Flash Fiction Contest | Meet the Winners

Read the captivating stories by budding writers who made it to the winning league of round 1 of the Flash Fiction Contest

Campus Bhopal

The curtains have closed on Azim Premji University’s Flash Fiction Contest — Round 1, and the results are spectacular! The overwhelming response from young wordsmiths (16 — 20 years), sharing their creativity into captivating stories, making the judging process a delightful challenge.

The online contest was run from 5 January to 7 January 2024, where 129 participants shared their short stories on the prompt Your Identity has been stolen and you have 6 hours to get back”. Rheea Mukherjee, Author of The Body Myth and The Girl Who Kept Falling In Love, judged the submissions. 

Winner : Amal Swathin for Iris, Abomination

An iris flower she whispered, later screamed. She was in a hexagonal glass prison, and all six walls of the prison reflected the flower iris. She grew paranoid and desperate. She tried to break the glass but her feeble hands couldn’t lay siege to the mighty structures.

She has lost her identity, her skin, her flesh.

Her existence was now absurd and irrational, Yukta was now an abomination, a crime to Creation.

The Dhwara family held a big palace, a curse, and a prophecy. Endless drought for an eternity, and a female offspring who could conclude it. The chosen offspring had to commence a spiritual pilgrimage atop Mount Melwar to lift the curse.

Following custom and tradition Yukta journeyed back home.
Her journey began with high hopes but now she suffered. Her existence is confined to glass and illusions.

Why do I look like her” she crumbled. On her journey back home, she traveled to many lands and adopted a child. The child was disfigured and damaged. it was hard to determine if she was a she or he”. Yukta named her iris after the flower; she fed and took care of her.

But her kindness came back to taunt her. Iris was an abomination. A creature beyond creation, the creature took her identity and is dashing toward the melwar hill to fulfill the promise. Six hours till sunset, six hours till the End of the world would commence. Yukta was supposed to ask for rain. But Iris will ask for something beyond comprehension. When time passed the glass prison vanished. Yukta embraced her freedom. The sky was red and above the peak of the hill, Iris stood there unleashing mayhem.

Special Mention: Sreevatsan Sunil for Buzz by chance

The last thing I recall was unplugging my new mosquito racket. I endured torture from about 7 mosquitoes in the room, and a new one flew in through the keyhole. 

I spread out my arms like Shah Rukh Khan from one of those extravagant music videos, with a dramatic swat but missed it! The mosquito now rested on the wall. It was 4 am, and I had my final board exam in exactly 6 hours. The textbook lay waiting for me to study the bare minimum. I wished these mosquitoes would leave me alone. Watching the tiny creature move backward like Micheal Jackson, time seemed to slow down, like one of those sports replays. I swung the racket with all my might, and then there was a flash. But before I could care to blink, it was dark. As I opened my eyes, I couldn’t believe the change — I had transformed into a mosquito! 

The mosquito I had struck with the racket lay before me, wounded. She looked miserable, with blood splattered all over her wings. Feeling guilty, I approached the injured insect. The exam was barely a concern once I witnessed this. 

As a tear rolled down my eye, I attempted CPR, inspired by the cheesy movies. One! Two! Three! Suddenly, the creature buzzed back to life. We shared a paisa vasool’ Bollywood moment as we looked into each other’s eyes for one last time. 

And then again, it went blank. Much later, I awoke to my mom worried about me being asleep on the floor. Rushing out of the house while buttoning my shirt, I barely made it to the exam hall in time. As the invigilator slammed the paper onto my desk, I stared at the complex equations. A moment later, a mosquito landed on my desk. Smiling, I uncapped my pen, with the hope of performing another CPR, but this time on myself.

Special Mention: Anvita for At my worst

Celebrations…. laughter. … .shimmering dresses… Drinks, lots of drinks. The words barely formed a sentence in my alcohol-induced head. Last night. A stranger. Red dress and beautiful eyes. She fancied my inspiring’ TED Talks. I wonder what’s your truest self, with all the downs and uglies,” she giggled. I chuckled at her sincerity and tipsy state, akin to my own. Trust me, this is me in my worst form,” and lifted my fifth drink at her. And by the end of the evening, my words came true. I tugged at my earring which didn’t unhook, instead marked a nasty gash. 

Cursing loudly, I stilled. I never cussed. My phone rang. Who was calling this late? Mannerless people! A few moments later I found myself barking these same words on the phone, with an even more colorful string of curses. This wasn’t me. Smudged mascara, disheveled hair, a voice that wasn’t mine. Or the one I wasn’t used to. All seven sins surfaced into a cesspool of emotions.

That night, I indulged in self-loath, pity, blinding rage, obsessive eating, and everything I promised myself I wouldn’t do. Everything the worst in me would do. I had swapped personalities with another of my own. With the worst form of myself. I despised it. Despised being me. Six hours before my show, I merely drank away my problems. Still clad in last night’s dress, I made it on stage. 

Trembling hands and alcoholic breath, I was in no condition to inspire those people out there. Today, “ I stuttered. I am truly at my worst”. But there was nothing more relatable for people than seeing someone else at their worst- giving them a sense of hope, belonging, and surety. I didn’t know it then, but my speech would make history.

Special Mention: Karshna Khare

Faces were fascinating. The way each person’s nose sloped differently, the contours of their mouths, or the way their eyes flecked gold or brown or purple in the sun; were all intriguing to her. She had filled sketchbooks fixating on getting the angle of jaws correct. 

When she got bored with paper, she turned to canvas, stretching over walls and windows, as she painted and repainted intricacies an untrained eye would never pick up. Of all the faces she had penned, she had a favorite. She had drawn this woman so many times that she didn’t even need a blurry CCTV screenshot as a reference. She was her next-door neighbor, Este; a pleasant woman with a sweet voice and kind eyes. She had the face poets wrote about. 

After a point of staring at images and videos of her neighbor, when she would get up to look in the mirror, she could feel her features morphing to match Este’s. And so, a plan was formulated. Silicone was bought, new identity cards were forged, and plane tickets were booked to depart within the next six hours.

She was grateful for all the hours spent studying Este’s face that eased the painstaking process of getting the silicone to resemble Este’s seemingly perfect face. Soon, a convincing mask of Este’s face was ready. Four hours remained till she left the state for good, and she was clutching a bloodied knife to her chest as she ran down the corridor back to her house. She fitted the mask over her head, admiring her reflection in the mirror.

She finally looked beautiful, in the way Este had been. Holding her new identity in her hands and a new face on her body was when she felt truly at peace.

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