Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best Friends

All of seven years, the two went around together - within the safety of the colony walls, of course.

Shree would come from school, change, eat and rush to Nisha's house. "Quick, N! Why are you so slow?"

"Wait! I am just getting ready...!" Nisha would reply. Nisha's younger brother Anuj would request, "Me too, Nisha?"

Every other friend of N's was used to the little fellow. Shree said impatiently, "You and I are going to be doing craft work, N! What will Anuj do there?"

"He can hang around. I will show him how to paste," Nisha said smiling, the little mother that she was.

The three went into a room and out came the papers, the scissors, the colours, the glue. The little fellow giggled as N helped him with the glue. "But N! You are wasting time! And see, he has put glue all over this paper! And soon all our friends will come down to play and we wouldn't have completed our house!" For that was what they were planning to make.

"It's okay," said N with characteristic indifference.

"You don't have to waste time on Anuj! He can do it himself, you come here!"

Nisha felt mild irritation, but turned to the task at hand.

"Ni, can I paste this?" asked Anuj.

Nisha turned, but before that Shree said, "Can't you see Anuj? Ni is doing something important. She needs to concentrate!"

N's irritation increased. "A, you are making me waste time!" she exclaimed.

"But I don't know how to do it!" whined the five year old A. S snapped at him, and unhappily N followed suit. She couldn't understand who she really was irritated with, but since it was A who was disturbing her, and because S was her best friend, she turned on her younger brother. "You go out!"

"Mother!" cried A, not understanding why the otherwise helpful sister was being so rude.

But, N looked happy with S, and upset when the two had a fight. It was time to wean A off his elder sister.

A year later.

"Aunty, Ni is always rude," complained Raveena, another friend.

Nisha's mother frowned. "I will speak to her."

A while later, when N came home, she asked, "So you and R aren't friends?"

"No ma, it Shree and Raveena who have problems. But R is so bad! She carried tales to S about me, saying I complained to R about S! But it is R who was complaining to me about S. I didn't tell S any of it."

Mother shut her mouth. But N had more to add later, "R and I think S is very rude. So we have a plan. We will pretend to be S's friend and try to change her."

"Oh!" mother said. "And... how is that? I thought S and you were best friends?"

"I am not S's friend! She is very rude! She is always making people fight with each other. She thinks I am her best friend."

"How is that possible if she and you are not even friends?"

"We pretend to be her friend... that is the plan."

Not wanting to get into this mother said, "Okay, so the best thing is to be in large groups and not sit and do craft in the evenings. Play running games."

"I want to play! But S doesn't. And so she keeps making trouble. And you know ma, I feel very sad for her. Her mother doesn't even know what is happening because her mother is not there at home! She works all day."

This piece of wisdom had N's mother awe struck for a second. She asked mildly, to test her daughter's maturity. "So do you tell aunty about S?"

"No ma, S looks so happy when her mother is around that I don't feel like getting her into trouble."

Mother wondered if there could be a better way to be a best friend... even if you are not a friend

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