The new girl in her classroom was tall, big-framed, with a well-developed bosom. Suji was intrigued by the implication- how old was Paula, where was she from? Paula sat at her desk, lips compressed grimly, eyes ablaze with a silent fury. She had smooth gleaming dark cocoa skin, complemented by tiny springy curls clustering close to the scalp. She was always dressed neatly in a navy blazer, knee length skirt and white blouse. Her unbending taciturnity defeated everyone. Even the teachers could barely elicit anything more than a monosyllabic response when they addressed her. At playtime, while the other kids would whoop and holler exuberantly as they chased around the playground, Paula kept her silence under an old oak tree.
Suji approached her again. “ Hi, Paula.”
“Mmmmpf.”- an indifferent nod. “Isn’t it nice weather today? Do you like to swing?”
Silence. A shake of the head.
“I’m eight years old. How old are you?”
Paula turned and walked away from the tree to the other end of the playground.