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  • Akhila Sriram

Gautham Series 1-The Abandoned Friend.

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

Have you ever come across a situation when you have to play the jury to the quarrels between couples, siblings, friends, and even children?

Well, I have. It is really a chore when both the parties are close to me and I love both equally. As a teenager, I used to slip away with the words, “I am not sure, leave me.” Now, as an adult, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Sometimes the truth and justice are so equal on both sides that I wouldn’t know whom to support and whom to neglect and end up bearing the cross.

Here is a short story in which one friend is caught up between the squabbles of the other two.

This is a day-to-day occurrence in all our lives. So, let’s lock horns, make peace, laugh, and be merry!

The Abandoned Friend- A Short story.

I rushed to the elevator as the number on the display panel showed it was going past the seventh floor to the ground floor. I cursed and hurried down the stairs. The exertion stimulated my sweat glands and sweat trickled down my face, to my neck and into the collar of my neatly pressed, dark grey formal shirt. I exited my block, which had 11 floors, and walked towards F block.

Let me introduce myself. My beloved parents named me Gautham 30 years back. I work as a quality manager in a leading construction company in Bangalore. I have taken two hours’ permission as my dearest friend Tej had taken a fall yesterday and fractured his leg. He lived with his wife, Bhavana, in F block. Tej, Bhavana, and I were childhood friends. We went to the same school but to different colleges. They had conveniently fallen in love in my absence and happily got married. Thus, I lost both my best friends to each other. I passed through our apartment’s small temple and bowed to God and muttered a quick prayer, more out of habit than faith. I entered F block and, this time, the elevator was awaiting my arrival. I stepped in and pressed number 5. It took me to the said floor and I knocked on door no. 504.

Tej’s voice resonated through the door, “It’s open.”

I pushed open the door and the eerie silence in the house alerted my senses.

Tej was reclining on a black leather couch with his right leg encased in POP and elevated on a stool. A pair of crutches lay by his side. He directed a scowl at the person seated across him on a winged chair and hiding behind the newspaper.

“Hi... How is the pain now?”

Tej’s scowl turned to a groan at my question. Bhavana peeped out from behind the newspaper with an indifferent look. She still looked lovely in her pyjamas and her hair undone. She went back to it with a shrug.

Oho! I have again walked into a fight.

Why do they fight most of the time? I remember my father’s argument about their fights. Where there is love, there are unrequited expectations, anger and possessiveness. As long as each one is resolved, it is good and healthy. Wiser and older people let it go.

Of course, Tej and Bhavana always makeup, but to survive the battle was a tremendous task for me.

A headache was threatening to make its presence felt as I thought about the ordeal that lay ahead.

I cleared my throat. “Bhavana, can I have tea?”

Only her voice, which had a dangerous edge to it, sounded from behind the paper. “Yeah, sure. But your chef should not criticize my tea...”

I raised my brows at Tej. Whenever they fought, Tej would become my chef and Bhavana, my professor. The rest of the time they ignored me, staring at each other as lovelorn fools.

Tej gave an annoyed glance. “Why would anyone say anything about her tea, if she makes tea like tea and not a sweetened, flavourless hot water?”

Bhavana threw the paper away and glared at us.

Oh my God! Danger zone!!!

Being a loyal friend, I said, “Come on, forgive him this time. How many times he has cooked for you when the cook took an off? This time, he cannot do so. When has he expected you to give him delicious food? Be a little considerate. I think he is in pain...”

“He has been a pain in the neck. Today the cook is on leave. I managed what I could. And what does he say? My idlis are like cricket balls!”

“Actually, they bounced off my plate. So, I take my word back. They are like tennis balls.”

I stifled a laugh and earned a glare from Bhavana.

Tej’s eyes glinted with mischief. He had attractive eyes, whereas mine were behind thick-rimmed spectacles, rendering me unattractive. He had a dazzling smile, whereas mine was above average. His stubble made him look stylish, whereas mine made me look sloppy. Probably because I always hang around him, women don’t realise my worth. One of the chief reasons I am still single. To top the list and adding to my credit, I had more sense, and he was just nonsense. However, witnessing and playing the jury in my best friends’ quarrels, I consider it more of a boon than a curse.

I drew in a deep breath. “Tej, she just had a hectic day. She had to take care of you, her work and every other thing. Why can’t you give leave to your taste buds for a few days and be a little understanding…”

“I hope he is half as understanding as you...”

This sentence kindled a memory not long back. She was elated and thanked her lucky stars for how understanding and loving her husband was. Maybe she will repeat that within a week.

“You have married the wrong friend. You shouldn’t have fallen for his charms and looks.” I gave a devilish smile and winked at Bhavana, who stared at me.

Tej’s eyebrows knotted and his voice came out hard and low. “Do not flirt with my wife…”

I leaned towards him. “I didn’t. I am just cooling her down.”

“I don’t need you to cool her down.”

I moved away from him. I am vexed by these two. I sometimes want to ditch them and find new friends.

Bhavana grinned at me. “I am letting this pass only for you. I will make tea for you.”

But in contrast to her words, she started scrolling her mobile.

I leaned towards Tej and whispered, “Listen, watch your words. You depend on her. Better to humour her.”

“Ever the good person,” replied Tej with a cynical smile.

I ignored him. Well, I tried and he didn’t take the hint. “No worries, Bhavana. I will have tea in the office.”

“Where it will be more like tea and not sweetened, brown coloured hot water.” Tej chuckled at his joke, shifting his leg to the centre table.

My eyes narrowed to slits. “You have pushed it too far. Man! You are dead.”

From the corner of my eyes, I watched as she rose from the chair and, in a single fluid motion, lifted a stack of books lying on the centre table and dropped them near his leg.

He screamed. I hooted with laughter. Bhavana giggled as she hopped, jumped and skipped to the main door, saying. “Bye... see you soon.”

Tej, by now realising his leg was, unhurt, cried out, “I am sorry, darling... please... Don’t leave me! What will I do?”

She ignored him and left.

And I leaned back on the couch and said my most favourite dialog. “I told you so!!!”

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