Endless Tales of Corona - 12

Chapter 12: Fear and Anxiety Awaits

- Swetha A

The three of them stopped and stood still. Rudha turned around and tried to spread the light around her to see if she could spot where the growling noise was coming from. Then suddenly, there was complete silence. The noise disappeared and strangely, so did all the other sounds from around them. There were no insects or even the thousands of crickets to be heard. It seemed that even the wind had stopped and the leaves had stopped rustling too. Nikhil and Mathew did not seem to have understood what happened. They sure looked scared but what scared them more than the sudden silence and the way Rudha looked. Rudha having grown up in the forests had never experienced something like this before. But, she had heard folktales of such events from the tribe. As a child she wasn’t much interested in the folktales. She thought they were just made up stories to scare the little kids. It was just something the elders came up with to instill fear. But maybe there was some truth hidden behind all the exaggerated folklore. At that instant, she was reminded of a certain folklore.

The story went something like this. A hundred years ago, the forest was controlled by a monster – a monster that could not be seen by the naked eye but had almost destroyed the tribe. The monster had created a silence. A silence that spread everywhere. A silence that came with fear. Everyone had resorted to staying in their huts fearing the monster. They wouldn’t see each other or meet each other for days. They had to stay in to save themselves. But still the monster didn’t give up. It waited for them to step out and got them. The monster took the lives of the tribes one by one first but then in hundreds before they found a way to tackle it. But how had they tackled it? What was the end of that story? Rudha could not remember.

“Rudha, are you okay?” asked Nikhil.

Nikhil’s voice brought her back to reality. She saw that Mathew and Nikhil looked a little shaken up as well. But there was no time to console them. They had to move quickly. They had to reach the sycamore tree at the heart of the island. That was their only hope now. Maybe mother can help us understand better, she thought.

Anxiety - Painting by Edvard Munch

The trio paced through the forest even more quickly. Nikhil and Mathew too, had picked up their pace. Maybe it is true when they say fear of survival can make you do things you otherwise thought impossible. They continued walking and did not slow down even though they could hardly see where they were heading. They did not stopped even when they were tumbling over the big branches in the way.

After pacing through the thick forest for a while, they reached a clearing. The clearing looked to be man-made. It was circular and as big as a cricket field. In what seemed to be the exact centre of the clearing, there stood a tree that was at least a hundred feet tall. The trunk of the tree stretched so wide that it was clear the tree has lived there for at least a few hundred years. Moving a little closer, Nikhil knew that it was a sycamore tree. The many nature walks that he had taken with his office buddies back in Pondicherry, weren’t futile after all.

The trio had finally reached the intended spot. But it was not at all like what Nikhil or Mathew had imagined. There was no other soul to be anywhere and it did not look like any monthly meeting or festivities were about to happen.

“Are we sure we are at the right place?” wondered Nikhil loudly.

“This is not what I had in mind when I heard a monthly tribal meeting. This looks gloomier than the monthly meetings that happen in my office,” said Mathew. “Are we late to the meeting Rudha? Is it over already?”

There was no answer. Both turned around worried, that something had happened to her. But Rudha was still standing at the entrance of the clearing, her face was pale, like a statue, like she had just seen a ghost. Nikhil and Mathew rushed back to Rudha.

“Are you okay? You don’t look so great. Why don’t you sit down for a while?” The doctor in Mathew felt it his responsibility to make sure she was okay.

Rudha couldn’t speak. She was holding her chest and seemed to be in shock. She barely managed a whisper “S..Some…Something’s wrong”.

“Is there a pain in your chest? Are you feeling dizzy? What did you eat last? Maybe you are experiencing dehydration.” Mathew just went on without taking a breath that it looked like he was going to get sick.

“STOP. It’s not me. I mean… Nothing’s wrong with me. But something has happened here. Something is wrong.”

“What do you mean?” asked a worried Nikhil.

“I have a bad feeling about this darkness around the sycamore tree. It isn’t supposed to be this way. The preparations for the meeting usually begin at least two days prior and you feel the energy of the place from a mile away with all the lamps and the fragrance. What I am seeing right now is just a clear sign something is wrong. I think it’s all because of corona. It’s much more serious than I had thought. I must try and get in touch with my mother. Maybe she will know better.”

“But wasn’t your mother supposed to be here? Now where do we find her?” asked Mathew.

Nikhil broke up the conversation looking a lot more worried, “Hate to bring this up by now but I think I can hear that growling noise again…..”

- To be continued -

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About the writer - Swetha is free-spirited being, loves to travel and explore the places, alone. With her quick thinking and exceptional baking skills, she is the person you can rely on, for any kind of surprise parties. 

Endless Tales of Corona - 12 Endless Tales of Corona - 12 Reviewed by Gowthama Rajavelu on 09:33 Rating: 5

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