Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Writers' Forum November-December Contests: Open to the Public

The Sacred Heart College Writers' Forum contests are generally meant for our students. But we have decided to host a few contests every year that are not restricted to them.

The November-December contests are open to the public. Anyone from any part of the world can submit their entries. Please do see the individual contest descriptions for the rules.


You can submit a poem, which does not exceed 30 lines, based on this picture. You are free to experiment with any of the poetic forms, or free verse.
Original thoughts and metaphorical expressions will be appreciated.

Flash Fiction

Here's the picture prompt for flash fiction. I guess this will set your creative forces on fire!
If you need to know what Flash Fiction means, please do follow this link:
Word limit: 600 words

This is a new contest. All you have to do is to give an appropriate caption (1-8 words) for the picture here.

We will publish the winning entries in the blog, and also in an online literary journal that we plan to bring out early in 2012. We do not offer cash prizes, but please do note that there is no reading fee as well.

Deadline: December 31st 2011
You can send your entries in .doc/PDF format to 

If you are not a student of Sacred Heart College, please do include a bio note in less than 100 words, with your postal and email address.

Sacred Heart College students can either make an email submission or hand in the entries directly to Prof. Jose Varghese, Department of English.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Poetry: Winning Entries of the October-November Contest

There are two winners for the poetry contest this time - Mariam Henna and Rosemary Tom

Tears of the Fallen Bird
Mariam Henna (I Semester BA English Copy Editor), Winner

Gazing out into the night sky
Desperately seeking for her lucky star
That always shone bright and
Stood out among the rest!
Yet today, hiding behind the clouds
It was nowhere to be seen
Her heart clouded with deep regrets
Etched into her soul!
Mother Earth mirroring her emotions,
A slight breeze, Sorrow in the wind
Thunder struck, Rain fell with
The intensity of the pain she had
Cleansing her mind of all evil
From the darkness of the past
Giving way for the sun to rise
Strengthening her soul
With rays Of hope, Awakening
the Bird of joyful chirpings
within her, Filling the Dark World
With the innocence of sweet music
Letting go of Her search for the star!

The Final Flight
Rosemary Tom (I Semester MA English), winner

Darkness seeps in, smooth as water.
Windows are forced shut.
The cage is bolted.
Wings cut off, rendered useless.
Trampled upon by ignorant, unworthy feet.
Faith is a stranger.

But, combat seems futile.
Notions so deep; flux unthinkable.
Sands of time do not repair.
I cling like a bird that will never take flight,
gazing, petrified.

There is relief.
Yes, there is relief in the End.

Soaring upwards I fly in glory.
Free. Free from the tedious chains of life.

Writers' Forum Poetry Contest Results

The October-November Poetry contest had the following picture prompt:

The contest is over, and the results are here!


Rosemary Tom of I Semester MA English for her poem The Final Flight 


Mariam Henna of I Semester BA English Copy Editor for her poem Tears of the Fallen Bird

Yes, there are two winners this time. Both are writers with a strong poetic voice, who show how they could transcend the mundane to delve deeper into fragmented selves.

Congratulations winners! Watch out for the next posting, which features your work.

Flash Fiction: Winning Entries of the October-November Contest

 A Drop of Liquid Hope
Jude Gerald Lopez (III Semester BA English Copy Editor), winner

I sat in silence. The wind grazed my hair and honoured my nostrils with the stench of the seven seas.  There were others too, who were seated unmoved in a spell of inactivity sharing silence with me. The sky filled with dark smoke merged easily with the stagnant liquid of the sea, indistinguishable in colour they united and held their bond. An uneasy sight for others, but I begged to differ.

Out of the two, the one that sat away from me kept dropping rocks into the murky water. The object hit the water, no ripples formed and sunk quietly into darkness. Life was something similar, in the end all that awaited one was darkness. There was nothing more to it, we inhabitants of light in our quest to find brighter lights move into darkness.

The stranger moved her neck a few degrees bringing me into her field of vision.

“Is it always like this?”

“It gets darker”

I could tell my reply was quick to bring in anguish to her heart.

“It wasn’t always like this!”

“There were better times?”

“Times where one could see through the water”

“Just the like in textbooks”

“Something like that”

She shifted her gaze and so did I. Her friend however did not bother to break the silence. Content with the murky water he sat there. The clouds grew darker; the source could be seen now. The colossal vessel that floated like the fishes that lost interest in swimming now came into view. Leaving a trail of blacker black, it ordered fishes to rise up and show respect. The fishes rose and the girl’s heart sunk. 

A few silhouettes scrambled on board. I remained still, while one shrieked and the other dropped another rock. A rock added to the grave of blue, maybe it fell on Neptune’s grave. I did not know, I didn’t want to know.

The beast leaked black, sons and daughters of Neptune rose in awe. I still remained unmoved but the girl got up and stood for a while. She motioned towards the edge that separated wet from dry and emptied her bottle of water. The clear liquid vanished quickly unable to fight off the evil that lurked in every corner of its new home.

 She turned towards me and said “May be that will help.”


Caged Dreams
Mariam Henna (I Semester BA English Copy Editor), Honourable Mention
Tears streamed down her face as she kneeled down at the church, earnestly praying to God to give him a second chance to live. As she said a silent prayer, images of the distant past flashed before her eyes, and she wondered if she would be able to walk out of the church with a new life, leaving out the haunting past.
It was the fateful jouney to the hip city of Bangalore that changed their lives forever. Being the best of friends, Jonathan, Theresa and Rehaan had decided to build up their dreams in this happening place. The busy city life, teenagers in hip clothing, girls smoking in street corners, guys dancing and drinking in pubs enthralled them. Little caring for the consequences, they ended up jumping into this menacing world of drugs and alcohol. Building a journalistic and photography career went down in their list of priorities. Slowly they began to lose themselves.
Standing outside the ICU room, willing Rehaan to survive through this, I fell into a reverie of thoughts, wishing there was a time machine to alter the turn of events.I remembered everything about that night way too clearly - the late night party, Theresa, high on weed, laughing and dancing with other guys, Rehaan jealousy smitten walking out of the house, drunk and doped , while I tried hard to keep my senses clear. Everything happened within the span of seconds as I rushed behind to stop him.Rehaan, speeding away in his bike failed to see a car coming from the opposite side, and hit straight onto it. The image of him lying on a pool of blood is a memory that still haunts me.
My ears rang with the chant of prayers. My eyes took in an air of despair. The scent of agarbattis hit me with such force that I found it hard to breathe. My lips tasted the saltness of tears that had started streaming down. Although the house was filled with people, I couldnt feel anyone around me. While the five of my senses tried hard to digest the blur of  events, the sixth one kept knocking on my head and telling my heart that something was terribly wrong.Rehaan, the love of my life, was lying all  pale, draped over in white cloth, after "Yama" sucked  the life out of him. I kept staring until everything around went black. Seconds later i could feel my heart hammering inside my chest like a football. Sweat was poring down my forehead as i jolted awake trying to contemplate the events and realization that it was a dream struck me with the force of tsunami waves. It was 4 PM and there was a message from Jonathan on my phone which read : "He's gone" . I curled myself in a fetal position and just let all the tears out.
When the funeral rites were over, he walked out of the mosque with his head held low and the thought that he would be seeing his best friend for the last time gave his heart a squeeze. The question "what went wrong" kept replaying on his head as he finally got the strength to message Theresa. Without any prior thought, he walked towards their favourite hangout that had a view of the sea and sat there, calmed by the breeze, thinking of their happy lives before that fateful journey.
The wind mirrored their sorrow, as each of their dreams and lives were devastated leaving nothing but deep regrets!

Violet Beach 
Markus Sailor (International Exchange Student from Germany), Honourable Mention
John sat on the beach. It had rained and though he looked for a dry spot he felt that his trousers got wet slowly. He did not not do anything about it. His eyes fixed a point in the grey of the harbour. The border between the heaven and the water was unclear in the mist. In his shaking hands John held the letter which changed everything, the letter which made him go to the beach instead of  his work. `I'm free now,´ it said, Ì'll arrive on the 30st of October, there is so much to say, but I don't want to do it in this letter, it is better we talk when I'm there.´
John's knees where shaking when he recognized his father in a skinny figure with grey hair and bony hands, ascending the steps of the bus. His mother burst into tears. It has been almost three years now. John had been a little boy when they took him. Innocent. In that very night he got much elder. He had to work every day after school, his childhood was over all in a sudden. Still they had not enough money for much more than tapioca. But his mother wanted it like this. She spent all the money on sending him and his little sisters to school. She didn't want it to spoil their future.
They went to a restaurant to celebrate the reunification of their family. The father stroked the hair of his son, he took one of his daughters on his knees. He asked a lot of questions about their family busines which mother and children somehow had maintained during his time in jail. He told funny episodes about his fellow-prisoners. He smiled and laughed a lot. Only once a black shadow hushed over his face. When the mother asked him if he was tortured. `No,´ he said `of course not.´ After a few hours they ran out of things to speak about. They brought the girls to bed. John proposed to got to the beach.
The sun was setting and colouring the clouds in an unreal violet. They sat there. United. At last. Why had it taken so long?

Writers' Forum Flash Fiction Contest Results

The Flash Fiction contest for October-November was based on the picture prompt given below. The word limit was 300-600 words.

The contest has ended, and the results are as follows:


Jude Gerald Lopez of III Semester BA English Copy Editor for his story A Drop of Liquid Hope

This was an obvious winner for capturing a dramatic moment in all its intensity. Jude shows a lot of promise as a storyteller with some real sociocultural and environmental concerns.  

There were two more entries which so impressed me for their narrative power that I had to think of ...

Honourable Mention :  

Mariam Henna of I Semester BA English Copy Editor for her evocative story Caged Dreams, which deals with how a fast and easy life affects three impulsive youngsters in a big city


Markus Sailor, international exchange student from Germany, for Violet Beach, the touching story of a wrongly punished young man from India and his poor family

Congratulations to all the winners! As promised, all the three stories will be featured in the blog.

Note:  The picture prompt is a painting (acrylic on canvas) by Prof.Shijo P Varghese, Department of English

Workshop on Critical Thinking

A detailed report of the workshop prepared by 
Devika Mohanachandran and Rosemary Tom of I Semester MA English

The Department of English organized a one-day workshop on Critical Thinking: Tools and Steps for Instruction at Fr. Melesius Hall on Monday, the 14th of November 2011. The workshop was led by Agnieska Alboszta who has been teaching academic English (all skills) at the American English Institute at the University of Oregon. The event commenced at ten in the morning and extended till 3:30 PM. 

Agnieska Alboszta has been an online teacher trainer and curriculum developer for the critical thinking distance education course since 2004. She has made many presentations and has led workshops on the topic of critical thinking development and instruction, in various countries. She, having specialized in critical thinking theory and practice, was able to provide insights on the application and development of critical thinking.

The inaugural function, as convention demands, began with the invocation of blessings of almighty, sung by Devika T S. Prayer was followed by a welcome address by the head of the English department, Prof.John Francis. His speech not only provided a hearty welcome, but laid emphasis on the need for critical thinking in academics. He spoke about how only a teacher who thinks critically can breed critical thinking in his/ her students. The welcome address was succeeded by the presidential address by Fr. Johnson Palakkappillil, the Principal of Sacred Heart College. He spoke about connecting things one reads to one's own life and how to fill the explored arroyos by using the tool of critical thinking. He also mentioned that the seminar happens to be on Children's Day, and referred to the significance of Jawaharlal Nehru as  a critical thinker.

Ms. Alboszta had two sessions of talk and interaction. The first session began after a short break for tea, in which she dealt with the theoretical background of critical thinking. She displayed a slide with pictures of familiar faces. The participants were asked to pick one of them, who, according to them, was an ideal critical thinker, and also to state the reason for their choice. There were ebullient responses as the participants came up with their ideas. 

She then moved on to the definition, characteristics and stages of critical conception. She also made references to Howard Gardner, Edward De Bono, William Perry and their views on Critical thinking. She concluded the first session bolstering the fact that critical thinking is strenuous as it takes time, effort and perseverance.

Following a heavy lunch in traditional style, the second session began in which Ms.Alboszta spoke about the application of critical thinking. A teacher, according to her, is supposed to be a model of sound thinking as well as ethical behaviour for students. A teacher ,instead of  being an omniscient commandant, has to encourage participation in students, maintain a good relationship and also inseminate self-respect in them which in turn will give rise to confidence and thus empowerment. She also threw light on the various productive means of teaching. The second session, which gave immensely useful information about the application of critical thought, left the participants wiser. Ms Alboszta encouraged questions and answered them quite convincingly.

Her light-hearted comments definitely made the sessions more interesting and informal. Prof. Madhu and Mr. George Christopher, in their feedback, reflected on her lecture and stated that it proved to be informative and useful. Prof. Madhu observed that critical thinking is a scientific discipline which can be used as a tool to facilitate learning process. Mr. George Christopher stressed on the importance of rethinking of our thoughts. The event came to a close with the vote of thanks by Prof. C S Francis on behalf of the department of English, followed by the National Anthem.

 Photo Credits: Sreejith, IQAC and Shijo P Varghese, Dept. of English

Heart-Bytes Back to Life

Message by the Principal

Mind blogging - The possibilities (we)blog opens for learning, creativity, self-expression, mutuality, solidarity, and self-discovery! As web-log enters its popular existence into a second decade, the heartians have finally decided to keep the log with active involvement of the student community. On the faculty side, there is initiative - but it does require the youth energy to keep it going.

I hope this will serve Heartian academic fellowship beyond classrooms and national boundaries - taking the bloggers 'into that haven of freedom' of right thought, right speech and right livelihood.

I am happy to assert with the heartians world over, that from now on - WE BLOG'!

- FR. Prasant Palakkappillil, CMI PhD

Welcome to Heart-Bytes,
The Sacred Heart College Blog

This is managed by a group of students from the English Department of Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Kochi. All of them happen to be members of the Writers' Forum as well.

You can expect to see weekly postings here on things related to the college - news, reports, interviews, photo features, video clippings and creative writing.

Students and teachers from all departments are invited to keep watch over this and write to us if you have any suggestions to make this better. You are also welcome to send any material you think suitable for the blog to Please do make it a point to report all the activities conducted by the departments, clubs and forums. There can be special features on events. There is a space for online contests and survey reports, which will keep the blog active.

The alumni from around the world are welcome to follow the blog and interact with the faculty and students. Your suggestions are always welcome.