Author: Apratyashita Thakur


“Where have you been Alex? Mother Lily is waiting for you in the Common hall.” I heard Zarina’s sweet and shrill voice as soon as I got out of the study room.

“ Mother Lily is here! Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” I started walking towards the hall but Zarina’s comment stopped me in my tracks.

“ Go get dressed first Alex. You are still in your pajamas.”

“ Do I have to?” I said with a groan. I never understood all this ado about dressing up.

“Of course not. I wouldn’t mind some excitement.”

Zarina’s eyes shone with mischief as she said this. I loved her like my sister but she was known for being mischievous. It was best that I got dressed.

I gathered my clothes and went to the common shower room for boys. It was nothing much. Just the type you would find in hostels. Two rows of cabins with no much furnishing apart from shower-heads, a bucket, and a mug. I wasn’t bothered by it. I had bathed here ever since I was seven years old.

There was no one else in the common room. I wondered where all had gone. Usually I had to wait for my turn to take a shower unless there was a special occasion. Was I missing something?

I showered and got dressed at record speed and rushed towards the hall dumping the soiled clothes in the laundry basket as I went. I would wash them later. I had to find out what was going on.

My jaw hit the ground when I saw the gathering in the hall. It was jam-packed. Everyone in the orphanage was present: the caretakers, children, youngsters, teachers, even the ones who had started working were present. I was pleased that I had followed Zarina’s advice and dressed up. I smoothened the creases on my sweater as I walked inside.

“ Hello Everyone!!” a feeble voice resounded in the hall.

I was even more surprised when I looked at the makeshift stage that seemed to have cropped up overnight. All the trustees were sitting on chairs and standing at the dais was Mother Lily herself.

Despite her wrinkled face and feeble body the energy she exuded was palpable. My lips automatically stretched in a smile when I recalled the first time I had seen her. The memory was still crystal clear.

I was only seven years old at that time. I sat alone on a bench outside the ICU. The nurse had told me that my mother had died. I was too small to understand what she exactly meant. I kept praying to God to make my mom well. From the time I was born my life revolved around my mother. Father had long abandoned us, our relatives ignored us and I was too shy to make any friends.

Someone had contacted The Emerging Lily Orphanage and Mother Lily had come rushing. She didn’t ask me any questions. She just picked me up in her lap and hugged me tightly. I remember feeling loved and protected in an instant. Tears flowed freely wiping out all my confusion. I had accepted the fact that life would be never same again.

She brought me to Emerging Lily Orphanage where I got love, care, and acceptance from many others who were alone like me.

I came out of my reverie when I felt someone elbow me.

“ Go to the stage Mother Lily is calling you.”

I staggered towards the stage in a haze.

Mother Lily kept a hand on my shoulders and said,” I love all my children but Alex has a special place in my heart. He has been honest, sincere, and hard-working. What else does a mother need? I will miss him a lot but just like the birds fly away when they grow up. Alex has to go and claim his share of the sky.”

“ Are you sending me somewhere mother?” I asked in a faltering voice.

“ Yes my dear, you are going to St. Normans’ tomorrow. I received their acceptance letter two days ago but I wanted to surprise you.”

My knees buckled and my hands flew to my mouth. A few drops of tears trickled down my cheeks. I was rendered speechless by my welling emotions. All those sleepless nights had finally paid off. I had succeeded in taking the first step towards achieving my dream.

I was showered with best wishes and gifts. All my brothers and sisters pooled their resources to arrange the things I would need for my stay at St. Normans’

I had felt so excited then. Now, I was not so sure. I felt the knot in my stomach tighten. Thousands of questions plagued my mind. Would the teachers and students there accept me? Would I be able to keep up with their level of teaching? After all I never got any formal education.

“ Alex, your stop is here.” The conductor’s voice brought me back to the present. I took a deep breath, gathered my luggage, and alighted the bus. I felt the thrill of excitement tickle my bones as I took in my surroundings. Endless rows of trees lined the long winding road. It was deserted except for a tiny shack.

It was manned by a young boy. Another man in ragged clothes sat near the shop in front of a bonfire.

I went towards the shack and asked the boy, " Can you tell me how far St. Normans’ is?”

“ It is about 2 hours walk from here. Why did you get down here if you wanted to go to St. Normans' ? You had to get down at the next stop.”

“ Isn't this El Rosa?”

“ Yes it is but St. Normans’ is closer to El Nina.”

I mentally cursed myself for not telling the conductor that I had to go to St. Normans’ but what could be done now? I would have to wait for the next bus?

“ When would the next bus come?”

“ Tomorrow morning.”

My heart skipped a beat when I heard this. I had to reach the hostel tonight or else I would be late on the first day of the college. What sort of impression would that leave on everyone? It wouldn’t be safe to walk alone on this deserted road. It was already twilight and the sun would set in some time. Maybe there was some other way.

“ Is there any short cut to St. Normans’?”

“ Do you see that narrow path going into the forest.” He said pointing to a path overgrown by bushes. “ It will take you to the backyard of St. Normans’ in half an hour but I have to warn you. No one has dared to take that path in the last 20 years. It passes through ‘The Forbidden Forest’. It is believed that a lot of secrets lie buried in this forest.”

I decided to take the path. After all no one had ventured into the forest for 20 years. So no one could say for sure what lay there. They might just be scared of wild animals. I wanted to be a research scholar and a scientist is never scared of exploring the unknown. With this thought in my mind I walked towards the forest.

“ There are many secrets hidden in this forest. Only a stranger could have the courage to unravel it. Sometimes the stranger chooses the path but sometimes it is the path that chooses the stranger.” The old man’s voice resounded behind me.

The cool breeze and the greenery had a calming effect and I felt at ease. The twittering of the birds seemed to assure me that everything was safe. How could this forest be dangerous? Everything here was so serene and beautiful.

Halfway through the forest I felt the hairs on my back stand. It suddenly became eerily quiet. I was assaulted by a sweet fragrance. I took a deep breath letting it fill my nostrils. It was as if thousands of roses were in bloom. I closed my eyes feeling strangely drunk.

I felt someone’s presence behind me but when I turned around there was no one. I felt a gust of wind blow past me but I was unsure if it was really wind. I had a nagging doubt that someone had brushed past me.

Maybe the boy was right there were really strange forces in this forest. I had no wish to get stuck in the middle of nowhere. So I broke into a run and stopped only when I could see the outline of a building which I rightly assumed to be St. Normans’

I completed the formalities and settled down. I had planned to study after reaching the hostel but my walk through the forest had left me feeling drained. So I went to sleep instead.

Comments (5)
goodnovel comment avatar
Phoenix Redstone
Such a nice start! I have to thank you again for reading my book. Yours is awesome♥️
goodnovel comment avatar
Anjani Thakur
I just read the chapter The Midnight Adventure. It's so beautifully written. I could visualize myself being there. Please complete the book quickly. I am dying to read the whole stiry?????
goodnovel comment avatar
Apratyashita Thaku
?????Hello everyone. I hope you are enjoying the book❤❤❤ Some one told me that they found it difficult to read the book on the website due to its small font size. I just wanted you to know that you can change the font size on the website by tapping on the settings option available on the right hand side of the screen.

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