There was a small trail. There was an abundance of trees in the mountainous region. The clouds were on the ground and so deep that it was impossible to see beyond a few feet. She was going that way. She had no idea where she was going, but she was leaving.
Suddenly she felt as if someone was following him. Then it seemed as if the chaser was not one but many. Hearing their whispers, her heart began to beat loudly. Then one of them came before him. A loud scream came out of her mouth. A bloodthirsty leopard was in front of him and was looking at him with hungry eyes. Blood was dripping from his jaws. She was badly stuck. The leopard jumped on him with a roar. She screamed and ran away.
Cheetah was following him. Maybe there were some other animals as well, she was hearing different sounds. Suddenly the lightning crackled loudly and it started raining heavily. She was desperately running in this stormy rain. At any moment the leopard could catch her. Suddenly her foot slipped. She felt like she was falling thousands of feet. Her eyes were closed due to fear, and when she opened her eyes; her heart began to beat violently with fear. She could see clearly, she was indeed falling from the height of the mountain into a chasm thousands of feet deep. She could see pointed stones in the distance. In just a few moments she was going to fall on those rocks. She had not imagined such a painful death. She wanted to scream but her voice was choked in his chest. The ground was rapidly approaching her, and suddenly the scene changed.
She was on the bed. Her forehead was sweaty and her breathing was irregular.
Miss Marilyn stepped through the door and then stopped. Jennie was covered with a blanket from head to toe. A few strands of her hair peeked out from the end of the blanket. She was lying facing the wall. Ten girls lived in this dormitory (boarding room). Nine beds were vacant at that time. There were about a hundred girls in the boarding of this English medium school. When everyone was “fall-in” for breakfast, head girl Vivien told Miss Marilyn after the count that there was one girl short. Fall-in is a term that means lining up girls in rows and counting them. Miss Marilyn’s attention was immediately shifted to Jennie and her guess was hundred percent correct.
“Jennie. Jennie.” She called out. Jennie’s body was trembling. She slid the blanket down while sitting next to Jennie. Jennie turned her face towards Miss Marilyn, her face wet with tears.
“What happened Jennie? Why are you crying? Did someone say something?” Miss Marilyn said worriedly. “No miss! Nobody said anything” She shook his head. Miss Marilyn put her hand on her shoulder and gently wanted to know the reason for her crying, but Jennie was not telling anything, she was just crying. On insistence, she said only that. “Miss I had a dream”
Miss Marilyn sent the girls to the mess for breakfast.
Then asked Matron for her breakfast in the dorm.
It was not even a month since Jennie joined this boarding school. He was brought here by his grandfather Robert. This institution at Hill Station was built by the renowned Organization.
Three weeks ago, an old man was sitting in the office of the principal of the school, Miss Diane. He must have been seventy or seventy-five years old. A slight white mustache and head of hair had turned completely white, but physically he looked quite fit. Owns a well-proportioned body and strong hands and feet.
A ten-year-old girl was with him. Round face and big eyes. The red and white complexion and black hair. She looked a bit sad. The principal introduced her to Marilyn then Jennie was sent to the room of the Controller of Examinations Miss Jodie for the entry test. Marilyn understood that this action was in accordance with the rules and regulations of the school. The principal had admitted him. At the same time, she had called the accounting office and asked to make her fees, etc. and now she was talking to Robert about the purchase of uniforms.
“This is Miss Marilyn, our boarding in-charge,” introduced the principal. Robert looked at her and said in a mysterious tone.
I want to talk to you about a few things, but I request that they be limited to you only.”
Marilyn was listening attentively. Jennie’s grandfather continued to tell something in a low voice for a long time. Marilyn had taken every single thing into his mind. That evening he left Jennie in the boarding house. Uniforms, books, and boarding essentials were purchased for her. Fees for the entire year were paid in one lump sum and a good amount of pocket money was also handed over to Marilyn so that there would be no difficulty in case of need.
Tears came to Jennie’s eyes after he left. Before leaving, his grandfather kept loving him and telling him not to cry, everyone here will take care of her and love her very much. Jennie was holding back her tears at that time, but now the dam was broken and a river of tears flowed from her eyes. Miss Marilyn consoled him. Wiped her tears and then introduced her to the other girls in her dorm. They were all very happy about the arrival of this new girl and wanted to know about her.
Jennie kept crying for three or four days. She used to shed tears at every little thing. Then gradually she started meeting girls. She was in the 5th standard and there were 5th standard students in her dorm. Thus, the school was up to the matriculation level, and the girls of almost every class were in separate dormitories, but obviously while living in a boarding school, they used to face each other. All the games were held on the school grounds during that time.
There were also swings in the ground. Younger girls were interested in swings while older girls were engrossed in various sports like basketball, badminton, and cricket.
As Jennie was new, Marilyn asked the girls to take special care of her. Jennie’s heart seemed to have fallen. She was very happy with the girls. Jennie’s grandfather visits her on weekends. Jennie ran and hugged him. Robert picked her up in his arms and loved her very much. Jennie started talking to them. Her eyes were sparkling and she was talking about boarding with fun. His grandfather was happy. They took permission from the principal and took Jennie out for a walk and some fun.
Marilyn was watching this whole scene. Jennie’s grandfather was very handsome despite his old age. Marilyn had spoken to them. He had told that he was far away from any fatal disease. Older people often suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, or joint pain, but he was spared from all kinds of diseases.
When he had paid the fees for the whole year, the principal said what is needed to submit the fees for the whole year. As per the rules and regulations of the school, the bi-monthly fee was charged. On this, he said that any day can be the last in the age group I am in. Death always follows the man. That’s why he didn’t listen to the principal.
Grandfather had gone and Jennie was very sad that evening. Marilyn saw her sadness and signaled to the girls. The girls started gossiping with her. After a while, she was playing happily.
At night Marilyn was thinking that she doesn’t know what Robert’s problems are. He had told that he was the owner of fifty acres of land. He had land near Mississippi and there was his rice factory. He also used to export high-quality rice. He was making a lot of money. He had a huge bungalow in Mississippi. He lived in this bungalow with his daughter-in-law, Jennie’s mother.
He also had a grandson. Jennie’s brother. He was younger than Jennie. He also admitted him to a boarding school. They had told Marilyn that if anyone comes to meet Jennie, they will not meet him.
Even if someone claims to be his uncle or cousin. He will always come by himself to meet Jennie and take her with him on holidays. Yes, his mother can be found, but if she ever comes, she will come with them. He had said that Jennie’s life was in serious danger.
Marilyn was unable to understand who could be enmity with such a cute girl. Robert had told many things but had also hidden some things. Jennie’s father had passed away but did not tell how it happened. School time was till two o’clock. After lunch, there was rest time. Then there were games and prep classes in the evening.
In this two-hour class, all the girls did homework and studied under the guidance of boarding teachers, eating at eight o’clock and then some time was reserved for TV. At that time Marilyn was with the girls. She used to stay with them till lights out at ten o’clock at night. She used to talk to them and listen to their problems.
Jennie used to happily follow this routine with the other girls now, but Marilyn often felt that there was something that was in her heart but not reaching her lips. There is a secret hidden in her eyes. One evening she was talking to him.
“Jennie! You never told me about your father. How was he?”
“Miss! My dad was very nice. He just left somewhere suddenly. I think he will come one day and take me on a plane with him. I love to fly in the sky in a plane. My father had promised me that he would take me, but then he left.” Jennie was lost somewhere.
“And what did they look like?” Marilyn wanted to know.
“He was just like my grandpa but he had black hair and a black mustache. That was the only difference. If Grandpa dyed his hair black, he would look like my father” Jennie’s eyes started to shine.
“Well, what happened to your father?”
“What do you mean ma’am?
” I know they are no longer in this world, so how did all this happen? I want to know how he died.” Marilyn didn’t want anything she said to hurt Jennie, but she also wanted to know.
“Miss he is not dead, he had gone somewhere but he will come. He promised me. He never breaks his promises. He will come.” Jennie bowed her head. Tears flowed from his eyes. Marilyn was regretting why she started talking about this topic.
Maybe Jennie had started dreaming every day now. Because when she used to come for breakfast, she looked scared, but later she got better. Marilyn could see shadows of unknown fear in her eyes.
He tried to ask several times but surprisingly now she did not tell anything. Every time she said that there is no problem. A couple of girls told Marilyn that Jennie cries secretly. Marilyn was very surprised by what happened now. Now she was also interested in boarding. Many girls had become her friends. She had been happy since the first week of boarding, but now she was back to her old self. The question of why she cries was bothering Marilyn.
At 11:30 PM Marilyn came to the dorms for the night round. It was quiet in the boarding house. All the girls were sleeping. Marilyn was walking with careful steps so as not to disturb any girl’s sleep. When she entered Jennie’s dorm, her heart was beating fast. She had a strange feeling that Jennie was lying on a blanket but she was awake.
She moved forward and called Jennie softly. There was no response from Jennie. Nevertheless, she pulled the blanket a little. Her guess was correct. Jennie’s face and pillow were wet with tears. She had been crying for some time. Marilyn helplessly hugged her to his chest and started patting her back. Jennie was sobbing. Her tears were soaking Marilyn’s neck. She didn’t want the other girls to know.
She brought him out. Sitting outside on the sofa in the lounge, he wiped Jennie’s tears and consoled her. Jennie was silent.
“Dear daughter what happened to you? Why are you crying?” Marilyn asked with great affection.
“Nothing Miss! I’m fine” said Jennie in a weak voice.
“No, daughter, you are not well, what is the sadness that makes you cry so much, tell me, maybe I can help you”
“Miss I had a dream?”
“Ah! These dreams of yours. See, the world of reality is very different from the world of dreams. Dreams are not taken so seriously. I’ll talk to your grandpa. He’s coming over this weekend, and I’ll tell him that too.” I will say take you for a spin, your heart will melt. Just be happy now.” Marilyn thought that Jennie would open up after listening to him, but she did not notice the difference in the expressions.
Miss! My Grandfather won’t come this weekend” said Jennie softly.
“What do you mean? Did you talk to them on the phone?”
“No Miss! I didn’t talk to them.”
“So then? Why are you saying that? I talked to them and they will come.”
“Miss they won’t come” Jennie’s voice was hoarse.
“He will never come again. He is dead. I have seen everything in my dreams. I often have true dreams. I know which dreams are true. My grandfather.” Jennie wanted to say something else but couldn’t, she hid her face with her small hands.
“Jennie, don’t talk like that. I’ll talk to Mr. Robert about you on the phone now,” Marilyn got upset, maybe that’s why her voice was raised. Matron’s eyes were opened by his voice and she came out.
“Please take Jennie to the dorm, she was not sleeping,” Marilyn told her.
Marilyn came to her room. I don’t know what is wrong with this girl. She fell asleep thinking this. In the morning, the principal called Marilyn to the office. When Marilyn reached there, the principal’s face showed signs of worry.
“Miss Marilyn! Jennie will have to be taken care of. Yesterday I spoke to her mother on the phone. There are property disputes in her family.
They have told me that Jennie’s grandfather had confided in his second son that he was involved in some immoral activities.”
The principal was still talking when the phone rang. He picked up the phone and then his face changed color as he listened to the other side.
“Miss Marilyn, this is bad news. Jennie’s grandfather has been killed. Her mother had a phone call and said that Jennie should never find out. Now she will call her before the December holidays. She will not come to pick it up. She will not know it until then.”
Marilyn took a deep breath. There was no need to hide anything from Jennie, she already knew everything.