Wings And Fangs
Jared was a scholarship hosteler. A misfit in an institute full of day scholars who drove in through the gates in their sleek sedans, played games and clicked selfies on their phones throughout all lectures, and then sped out of the same gates, back to their malls and parties.
They didn’t talk to Jared and Jared couldn’t talk to them. He did know that they laughed at him, he could sense it the moment he walked into class. It made him hate the fact that he couldn’t afford to buy a pair of Levis. It made him hate the fact that he had begun to even care about that. But he did, and he couldn’t stop.
When you’re a dragon in a pit of vipers, you’re scared because you’re different. You are different and all alone, and that makes them laugh. Their laughter is their venom. So you slink back to a corner while they hiss and slither and spit out that laughter, and that is where you stay.
Jared wrote poetry. Jared wrote beautiful poetry; all his high school teachers said so. His mother had had one of his prize-winning poems framed and hung in their living room. He could never bring himself to write here though. He could never show them all his work. He was too scared of what everyone would say. They would definitely laugh again.
And, what about Sarah? Sarah would just roll her pretty blue eyes while her friends giggled on. No, he couldn’t possibly show them to her. Apart from all the stolen glances, he couldn’t even ever look at her.
When you’re a dragon in a pit of vipers, you never learn that you can breathe fire. You never learn how high you can fly. You are unaware of all that you can do. So you sulk and whine because you don’t look like everyone else, and you begin to despise your own wings.
When Sam arrived in college, things seemed to change for the better. An exchange student, he became Jared’s only friend in college. Sam in all his clumsy, goofy and even enthusiastic glory gave him company which had become the only highlight of Jared’s days. The others stayed away from him as well, probably because he was so chummy with Jared. But Jared didn’t care. At least he had someone now, someone like him.
One day Sam wore a Rado to college, and everyone somehow had eyes only for him. They flocked to him, chatting and laughing including Sarah. Jared could only look at them from far, look at the only friend he ever had.
When you’re a dragon in a pit of vipers, you are wary of choosing companions. You feed on mistrust and mistrust feeds on you. You and your suspicions are simply waiting to be proven right and when that happens, there is nothing else to wait for.
For many weeks after that fateful day, Sam was nowhere to be seen in college. They asked Jared about him, perhaps the only time when they had ever talked to him directly.
“Oh he’s gone back, some family issue he said”, was his standard reply.
They didn’t ask any further. Their concern was as shallow as they were. A few days after that, Jared came to college, a Rado watch gleaming in his right hand. Nobody even realised they had seen that watch before.
That day, Sarah smiled at him and he smiled back.
When you’re a dragon in a pit of vipers, you cut off your wings and grow your own fangs.
~Harshita | Edited by Indu Arakkal