Monday 21 August 2023

A visit home - Aati Pema Tseagon

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A wind blew past my face, giving me shivers down my spine.

After nearly escaping death, I was still haunted by a daunting sensation which held my stomach tight. Since I wasn't bound, I could swim freely. So I dove right back into the waters. Moving my hands over the rough cement floors, I occasionally opened my eyes to find my cousin. 

He was with me when I returned for my bottle, and since I found myself here. I could not make myself think that he was there as I had almost drowned in my escape. But, since no one resurfaced with me, only the worst could have happened if he was down here. 

After five dives, I felt exhausted. Without any rest, my limbs complained of their state. I had now covered the whole tank floor and found nothing except the rubbles. With my search completed, I emerged out of the waters. 

I saw it was still early, and as I climbed out of the tank, I was again back in the world I knew the forest. But my anxiety had not gone. And now that I was out, another adrenaline dose rushed through my body. I ran as fast as I could, traversing the path as quickly as possible with my tired legs. But after a while, I had to rest. My legs fell beneath my body as I leaned against a trunk, my body shook, and I had to sit down. 

For the first time, I saw my state - my whole body covered with bruises and gashed with cuts. My wrists were bleeding from the slight tears, but I was immune to all the pain by then. As I again got up, something felt wrong, not with my body but as if I was being watched. 

I scanned over my shoulders; seeing no one there, I continued running until I reached the road. I came up with a weird sense of relief as I got out of the forest. The trees were quiet, with no noise from the birds or the languors. It made an eerie silence broken only by the sound of my footsteps and the few cars which came by. I stopped on a bike for a lift to Charles Valley. 

From there, I got off to walk the rest of the way. I hoped to see my cousin at home and my parents asleep, but as soon as I came in front of my house, my mother came rushing down, calling my name. I told myself I was in for a good smack right then and there. But something weird happened. 

My mother hugged me, and as I looked around, confused, I saw my cousin coming out, which made me feel a lot better. I wanted to ask what happened, but before I could, my mother asked me where have I gone? I told her about the whole exploration but left out what happened afterwards as I did not want to bring it up. 

My cousin had been looking at me. He said he had not gone with me till the tank. As I suddenly disappeared from beside him. This left me with more questions than before, but I felt that it was somehow related to the eerie feeling I had gotten before. 

I never told anyone what happened to me and what I felt, but since then, I haven't gone into the forest for explorations, and until now, no one knew of this place. I continued my life as it was before, I still feel an urge to explore what had happened then since it's still a mystery for me, and maybe it's better to be left it that way.

Aati Pema Tseagon
Pestalozzi Children's Village, India.

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