Gathering the Marbles of Friendship.
Shiv’s eyes widened as he kept scrolling on his phone.
Shiv stopped talking with this reaction and Raj walked over to him to see what it was about.
The screen displayed the message “I am coming to meet you, Tigger”.
Raj watched in dismay as Shiv suddenly threw the phone angrily on the bed.
What was happening?
Raj had never seen Shiv act so agitated before, but he could not muster up the courage to ask him about it.
Shiv and Raj were attending a team building session with their office staff in a resort in Karjat, a place in Maharashtra.
As they got busy during the rest of the day, Raj was relieved to see Shiv relaxing and returning back to his normal self.
To his surprise it was Shiv who actually started the topic that evening.
“ I am sorry for my behaviour this afternoon, Raj. I could not handle my emotions” he said meekly.
“ You are always mild-mannered. I was just worried that someone had upset you Shiv.” Raj responded.
Shiv continued. “That message was from Varun. We grew up together since kindergarten and were very close and always together, just that we did not live in the same house. And we were the naughtiest duo in the whole school.”
Our teachers were very wary of our presence and what we were up to through the day.” Shiv’s eyes shone with excitement as the memories flooded in.
“ That’s interesting. Then what happened?” Raj was very curious.
“In high school, one day during the break, both of us decided to throw marbles on a soft wall that had been newly installed in the corridor. Our challenge was to throw marbles to make the initials V and S on the soft wall. It was like inscribing our names forever. Leaving an impression, you know. Whoever did it first was supposed to sponsor an icecream”, Shiv and Raj laughed. It sounded so silly now.
“But I had to submit my work to the teacher and we decided to do this later. When I came back, I noticed Varun had marked V on the wall without me. I burst out in a rage and started arguing with him.
Mr. Nathan, our English teacher who was passing by, stopped by to enquire. I did not realise the mess we both were in as Mr.Nathan reported us to the Principal’s office.
Varun was suspended for a day for spoiling the new wall. He blamed me for it. My mind was so clouded that I ignored the seriousness of the matter and could only think that he betrayed me by marking his initial without me.
“How could he?” was all that I could think. We stopped talking with each other and went our ways after school. I decided to avoid any contact with him and he must have thought the same.
“It’s almost 21 years now. His message came out of the blue and I just could not control myself Raj. Only Varun calls me Tigger. You know it’s our favourite character from Winnie the Pooh book series we loved to read together. He was Pooh and me Tigger” Shiv was visibly emotional.
Raj was perplexed. “ Shiv, I don’t understand one thing. You should be happy seeing his message right? But you were so angry and threw away your phone?”
Shiv appeared embarassed. “ Yes I know. I was still angry that he had not contacted me earlier. I was so full of ego that I ignored all the faults on my side or that I had never made an effort to get in touch with him all these years.”
“During our team games this afternoon, I was recollecting all the wonderful times me and Varun had together. I realised that though I had accepted so many new people in my life and moved on, there was still some emptiness inside me.”
Raj picked up Shiv’s phone and handing it over to him, said, “Only Varun can make that emptiness go away.”
Shiv and Raj laughed as Shiv replied to Varun’s message “ Waiting for you, Pooh”.
It felt like they were kids again.
Originally published at http://charukriti.org.