What’s The Scene

[Tied for 1st Position]

“Hi, Dad!”

Afia Ansari & Aishah Shekhani

I had a rosy childhood. My parents loved and pampered me. All their attention was mine. My mom was caring and always did my shoe-laces. My dad was loving and always told me stories from his work. He said he was an important person at NASA and that’s why he had to be gone away frequently.Sometimes, he would return after days, sometimes weeks, and sometimes even months. But he always came back.

I always wanted to go on one of Dad’s missions with him but he said I needed to finish middle school first. We used to make paper mache planets together and I decorated my room with them so I wouldn’t feel alone whenever he was away. Those colourful globes made the future seem bright and glittery. I was always excited, dreaming of the beautiful planets he was going to traverse next. Of course, he never did travel to a different planet, but he couldn’t break my 9 year old heart by telling me that.

On the days that he was gone, my mom said to look at the moon and wave, and daddy would wave right back. She said that he could see me with his giant telescope that only astronauts had. I know now that she was just trying to give me a sense of comfort because she was tired of my incessant crying. I would spend days gazing at the moon, smiling and waving at it. The kids in my neighbourhood didn’t want to befriend me because they thought I was mental. When dad came back again, it all got better again. Life was at its best.He made up for all the missed time by taking me out every day. We went to the beach, the cinema, carnivals. He bought me all the ice creams I wanted, and while I ate, narrated stories from work. I was enchanted.

Soon after, he started leaving for longer periods of time. I was lonely and so was mom. I didn’t have any friends but mom at least had one. He’d come over frequently. I didn’t like him but mom forced me to be nice to him.

When I turned 11, dad was promoted. This was supposed to be a good thing. We bought a new house. I had a bigger room and many new toys. I was happy, but mom wasn’t. I used to put my fingers tightly in my ears trying to block out the screams that came from their room.

One night, a few months later, dad came into my room. He had a gift in his hand. I was pumped. I tore open the packaging and found a shiny space helmet inside it.

Dad had a grim look on his face. He said, “Baby, I’m actually flying into space. If I discover a pretty, new planet, I’m going to name after you!”

But there was a catch. He said he’d be gone for a longer period of time. It was important and imperative for him to go. He wrapped my arms around the helmet. “Dream of me , I’ll be back soon. I’ll be back before you know it. I promise.”

Before he left, I muttered, “Be back soon please, I don’t like mom’s new friend. He’s not very nice.” I saw his face change , but he managed to give me a bright smile before closing the door. That night their screaming was louder than ever.

It’s been 6 years. Mom had once told me after she received a phone call, that he’s never coming back. I don’t believe her. She’s a liar. Just like when she lied about her  “friend” that kept visiting our home.

But dad did not lie. He stayed true to his promise. He came back. He comes whenever i need him. All it takes is an exchange. An exchange of my body for some powder. I snort some, wear my helmet and wait for him to arrive. He’s always back. “Hi, dad.”

[Tied for 1st Position]

The Adventure of A Lifetime

Joseph Marvin Oliver & Shloka Mehta

I’ve been aimlessly looking around her room for clues since the past two days. The sweater-clad penguins on her socks seem to be mocking me. Everything is just the way she left it four days ago, but that’s what worries me, she never left her apartment. Her model of a new universe, tangled up in fairy lights, gives away nothing even though the journal suggests that’s where she is.

The scribbles of her groundbreaking discovery speak of how she mapped a whole new universe that she found out about a year ago. Rough sketches of the plants and a detailed account of her observations suggest that her visits so far had been successful. Two questions bothered me, how did she travel to another planet without leaving her house, and what went wrong this time around.

This seems a tad too surreal, even for a scientific genius like Nyra. I can’t tell whether work was pressuring her into writing fictional accounts. The last time I saw her, she looked a little older, her face pale and her hands wrinkled. The overwhelming train of unrestrained thoughts was frustrating. I removed my glasses, set them on the desk, and pinched the bridge of my nose with a huff. I glanced at the pocket watch, it read 7:50. Suddenly, everything seemed to fall into place. My own watch read 7:45 but this hadn’t moved at all. I wondered if…. A sudden knock on the door shook me out of my reverie.

She never had any visitors. I open the door a little weary to a woman standing on the other side.We stare at each other for three seconds of awkward silence.

“Who are you?” she asked with an almost accusing tone. “I might uhm, I might ask you the same question,” I stuttered, a little too defensive for my own good. “I’m Nyra’s colleague, Samantha.” She looked at me expectantly. “I am Dean.” “Okay then,” a little annoyed, she continued, “Where is Nyra? We haven’t heard from her in four days now.” “Neither have I,” I answered a little too quickly.

“What’s that?”, she asked, dismissing my curt answers. Pushing me aside, she walks towards the glittery rock which was now glowing. 7:50. I remembered. “Stop! Don’t touch that.” I tried to stop her. She shoved me, a little too hard perhaps. Reflexively, I grabbed her hand which was still holding the rock, waiting for the fall which never came. The room morphed into a spiral of colours.

After having woken up from what seemed like a psychedelic trance, we found ourselves a the mouth of a cave with the rock now broken into pieces. “Oh my! So this is how she travelled between planets.” I suppressed a retort and followed her into the cave. Looking around, my fuzzy brain could barely grasp my surroundings. We reached the heart, where lots of tiny beings surrounded an altar, swaying to ahymotic tune in a daze.

Having left my spectacles behind, I could just barely see the silhouette of the creature sat behind a table of candles. “Nyra!” a voice behind me shouted. I heaved a sigh of relief. Nyra was alive and well. Stepping closer, I saw a much older version of her, but when she sipped on the blue liquid in front of her, she regained her youthfulness.

“Samantha,” she greeted with a nod before turning to me. “I see you brought my stalker along.” My heart was pounding, was that how she saw me? “What? I thought you knew him!” Samantha exclaimed. “Not exactly,” she replied with a scoff. “Don’t panic, I’ve known for a while now.” I looked away, her demeanour screamed authoritative.

“What the hell is going on? You’ve been missing for days. I come to your apartment. No note. You’re gone. There’s a man in your house who’s apparently your stalker. I travel to another dimension to find you being worshipped by tiny creatures while you sip on some blue elixir of youth. What is wrong with you? I’ve had enough. We need to leave now!” Samantha was shaking.

“No” Nyra replies coldly. This was not the Nyra we knew. “You two can leave, if you want. Look around, I am their God now, practically an immortal. This is where my research has led me, and I am not leaving, not now, not ever.” she explained.

Exasperated, Samantha begs me to reason with Nyra who has walked away. In a split second when she turns around I grab a rock and hit her over the head repeatedly.

She fell to the ground and lay motionless. I dropped the rock. With my breath still ragged, I wipe the sweat from my forehead and look up to see Nyra. Everything is just right in this world. Nyra and I can be together, forever.

[2nd Position]

The Aubergine Stone

Angel Baretto & Dhruvi Modi

It’s been a hundred and thirty years since the Aubergine Stone dwelled in our planet, the western border of our country, India, in a small town on the outskirts of Bombay. It was the reason for the large crater just a few kilometres away that had transformed into a local lake.

It has also been a hundred and thirty years since Avi arrived into our family. One foggy morning, my great grandmother had found them on the way back home from the field. The story that has been passed down is that a sudden light flashed before her, and from a metallic disc-like object emerged an odd, mauve-skinned child. Wide, olive-green eyes gazed at her, as if they never fallen upon another human before. Clutched in their arms was the Aubergine Stone, which my great grandmother by her intuition, kept safe.

I cannot remember how or when I met them. All I know is that I’ve known them all my life. My mother tells me that they could solve middle school maths problems at the human age of three and a half. That would make them thirty five years old in #45344 years. Their journals from a century ago reeks of the same homesickness that has inhabited them all these years.

Avi has been trying to figure out their way back to the planet – to their home – ever since they realised that they could. Avi is our family’s biggest secret.

My heart grows heavier each second as I think of them leaving us, leaving the family that has sheltered them throughout the years. I think of the love that they have received, and the even greater love that they bestowed upon, generations of my family. I enter their room to check on them, and to speak to them before they set out for #45344 tomorrow morning.

However, Avi is not there. The feeling of nostalgia is replaced by a blatant numbness. I make a quick scan of their room – on his desk lies the glimmering stone that catches every eye. The rusty pocket watch that my great grandfather had given them, and his cherished compass too lie on the desk. Strewn were a bunch of pens, crumpled sheets of paper, and a copy of his favourite novel, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams. I finally spot my glasses that I couldn’t find all day, that I had left in their room after our conversation last night. Their notebook was open to the time calculations that would aid their journey back home.

I noticed that Avi has set their t-shirt, a pair of shoes and the space helmet for their way. I put the socks that I bought for them, knowing that they wouldn’t remember to keep them. A warm glow of fairy lights dance around the papier maché planets that we had crafted together.

I quickly scribbled a note, wishing them good luck for their venture, and set out to look for them.

*A few hours later*

I find myself out of breath, frantically bolting towards the lake house build near the crater-lake. Locked during the daytime, and a blaring cobweb of psychedelic sounds by night: its basement. I have already searched through the rest of the building. The scariest, most dangerous place awaits. As I walk towards a dark stairway leading to the basement, my mother’s warnings to stay away from it ring in my ears.

I discreetly try open the door, and a shocking visual unfolds before me, accompanied by a swirl of metallic sounds. I fall into an epileptic state and stick to the shadows. I see silhouettes of a few men against the flashing lights. A piercing scream hits me from a dimly lit area with a red cross over it. Familiarity strikes as I recognize Avi’s tear-stained face, as the candle light flickers over their body.

Sticking to the walls, I spot a table on which lie some candles, a box of melted wax, and some dreamcatchers that dangle from it. A faint purple glimmer catches my eye, and my heart nearly stops as I realize that it looks exactly like the Aubergine Stone – at least what remains of it.

What begins as a faint murmur rises to a loud chant in a foreign language, one that I cannot decipher. The flames become wilder as the chanting augments. I must save Avi – almost instinctively my body hurtles away from the safety of the shadows and towards their (Avi’s) body. The chanting comes to an abrupt halt. They turn towards me eyes glowing red, and a chill shudders through my spine.

A man, who I assume is their leader, steps towards me, and slowly pulls out a machete and raises it to my neck. Avi darts, swats the man’s hand away and grips his neck – the machete clatters to the floor. Avi tightens their hold on the man’s neck, and he starts to choke. “This has gone too far!!!” a yell rips out of my chest, and the other men pry the two away.

The lights come on, the psychedelics come to a halt, and the men rip their masks away to reveal my brothers, my mom and my dad.

“SURPRISE!”, yells my mom, as Avi takes in the shock. Their knees buckle and they fall to the floor in disbelief.

The door slams open and in barges a delivery guy holding a huge cake. Avi has now grasped hold of the situation and cries happy tears.

We celebrate their homegoing with great joy, and recount endless memories.

An hour later, our dear friend, and a piece of our hearts departs for home, and we wave them goodbye. I hope that #45344 treats them well. As I watch their shuttle rise through the stars, my fingers clutch the broken piece of the precious Aubergine Stone (that I was later informed broke when it fell to the floor.) I will cherish it forever, and the Stone shall remain a family legacy.

For Better or For Verse

[1st Position]

Living in a World of Just Blue

Annu Choudhary

Now that I stand on this cliff,

Curtained by the hues of Poseidon’s night

I seek the tincture of revered death,

The one which is splashy like roses and

The tulips around, quietly humoured by

Their tasteless superficiality.

I see glossy charm in the birds that are

Wavering high, dipped in magnus,

Stepping on clouds as if they are

Trying right.

Splashed, with the essential hues of blue,

I see mortality existing in peaceful


I sit on the grass and colour my hands

With the shredded beads of desert’s denied

Grace, writing in peace about the world’s

doomed face.

As I peep into the waters, mirroring my

Severed faith, I see myself seeking

The forbidden space.

How much is my eyes seeking in this

Monochromatic bubble, probably a lot,

More than what my heart can essentially take.

As I step to triumph the era of this

Loosened taste, I try to be the

Colourless saint.

Out of the blue mortals exist here, dyed

In the monotonous canvas, all

Cloned the same, and yet in vain.

Here, I scribble the altered

Version of conventional prays,

Probably hoping to stay insanely sane.

I am persistently still on the cliff now,

Classifying the domain of the monopigmented

World, soaking in the “wows.”

Maybe this world around me is

just a myriad of a single shade,

ripped in pieces and streamed at

places, but as I try seeking more,

I am filled in traces.

The leathery bluish leaves seems to be

Waving with the colour in me, grasping

The fragile divinity I believe.

Let me take your hand and touch

You blue, we’ll dance in the autumn

And tame the hue.

I can write a book and maybe

make it rhyme, but how about

we drop this here and make

Out alive.

[2nd Position]

Blue : My Tranquil Palace of Illusions

Palak Shah

Sipping coffee on the clouds of Jupiter.

I think to myself:

I often wonder what it would be like

To live in a world of just blue,

Old jazz music under the ultramarine

Sloping someday all my dreams will come true.

I have a dream to see the world grow,

Where people understand oceans aren’t

A place to throw,

Let the oceans be blue and flow.

I have a dream where everyone can

Excel in their choice of field,

Where we all eat a healthy four

Square meal,

Where we overcome our problems

And heal.

I have a dream where men stop ogling

At woman,

Where a man has no excuses cooking

You salmon,

A land free of genital mutilation

And insertion of rods in a hymen.

You and I, we are the future,

So let’s begin by being each other’s

Let us exist in a world where there

Are no wars, rapes and felony,

Where we focus on education,

Growth and harmony.

[Tied for 3rd Position]

Binaries Alchemist

Shivam Bhanushali

To simply assume,

Or to put in efforts to learn;

To just know,

Or to dig in deeper and understand,

To be open to the knowledge,

Or to remain falsely biased,

To be curious and nurture the curiosity,

Or to be apathetic and live in oblivion,

To evolve with time,

Or to stay the same!

You go not by who you are,

But by what you do;

Not by what you’ve went through,

But by what you decided to choose.

Strange as it may seem,

Wrong as it may sound,

True it is for sure;

We came from,

The same ‘ABC’s,

That make everything else up;

Pandas and sparrows, microbes and trees;

Chocolates and pencils, even supernova and galaxies;

Same basic building blocks,

The governing forces and the energy fields.

Yet here I sit,

Conscious and aware,

Of the nature and its alchemy;

Under the impression,

That probably we’re special,

For, we are curious and can understand;

The fact that the cosmos is of what I am,

That I am a significant part of it;

For, I can think, and write and sing about it,

Experience it consciously.

Understand, acknowledge and appreciate its existence,

Like no star, no planet, no moon can!

Being alive, It’s for me to decide,

To be the alchemist,

Or to just simply survive and subside.

[Tied for 3rd Position]


Saunri Lobo

I crept in through the window, while you were asleep,

I entered your nightmares and made you weep,

Your father said that I was make believe

And to through you out like grains through a sieve.

Your mother could only sympathize with you,

After all, there was nothing she could do.

When you open your eyes, I cease to exist

But I still haunt you by the marks on your wrist.

You love the full moon with all its light

As it gives you the power to fight.

I ask you a question, you choose to answer it.

We get to know each other bit by bit.

A few weeks go by, a month, then a year.

We become acquaintances dear.

Blinking your eyes, you played with my life.

I’d rather have you stab my heart with a knife.

But your mom and dad still cannot see me.

They get worried and let you go free.

So, you wander the streets on a night with the full moon

You never realized that silence would fall so soon.

I asked you one final question, “ Do I exist? Yes or No?”

I knew the answer anyway, you were no hero

You had to choose an answer, there was no in between

I had to disappear to you, or by everyone he seen.

You chose to open your eyes and say your final, “Goodbye”,

“I’ll go haunt someone else,” I said with a sigh.

What Are Words Worth

[Tied for 1st Position]

Lucy – The Paper Boat

Samarth Sharma

Lucy was a paper boat

Just a paper boat they say

But Lucy the paper boat was folded

In a slightly different way.

Just some kid’s pass time of the rainy season

But Lucy didn’t think of this as a reason

For her not to dream.

Sick of the puddles she dreamt of sailing the oceans

But these other paper boats

They had some different notions

That she’s not made for the ocean water

But Lucy stood by what her father had taught her

That these other paper boats

They are no risk takers

And there dreams are as small as the hands of their makers.

Like jack told her that the ocean is too vast

There the mighty ships sick and a paper boat won’t last

More than a minute

And Judy told her about they ocean storm

But Lucy had this habit of forgetting that she’s from

Just the back of a schoolboy’s notebook

She told them that no matter what happens to her

Everything will be okay

Because Lucy was a paper boat

Just a paper boat they say

But Lucy the paper boat was folded

In a slightly different way.

Then one fine day

Lucy decided that rather than being chewed by the routine

She preferred being devoured by the mysterious

And to show the other paper boats that her ideas were serious

She entered the ocean water

While the other paper boats

Gathered on the shore

Lucy was feeling what she had never felt before

And this feeling was beautiful

No other word is more suitable

Because now what happened next

Didn’t really matter

Because like other dreams around her

Her dream didn’t shatter

After realising what the real world is like

Everyone of us is a Lucy

Until the reality strikes

That day they saw a paper boat moving towards the horizon

A mummer was heard as a wave started rising

And what happened next

Is what everybody was hoping

The wave came rushing in

And their mouths were wide open

And then gushed down the ocean water

But Lucy stood by what her father had taught her

That these other paper boats

They are no risk takers

And their dreams are as small as the hands of their makers

In a world of paper boats

We need more Lucys

And it really doesn’t matter that who sees

What we see in us

Because Lucy was a paper boat

Just a paper boat they say

But Lucy the paper boat was folded

In a slightly different way.

[Tied for 1st Position]

Woh Mohabbat Hi Kya…

Shazia Shaikh

Woh mohabbat hi kya jis mai junoon na ho ..

Woh nafrat hi kya jismai aag na ho ..

Woh jalan hi kya jismai bechaini na ho..

Woh dosti hi kya jismai masti na ho ..

Woh dushmani hi kya jismai ladai na ho..

Woh khushi hi kya jo apnon k liye na ho..

Woh dard hi kya joo apno se mila na ho..

Woh raat hi kya jismai aansu na ho ..

Woh mskrahat hi kya jsmai dukh na ho..

Woh gussa hi kya jismai pyaar na ho ..

Woh mulaqat hi kya jismai waqt ka andaza na ho ..

Woh intezaar hi kya jismai tadap na ho ..

Woh aankhain hi kya jismai raaz na ho ..

Woh wada hi kya jismai wafa na ho ..

Woh mail hi kya jismai judai na ho..

Or woh judai hi kya jismai rulai na ho ..

Woh pal hi kya ke jismai teri yaad na ho..

Or woh dil hi kya k jis dil mai tum na ho..

[Tied for 2nd Position]

Humans Are Weird

Nidhi Malhotra

We humans different from animals

But also the so called social animals!

What’s up with people?

Posting relationship spice

They’ve been doing this the entire life

And suddenly break up without updating us with the fight!

When asked for it we’re hit by the line

It’s my personal life!

What’s up with people?

Who whisper in shame

Honey! your bra strap is showing

For God’s sake aunt!

My whole life would be a lie

If we’re meant to cover clothes

And not them to cover us!

What’s up with people?

Asking what’s more painful than a breakup?

Oh boy, oh boy!

Did you ever visit a dentist and had a root canal!

Or even worse, ever experienced a melting make-up?

What’s up with examiners

Expecting everyone’s answer to be different

Yet to mean the same!

How do you expect us to fit in and yet stand out?

What’s up with the so called boyfriends?

Who suddenly find it’s not working out anymore

Who believe that the girl they loved

Now landed down from their minds!

Well, excuse me boy!

Did you see me as a wine?

Since it’s all over

Just after a hangover?!

What’s up with people dieting all their lives?

To eat whatever they want once they’re fit and fine

Excuse me girl?

You mean you skipped your meals the entire life

So to eat like a beast when you’re fit and fine?

What’s up with people?

Who think what will people say!

Honey they all are people who’ll die anyway…

What’s up with the girls?

Who keep crying for their man, their so called companion!

Babe could you please clarify if you’re dating a man and not an onion!

What’s up with people

Changing crushes like switching TV shows

May I ask where does the old ones goes

Do they each get lost in the echo?

What’s up with people spreading words like fire?

And ask us to not share their words

So as to escape their secrecy from being hired

Why do you even share!

Oh wait, to add on to the fire?

What’s up with people?

Testing compatibility while checking someone out

My dear weird human,

We’re humans and not lipstick testers

To randomly pick up and test it with a pout!

What’s up with people?

Who hashtag woke up like this

No one cares until you’re his!

That’s all folks!

But before I end,

Hashtag no filters

Coz that’s the trend

Since I myself am a weird human at the end!

[Tied for 2nd Position]

Maturity for the Innocent-Hearted and other Absurdities

Sayantan Mahato

This is the hypothesis of the disease in the making,

High for the bliss, a gentle-mental baking

His own juvenile mind, move, file and grind:

To fit among his own kind

Honkers, Bonkers Conquers the Plonkers and it concurs

Hocus Pocus on my focus

Lost my locus for the horcrux

Thrust of thirst for crust of lust

Cursed, cussed, burst and bust

Head crushes, feelings rushes, cheeks gushes

Heart slushes, brain sushes, hand brushes  to calm it all

For who?

I choose you, Pikachu, peek-a-boo.

Pick a new reason to sew

So I..

Flick a few: clues and cues


Out of the blue, she blew all the feelings I grew

And now I’m moonwalking to my recluse with some rhythm and blues

Truce with the muse of a fuse, confused:

Mumbling, Grumbling, Stumbling, Tumbling:

Through the malice in blunderland

Caught between the crossfire to be the next heir of his own desire

So he chose to elevate his tier

Put kerosene over the pyre

Couldn’t care to see me ‘cept dire

So I hire the best liar

And now I mastur…wait

To feel the master of my fate

There’s plaster on my face

My identity’s morphin’

Ain’t fitting, low on endorphins.

Wanted to be a native of the narrative of  illustrative

Chasing glory, phasing gory, praising holy

But now fatigue catches up, matches up with wall-e with scratches of folly

Thoughts crawling:

Ain’t we all dignified harlots selling part of our selves

Some do it with their bodies some do it with their brains

Selling, shelling the rebelling for some pound sterlings

Capitalistic ballistic buying my way through pain as heuristic

Gobble the trouble as they double mind boggles head bobbles

Life Hobbles but I still trynna cobble

Lost and perplexed in his own fable

Hazed and Dazed took money off the table, to enable:

To steal the feel I need to heal to kill the monster spawning inside me,

Didn’t knew I was the holster fawning the spree.

Mamma wouldn’t even spare a look for me.

Mamma I just wanted to build a palace, careless, making out with this malace.

A palace of dream but what should I stream?

The priest who prayed or the junkie who laid his hands on his dreams, trading it with streams for gleams of happiness,

Pulling him off reality with ecstacy beams.

Binge-watching the cringe crouching, gouging my nest

Dousing, Drowning, Drowsing: and me?

Slouching & Vouching for the best:

Hoping for a crest of S across the breast of my vest

But now there’s a vortex in my cortex

Riding off the courteous, gorgeous mind with a corvette grind

Just a product of circumstances, prances before he even glances but now he dances

To the tunes of fantasy drenched in fallacy

Don’t know if life’s worthy of living or a parody?

Mind’s drunk with insanity

Sinked in vanity

Brain goes kink with inannity


Action speaks louder than words

But the pen is mighter than the sword.

I’m now a walking chocking paradox

Bleaking, reeling, dealing with a pair of locks

Spare-a-doc cuz I can’t bare the stare of clocks of time ticking, leaking, tickling

like a glare of mocks snooping like a snare of glocks

Knocks in the wardrobe of my forelobe:

Parity with parody in my pair of tees

And jeans with genes of fiends

He just wants to fill his heart sinked in holes, devoid of any reason

Running away from treason, of not sharing a sane man’s delusion

Of straying away from the fusion

With reality and reason.

What’s love to him now?

But a play of chemicals in the brain,

One man’s drink being another’s wail,

If the drunkards had the majority,

Morals would all but fail

Credence of cadence sneaking, creaking patience

Collusion with conclusion setting up for concussion

So I close my shutter, try to mutter, but stutter:

Hypnotize my own demise with my lullabies of fatal lies

Was he even worth 9 month’s pain?

Amen my innocence in no sense just made amends with the friends of dead ends.