We had a great time reading all the stories of our ‘Relationship Status: Complicated’ writing contest. A little romance here, a little humour there – each one was special in its own way and our judges had a tough time deciding the winner. Each entry was so good! The contest was judged by Debeshi Gooptu, author of many romance novels the latest being On The Rocks. Here are the top two entries of the contest:

Editor’s note: These are poignant tales that capture the ups and downs of nuanced relationships with flair.

Chrysanthemums in Springtime by Janaki R

The winning story of the contest, Chrysanthemums in Springtime, is a delightful tale about two people falling in love and finding each other many years later, with a twist-in-the-tale ending. The characters remain with the reader long after the story has ended.

You can read the winning story here.

Juggernaut had a little chat with Janaki about her work, her winning the contest and her passion for writing.

Your story ‘Chrysanthemums in Springtime’ is the winning entry of the contest. Please tell us more about it.

Love is a pure and spontaneous emotion, which can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. Unfortunately, we live in a society that has constrained love into a narrow sphere, where loving someone from another religion, caste, gender, age group, etc. is deemed taboo. Society has straightjacketed and manacled this emotion. It is most depressing to see love stripped of its innate excitement and randomness and transformed into something clinical, into a mathematical formula.

This story of mine was aimed at highlighting how love cannot be shelved into a particular slot.

What was the writing inspiration behind the story?

The brutal loneliness personally observed at an old age home, where I helped out one summer. Here were souls awaiting death all alone, abandoned by their children, shunned by society. But despite this their smiles flowed easy – for they had each other to help them into the next phase of their journey.

Do you have any particular rules or rituals you follow as a writer?

I try to get all pressing household chores out of the way before starting to write. It helps me focus better.

What/who is your writing companion? You know like coffee, tea etc.

A nice hot cup of tea always helps jog the brain cells.

What got you interested in becoming a writer? Where do you go for inspiration?

Writing proved to be the best escape from the mundanity of the everyday grind. I get to live the lives I will never lead through my stories.

Inspiration can come from anywhere – dreams, the newspaper, the maid’s gossip. One just needs to be receptive.

What’s that one piece written by you, which is your all time favorite?

My previously published short with Juggernaut – The Crafty Statesman. Easily my favorite because of the sheer joy I derived during the writing process.

5 books and authors that make it to your bestselling list. Why?

I will restrict myself to the authors, because I could never get myself to suggest a particular book of theirs.

  • RK Narayan – for his ability to hide complex stories within simple prose

Any writing tips you’d like to share with fellow writers?

Keep Writing. Keep Reading.

Honourable Mention goes to Retribution by Tanvi Athavale

Retribution is the story of a couple on their last date before parting ways, a couple madly in love but unable to build a life together because of societal and religious norms. Set over the course of one evening, it is a story of longing, of separation and of penance.

Read this enchanting tale here.


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