Books·The First Page

Love Forgotten by Ganga Kandanchatha

Read the first page of Ganga Kandanchatha's novel imagining the world in 150 years.

2017 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

Ganga Kandanchatha is a finalist for the 2017 The First Page student writing challenge in the Grades 7 to 9 category. (Courtesy of Ganga Kandanchatha)

Love Forgotten by Ganga Kandanchatha is one of 10 stories shortlisted for CBC Books' The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 7 to 9 category. Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. Over 2,400 students submitted their stories.

Kandanchatha, a student at Falgarwood Public School in Oakville, Ont., tackles the growth of terrorism and hate in the future in her piece.

Hate is thick like swamp air. It surrounds you, gets inside your pores, making your thoughts putrid and heavy. I was named for a flower, which symbolizes beauty, purity and sweetness, Jasmine. The year is 2167. It's been 150 years since hate took over our world. It started small with riots and small fights in schools and neighbourhoods that once lived in peace and harmony. These small disputes were turned into bonfires of hate by politicians seeking power.

This morning while walking to the market with my brother, we were thrown like leaves in a hurricane. We dove for cover, bruised by the force of an explosion. I fought through the pain and lunged towards him like a bear protecting her cub. After our shadows were lost to the clouds, he stopped shaking and looked up.

The entire market was destroyed, shopkeepers stalls looked like strange puzzle pieces that would never go back together. My brother got up and made his way deeper into the mangled area. Sifting through the debris, the silence was pierced by a scream. My brother stood a short distance away, bone white and shaking. Slowly stepping towards where he was, a wet pool pointed towards a piece of roof, under which lay the body of a woman. Her hair was as black as a starless night and her tanned skin reminded me of the chocolate I had once seen in a picture.

Beside her sat a weathered leather book. It had the picture of a peaceful man on it. His hair cropped short and white, and a smile as wide as the sky. The title read, Long Walk to Freedom. Her hands clutched it as though it were a valuable diamond. Gently grasping it from her cold hands, I opened the wrinkled pages and began reading aloud. All this man stood for was love, something that was as rare today as a day without the sound of gunfire. Where had this book been? The man spoke about forgiveness in the face of violence, love as a response to hate, peace instead of war. This was a message that needed to be shared, and I felt that it was my duty to share it. Life had to be more than a series of sunsets, I had to make it more for the sake of everyone. Love would not be forgotten in the face of hate.

About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2167. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by award-winning YA writer Erin Bow, author of The Scorpion Rules. The winner will be announced on CBC Radio's q on Jan. 24, 2018.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 YA books.

CBC Books' next student writing competition is the Shakespeare Selfie Student Writing Challenge, which will open in April 2018.