Time to reveal the stories our St. Valentine liked best. He tells us that he loved reading all the stories and has been re-assured that people still believe in power of love. Though he would have loved for someone to have played a little naughty. In short, he loved the sugar but missed a little spice. ;-)
You have probably guessed the results from the order in which we posted the stories. :) But here is the formal announcement along with the judge’s comments of the stories and the competition.
A light-hearted romp through the hazards of modern romance. Love triangles are something of a cliche so it was fun to read about romantic lines and circles for a change. There’s also a nice little surprise at the end; nice because I should’ve guessed it but didn’t. The last line is perfect too.
Second prize: Neelima
It’s hard not to like a love story with two mutually-suspicious people. They’re not right for each other– the girl’s smart and sensible, the boy’s insufferably smug and spoiled– and they know they’re not right for each other but that fatal and mysterious attraction between book-readers and book-ignoramuses pulls them together. I loved that bit about her pimples and his strangely romantic need to burst them. Gross? yes; Plausible? completely. The ending– last 3-4 lines– could be edited to read better.
The thing I liked about this story were its unassuming characters. They’re not beautiful or fair or members of the urban elite. There is a dark undercurrent to the story that leaves a trace in the mind. However, the ending was implausible and the writing definitely needs more polish. But the author has a realist sensibility I found quite appealing.
In a sense, this is a Valentine story in the classic M&B style. A dashing army officer falls in love with the beautiful ward of an Important Person. It’s a well-written and smooth read, but unfortunately, nothing really happens in the story. Boy meets girl in not very surprising circumstances and boy gets girl in equally unsurprising circumstances. That’s a lot like real life, admittedly, but I like my M&B romances to have a little more drama. Eva’s almost there, I think.
I was disappointed having to turn this down because it was a thoughtful and well-written tale. The ending works in Nehru cleverly. But we don’t really understand why Suchi loves Arvind or vice-versa. The problem that’s posed at the beginning of the story– what to do with a son who “throws away” his elite education– doesn’t have much connection with the fact the two love each other. Suchi needed to be connected with Arvind’s family in a deeper, more conflict-rooted way. Or so I felt.
Rest of the entries:
As for the other stories, they were a varied bunch. I won’t go into the specific issues I had because there were quite a few. But I was glad to read all of them; without exception the stories reveal a faith in the power of love to transform lives. I was surprised no one attempted a lesbian/gay valentine nor push for some of the darker rasas. Leads me to suspect many of the authors probably hadn’t tasted what they wish us to savor.
Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who participated and wrote the beautiful stories. Also big thanks to our St. Valentine – Anil Menon who provided his valuable feedback and that too in record time! Do check out his website to find out more about his books and about the writing workshops he occasionally runs.
We really enjoyed running this contest and hope that all of you will keep writing more and more. We will get in touch with the winners soon.