The girl was always engrossed in a book. She hardly talked to anyone in her class. She had newly taken admission to ‘GRS International School’ for 8th Standard. Her classmates thought that she was strange and not willing to mingle among others. Everyone knew her just by her identity card. She never told them her name-Nita. Even her parents didn’t know the reason for her habit of not talking to others. They thought that her new classmates were not good, or something like that. Perhaps, they were all wrong, for she was just like them. Enjoying with everyone, she could talk to, but not in this school, her old school, which was the only school she had studied before she came here. No one knew what she read always. If only they knew it, they wouldn’t have differentiated between themselves and her.
“Nita, catch the ball”.
“No, Diya. I am just not interested to play”.
Diya was surprised. This was the first time she had declined to play.
“What happened? Why don’t you play?”
“Please leave me. I am hurt, truly hurt”.
“Are you hurt? Show me”.
“Diya, don’t talk like an idiot. It’s not a physical hurt, a mental one”.
“What happened? Who hurt you?”
“I just can’t say that. If I say that, you too will be hurt”.
“No, I am very strong. I have strong defence against hurt”.
“Diya, just leave me. I am not in a mood to answer your questions”.
“Won’t you tell to me? I thought you were a friend and would reveal everything to me”.
“Diya, please, I am really down. Don’t disturb me”.
The bell rang. Nita and Diya made their way to the class.
“Hey Nita, I have noticed something peculiar. Why you are not talking to Nikita? You never missed talking with her. If she was absent for a day, you would be sad like there is no one for you, even when you have so many friends, including me”.
“I just don’t like being with her. She betrayed me. I never thought she would, for she was so close to me. I don’t know what I did to her”.
“What did she do?”
The teacher entered the class.
“I’ll tell you later”, whispered Nita.
“Tell me now”.
Nikita approached Nita, angrily. She threw a paper.
“My rejected application”.
“The poetry writing competition”, replied Nikita in anger, “It was your fault”.
“What did I do, Nikita?”
“Your poem was accepted and you will get a special prize tomorrow, whereas I got back only this piece of rejected paper. How many times have you participated in poetry writing, can you guess it? And you got a prize always. Not a single time your entry was rejected. You are so good at it”, praised Nikita, then angrily said, “Couldn’t you have given me a single chance to get selected? It has always been you. No one has been able to get the first prize, expect you. When you are so good at it and have got a prize many times, why can’t you give a chance to others? I have been trying from so many months. Each month I have come disappointed, holding the rejected application. Each time I am trying to better myself, but you are wasting my efforts”.
“Enough, Nikita”, said Nita equally angry.
This was the first time she had been angry. She was always a cool person. She would take everything positively.
“Is it my mistake that you didn’t get chosen?” Nita continued, “I have been following the rules. There is no rule that we shouldn’t submit once more, if we win a prize. Also, is it my fault that I am writing good poems? I am doing so, ever since I was a child. I am passionate about it. So, I have lots of experience in writing. I am not doing it just for the competition’s sake, like you. Try and try, you will also improve and one day, win a prize. And no one is wasting your efforts. No one has said you not to try again. If your poem is not good, it’s not my fault. I thought you were a good friend, but you proved me wrong. I am really grateful to you for making me realize my mistake of befriending you. Thank you very much”.
“I’ll tell you one thing. It takes a lot of time to improve myself and thus my schooling will be finished, by then. I’ll have to put a full stop to my poetry writing, then. Until you are there in this school, I’ll not be able to get selected a single time. You are the favourite among teachers. They love your poems and your character, too”.
“That’s my ability to write so well, which makes teachers like me. Unlike you, I don’t will to stop writing poetries after school. This shows that you are doing it just for a prize. I’ll assure you, until I am there here; I will not stop submitting poetries. I don’t know if I’ll win a prize or not, I will just not stop submitting them. If you are so willing to get a prize, you could have asked my help in writing. I would have done so, gladly. I would have even written a better poem for you than for myself. But, I never expected you to quarrel with me for such silly things. I really didn’t expect this from you. Good bye to you. Never talk to me again. I wish I don’t get to see your face, once again. Really, I am tired of explaining things to you, when you just don’t seem to understand them”.
“I, too wish that I don’t get to talk to you”.
Nikita walked off. Nita burst into tears. How could Nikita betray her? She couldn’t believe that she did. She picked up the paper thrown by Nikita. She read through it, again and again. Her drops of tears wet the paper. She sat on her bench, holding it tightly in her hands. She knew that she couldn’t live without Nikita. But, Nikita was very rude towards her, lately. She hadn’t experienced such fights before. No one had quarreled with her, before.
“Do you understand now, Diya?”
“Yes, of course. Nikita shouldn’t have done that. It’s your right to participate in competitions”.
“I still have that piece of wet paper with me. I have decided to keep it with me forever. I just can’t live without her”.
“Still you think about her like that?”
“Yes. Today who I am is because of Nikita. I owe a lot to her”.
“What has she done for you?”
“Supporting me always, yes, that was what she has done for me. It was she who persuaded me to submit my poem to the competition. I was reluctant, at first. But, she submitted it in my name and because of her I got all those prizes. And there is a lot more, she has done for me”.
Nita picked up her pen. She wanted to write a poem on her and Nikita’s broken friendship.
‘Two birds were flying in the sky,
With love and compassion for each other,
When suddenly one of them,
Started disunity among them.
The other one fell down,
With grief and sadness,
And with love for the other,
Dropped down dead.’
Nita read through the poem once, with tears in her eyes. Well, she wanted to submit it as well. She hoped that at least after reading the poem, others would be there for their friends and not be like Nikita. She hoped that Nikita, too would read it and maybe clear everything between them and become friends again. But, there was a hidden feeling within her that she shouldn’t submit it and Nikita should get a prize. She realized that Nikita too wanted a chance, just once, at least. So, for the first time, she didn’t submit her poem, though she knew that it was her best poem and even if it wasn’t, it surely was a significant one. She knew that she would preserve it in her memory and the paper, for long. She also knew that she would not throw away Nikita’s poems, which she had, when they were friends. She was sure that even if Nikita was not talking to her, she was really her true friend, a friend in her heart and her mind, a friend who had stood by her always.
“Yes…she is my true friend. I must agree to that even if I can’t”, she said to herself over and over again, “I should not stay in this school next year, even if this is my favourite school. I guess I can manage in a new school, a new school where there is no Nikita. If I change my school, Nikita can at least get a prize once. Yes, I should do that. I should give her a chance. I should really do that and I will”.
She took out a book and all of Nikita’s poems. She wrote it neatly in the book, because she wanted it. The pages were covered with beautiful handwriting and drops of tears. Even if she tried to restrain herself from crying, she couldn’t. She really couldn’t.
Nita stared at the book in her hands, a book which was written a year ago and was full of Nikita’s poems. If anyone had ventured near her, they would have noticed that she always read the same book, the same book which contained her Nikita. But, no one did so. They didn’t wish to talk to her, because she didn’t.
Nita burst into tears.
“Nikita, I am hoping that you already got a prize. If not, I wish that you get it soon. But, whatever let it come, you are always my friend, a true friend. No one can fill the void left behind by you. You will always remain in my mind and in my heart. I promise I’ll never forget you, never. You will be remembered forever, even if I don’t realize it, you will be hidden inside me. Really, I won’t forget you”, said Nita as she touched her tear strained face to the book.