What Friends Are For?


I was in one of my deep sleeps when my Linkin Park ringtone made me wake up. Like we do when our sleep is broken mid-way, I made a tch sound and, looked around for the phone to see which devil of a person had called me at that unearthly hour. Still half asleep I put the phone to my ears and said in a fully tired – half yawning voice “hello.”

“Hey! Mar gaya kya!” came the reply.

“Who’s this?”  I retorted in a less tired voice.

Arrey! It’s me Shakil. Are you sleeping?”

“Oh! No, I WAS sleeping you’re call woke me up. Why have you called in the middle of the night?” I replied trying to be sarcastic (but failing miserably, as usual.)

“Middle of the night!? It’s just 7 in the evening. You’re on drugs or something? Anyways, just be ready I’ll be at your place in around half an hour, we’ll hang out a bit.” He replied, and hung up the phone.

Huh!? I thought to myself and then checked the watch, it was actually 7. Then it dawned on me that I’d slept, rather overslept my afternoon ‘powernap’ and it was evening now. Exactly after 30 minutes, Shakil (my friend, doing his B.Tech) was standing outside my house honking his bike’s horns in rhythmic repetitions, and thinking of himself as a virtuoso musician. I hurried down from my room on the second floor, so the people around would be spared of the honking symphony, and both of us could then go and ‘hang-out.’

Usual Hi! & wassup? Were exchanged and then we went for a ride around the town to bring a bit of warmth to our eyes looking for girls. After, half an hour on the bike we finally stopped at our regular fast-food outlet, sat on the side chairs and ordered ourselves Mutton Rolls. Till now, I hadn’t said much it was only he who was talking & I just answered his questions with a yes or no. Finally when he was out of things to talk about, and noticed that I was not really in my usual jovial mood:

“Something’s wrong? Koi problem?” He asked me, genuinely concerned.

“Nah! Nothing, it’s just that I’m not in the mood.”

“That, I can see. But your not being ‘in the mood’ is the effect, what is the cause?” He asked again.

Arrey! Nothing important, yaar.

“Are you gonna tell me, or not?” This time he asked in a somewhat threatening voice.

“Ok! Ok! Actually, it’s my studies yaar. I told you, our Mock CATs started” I replied, giving in to his repeated compulsions.

“Yeah! How was it?” He asked.

“Terrible! Miserable! Pathetic! I don’t think I’m gonna make it to any of the top B-Schools.”

“Why? What happened?” He enquired.

“My scores are despicable. I just got around 70 percentile in the first Mock Test, where am I going to get an admission with a 70 percentile score. I’m ridiculous man. I don’t know what to do?” I explained.

“That’s why you are worried, ‘cuz you got low scores and that too in a Mock Test. I’m surprised yaar!” He exclaimed almost laughing.

“I knew you’re gonna say this. It’s easy for you to say so, you’re in one of the state’s top engineering college, and you have a secured career. You would be ‘PLACED’ in some big software company before the end of your next semester; you’re not the one, who has to worry about an admission any more.” I replied somewhat furiously, and loud that made a few people sitting around stare at us, but I wasn’t bothered.

Shakil stood up and went to collect our orders and came back with our Mutton Rolls. He handed one to me, took a bite from his Roll, looked at me and grinned.

“What?” I demanded.

“I don’t know what to say. You’re not yourself at the moment.” He replied.

“You HAVE to say something.”

“Ok! Whatever I say don’t comment on it now. When you are calm and relaxed just try to think about it then.” He said.

“Ok! What’s that?” I asked

“See, what will happen if you top the Mock Tests and the actual CAT? You will get an admission into any of the top B-Schools, you’ll greatly enjoy the two years of your study, after that you may end up with a fortune 500 company with a six figure starting pay-cheque. In 4-5 years, you’ll have a house, big car, a handsome bank-balance and possibly a very pretty wife. Hmm! Or something I missed.”

“Come to the point.” I demanded.

“And, what if, you don’t get an admission into any of the top colleges. You will still enjoy your two years of study, you will get a job but maybe in a less known company, the salary won’t be six-figured but good anyways. You’re house will be a bit smaller, the car a bit cheaper, and maybe, again, maybe wife less pretty. The guy I know, who’s sitting in front of me, is not greedy. He would be happy with this if not pleased.” He explained, tearing of a part of the paper wrapped around the roll, and biting at a large chunk of it.

I couldn’t say anything; I was forced to think about it.

“But this doesn’t mean that you settle for the small house or the less pretty wife for that mater. I know you’ve got it in you to do whatever you want, don’t be dejected with this one setback. I know you’ll do well, I mean half of the words you just used I don’t even know their meanings, so just don’t worry.” He concluded not only his little speech but also his Mutton Roll.

I looked at him, and found out that I was suddenly feeling good again. Now I knew ‘Why Friends Are For.’ I wanted to hug him, but that would have seemed gay, so I just said “Thanks man. I think I get your point. Thanks again. I think I’ll try my best to get the prettier wife.”

Both of us laughed, and stood up to leave. I paid for the Rolls and then we went to look for some more warmth for the eyes.

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