“Where are you going? Rayyyy!” yelled Esha, breathing heavily as she woke up from the disturbing nightmare that she had just seen. Sweat was trickling down her neck and a few drops of tears rolled down from her blue eyes. Her teary-blue eyes resembled the blue waves of the ocean. And just like the blue waves ripple away the impurities of sand; the tears from her eyes ran down, washing the freckles on her sand-colored face.
Suddenly, her eyes caught a glimpse of a picture hanging on the purple wall of her room, and she murmured to herself “Some friends come into your life and…”
The next day dawned. It was THE day.
‘Paws Come Home- some friends come into your life and some you make here!’
The banner on a two-storey building flashed the slogan. It was an animal shelter. It had a stellar work formula of medical aid, adoption, animal rescue and ambulance services. The shelter had a big open area with a pink-coloured bakery inside it. The visitors could play and enjoy the bakery food with the cats, dogs, rabbits and many more animals over there.
Esha had come over there with loads of food packets and animal care products just like she did every year on THE day. “Hey, Esha! You’re here again! Two visits today?” Mr Raghav Kapoor, the owner of the shelter home asked her.
Esha turned to the owner with a smile and nodded. Mr Raghav Kapoor, a 24 something handsome and tall man. He ran this shelter because he had a deep affinity for animals.
She had been coming over to the shelter for the past three years, ever since she moved to Bengaluru for her education. Prior to that, she dwelt in Lucknow, a city in North India. Initially, Raghav did not visit the shelter often. But now he made sure that he visited on the day when Esha was likely to pay a visit. He liked her, but never had the guts to admit it. Even Esha felt something towards him but dismissed it.
Raghav broke the silence, made attempts at a small talk and insisted on sharing why she had been visiting that place, specifically on that day. “Fine!”, retorted an annoyed Esha giving in to his entreaties. “Okay, so…I won’t be able to do this.”, grieved Esha. “Take a deep breath and then start.”, suggested Raghav.
She gazed out of the window. She took a deep breath and withdrew into her past. “I was 12 years old. Some friends come into your life and then you suddenly have a big bunch of friends. I wanted to have a lot of friends, but I had always been shy. I had only a handful of school friends and they were my world and…” Esha trailed off into the past.
Why do some friends come into your life?
…And once, the twelve-year-old Esha was attending a wedding at night with her parents. It was mid-December and the weather had turned icy cold. She was gazing outside the car window the cold breeze brushed her face. The chilly wind made her cold and she shivered. Her mother offered her a shawl to wrap around her.
The shrill, loud cries startled Esha. “Relax, dear. It’s just the dog. It must be cold in this weather.” said the mother.
Two hours later, as Esha returned home, the same voice disturbed her heart. She peeked out of the car and saw a 10-month old dog shivering in the bitter cold. They had almost reached their house. The dog was just a few steps away.
She wanted to cover the dog in her shawl but her father stopped her. He flatly refused, “It is a stray dog. Do you want to waste such an expensive shawl?”
She pursed her lips. She could not challenge her father’s authority. Esha went inside the house, weighed down by guilt and helplessness. She lay down on her bed and stared around the room. Her gaze halted along the shelf lined with stuffed toys, kept near the heater. The irony struck her mind hard.
Hurriedly, she walked over to the window and looked for the dog. It was still shivering. Before she could make up her mind to do something, she heard some footsteps and rushed back to her bed. It was her mother. She had come up to put off the lights and check on Esha.
The next day, Esha saw her mother’s gathering old clothes from the wardrobe. “What are you going to do with these clothes, Mom?” she asked curiously. “These are our old clothes. I will give them away to the maid or donate them.” her mother answered.
A few moments later, her mother packed the clothes and went away to take care of the remaining chores. Esha seized the opportunity and sneaked a warm shawl and hid it in her desk drawer. She peeked out from her window to check out the dog. “Hold on little creature. I’m coming”, Esha muttered softly to herself and smiled.
The sun was setting rapidly, and twilight crept into the sky. Esha’s mother called her home for dinner. Her father was not home yet.
“Perfect!” thought Esha and tiptoed into her room, took out the shawl from her desk and went to look for the little pup. “There you go, buddy!” said Esha as she patted the dog. “Woof!” barked the dog and licked her left hand.
While wrapping the dog in the shawl, she spotted an unusual heart-shaped mark on the dog’s back. Esha then led the dog under a dusty, old broken bench in the far corner of her backyard. “You’ll be safe here. Nobody comes here.” Esha explained to the dog and he barked in understanding.
From the next day onward, Esha fed the dog when she returned home from school. She put aside a part of her school lunch. “Let’s call you ‘Ray’, do you like it?” Esha asked the dog and he barked delightedly. He licked her left hand and sat on its hinds waiting for a treat. Some friends come into your life, just like Ray had walked into Esha’s life.
Read story on a mysterious friendship, because some friends come into your life mysteriously: https://www.icytales.com/the-mysterious-friend/
“Ray, The bad girl at school made fun of me, today. I hate her. You know, she has a fat nose.” Esha giggled and Ray wagged his tail.
Suddenly, she noticed that the sky was shadowed with dark clouds. “Oh! I think it’s going to rain. You wait here, I’d bring you some cover.”, Esha stood up and was about to run towards her home, when Ray caught her dress and tried to stop her. “Two minutes, Ray.”, she scurried off into the house and got an old raincoat for it. “Now, stay covered. You would be safe my love.”, said Esha fondling Ray.
A month passed. And then, the inevitable happened. As usual, Esha was playing with Ray in the subtle darkness of the dusk. She had totally lost the track of time and did not sense the approaching night. It was too late.
“Esha! What the hell are you doing with this dirty dog? And wait, is that my old shawl? The one I had piled up with old clothes? How dare you give it to this stray animal?” The angry voice thundered. Esha was too afraid to even turn back to see who it was.
The person behind Esha pulled her back roughly, away from Ray. It was her mother. An hour later, her father was involved in the discussion and he ordered Esha not to go to that stray dog ever again. With an upset face and teary eyes, she pleaded, “Dad, please don’t do this. Let’s adopt Ray. He is not dirty. He needs a shelter and some love.”
“Esha, stray animals are not safe. They roam on the streets, eat from trash cans and catch diseases. We cannot have a stray animal near us. Now, go to your room! You are not to see that dog again. The discussion ends here.” declared her father.
Esha went to her room promptly and kept staring at Ray the whole night from the window. Days passed. Ray would stare at Esha’s window and woof sadly. Both the friends missed each other, desperately.
Over the next few weeks, Esha would gaze at Ray sadly and turn away with tears in her eyes. She missed Ray a lot and was worried about him starving and being lonely. But she dare not disobey her parents. Ray would whine sadly when he saw Esha, but kept his distance after she had shoo-ed him away the first time he ran towards her.
One day, Esha was playing badminton with her neighbor, Priya. Her front yard was near to a busy street. Esha and Priya were caught up in a serious game, rallying back and forth. Meanwhile, her mother was busy chatting with another neighbor, Mrs. Basu.
Esha and Priya were hitting the shuttle left and right to score points. In that sport frenzy, Esha started stepping away from the yard and towards the street. Both the girls did not realize that they had soon strayed away from the yard and were now rallying into the very middle of the street.
Then Esha felt something tug at her dress. The tugging became frantic and Esha snapped into reality. It suddenly dawned upon her that she was standing in the mid street and a car was swiftly barreling towards her, honking madly. Esha dashed towards the other end of the road, just as an anguished howl reached her ears.
She looked back to see Ray crying in affliction. He had barely escaped the speeding car but not before the vehicle ran across his tail. Esha felt everything at once – relief, guilt, anger and resentment. She leaped across towards Ray who was yelping in pain. By this time, her mother and Mrs. Basu had reached the spot and they were already calling emergency.
After that incident, Esha’s parents relented and let her keep Ray in the backyard. Her mother even warmed up to Ray and made him little clothes. However, they did not let Ray live under the same roof as them.
Back to the Present Day
“That’s how; some friends come into your life and earn a special place in your heart, Raghav.,” said a smiling Esha. After a long pause, he said, “But, still it does not answer my question. Why do you show up here on this particular day? Does this have something to do with Ray?”
Esha turned her gaze away. She said,” Yes, something terrible took place.”
“What?” Raghav asked anxiously.
Esha recounted the incident. It was still fresh in her mind.
Why do some friends come into your life and then leave?
It was the day when Esha and her parents returned home, after being out of town for two days. Esha’s father took out the day’s newspaper and read a headline aloud, “A group of men arrested for hunting stray dogs and selling their meat.”
Esha was alarmed, “Read further Dad!”
Her had continued, “The localities that the men covered were Nupur apartment road, Hail crossing, Urmila colony…”
Mention of the name, ‘Urmila colony’ Esha bolted straight towards the backyard. Ray was not there. She panicked and called out his name but got no response. She frantically inquired around the neighborhood and found out that Ray has been away for some time.
She sat on the pavement, shocked. “Some friends come into your life, and then they go, as if they never came.” She murmured to herself and then recalled seeing black spots and blurred vision before passing out on the pavement.
Read about Absence- A short story https://www.icytales.com/absence-short-story/
Back to the Present
Did some friends actually leave or?
“Well, that is it. Today is the same day when my best buddy left me years ao. And I…” Esha trailed off, teary eyed. She hugged Mr Raghav Kapoor. He embraced her. “It is okay. You have me, alright? This friend would never leave you, Esha. But, didn’t you try to find Ray?” asked Raghav. Esha pulled away and just said, “I think its enough for today. I should be on my way.”
While walking out from the shelter, she heard two employees talking about a new inmate at the shelter. It was an old dog which was a special case and had come to Bengaluru from a town called Amroha in Lucknow. Esha stood still in surprise. Amroha was next to her locality in Lucknow. “Don’t overthink, Esha. It must be a coincidence.” she thought and went away.
A week later, Esha came to know from her doctor that her left hand hadn’t recovered much in the last eight years. It was paralyzed due to the panic attack and trauma she had faced eight years ago. It was the hand that Ray used to lick.
The same night, she got a call but she hung up with her last words being “What rubbish? Don’t make this tougher for me.” She was agitated. She could not get that conversation about the old dog at the shelter out of her head.
She kept tossing and turning in her bed. Finally, got out of her bed and switched on the lights. Esha gazed at her picture with Ray on the purple wall. Then she made up her mind. She dialed a number and said, “Please be there. I am coming.”
“We have a dog which is old. The dog has been sent to us from Lucknow. Coincidentally, it has a heart-shaped mark on its back and doesn’t have a tail. That is why I called you last night, Esha. And see this cloth, do you recognize it?” said Raghav. Esha was stunned.
It was the same cloth that her mother had made for Ray with the name embroidered on it. “Please take me to that dog.” Esha requested. She went towards the small home where the dog was kept and called out ‘Ray’. No dog came outside, not even a bark. She was disheartened but desperately clung on the last hope.
She closed her eyes and muttered to herself, “Some friends come into your life and stay with you for life, Esha. Call out, one last time.”
“Hey, Ray!” yelled a crying Esha.
A dog barked and rushed outside. He spotted Esha and leapt towards her joyously. “Woof, woof!” he barked and almost knocked Esha over. He started licking Esha’s left hand and miraculously, her hand started moving slowly.
A month later, Esha’s doctor checked her hand and he was astonished. He asked curiously, “You have almost fully recovered. How did it happen?” Esha smiled and shouted, “Hey, Ray!” and her Ray came running towards her and started licking her left hand.
Read about childhood friendship turned into love because some friends come into your life and become an inseparable part of it: https://www.icytales.com/monk-marries-his-childhood-friend-from-india/
She told the doctor, “Doctor, it is because found what I had lost. Some friends come into your life when you think they have left you. But the truth is they never left you in the first place. Friendship lives. Only the bodies die.”
It was Esha’s friendship that survived the test of time and separation. True friendship doesn’t see if it is between a human and an animal, a book, a plant or a sport. It is purely ‘Friendship’.
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