I cannot breath. I can feel the blood rushing to my face. Some hand is squeezing my neck. I cannot see the attacker as my vision is blurring. I try to push that hand away but the hold is very strong. I need to get out of here at any cost. I do not want to die. I feel somebody is shaking me continuously. I open my eyes gasping for breath and sweating profusely. It takes a moment before I realise that I was dreaming.
A pair of eyes is looking at me worriedly. Slowly my vision returns to normal and I become aware of my surroundings. “Are you alright?” asks Prasuti madam looking worriedly at me. “I was passing through the corridor past your room and heard your screams so I came to check. You were screaming badly and trying to fight someone. Is that a bad dream?” she asks. I nod my head, at a loss for words. This dream keeps repeating and whenever it visits, I am left breathless.
While I am still composing myself, she walks towards the window and stands there in silence staring outside, lost in her thoughts. Several minutes pass and I feel awkward due to this silence. As if she has sensed my awkwardness, she suddenly turns and says “Get ready fast and do not be late for the prayer,” she leaves the room without looking at me. Taken back by her strange behaviour, I get out of my bed to start my day. It is mandatory to attend the prayer every morning in our Ganga orphanage for Girls.
I was left at the orphanage door when I was few days old, wrapped in a red shawl. My orphanage took care of me since then. Nobody ever knew who left me here or nobody ever came to take me from here. People around me always said I look very pretty with bright brown eyes, long hair, and dimple on my cheek. I always wondered if I look like my mother or my father. In childhood, I used to dream a lot of how one day I will be taken from here and how I would have a family of my own.
As a bright student, I studied in school outside my orphanage which offered me free education. One day there was a fire accident in our school and all the children of my class escaped a very big danger. Once we were bought to safe assemble area, I was shivering with fear. I saw how parents ran to their kids, hugged them and assured them that everything is fine. Nobody came for me. I just stood there watching all other kids with their parents.
My little heart cried for someone to hold me, comfort me and just assure me that everything is fine but nobody came. I cried my heart out that day and after that almost every night until my tears dried out. Even though life made me a strong girl, inside I am vulnerable child who craves for affection. How I wish I knew who my parents are. My thoughts are disturbed by a knock on the door.
“I see you have packed,” says Prasuti madam, standing near my room door. I complete twenty years today here and as per the orphanage policy, I have to move out. “Yes madam, I will be leaving now,” I respond to her while I pull my suitcase out of my room. “Have you found your part time job?” she asks me. “Yes, I have found a part time job to assist a history professor in documentation and organize his research papers”, I answer. “All the best,” she says, pauses for a moment and says “Stay safe and trust nobody”. Before I can respond, she walks away from me.
“I take my suitcase and come outside the orphanage. I hold my red shawl in my hand. This is the only thing with me related to my birth. Even this place from today will not be my home anymore. As I walk outside the orphanage, I feel a prickle on my neck as if somebody is watching me. I turn back to look at the orphanage and see Prasuti madam watching me with a strange expression from her room’s window and I can see that she is muttering something furiously under her breath. I take few steps ahead, turn back again to look and she is gone.
To be continued…..