A Blaze Of Hope
Fathima Muhiyaddeen, Grade 8
People notice many things. Whether it may be a broken-winged bird or a limping cat. Whether a child holds out their hand in the pouring rain, hoping that someone may sympathise. Whether it is someone who had everything in the world once, but is now reduced to stealing just to survive. They notice.
But people are intricately selfish. They notice, but never care. Their lashes are lowered, as their heads turn. Not towards, but away. Nothing that directly affects them never concerns them. They proceed along the stream of activity, not noticing the few straggling rocks caught in the surging torrent. This child is one of them.
She shuffles forward, all threadbare blanket and dilapidated form, her hair partially covering desolate brown orbs. Taut skin covers her bony hands as she holds them out in front of her, pedestrians coming and going, a busy metropolis next to her hunched body. Plenty of people to observe. Plenty of excuses not to. Why is our world so demoralised?
A man walks past. Sparks flash through her eyes, and she struggles to stand, so weak she has become. Hobbling over to the man, she closes her fingers around his wrist. He glances down at the eight-year-old. A quicksilver flash of disgust passes his face, as he takes in her tattered clothing, unkempt hair. It goes as quickly as it comes, and he shakes her off. He continues down the path, neglecting to look back.
She wanders next to a couple at a restaurant table. The woman sees her, tenses, and murmurs something to her partner – Husband? Boyfriend? –, who nods. They rise, link fingers, leave. She stands, ogling after their retreating figures, pondering. Do you know what she’s done wrong?
The wind turns from a breeze into a gale. The blanket flaps away, leaving her clutching at air. She feels something on her arm, and looks to see a fat droplet go plop on her scrawny fingers. Before long, her skin is soaked, her hair dripping. Realisation jolts through her. She half-runs to her place in the alleyway. She can’t afford to have someone take her spot. In the underworld, it’s first come, first serve. Sinking down behind the garbage bins, she waits until the crowds have passed so she can start looking for dinner.
Barely a minute has elapsed before a long shadow blocks the bright lights of fancy stores. She glances up, to see a boy, about fourteen, looking down at her with a strange look on his face. She recognises that look, given by people who care, but do not commit. Pity. He bends down until they are eye-to-eye. He reaches out a hand. A blaze flashes through brown eyes, a great flare of disbelief. She takes it. A smile starts to form on her face, completely transforming it.
Places where darkness and frost are dominant, they are the opportune locations for beacons of warmth and light to gleam through.
And that is the most important thing in the world.