Counting Stars

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She counts. She counts to relax numbers, stars, passing cars. It allows her mind to focus, providing an outlet for nameless pent up emotions. It all began when she was a child counting sheep to put her restless mind to sleep. Lullabies, fairy tales and promises of lands where she will be considered royalty never helped. They only excited her to leap out of the moth eaten quilt and explore the unknown. The sheep, however, were different. Simple, rhythmic and an imagined allegory of her own life, they lulled her into sleep — a not very happy one but definitely familiar. Now in her late 20s, she still has plenty to count.

She has heard of the rich and elite women, women with whom she has a gaping chasm of differences with, buying gobs of concealers and even corrective surgery to erase these very remnants that she clings to at night. Aside from the fact that she can’t afford those, she would rather not obliterate potential counting material. She loves the graduation of colors — pink, red, purple. She imagines her body to be a sky, speckled with bumps, bruises and colors. These are cosmic dust, to be cherished and loved. Not to be reviled.

The tales and promises of princess-hood and a better life never happened. She did travel to those lands where the earth stretches to meet the horizon and buildings that assume impossible shapes. Her position in the hierarchy of the world remained stagnant. However, as she grew, the look in the eyes of the others changed from pity to contempt.  The change was so gradual, it was almost natural. She didn’t mind. She was comfortable in the cocoon woven by years of repetition and if given a choice, she’d opt for this. Familiarity breeds contentment and acceptance of one’s state. In her case, she was also reverent of those who snubbed and even derided her. She was awed by the might with which they trampled upon the weeds of the earth, the thunder in their steps. They hurt her, bruised her but that’s not their fault; they cannot help themselves. It is embedded in their DNA, it is the natural order of the world.

All the men and all the women have had a tough day at life. Hurled abuses and festered cruelty is merely a channel for them to release the tension. Like counting is hers. Every time she falters, she draws up a new star in her sky. The cold, sharp edge of a blade caresses her. The oozing redness warms her singed insides. The pain counters the universe. Once again, colors burst out of the starry sky. She begins counting.

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