St Olivier’s College

St (O)livier’s College

The next day Gayatri and Varun caught the earliest available flight to Nainital. It was a two-hour trip and they landed at Nainital by 9 AM. They found the scenic beauty of Nainital breath-taking. For Gayatri, it was her first visit to the place, but Varun had visited Nainital with Anandi as part of the shooting team just the month before. Again, the attraction between them was evident to both Gayatri and Varun, but Varun was firm and did not allow himself to get carried away. They had held hands throughout the flight journey to Nainital, but Varun drew the line there.

They booked themselves two separate rooms in one of the lesser-known hotels. The receptionist asked for identity proofs, and after they had produced their id’s, they were allotted rooms. They knew that all this could be a wild goose chase, but there was no way to avoid it. They had to proceed systematically and thoroughly if they were to uncover what was ailing Anandi.

Varun knew where St. Olivier’s college was as he had visited the place recently. They decided to walk as the college was very near the hotel. The terrain was quite mountainous and hilly. It was exhilarating to walk inhaling the pure mountain air. As they walked, Gayatri hooked her arm in Varun’s and asked, ‘What kind of stunt did you perform here, Varun?’

Varun said, ‘It was the usual college romance. The hero and the heroine were very much in love with each other. The villain’s father was a politician and as usual he owned the college. The villain lusted after the heroine. And there was a fight between the villain and the hero. It involved a lot of jumping around. I acted as the hero’s double and jumped from the first floor of the college a couple of times.’

Gayatri said, ‘Varun, I have a question for you. If someone were to attack me right now, would you risk your life to save me?’

Varun looked at Gayatri’s face. There was a twinkle in her eyes. He realised she was playing him, and said disarmingly, ‘Oh sure, after all, what are brother-in-law’s for.’

Soon they reached the abandoned college, but unfortunately, they found the main gate locked. They looked around a bit and soon found a small opening in the compound wall. It was narrow but they could just about squeeze themselves through it. They explored the vast grounds of the college but except for many monkeys and several birds they did not find anything. They went over to the actual building after exploring the grounds.

They looked through the entire building. It was a three storied structure, and it was now looking decrepit and lonely. It almost felt as if the classrooms were yearning for students and teachers. There was an atmosphere in the air that felt spooky. But they could not find anything concrete.

Soon they came out of the college. Gayatri said, ‘We ought to investigate the history of the college. Let us go to the library and check things out a bit.’

‘Do you really expect to find anything about the college in books?’

‘I don’t think there will be anything much in the books. But I am thinking of chatting with the librarian. That may help us.’

They were at the central library of Nainital soon after. They looked around and saw a plump pleasant looking woman seated at the reception. They approached her and Varun took the lead here.

He said to the librarian, ‘Hello mam, my name is Varun Bhairav, and I am a film director from the Tamil film industry. We are thinking of shooting a few scenes at St Olivier’s college for our upcoming project. It is an abandoned place, and it would be an ideal spot for some college romance scenes. Just out of curiosity, I would like to know if it has any history. I mean something spooky. If there is something, we could do a nice spooky scene and intertwine the real stuff with the spooky happenings in our movie.’

The librarian smiled and said, ‘It is funny you know, only last month there was some shooting going on there for a film. But there is nothing that happened in that college as far as I know. And I have lived here all my life. If there was something I would have surely known about it. The college was established by Christian missionaries in the year 1890. I studied there. It was a very fine college. But it ran out of funds.’

‘Okay, thank you so much for chatting with us. We won’t take any more of your time.’

They left the library and went back to their hotel…

                                                                                             To Be Continued...

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