Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, August 6, 2009

By Raisa Rafique

“…As such, friendship is undoubtedly central to our lives, in part because the special concern we have for our friends must have a place within a broader set of concerns, including moral concerns, and in part because our friends can help shape who we are as persons.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Summer : Blazing as the gods
They ran like there was no tomorrow. The two of them, like deer sprinting away in fright- only the ones chasing them were real hyenas.

They had been discovered.
“Run Pasha, run!” one of them panted, “If only we can make it to the boat…we'll be out of here, starting the training…we'll be- PASHA!!”

The roar of boots subdued the morning chorus as the hyena encircled their fallen prey, triumphant with unholy glee. “See, my bullets never miss!” one of the creatures chortled. “Haramzade, Mukti banne jarehethe kya? (You scoundrel, going to become a Mukti, eh?)”- and it kicked him mercilessly in the guts. “Where's your Hindu friend Ranju? Where is he hiding?”

The wounded friend groaned in pain, but never once uttered a word while the beasts kicked him again and again, and the other friend watched transfixed in horror, hiding behind a nearby tree. Finally, the creatures had had enough, “Saale traitor, trying to save a Hindu, are you? Then die saving him!”

Gunshots echoed as the bright summer sun came out of the clouds, making the tear-tracks glitter on the surviving friend's face. The other, however, was lying in a bed of crimson blood, defiant even in death, with all the blessed majesty of the gods above.

Monsoon : Raindrop tears
Study, take exams, stand first. Nothing more, nothing less- no excuses. In a world where coming second for even half a mark was considered a crime, who would've thought she would end up being friends with the least possible candidate ever? She wondered to herself while watching her best friend- who had yet again failed in her mid-terms, three subjects this time- getting scolded by the teacher. “The first girl of the class shouldn't be friends with the likes of 'that',” a sugary voice drawled beside her. It belonged to her rival in grade-battles, the proud holder of the second position. “I hear even your mom is disgusted by your taste in friends,” the rival snickered.

“And your point is?” she grinned, thoroughly amused. “That I should befriend the likes of 'you' instead and trade friendship for self-gains? I don't think so.” -and she turned away from the shocked friend-wannabe. She had more important things to do, more important people to meet. And sure enough, one of those people was sitting precariously propped against the staircase, shoulders hunched and tears pouring down her face. Wordlessly, she sat down beside her best friend, who suddenly laughed through tears- “Geez, I'm such a disgrace to you, ain't I?” “That you are,” she smiled and reached out to put a hand around her friend's shoulder, “but then again, three subjects are better that last term's five! This time I'm going to teach you myself. So wipe those stupid tears off your face already…”

Outside, thunder roared in the embrace of pitch-black clouds. The monsoon had arrived to wash all pains away, finally.

Autumn: The afternoon of changing colours
They were the best pair of friends ever. They spoke on the same wavelength, listened to the same genre of music and were fond of the same writer. They shared everything between themselves, they understood each other so well…and then, he had to go and fall in love with her out of nowhere.

Like leaves changing colour, their worlds changed overnight. She had never regarded him as anything other than a friend, she told him that. He wasn't okay with it. He never spoke to her again.

The next time they met, he was a priority one patient in a drug rehab centre and she was there holding his frail hands in hers, wondering how things had turned out like that.

“How come you never told me you were taking drugs?” she asked.

“What difference would that have made?” he replied.

The afternoon outside was slowly transforming into dusk, mystifying her mind more and more with its changing colours.

“I miss us being friends,” she whispered, and looked into his eyes. “Let's start over again. This time we'll set everything right that went wrong in the first place…the two of us, just like the old days.”

He had tears in his eyes, but nevertheless, he smiled, “Okay.”

Late Fall : Of the fallen butterflies
They were three in number. Inseparable- that's what everyone called them.
“Inseparable, huh? How ironic…”
They were three in number. Three rainbow-coloured butterflies, always flying off to faraway lands together. Always. Together.

Until the day their wings were encased in shackles. One of them was married off to a foreign land, away from her friends, in solitary exile. Another was 'blessed' with an established husband, one that demanded nothing but the wife's constant services as a slave for her in-laws. The last one, married off earlier than the rest, had ended up having a drunkard for a husband, who specialised in beating her day and night for dowry money…and had now finally managed to murder her off for good.

The two of them stared at their friend's face, dead and cold as the morgue itself.

“I thought we were inseparable,” one of them whispered.

“We will be,” the other whispered back. “In another world, faraway from here.”

Winter : The solitary ice-sculpture
“Here comes the queen bee!!'', hoots, applauds and followers always surrounded her wherever she went. And for good reasons too. She kept herself up-to-date with all the latest news of the entertainment world. There was no movie that she hadn't seen, no soap episode that she had missed, no band concert she had not gone to- all because they always kept her in the middle of the gossip ring. She laughed at all the popular jokes like others did, regardless of whether she found them funny or not. And thus she was never alone and had countless 'friends'- or so they called themselves. If one group was to abandon her, another would quickly replace them, for that was how craftily she had spun the web of everlasting smiles and warmth around her. But inside, she knew how cold she actually was. The wintry fields of her mind that she hid away from everyone else lest they should be hated, the icy pangs of loneliness she felt even when amidst all those people scared her. And so it happened, when the survey results were out towards the end of the school year, everybody saw that in answer to “How many good friends do you have?”, surprisingly the 'queen bee' had written “None.”

Spring : “Because life cannot wait”
“You are a disgrace to us! All your friends got accepted into prestigious universities, but you? Such a good-for-nothing worthless-” the rest of his father's screams were blocked by the suddenly slammed door. He couldn't stop fuming as he descended the stairs. So all his college friends had gotten into the Ivy Leagues and medicals and BUET and DU and what not. Big deal. But what kind of a stupid excuse was that to avoid him, an old friend? Just because he couldn't get into a high-class institution? They even arranged a posh get-together party without informing him.
As he let his angry thoughts roam freely sitting in the classroom of the not-so-special university, where he had gotten himself admitted into a not-so-special subject, the guy next to him suddenly spoke,
“Yeah, with an expression like that anyone can read your mind easily.”
“What?” he asked in confusion.

“Hey I don't like it here either. I know nobody and am a 'nobody' to everybody in here. So what? That doesn't mean I can't make new friends and become 'somebody' to them one day! In fact, that can start right now,” the guy grinned widely and spread out his hand to him, “I'm Jahid.”

He stared at the guy for a whole minute before breaking into laughter and shaking his hand, “I'm Polash. Nice to meet you.”

Disclaimer: The short stories are nothing but works of fiction. Any resemblance to any character living or dead is purely coincidental…..or maybe not.



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