I.

Dag woke up to find himself sprawled on a patch of grass in front of his house tutor’s apartment. “What happened to me?” he grumbled.

Brushing himself off, he rose to his feet and looked around. The sun was setting. It was probably almost five o’clock. Students were bustling to and fro, from the West Block to the East. It was visiting Sunday. Dag walked slowly back to his room, oblivious to his surroundings. He could barely lift up each foot after the other, so he dragged them slowly as though he had on fetters and chains that bound his ankles and made them feel extremely heavy. His mind was weary. He simply did not remember how he even made it out to the park. And had he passed out? He could not even reason that out at the moment.

His thin frame cast a shadow on the compound grounds as he moved- a sliver of a silhouette. It was the third day of Dag’s self-imposed fast. His sides were hurting, his eyes looked small in their sockets. His simple clothing did not help his gaunt appearance. By all standards, the seventeen year-old, Scripture union secretary for the West block was haggard.

He got to his room in one piece, thankfully. Throwing one leg after the other, marching straight for his bed and then not looking, he knocked his right shin into his bed post. “Mercy,” he wanted to yell but the exclamation was subdued by his lack of energy. Sinking in weakness onto his bed, he rolled to his side, buried his head on a stained pillow and groaned. The next moment, he heard a knock on his door. He groaned again.

The visitor barged in after one or two knocks. “Senior Dag!” he called.

Dag made no response. He raised his head and looked at the boy who had just entered his room. Squinting to make out the stranger, he could feel pain in his blood-shot eyes.

“Senior Dag, your mother is here!” the young student was panting and out of breath.

“Tell her I can’t come.” Dag managed to reply matter-of-factly. There was simply no way he could muster the strength to bring himself to his feet once more. He was practically a dead man.

“You can’t come?” the student on duty, repeated his answer in surprise. He felt stupid walking back to the slender white lady with bold blue eyes and telling her that her son whom she had sent to boarding school and barely got to see, had refused to come see her. But he began to make his way towards the house park where visitors drove in. He did not know Senior Dag too well but he could make an excuse for him. He would tell Senior Dag’s mother her son was sick. Because Senior Dag did look pretty sick, in actual fact, he even looked worse than sick.

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