1st Prize – Existentialist Conspiracy Club

by Kalpak Bhave



I saw you look at the stars,

Our bottoms cold on the marble floor,

A garden of light above our head,

None of us saying much,

Me itching to get up and go,

You shooting a look, dare I moved.

“Is everything alright?”

They’d ask me once in a while.

“Yeah, she’s okay”

I sent everyone away.

“It’s just that sort of a day.”

A joint in our hands,

And fog in our eyes,

And faces blank,

Devoid of lies

Yesterday I saw you look at the stars,

Like a meeting of an existential conspiracy club

Every once in a while

you’d give me a sad smile,

Convey what you can’t put down in verse

Then go back to talking of the universe

Blabber about the Milky way

“Yeah she’s okay!

It’s just that sort of a day”


I saw you crack up loud

Our laughter setting us aside from the crowd

I feared the both of us getting judged,

Especially you, the boy you liked was also at the party here,

But there was now a twinkle in your eye,

And a reflection in the bottle of daaru,

And then sometime you’d break into a song

Or frantically trying to explain your thoughts all wrong,

I’d giggle as I watched you drawl and drone,

The most comfortable place with you was the friend zone.


I saw you fall face first on a pile of clothes,

Your eyes streaming, in their fresh laundry,

Bit of vomits stuck to your face,

Bit of it steeping to the curtain lace,

Once in a while, you’d give a loud wail,

But by nobody seemed to care,

Some fallen by the toilet pot

Some fallen because of the pot

Some passed out in pools of tears

Some just sitting, living their fears,

Slumped shoulders and fallen heads

Faces blank, and faces dead

“Yeah she’s okay,It’s just that sort of a day”

What sort of a day.Brilliant mind of my peers and I,

Mind that succumb to joy and tempt

Sitting in what looks like a cry for help

The smoke box that the house is,

Could indicate a fire,

But the fire has been dampened,

That’s for sure.

We all sit here,

Like a calamity’s passed

But truth of the matter is,

The calamity is this.

For just an hour ago,

We spoke of the stars

You and me,

And so many like us,

Isn’t that what we pride ourselves on?

That we’re not the kind of yound that party in a bar?

That we’re the intelligent kind,

We believe in conversations

With our existential conspiracy clubs

And all our fascinations.


I saw you look at me,

With pitiful eyes,

I helped you up, carried you to the bed,

Tried to clean the laundry again.

Couldn’t, because I was just as high

So went and sat in the darker room

With the slumped shoulders and fallen heads

Faces blank and faces dead

Yeah she’s okay,

It’s just that sort of a day.

2nd Prize

By Komal Bodke

What do you think it would feel like

to stretch your palms open

underneath the night sky and watch

as the starlight and darkness


on to your palms?

Just think.


What do you think it would feel like

to feel the face of a lover

you’ve never met

to feel the contours of a face you’ve never seen

To feel his skin on your palms?

Just think.


Falling, falling, fell the last leaf

of autumn onto a carpet of browns and reds

and the winds blew in your hair

It was drilled into your head – “Winter is coming.”


And falling, falling, you fell

into nostalgia when people you loved

were still alive in all senses of the

word – Sepia was the colour you saw.


What do you think it would feel like

to touch the rust on the gates

after the rains

after the iron has been washed

and washed and washed


I can feel it.


I can feel the rust beneath your skin

where you paint bright colours – you have no

idea where they come from

But you need the paint to look beautiful

So you paint anyway.


I can feel the rust

beneath your skin

where you washed

and washed and washed

every shade of water colour – they just

weren’t the right hue.


How lovely it would feel

to walk on air, to soar,

to feel weightless

to fly.


How lovely it would feel.

So you tried.

As you stepped off the terrace – you were

taking a leap of faith, weren’t you?

You stepped off the terrace

and you flew.


It was the last thing you ever did.


And as we picked your irreparably broken self

up from the ground

the tears left our eyes

but they just never


the floor


We cried.

We cried but you were gone

We lost you like a weightless feather in the wind


I still have your rust on my palms.

Tell me.


Are you happy now?


You were so sad most of the time

Did you cry yourself to sleep that never came?

Did you feel incomplete –


Did you feel that even

if you hollered

your heart’s worst

they still would not understand?


Did you spend your nights up


thinking about how it would feel like

to soar?

Did you scream into your pillow

because there was this


inside you that

you just couldn’t explain

and the silence was deafening

so you screamed

and screamed and screamed


and it was not enough.


Nothing was ever enough


You were never enough.


All you wanted was to be loved

So you screamed to the mirror, “Why

do you not love me?”


“Solace is in solitude”

they said

that’s what they said

but where do you go

where do you go when you hate yourself

where do you go?

So you left.


Tell me now.


Are you happy?


Tell me.


What does it feel like?

2nd Place Winner


By Kajal Ahuja

Do you remember the ten year old you who couldn’t wait to be thirteen

To wear those pair of heels, to have this teenage group

An epitome of amazingness

To be unlike other teenagers who yell at their parents,

To be the first 13 year old who changed the world

Who was a part of a rock band named red roses,

to be a doctor who cured diseases.

Well safe to say a lot of that wasn’t to be

But we don’t really learn, do we?


Do you remember the fifteen year old you,

All angry and outraged with the world

Who wore her self-righteousness as a medal and armour

Who knew that she was different, one of a kind.

Who couldn’t wait for three years to fly by

To turn into a butterfly.


I stand here today two months ahead of my birthday

And safe to say, I know better, I am better.

I stand slouched with braces on my teeth trying to figure out whether I am good enough

Not a butterfly just yet.

So I came up with these rules to help adults like you and me

To metamorphose into beautiful beings

And beauty costs

So here it goes


Rule number 1- You cannot lash out at people.

Even if you want to, even if you really, really, want to.

Even if you can feel the frustration and anger and disgust boil inside your insides,

And can feel that stomach turning, scalding potion chafe igniting the self righteousness dying to come out.

You may be so angry that letting it out is the only thing that’ll allow you to breathe, you still can’t lash out.

What’ll be even better is if you mange to construe a smile.

Not a smile that says you are acting like an absolute **** and I cant wait to see you fall flat on your face.

Because a lot of the times the person you want to abuse is someone you absolutely love, and a lot of the times the person is a stranger who happens to be an absolute imbecile

But you can’t say that out loud.

So it’s just better to smile.


Rule number 2: You are no longer cute.

I know it’s a fact more than a rule, but treat it as a rule and you’ll do well

You stopped being cute at 11 when you wanted daddy to hold your hand at the crossing.

Actually you stopped being cute when you tried to break your tooth so that your parents would put a chocolate under your pillow.

That’s when you became stupid.

People have been going along since then for good manners sake,

It’s time now to return the favour


Rule number 3: The world’s terrible and you are now a part of it

As much as one would like to stay in the neat and privileged category of being a child and therefore innocent and gods own,

You are now being pushed into either being a man or a woman.

This may have something to do with the blinding urge to either be with a man or a woman.

Don’t expect much luck in that area

If you concentrate carefully you’ll feel the hands that held you

Whose touch was solace

Or hands like your own that you’ve made sandcastles

with slowly pushing you away to your gray doom.

A push so gentle that can be felt only now.

And like the vile lost souls they outstretch their sinewy massless hands

And stroke your head in bliss As another innocent soul enters the dark side.

(You are no better than the rest, unless you be different from the rest, which is what everyone wants to be.

Everybody is smart, everybody is wonderful and sinister and beautiful.

Everybody is just as talented, and everybody is lovely to somebody)



Rule number 4: This is the main one. All of the above rules come together to make this one.


It’s on you.

When you are hungry and cranky, feed yourself.

When you feel tired and done, go for a walk,

When you don’t know what to do, do something

If you then go wrong clean up the mess.

Clean your clothes and your room.

You are going to have to find your own keys.

People will be there to help, but it’ll never be enough.

It’s on you.

It’s on you may be a beautiful philosophy but in practice is hell

When your friend whose moved won’t return a call, call again, but make sure to not let on the absolute need to hear their voice, it might put them off:

Also you are adults now

You want to study and do well, brilliant!

Find a way to fund that education

You want to stay in touch with family, wonderful

No longer do you have to smile at the dinner table while they discuss the politics in your club and the world as you desperately try to share your opinion

Actually you do, because you still are the kid,

Only now you don’t get a bigger scoop of ice cream than the rest

And are told to watch your diet instead.

When you have a bad day and want to scream, it’s your fault

People aren’t here to nurse you

When somebody else has a bad day and screams,

it’s your fault you should have been more understanding from the beginning,

If you are broke, it’s your fault

Even if you are clearly underpaid, it’s on you

You should demand what you deserve

What you deserve is on you

The state of the job market and the fate of the world economy,

Yes, all you.

It’s true what they say

Adults are hypocrites

Welcome to adulthood.

3rd Place Winner


By Maulik Debholkar

Born into this

Caged existence

Born into

A world of pain

Where a little Syrian boy

Might never walk again

Because those with the keys

To the fighter drones

Have accused him

And his kin

Of homicidal sin

Born into this

Caged existence

A world of fear –

Fear for my mother,

Fear for the women I hold so dear,

Fear that they might stumble onto

any lowly bastard on

The wayward end of this city

And that he might try to

Forcefully project

His masculinity,

Fear of the dark

Fear of the uncertain,

Born into this

Caged existence,

Where Education holds no intellectual purpose

Just a machine to send out

Worthless mindless servants

Forever enslaved to the system

That manipulates the masses,

Born into this

Indifference to the intellectual folk,

On the internet where

If you say something funny

Or crack a dirty joke

That irks those with large pockets

And even larger egos,

Fear as to whether a madman

With a gun

Or with a keyboard

Might follow you where ever you go,

Fear of holding onto my identity,

Fear I fear

The fate of this severed world

The impending struggle of the classes

The on going slaughter of the masses

On account of race religion and creed

So that the powers that be

Might finally breed

Their ideology

In the sheep they secretly keep.

Born into this –

Fear fear fear my dear

No fear for the reaper

He’s but an assured companion

On the way to the River End


Fear my dear

Of the humans that chained this world

Up in oil guns and currencies,

Fear of the monsters they’ve become.


I fear more for you though

The Future you will see

Will be far worse

Than anything that’s ever been

Fortunately enough for me my liver has run it’s course

Drink after drink

I’ve soaked all the blood that this world has shed

In my own blood


Without a word spoken,

Till this forsaken day

When the pain was just too much ,

Just too much

To take .