There is excitement all around. Christmas is coming. It has been snowing for the past few days. I love to watch the snow fall from the living room windows. It is rather cold outdoors.

The walk to the school is a bit tough now. The air is cold. But the school is fun. Class rooms are warm. There has been talk of a Christmas school play and other fun activities to be held before the winter school break. One of the Christmas plays is about the birth of baby Jesus. There is talk of who will be chosen to act in this play. The characters are, a shepherd boy, three wise men, Joseph and Mary. Joseph and Mary are the parents of baby Jesus. I have no interest in the school plays. I want to play during the lunch break. I want to play with snow and make snow balls.

The school stage is being decorated slowly. The stage and school hall looks better every day. The assembly takes place every morning in this hall, where our school principal Mr. Ball addresses all students.

This morning some of the class students have been asked to stay back after the assembly. Teachers are going to select some students to participate in the school plays. My class teacher asked me to come on the stage. I got onto the stage by taking the side steps. The teacher tells me that I have to play the role of Mary.

This is confusing for me. How can I play Mary? So I ask her again. She tells me that the role is very simple. I have to sit next to a “manger”. A doll will be placed in it and it will represent baby Jesus. I have to keep my hands on the “manger” and look at the doll’s face. Some more kids are selected for the other roles. My friend gets to be the shepherd boy. Three boys from a senior class will play the three wise men.

There are some more senior girls on the stage. Two girls who were standing in the front of the stage called me towards them. I obediently go to them and stand near them. One girl asks me whether I was selected for playing the role of Mary. I nod my head in a yes. I then feel a hand on my back and I feel a sudden push that sends me tumbling off the stage. I fall from the stage and my left hand hits the floor first. My face is flat on the floor. My head starts to hurt. I try to stand up. Some students help me to get up. I look up at the stage but those two girls are not on the stage anymore. Why did they push me? Is it because I will play the role of Mary? They can play it if they want. But I could not find them. I could not even recall their faces. They were white girls with light colour hair and were much taller than me.

I went back up onto the stage and stood near the teacher, my left hand in severe pain. The pain in my wrist was increasing. All of us selected kids were given our costumes to be worn for the play. I was to wear a simple grey gown, not very interesting. The three wise men got brighter gowns and crowns to wear. There was glitter on their dresses. How lovely!

We then went back to our classes. By lunch time I could barely move my left hand. I wanted to tell someone about the pain in my left hand. But whom do I tell? I told myself that the pain will go away on its own. By the time of school closure the pain was very bad. My mother had come to pick us up. All three of us siblings were waiting for her. I wish I were with my Grandmother, so that I could  tell her about the pain in my hand. How do I tell my mother? She is so busy. She has to take all three of us home. If I tell her then how will my brother and sister go home? My hand was stiff with pain. My mother looked at my face and asked me what was wrong with me. I said I was fine.

She looked at my left hand and asked me why I had kept it so stiff and why my face was all distraught with pain? She touched my hand and understood that something was wrong. How did my mother know? She immediately asked another lady, who lived near our home, to take my brother and sister home. Then she took me to the hospital across the road.

The doctor in the hospital checked my hand and wrist and put my hand inside a machine. A black and white photo of the bones on my hand came out of the machine. The doctor gave some instructions to my mother. He said that my hand will be fine in a few days. I would have to keep it tied up and move it as little as possible to give it rest.

My hand was fine in a few days. The Christmas Play day finally arrived and I played the role of Mary. The performance was applauded by the audience comprising of school kids and teachers. I was rather happy that the play was over.

I ended up with many questions in my mind though. Why did the teachers want me to play the role of Mary? I am a brown girl with black hair. I am not even a Christian. Is it because I am not white and have black hair? Maybe! Jesus was not born in England but in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is in Asia, India is also in Asia. Maybe Mary had dark hair and was not white, unlike the girls, who pushed me off the stage.

I have not told my teacher or my mother as to how I hurt my hand. I have learnt to be a bit more wary of my surroundings now and that some girls can be really mean, meaner than even the naughtiest boys in my class.

I have also learnt an important lesson that you cannot hide things from your mother. She understands you more than you think.

( I have played the role of Mary in two different  Primary schools,  three times out of my entire five years stay in England. It was much later in life that I got to know that Mary was not a Christian and she actually had had dark hair. So I guess it was my dark coloured hair that got me that role again and again.)