The room filled with pin drop silence. I can hear my own heart beat syncing with those on stage. As I look over at the immense crowd gathered here, I can feel the tension. I close my eyes, praying to God.
“Please, let her win!”
Ever since I dropped out of the contest, my only hope was to see my best friend winning the competition, to see her coming back home, with the trophy in her hands. Now that the moment is seconds away, I can feel my stomach knotting up.
Not that I hate Jasmine. She became a good friend of both of us a few weeks ago. She is an extremely talented girl, and everybody says she moves like a flame.
“The poor motherless child raised by her father. Finally creating a legacy.” Everybody said pityingly.
Yet, if I were to choose between the two, it’ll always be my best friend Carol. I’m not being partial, but I know deep within, that she has something that Jasmine doesn’t, a heart of gold.
The boy next to me keeps eating his popcorn without a glance at the stage. Noticing my stare, he holds the box towards me and asks “want some?”
“Uhh… No, but thanks”
A sudden flashback of an incident, not too long ago.
In the cafeteria of the dance academy, Carol and I were waiting in the line. As we were talking with each other, we saw Jasmine from afar. She was with an elderly man. after buying a hot dog from the cafeteria and popcorn from the vending machine, we marched towards her. As we got close, we could hear her voice trembling with anger. She spat out words in a raised voice. One thing we clearly heard was “Don’t come here anymore! You are nothing but an embarrassment!”.
The memory didn’t make quite a significance till the day of semi-finals, where they displayed family photos of the contestants, and the old man from earlier was on the photos of jasmine next to her late mother.
“The winner is… JASMINE!!!”
The crowd is cheering on the top of their lungs, and I feel my vision getting blurred from tears. The family of the winner is called up on stage, and I see her family rushing to the front, all the camera lenses pointing at them.
It’s better to run to the backstage, where I can see Carol closely. Without a second thought, I made my way to the door in the back, running as fast as I can. The room is filled with the sound of applause. On top of that, a whistle so loud, deafening the entire audience. Maybe the biggest fan of Jasmine.
As I’m running, I glance at the corner of the hall. A man jumping with such excitement. Two fingers between his lips.
The Whistler. The owner of the deafening whistle. The biggest fan.
I stop for a moment to look back at the stage. I see a lot of people gathered up around her. Many of her friends stretching their necks out like giraffes to make sure they are on the picture. Hugging her tightly, competing to show who is the proudest of her achievement.
Few feet away from me is the biggest admirer of all. Dressed in shabby clothes, but happy for her from the bottom of his heart. He wouldn’t have a single photograph with her and the trophy, taken up on the big stage. Yet, he will cherish the image of the beautiful and talented girl enjoying one of the happiest days of her life with a bunch of her friends and well-known celebrities wishing her luck. From now on he’ll have something to make him smile at the end of a hard day. He’ll look down at his scarred palms and feel no pain. Even if he does, he’ll think to himself ‘I’m a father of a champ’. And he will smile and whistle from deepest of joys.
And yes, he will smile.
– Rtr Dinithi Athulathmudali
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