The Fourteenth Edition of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai Litfest
Wednesday, October 25th to Sunday, October 29th 2023


Online : 25 - 26 Oct
On ground : 27 - 29 Oct

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Literature Live! 360@Campus Contests

23rd September 2023

Creative Writing contests were held on college campuses in August, across the city to encourage writing among peers. Prompts were provided which served as the starting and ending lines to write their story and poetry. An experience enjoyed by all- some were first time writers while others may have dabbled in some form of writing very unlike the nature of this contest

National College, St Pauls Institute of Communication Education and St Xavier’s College (Autonomous) hosted these contests for undergraduate students across all disciplines

The entries of the winners of this contest appear below in alphabetical order  (no ranking )



Aarya Randive 

I am old. That’s etched on the walls of my heart, carved into my soul. I was born old. Not in a medical way where you age backwards, in a fragile way where your first-grade homeroom teachers invite your mother to stay back after the open house to compliment her parenting skills. Over coffee, she asks  politely if I had any friends. The words “mature” and “dadi-amma” spill-out like the insulting bitter coffee spilled all over the vintage, white face tablecloth.

On my 11th birthday, I smell like jasmines. My hair thick with oil, braided till my waist then coiled up in a bun. I hung out with Jaya aunty but she was 67. All evening she poured tea and drank out of her ivory-stained saucer. We watched her favourite daily soap on repeat. I didn’t understand the Bengali they spoke but I knew it was important because she cried. I’d known her for all my 11 years of existence, we spoke about her dead husband, the six year old daughter he left behind,of all the struggles, broken hips , three knee-joint replacement surgeries.

A woman on T.V made her cry. She said one word – “infidelity”. Except it was her.

Heartbreak comes in different styles, sometimes draped in a saree, sometimes in jeans.

I’m older. On my 21st birthday it’s not an old lady’s grocery haul – it’s called a tote bag. Freud was right because I became the other woman to a man whose wife smells like jasmines.

Now they call it “ old-soul”, a compliment. They had come through.


Abhilekh Dey

I’ve never liked the idea of looking out of the window, especially when the train starts moving. The  air that smells a bit burnt honestly, could be of angst, oh wait no, it’s metal wheels rubbing on tracks, a lot of noise and  murmur around me, the window is weird because you never know when it starts raining, I pretend to look out to avoid interactions, but does it even matter?

Everyone seems so occupied, a sense of tension surrounds me too, so many dreams and stories brewing inside the train.  I like the cold breeze  which comes and goes as we move, outside a blurry metropolis, cars honking, people shouting, telephones ringing, I see so many things outside this window. Wait, can you hear me? Sorry, the network fluctuates, when I travel, it is annoying but can’t help it. We reach a station  and it’s crowded again, people barely standing, pushing and pulling as I hear them struggle, someone stepped on my foot, the person apologised, but I could feel his sweat in my hands as I pushed him away.

The journey seems so long, I have been sitting here since eternity, and it’s annoying, but hey, maybe I have started to like the window seat, it’s an escape, the breeze, the metropolis outside, the brawl, everything gets hidden or overshadowed cause I can finally feel whatever is going on. I know, I have been talking to myself throughout, and my blindness makes it worse, but throughout. I have never stopped imagining. I CAN’T AND I WON’T.


Ankita Dubey 

A dormant volcano, which once terrorized many now stands alone in the kitchen, splashing water on dirty dishes. I,  her daughter, similar to her in ways I dread to be. Poles apart, yet the same. While she is a volcano I a can of soda sealed shut.

Sitting on the kitchen counter i look at the TV screen.A couple of politicians screaming , voicing their opinions , they call it a debate. I wonder what it’s like to have  a voice.  I then notice a man in the living room walking in circles screaming on the phone . He seems upset and angry .

Anger! What’s it like to have the right to be angry? To have the right to be human ?

I laugh at my silly thoughts.  After all I am just a can of soda . My blurred thoughts clear as the man- my husband, walks right past them towards me. I look at his giant palm as it flies and crashes on my face. Bubbles form inside me waiting to erupt, throws me on the floor. Before i know it the seal breaks open. I reach for the nearest object- a knife and  stab him Blood oozes out ,painting the kitchen tiles red. His blood mixed with the soda that once resided in me asks, Are you human now?

Tears roll down my cheeks as I think of an answer. Am I finally human? Or have I become the nightmare of the dreamers of a better tomorrow?


Anzala A Khan 

My father left the country a night before the midnight hour. When we made a tryst with destiny. But I chose to stay in my ancestral house.I regret.

I hear the voices screaming as they swear on their swords, some invoking their gods. Holding on to my swollen belly, I try to escape from the attackers. Balancing through with the weight of my unborn child, I stumbled upon cold meat, drenched in dripping blood.

I hear my attackers, some yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’, while others screamed ‘Waheguru di Fateh’. They too stumble, on the rubble of distorted Masjids and Gurdwaras as they run behind me.

My protective motherly instinct aids me in escaping their blows and as I have dodged their sight, I seek refuge in a thatched hut. I stumble again, the life inside me makes me growl in pain.

Tears stream down my face, as I cling on the dead-wood trying to hold my baby within. I hear something beneath me, the water. My water breaks.

In excruciating pain, my nails dig into the hem of my tattered clothes as I push. My eyes roll in and out. In a final bout, I feel the life within me move out.

Tears flood through, and so does hope. But as I lay crying, I realize my baby did not. Breaking the umbilical cord with a stone, I breathe in his mouth. But still he doesn’t cry. I scream in agony, and then see them, they had come through.


Christelle C Alphonso 

‘Let’s go home’ said Bruce, while tossing his backpack over his shoulders as the group of friends made their way out of the college gates. Alex replied, ‘No way! The night is still young just like us. Unless of course you are getting old!’ Bruce cracked a smile at that joke.

After debating and arguing for about 10 mins, they decided to explore the haunted house  5 kms away from Pune. Quickly texting their parents, picking up some snacks, they made their way to the haunted house which dared visitors to spend the night.

An eerie sound was heard as the door cracked open, sending a shiver of fear down their spines  ‘Guys maybe we should go home?’ ‘No way Paul’ replied Alisha, ‘you cannot be scared and …’ while she was still speaking they heard a  loud crash  from upstairs.

The group quickly ran to another room switching on their flashlights. Alex screamed when he saw corpses on the ground illuminated by the light and a pair of yellow eyes staring at him in the dark. A crash was heard as Alisha stumbled into Bruce sending them sprawling onto the floor.

A few more hours passed this way when suddenly skeletons of  corpses lying on the floor began advancing towards them. The group screamed in fear before rushing out the house, trying to get away as far as possible.

Finally when they thought they were safe, they paused to catch their breath. Alex remembered that he was grateful that they had come through.


Christelle C Alphonso 

In truth there have been many instances over the past few years that have made Donald question his decision making skills that he so prided himself about. Ever since the dreaded coronavirus lockdown in 2020, it seemed to go downhill from there with no end in sight.

At first, Donald did not think much of it but after a few incidents he was thrown for a spin. His wife Sheila, told him, ‘Perhaps Donald, age is catching up with you’. Another day, close friend Ron said, ‘Relax, mate! Take it easy.’

‘That sounds like something Professor Dumbledorw would say’, Donald mused as if hearing a joke with himself meeting the legendary Albus Dumbledore.

Later that night on TV, Donald jumped with joy when he  learned that he had won the lottery for a million dollars, ‘Things are looking up’ he gleefully exclaimed to his wife Sheila. ‘One decision does not mean anything dad’ replied his daughter Bonny while rolling her eyes and texting her friends about the news.

The next day Donald had a skip in his step, greeting each passerby cheerfully with a ‘How do you do this fine Monday morning?’ and helping out with a few errands. Everyone who met Donald was surprised at the new leaf Donald seemed to have turned overnight.

As Donald was on his way home it began to rain. When he reached the gate of the building, he gazed at the beginning of his life journey, the house with the perfect number 28.


Mehrunissa Khateeb 


Curses Blessed Upon You

Ama was an Oracle, but not the kind you go to, rather the kind you avoid. Yet, as humanity survived, it remained hungry for the macabre. Ama was a dark mystic, and her chants and prayers were all ungodly, like her. People from across villages found Ama aiding their greedy needs. Maheshwar was one such client.

When Ama returned from her fortnightly visit to the river bed, Maheshwar was already waiting, desperate and angry. He screamed at us both for his money’s worth and took violent liberties at my expense. I was the usual recipient , it didn’t matter to me, but Ama remained unbelievably quiet. It surprised me, but Maheshwar’s angry curses overpowered my shock. “I am not giving you my money so you could spend it on your imbecile of a daughter! Why is my father not yet dead?!”

Ama grimly responded “Death is due but it demands something new”. Before Maheshwar could complain about the ambiguity, Ama left, leaving me with the monster. And monster he was, as his rage turned to lust and my screams became his encouragement. No one could hear my screams not even Ama.

When I found her in the river the next morning, tongue swollen and eyes popping, I knew what she meant. “Death is due, but it demands something new. And with every new life, Everything else would fade”. My hand reached my stomach, “ Everything would fade and we will still be here”.




Radhika Kasat 


They wrote history. The avengers of the neglected people. Robin Hoods that seek vengeance for the ones who were wronged and have prisoners in their country and sometimes by their own people.

Naman was dazzled as he went through the rustic old pages of glorified death and sacrifices. Patriotism and loyalty towards his soil rushed through his veins, and his heart pumped along with the chants that echoed with so much power, even though they were just words sprawled across a page. How brave these people were, Naman thought, to have stood against their oppressors with broad chests and necks raised high with pride. Years of suppression had given these Hindustanis the courage to charge against the firangis; the thought of death never holding them back.


Even after the intense bloodbath, the kindness that they embraced as they helped their brothers and their families by sharing the loot, painted a clear picture of how their every struggle was not  just for their own, but was for the countless people who cowered in fear and couldn’t step up. They were everyone’s heroes that didn’t live for praise, but for the people who were born from the same mother, their ‘Bharat Maa’. Though Naman was alone right now in this entire world; the books, his only support to go on, he wasn’t upset. He was brimming with pride that the fictional Robin Hood had come to life in reality. And that, it was once, his father.




Shreeya Chavda 

“You are not going to believe this,” my mother said as she poured out her tea, “There’s another one dead.” “These rebellions are getting out of hand,” my father commented without looking up from his newspaper. “I heard it was quite brutal, some crazy axe-man chopped him up. May he rest in peace.” I buttered my bread and couldn’t resist the urge to say, “more like – may he rest in pieces.”

This earned me a glare from my father and a light slap on my arm from my mother. I raised my hands in surrender and stood up. “I’ll get going now, I have a group study session.” It wasn’t technically a lie – I was indeed going to a group session to study weapons. Little do my parents know, I’m secretly a part of those rebellions they vehemently despise.

I reached the hideout and gave my friend a high-five. “Are you sure about this? Discretion is the better part of valour, you know.” I picked up my knife and threw it at her and she caught it effortlessly.

“Memento Mori, Memento Vivere. It means – remember, you’ll die, so remember to live. And we’re all gonna die anyways, one day or another,” I said as I picked up my gun. Later that evening at home, my mother told me sternly to not go near the place where the bloody fights were taking place I smirked, “ Yeah, yeah I can’t and I won’t”





Aarya Randive 

The sea is calm tonight

It swallowed the woman i saw last night

Purple lips, pale skin, cold like a dead fish

Flurotine,Venidip and three double mints


On the 51st night

Taylor Swift doesn’t sing, the clock doesn’t tick

The woman i see doesn’t hang from  a tree

Making the spring loaded fan screech


The woman i see isn’t me from the movies

She ‘s not within, don’t look,don’t look

She’s only from the land of story books




Abhilekh Dey 

As i Lay on my Rose -Bed

It was roses that scared me every evening

They got pale as they grew, as the died inside me

Deep down i knew i would crumble like the flower

I knew i would cherish my disdain and succumb to my fear


You know i will be dry and dissolved in the sand

My thorns and ego will perish in the end

As i burn and rise with an utter sense of disgust

The smell of my defeat spreads across the forest, as i must


The burning rose shal be my end, i disappear forever with no one to cry

As the smoke mixes with the air, i now belong to the invincible sky


Alhan Sayed 

Believe me, if all those feelings could be forgotten,

From the dilation of my pupils around you,

To the imaginations of your warmth beside me,

From my anticipation of your expression

That gives me comfort, love and security.


Every night, i face the wall to see you,

But every chance to turn it ti reality you start being away

All the things that I’d like to word,

Feelings that I wish to express,

I pray, be lost in me.



Brigit Sabu 


Come. let us listen,

Untie yourself, sit under a tree

Hark keenly,to the boots, shoes, chappals and feet

running on dying leaves

Now get up, walk solowly

Sometimes. Not racing to get a cab is also life


Look up, see the birds in the sky

above the eerieness of the city.

You yearn to be there , i know

They have nothing , you have everything

Leave it and fly like the ones who kill for life

despite themselves


Christelle C Alphonso 


Believe me, if all those daffodils could speak

They would certainly be singing in ecstasy

The wind gently hugging them softly

While spinning them out for a dance

Right on time for the summer ball


Merrily they stand in the meadows like gems

Endless in number just like the stars in the sky

Cheerfully swaying without a care in the world

Like a fair maiden on her debut ba


One can simply be at peace over here all day

Gazing at this slice of heaven on earth

Remaining forever with the daffodils


Christelle C. Alphonso


At evening when the world seems asleep,

The waves at the sea come out to play,

Catching and chasing after each other,

Grumbling when they hit the shore.


Pine trees sway gently with the breeze,

Twinkling along with the stars of the sky,

As if amused with the behavior of the waves,

Just like children during a break.


Mankind is really missing natural beauty,

Overcome with a desire to capture and conquer,

Wherein the interests keep him too busy to notice,

The waves and the shore when they clash by night



Divya Khurana 


Small towns always

Smell of happiness

All i live for is those lanes

Those fields of sugarcane.

Everyday , everytime , all i have for this city is pity!


That it misses the starry haze

Those bright runny days

And perishes in emptiness

No curses on purses for all these city lords

But their heart skips a beat, their own people they cheat


Back there in my town, i used to live in peace

With the gods




Mehrunissa Khateeb 


I met a traveller from the grounds of Eden

She said, “don’t follow your lover there

It’s empty and lonely in the land of surplus

You’ll never know what want is”


Now i sit here burning in the pits of hell

Among soldiers,sinners and angels who fell

We fight every night for a moldy bread

But the devil was right, you see?


When there’s enough for all to eat

There’s no fun in stealing from a cup of three



Shravani Gharat 


When i was sick

I tried to cough a little less

Because i was supposed to be a perfect girl

I couldn’t afford to be a mess


He asked me to keep my voice down

So i did like i was told

There were enough scars on my skin

I had no strength to be bold


The world may be a better place

In books, songs and shows

But everytime i hid away, was

When he rose





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