Monday, January 23, 2017

Twenty For a Friend.

Posted by Sunaina Patnaik at Monday, January 23, 2017


Too many worthless days were spent in search of a friend,
Who could fill the void of afternoon shadows.
The nights were also spent in vain,
For I found none who could ease my 3 AM panic attacks.
In an inordinately self-conceited manner, I pursued my search,
Sometimes, there was a sign.
The other times, it was just my imagination.

One evening, I was taking a stroll in the neighbourhood,
The sun was setting afar and the birds were cooing in silence.
Familiar face turned up at the park I was walking by,
Lost among those familiar faces was an unfamiliar one - a street hawker with a hoard of second-hand books.
Funny how I ignored and walked past his space for the next five days,
Because who knew I'd find what I was looking for, right there?

Late one rainy night when I ended up near his store for shelter, he insisted I take a book.
But for a person who never read, what am I to do with a book?
Leaving me with no choice, I quickly began to scan the books,
There was Munshi Premchand, Robert Ludlum, Jeffrey Archer and more.
Tucked in the corner was one Raymond Carver's book with fuzzy ends and stains,
Even weeks after I bought it, it only rested majestically on my wooden shelf.
Dust and mites became its friends and it kept gathering more in time,
Before I picked it one shameful night to discard it away.

The first page of it held a handwritten note:

"Nights are brutal and mornings are cruel.
But for all the moments that are unpleasant, fill my words and love to your heart's content."

Fascinated by the little note, I delved into the short stories hoping to find an inner meaning,
When I found none, I spent more worthless days and nights in vain,
Trying harder and looking deeper for something I had no clue about.
But when all else failed, I found what I was looking for - a friend,
A friend who sometimes was my pillow of comfort but mostly a reality check I desired,
A friend who was the best 20 rupees I ever invested in.
Do friendships always come with a price?

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