Red is Blue

by Ramesh Balaji

In front of my glass cage, I see the royal purple walls of my home. The crackling fireplace
which I cannot hear, the plush red leather couch that I cannot feel. The soft rug protecting the wooden
floor, the soft rug that would insulate my feet from the dead cold. I see the Christmas tree alight with
rainbow colors, the beautiful snow outside, coating the entirety of the world in sublime white.
In front of my glass cage is my pitying and disappointed family that was I always so afraid to
confide in.
Behind my glass cage, I see the textured, whitewashed walls of my school. I see the desks lining
the classrooms, the air conditioning cooling the building in the dead of winter. The desks whose smooth
surface I cannot feel, the chatter of the student occupants whom I cannot hear. I see the wide
whiteboard at the front, blank and empty. I see the dusty tiles speckled with their green and off-grey,
coated in footprints.
Behind my glass cage lies no one, but I’m only seeing what I cannot see: my once-friends
looking away at me in disgust. They disappeared, one by one.
And I see both sides, but neither side can see the other; to them, the other side is obsidian.
So I’m softly singing to myself. I’m humming quietly; no one can hear me, and my family just
tilts their heads.
Don’t let the baby cry
Feed him lye
Feed him dye
Don’t let the baby die.
The baby comes alive
The child wonders why
Yet he cannot even try
Don’t let the child question life.
And before his eyes
Beauty lies
He chases her lies
She won’t let him catch her light—
My voice is not strong enough. It falters and breaks while I sing, but I must continue. Always,
once I start something, I can’t stop.
Let her friendship blight
Let the suffering multiply
Let his hope take flight
Don’t let the front pane see him break
Let him fear the fire
Her burning his desire
Let him see the red
And turn it to blue—

I look behind and remember the voices, so encouraging, so painful—and I remember her special
voice that I could never remember, and my breath catches in my throat. So blue. But I must finish
singing.
But he can’t
Not a chance
Connection is not happenstance
The dry wood shouldn’t burn
So the baby cried
He fed himself lye
He fed himself dye
Red is the sky
But he was still alive.
And my voice falters again, but there is no more. For that song is mine; I was the baby and the
child. And I’d tell everyone to make the front pane can see the back, but I can’t. Because I’m now in
the glass cage. As an opportunistic person, my worst fear was losing everyone.
They wheel me away, and only then do I let myself sob, the little air remaining filling my lungs.