I wiped off my stained hands on the trousers and stood before the gaping hole marred with charcoal, crossing my hands. The street looked abandoned; even the chirpy women in the neighbourhood were in their deep slumber. Looking at my broken reflection, I combed my oiled hair sideways and ran my tongue over my visibly yellow teeth– it followed by attempts for finding out a best smile,though the efforts were meaningless.
Papa wasn’t home, owing to the heavy work; for the past one week, he had been working extra time under the blazing sun. Some days, we would starve without eating lunch, the other days, he would reach at four in the evening with a few packets of biscuits. Today was one of those days, I made a great effort to win over my growling stomach amidst gearing up to meet Anna.
Drawing together a few books and a pencil, I stepped out of the home before noticing the detached slipper flaps perfectly winding me up. Papa had promised to get me one, but bugging him was out of my mind. Ever since I left school, I seldom get out of our place if not for meeting her and it had been a week since I heard from her.
“I will stop by your place after my class,” she had said that day; a well-bred line that urged me to expect her. But somewhere within, I doubted if that was another way of keeping away from a forbidden child who was greeted with awful glances and let alone with considerate differences.
Toasting random thoughts under the sun, I dragged my left foot gripping the slippers from not being left behind; but that effort was nothing bigger matching up to the care I took to tie the shoelaces, cringing my nose and struggling hard to not throw up. Picking up its pair from the garbage was another hideous task. Ask me if I was trying to make an impact on her; answer would be a definite no, because, in the end, I am only an ill-fated kid whose world turned upside down ever since his blood sample was declared positive.
As soon as I was reaching the playground near my school, the ones who recognised me flashed a sympathetic smile, a few totally ignored unlike the ones who were busy fishing nothing out of their pockets, scratching their head or clearing their throat after seeing me.
Anna was playing hopscotch with a few friends under the shade of the Gulmohar tree. Out of the blue, I was acting off the cuff. My shoes started to look uglier with my toes protruding out of the rat-bitten hole; I curled my palms in an attempt to hide my dirty nails, and tried to walk with straight shoulders. Unlike the other days, she didn’t come running to me but stared at me for a while before picking up where she left off the game; clearly helping me out to congregate my assumptions. Had it been not her, I wouldn’t be learning maths or science, but this change was shocking.
Sitting on a bench, I watched her and flipped the blank pages of the notebook, tearing off the other ones that gave me hope since leaving school.
Feeling extremely isolated with every passing second, I got up to leave, kicking a football that came my way. I froze for a while to them staring at me and the football, but catching the sight of my toes peeking out of the shoe, I ran away embarrassed; for I knew I was that prince who turned everything gold by his touch.