It was for the umpteenth time that he was being woken up by a crushing pain in his stomach; the same irritating pain that felt as if his insides were being churned by someone who disliked him particularly. He knew what was coming now. He would pick himself up, drag his body, half walking, half crawling, across the floor, open the door to the brightly lit toilet, fall on his knees hugging the cold porcelain, and let the pain do the rest.

He had eaten nothing that day. He wondered how much he could keep vomiting. He expected to see the tip of his intestines prodding out of his mouth soon. But before that, the bloodshed had to stop. He was used to it by now. The white porcelain, the yellow tiles and the stainless steel taps had already acquired various tints of red, gushes of which came in well-timed, strong jets .
The same happened this time too. He began shooting rivers of blood out of his mouth –
a pinkish red at first which reminded him of the Sherbet bottles he had seen on the ragged wooden tables of the street vendors, on the evenings, as he returned home from school with his dad. He would plead for a glass, and his father would say no immediately, only to surprise him with a glass hidden behind him;
a crimson hue followed, which brought back another good memory of his life – the little peck she planted on his cheek as he gave her the rose she had asked for, which was strangely the same shade of red;
a scarlet river ensued, which seemed like a cry for help from someone inside him who seemed to wail, “Enough! Enough, no more! You don’t have anymore!”;
and finally, a thick cherry flow, that was almost indistinguishable from black, with which ended the pain.

He let out a deep sigh, got back on his feet with great effort, wiped his mouth, reached for the door and let himself out of the red toilet, into his room.

The room was dimly lit, with a comforting chill.

“Perhaps it is the fan,” he thought, “or perhaps, Christmas is in the air.” He faintly remembered thinking how Christmas seems to be somehow associated with the colour Red, when he was filling red pools a few seconds ago.

“Maybe it is Santa’s coat,” he thought. “Or maybe it is the glass balls hung on Christmas trees.”
“Wait a minute, is it Rudolph’s nose?”, he smiled with great effort.
He brushed these thoughts away as he was tired and needed the sleep of this night badly. “Tomorrow is a big day,” he reminded himself. “You would call mom, first thing in the morning.”
He was giving himself the itinerary. “Then you would apologise for not calling her for so long, and tell her how much you missed her. You should also tell her that Christmas was already in the air.”
“Then you would talk to Dad too! Tell him that you knew every single time that the sherbet glass would be hidden behind his back , and that he looked forward to their little game every day.
“Then you would call her. Make it a point to tell her that you loved her. Even though both of you are sure of it, a little reassurance wouldn’t hurt. She seemed to need it once in a while.”

“Make sure you buy the Christmas star. You should be the first to signal Christmas in your locality. It is your favourite time of the year, after all. Oh, and make sure the star is red!”
He continued making  plans as he dragged himself across the room to his bed. He remembered that he had spread fresh sheets that morning. He stood by the side of his bed, looking strangely at his own body which was lying on the bed, curled into a foetal position.

The confusion made way for sadness, followed by helplessness. There was a tear that almost flowed down his cheeks, as if waiting for his permission. He smiled, and the tear nodded and went it’s way.


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