December 4, 2013

Contest Winner!

Posted by Darlings of Venus at 8:58 PM
     We told you to write on what comes to your mind when you hear the word "Ghost".
     As promised, the entries have been judged by Sriramana Muliya, author of the book Frankly Spooking. 
     We thank you for participating in the contest (both on the blog and through email). We hope to get more participation in the future :D 

     The winner of the contest is Soumya Mahapatra. 
     Congratulations Soumya on winning the contest! You get a copy of Frankly Spooking along with a custom made story for you as your prize! 

     What Sriramana had to say about the entry
     "Of the lot, it's the best. Combines all the elements well. It is superior on these counts - writing style, suspense quotient, least mistakes in grammar and spellings, also sentence construction."

Thank you so much for taking time out and judging our entries and also for agreeing to gift a special story.
    
     And here is the story that won..

     Beauty

    She woke up in the darkness, confused. Her bed was cozy and warm and she had been dreaming. She had thought somebody was calling out her name.
“Diya…Diya…Diya…”
Like an echo. And accompanied with giggles. She was a little annoyed with herself. There was no one around, only darkness. And in the darkness was she. The calling of the names must have been a part of the dream she was in the middle of. She wanted to go back to sleep, to return to the dream. It was a nice dream and she wanted to complete it. Or…was it? She sat up in the darkness and tried to remember the dream. But she could not remember it. When she had just woken up, she could’ve sworn that it was a good dream, something that she wanted to finish watching. Now, she wasn’t so sure. As she sat in the darkness, she wasn’t so sure anymore.

There had been something sinister about the dream. She frowned in an effort to remember.
If only these stupid people would keep their late night Diwali parties low and stop laughing every five seconds, I would remember, thought she, annoyed.
She was bothered because she could not remember.
In the end she slept, convincing herself that it didn’t matter. She’d dream a new dream anyway.
She woke up the next morning in cold sweat. Somebody was in danger and somebody else was calling her. Or maybe it was the same person. Or maybe she herself was in danger. She didn’t know.
It took her some minutes to calm herself. It was a dream, she kept repeating in her mind, just a dream.
She looked at her cell phone. 7:13 am. The alarm hadn’t rung. Maybe she had forgotten to set it. Dim sunlight was peeping in her bedroom from behind the curtains.
People were laughing some distance away. Diya could not believe that her neighbor’s party was breaking up to go home now. It’s Monday, for crying out loud! She muttered.
And they were sure taking their time leaving. All the while she was getting ready, she could hear them laugh. And how loud were these drunks anyway, to be able to hear them even the bathroom which was on in the other side of her flat. Speaking of bathroom, what was wrong with this mirror? She’d been keeping so busy, trying to balance her social and professional lives this season of late hours in the office and so many, many card parties, she had not even realized that her mirror had developed spots as if it was really old. Disgusted, she covered the old, ruined thing with her hand towel because the ugly thing made her twenty-five-year-old face look like it had spots!
As she got out of her flat to go to work, she didn’t see anyone in corridor. The party had finally spilt. Thank the lord, she thought as she entered the lift.
“Diya! Diya!”
She jammed her hand in between the closing lift doors to prevent them from doing so and peered into the corridor. Empty.
“Hello?” she said, uncertainly. Somebody had definitely called her name urgently. Hadn’t they? They had. It was clear as day. It was a male voice, but feminine. She shut the lift doors now and pressed for the desired floor. She looked at herself in the lift mirror as she went twelve floors down and saw that her eyes looked pale. She had forgotten to apply kajal. Ah, well, no bother. The lift door opened.
But as soon as Diya sat in her car, one look at herself in the rearview and she knew people would be asking her if she had fever or something…that’s how pale she looked without kajal. She quickly took out her kajal stick from her handbag and applied the said product on her eyelids a little vigorously than usual. She turned around to see who giggled. No one. And yet…someone had giggled.
Later that night, when she retured to her empty flat, she saw that the towel was no longer on the mirror. Had he taken it off before leaving? She couldn’t remember. She must have. What other explanation could there be? She saw herself in the mirror. She had wrinkles around her eyes. Is this even possible at my age? Diya frowned.

Three days later, the voice and giggling followed her everywhere. Slow, persistent and in a voice that was neither male nor female, but an odd blend of both.
“Diya…Diya…Diya…”
She was not scared of the giggling. The giggling was an encouragement. She had become so stressed and forgetful off late that it was showing on her face. Her face looked haggard and had fine lines on it, she looked too pale, her clothes didn’t match. Even her hair looked frizzy. Her nails were proving difficult to maintain. And every time she would fix one of these very many flaws, there would be the giggling. Till they giggled, she knew she had not done enough and was still ugly.
It was another Monday now. Diya had spent the entire weekend trying to pretty herself up. But this morning, the mirror—all mirrors—spoke otherwise. In her office lift’s mirror, on her way up, she closely examined the fine lines and wrinkles and the man-woman voice said, “Diya, Diya, Diya,” with so much disappointment that she wanted to die.
Her workstation now had a mirror and she had kept all her makeup in one of her drawers for emergency.  There were blackheads covering her nose and she was analyzing them up close when she heard her friend and colleague Piyali come up from behind and call her. She immediately opened a random file on her computer screen and pretended to work.
“Diya,” she said, coming to her work station, “I need to tell you something.”
Piyali was looking worried and serious. And pretty.
“What?” Diya asked.
“I’ve been worried about you,” said Piyali. She said some other things as well but all Diya noticed was how pretty her skin looked and how  nicely her hair fell on her shoulders. How did Piyali do all this?
“…and, I mean,” Piyali was going on, “look at yourself woman! You look mental!”
Wait…what?
“Yes,” Diya agreed sadly. “My cheeks are especially pale today.”
“Pale?” Piyali scoffed. “You have an entire box of blush on your cheeks. You look like a freaking clown! Listen, I’m worried about you. You’re dressing outrageously. Look at your nails…you’ve shaped them triangular and they’re pointed. Your hair’s made up to look like a nest. Your eye-shadow is spreading on to your forehead! Everyone’s taking about you these past few days. What’s wrong with you?”
“I look like a clown?” Diya said, heartbroken. “Not pretty?”
“Why would you need to look any prettier than you already are?” Piyali asked her matter-of-factly.
Later on that day, while working, Diya glanced at her mirror. To her horror, she saw that her lipstick was fading and her ugly thin lips showed. But she remembered what Piyali said and refrained from applying anymore lipstick.
“Diya…Diya…Diya…”
The voice was urging her, “Diya… Piyali was fooling you because she wants to look the prettiest. Look at you now, Diya, you’re ugly. Apply the lipstick, rub it generously. You look ugly now, Diya. But if you do this, you’ll be a beauty…Diya..Diya…do it…make them red lip blood…”
Like blood. And like that, as if in a trance, she bit her lips till blood flowed and made them red.
It was Saturday now. She woke up suddenly. The man-woman was calling her name. Like an echo. And they giggled. In her dream, she was jumping into the pool whose waters made her beautiful. It was a good dream. She wanted to go back to her dream. She didn’t want to wake up in the reality where she was forever ugly, with pale wrinkled face, her crooked nails, her chapped colorless lips. Or…wasn’t this her dream?
“Diya! Diya!” the voice shouted from the window.
Of course, Diya thought, how silly. I can be pretty. I just have to jump out of the window and I will land in that pool and I will be pretty. I must be pretty.
She climbed out of bed, feeling ugly, and walked to her twelfth floor flat’s window. And as she jumped, she heard the approving laughter of the ghost that had convinced her that she was ugly. 


3 comments:

Smita on December 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM said...

Congratulations Soumya

phatichar on December 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM said...

Congratulations Soumya, and thank you DOV for giving me the opportunity to read the stories. I had great fun reading them.

I would like to mention here that while Soumya's story did stand out, the other stories were not bad at all - maybe some bits here and there in the execution but over all everybody did a good job! So, congratulations to the other contestants as well. Keep the creative fire burning and never stop writing. All of you all wonderful writers and have great promise.

So, as a takeaway prize I have decided to gift the remaining contestants the Kindle version of my debut book 'Frankly Spooking'. DOV will get in touch with you for the same. I hope you enjoy reading it. :)

All the best!
-Sri

Anya on December 19, 2013 at 3:45 PM said...

Hi! Soumya here. Thanks a lot for this. It was great fun writing this story and participating in the contest. :)

http://soumyasmusings.blogspot.in/

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