By Vidya Muthukumar
LitSoc Creative Writing (Solo) 2012 took place during the month of March. The themes were as follows :
1. A love story that takes place in a jail. 2. Word theme: Serendipity 3. Phrase theme: “A Stream of Laughter” 4. Phrase theme: “Losing My Religion” 5. A narrative that is set during a festival (the festival must be intrinsic to the story/poem). 6. A story of a daffodil called Daisy. 7. The story of a comic villain called Bumpnicious Boggleton. 8. Begin with this: “The sun does a somersault, and suddenly, it is night.” 9. An entry from Cleopatra’s diary. 10. A story/poem about a lost semicolon.
A maximum of 2 fiction entries and 3 poems were allowed per hostel, and as always results turned out to be quite interesting. The reviews are as follows :
First : Last Words Of A Religion– Swapnil Basak, Mandak – [link]
Swapnil Basak wrote a poem on the topic “Losing My Religion”. His poem, which personifies a dying religion, portrays the many emotions of the religion following its sudden abandonment and impending demise. He starts by describing that fear of the unknown, attempted to be suppressed in vain. This, however, soon gives way to a curious washing away of all emotion, and a sense of inner peace as the religion dies away.
Second : On A Road So Busy And So Long – Kedar Kulkarni, Tapti – [link]
Kedar Kulkarni wrote on the topic “Serendipity”. His poem is about a girl on a long road of milestones to her destination, who experiences a sudden burst of serendipity that brings cheer to her journey. The tone of the poem is initially melancholy as she passes a long string of milestones without quite knowing why, and subsequently happy as a result of the epiphany brought about by suddenly-glimpsed natural beauty.
Third : Serendipity – Suraj Shankar, Saras – [link]
Suraj Shankar’s piece on the topic “Serendipity” speaks of the need for humankind to pause in the fast pace of life, look around and discover new pleasures entirely accidentally. He bemoans the hectic path most choose to take in life, describing it as ‘a mindless stride to the grave’. There is a tone of optimism and tranquility throughout the poem – it talks about hope in the future and serendipity as an effervescent bliss that flows with the wind. One needs to read between the lines to capture the essence of the poem.
Fourth : The Cairo Diaries – T. P. Kurian, Tapti – [link]
T.P. Kurian’s excerpt from the Diaries of Cleopatra is an entertaining rant of the imperious, spoiled and altogether wicked Egyptian pharaoh. Cleopatra begins her entry with an exaggerated and mildly comical lament of a few blemishes on her face and even fewer edible morsels in Cairo. Also displayed is a sizeable amount of insecurity about her relationship with Mark Antony, written with subtle irony. Cleopatra, in her diary entry, also exhibits plenty of pride and dominance – she boils her therapist in a vat of stew and cuts out the tongue of a page from Rome, simply because they tell her what she wishes not to hear. One glimpses flashes of her frustrations of pregnancy and disgust with war, which she experiences firsthand as a result of her alliance with ‘Tony’. The piece captures a variety of emotions in her life and portrays her for who she is – regal and pampered.
First : When In Rome, Do The Romans – Sarthak Pathak, Narmad – [link]
Sarthak Pathak’s wittily titled “When in Rome, do the Romans” is a collection of four entries from the diary of the narcissistic and powerful Egyptian pharaoh, Cleopatra. Her irreverent nature and megalomania rings throughout her personal memoirs, which begin with a day in her life with ‘that old fart’ Caesar. Other entries describe the birth of her child, Octavius, her choosing poison to die in grace and her hopes for Marc Antony to become her new weapon of power. The diary is interestingly written in the first person narrative.
Second : Losing My Religion – Nikhil, Mandak – [link]
Nikhil wrote a short story on the topic “Losing My Religion”. His story is about the conflict in religious ideology between a father and his son. The father Pandeyji, is a staunchly religious priest who lives an austere yet fulfilling life, while his son Akhilesh has little faith in religion. He aspires to join one of the IITs, but soon learns about a reservation quota for people of a minority religion, which includes one of his friends. He becomes extremely bitter and is tempted to convert to that minority religion if he did not obtain a rank in his first attempt. After an intense moral dilemma, he decides to tell his father about his decision. Although he is initially heartbroken, his love for his son and a growing respect for other religions prevails. The story ends happily with Akhilesh securing his rank and a subsequent sense of relief to both parties.
Third : Losing My Religion – Yashasvini Rajeshwar, Sharav – [link]
Yashasvini’s story on the topic “Losing My Religion” is a poignant tale of a young Muslim woman who, like any other Muslim woman in her country, is stripped of her freedom and consequently her religious faith. Being the youngest girl child, the protagonist spends her childhood in abandon, and rebels against the stereotypes that bind the women in her culture. From her youth she hankers for an education and secretly learns to read the Koran. Her life takes a dramatic turn when she is forcibly married to a forty-year-old man at the age of sixteen, and her rebellious actions now have severe repercussions. The story ends with a failed attempt on her part to run away, and her description of her husband’s home as a prison. She concludes with the view that it is the Koran she had learned to read in her girlhood that keeps her sane; however ironically, she has relinquished the religion she no longer believes in. Although this story reminds one of Hossaini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, it is poignant and well-written.
Fourth – Two Parrots And A Cuckoo – Rajaram, Tapti – [link]
Rajaram’s story, titled “Two Parrots and a Cuckoo”, is a love story that takes place in a jail. The story is about two identical twins, Archit and Sanchit, with very different abilities. While Archit has a flair for singing, Sanchit cannot hear and speak and is a precocious national athlete. The main theme of this piece is the twins’ love for the same girl, Sakshi. While Archit has been in a relationship with her for four years and is ready to marry her, Sanchit has harboured a secret desire for her which he has been unable to communicate. Unrequited love eventually drives him to an uncontrollable hatred for his sibling, which culminates in him pushing Archit off a cliff. He is sentenced to jail. However, he is soon visited by his parents and Sakshi in prison, and their tenderness and faith in him strikes him as love of an entirely different kind. He is consumed by guilt for his actions soon after, and commits suicide.