The carnival lights were almost blinding as if being contradicted to seeing the lively atmosphere out there, overpowering the crowd. The evening in the electronic city had just started, some shopkeepers still setting up their shops for business, their eyes gleaming for new clients. Some of them were catcalling their products, hoping to attract the customers with their already croaked voices. The crowd seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, like businessmen trying to catch the local train. The smeared tent houses were pointing towards the moonlight, which just started to become visible. The Ferris wheel was a looming eyesore, spinning the life out of its passengers. Its colours were worn off and looked as it had not been repainted. People were sitting on seats with cracked padding and clinging onto the metal bars as if their life depended on it. The buzzing engines of the spinning machine bring to the mind of mythical dragons spewing smoke off their gigantic nostrils. The rides looked as if they were from abandoned parks. Their owners might have forgotten to repair them. The crinkling of the popcorn machine was mixed with children’s playful giggles and excitement. Amidst the chaos of screaming children with their mothers tending to them, the smell of fresh donuts sizzling in vats of oil filling its aroma in the near corner, and screeching of pinball machines, there was a lonely, shriveled boy standing.
His eyes were sparkling yet lost in the madness of the jamboree. His skin was pale, bruised from playing with his friends in an evening of playtime. His bouncy curls somehow looked flattened, as if they, too, were searching for something. His bright red clothes were contradicting his now dull, tear-soaked face. The lonely boy was frantically looking for someone, presumably his mother’s security, with tension creasing on his small brows. The sudden realization hit him; his smiling face now turned to a dark frown. Something sparked near his eye and his chubby cheek. Loud music was piercing his ears, but he stood still as if he saw a paranormal creature lurking from the side of the donuts stall. One of his hands, occupied with a bottle of water, while the other one, scratching his head as if searching for his Eureka moment. His nose was scrunching, having a feeling as he was about to catch a cold. While wondering his next move, the boy ran straight towards the Ferris wheel, and one could feel his throat screeching the word ‘Amma,’ with all its might. The boy profusely rubbing his eyes and making sounds attracted the eyes of some people from the crowd. A man with khaki pants and his wife and children of their own questioned the boy. The boy seemed confused and just stood there. Clinging onto his shorts, he moved his head in different directions, going crazy. He sure seemed to have some dark thoughts of his own, fighting his confusion with himself. The moon was about to peek from the grey clouds and shine the light towards the already lit up carnival.
The crowd started disappearing, and so did the noise except for the children who begged their parents to stay for some more time. Their innocent eyes stuck to the rides as they were parting ways, wishing the night never ended. A girl in a pink frock, holding her saree clad, old grandmother looked at the boy. The girl was confused since she never witnessed a child alone and never without his family. The eye contact lasted for mere seconds before the girl went far away from the boy with her family. The boy was looking at one such family, all of them going home together. He was comprehending whether his Amma will come looking for him. One dusty boy lost in a world of colour.
About the Author – Sharona Sachan is a first-year undergraduate student at Manipal Institute of Communication. She will be either found reading a book in a corner or vibing to music loudly in front of everyone. There is nothing in between.