Raji and Deepa were close friends. They were classmates all through their school life. Raji was more silent, shy, soft-spoken and dependent; while Deepa was an all rounder, extrovert and independent. They were so thick friends, that there was nothing between them, that either didn’t know. So were their families.
Look before you leap!Deepa was an ardent student of dance and music, even as a child. Her first music teacher, who was more like a grandmother to her, had expired when she was just ten. She truly missed both her lessons and her teacher. Her parents searched extensively for another competent, child-friendly, lovable teacher, but the trial was futile. So, finally they thought of enrolling her at a formal class.
The new teacher was staying at a pretty long distance. The classes were offered only twice a week, for an hour, in the evening. Though walk able, they hesitated to sent their daughter alone as it would be dusk as she returns after class.
Raji, who knew well about Deepa’s longing to restart her music session, volunteered to give her company. So, she too joined as a student and they started attending the sessions together.
Both would come to Deepa’s home, from school, have tea and walk for the music class. After class, they would go back to Deepa’s house, from where Raji would be picked up by her paternal uncle. Unlike her former teacher, here the classes were purely formal and the kids just pulled on; so that they won’t lose touch with the instrument anymore.
One day, as the kids came from school, there was none at home. They borrowed the key, refreshed themselves, locked the house and went for the classes.
On return, they opened the door and entered. Suddenly, lights went off. There was a big scream and shouting. Someone laughed very loudly. Raji whispered: “Deepa, Deepa, where are you? Aren’t you there? What’s happening? I am near the dining room….”
There was utter silence for quite sometime. Raji’s fear gradually increased. “Oh God, What’s this? Why doesn’t the power come ON??” She kept on murmuring, “Deepa, are you there? What went wrong? Where are you? I am getting frightened. Please come near me.”
Slowly Raji managed to move towards the exit door. Just in front of that was Deepa, with her hair all pulled down and with burning eyes, staring at Raji with a fierce look? She again made the threatening sounds that Raji had heard just some moments before. Raji froze at the spot…
“When it’s dark and lonely, I get crazy and violent,” said Deepa. Saying thus, she moved towards Raji at a rapid pace…Raji somehow managed to squeeze herself out of the half open door, out into the garden and on to the road, at an Olympic pace. Deepa quickly put her hair into a pony tail and followed suit!!!
“Hey Raji… Please wait…you haven’t taken your bag; I was simply trying to scare you; Uncle would come only after some more time; Come, I won’t scare you again. I Promise upon God.”
From that very moment, Deepa started to put in earnest efforts to pacify her friend. “You know me for years??? Why did you get so frightened? Will I ever hide from you, incase there was any such problem?”
Both stood on the road, one numb struck out of fright and the other out of anticipated fear regarding the result when this incident leaks out to their parents!!!
Time was flying by and the road was filled with people, returning home after a day’s work. Amidst the noisy traffic, they stood still, as if in an ocean of silence. Gradually, the traffic graphed down and atmosphere was turning serene.
“All my pleadings have gone in vain”, thought Deepa to herself.
“Oh, I am going to get nice today!!!”
Just then Raji’s Uncle rode in and addressed them: “Why are you standing here?”
“There isn’t anybody at home. One of our relatives had a minor accident and all have gone there,” replied Deepa, struggling to hide the tension that was building on for quite sometime.
“So??? Why you are standing here on this road, children?” Uncle again asked.
“It was dark and we were a bit frightened …” Deepa didn’t know how to complete the sentence. Fear was slowly creeping into her face.
“OK, go, get your bag and come;” he said.
Raji remained silent. Deepa was terrified that she might break down just that moment. She noticed that some of her neighbours and by-standers were watching them eagerly. She started feeling ashamed of herself.
Uncle put off the engine and asked again: “Deepa are you so very frightened? Should we stay back until your parents return?”
“Oh, No;” she replied and ran to take the bag and returned with her head held low, anticipating a severe blow and an outburst of anger.
“I am going to lose my best companion for a silly careless act… Oh God, why I did this? Its quite painful…I am unable to bear this any longer…”
She gave the bag and stood silently, preparing herself to bear the grunt. Raji took her bag and climbed onto the vehicle. As the gears changed, Raji slowly waved her hand and smiled beautifully. Deepa was enthralled. She felt like running behind the vehicle and hugging her. She sighed heavily and thanked GOD sincerely. “I shall never ever scare anyone hereafter…”