Chapter 1: Angara
It was early morning and Elegma was busy preparing herself for high school. She was very well organised and her room was always tidy. She wore black shirt over light blue jeans and brushed her light brown hair to tie them into a pony tail. She was tall and slim and had a graceful look.
She prepared her backpack the night before, just had to put a water bottle inside it. Whenever she went outside she always had water with her. It was a habit she took from her grandmother. She was very close to her grandmother since she was a little child. Her grandmother always supported her whenever she had a problem. Her heartfelt advices always provided guidance for Elegma when things got difficult.
She started school a week ago after her family shifted to the new city. It was one of the largest cities on equator, so the weather remain hot and wet all year long. Her school offered hostel facilities for girls in a building, nearly a kilometre away from the main campus, so she had to take the school mini bus to reach there.
The city weather was cloudy and the landscape green. Elegma could smell the scent of soil after rain. She was walking towards the bus stop with her long legs helping her to complete the distance in no time. She waited for approximately five minutes when the grey mini bus arrived. The student next to the door opened it for her. As she got into the bus, he motioned her a place to sit next to him. She sat down next to him after pushing the sliding door closed.
“Hi Elegma!”, her classmate Leah greeted her from back seat.
“Hi!”, Elegma replied her with a smile.
Leah was a very social girl and chit chats with everyone. Elegma enjoyed her company since she first met her at school. After greeting Elegma she was busy talking to the girl siting besides her. There was a ruckus in the bus. The students were making noise and cutting jokes on each other.
“Hey why did you shave your head, huh!”, asked a boy with long straight hair in a funny tone.
A bald-headed boy sitting in front of him seemed to be his friend and was just enjoying the time. Before the bald-headed boy could answer, another boy took part in the conversation.
“So, the girls look at him and think of him as funny!” , all three of them guffawed at the comment.
Elegma pursed her lips to suppress her smile spreading across her face. She couldn’t help listening to their conversation as they were so loud. The driver seemed upset at the situation. His facial expressions were cold and strict. He was about to burst into anger anytime. The boys payed no attention to his mood and keep on making noise.
The bus stopped at a bus stop and Elegma who was siting besides the door, opened it for the arriving students. As they got inside the driver looked at her as if telling her to pull the door closed. Normally, it would have been the driver’s responsibility to open and close the door properly. Elegma reached out for the door and tried her best to close it properly. The driver started the bus after everyone was settled.
“Hey Eary!”, one of the newly arrived boy patted the bald-headed boy. They greeted and started to comment on his hairless head. The other boys seemed interested in the conversation, as if waiting for something to laugh at.
“The name is Earl not Eary”, the bald-headed boy responded with fake anger.
“Yeah but your ears are so prominent today, I wonder why? Eeeaary!”, the boy replied stressing the vowels “ea” in the most ridiculous sound possible. Again there was burst of laughter inside the bus.
“No actually Eary means the one with two ears, am I right?”, another boy whispered in a way as if telling some top secret to his mates.
“Everyone has two ears”, the bald boy was still imitating an angry face.
“What do you call lice on a hairless head of a man?”, another one took part into the conversation.
“Aaa let me guess, homeless!”, someone replied from the back seat.
“Ha ha ha…”, almost everybody on the bus started to laugh.This time Elegma couldn’t control her smile which soon turned into a laughter also. Suddenly the bus hit the speed bump speedily. Everybody on the bus screamed as they gotten over each other because of the shock. The driver seemed to ignore everybody’s reaction. At that moment Elegma saw the sliding door opened as the bus jerked forward. The driver saw that too and hit the breaks. He got out of the bus in rage and came towards the sliding door. He gave Elegma a harsh look who was still in a shock of what happened. There was laughter everywhere when suddenly all of this happened. Being a sensitive girl, it was all too much for her.
“If you don’t know how to close the door than you must not sit here”, the driver told her in an insulting tone. Elegma couldn’t say a word. Everybody was silent in the bus looking at the ongoing event of the driver’s panic attack. He was angry from the beginning because of the noise made by the students inside the bus. Now he got the chance to display his aggression.
“Next time don’t sit besides the door”, he added and closed the door hastily which gave a loud sound of shutting door. He came on the driver’s seat and started the bus. As soon as the bus started, the pupil started their chit chat again. As if nothing happened. A few of them hooted when the driver was scolding Elegma, but they seemed to be back in their own business.
Elegma felt something burning inside her. Whether it was the embarrassment caused by the insult in front of everyone, or her lack of confidence to express her feelings, she didn’t know for sure. Heat flooded her cheeks as the bus driver's words replayed in her mind. She was paused in that moment when the driver blamed her for something she didn’t do on purpose. She badly wanted to be disappeared where no one could ever see her like this. Her heart raced and body trembled. Soon her embarrassment evolved into anger. She badly wanted to take revenge of her insult from the driver. Her cheeks turned red as she clenched her jaws. Her emotion was getting out of control when suddenly she saw burning red wings and heard a furious screeching sound of a bird. It was as if a bird flew by with enormous speed. She looked at the window again, to be clear about her sensation. She could feel the heat of the bird’s burning wings.
“ It could not be just a perception”, she thought. She was jolting between belief and disbelief when she saw the bird again. This time she had no doubt about it. It was the enormous red bird from her dreams.
“Angara!”, she said in a low voice that only she could hear. Since childhood she was dreaming about some birds. She used to tell about her dreams to her grandmother who was always affectionate towards her and always interpreted her dreams for her, rather than making her feel that her dreams are not important and they don’t have anything to do with the real world.
Angara was flying with the speed of the mini bus. It was a huge red bird whose wings were burning from the edges, causing pain and aggression. It resembled the Phoenix from ancient Arab mythology, but so much bigger in size. Elegma could feel it’s feelings as if it were her own. She swallowed hard and tried to relax herself. Her angry feelings were mixed with fear now. She could feel that only she is witnessing Angara since everyone else in the bus were busy doing their stuff.
Suddenly she saw Angara was trying to attack the driver, who was totally unconscious of its presence. The window on the driver’s side was pecked and stricken by Angara’s sharp eagle like beak. The window had a crack and driver noticed that in the blink of an eye. He seemed puzzled and alarmed, his grip on the steering was tightened. He didn’t want the vehicle to get out of control. Although he couldn’t see Angara but could hear the banging sound made by its beak on the glass window. A moment ago Elegma really wanted to take revenge from the driver, but now she had totally opposite feelings. Her thought of taking revenge was over ridden by guilt and she wanted Angara to stop instantly. She didn’t want anyone to get hurt from her anger which actually was the trigger of Angara’s appearance.
“Please stop this instant!”, she said in her heart desperately wanted Angara to go away. Suddenly her grandmother’s advice came into her mind.
“My beloved child, always remember that
powerful is not one who knocks other down, indeed powerful is one who controls himself in a fit of anger”,
her grandmother used to tell this saying whenever Elegma was angry or upset.
“ My dear, anger is like a fire, extinguish it with water”, another of her grandmother’s memory flashed in her brain. She immediately searched for the water bottle she put earlier inside her backpack. After drinking water in two to three breaths, Elegma felt quite relaxed and refreshed. Her facial expressions were normalised and so was her breathing pattern. She saw Angara disappeared into thin air. She thanked God in her heart. It was the first time she saw Angara in physical world. She got scared when she was dreaming about Angara, and now she saw it in reality. She was thinking why Angara came like this, it didn’t happen before, but no one could answer her question except her grandmother, whom she could only meet when she go back home.
“Probably Angara came to protect me”, she thought.
She was thinking similar thoughts when the bus was about to enter the school premises. The school had beautiful infrastructure with big green grounds and flowers of all kind. The students inside the bus were silent now, as they were about to leave the bus. As soon as the bus stopped at the main entrance, the driver jumped out of the bus and opened the sliding door for the students to come out. Elegma and the other students went out of the bus one by one.
“Hey Elegma! Wait for me!”, Leah called out from a distance. Unlike Elegma she was kind of petite and couldn’t compete Elegma’s big steps. Elegma turned and waited for Leah.
“Why are you always in a hurry? Don’t want to talk to your friend?”, Leah asked in a friendly tone after catching her breath.
“That’s not true! I enjoy your company very much Leah”, Elegma replied in her usual smile way.
“Hey what happened in the bus, don’t take it seriously, the driver is always like that, he didn’t want to insult you on purpose”, Leah wanted Elegma to feel better.
“ No, I am fine now, actually it was partially my mistake, I shouldn’t sit besides the door, it could be dangerous not only for other students but also for me”, Elegma replied what she was thinking at that time, then her grandmother’s prayers echoed in her ears,
“(Oh Lord) You give honour to whom you please, and You abase (degrade) whom you please, in Your hands is all good”.
She always advised Elegma with powerful words. Elegma was short tempered since childhood. She could get angry over small things. No one liked her behaviour but her anger was not in her control. She didn’t want to get angry and make her parents and loved ones upset. After her anger went away, she immediately excused the person she was conflicting with.
Whenever she got angry at day time, she dreamed about Angara at night. So many times she told her grandmother about it. Her grandmother told her that anger is not always evil. Sometimes we are allowed to get angry, it’s just that we should know when or when not to express it.
“ My dearest grand child, always remember that, being angry for the sake of taking revenge for yourself is not good, however, being angry for the sake of protecting others from harm is permissible.” Her grandmother once said while combing her hair.
“But grandma if I don’t take revenge I remain upset and can’t think of anything else”.Elegma shared her confusion with her.
“My dear, don’t let your anger become your weakness, make it your strength!”. Her grandmother kissed her forehead after soothing her heart with wise words.
“Hey! Are you with me?”, Leah snapped her fingers in front of Elegma’s face to bring her back from her memories.
“Yeah! Totally!”, Elegma gave her a big smile.
Both girls were headed towards the high staircase to enter their school.
“You know the driver was uneasy after he shouted on you, it was as if some unseen creature is haunting him”, Leah giggled while patting Elegma’s shoulder. Something pinched Elegma inside, she could not tell Leah about Angara, she might think of her as schizophrenic*.
“I think we should hurry for class, it’s time already”, Elegma didn’t want to talk about the bus incident anymore. The school hallway was a few steps ahead and Elegma wanted to climb two stairs at a time, but stopped herself from doing so, to let Leah catch up with her.
“Hi, Eric! Long time no see, where were you been?”, suddenly Leah met an old friend who was climbing down the staircase while they were going up.
“Hey Leah! I went abroad due to some family business, but now I am back!”, Eric seemed happy meeting Leah too. He was wearing camel colour shirt on top of blue jeans. He had an athletic build, but didn’t seem to be over muscular. He was tall and had his dark brown hair combed backwards. His light beard gave him a casual look.
Elegma was about to leave Leah with Eric to go attend her class when Leah stopped her to introduce her to Eric.
“Elegma! Meet Eric, one of my best friends!”, Leah said excitedly.
“Hi!”, Elegma greeted him in a hurry, she wanted to go for class, not only because she was getting late but also there was an uneasy feeling that she always encountered when greeting opposite gender.
“Nice to meet you Elegma!,” Eric responded ina deep voice, no doubt he had a stunning personality.
“Charming, isn’t he!”, someone whispered inside Elegma’s ear. She skipped a beat knowing that it wasn’t Leah whispering in her ear. She looked around in astonishment. She certainly saw someone, but all she could perceive was a round shaped peacock wing.
Chapter 1 reviewed and edited by:
Gratitude to my fellow writers who corrected chapter 1 and gave precious comments for improvement.