Chapter Fifteen: Friends

Praveena was to become a Psychologist. A few years ago, she wouldn’t have imagined herself in this situation. The college was in Bangalore and Praveena had to adopt hostel life. He father didn’t protest, again to her surprise.

College changed Praveena’s life without her permission. She had to socialize with other students —  something she had evaded for a long time in school. She was glad of it too. After years of being friendless in school, it had been tough to make friends all of a sudden; everyone had already formed their own groups, jelling well together. They were unwelcoming to a new person. Having realised it the hard way, Praveena was determined not to repeat her mistake.

On her first day in college, a warm Friday morning, she sat alone in the last row, when another girl took the seat next to her. All other places were taken, even when Praveena came in. The ‘all students in the last row are morons’ attitude stood in Bangalore too, Praveena realized, as she looked around from her place.

The girl next to her remained silent, looking troubled. She had tied her long brownish hair back in a pony, but a few strands hung either side of her temples. Praveena liked the way the girl wore her hair; she had never tried it on herself. ‘Maybe you should.’ ‘Ya, and maybe you should shut up.’

The girl sat with her face down, resting on folded arms. She seemed to be in pain. Praveena wondered if she should talk to her.

She turned around to look at the other students. Everyone was quiet, tentative to start a conversation. A boy sat right in front of her. It was his hair that attracted Praveena’s attention. It was short, jet black and well kept. She felt a pang of envy.

A few minutes of silence later, the tension diffused and everyone began talking with each other. It seemed like the teacher would be late. It was only later that Praveena learnt that things were done quite differently in the St. Benedict School of Sciences; teachers never showed up for class on the first day of the year. This was to encourage students to get to know each other before they began academics.

As the others started talking, the boy who sat in front of Praveena turned to her, “Hi, I’m Anil.”

“Praveena,” she responded, extending a hand. He took it smiling. She noticed dimples in his cheeks. ‘Cute,’

The girl next to looked up, turning her head this way and that. She seemed to be annoyed with the silence. Anil spoke to her. “Hi, I’m Anil.”

The girl looked at him with a strange expression on her face, as if she could hear him but couldn’t see.

“And I’m Praveena.” She held out a hand.

The girl looked from Anil to Praveena and then back. She took a few seconds to respond, “Niveda.” she said at last.

An awkward silence fell between them as they looked at each other. Then suddenly out of nowhere, Niveda burst out laughing, taking the other two by surprise.

“Well,” she managed between laughter, “what do we say next?” her eyes were twinkling with excitement.

“Wow?” Anil said a little nervously, making her laugh even more. Anil looked at Praveena bewildered, and saw her reflecting his look.

“Friends?” Niveda asked, looking at the other two, her palm raised upwards.

“Sure.” Anil was enthusiastic.

“Friends.” Praveena affirmed.

It was the strangest thing that had happened to her. She had never made friends this way before. She was excited and a little reserved at the same time. She wondered if this friendship would be as strong as the ones she had seen and read.

From that day onwards, the trio became good friends. They had committed to the relationship knowing nothing about one another, but they would figure out on the way.
That evening, Praveena moved into the hostel. She was quite thrilled when she found out who her room mate would be.

As she entered their room laden with heavy bags, Niveda threw herself at her. “Hey! Welcome, my new roomie!” She sounded so excited that it infected Praveena as well.

“Hey!” She hadn’t expected Niveda, “This is wonderful,” she said earnestly. “Wow, the two of us!” The thought thrilled her. She had heard Anil was in the hostel too. It was the first time Praveena looked forward to meeting a friend, and she liked the feeling.

Niveda took Praveena’s hands and ran around the room in joy. “We could do so much together!”

“Sure, why not!” Praveena laughed. She felt dizzy already.

National Blog Posting Month – Day 17


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