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A story of love and friendship

He was one of the brightest in his class, he was good at almost everything that he did, be it sports or studies. I say almost everything, because there was one thing that he was not good at. He was never good when it came to talking to people of the opposite sex. He was good at speaking, but he always found himself tongue-tied when he had to talk to a girl, and when he did say something it was ridiculously stupid. This was something that always bothered him. He was always grateful that Chandra did not have a gf. Chandra was his best friend, Chandra knew everything about him … almost everything. There was one thing which he had not told Chandra. There was this new girl in college who was now on his mind most of the time. The one reason that he could not talk about his feelings towards her was because he knew Chandra could never look at her the way he did. Chandra would never appreciate her simplicity, girls for Chandra were like commodities, they had to be of the right size. And he never wanted to talk of her as if she was some commodity. He knew she was the one for him and he also knew, he would tell this to Chandra some day, but that day had to wait.

One day in class during one of those boring lectures on communication skills, people were asked to state about the most pleasant experience of the semester. He knew it was the moment that she had smiled at him in class and he had just stared back like a fool. But again he found himself tongue-tied and he said something about getting a first class in his results. Getting a first class was something of a routine for him and he wondered if he could have said something better, something closer to the truth. She had not come to class that day, he wondered what was her most pleasant experience.

He was surprised when he saw her talking to Chandra later that day, Chandra called him as he was about to go from there. Chandra said “Hi, Could you give your ABC notebook to her, she missed class today and as you know I am not the best person to copy notes from.” She smiled. Chandra’s rotten sense of humour irritated him. He had his book with him, he gave it to Chandra, Chandra gave it to her. She said “Thanks”. But it was not meant for him, it was said to Chandra. The book was returned to him later in a similar manner. Again she thanked Chandra. He felt horrible, but his face never showed a trace of it.

“Hey champ, how did you find her” Chandra said that day in their hostel room.
“You know who I am talking about.”
“I feel she is OK.” He lied.
“You know your problem is that you can never look at girls as people. I mean they are just some commodity for you…”
“I am getting late for my cricket practice, I am in no mood to listen to your lecture. Are you coming?”
“No, I have got to study for the test.”
He left and he had a horrible day at practice, as he was coming back, he noticed Chandra with her. They seemed to be having a happy time. Chandra again called him.
“Hey she wants to study with us for the test tomorrow. I thought that it was a good idea, we could help each other.”
“Do you need my permission for that” His voice had gone dry.
“I will take that as a yes”

They studied together that day, actually he pretended to study while Chandra and she talked of their lectures, their professors and other such things. She never talked once to him. He wondered how comfortable people were when talking to Chandra, he could get anyone into a discussion with him. He had always admired this, but for the first time, he wanted Chandra to behave stupidly like he would have, but that did not happen.

The test got over and when the results came Chandra was surprised to find his friend scoring badly and that too when he thought that his friend had studied the whole day for the test. Chandra was about to go to him, when she came to Chandra and they started talking, they had important things to talk about… things which they could not say in front of him. But he found them outside class and they had to stop talking. He sensed that he was not wanted there and was leaving. He felt miserable. Chandra came to him “I know you are disappointed but these things happen. This test is not everything, you can always score well in the next test. Come on do not be so disappointed, there are more important things in life than tests.”
“Yes, there are more important things in life.”
“Hey I have a pleasant suprise to tell to you.”
“Can we talk about that later.” He had guessed what that surprise was going to be.

He felt he was losing his friend and losing him to the girl of his dreams. He had to do something … something really drastic. That night there was some commotion outside the girls’ hostel. Chandra woke him up, it was not necessary to wake him up though. He knew his plan had worked. Outside they found the watchman of the girls’ hostel holding Ronit by his collar. He was pleased with his choice, he always chose the right people. (Boys were not allowed in the girls’ hostel after midnight, the school had strict rules and could expel the students involved, but such rules are never followed and Ronit knew this by experience).

“Who is it this time ?”, the watchman asked. Ronit named her. She looked shocked, she looked at him. He could not look at her, he looked away. He feared if she knew, but there was no reason to fear, his plan was perfect. “It was not me, he is lying” she said. “Everybody says the same, if I could catch you redhanded, the people here ought to be more strict with shameless people like you” the watchman replied. She could not take it anymore, she left crying. He was pleased, Ronit had done his job well. He had once helped Ronit out of a mess, other than them only Chandra knew of this. Ronit had paid back what was due on him. They left, Chandra kept a hand on his shoulder and said “I am sorry, I do not think you would want to talk about this today.” Yes, he did not want to talk of this, but how did Chandra know, had he guessed. No, his plan was perfect, it had worked.

The next day she did not come to class, she had left college. Ronit sat there with his head bent down in shame. It was not something new for Ronit, but for some reason for the first time he seemed sorry for what he did. Chandra had not talked about the incident to him. The day passed by and Chandra seemed depressed and he too put up a face which showed that he was sorry for Chandra. The day after, they came to know that Ronit too had left college. He had not expected them to leave college, Ronit had been through this a lot of times before and none of Ronit’s girls had left college. But this unexpected events provided relief to him. He wondered if this was what people called “a perfect crime”.

In the hostel room, Chandra said to him “I never expected that she would do something like that, she did not look that kind of a girl.”
“Yes, but appearances can be deceptive, people need not be the way that they look to be”
“Hmm, I think you are right, do you know I wanted to say something about her to you”
“The day she borrowed your book, she did not actually want to borrow your book, and the day we studied together, she was not interested in group-study. She had come for something else.”
“For what”
“For you, I mean she wanted to talk to you, one day she had come to me and told me that she had a huge crush on you, I offered that I would convey this to you. But she refused, she said she wanted to say this herself. She wanted me to get you near her, but when you were around she seemed so nervous that she could never even look at you and ended up talking with me.”
“What”, he said and fell back on his chair.
“Hey do not look so disappointed, you can always get a better girl and anyway she did not deserve you. That bitch …”

He did not pay any attention to what Chandra said after that. There was a lump in his throat. It was after quite a long time that he wanted to cry. He had always felt that he could always open out his heart to Chandra, but he felt that he was missing his best friend even when he was standing right in front of him.

P.S: I have tried the style of having nameless protagonists as in “The nameless detective” by Bill Pronzini, here. The style of having nameless characters is real exciting but difficult to write.  Sketching a character without giving him/her a name is an art, and I do not think I have done too well. But then,  who cares 😦

Categories: Short stories
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