An excerpt from

Seventeen Tomatoes: Tales from Kashmir
by Jaspreet Singh

During recess the girl stayed glued to her chair and began eating tomatoes. Adi and Arjun hesitantly inched toward her, as did the rest of the class. She was as still as a pebble, except for the movement caused by her eating. The boys told her their names; she nervously swallowed. The girl finished the sixth tomato faster than the fifth. When Arjun told her his name, she giggled with a sparkle in her eyes.

No one asked the girl her name. They also avoided the topic of her father. Instead, they bragged about the cities they had visited or the cricket matches they had won or the Amitabh-Rekha movies they had watched. They gave her strands of saffron. And Adi and Arjun promised her more gifts the next day: butterflies and answers to Mrs. Nargis's exams.

The girl didn't join them for football, but she watched them competing in the schoolyard through the tent window. She looked frightened, but continued eating the tomatoes, reddish-green fruits the size of Ping-Pong balls.