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Dream Quest One Third Writing Prize Winner
Winter 2013-2014
Angelica Singh
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 per day.

“Shadia?” I ask.

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 yet.”

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.

The 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 words.



As 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 spit.

“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.

“Who 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.

“What 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.


“From her? Nothing. She’s too ugly for me. Absolutely no one in the village would want to sleep someone that hideous,” he states.

“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.


Shadia asks.    

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 off Shadia.

“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.

“Fine!” the 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.


“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! Does




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 life.

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.
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Brief bio:
Angelica Singh (who often goes by the name Anjalee) is a 16-year-old who has a passion for creativity. She resides in Illinois, where she was born and raised. She has no middle name and was originally left-hand dominant, the hand that is said to be dominant for people who are creative than logical. She is proud of these characteristics and everything else that make her unique. Angelica believes that everyone has a purpose in life and has exhibited that belief in her story entry.


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