Thursday, 19 January 2012

And Then A Pilgrimage

Collins J Peter of II BA English Copy Editor 
asks what a pilgrimage means. 
Read and reflect!

The train was moving from trashy scenes to surprises. I was in it. My mind moved much faster than the train. In the midst of fiction readers, I made a quick search in my pocket dictionary. My intention was to find the exact meaning of the word ‘pilgrim’ and an answer to the question whether I am on a pilgrimage.

The dictionary defines a pilgrim as a person who travels to a holy place for religious reasons. Life reveals its meaning through the course of one’s own lifetime, which is sometimes a matter of his/her meaningful existence in society. At certain phases of life we live to generate wealth, popularity, and self esteem. At certain other phases we live in order to dump those possessions which make for nothing but a barren life.

The probability for human beings to create unique spheres of life is higher than in other animals. Spheres of acquaintances are what we create mostly. It includes family, friends, colleagues, and all those intimate relationships. These spheres are a necessity because they produce meaning and worth to our social living. In families we share duties, love, bonds and friendships, where the exchange of our experiences become colourful and lively. But there is a strict law for all this to take place. If that law is violated, those social spheres get converted into a hellhole towards which we drag ourselves and stop living. The law is - never allow the worldly pursuits to creep into your intimate social spheres. If it does, families will have to move to family courts and friendships to break-up parties.

Now, where does the pilgrimage begin and where does it end? It begins when all our ignorance, mistakes, negligence, wrong choices evolve into deadly weapons against us and when refuge and shelter become mere question marks. We begin to reach out to where we went wrong, to the people to whom we did wrong , to the memories to which we were unfaithful ….all by ourselves. Reaching out in order to rectify and cleanse in places where we were mistaken and wasted; to live the rest of our life with the happiness of a thousand sunrises. And now, where does the pilgrimage end? Is there a clear answer to this question?

The happiness of a thousand sunrises never comes as a whole and thus we have to pursue it, through a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage that never ends.

The train is heading towards Maharashtra where I must go and reach out my hands to a destitute centre. A centre where I left my parents ten years ago just to cherish my marital life, which breathes no longer.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Writers' Forum Poetry Contest (December): Winning Entries

Winner: Naina Dey, Assistant Professor (Dept. of English) at Maharaja Manindra Chandra College, Kolkata under the University of Calcutta. She is a critic, translator, reviewer and creative writer and her works appear in esteemed newspapers, books and academic journals. She has authored books of critical essays on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Christopher Marlowe’s Edward the Second. She regularly writes for The Statesman. She was awarded the “Excellence in World Poetry Award, 2009” by the International Poets Academy, Chennai. She was invited to be a member of a team of Indian writers (below 45) to be felicitated jointly by Sahitya Akademi and Visva-Bharati University on the occasion of the 150th birth centenary of Rabindranath Tagore in December, 2010. 


This is Shantipura.
Our quaint old Shantipura
With roads unpaved
An inconspicuous speck on your frayed maps

Our Shantipura of dim lights and long power cuts
Where the jackal’s howl mingles with the parrot’s long ti-ti-ti even at midday
Where you hear the rustle of bamboo leaves as you curl up beside your hearths
Like a baby in its mother’s womb

Our Shantipura wakes up to the crows’ call
We too wake up to the whiff of our mother’s steaming rice-pot
As milk-white Mangala fidgets impatiently in her shed
We skip down to the pool where the buffaloes bathe
Grey-black giant rocks that wallow in the sun while a heron balances itself
My little brother tries to catch tadpoles that stare blank-eyed among the reeds
With a shallow dish smuggled out
Eager to enjoy our weekend’s holiday to the hilt
Look how he at first impatiently then playfully flings the limpid water
Making it rise like a wave semi-circular
Droplets of wave sprinkling me as well
As I stand almost knee-deep
Anxious lest he falls

We scamper and shout all day long
Till we hear our mother call
The sunset resounds with the twitter of the sparrows
Bare-bodied shepherd boys whistle for the stray calf
As the shadows grow thicker and darker over our quaint old Shantipura.


Honourable Mention

Archana Kurup, an employee of Indian Overseas Bank. She is a bilingual writer who has won various prizes in creative writing for her essays, stories and poems in English and Hindi.

Silver Recollections

A spray of silver
Leaping in an arc
Sprinkling sunshine
In rainbow sparkles
Soaking the skin
Drenching the soul…..

Teasing the heart
Into remembering
An era long gone….
Buried under a heap
Of new memories
And experiences….

Struggling to surface
Evoking recollections
Of an age of innocence
Freedom and harmony…
An age of beauty
And joy in simple things….

A moment frozen in time
Still…. and fluid
Lost… but within reach
Happy…. tinged with sadness
In another lifetime….
Another existence…..


Rosemary Tom, I Year MA English
Airy Hope

The river sparkled then.
Trees stooped low in greeting.

Joyous, unadulterated creatures.

Delighting in all things.

Besprinkling arcs of happiness,

they trot, unceasing.

Powerless, yet powerful;

unaccountable to convention.

Owners of nothing, yet of everything-

Unabused trust, untarnished innocence.

Searching for this flowery meadow,

I walk, hoping to retrieve

In a world of stumps and blight,

unaware of having lost it on the way.


Aishwarya Nair, III BA English Copy Editor 

Heading for the Hills

Droplets falling from heaven;
My thoughts are heading for the hills,
They have come to a halt at my childhood,
Oh, that's a sudden stop.

Woven by my brother, childhood was the prettiest time.

Butter-flying with him was my best loved pastime,
Hunting for new places always resulted in the same stamping ground.
But river always fascinated me with her cuddling ways,
She offered me her petals of water.

To make me happy, brother flipped little waves; springing as colored images.

Tiny sprinkles touched my innocent cheeks,
gave me a breezy essence,
Imprinted in my mind those sparkling drops,
forming the shape of a crescent.

My little skirt hugged the wavy rhythm of life,

Swaying like a flower which was thrown up by the breeze,
I grabbed his hands
and walked through the itinerary of happiness.

Mind and body suffused in the chillness of age,

I lost my sense somewhere between the pebbles.
Regaining it, I stood at the bank of memories,
Staring at the black and white memories flowing through the river,
I found that nothing was left.
Petrified by the years of grief, I dropped off my innocence
And merged with the rest,
Fleeing with time, those tiny waves waved goodbye to me forever... 

Writers' Forum Flash Fiction Contest (December): Winning Entries

Winner: Jude Gerald Lopez, II BA English Copy Editor

The City of Lights

When night came, the city of Light shrouded by a canopy of darkness hid itself from the prying eyes of the world. Even I knew that when night came and the sun rested, each and every object in the city would have to succumb to the wishes of that familiar canopy of darkness. Tired from their uneventful routines of day, their lives that had turned into a mere habit demanded from them rest and rest in the warmth of darkness was what they got. As the dwellers of Light slept, twisting and turning in their beds caressed by darkness and stroked by slumber I sat plotting.

It was not easy choosing between the two. I must say that I had put myself in a rather awkward position in which any decision made turned out to be a paradoxical and contradictory one.

 Rebecca lay there motionless as I whispered into her ear “Are you awake?”

Silence answered. But I already knew the answer.

“Are you cold?”

The palms that had stroked my hair a million times were cold as ice.

“I know you are tired, get some rest.”

Indeed she did get some rest. Not a muscle moved and even her nostrils (thanks to my persuasion) welcomed inactivity.

When I met the Other a few days back a few sparks flew. Sparks that sought to expose the barbarian within, even Anna who was just six could see the change that took place in Daddy’s eyes.

Darkness entered the room bringing with it a kiss planted on my lips along with a wave of different scents that accompanied her. Anna was asleep and in stealth I decided to disappear, to get lost in the labyrinths of my guilt, accompanied by the Other and clothed by my sin. I stretched out my hand and found the arms of Darkness, she moved forward and I could feel her warm breath on my neck, it was ironic that not even the perfumes of Persia could hide the stench of its breath.

When I left with Darkness by my side, I had ceased to notice the little details of that all too familiar room. Anna stood there concealed from my sight as a witness to the actions that had now caused quite a few sparks to fly around the room. The sparks with time grew as my Anna watched, turning more bolder and finally breaking free like a butterfly from a cocoon. The wood work were the first to accommodate the flames that were seldom seen in the city, the upholstery next, and slowly those white hot bastards called flames started to devour the entire room, as my love watched helplessly my un-awakened half.

Apart from the homes that were consumed by flames, there were no broken homes in the city of Light. 


Honourable Mention: Vessislava Liubomirova Savova, Bulgaria. The author is a  member of the Union of Independent Bulgarian Writers since May, 2011 and has published academic books and collection of short stories and poems.

Freezing Heat

Bare feet on the cold tiles of the veranda. The cold slowly was going up her child’s fragile body. The short white gown wasn’t able to heat her blood up. When you’re about completing four and staying completely by yourself at night, no thoughts that can warm you up exist.

The house was burning but the tongues of fire were making her thrill. Her hands were ready for a hug but remained hanging in the cold air.

“Sylvia, Sylvi-a-a!” – the girl heard someone calling her by name.

At that moment she recognized the voice.

“Run, gotta run,” – thought Sylvia.

But where? The fire was in front of her and the unknown, hidden in the cold arms of night, town – behind her. Sylvia started feeling how fear made her big blue eyes water. They resembled two mountain lakes – calm at the surface but nobody knew what was hidden at the bottom. The girl fell on her knees and let the memories lend on her fragile consciousness.

Sylvia still couldn’t understand why her daddy – the millionaire Joe Phil - had lied to her. Why did he put that ugly wax doll in a coffin and made her say farewell to mummy? Then… then he started being tardy and not smelling as her father. It was unknown but frightening smell.

One night her father, accompanied by a very young woman, came home much earlier. He said, “Meet each other, my girls!” and ordered Sylvia to be a good child.

Since then she had always been cold. Because of the young woman’s claims. Because of the young woman’s complaints. Because of the fear of some punishment she didn’t deserve. By the loneliness to be with people who didn’t like her.

“Sylvia, where are you little rat?!” – the freezing voice came closer and closer.

The closer it came, the more she felt the bliss of the flames. They didn’t hurt. They didn’t blame. They slowly started their gentle song. A reminder of her mother’s voice was the last sound she heard. The last thing she saw was a figure resembling her father but all over in flames.

A year later the rich widow of Joe Phil hired workers to start reconstruction of the burnt house. The only thing she couldn’t overcome was the nightmare of her stepdaughter’s hands reaching out for a hug.

Results of the Writers' Forum Creative Writing Contests

The December contests were open to all and we received entries from across the world. We were privileged to have our link featured in Thresholds, the international short story forum of Chichester University, United Kingdom. Special thanks to the editorial team of Thresholds and all those who popularized our contests and participated in them. The response was so good that from now onwards, we will have our contests open to all every alternate month.

And, here are the results:


Winner:   Dr. Naina Dey, Assistant Professor of English at Maharaja Manindra Chandra College, Kolkata, University of Calcutta, for her beautiful poem 'Shantipura'. It evokes vivid memories from a time and place where one likes to belong forever. Congratulations Dr.Naina! We were truly impressed by your mastery of words and the brilliant depiction of scenes, scents and sounds from Shantipura. Please do stay in touch with us.

There are a few honourable mentions this time: 

Archana Kurup of Indian Overseas Bank, Trivandrum, for 'Silver Recollections'. It is a poem that anyone could identify with, and it stands out for its curious turns of phrases and well controlled thought pattern.

And our students, Rosemary Tom of I MA English for her short and sweet poem 'Airy Hopes' and Aishwarya Nair of III BA English Copy Editor for her touching narrative poem 'Heading for the Hills'.

Flash Fiction

Winner: Jude Gerald Lopez of II BA Copy Editor for his 'The City of Lights'. The story explores the inner conflicts of a character pushed to the limits in a time which resembles the one we live in. Jude has become a seasoned writer who can make unconventional themes accessible through amazing descriptions and characterization. Congrats Jude!

There is one honourable mention as well.

Vessislava Liubomirova Savova, A member of the Union of Independent Bulgarian Writers, for 'Freezing Heat'. The story evolves magically with its powerful descriptions. It is full of emotions, and moves in a pace and heat that can match a classic thriller. Congrats Vassislava! We look forward to reading more stories by you.


I still cannot quite read those pesky labels.

Winner: Glenn Andrew Barr, MA Creative Writing, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom. The winning caption is already there under the picture. Congrats Glenn, we are truly honoured by your entry! You have given a curious twist to the picture. We look forward to receiving entries from you in the future, for the poetry and flash fiction categories.

See the next two posts for the winning entries of Poetry and Flash Fiction contests. And keep checking the blog for the January Contests.

Janush - Heartifest 2012