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Who is the real monster?

By Aarushi G.
Grade 11, India

I looked under my bed
in the hopes of catching the Boogeyman curled up for the night
the vicious monster with dark circles under his eyes-that no amount of make- up could hide!
crooked yellow teeth-without a doubt, the number one on the hit list of the tooth fairy!!
and that awful burnt face!
made Medusa appear like an epitome of beauty and grace.

We used to make fun of the boogeyman, my friends and I
laugh out loud behind his back, sometimes even in front of him
when the tall lanky man, with the unshaven beard and a satchel in his hand-the human boogeyman would walk by.
with his eyes downcast, satchel in hand, he'd walk down the street.
only stopping for a moment when my friends would scream.

They would call him names, demeaning names, horrible names- names I dare not repeat
but he would just walk by-the tall lanky man, with the unshaven beard, and a satchel in his hand-carrying with him, a silent plea.

I looked into his eyes, wearing a mask of my own
the infamous smirk, the glaring, condescending eyes-that could bring Hitler and his cronies to shame, and crumble all their unspoken lies
I looked at his repulsive face.
he stole a glance at me

All I saw-were sad, puppy eyes.
his eyes I saw- glistened with unshed tears-like something was tearing him apart. (I knew what it was. oh I knew it well.)
He wasn't afraid anymore.
of staring right back at me.
he looked straight ahead
that tall lanky man with the unshaven beard and a satchel in his hand.

He screamed.
he howled and screamed and howled some more
like he had seen something frightening. like he had come face to face with a mirror.

my friends-my friends-with their eyes, popping and their paled expressions.
ran at lightning speed-
away from all that they couldn't understand
this reaction from the boogeyman, was uncalled for.
and what they didn't understand, they needn't care about
Only I stood, rooted to the spot.

I watched him scream and cry and rub his eyes with the back of his hand
he was a sad, sorry wreck.
something that wasn't funny.
All the violent tales about him, the stories I had heard-
bashing up kids, vandalizing cars
he wasn't welcome even in the bars!!
he used to eat out of bins-raw meat and lead
and pick up a fight every now and then.
All crumbled away into dust.
A clever web of rumors, deceit and lies.

Is this the madman my parents had warned me about?