The City by Prakhar Pathrikar (Jury Chosen)
I hear this city.
It’s puffed sighs on an empty belly.
Wind chiming dreams and responsibilities together,
spooking timid titanium hearts from behind.
I gush through these crowded streets
full of variety-shops selling anxieties,
and strangers whirling cracked crooked spines,
roping colored tongues at every chance they find.
Sidewalks overflowing with bloodshot eyes and wilting shoulders.
A five hour sleep is difficult with the next twenty years on your mind.
I want to leave.
But I’m stuck at this radiant righteous signal
that stares at me with its scarlet eye.
The next thing I see is a child,
nose-pressed, licking my car window,
asking for a little taste of my middle class life.
“It’s Stale”, I tell him.
He’s not alone, there are thousands of him,
running around in torn slippers and tattered futures.
His only inheritance is ashes,
probably he sold them for two cold square meals
while his parents were busy harpooning the sun down,
because they are just not ready for another day.
People of this city have forgotten, for ages the sun has risen in the east.
But all they have done is stare in the west.
Houses here have rooms smaller than childhood and debts heavier than sorrows.
And in every backyard, someone is drying their failures on their blood-lines.
This city is malnourished.
All it needs is little “Food…. for thought”
and it’ll sprout out of its open wounds.
When the scintillating horizon will melt away the colossal mountains of our individual histories,
I’ll drink the dark nights until my blood becomes thicker than my lies,
I’ll wring the poison out of the sultry skies to keep it that way.
And if instead of folding
we start holding our hands together,
Maybe it’ll take ten years, twenty years, fifty years,a hundred years,
but we’ll make it.
Alive by Aditya Raizada (Jury Chosen)
Silence heralds me,
The world holds its breath
And I am a storm, arrived.
Rivers froth, boulders crumble
As I rage, roar and rumble,
At my touch, all creation trembles
As I unite earth, sea and sky
Within me flows infinite power
And within it, I am alive
I quiver on my branch, lank yet tense
A moment before, a moment after,
I am ripped away from home,
Whipped, whirled and warped
Tossed into the wild, willful wind,
I tear, I twist and I dance.
To see, I try; to be, I fly,
On wings of wind, I touch the sky
Racing ahead of the thunder wall
I, the puny leaf, lead the mighty storm.
And as the debris cloud engulfs me again
Alive, I dance in the rain.
Performance by Priyanka Naik (Jury Chosen)
The stage is ready, I play my part
Exit stage left, I then depart
But the show isn’t over for me
Not yet; it has only begun
For that narrow alley, I have to cross
To head home alone, an albatross
In unsafe times like these
Even for a woman with nerves of steel
It feels no less than an ordeal
To walk the streets alone
The moon is frightened, the path is dark
The fear in my head and heart is stark
As I clutch my bag and clench my fist
They surround me in a drunken twist
Slurred speech armed with lusty gaze
Shocked to see me still unfazed
Unaware that the beast within them
Has provoked the Goddess inside me
With pepper spray in my stead
And fury blazing in my head
I open fire from my veins
The curtain rises yet again
This time though of an apartment window
A little girl sees them blinded
Screaming in pain, running amok
Panic-stricken, in a state of shock
By the will of Durga, the wrath of Kali
The girl smiles at me; an inspiration
The desired end to the scary tales
That her grandma would often regale
Of how girls shouldn’t clothe too short, too tight
Or walk around too late at night
Of how they must hang their head in shame
And when teased or bullied, take the blame
The little girl, her eyes shining bright
Now smiles at me for putting up a fight
And from that high rise building, 15th floor
Through the curtain drawn open window
My first standing ovation
You Are by Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa (Voters Choice)
The first rays of the sun
Falling on slumbering leaves
Making them glow.
The first drops of rain
Pattering on the panes
Of my window.
The silken sheen of the moon
Draped softly across
Beds of wild flowers.
The whisper of a breeze
From over the seas
With a hint of showers.
The gurgling of a brook
As it meanders
Over a bed of rocks.
The gentle caress of a breeze
As it musses
Some errant locks.
The innocent laughter of children
As they play
One summer morn.
The longing sighs of parted lovers
As they crave their mate
At every dawn.
And days unknown.
The sweet nostalgia
Of the past
And days that have flown.
The routine of a work day
With a beginning
And an end.
The quest of an artist
Inspiration to spend.
The clarion call of a bugle
For soldiers to march.
The lilting love song
In her heart as she walks
Down the aisle in church.
A sea of security
In a womb.
The despair and desire
For ultimate peace
In a tomb.
The incessant tears
And manic frenzy
Of nations torn apart.
The overriding prayers
Of peace and harmony
In the heart.
The whole world.