2018 Winners and Honourable Mentions

CATEGORY C : 18 - 24 YEARS
Day 4: Bloom
15 November 2018

WINNER


Govind Anil Nair


As I peeked out,I saw the clear blue skies. I took a deep breath and felt the fresh air energize me. I looked around and I saw the elders. “I want to grow up to be just like them!”.

I am taller now and I can’t seem to stop growing. I can see further and I feel stronger. I look around and I see many like me. My neighbourhood is crowded and there are many of us. The chatter is nice and everyone is happy, standing tall and proud. It is not as pleasant as it was before. It’s always hot and there are frequent storms. But I will grow stronger and I want to live for a hundred years. No, a thousand! 

I have made new friends, big and small. They climb over, run around or simply lie beside me. They say I offer them shade from the harsh sun, for it is getting unbearably hot. I treat them with berries and fruits and they in turn help me spread my seeds. More the merrier I always say!

Carbon dioxide is my favourite food, but these days there’s too much of it. My friends are different and they prefer oxygen, so I serve them that. They have been complaining of late, saying I don’t serve enough of it. I told them I try my best, but they don’t seem to understand. I’m not fit as I used to be as I see spots and bruises on me. The water doesn’t taste the same anymore and we dread the rains as it burns our skin.
It is extremely hot now and my old friends don’t visit me anymore. New friends have moved in and they seem friendly, albeit a little different. Their youngest love to climb over us and the older folks like to read or sleep under my shade. My view is obstructed by grey boring structures. They are popping up all around. I miss the blue skies and my old friends. Rumour has it the new friends have driven them away. I am sure that’s not true.

Today I saw my neighbours get killed, hacked by the beings I thought were my friends. I have never been so scared and alone. They burnt my family and my neighbours and all I see around me is ashes. Why can’t we coexist in harmony, I wondered. A human returned with a match and doused me in some liquid. It began to rain before he could strike the match. “I will comeback for you tomorrow”,he scoffed.

But tomorrow never came. It took them awhile to realise they needed us just as much as we needed them. My family might have perished, but the humans repented for their mistakes by giving me a bigger family. There are more of us than there ever was. It was a matter of making amends before it was too late. I dreamt of a world like this, and today the planet had regained its full bloom.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

A living dome.
Kushaal Selvarajah


"Alright kids, today we will be learning about butterflies of the world. Please open your books to page 247", a voice in the wall instructed.

I split open my book and a holographic butterfly floated above it.

"This is the Trogonoptera brookiana, commonly known as the Rajah Brooke butterfly. Notice how the shape of the wings are different....", the voice in the wall continued rabbling as my attention shifted to the flying car right outside my window amisdt the giant sky scrapping buildings and towers. Neon lights flushed every single corner of darkness away.

Where was the Earth my forefathers mentioned in these books? Where are these butterflies? Do they still exist? Just then the bell rang and school was over. I took my usual route home. I never liked taking the flying cars home, instead I enjoyed walking beneath all the "beautiful" techs man had created to sustain whatever life we could salvage from the last mass extinction.

The mass extinction or rather a ravenous plague didn't just kill all of the plants and animals but us humans too. A plague that was said to had originated from the melting ice caps released a deadly strain that had been frozen till Earth started warming up. Right before humanity was totally wiped out, a group of researchers was able to build a dome that could block out the plague. It was named the Living Dome. They took in as many as the dome could support before closing off everything from the outside world. I was the 10th generation of my kind. A 1,000 years had passed since the plague. No one at this point of time knew what it was like outside of the dome. It was tabboo to speak of and STRICTLY off limits

But deep down, something was calling me. Right outside of this walls, I felt a strong sensation calling out to me. I always brushed it off until today. As I was taking my usual route back home, I noticed a beam of light. At first I though it was just another one of those neon lights, but this light was different. It glowed with life, it was radiant and it was warm. I looked for the source of the light and I gasped holding my hands to my mouth. Was it a hole in the wall?

I peeped through the hole and all I could see was lush green fields. Long grasses swaying in the wind, flowers of all the colours blooming as bees flew around them. I took a whiff and the air felt amazing. Was this it? Was this the Earth that my forefather mentioned in the books? Was the plague gone?

Days passed since the news got out. The whole dome population gathered in front of the big gates. Rays of sun pierced through the dome as the gates opened ever so slowly finally revealing the evergreen that my forefather once knew. The Earth bloomed again. We are going to be alright.


The Seed of Hope
Alynsa Eryn Anak Musa


A fictional story that feels too close to the truth.

This is a story of a jungle teacher who obeys the calling of nature, and it is right to say he was a teacher by heart. He was destined to sow the seeds of knowledge in the rural areas in. When he was interviewed before working full time, he was not kidding when he said he is willing to devote his time and energy to serve his duty as an educator.

The city-man named Ryan was trusted to serve the students of SMK Belagu, Sarawak. A school many never heard of by its name and reputation.

The journey to this school was breezy, but it was not a breeze. The river is the fastest route to get there and only long boats can reach the destination. The journey was wearing, but it was worth it for Ryan as he discovered valuable unpolished diamonds hidden deep in the Borneo Island.

Although Ryan was an unexperienced teacher, he connected with the students to a whole different level. He cracks the ice of a cold and distant student named Kubang.

Kubang was a great athlete but nobody believed in his potential. Teachers there said that sports would not make him go any far in life. At times, teachers will bring up the story of his sister who was a good athlete but got married early without graduating high-school. Early marriage was not something odd in the community. It was like an easy escape from continuing education and for the parents from financial burden.

Some teachers there have the perception that only school smart students deserve a spot in the outside world. They completely ignore students who are good in arts, sports, craft and other aspects of essential skills in life.

Ryan once told the doubtful teachers;

“Different flowers have different needs in order to bloom beautifully. Some grow in different soils, some need to be watered daily and some grow independently in the wild. These flowers will blossom on the right time when their needs are fulfilled. That’s why we never compared the beauty of a rose to a sunflower. Just like students, they have their own value and speciality. Our job is to provide their needs to help them blossom in the areas they are planted”

However, early marriage will be a growth stunting factor. Rural students are already left behind, we cannot lose their mighty minds to temporary pleasure. Love is patient, it can wait.

Ryan tried to reach out to Kubang and gave him as much exposure as possible about the sports he’s interested in. He brought Kubang to participated in marathons and invested his time and money and Kubang.

Several years had passed, Kubang is now a national athlete participating in international events. Ryan polished Kubang from a coal to a diamond.

Ryan planted the seed of hope for the rural students.

We need more teacher like Ryan so that more Kubang can bloom from the weeds of doubters.