Friends13 mins 9.4K 13 mins 9.4K
Kaya's Best Friend
It has been an hour. A whole hour Kaya has spent waiting behind her house. Her grumbling stomach and the drizzle add to her discomfort. She thinks of today’s lunch menu that her father has pinned down on the menu board this morning and that makes her stomach growl. She clutches her belly, eyes wide and stance cautious. She doesn’t want to alert people of her presence by her stomach’s obvious growls. She reaches for the pocket of her uniform and pulls out a few coins. That’s all she has, six rupees. If only she hadn’t lost her 200 rupees to Rahul of class 8 in the bet. She stomps her wet canvas shoes on the ground and they make a squeaky sound. She sighs and reaches to the side of the wall to peek towards the main gate of her house. He is still there, waiting outside the gate, sitting on the elevated stair in front of the gate. She wipes her wet brows and squints at him. His uniform shirt clings to his lanky body, he must have waited more than an hour to get drenched to his toes in this slight drizzle. He should have brought an umbrella if he plans to stake out in front of her house for hours. She sneers and mouths “How unorganized”.
She leans on the wall, wincing at the sound of her stomach’s plea. Just when she decides to run to the store by the next block and get herself a bag of chips for 5 rupees, her body alerts her of something more urgent. Her bladder.
She runs her palm on her face and turns around to lean her forehead on the wall and to blame her twisted day.
She jumps at the sudden intrusion by the familiar voice. She curses with a string of a potter-verse slang words, being the popular potter head she is. She shakes her head at the unfortunate twist of the day and shuts her eyes. Did her stomach give away her position to him? Was the sound so loud?
She refuses to turn and look up at him. She would stay like this forever, and become a stone statue with time to compliment the gray wall. Molds and ferns will grow on her, she will be soon covered with climbers creeping around her body. The idea seems far better and pleasant than opening her eyes and greeting him.
“Are you alright?”, He asks.
She huffs out another curse and squaring her shoulder turns to look up at him.
“Why the hell are you here?”, Her voice firm and curt.
He fiddles with his bag pack and pulls out a box wrapped in shiny paper.
“Mom came back from her trip, and she brought some things for you and your father”, He said handing me the package.
“You could have just gone in and handed this to Dad or you could have just given me in school. Why stake out for an hour infront of the house”, She says as a matter of fact, studying the package at her hand.
“Since you don’t like to associate with me at school,” He looks down at his right leg and she scowls,” I thought you won’t like ...”
“That’s right!”, She grits her teeth at him, and shoves the package at him,” If you know that right, how shameless of you to come and hand me this. I don’t want it.”
She shoulder buts him, making him triple over on the wet ground. She hears the small moan of pain, and it makes her more angry. She urges forward without looking back.
Her father stands waiting for her, behind the gate with an umbrella, tension marking his face.
“Was that Mrig? Why are you beha..?”
“I am hungry”, She walks across her father and her father follows, bringing the umbrella over her.
“Your actions must hurt him. Why are you so cruel to him?”, Dad asks opening the door,” He used to be your best friend”,
“Know what? “She turns around to face her father, after kicking the wet shoes on the shoe rack,” I am not hungry anymore. I had fed on enough shit for the day”.
She shuts the door to her room at her father shouting at her on matters regarding her degrading manners.
It has been five days since the incident with Mrig, and she has avoided him ever since. Be it in class, school or street, she would run the opposite way at the sight of his familiar silhouette. It helps that he avoids her too in school,and that makes things easier. The avoiding and ignoring things.
“I heard that the you and the idiot were classmates in your previous school?”, Her bench-mate Neha whispers to her.
She stops writing and checks on the teacher writing on the board and then looks at Neha who raises her eyebrows at her. She knows the idiot Neha is referring to.
She eyes the back of Mrig sitting in the front desk. He doesn’t usually prefers the first desk, but today he got called from the last desk to the first by the teacher. She can clearly tell out his discomfort through the posture he is sporting.
“The rumor of him having a crush on you must be obvious, he must have followed you to this school”,
She shakes her pen at the lack of ink. She bought it today.
“Gosh that idiot! Look at him limping around in the school, and he dares to eye you. He must think himself equivalent to you. He should check himself or rather his legs...”
Neha stops when she notices Kaya scratching her notebook with her pen and tearing a page or two. The nip of the pen breaks down as ink blurts out staining her notebook , hands and her shirt.
“Do you need a pen?”, Neha asks her, putting her hand on Kaya’s shoulder to stop her from making more mess.
“GOSH!”, She exclaims, shrugging Neha’s hand away and standing up to look down at Neha, “I don’t. Why are you talking so much, why? Can’t you see I am trying to write here?”
It was after a minute or two when Kaya realizes the 50 pairs of eyes on her that she calms down, apologizing to the teacher. But it was already late, she has been ordered out of the class.
The cafeteria is packed with students. The seat that she noticed a moment ago before ordering her plate is gone. She notices someone getting up out of the corner of the eye. She turns and notices Mrig, with his empty plates on hand getting up from his seat. She advances towards the seat, but stops when a boy already occupies the seat. She turns to look for another seat when she notices Dev from her class extending his leg out in Mrig’s path.
Her shout dies in her lips, when Mrig triples over and falls on the floor with a loud thud.
“Did you hear the metal clinking?”, Dev gets up and comes to stand up in front of Mrig’s pained face as he addresses the whole cafeteria .
Kaya’s nails draw crescents of blood on her palms as he tightens her fists at the sight of Dev kicking Mrig’s right leg.
“Oh my! Does he have a metal leg? Is he a cyborg? A dumb cyborg?”, Dev comments, as the cafeteria snickers.
Kaya’s face tightens when she hears the small yelp that Mrig was trying hard to swallow when Dev stepped on his leg, and then she loses it. Loses it enough to forget how she ended up standing in front of the fallen and screaming Dev holding his jaw by the sitting Mrig.
She leaves the whispers and shocked faces behind as she walks out of cafeteria with bleeding knuckles.
She catches the eyes of Mrig before he got up in the school bus. She thinks he will approach her, and walk with her or atleast offer to walk with her to home, she is disappointed when he doesn’t after all she did today.
She is angry that she is disappointed. She is angry that she even expected. She rubs the palm of her hand on her forehead.
She eyes him again. Although she has ordered herself to keep herself focused on her target as she holds the bow and arrow, yet she can’t control but look back again and again towards the football field. He is still there, sitting on the field with the ball beside him as he watches others run after the same ball as him. She thinks, he will get up and approach the group of players everytime he moves. This time she notices him get up and she waits to see him approach the players, her eyes beaming and expectant, and when he walks out of the field, away from the players, she drops her bow and storms towards the auditorium tearing off the ‘Inter school football Championship ’ poster from the sports notice board. She gets detention for that.
The next day in the sports period, she throws the football directly to his face. He doesn’t topple over, but it tears his upper lip and bruises his jaw. The coach chastises her, but Mrigs interferes it as his fault for not looking. He earns glares from both the coach and her, and for entirely different reasons.
She does the same thing again, two days in a row, and he got bruised the same way, and the second day the band aid on his lips tears open. She is furious that he doesn’t try to catch, not duck the ball. He sees her before she even throws the ball, but yet waits to be hit. And that’s why on third day, she hits him over and over, seven times. She even heard Dev shout at her, on her being crazy and being cruel. But she doesn’t give up. The eight time she throws he catches the ball ,looks at her and positioning it before him, brings his right leg to kick. The ball rolls to her and she takes it throwing it back to hit him directly on his chest this time. He laughs at that and she frowns.
“Do you hate him so much?”, Neha asks her in the assembly few days later.
“Don’t hate him that much, okay?”, Dev walks in between them ,” Have some pity, after all you did sympathize when I was the bad one. You are being the worst. You are scary.”
She glowers at Dev, and he shrugs. But when she doesn’t drop her eyes from him, he mouths something about girls and scary and walks away to stand in the front.
After the assembly, she comes to her desk to a note with familiar handwriting that asks her to meet him during the break in the auditorium. She stays in the class during the break, not even moving to the cafeteria. She chews on her nails.
“What’s wrong with you?”.
She walks into Mrig, the next morning, in front of her main gate. She gleams when she meets a furious Mrig. She hasn’t seen him angry for the last two years.
“Nothing”, Her reply short and curt.
“Nothing? Are you kidding me?”, Mrig growls kicking a rock with his right leg and throws a paper to her face.
She reads the paper and hands it back to him and walks across him.
“You registered me! You registered me for the Football team selection without even my permission”, Mrig comes to stand before her and pokes his finger on her shoulder.
She pushes him back and sneers ,” It’s not like you took my permission before jumping in front of me two years ago!”.
Mrig reels back .
“How can you?”, Mrig splutters before voicing out his pain,” That.. How can you bring it?”
“Then how can you?!”, She yells at his face ,” How can you let me live being drown in guilt? HOW!!?? YOU WERE MY BEST FRIEND! MY BEST FRIEND! How can you do that to me!”
Her face red and warm, with angry tears running down to wet her shirt collar.
“What do you mean? I don’t understand, why will you live in guilt?”.
“SHUT UP! SHUT UP!,’’ She doesn’t want to listen. He has no right to make her listen, “You ran away after the accident, you transfer schools. I was the only one who followed you thinking you will have a hard time, and here you ignored me for two years. You left our friendship. YOU DID! YOU WERE INDIFFERENT! YOU WANT ME TO WALLOW IN GUILT FOR DOING THAT TO YOU! YOU LEFT OUR FRIENDSHIP TO WALLOW IN GUILT!”
“I DID? YOU ARE THE ONE WHO LEFT OUR FRIENDSHIP”, Mrig was shouting back, pocking her arm,” You didn’t even come visit me after the accident. The month later you came, you asked me to die and not make your life embarrassing. You called me an embarrassment. You hate me whenever I try to talk to you, you are embarrassed of me”
“I was also recovering. I was also confused and scared.”
“Recovering from what Kaya? My limb was amputated. My dreams were cut short. I knew my parents thought their star son has turned into an embarrassment and you told me the same. And you need recovery from what?”
“It was because of me. How do you think I took it when my best friend jumps in front of a car to save me and ends up losing a leg while I survive unscathed? You were the star footballer, people has expectants from you..you wouldn’t have ended up like this, your dreams wouldn’t have scattered if not for me. I wished so hard in that hospital to die that day.”
“Why would you think that?”.
Kaya plops down at that, her hands on head, her cries loud as she takes in air with rapid breathes.
“It’s not because of you”, Mrig sits on the asphalt,” I never blamed you. Won’t you have done the same for me? Why would you suffer in guilt for that?”
“Why are you both howling like lost puppies?”, Her father walks out of the gate, and comes to stand by them ,” What is this? Did a cloud rain on you?”
Kaya glares at her father and he shrugs back at her.
“You both are a wreck,”, Her father says, “ Crash your heads some little more, shout some little more and if the police comes just run and don’t involve me. I will be inside”.
Both of them stares as her Father locks the gate from inside.
“Are you going for the selection?”, Kaya asks, rubbing her cheeks off wetness.
Mrig gets up and pulls his pant leg up to expose his metal leg.
“I don’t think I will even be allowed”.
“I hate that you are a bag of excuses. You can always try. There is nothing wrong in trying. People are running around in prosthetic legs and how low of you to say you can’t”.
“Are you crazy? People will laugh at me”.
“Why do you care about people?”
“You are such a hypocrite. You even do,” Mrig sneers ,” You do and that’s the reason you avoid me all the time in school”.
“What? It’s not because I care about people. You are the one who is always looking around to see if there are people around when I am talking to you,” Kaya speaks out pointing her finger ,” I shouldn’t hold excuses but yes, it’s the truth. I ended up being awkward with you after you started ignoring me and then again there is the guilt, and you look at your leg every time you talk. It makes me hate myself.”
The tangible silence ticked away in a slow pace as both fiddled with something or the other.
“Do you think I should try the selection?”
Mrig smiles when Kaya gives a small nod.
That evening, when Kaya sits among the small crowd during the selection process she sees the cool Mrig she has been friends with since eternity, the coolest in the field. He doesn’t get selected. But when he comes to sit with her, his shirt clinging to his body and reeking of sweat, he tells her his tomorrow’s plan to join his ex football that has been asking for his presence.
“I will succeed right?”, Mrig asks as he watch the other selected players cheers on the field.
She knows that he isn’t talking about tomorrow’s success in his club, but the success of dreams that he has started to plan, and devise just like the Mrig before the accident.
“Are you kidding me? You are Kaya’s best friend! You are bound to succeed. Kaya doesn’t make friend if she sees a loser in the making”.
Mrig laughs at that.