She Writes Story Contest winner: Santana Pathak

Santana Pathak is one of twelve winners of the MSN-Random House She Writes a Story Contest', as chosen by our judges. Her story 'Mirage' features in the 'She Writes: A collection of Short Stories' published by Random House India and available at all leading bookstores.

Santana Pathak

Santana Pathak

Santana Pathak is not a conventional female writer dogged by social norms and values. Growing up and studying in a North-eastern state and working in fields like academia and journalism in the pan-Indian layout, she has seen two different worlds dealing differently with common human values. This disparity has made her sensitive towards the complexities of life. It has also widened the horizon of her expectations and nothing surprises her. Her writings are born from thoughts that keep playing in her mind and feelings that touch her heart with each passing experience.

Read an extract from Santana Pathak's story 'Mirage'

  • Sitting on the edge of the small, concrete bridge, Monalisha was holding her lover's hand in silence. At such moments, she felt like humming an evening raga. A tinge of sadness descended on her mood instantly on realizing her ineptness in singing.

  • Monalisha cast a glance at Prashanta-his face was intent, as if in anticipation. So it was coming then, she smiled, and turned her head to see what he was looking at. A train had appeared in the distance as mysteriously as a vision, its movement slithery in the darkness, and yet alluring due to the square patches of light emanating from its windows. Like all evenings, today too her lover's face brightened at the sight of the approaching train, and both of them smiled at each other. Tightening the knot on their hands, they got up and started walking towards the small hill in front of them, with its languid chegun trees. It was one of the many hills that surrounded the lush green university campus where Prashanta and Monalisha studied.

  • Nestling on a green patch at the bottom of the hill, they observed the dance of the glowworms together. Their silence was occasionally pricked by a few men walking on the concrete street below, and a few stray lights from the passing cars that illuminated the otherwise deep, silvery dark.

  • She removed Prashanta's cap from his head, his perennial favourite, and ran her hand over his curly mop of hair. This always irked him and he jostled with her, trying to take the cap away from her hand. Their proximity was electric. Prashanta's breath was over her face, and the warmth melted her eyes.

  • She turned her face towards him and her lips met his, as his robust hands lifted her up against him, brushing aside the ivory skirt from her thighs. She hesitated for a moment, as always, but the warmth of his touch embraced her entire being. She gently slipped down his black shirt, revealing a bit of his sculpted shoulder. On his knees, hiding his face in her bare midriff, his sharp breath feathery warm on her flesh. Prashanta's rhythm was more moving than the music in her soul. Everything stood still, except the glowworms and his breath that kept rising like sea waves. She willingly surrendered her bosom to his meanderings, put her face on the cave of his shoulder, and mounted on a wave of joy, rising from the silence of the blue night to the ecstasy of the sea waves, and then to the silence again.

In her own words: Santana Pathak

  • Have you always been a writer?  What made you start writing?


    No. I have had a stint as a journalist, but that is very different from being a creative writer. 


    Starting to write has something to do with all the shifting I have done in the past decade of my life, which have exposed me to lot of new experiences and people. The milieu also changes along with your uprooting of self. Faced with these, I have constantly been in a state of flux. Numerous incidents keep flooding my senses, and I keep groping in the dark looking to set meaning to them, or at least, trying to sort them out in my mind. Only recently I discovered that it is writing which gives me relief from this state.

  • What inspired you to enter She Writes?

    Relentless insistence from "the man in my life." I believe he did sense my restlessness, and advocated the contest can be the catalyst to my experiences.

  • Why did you choose the category that you did?

    Because all the men in my life remain my closest window to a world which I can experience only philosophically. It is intriguing and at times, baffling to know that despite the constant co-existence, so many things fall into perspective only when you look at that world through the eyes of that particular person.

  • Do you have a writing routine - e.g. do you have favourite places to write/favourite times of day/do you write longhand or on a computer?

    I believe I am able to sort out my thoughts most effectively when I am taking a walk along a busy, throbbing street! I find myself repeatedly doing that. I have in fact written many initial drafts on a Blackberry sitting at roadside tea stalls.

  • Who is your favourite author?

    Of course, it is impossible to list all. I had sought out my world through books since I was a child and have done a post-graduation in literature! But I seek company of a few all the time. Of Maxim Gorky and Chekov who turned me to a precocious child. Of Ernest Hemingway for making me understand how a simple line can be pregnant with resonances. And of late, of Haruki Murakami for his striking balance of the real with the illusory!

  • Which book has inspired you the most?

    Lots of them. The lives captured in books inspire me the most. One such book would definitely be Steven Davis's Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend, through which I experienced the belligerent genius up, close and personal.  I so wish I will garner the strength to burn the notebooks of my past and still have meaning enough to cling to, which Morrison so effortlessly did!

  • Which key piece of advice would you give to any other budding writer?

    I cannot give an advice. But I would just like to share one experience. Writing can build a perspective into many things that leaves you unsettled in your existence, and when that happens, it is sheer bliss!

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