Podar International School (Mumbai, India)
The sky clouded over. What had been cheerful and azure this very dawn was now shrouded in grey; a view so bleak yet bewitching, it seemed to me as if Zeus was in great sorrow. It was unnerving to see the sky so dark, this early in the daytime. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to claim that any gaiety had been interrupted by this dampening affliction. I wished that I did.
Somewhere on the desolated street, a single golden lamp flickered, intermittently illuminating the dark and quiet. Like a whimsical actor, its beams diverged to flood the scene, and then, as if it meant to disappoint its audience, sharply exited the street that acted as its stage. Its light reflected in my companion’s eyes, the aquamarine oceans in front of me. Now, they were peppered with the deep grey of the sky and the occasional gold flecks from the lamp.
I stared at them, and they stared back at me; silently questioning my intentions. I did not waver, for I knew that if I were to discern any sort of emotion from them, I would have to pass this wordless interrogation. The wind did not assist me in my endeavours. A sudden gust blew across my face, making my eyes water; and as I shut them to avoid the burning sensation that was sure to come, I began to hear distant leaves rustling, probably through the nearby playground.
My lingering suspicions were found to be accurate, as drops of water assaulted my body. Turning my eyes towards the flickering sky, the raindrops hit me relentlessly, as if they meant to obliterate me. Was every force in the world targeting my devastation?
Arrows; that is what they looked like. They glinted in the meagre light from the lamp and the headlights of passing vehicles, like golden arrows- lighter than feathers, stronger than diamonds, faster than thought; the perfect weapons.
I switched my gaze to his eyes again. Were they warm? Were they hostile? I had lost my perceptive streak due to the untimely wind. Defeat rained down on me with the water, and I despised it. Why did he make me feel like a breathing antithesis? I was on guard, but exposed. I was anxious, but calm. I felt like I could conquer the world, but I felt incapable, all at once.
Now, I felt the cold seeping in. The rainwater began to soak through my shirt and pants, quick and steady. I felt goosebumps rising on my bare arms and neck. My teeth started chattering and shivers ran down my spine.
It wasn't just the cold.
A wailing siren distracted me from my musings and I jerked my head towards its direction. Through my peripheral vision, I saw that he did too. An ambulance sped by, momentarily blinding us with its violent red and green light, disrupting the silence that had enveloped this dreary scene. The rain just became heavier.
He kept a warm hand on my shoulder, tentatively. With his touch came a blur of emotions. My heartbeat quickened and butterflies invaded my stomach. In that moment, it was as if a pink veil shielded my eyesight. I recalled the countless times in the past week, when his cold comfort had failed me. Now, I felt like something had changed.
Did he care?
I refused to let the warmth calm me down. Echoing my thoughts, the thunder rumbled in the sky and lightning transformed it to a brilliant silver.
For that brief moment, I felt hope. Maybe it was all going to be alright.
Yet, the lightning was like sugar, it made me happy for a second, then sent me crashing down. With it, went my spirits, leaving me even barer than I was before.
Then came the tears. The hot liquid against the cold rain, the saline water against the fresh. The rain was somewhat refreshing, but the tears were the complete opposite.
He called my name. Over and over, a broken record, it seemed to me, but his voice was like a needle of silk, smooth yet penetrating. He took my hand and I clutched it in return, making his fingers look chalk-white and bloodless. I didn't understand what he was saying to me, I was drowning in the voices inside my own head. I couldn't think, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move. I only gripped his hand tighter, like I was clinging on to it for my life.
Then all of a sudden, strong arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me in, till I was crying, sobbing like a little girl. As my tears soaked his shirt, I hoped. I hoped for a better life, I hoped for a moment of joy, I hoped for hope itself. I hoped with all my heart.