Many of you guys know that my first ever story to have been penned by me was ‘My Closest Stranger’. It was the first ever serious story I had ever written for an online literary magazine and to be honest, it was just a chance that I saw it in an English newspaper in my school’s library. I did not win, sadly and quite cruelly if I may say so, but the contest was something that was something akin to a proper push which pulled me deeper into the pages of this hobby. But my first competition dates back to when I had yet to change schools and was even a few grades back, maybe three or four before doing so.
I have very well forgotten the exact date, the grade I was in, and even the topic is smudged in my mind, when such event was organized in our school for the very first time and sadly also the last time up to the memory of my departure from my old school. But I do remember the rest of the key events which occurred and as I look back on the incident, I can’t help but shake my head on how it proceeded and how it came to an end.
My very first competition was not for story or poetry, but for an essay, which was quite alright with me because I happened to write essays quite a lot, and had not even written a word for either a story or poem. Essays were my first enthusiastic approach to writing. Regularly our English teacher used to provide us with essay topics and they were a constant high marks question in the exams. I simply loved writing them. I, while being good at grammar, found the ‘Fill in the blanks’ and ‘Correct the sentence’ quite tedious and dull and boring and monotonous and sleep inducing as possible. And even essays were not quite off the mark. It could be so long until writing on ‘My School’, ‘My Country’, ugh ‘Society’, ‘Social Evils’, became absolutely horrible. I used to search for unconventional topics to see if I could write on it. Like ‘A Perspective View on Perception’. Yep, I have written it. I don’t think I want it to see the light of day or the shine of the moon.
So came the time of the contest. The participants were taken to a classroom and made to sit. I too was at one of the desks. We were then given a topic and a paper and not to forget a freaking time limit. It was not a contest. It was more like a test. So much for writing. This was putting out the most you could. Well, I don’t remember the topic very well but it had to creativity or education. And that I mentioned, Albert Einstein in it. One hundred percent sure about that fact.
Well, the event started and so did our pens. I took a moment and started writing myself. Well, it was an hour before we were told that the time was up. I believe I wrote a little more than two pages. Well, I felt pretty good about myself.
So the next day or maybe the day after, I was in the assembly line when it was announced that I won the essay competition. Well, I was called forward and I did so. It was quite awkward. I didn’t like the eyes of the students as I stepped up to the teachers. And then, I was given a pen as a prize. I was already quite happy. I had won and the pen was just sort of an icing on the cake.
That was until I knew later that the fountain pen was not my real prize. The prize was a surprise up til the very end but was fixed beforehand to be a stack of notebooks. What happened to it? They said it was not there were it was last kept. So at the last moment, they substituted for a pen. That melted the icing pretty fast.
But it was not the end.
I met the judges. They were just senior students. I thought that they would be English teachers or at least teachers. Why did they have to be teenagers? Well, I asked them how they liked and said as I had won, it must have been pretty good. They replied they made me win cause it was good. But I could, even though young, get the hidden meaning behind the words: they chose me as the winner and I should be thankful that they did. Well, every sense of accomplishment had run its course after that. I must not have not even celebrated my winning till the lunch break. After then, it really changed my view on competitions. Regarding that somewhere it would be due to a favor or whim of the judge.
Well, it was a somber day and it was no less important. That day taught me that, when you write, you do in hiding, for where in that hidden place, lies the beautiful.