2017 – Ages 19+ : Runner Up

Nihal Valji 

Theme – The Struggle for Success

Judges’ comments: This poem had us laughing at one moment and contemplating at another.  It was story-like while keeping in the rhythm of a poem.  We loved the descriptions, the imagery, the rhyme and the way in which the poet walked us through the journey of an ordinary circumstance to an enlightening life-changing epiphany, all the while keeping us entertained every step of the way.

The Succesful Suitor


Black, so black, a crow would have felt ashamed,

And shiny, so shiny, I could have sworn if I squinted hard enough I could see my reflection

My eyes were fixated,

I found myself musing how much those shoes alone must have cost him

I tore myself away from his lightly tapping shoes on the pristine marble floor

A contrast that had me enthralled for reasons I couldn’t fathom

I forced myself to focus on his marriage suitability,

But I found myself drifting…


Never had I seen such an immaculately ironed shirt

Even the folds on his trousers were perfectly creased

I found myself smirking at the irony – since when did I notice such minute details?


I glanced up again, appreciating his smooth pore-free skin, feeling a pang of jealousy

I noted the spread of perfectly groomed stubble that complimented his face and was intrigued by his well-groomed exterior


He spoke with passion, with poise, with personality

He was charming and charismatic

He grinned as he told me about his weekly lifestyle

I found myself contemplating about how he had worked hard to pave his path in life


“Life is so short; I believe we must live it to the fullest. It’s my drive for success”


Ah that word, I sigh inwardly as I avert my gaze from his curious stare. Success. Flashbacks of my auntie’s words came back to me

“Beti…  He is the full package: handsome, well mannered and so successful. Such a catch.”


But success is such a relative word. So many definitions. So many angles.

Is that why I feel so lacklustre, so indifferent, so bemused? Surely, I should appreciate the catch in front of me?


I sigh again, deeper this time. My thoughts trail away, as I begin to wonder….


He is just the catalyst to a question that has always played on my mind

A question that challenges my ability to find

The true meaning of success and how it is defined


What is this success they speak of so highly? Is this what success looks like personified?

So is it that this temporary abode where my soul has stayed

Will take so much of my energy in its daily parade?

Work play, work play, until I can live in comfort and enjoy

The pleasures that are so shortlived and in reality just a ploy

To occupy my days with frivolity, distract me from my end

To satiate me with fleeting trivialities, no time to comprehend


It’s so easy to get caught in the spider’s web of expectations

But society and the masses care not about my soul’s stagnation

Rather, occurs an insidious erosion of the real essence of success

I am blissfully unaware of my need to reassess


Why should I be told what success really means?

Why should I succumb to what’s promoted on TV and magazines?

Will I climb up the wrong ladder laid out for me by the nation

Or will I catch myself before I fly away from my soul’s true liberation

Will I allow myself to be defined by the number of zeros in my bank?

Or will my aim be loftier than climbing up the ranks?


“Are you okay? Here let me get the bill, we should probably go”


I look up startled;

This gentleman has no idea of the whirlwind he has inspired

But I am grateful as I gather my stuff to leave and thank him courteously


I will redefine the paradigm, for my success is internal and not limited to power or position

Priority lies with the wealth of my soul’s acquistion

The humility in my step, the chastity in my gaze

The knowledge I attain

As I navigate through life’s winding maze

My success lies in His pleasure and proximity with me

For in the end all that matters goes deeper than what you see



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