By – Rabin Prasad Kalita
Evening, after closing the shop, Ritesh used to call his all three unwaged friends often to his chill-out room to enjoy some good times. Frequently they met at a preset time, enjoyed playing carom, cards, and seldom small-scale parties.
Based on his inherited wealth, Ritesh was sufficiently earning out of his readymade garment outlet as well as half a dozen rented out shops. Though his flow of income was much better of his other three friends, in spite of that he was tender-hearted. A government job was his first preference rather than continuing with his bequeathed business.
The pecuniary conditions of Mukesh, Beni, and Amit were almost the same. Not so good but was okay. These childhood friends who graduated from the same college were kept on hunting for jobs. Every so often, they applied for jobs as per the educational standard but in this competitive career market, they were left a few steps behind and remained unemployed till then.
Out of the four, Amit was more adept at playing carom, hence ofttimes on his own interest, hooked in making the set ready. They used to burn two or three fags while playing carom and in-between Beni’s lovingly rubbed lumps of ‘khaini’ was an added dose to their amusement.
Beni’s turn came amid. After pocketing the queen, he had to confirm it by dropping a white carom man, but he missed. “Damn it! Ritesh please pass me the cancer stick for a puff”, Beni uttered being a little displeased after missing out on his hit. He had a potty mouth and talked slang, whenever he opens his lips. Took a long gust, and then passed around the coffin nail to Amit and others.
Keeping the half-burnt ciggy in between the clip of his left-hand fingers, Amit aimed the striker with his right-hand index finger at a black carom man towards the pocket. “Dears, I have decided to go for a year-long hotel management course to Goa as I told you all some months back and the time has come to leave off you all”, he intimated after releasing the striker.
Three of them knocked for six with his abrupt decision and said “Are you sure or you imagined?”
“Not envisioning dears, I have already committed to move on next week and thereafter no more wait for a job”, worded reaffirming them.Okay, if this is your final choice, then you must have thought well! We all wish you luck!
‘Let’s, this pleasure be celebrated in Ramlalji’s Dhaba from my side today’, voiced out by Ritesh blowing a mouthful of spiral smoke up.
The three laughed aloud, and mentioned, oh dear; we swindlers are always living on your bread. Wish we could treat you once!
Stop talking nonsense you tramps; wind up the game fast and follow me to the Dhaba. They ceased the unfinished game for now and trailed Ritesh.
One day with their soaking eyes, they saw Amit off for Goa. They were sad about leaving the company of playful Amit. He took leave from his childhood friends, for realizing the dream he adorned.
The incidence of meeting rest three friends gradually lessened than before. Playing carom became the matter of past and the board laid packed.
On watching, how three hundred and sixty-five days gone by, it was not known. Until that time, Amit cleared his course with flying color and got absorbed in a prominent hotel in Mumbai.
Over-here, Mukesh too left for Guwahati on one of his uncle’s calls. A short while after reaching there, he started his own business venture of packers and movers in a small way. Ritesh backed him financially to start the project to the widest possible.
After one and a half years of stay in Mumbai, Amit got a chance to fly to Paris with a lucrative offer. Being a culinary specialist, especially in Indian cuisines, he was directly recruited, by a frontline hotel. For two years, he worked diligently over there, and in sync, he was planning to open a restaurant by himself. He thought of a big deal of staying in a foreign land.
Incubating indomitable guts, he kept himself busy in obtaining administrative obligations, a convenient place, and other information for a startup. But the biggest problem before him was to raise a huge fund, to begin with.
After thinking a lot, he dialed his intimate friend Ritesh with hope and briefed him about his plan. And then Amit asked if he could bless him by lending some money for making his dream into success.
“Idiot, speak out your pain, how much do you need?” Ritesh spoke with an upbeat vibe.
“Brother, it’s a bit big amount for you I guess. Roughly I’m in short of rupees twenty lakhs. If it is beyond your capacity, please let me know, I shall try out other sources, ‘cause I don’t want to see you in trouble”, Amit spoke sweetly.
“Okay-okay, just give me a week time to think about it”, Ritesh replied from the other end being a little solicitous.
Exactly in the weekend, on to his surprise, Amit got the happy news from Ritesh assuring him not to worry; he will manage the amount that he sought for.
“Ace buddy, how did you ménage such a huge amount so soon? Trust me Ritesh, feeling short of words to pay my gratitude to you”, Amit expressed being besieged in a flash.
“Just shut Amit and pay attention to what is important, and leave the superfluous. I’m sick of listening to any appreciation”, Ritesh verbalized to keep his spirit high.
Alright Ritesh, but I would like to tell you about my difficulty that you have to tolerate me for at least two years, I won’t be able to return to you before that, just think of it too.
“It’s Okayed my buddy; get your dream restaurant opened at all speed. Even after this, if you face any trouble, don’t hesitate to dial me back. Good luck.”
Likewise, two years passed by watching. Apart from talking over phones while staying far off from each other, they could not meet physically. Beni remained with Ritesh since then. Even after two and a half years, Amit was silent to repay his loaned amount owed from Ritesh until then. But Ritesh never even told him about it by mistake.
One day, suddenly Amit appeared right in front of him. The myriad happiness of Ritesh was on the seventh heaven seeing his childhood brother all of a sudden. Words were not enough to describe their reunion after quite a few years.
But what did Amit saw? He saw a big difference between the Ritesh of that day and the earlier one. It didn’t take long for him to smell something wrong. The whole ambiance was a bit strange.
He was staying in a rented house nearby to his own building that had been kept on the mortgage for a period of five years for a lump-sum amount to one of the rich men of his locality. He had no other option remained to help his friend Amit then. As per the agreement, Ritesh was to vacate the building, until the time the borrowed amount was not returned. In accordance with the deal was to return the sum within the time frame or else, there was a risk of losing Ritesh’s entire property. Keeping all pains sealed in his heart, he did not let anyone know this secrecy, except Beni who was working along with him.
This man Ritesh is not a simple human being; he is an angel, being emotionally hugged him again with his wet eyes. Amit was taken aback thinking, what are all qualities do one requires, which can make a man sacrifice his entire material possessions for his friends. Even then, he didn’t let his heart feel to draw in his face.
Amit soon got Ritesh free from all debts. Not only did he returned his entire wealth but also bought another big market across the road for him. Furthermore, he invited both Ritesh and Beni to join him to look after his extended restaurants in Paris.
“I wish I could make it work”; staying there, Ritesh wanted to take care of his ancestral property and the august gift that received as a token of love from his friend. He allowed Beni to accompany him instead.
By the time, Mukesh also reached there and all four met again in the same den where they used to meet often. To make their reunion memorable, Beni tinted the room like a bride to make it worth celebrating. Then the carom that kept by Ritesh for years as reminiscence, was unpacked and placed in the middle. Played, boozed, smoked and they became thoughtful remembering their past happenings. They were wrapped-up in immense happiness meeting physically after several years.
Taking care of their own businesses in different places, the time had come for them to leave. Hence they seriously thought it won’t be right to leave Ritesh unaided. While staying there; they all got him married to his dream lady within a fortnight, because no one knew when the chance to meet all of them together will come again.
Winding-up their catchy stay, they bade with a farewell from Ritesh to their respective places, promising to meet him again at the same hangout soon.
(The writer is an Ex-Air Warrior. He can be reached at E-mail: [email protected])