’s belongings are memories, are our friends
First line: For as long as i could remember……
Last line: … . to ask her out to dinner
For as long as i could remember my sister was always the high achiever at home, The good one, the behaved one, popular one, and of course, also the very cowardly one. She is so sure of her goals, but when it came to asking for help, when she clearly needed it, she never asked, Increasing the burden on her shoulders, she always did things by herself, never allowing others to help her even once. In the eyes of society, she is independent!
However in my eyes, she is an attention seeker, Mom raised her to be a spoiled brat, yet a spoiled brat who knows how to take advantage of her “naiveness”, She can fool society but not me! Never! She is after all my younger sister, And I detest her. One day I decided to be nice and help her out when she got caught with drugs at a party. She calls, pleading for help. I gritted my teeth the entire way there. Only to see, the police, waiting. She had left. She had framed me. And she kept her reputation while destroying mine. It’s been 4 years since I have last spoken to her and the day she visited me in prison to say one word, “sorry”, Now I’m back and I have a few words to say to her. I call her number
… … to ask her out to dinner.
First line : Dinner is almost ready, madam I said….
Last line : ………began to wind the window up.
Dinner is almost ready madam I said and walked towards the basement of the white houses where my mother and I live . We move from house to house when the owners get tired of the noises my new born brother makes. She gathers their laundry daily, while I secretly gather knowledge from their untouched beautiful libraries and posh language gossip. We have been living with this madam for a week now, She does not seem to mind my brother’s loud wails unless I help around the house when my mother is away. This is a secret between us and must remain as quiet as the noise from when she plods about in her furry slippers.
I don’t mind the work as long as I am allowed to read books, and watch the world unfurl beyond the closed windows, allowed to watch the girl in the house besides me. Her house is always loud at night and I watch her then, sitting at the window throwing airplanes at my closed one.
Some days, she looks extremely sad, and I can almost see a big blob of her dark thoughts floating over papered wings crashing onto the dirty glass.
Today, the sky is dark. Her room seems darker, which somehow makes my world darker as well. A piece of paper sits on the edge of my window it spells ‘HELP’. Usually blank pieces of paper are sent in my direction I feel the pull of an invisible thread and hurriedly begin to wind the window up.
First line: If all the…
Last line: … one more time
Faded Ink of Memory
If all the ink faded from my skin,
And I couldn’t remember the touch of memory,
If the blood in my veins lost its color,
And there was no life infused in my story,
If this forgetfulness seeped into my brain,
Leaving deserts of time parched by draught,
Where my thoughts wandered in isolation,
And there were no familiar roads leading out,
If I didn’t even know that this disease,
Was the cause of my fading mind,
I’d want to go back into the past,
And live my life one more time.
First line: Between the dark…
Last line:… another time
Darkness and Freedom
Between the dark and promise of light
was stuck a little bird with loneliness inside.
Her eyes were scratched, her throat parched;
maybe her captor would spare her some food.
She longed to leave but walking away was hard;
how could she leave the home that’s all she has known.
Free in chains, all the doors open;
she asked herself if leaving was worth.
As she walked away from freedom, she thought
not today, maybe tomorrow or maybe another time.
First line: We grow accustomed to the…
Last line: …certain slant of light
We grow accustomed to the hard beat of his fists
Mother says one day it will stop
We will feel the slow drum of our hearts, free of fear
The warm touch of the sun will guide us
To where I wonder, I clasped the gentle hand of mother
And I prayed.
I cannot remember if the sun shone that day,
The bitter taste of iron plagued my mouth
I cannot see, I cannot watch!
But mother told the truth, it did stop for her
The black plastic bag felt too clean for carrying mother’s body.
As she left, the open door left a certain slant of light.
First line: Like the waves make…
Last line: … the heart grows old
Like the waves make a connection from land to ocean
Singing with each crash to soothe the earth
Caressing her soft skin in a subtly sweet motion
Aware of her magnificence and worth.
But unlike the waves, the land stands still
Not willing, not wanting to reciprocate
So with the ocean’s tears, himself he fills
And for an unattainable love he hallucinates.
But with each passing day, and every minute it unfolds
The waves surrender to solidarity as regrettably, the heart grows old.
First line: Silently… quietly…
Last line: … mice has read
Silently… quietly… Make no sound!
For past the attic, in the library can be found
Willow mouse! She does not frown
Upon the face of old literature
Books, to her, aren’t lunch nor dinner
Well, what does she do there? One might wonder.
Fret not, for I will tell!
On late nights, past the midnight bell
Willow mouse reads for hours on end.
She does not discriminate between Shakespeare and Voltaire
Thus her appetite for literature has long been fed
For every book in the library, the voracious mice has read.
First line: Go to the western…
Last line:… I was unaware
“Go to the western road.” they said,
where all the bravest leaders went.
I passed through the crowded road,
lost in the sea of dreamers.
Walked along the busy street,
My feet led to an unknown destination.
Passed the frenetic and chaotic mess as I realized.
I was a misfit, so I came back and took the road towards east
There was no footprint on the road as no one ever went
No one knew where it led even I was unaware.
First line: The twilight stood as strangers…
Last line:…in her own society
Star crossed Lovers
The twilight stood, as strangers, met the sun and moon
A whirlwind romance to make NY times authors swoon
The sun burnt the moon, the moon eclipsed the sun
Each of them was ready to hear the word “run”
Such a galactic love, was meant to raise eyebrows
The hunters were ready with their bows and arrows
At dusk, the lovers fought with all their might
Forbidden to meet, they were chained to day and night
Now the sun cries tears, spilling salt in the seas
And the moon, crossed by the stars, is alone in
her own society.
First line: I watched the…
Last line: …golden brown dust
I watched the changes taking ages
saw prisoners of themselves breaking cages.
I watched how the life fruits
understood the value of life, when I dig-down the roots.
I watched the words hitting as if arrows
minds broadening, but the heart narrows.
I watched the strangest building thrust
and watched the loved ones breaking trust.
I watched the iron being destroyed by its own rust
Oh! I watched my thoughts under a golden-brown dust.
First line: The sea is calm tonight…
Last line: … to tell you this
The Funeral of Humanity
The sea is calm tonight.
I am the moment before the last wave.
The oceans will dry and the desert will be a
sandbox of dead whales.
But you need not bother about that
Because it is your last day.
You refused to respect time and time won’t respect you,
You choked her children to death.
So take your last breath and enjoy the seconds left.
Because no man will be awake to tell you this.
Honourable Mentions – Poetry
First line : I was angry…..
Last line : .. things were untold
A Domino of Thought
I was angry at the sun,
For I wished it had rained today,
Many a things had occurred last night, Compel me to sleep today.
Squashed and turned and tossed around, Phased until the golden hour came over,
Hasty lies and raw laughs and a wicked kind of pain, I settle into those dusk grey walls of my mind,
All of my joys and sorrows I have sold,
I guess it’s always better when things are untold.
First line : What is the sky….
Last line : ….must not be foes
A Small Pouch Of Soil From Home
What is the sky, if not painted by the ruins of my parting What is the sea, if not the salt of my father’s tears
I carry in my heart, a small pouch of soil
And in my soul, a voice calls me home “Come home! Come home! Come home!”
A place you grew up in, an age you grew out of
A girl who traces patterns on your skin – the Mumbai skyline Who makes you slow dance in a city obsessed with time
In my soul, it’s her voice that calls me home
In my heart, I carry, two small pouches of soil who must not be foes
First line : Families snap like…
Last line: ….. in a box
Families snap like a twig.
Quietly, but heard by the ones who are around Destroying and disturbing relations that were once blood bound.
Families snap but pretend as if nothing’s wrong.
Worried by the society who might sing judgemental songs
Families get back, but the emotions once hurt are never lost,
They keep on brewing in our hearts, locked up
And trapped away in a box
Our sincere gratitudes to our judges : Gauri Sinh, Mrinalini Harchandrai, Saumya Balsari, Shabnam Minwalla and Shireen Mistry