Chapter 11:

Chapter 11

Mokhoddis School Days Episode II

“Alright everyone, the art pieces are on display now for everyone to see. The judges will take a look at them shortly and we will announce the winners of the Golden Hills annual festival art contest!” The announcer gained everyone’s attention.

Groups of people rushed in to see the paintings.

“Be careful please and do not touch any of the work.” The employee tried to raise his voice, but was overshadowed by the noise of kids yelling and people laughing. “I repeat, do not touch-”

“I guess you won’t get to submit your painting Mokhoddis.” Phet grabbed his shoulder.

“Yeah sorry Mokhoddis.” Rubina apologized.

“It’s okay guys, I’m just happy I got this painting done.” Mokhoddis’ face now slightly changing to a reddish hue.

“To be honest, I’m surprised that you were able to paint this in just one day after school.” Rubina looked at the painting.

“Yeah, I’m quite surprised too.” Mokhoddis replied.

“Do you guys wanna go check out the art pieces? I heard there are some really good ones.” Phet spoke excitedly.

“Yeah sure, but we should meet up with class E first.” Mokhoddis replied… I heard they were looking for me.

“Looks like you guys made up.” Josiah waved.

“Hey, it's Josiah!” Phet waved his hand, causing the recoil to bounce his stomach.

“Hey Mokhoddis, we didn’t think you would come.” Elisa pushed her way out of the crowd. She was holding a stick containing pink cotton candy. Elisa grabbed Mokhodis’ painting “Oh wow, is that a space octopus? It looks so cool.”

The rest of class E crowded around Mokhoddis’ painting after hearing Elisa’s comment.

“Mokhoddis, your utilization of dry brushing was so good on the asteroids. It gives an illusion of a 3D asteroid just by using a simple layering with a darker color tone.” Nina analyzed the scene.

“Wow Nina, you sure know your stuff.” Phet added.

“So you guys want to go check out the art pieces?” Josiah broke into the conversation.

“Yeah, I don’t see what we’re waiting around here for, now that Mokhoddis is here.” Rubina added.

“Do you wanna place a bet on whose painting will win?” Elisa took a bite out of the cotton candy.

“If any of us win-” Rubina smiled.

“I bet Nina’s will win first place. No doubt about it.” Phet raised his fist in the air.

“I think Nina’s a strong contender for sure.” Rosemary walked in.

“Rosemary!” Phet and Elisa waved.

“Sorry guys I’m late, I was just helping out at my dad's stall. He’s been selling cotton candy like crazy.” Rosemary apologized.

“Who do you think will win, Mokhoddis?” Josiah asked.

“Hard to say. Maybe we’ll have multiple winners. Besides Nina, I see Rubina being a corrival.” Mokhoddis replied.

“And why is that?” Rosemary asked.

“Simply because she’s Rubina.” Mokhoddis smiled. “She probably tryharded the whole week trying to finish this painting, skipping out on chores, studying, even eating.” Mokhoddis glanced at Rubina. “Hell, she probably even redid her paintings to one-up Nina after she smelled out the competition.”

Rubina looked down hiding her smile then looked up “I could’ve gone harder you know, and at least I didn’t try to do my painting last minute like you.”

Mokhoddis closed his eyes, “Yeah, that’s true but honest, I really think you’re going to win.”

“Hey, maybe Phet will win it all.” Elisa added,

“There’s a higher chance of Mr.Deyoung turning out to be an old-school delinquent than that.” Rubina lightly punched Phet.

Class E erupted in laughter.

“Let’s get going now,” Josiah stated.

“I’ll lead the way.” Phet pointed towards the art display.
“No, I will.” Elisa pushed Phet away.

As Phet and Elisa fought, class E walked towards the art display.

Mokhoddis followed class E, as he walked around the art pieces, one piece, in particular, caught the corner of his eye. He stared at it, but couldn’t remember where he had seen this before.

“Hey Mokhoddis, are you coming?” Phet called out.

“You guys go ahead. I’ll be back.” Mokhoddis gestured to Phet to go.

Mokhoddis stood in front of this painting that he couldn’t take his eyes away. It was a sunset, but there was no water, trees or any noticeable landscape. It was a child standing while a thousand hands reached over to him. It was Rashid’s painting.

“Damn, so he decided to submit his painting huh?” Mokhoddis thought to himself. “If he’s really here, then I gotta show him my painting,” Mokhoddis paused “Without Rashid, there would be no painting.”

Thud…….THUD…THUD..THUD THUD THUD. Two men beat the drum in synchrony as it got louder and louder until it came to a sudden silence.

“And now, we will have the judges present their votes on the stage.” The announcer pointed to the three empty chairs. Principal May carried herself like the bird of prey she is, elegant, charismatic, her glance sharp enough to cut you, and found herself to be the first one seated to the right. The Mayor followed her, waving and greeting the crowd, and seated himself in the middle. Finally, the old man walked to the chair on the left. He held his hands behind his back as he calculated each step until he was facing the chair. Then he sat himself down in a gentle manner.

“And now, we will be presenting the top three winners for the art contest.” The announcer shouted.

The crowd cheered.

“Finally, it’s starting.” Phet shouted.

“WHOOOOO” Elisa followed.

“Our third place winner, we have a very bright and talented art student. He has impressed everyone with his majestic painting of a sunset… it’s Johnny from GoldFinch Institution of Art!”

The crowd cheered.

“I loved your painting Johnny! Such a beautiful composition, it brings tears to my eyes just looking at it.” Principal May added.

“I can’t believe this guy won third.” Mokhoddis laughed.

“You know him?” Asked Josiah.

“Sort of.”

“Second place, we have someone shocking. Competing in this tournament full of adult and experienced artists. She has left the judges in awe at her creativity.” The announcer paused. “For second place, we have…” The crowed tensed up. “...Nina Maisy from Golden Hills Academy!”

Class E erupted with cheers for their fellow classmate.

“Lets goo!” Phet shouted.

“That’s my girl” Elisa hugged Nina.

“Nina you’re amazing.” Rosemary grouped up on the hug.

“I knew you could do it.” Mokhoddis smiled.

“And for first place...” The announcer scratched his head. “What was that?” He appeared to be talking to someone off-stage. “Yeah.. I see.” He nodded. “So folks, for first place, we tried our best to find who the painter is, but we couldn’t find anyone who would claim this painting. So we will just show this painting to you guys.” The announcer proceeded to grab a painting. It was Rashid’s. “One second.” He struggled to set it straight. “It’s heavier than it looks, guys.” The announcer continued “WIth a canvas stretching 7 meters diagonally we have this unclaimed painting here titled, potential. All three of the judges were in awe of it. “$1000!” The mayor offered to buy it, “Um… please give a valid score. And unfortunately, since we don’t know who painted this we cannot rightfully sell it. Does anyone claim this painting?”

There was silence in the crowd.

“Such a beautiful painting and we don’t know who made it?” Rosemary frowned.

“It- it's just perfect. It’s so well done. And huge!” Nina added.

Why didn’t Rashid claim the painting? Was he in the crowd? Mokhoddis scanned his surroundings but it was too dark to see if Rashid was in there.

“Well then, if we can’t claim an owner for this painting, we’ll just have to disqualify this beautiful piece.” The announcer looked at a paper in his hand while he held the microphone. “This brings the new winners as Nina Maisy for 1st place, Johnny for 2nd and we have a new 3rd place winner.” He paused. “Wow, two students from Golden Hills Academy! A lot of young talent in this upcoming generation! Let's give it up for Rubina Choudry with the 4th most points in the contest!”

“Let’s goo Rubina.” Phet screamed while taking off his shirt.

“Good job Rubina.” Josiah smiled.

“Yay Rubina.” Rosemary clapped.

“Thanks, guys.”

With that, the art contest and the festival came to an end. The prizes were 3 pumpkins for 1st place, 2 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd. Whether it was a disappointing or an awesome prize was up to the recipient to interpret.

Kids held their parents' hands as they walked out. Boxes of half-eaten orange chicken, straws, and other garbage filled the dimly lit streets. Josiah and Rosemary volunteered to fold the chairs used for the art contest. Banners and lanterns were being taken down. Amidst the chaos, Mokhoddis searched relentlessly for Rashid.

“Hey, Mokhoddis do you wanna head home with me and Nina?” Phet waved.

“Ahh, I still have something to do. You guys go on ahead.” Mokhoddis shouted back.

“Hey, we need another person to carry the third pumpkin. C’mon Mokhoddis.”

“Sorry Phet, I'm sure Elisa will be glad to help.” Mokhoddis apologized.

“I think I can handle carrying the pumpkin.” Mr.Deyoung grabbed a pumpkin from Nina’s hand.

“Mr.Deyoung! Where were you?!” Phet yelled in excitement.

“Sorry guys, I was just occupied with something for the evening.”

“Th-thanks Mr.Deyoung.” Nina bowed.

“No, thank you for bringing such honor to Golden Hills Academy. You, Rubina, and everyone else.” Mr.Deyoung fixed his glasses. “I’m proud of you kids.” He started tearing up comically.

“So when will we be getting our hot chocolate like you promised if we enter the contest?” Elisa joined the conversation.

“Next Monday!” Mr.Deyoung raised his fist in the air. Phet followed him.

“And hey” Mr.Deyoung pointed at Mokhoddis. “Don’t think I’ll be forgetting about how hard you worked for that painting.”

“Thanks, Mr.Deyoung.” Mokhoddis waved as he walked away.

The art contest, the vendors, game area- Mokhoddis searched the entire festival. Rashid was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he’s at the riverwalk? No. Rashid already completed his painting. Is he really gone? A train in the distance passed by as it honked, filling the air with a cloud of smoke as it disappeared into the chilly night. “I guess he’s gone.”

Mokhoddis took off the Alien King SpaceMan poster he’s had since he was a child and placed it on the ground. He then reached down and grabbed his painting and placed it on the wall. He rested in bed as he stared at the painting. The moonlight shined and glistened the painting. “It was fun.” Mokhoddis whispered, thinking of Phet and grinning at the thought of Rubina.