It was late night and I was rushing on the deserted pavements to home from a friend’s house when suddenly it started raining. I stopped and took shelter under the French canopy of a shop. As the wind grew harsher, I started getting wet. I looked at the shop behind me. There was a neon sign which read ‘open 24 hours’. I pushed the door open which had number 6174 written on it.
I stepped inside. The room was empty so I went further ahead. The next room was full of people. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. My jaw dropped to the ground when I saw what seemed like an initiation ceremony. It appeared to be a meeting of some secret society. The members or the disciples were sitting in a circle wearing red robes. A person in a purple robe, apparently the group leader, seemed to be solemnizing a person- the only one without a robe.
Some 20 people were sitting in a circle and chanting. I realized I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, something I had an expertise in. I was getting goosebumps after witnessing the sight. I couldn’t turn as I was stupefied. I retraced my steps, but it was too late. I heard a voice saying “stop!”. I froze on the spot.
“Come here,” the voice ordered.
But I was glued to the floor, and could not move an inch. By the time, a lady walked towards me, took my hand. “who are you? how did you get inside?”, she asked me.
“I’m Sana. I was…”, I started when the chief gestured for me to stop, “The gate is enchanted; it allows only those who are worthy. So what made you come inside is irrelevant, Sana”.
I was speechless. I had no idea who these people were, and which secret society they belonged to.
“We belong to Priory of Scion”, the chief said, as if reading my mind. “There are myths about the secretive and dark business. However, the truth is that we are seekers of knowledge and spirituality. We had Grand Masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Michel de Nostredame, Victor Hugo.” He informed.
I finally said, “how am I worthy?”
“As I said the door opens only for the worthy. The universe has spoken. I understand it may not sound credulous. But it’s true”, the wise man said.
“Why is that sign- Open 24 hours? Can anyone walk through that door?”, I asked.
“Only those who have the ability can see the sign”, He had been patient with my questions.
“Does it mean that I have to join the cult?”, I asked.
“It’s not a cult. It’s a way of life”, he said sternly. ” If you are a seeker of knowledge, if you can impart your wisdom and if you desire to be one with the universal consciousness and eventually with the divine consciousness”.
“What if I don’t want to join?”, I was scared to ask but I did.
The chief smiled. “It’s up to you to join or not. How long you want to stay, It’s all up to you. However, there will be further tests to prove your alliance and vows given the nature of secrecy.
“What will I have to do?”, I asked though I was thinking what will they make me do.
“You don’t have to do anything that you don’t like. We don’t make you do anything”, he read my mind again. I was intrigued and scared at the same time. It was clear that they had powers. If I were to believe him, it was just exchange of knowledge. It all looks harmless and spiritual. I weighed my options. What if I decide to leave now?
“You can. You won’t be harmed. Just an oath to secrecy would suffice. You can take your time to decide. If you want, you can come back tomorrow. Somebody is always here. Remember it’s open 24 hours.” He said and gestured to leave.
I had one last question, which I didn’t need to verbalize.
He answered, “How and when it happens, you shall know. The initiation has already begun in your mind. You have already passed the first degree, that’s why you are here. Now, you have to decide how far you are willing to go”.
I came out of the place.
It had stopped raining, there wasn’t a drop of water anywhere to suggest it rained. I turned to see the neon sign- it was gone. I wondered if it was gone forever or I was hallucinating.
(c) 2018 Priya U Bajpai