Fiction

Story: A friend indeed!!

By: Aruna Subramanian

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Nandhini was gazing at the glistening dewdrops on the grasses while waiting for her friend Sheela at the entrance of their college building. Nandhini and Sheela have completed their last semester exams and will be proud engineering graduates very soon. They both are attending an interview at their college campus from one of the reputed MNC. They both are best friends from school and have been together for more than 10 years. While Nandhini was engrossed in her memories of their friendship, Sheela had arrived and hugged her tightly and said “Nandhu! I have cleared the interview. I got a job. I will be working in Bangalore soon. My family can finally relax. I can clear my education loans soon. I am so happy.” Sheela was filled with full of excitement and joy.

“Congratulations Sheela! I am happy for you.” Sheela saw Nandhini was looking dull and asked “Nandhu! Are you alright? Is there anything bothering you?” She took her hands and held it together “I am your best friend. You can share anything with me. I want you to be happy.” Nandhini with a faint smile replied, “I have been thinking about Dhruv. He is going to Singapore in a couple of months for his work. My mom got to know about us. She is very much upset, and we had arguments last whole night. She threatened that I would be restricted from leaving home. I could attend this interview only after continuous pleading.” Sheela was aware of her relationship with Dhruv, their college senior who is now working in Chennai. She believes it is too early to decide about a relationship and she never missed a chance to convey this to her dear friend. “Nandhu! I hope you will hear my words and give it a thought. Don’t you think it’s little immature to decide on your life at this stage? Maybe your parents are trying to protect you from making a mistake. What if Dhruv isn’t the person you think he is?”

Nandhini was quiet for a while. With a heavy sigh, she finally broke her silence. “Sheela! I have been thinking the same myself since last night. But I am really worried about how to convey this to Dhruv. I am not sure how he would take this. Can you talk to him on my behalf and convince him to not disturb me? I really need to focus on getting myself a job so that I could help my mom to repay the loans.” Sheela comforted her and affirmed her that she will talk to Dhruv in this regard. “Thank you so much. I am greatly relieved. I am glad to have you as my friend.”

A month passed by and Sheela was all set to join her work. She boarded the bus to Bangalore and was looking forward to the next phase of her life. She was also happy that Nandhini will be joining her soon. Sheela had visited her home before leaving the town. Nandhini’s mom had asked her if she could stay with her to search for jobs. Sheela readily agreed. She was glad that her friend reconsidered her decisions and was looking forward to setting things right. It was little awkward for Sheela to talk to Dhruv about Nandhini’s decision. But she did that for her friend’s sake. Dhruv did not agree initially and he was trying to persuade her otherwise. When Sheela was out of hopes to convince Dhruv, he finally agreed to let it go. It still puzzles Sheela what made Dhruv agree. For that matter, she didn’t understand even Nandhini’s sudden change. But given the circumstances and the change in her mother’s approach towards Nandhini, she didn’t give much thought to it. She wanted her friend and her family to be happy.

Her dad accompanied her on the first day and helped her to find a paying guest accommodation closer to her office. Sheela started enjoying her life in Bangalore. She starts her day with a brisk walk in a nearby park and heads to the office at 9 in the morning. The challenges at work kept her busy the whole day. She made some new friends at work and started to learn the local language Kannada. She located a library which has a reasonable collection of books and became a member. Books filled her leisure time. She also spent time with her friends strolling the commercial street. She got acquainted with the busy city life sooner than she thought.

It was a fine Sunday morning. Sheela was waiting at the railway station to receive Nandhini. She was wondering the transformations in her life for the past one month since she arrived in this city. Sheela had a list of places nearby to hang out with Nandhini. She was so excited to have her and as she arrived her joy knew no bounds. Sheela was pouring out her experiences to her all the way. As they arrived at her room, Nandhini informed her parents about her safe arrival. Later, the girls spent the whole day exploring the city.

Next day, while Sheela got ready to work, Nandhini was still sleeping. Thinking that she must have been tired due to the travel, she left without waking her up. She had to be at the office today due to a new work assignment. After a long day at work, she returned to her room in the late evening. She felt bad to not being able to check on Nandhini the whole day. She hoped that she would understand and was planning to take her for dinner to a nearby restaurant. But when she reached the room, she could not find her. She thought perhaps she might have gone for a walk nearby and went on to refresh herself. She waited for thirty minutes and when Nandhini had not returned yet, she grabbed her phone and dialed her number. But there was no answer. She tried several times hoping she would answer. As she surveyed the room while calling, she noticed that Nandhini’s bag was also missing. She couldn’t understand what was happening. That’s when she received a text message on her mobile from Nandhini.

“Dear Sheela! I am about to board the flight to Singapore with Dhruv. I have not been completely honest with you. Hope you will understand as time passes. Take care, my friend. Bye”

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