His hair is green.
His mother was green, and in lots of places he would follow her, but Anitam is not one of those places; castes are patrilineal. He is a blue with hair inconveniently reminiscent of his dead mother, that's all. He will grow up and be a politician or a diplomat or an ambassador, like his father, like his father's second wife. His mother did embroidery, stunningly beautiful tapestries and fabric concepts and artwork that hangs in the state buildings and museums. But he's not green, and he can't follow her.
He runs away from home, of course. He would probably have done that anyway; looking back on it it feels a bit overdetermined. The hair would have been enough. Entis, his father's second wife, would have been enough. His siblings - two of them, blue in hair and ambitions and manner and talents - would have been enough. His hair is green. He runs away from home and shows up at a university in Anitam's third-largest city and sits in on classes, front row, asking questions and taking notes and turning in effortlessly brilliant problem sets.
In the third week he tells a professor, biting his lip, that he's not technically enrolled - family couldn't come up with tuition this year, and said maybe next, but he didn't want to wait - and the professor ruffles his hair (green!) and says that it's a delight to grade his work, he can keep sitting in and if he does well he'll talk with the administration at semester's end.
He excels in all five classes he sat in on. They find a scholarship. He vaguely mentions his mother's family.
He graduates with honors and co-authorship of four papers and offers from eight higher degree programs. He accepts one and publishes machine learning papers at a pace that has his advisors gently asking if he's going to burn out and he's green green green and he lives off microwave dinners and praise and envy and he marries the co-author of one of his papers about fluid dynamics and eventually someone pieces together his parentage and asks -
"Are you," he says, "suggesting that someone wrote my papers for me?"
" - I - what - no - I was at your thesis defense, no one else could possibly have -"
"Right. So then are you suggesting that the person who achieved those things wasn't even green?"
"There's no need to be confrontational. I was just - it's matrilineal lots of other places."
"Yes, it is."
And he's green green green.