Himmat sat behind the white line that separated him from the boys who played soccer. His name meant courage in Hindi, but he felt none of that right now. In fact, in an effort to save the cafeteria from the pungent (and unfamiliar) aroma of curry, he consumed last evening’s leftover chicken and rice from a Tupperware container in the third floor boy’s bathroom, second stall from the end – a chicken eating chicken seemed cannibalistic, but he was hungry, and curried chicken was his favorite.
His skin was brown, his name was weird and his lunch was far from the white bread sandwiches and Oreo cookies his fellow students consumed. He was doomed in this new town, in this new school, in this new place that, according to the six-o-clock news, had no tolerance for him, his skin, or his odd lunch.
“Wanna play?” The question broke him from his self-consumed trance.
“What?” he asked, a clear attempt to buy the necessary time to understand.
“Wanna play? We could use a sweeper.”
Himmat suddenly felt courageous, “I can sweep.” He jumped to his feet and fell in line behind his new mate—who apparently had failed to watch the six-o-clock news.