Flashback. 1970s. Bombay. Mount Mary’s Fair. The crowds are out in full force. A carnival-like atmosphere prevails. Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds. Laughing mirrors and candy floss. Food stalls and merry-making crowds. As a kid, I always had a fascination for the toss-a-ring stall. An array of tempting prizes would be lined up — dolls, games, soap boxes (yeah, don’t ask me why!) little make-up kits, everything that a girl would fancy! With a bit of skill, some luck and loads of hope in your heart, you tossed the ring. Willing it to fall around the prize that you had set your heart on. Oh, the agonising wait as the ring flew through the air. Everything around you came to a stop. Except your wildly beating heart! And then….. Psssssssst! The ring missed its mark! Hope died. But you were still in denial. You tried a couple more times, hoping, always hoping. No matter how many rings were tossed, they never found their mark! Realization struck: Stupid game. Ring-toss contests suck. The rings are probably rigged so they never find their mark. And so on….
Until… Flash forward to present times! The Ring found its mark! Whoa! Was that me? You mean, I actually did it? The same Me who had no hope of ever ring-ing anything that was worth winning?
No, I haven’t lost it. Nor am I some kind of a psycho-nut that lurks in carnivals, tossing rings… Let me explain. Well, this is a different kind of toss-a-ring contest. A writing contest. But it felt so much like the ones of my long-lost childhood days. The principle was the same.
The Ring: A 1500-2000 word short love story.
The Prize: A chance to become a published Mills & Boon author.
So I sent off my writing ring in to cyber space, studding it with as much skill as I had in my arsenal. Waiting with fingers crossed for the ring to fall. And needless to say, it’s been an agonising wait. Checking and re-checking the website (www.millsandboonindia.com) for the “finalists” (five ring leaders, should I call them?) to be announced. And then, finally D-Day dawns. OMG. My Ring is up there among them! Woohoo!!! But wait, the new toss-a-ring contest has a cyber-twist. The finalist stories go up for voting. So this time, it’s multiple tosses of the rings by carnival visitors (read: website prowlers) and yet another… long, agonising wait, till the numbers are crunched up and the rings added up. The most-voted-for story goes into publication and its author wins the grand prize.
I am still waiting….and hoping…and biting my nails… Will the rings on my Story (Story #3) add up to make me the Queen of this Ring Contest? All I can see are multi-colored rings flying through cyber space….. you get the picture!
(Carnival Photo Credit: Salvatore Vuono)