I stood at the door, as a wolf crept towards me. It stared at me, as if sizing me up. It barked and the sound echoed in my head,
"Who are you?"
I tilted my head, scared of the weird event. Just then my father walked up behind me. I looked up into his smiling eyes, and back at the wolf, but it was gone.
Dad and I walked back inside and settled for breakfast. I poured some milk over my cereal and dropped a question before my dad,
"Dad can people hear animals?"
I chomped on my cereal, as I waited to hear his reply.
"Yeah, we do hear them bark and growl and of recent the incessant howls that go on through the night, how can we ignore them," he answered peering into the newspaper.
"No not animal sounds Dad, I meant words, you know like us."
My father gave it a thought and then looked bewildered as he replied, "Don't be silly Ramona, what sort of a question is that, now hurry up or you shall be late again."
That was the end of the conversation that day, but the wolf whispering in my mind, just felt very unreal.
A few weeks later, I lay in the backyard, soaking in the summer that spread warmth into the otherwise cold town. Our town was next to a forest and deep foliage made it impossible for the sun to creep in, thus the chilly winters.
Anyways, here I was basking in the sun, when I caught two eyes staring at me from the bushes. I sat up, alert, ready to rush off incase it attacked me. But the whatever it was, just lurked there staring at me.
“You can hear me?” the words floated right into my head.
I was too stunned to do anything but nod my head slightly. A wolf stepped out of the bushes, I realised it was the same one that had visited our porch a few weeks back. It squatted on its haunches and tilted its head, a lot like I was used to doing when I got curious.
“Hi I am Ramona,” I held out my hand for what I do not know, but at the moment the gesture felt appropriate.
The wolf sniffed my fingers and sat back again.
“You smell weird, not like people,” it chuffed.
“Well thankyou,” I looked at it incredulously.
“Ramona, …..Ramona….get in here before you get a sunburn,” my father yelled from within the house.
I scrambled to my feet and patted the wolf on the head before saying goodbye. Back in the house my time got preoccupied and I forgot all about the talking wolf till that night.
A low howling and growling woke me up in the night. When I peeped out of my window, three wolves were squatting down there looking up right into my eyes.
“Hey you are making a racket, you want to wake the neighbours? Mr. Hilliard owns a gun you know!!” I whispered furiously.
“See she can talk to us,” the brown wolf I had met that afternoon commented for the benefit of the grey and the black one, staring between the two of us.
“Yeah? Who cares!,” the black one retorted.
“Do you know what this means!!,” the grey one’s ears flattened.
“Yes, I know right! Who knew it would be this one!,” the brown wolf howled joyously.
I was dumbfounded and finally garnered the sense to ask,
“What are you talking about?”
The grey wolf stood up as it grimly said, “It means that you are the one we were waiting for. You will have to come into the forest tomorrow to really understand what I mean. Will you come?”
I was doubtful, should I really listen to a wolf inviting me into a forest?
Next day, despite my doubts, I found myself walk into the deep foliage, flanked by three wolves, who surprisingly weren’t trying to eat me. We walked about an hour into the forest till we reached an opening.
“Welcome, Gaya, welcome!” an owl perched high on a tree spoke.
I looked around to figure out who was this “Gaya” he was addressing.
The owl tilted his head and looked at the wolves,
“Does she not know?”
The wolves looked at each other till the grey one spoke,
“She can hear us but she does not know who she is or what she can do.”
I simply stared at animals “speaking” and pinched myself just in case. Nope! This was real!
“I am right here, so stop discussing ‘me’ and talk to me,” I screeched.
The owl’s eyes widened (if they could get any wider!) and it considered me with curiosity.
“So where are you from, what is your name.”
I squared my shoulders as I introduced my self, “I am Ramona, daughter of Augustus Pane. I live just outside the woods. I was fine till the three wolves there started talking to me.”
“Don’t blame us, you can hear us ain’t our fault,” the black wolf bristled.
“There there, lets not get into an argument now. Gaya or Ramona as you prefer, we have a prophesy, passed down generations among all the forest dwellers. That when the snow on the mountain in the north begins to melt and it isn’t summer, Gaya the spirit of the woods will rise and bring balance to the evil that man has unleashed upon nature. The Gaya will be an animal whisperer and shall wield power over all elements of nature.”
The owl’s words brought back a froth of memories. When I was two there was a house fire, but I had come out unscathed. Even as a youngster I would tend and heal to every animal, bird or plant that I found ailing. When I had been ten, I had saved my best friend from drowning, but I had not known swimming yet I had managed that feat.
Just recently a friend of mine had been bullied and with just a thought I had managed to push the ruffian a few feet from my friend. My head exploded as all the pieces of the puzzle fit. I fell to my knees as the the knowledge enlightened me. Maybe it was true, but how was I a mere girl going to take on human kind?
The Owl flew down to me, It touched my face with its wing and said,
“I know this is a lot to take in, but maybe a bit of your past may help you accept your today,” and I passed out.
When I woke up I was in my bedroom, tucked in and my father sitting next to my bedside with a weary expression.
“Oh My God, Ramona, thank god! I had thought I lost you forever!”
I coughed as I sat myself up and asked, “Is everything alright, what…what happened to me?”
“You were lost in the woods baby, it took us one whole day to find you and now two days till you woke up!,” my father hugged me as he relayed his ordeal.
Having lost my mother, my father was extra cautious around me. It was the house fire that had snatched her from us. But none of us spoke of it.
“I am fine dad, its …its just that…I have learned some very startling facts about myself, and I guess I just needed to let off some steam, b ut then you know I lost my way into the woods and now here I am.”
My dad gasped, “What facts, who told you, don’t believe a word, you are my daughter irrespective of what anyone has told you!”
My mouth hung open as I took in what dad has just blurted. First time in so many years, he let down his guard, so I pushed him.
“Dad what are you talking about?” I held his hand.
“I know I should have told you earlier, but there never seemed to be the right time. But now that you know, you rather know the whole truth. You Ramona, aren’t our biological child, we found you one day, crying under the coniferous tree. We reported to the police and got you home. They looked everywhere, but no one claimed a lost baby. So after a few months we filed for adoption and here you are.”
I was completely shaken, the last piece of the puzzle had sealed my fate. That night I sneaked into the woods and called out to the wolves. The brown wolf trotted towards me and stopped at a distance.
“Dear wolf, I know now who I am, I was born from the mud of these very woods and I am bound to serve and defend all the creatures of these woods,” I said aloud, finally letting the reality of my life settle.
The wolf let out a loud howl and soon many more animals gathered, each saying the same thing,
“Gaya has returned and she shall deliver mother earth from the evils lurking on the horizon, she will be the saviour and the guardian of every being from the woodlands.”
As the chants stopped, I stood with my arms out and soaked in the smell of the forest. I closed my eyes and let the energy flow through my veins, when I opened my eyes, they glowed green with the spirit of earth. Here I became, Gaya, embracing whatever destiny had in store.
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