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A Friend in need..

November 2, 2010

This work of fiction is dedicated to my dear friend Kesavan who celebrated his Birthday today

Out of the blue I got a call from a friend who went missing from my life.  We used to be friends right from class I. Like most close friendships in life, it started with a fight. A fight over a pencil that had been worn down to a stub. I don’t remember who won that day but it was a beginning of a great friendship. He used to be a prankster and there have been many occasions where I have been punished for his pranks. He used to say,’I can’t help it buddy; you have to look out for yourself’. He was aggressive and I was naturally attracted to him because he could do things which I could only wish I could do. Over the years our friendship grew. My parents were worried that I would go astray because of this friendship. There is nothing which we have not done together, smoked a cigarette, got drunk on toddy and puked our guts out, had a drag of a joint rolled on cigarette paper, followed girls to and from their colleges and on one occasion even visited a whorehouse-it is another matter that we chickened out and ran away from there.

When we were in the XI standard, my father got a transfer. When he heard that I would be going away, he cried. This was a facet of his which I never realized existed. I never could imagine that he was capable of such sensitivity. Surprisingly I didn’t feel much grief. We lived in a time when there weren’t mobile phones, emails or other social networks to stay ‘connected’. The first few months we wrote a spate of letters what is now called the snail mail. Then gradually the letters got lesser and lesser, slowed to a trickle and then abruptly stopped. And then I went abroad for my higher studies. I came back to India after 3 years to set up a legal firm. Every now and then I used to think about my school days and about the good times we had. While watching movies some of the comedy scenes would be as if they had been taken out of our lives. When I got married, I wanted to invite him. I tried my best to track him, but somehow it was as if he had disappeared from the face of the earth. Years passed and now out of nowhere he emerges. I would be lying if I told you that I was happy to hear his voice but I admit that my heart skipped a beat when he called me by a nickname which only we both knew. There was an embarrassing silence. After the customary exchange of pleasantries, I didn’t know what else to say. I was always the silent one and he the more articulate of the two. He too was humming and hawing and I could feel he was uncomfortable. Instinctively I knew that he was not doing well. After a lot of cajoling he admitted that he was finding it hard to make both ends meet. I wanted to know where he lived but he was not forthcoming. Maybe was ashamed of meeting me and exposing his poverty. Finally I managed to prise out his whereabouts. With great reluctance he gave me the information. I told him that I would meet him shortly. I wanted to help him out of his misery. That is the least I can do for our friendship.

After a couple of weeks I got a chance to go to the city where he lived. Even though a junior’s visit would have been enough, I took it upon myself to go there. It would give me ample time to meet with my friend, understand his needs and do whatever is possible. After completing my official requirements I set out to meet my friend. It was not very difficult to find out where he lived, but I was certainly not prepared for what I saw. I was standing before a palatial house. I double checked the address and then knocked on the big wrought iron gate. A watchman peeped out. When I told him my name and that my friend was expecting me, he talked to someone in the house and then he opened the gate to let me in. The driveway was about 100 feet long with beautiful flowering plants on one side and a lush green lawn on the other. As I walked towards the house I realized the presence of a balding man, a big pot belly jutting out with a very vague resemblance of my old friend standing on the patio. He was grinning from ear to ear. He was enjoying the shocked look on my face. He took a few steps forward and caught me in a bear hug. We remained hugging each other for sometime. All the years inbetween washed away in those few minutes and we were transported to our school days,. I felt lighter. It was as if a huge weight has been removed from my chest.

When he said that he was finding it difficult to make both ends meet, I never for a minute doubted that he meant his belt. The Rascal. The eternal prankster.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. sampath permalink
    November 3, 2010 16:12

    A Twist in the tale.

    This is an excellent one page story.Get it published in a leading magazine if possible.

    Your bonded labour was also very humourous.(SorryI missed it. A very belaaated wishes).

    Your writing is simple and enjoyable.You have a very good sense of humour.

    Best wishes and happy Diwali to You and allyour family members.

    • November 4, 2010 08:12

      Sampath don’t give me ideas which you will regret later. 🙂

  2. November 3, 2010 17:00

    Oh MY, Oh Boy Oh Boy!
    The end was pure JOY!

    The friend in need was you indeed
    And he no doubt as much in need!

    Of the comfort of old times
    Feelings and laughter chimes 🙂

    Glad for you, Govind! As always, the mastercraftsman drafts another laid back, absolutely absorbing read!
    Thank you! You’ve raised the spirits of one who came by totally disheartened with existence! God Bless! 🙂

    • November 3, 2010 22:38

      @Usha, don’t scare me with words that I need to refer the dictionary to see if it really means What I think it means, mastercraftsman for instance :). I am happy to have been able to lift your spirits. Don’t worry this too shall pass. 🙂

      • November 14, 2010 17:46

        Oh! I’d be rather worried about that… that the feeling might pass!!

        Hope you have found the word in the dictionary. And yes, it means what it says… 🙂 🙂

  3. Chithrajust permalink
    November 4, 2010 17:55

    yo Govind; lovely to see you too on wordpress; and what a write up! giggles

  4. November 7, 2010 16:04

    What an end to the story! 🙂

  5. August 8, 2015 19:18

    Again the Midas divine and pristine
    Did malign all the stories under this shrine
    Usha teacher with her vocabulary fine
    Crowned you the Mastercraftsman divine
    Who for eons and eons will shine!!!!

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