Ashima, now 14, was forever subject to much ridicule due to her cleft lip which took off the attention from her honey-coloured eyes and sculpted nose. When Ashima was born, her mother had refused to touch or feed her initially, forever screaming that she had given birth to a monster. The doctor had tried to make her see sense but he was helpless against the walls of ignorance and fear enveloping the entire village. All this while, her father never looked up from the newspaper.
Ashima scanned the corridors and treaded cautiously to avoid running into anyone. She arrived nowadays an hour prior to the school hours to avoid the snide comments, pointed fingers and mass bullying her classmates had taken a fancy to. A few weeks ago, a bright eyed boy had come running towards her,pulled off the band holding her pony and ran off to the next class. He was peering at her from the door while a crowd gathered around to bully Ashima.
Hence the braided hair and early arrival at school; her new routine suited her fine. She almost stumbled when she saw the boy near the door of classroom with an unreadable expression on his face. Ashima felt the tears burn the back of her throat as she fought the urge to run away on seeing him walk in her direction. He handed her back a band, new and wrapped nicely in plastic while Ashima stood rooted, puzzled. She was about to stop him when he faced her with a solemn look.
"I am sorry but I never planned to do anything to hurt you. I never thought the whole class would swarm and chide you.My mother said it was very bad of me to do so and gave me money to buy you a new band.Did you like it?"
"Don't think I am giving an excuse for my behaviour but......I think you look pretty with your hair loose."