Nuthara lives in Sri Lanka and is a pupil at Lyceum International School in Panadura. Below you will find Nuthara's award-winning essay called 'Then and Now'.
I struggle up the steep slope and collapse at the summit. I am tired. I settle down, shivering in my warm wrappings. It is misty, and the air feels mysterious, magical. I am expecting something to happen any moment; why am I not sitting on the summit of the tallest of mountains, Olympus, the home of the gods? The distant notes of a shepherd’s pipes reaches my ears. Perhaps it is Pan, guardian of the shepherds? Or Apollo, the music-maker?
I open my kitbag and pull out a souvlaki, a local delicacy. Roast lamb wrapped in bread and chili. It is still warm, and I nibble it, grateful for the warmth. Beneath me, the view stretches out for miles and miles. I see the rolling green hills bursting with fruit and hundreds of streams winding their ways through the many mountains and valleys of Greece.
I feel at home here. I sit there as the cold gradually lessens, happily munching bits of lamb while watching the sun rise over the still-standing columns of the Parthenon. I will go there later, and offer an olive or two and hope that Athene, the lady of wisdom, will look favorably upon me. But for now I am content. Far below, the city of Thessaly is waking up, the people scurrying about and the vendors opening their stalls. I close my eyes as the sun’s rosy warmth spreads over me and imagine how the Thessalians must have waited for their king Aeolus to return from taming the winds. At the very edge of the peninsula, a tiny island glitters in the sun. Perhaps it is Delos, where Apollo and his sister Artemis were born, or Naxos where Dionysus found his bride.
A curl of smoke lifts into the sky on soundless wings. I can see the city of Delphi from here, where Apollo slayed the Python with his mighty arrow and bow. The sky is cloudless, the sun enriching; Greece begins today with the blessing of its gods. I begin the day with hope. I trudge down the hill and into Thessaly as the sun rises higher and higher. I buy an olive branch and munch on olives as I walk, looking into shops and up at the sky. I settle down on a small bench and pull out a map from my bag. I smile as my finger traces a yellowish line to another larger, more famous city. Next stop - Olympia. I have always wanted to go to Greece, for its beauty, for its stories about their glorious Immortals. Theirs is one of the earliest civilizations and I want to see how the imprint is there. It is my dream.
Nuthara tells us about her dream holidays in Greece linking Ancient Greek history with her travel story. She tells us why she composed her essay this way: 'I know a lot about ancient Greece, and I want to be there and feel like I am living in the past and present at the same time. It is also one of the most beautiful countries that I can imagine.' Her fresh approach of linking ancient history to her travel account won us over. We commend her easy flowing writing style and creative composition and are glad she shared her insights and love for the country with us. Congratulations, Nuthara! Very well done!