Dream Quest One Third Writing
of Algonquin, Illinois - USA
Waiting for a Rainbow
By Angelica Singh
I sit on the sand-covered ground, manipulating the formation of the sand
with my finger, drawing what I wish my face looked like. Long eyelashes, round chin, flowing hair, eyebrows that
have a defined shape and a plentiful amount of hairs. The sun beats down on me and I look at the temple, thinking how much
cooler and shadier it must he inside the building. The only other people sitting out here with me are my friend Shadia, her
family and a couple of other impoverished families. Their clothes are dirty and their stomachs are empty, growling for food.
We have been deemed too unholy to enter the temple. The villagers
all believe that the Gods have cursed these people with poverty. I, too, have been cursed except instead of poverty, I possess
a terribly ugly face. My worst features are my eyebrows. They are a scattered mass of hairs dispersed on my forehead. They
have no shape, no harmony. There are patches of skin in random areas and thick bunches of hair in others. I wear a headscarf
to keep my hideousness hidden.
Covering my eyebrows is difficult. They are so close to my eyes that
my headscarf often ends up toppling over my part of my pupil and hindering my sight. I re-adjust my headscarf countless times
She turns her head and looks at
me. I gaze at her pretty face. Her face is similar to the one I have drawn in the sand.
‘What?” she inquires.
“Why has God created us if he does not like us?” Her eyes water and she
takes a deep breath, as if her lungs are absorbing the knowledge required to answer this question. Her head droops down lower
than ever before and she stares down at the ground.
“I don’t know.” Shadia replies. She wipes off a tear that has rolled down onto her cheek. “But
I like to think that there is some reason that we have been created. We just haven’t discovered that reason
I nod my head.
“That’s a good way to think of it,” I say.
I hear a laugh in the distance and see Shadia’s little sister, Mitti, running away from a young boy. I don’t
how Mitti can manage to be so joyous when we are society’s rejected outcasts. All of the villagers degrade us, forcing
us to sit outside the temple as a reminder that we are sinful. As if that weren’t enough, many of the villagers kick
and spit on us after they have exited the temple, reminding us once again of our inferiority.
bell sounds. I close my ears and close my eyes. A sea of blackness replaces my sight. Even with my ears plugged, I am able
to hear many different voices chatting at the same time and footsteps coming towards me. I feel a pinch and a slimy, spherical
mass descend onto my head. It is probably spit. A solid object rapidly pushes into my shin. Probably a foot kicking me.
“Sinner!” shouts a man’s voice as he smacks my forehead. How dare he call me a sinner? What have
I done to deserve being born with such an unattractive face? I highly doubt that unborn souls can even commit sins.
My ugliness is a tragedy that has been bestowed upon me. People should pity me, but instead, people treat me like
some prisoner that has committed the worst of all crimes. I pretend that I am in a world where it is opposite day.
All of these acts of hatred and cruel words that have been used against me are actually acts of love and kind-hearted
soon as I feel the absence of the villagers’ presence, I open my eyes and look at Shadia. She has a large
amount of spit all over her hair and clothing. Shadia’s mother, Nokia ji, has a long, bleeding slit on her
cheek. They embrace each other. I wish I had a mother or father so that I too could be hugged. Mitti comes over
and Nokia ji tells her to join in on the family hug. I watch them, as my heart turns green with envy.
Shadia and Mitti are released from their mother’s grip. Shadia turns to face me and asks me if want to go to the
river with her to go clean offal the spit. “Sure,” I say.
I dunk my head my head in the water as Shadia takes handfuls of water, putting them onto her clothes to wash away the
“The water level in the river is really low today,” I declare.
“It is. In fact, now that I think of it, it hasn’t rained in a long time,” Shadia says.
“Hi Shadia!” greets a thin boy with bushy eyebrows, red-tinted eyes and an unshaven face, covered with stubble.
Shadia looks at him, waves back, looks away and then rolls her eyes.
is that?” I ask Shadia.
“A customer,” she replies, not making eye
contact with me and blushing.
He grabs her shoulder, tugging on her sleeve. It topples
over and exposes Shadia’s shoulder. Shadia grimaces and pulls her sleeve back up.
do you want?” Shadia asks.
“From you? Everything,” the boy says, smiling
creepily and winking. He notices my gaze and makes eye contact with me for a second. Then he looks back to Shadia.
her? Nothing. She’s too ugly for me. Absolutely no one in the village would want to sleep someone that hideous,”
“I’m not working right now. I’m on break,” Shadia says.
The boy mumbles something that I am unable to comprehend; his speech is too slurred.
The boy pushes Shadia onto the ground, tugging at her skirt. Shadia slaps him and
lets out a piercing scream. Without thinking, my feet dash toward the boy. I grab his hands and manage to get them
“Let go!” the boy demands, trying to move
his hands back onto Shadia. Shadia pulls up her skirt and is about to stand up when the boy bites my wrist. “Ow!
“ I exclaim as Shadia stands up. I let go of the boys’ hands. He stands up and chases after Shadia,
pinning her to the ground and taking off her shirt. Shadia screams again and tries to fight against him but she’s
not strong enough. I rush over to help Shadia and together, the two of us are able to get the boys’ hands off
of her. “Leave her alone! Go away!” I shout.
boy spats. “She didn’t have what I was looking for, anyway.” “Excuse me?” Shadia questions,
her arms crossed. “Exactly what is this thing that I lack?” I don’t know why Shadia is asking
him this. By making conversation with him, Shadia is just keeping him around longer and then he might attack her
again. She should just let him leave without attempting to make conversation with him. “You don’t have the
sacred birthmark, the one that the temple priests have been searching for. They’re looking for someone who has a black
birthmark shaped like a cluster of water droplets. It is said that whoever possesses this birthmark has special abilities
and has been blessed greatly by God. The priests want this person to be found and want him or her to be brought to the temple
immediately,” the boy explains. “Oh. I was unaware of this,” Shadia says. “Thanks for telling me.”
“You’re welcome,” the boy says, and walks away.
I wait until he is out of
earshot and then turn to Shadia.
you should really quit this job and choose a different one. I don’t like customers treating you this way,” I state.
“You think I chose this job?” she scoffs. “If I could do some other job, I would, but this
was my only option! No one wants to hire an illiterate girl like me. A prostitute is the only profession that you don’t
need education for. It’s the only job that stupid people like me can do.”
Shadia! You’re not
stupid. I bet if you were given the opportunity to go to school, you would be a genius.” “Thanks. You always know
the right thing to say to make me feel better,” Shadia says, smiling. The sunlight shines in her eyes, changing their
color to a lighter shade of brown. “Let’s start walking home; the sun is setting and I don’t want to be
out once it’s dark. Especially not after that experience,” Shadia says. “Okay,”
I comply. “You know, you’re
actually kind of lucky that you’re not pretty like me.” “What? No way. You’re the lucky one,
the one who is blessed with a beautiful face. Having an ugly face like mine is no good.” “Oh, but it is. Even
ugliness has its advantages. You’ll never have to worry about people sexually harassing you or whistling at you.”
“That’s true. . . Although I wouldn’t mind being whistled at, being sexually harassed sure doesn’t
sound fun. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about it ever happening to me. You know, I never thought about that
before, but that’s actually a really good point.
Thanks for bringing that up. It
makes me feel a bit more at ease with my unattractive face now that I know it actually has some advantages.”
“See! Being ugly isn’t so bad,” Shadia declares.
I smile and
then I scowl, for I have come to the realization that my best friend has just called me ugly.
I lay in my bed with my eyes open, trying to dream. All of the other orphans around me are sprawled across the floor,
sleeping on their straw-filled mats. Try as I might, I cannot go back to sleep. For some reason, my body and brain have decided
to wake me up at the crack of dawn. I close my eyes and try again. I hear soft footsteps in the distance. Is someone in reality
coming to walk by, or is this the sound of a character from my dream approaching me? The footsteps gradually get louder and
soon I am gently nudged on the shoulder.
“Are you awake?” a familiar voice coos. I
open my eyes and see Shadia kneeling on the floor, next to my mat. Behind her is a woman with striking eyes. They are huge
and almond-shaped with black pupils, a neon green halo around them and a turquoise iris. “This is Harshika,”
Shadia explains, gesturing to the green-eyed woman. “She is a spirit intro-spectator and she has come to see
you because she has brought the bright colors for your melancholy, black-and-white life canvas.”
“A spirit what? And what are you even talking about? You aren’t making
any sense. I don’t have a canvas, I can’t even afford a canvas, or paint for that matter,” I complain.
Shadia rolls her eyes. Harshika comes closer and kneels near the end of my mat, where my feet are. She looks at
the bottom of my feet, widens her eyes in surprise and grins. Her eyes literally lit up. The neon part glows and
her turquoise iris sparkles. This is not normal. No human can do that.
This must be
a dream. “She has what I have been looking for!” Harshika exclaims joyfully. Shadia
walks over to her. Harshika points to a spot on the bottom of my right foot and smiles. “You have the special
mark!” Shadia shouts. “What mark?” I question.
“The one that the temple priests have been searching for, the one that looks like a cluster of water
droplets. You know, the one that the boy searched my body for the other day?” “Ugh, don’t remind
me,” I complain. A moment of silence occurs as I let the information sink in. “Wow, I have the mark!
this mean that I’m blessed? Has God blessed me? Am I allowed to go inside the temple from now on?”
“Oh, of course, darling! Not only will they let you inside but they treat you with great respect, for you are
the Chosen One,” Harshika replies.
I have butterflies in my stomach and a big smile
on my face as I enter the temple for the first time. My soul feels lighter than usual. It is as if the weight of
depression that has been weighing me down all my life has finally been detached. I no longer feel like a waste of
Harshika shows the temple priests the mark on my foot. They grin at me and even bow
down to me. I can’t help but gasp. I have gone from being an inferior outcast to a well respected, blessed being in
a single day. “You have the power to stop this drought,” the priest man says to me. “If you repeat after
me, chanting the mantra exactly as I have chanted it, the Gods and Goddesses will hear your request and it will
begin to rain outside. This mantra is in a different language, the language of the Gods and Goddesses. It is crucial
that you pay attention to my pronunciation of the words and do your best to mimic the sounds.” I nod my head.
The priest begins chanting the language. The sounds are thick but not harsh. The words are so long that after chanting
each phrase, I have to take in a deep breath. The phrases rhymes with each other, flowing together perfectly like
a smooth, steady river. As soon as I am done chanting, I can hear rain droplets fall softly onto the roof. “It
worked! It’s raining!” I holler. “Yes indeed,” the priest says with a smile.
I hear the music of a cheerful flute and a pair of tabla drums behind me.
I turn around and see two people playing the instruments. How long have they been sitting there? I grin and rise
from my spot on the floor. I twirl and jump and dance my way outside. Shadia follows me and so do Harshika and the
instrument players. Everyone from the village comes to the front yard of the temple, dancing and rejoicing and chatting
gleefully. A girl with a mellifluous voice sings aloud for all to hear. The thick raindrops beat down on us harshly,
falling faster than before, but no one seems to mind. “Thank you for the rain, Gods and Goddesses!”
A woman shouts. Many people follow suit and a chorus of thank yous fill the air. I, too, thank the Gods and Goddesses.
Not in a bellowing voice, but I say it under my breath.
“And let’s not
forget to thank this girl for asking the Gods and Goddesses for rain. Without her, they would not have listened,” the
priest says. “We shall all bow to her.” “Oh no, it’s okay. That won’t be necessary. It was no
big deal, really,” I say, but everyone bows in his or her place regardless of my statement. The rain slows down and
slowly the crowd clears. Harshika embraces me a hug and thanks me.
“No, thank you,”
I correct. “Without you. I would have never discovered my talent. All my life I have thought of myself as a nuisance
up until now.” The rain stops and the sun shines.
“You were never a nuisance. You were a misunderstood
girl fighting a battle against society, but look where you are now. At the end of every storm is a rainbow.”
She gestures to the sky, where an arch of bright colors lie.
I smile and gaze at the rainbow’s beauty. It feels so good to have finally
arrived at my rainbow.