I went to school taking the bus with my best friend at that time, Liza. She was the fairest of them all. She had the longest hair to the envy of everyone including me. Her brown hair attracted attention from friends to teachers to boys. We were just 8 years old then and all we knew was what ribbon to wear to school the next day. Having the fairest of them all as a friend didn't boost my confidence. In comparison to her, I was the darkest of them all. It wasn't the first thing on my mind then, but the people around us were the ones who made the fuss. When we walked around together, they would say things like "black and white", "day and night" and a few others not good to say them here. I refused to pay much attention but sometimes when those were the only words you heard even when you were at home I eventually withdrew from the crowd. Liza too somehow didn't come by as much, as her popularity grew over the years.
Being self conscious at such a young age was honestly miserable. I became somewhat contented confining myself in my room with my fairytale books. I did not read that many books only these few ones which I memorized from page to page. I was in my mind the Cinderella with my brothers as the evil step sisters, the Sleeping beauty with me falling asleep most of the time after rounds of Tedrals, the Rapunzel sans the long hair,but I always imagined all the ribbons I could put on my hair if I was Rapunzel. I was all the fairytale characters except for Snow White of course.
"...hitam manis, hitam manis, yang hitam manis, pandang tak jemu, pandang tak jemu, yang hitam manis pandang tak jemu." "Hitam manis tok ni nak pergi sekolah dah?"
I felt better instantly and I smiled with the biggest of smile so I could make him see as he was partially blind and straight away took his hand and salam and cium tangan. "...kakyang nak pergi sekolah dah tok! Nanti kakyang balik, tok cerita ayam togel lagi and Sang Kelembai lagi k" He chuckled like he always did with his small eyes behind those thick glasses.
Other than my ribbons, Tok made me happy.