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I am participating in the 30 Days Letter Challenge where you write one letter each day. The 16th in the list is a letter to ‘Someone that’s not in your state/country’

Dear Someone That’s Not In My State,

Actually I don’t know where you reside, not that it matters in any way. We have never met in the conventional sense. But I know I do exist in some corner of your mind, as a negative memory. How else would you make that adverse reference to me in a comment years after the incident?

When I say ‘incident’ I don’t mean that there had been any direct confrontation between us any time in the past. None at all. We were merely fellow participants in an online short story competition a couple of years back. Unfortunately (for you) I won first place, as also the second, in the same. Believe me when I tell you it came as a surprise to me as much as it must have been to you and probably many others. The difference of course was that whereas it was a pleasant one for me, it caused you (and probably those others) some heartburn. Well, that’s not really surprising. People do feel sad when they lose. That is acceptable behavior. But in your case what was puzzling was what you said at the end of it all.

As I remember it, your story hadn’t even made it to the second round. In spite, when the winners were announced after the second round (where the judges decided the winners), along with your grudging congratulations, you questioned the fairness of the whole outcome. Like r.e.a.l.l.y? What did you think happened, if you would be so kind enough to outline it all to ignorant me? Did you think suitcases full of money were dispatched to the three different judges?

Perhaps it was not the judges you blamed but the readers who rated the stories that then went to the judges? I wonder what you think were offered them? If you had reservations about that first part of the competition how come you never voiced it before the competition? Wasn’t it childish to raise objections afterwards? After all we all knew the rules and accepted them when we entered the fray.

When the results were announced, the comment you made stood out among all the congratulatory ones as one made in poor taste. I remember the admin objecting. But I commiserated with you. Do you know why? We all have our individual favorites. They need not coincide with the judges’ choice. And it is okay to air your favorites so long as you are not calling foul. You wanted your friend to win, I gathered. Did you know, so did I. Not your friend of course. I wanted MY friend to win. I thought his story was awesome, better than my own. So I could empathize with you. I named my favorites, and asked you which ones you thought should have won. A stony silence was what I got in return.

I would have left it at that and moved on except that a year or two later I saw you refer to the same matter again in your uncomplimentary way, on a common friend’s wall on Facebook. Once again you *insinuated* and rather obviously too. I certainly don’t claim to know you as a person. Perhaps you are a good human being for all I know. But when a fellow competitor only insinuates without stating openly what the grievance, the accusation, is all about, well, in my book that ranks pretty low and counts as something really cheap.

I just thought I’d let you know.

Someone who hates subterfuge.

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©Shail Mohan 2014

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