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Lipstick, Lipstick, Lipstick
by Amit Parmessur

My name is Antish. I am 13 years old but I’m not even a lottery winner. It’s all down to some lipstick. Parents, avoid lipstick else you can break the future of your children.

Do you know what my life is because of lipstick? My life is hell. I live in a rented house. My parents are barely able to pay the rents. The clothes I wear have thinned to invisibility. My dreams are still dreams. My belly is more like my back. People even say I’ve got 2 backs. My mother, father and I we have 6 backs.

I shall always curse lipstick and have a grudge against the ancient Egyptians who invented it too. Lipstick, lipstick, lipstick. I just hate you. The only redeeming feature is that I’m 13 years old. I can change my fate. But without lipstick my life could have already changed.

Without lipstick, my clothes could have been visible. To everyone. My dreams in my head would have hatched into reality. We could have transformed half of our 6 backs into bellies in my family. There could also have been 4 backs instead – my mother’s, father’s, mine and my little sister’s. How I long to have a doll-like sister! It all went wrong only because of some lipstick.

Everything began with the morning news today. It was announced that a 13-year-old boy had won the first prize of the national lottery. For a moment I thought it was me. The winner’s photo flashed on the screen. I was surprised. Usually winners don’t like themselves to be presented in public in my country. They fear they might attract thieves. As the picture animated the screen I felt nostalgic. I now feel like telling you how I met him.

It was a week before the announcement of the results. I put on two T-shirts to prevent my backs from being visible. My mother too was ready to go out. But then, she told me to wait outside for a couple of minutes. I waited, unaware that my chance of becoming a millionaire was decreasing. I waited. My mother came and we took our bodies without bellies to the market.

First we went to buy a few lottery tickets. There was a boy in front of us in the queue. He bought his ticket and went away. I bought a couple too looking with a lot of hope at my mother, who smiled back, with her blood-red lips shining.

Hadn’t my mother told me to wait for her we would have been in the boy’s place, we would have bought the ticket the boy bought, we would have been the winner he was and I would have been the 13-year-old celebrity on the television screen, not him.

Lipstick. Lipstick. I shall always hate you. Lipstick. I shall love you and Egypt only if one day my mother applies you, I wait for her and then we go to the market to buy a ticket worth millions.