I wrote a short story on how an old woman recalls her time in an orphanage. It is incomplete though. Please go through it and correct my grammatical errors. Thanks in advance. Sorry that it is a bit too long.
The sun is peeking over the horizon. Its hazy streams of light penetrate through the windows along the cloistered corridor. Tendrils of shadows stretch themselves up the walls until their heads touch the arched ceiling. They form an intriguing archway illusion which gradually diminishes towards a dark, hollow room in the farthest end of the age-worn walkway.
From the other end of the corridor, Tsin is inching in the direction of the room. The remnant cold of last night’s heavy rain sends a shiver through her thin, frail body. She instinctively pulls her collar tighter around her sagged neck. The sun rays that pour in can hardly mitigate the chill. She would have made nothing of it had she been in her teens. How fast time has elapsed. No one can stay young and fit forever. She sighs and draws a deep breath. The damp, fetid smell of the peeling walls invades her nostrils, making her wonder when the building was abandoned. Could it be in mid 1940s or early 1950s? She shakes her head in uncertainty. The corridor was once filled with fresh, resinous scent of pine trees from the woods outside. The walls seemed to be breathing in their lush blue paint and the Laughter of children vibrated through the air. It was a place where goodwill thrived, happiness equally shared and grief forgotten. Though staying in the orphanage for a mere two years, the fond memories she has will remain etched in the depth of her heart forever.
Tsin’s parents died of tuberculosis in close succession when she was six. Orphaned at such a tender age, she was constantly feeling afraid, grieved, confused and insecure. She had been handed from relation to relation like an unwanted rag doll for two years before being sent to the orphanage at the age of eight. She dared not hope for a better life the moment she entered the building. Her heart was full of misgiving towards the caretakers, Reverend Baker and his wife. They looked so much different from the locals with their taller stature, their paler skin, their non-dark brown eyes and their higher noses. Would they be treating her as bad as her relatives or even worse? Her fear was allayed when Mrs. Baker put her little hands gently in hers and spoke to her in foreigner-accented Chinese, “Don’t worry, Tsin, you are at home now.” The woman’s voice was so calm and dulcet. Her bluish eyes sparkled with motherly love and compassion. Reverend Baker was standing beside the gentle lady, smiling. He also exuded the same kindness. She used to think that she would never feel it again in her life. Overcome by a sudden surge of grief, she threw herself into Mrs. Baker’s arms and cried. In her young mind, she knew she had found a safe sanctuary. The couple was kind to her. Whenever she woke up crying from a nightmare, they would sit by her bedside to comfort her. Though the orphanage was not a rich missionary organization, food and clothes were always enough for every child. She felt much more secure emotionally.
Tsin is now standing outside the dark room. It is the one and only classroom in the orphanage. She remembers it as the most cheerful place in the building. It is where she and her fellow inmates learnt how to read, write, draw, sing, and play games. Reverend Baker and Mrs. Baker were able to make every learning session a fun and lively experience. They understood their needs and never singled anyone out for their love and attention. They also introduced them to Jesus Christ, the son of God who had brought salvation to the world through his death and resurrection. Tsin loved praying. It gave her strength to cope with her loss of parents. As such, the room has a special place in her heart. A smile crosses her lips as she recalls how the room looked in the past . If she is not wrong, its windows were draped with white lace curtains. Children’s drawings and strips of gospel quotations were pasted on the walls, giving the room a warm, colourful look. There was a book shelf against the back wall. It was a treasure trove of knowledge, containing many story books, bibles and encyclopedias. A bronze cross was placed loftily above the blackboard which spanned across the front wall. It seemed to bless every person and item in the room with its lustrous metallic glow. Facing the blackboard were three rows of neatly-arranged wooden desks and chairs. Tsin liked to take the front seat in the middle row. She wanted to have a better view of what was written on the blackboard and hear the stories told by the priest and his wife more clearly. Interposed between the blackboard and the children desks was a table used by the couple. The vase of flowers on it added more delight to the room.
Tsin gazes into the room. She can see films of tangled cobwebs hanging thickly from the ceiling. They glint off the vague light that steals in through the door-less entrance. In the pale dimness, she can make out the outlines of some scattered, overturned desks and chairs on the floor. She sighs and walks into the room. The strong smell of dust almost chokes her. She has to keep brushing the tenuous threads of cobwebs off her body while moving inside. The darkness makes her uneasy. She decides to open the windows to let the light in. She feels her way along the left wall, trying to find the location of the windows based on her memory. She left the orphanage at the age of ten. Her youngest uncle from Sarawak found out that she was in the orphanage and decided to adopt her. He had been close to her family before migrating to Sarawak. Tsin was touched by her uncle’s sincerity and agreed to go to Sarawak with him. Her tears fell like rain on the day she bade farewell to everyone in the orphanage. Reverend Baker and Mrs. Baker gave her a bible as a token of parting. They conducted a service to bless her before she set off for the harbor with her uncle. After twenty-five days of sailing on the sea, she reached Sarawak and began a new life. Her uncle owned a small pepper plantation in the British colony. His wife was a small, soft-spoken lady who could not conceive. Her presence was able to fill the childless void in their life. When she was twelve, Japan invaded Sarawak and life was hard under their occupation. However, her family was able to pull through the difficult period. Two years after the Japanese surrendered, she met the man of her destiny and got married. He was a humble teacher who taught in a Chinese primary school. They were blessed with three boys and one daughter. Though content with life, she had always recalled her time in the orphanage. She missed Reverend Baker and Mrs. Baker. She always told her children how good the couple had been to her.
- For Teachers