• Debarshi Kanjilal

Will You Be My Friend? | A Dark Short Story

Like any normal human being, Prince too tried to hide his failures and inadequacies behind the defensive walls of arrogance and glorified fallacy. In Prince’s case, he chose those walls to be made of dry humor, sarcasm, and shallow observations about the shallowness of being! What was he hiding? Rather, what is he hiding? As mentioned above, like all humans, it is failure that he hides – and Prince’s my case it is the failure to be accepted. Accepted by society despite defying its very foundations, accepted by family in spite of not imbibing the value systems they raised him on, accepted by friends even though he was slightly awkward and was not able to have the conversations that they wanted to have, and lastly accepted by love despite his selfishness and insecurities. This general lack of acceptance left him with one question – ‘who am I’?

Perhaps that question let you in on his insecurities, but he would be okay with that! If he passed you by as a stranger on the streets, you’d probably just ignore him just as you’d ignore any other unimpressive young man you come across in your life. But that should mean that he is like anybody and everybody else around you. During his college days, a lecturer had remarked about him, ‘appearances can be deceptive’! her remark was meant in jest. She was simply implying that Prince wasn’t as restrained or introverted as he let on. So, deceptive appearances aside, what do people really think about Prince? A lot of things, and nobody really hesitated to let him know.

“It is very hard for a girl to like you, let alone love someone like you.” – This was a response when he asked a friend of his to try to set him up with one of her friends.

“He is as much of a guest as we are!” – A remark made a guest made while visiting Prince’s family at their home!

“You should get back with your ex as no other girl will ever put up with your weird ways” – One of his rare few friends had remarked once, and he genuinely cared about Prince.

There were a few other opinions! I could list them out, but you get the general idea. Prince isn’t liked by many, isn’t respected by almost any.

But nobody has really ever known the Prince fully and you cannot feel sympathy for someone you don’t know much about! Prince is a loner, but that isn’t by choice. Prince spent most of his teen years writing poetry about lost love. He is not a very smart guy, just an ordinary looking little boy who went through school with ordinary grades and ended up doing an ordinary job to make ends meet. He was never really a retard either, so no one ever really appreciated his successes and neither did they sympathize with his bigger failures. The only emotion ever attached with him has been that of disappointment. In time, he realized that he has grown up to be a coward too, which, needless to say, doesn’t help anything. All his early years were plagued with illnesses and just being unwell. But nothing was ever fatal and, therefore, the question of sympathy was thrown out of the window!

He can have only five types of conversations. He can talk about how beautiful a girl looks, except with the girl herself. He can talk about dogs for hour, but that is mostly when he is talking to them. He likes sports, cricket, football, tennis, badminton, whatever else he’s ever played. But he doesn’t play any of them well nor follows the sporting news. So, nobody invites him to play on the weekends and he doesn’t know enough about recent events to participate in fan conversations. He keeps up with wrestling, still. But wrestling has become a closeted conversation of the modern era. You don’t really want anyone to know that you follow wrestling or you will be judged hard. The one communication method he has developed over time is to disagree with the popular sentiment. He realized, over time, that this extends the length of his human interactions because there is usually a debate. But it does nothing for his congeniality, which means that he is seldom invited back to a conversation by anyone. And he looks a little like a lost duckling trying to cross a freeway when he tries to take the lead and start a conversation with someone. People often like discussing the books that they are reading, but for someone who enjoys reading profiles and interviews of serial killers, Prince assumed people would not be interested about discussing reading with him!

When he was less than five years old, his real best friend was a black baby goat! However, the goat probably matured faster than he did and stopped paying visits after a few months. Prince would have liked to pay him a visit, but something in his stomach might have told him that the goat was dead! Anyway, that was a long time ago. Eventually, Prince found a human best friend, could possibly be because this was the only young lad who hadn’t actually stopped visiting him and vanished; hasn’t yet!

There was a cat too, growing up, that he really liked spending time with. He loved catching rats and dipping his right paw into the fish tank and coming out with the fish from there and feasting on it. However, since Prince had to keep replacing the fish every day, he figured that the cat needed a bigger playfield. Prince took him boating at the lake one day – there seemed to be plenty of fish for the cat to catch in those waters. Prince dropped the cat off in the deep waters near the middle of the lake, where there were most fish to be found.

The stupid cat, without any rhyme or reason, sprang back at the first touch of the water and sank a claw into the side of the plastic boat. Prince thought that he was probably calling him to come swim along but Prince didn’t know how. So, Prince decided that he wouldn’t let his inadequacies come in the way of his cat’s favorite activity. Putting his cat’s interests ahead of the pain of having to part with him, he brought out his chopping knife and swung. The paw that was pinned to the side of the boat was deprived of the fun, but the rest of that cat could now spend all his time trying to catch the scores of fish in the deep waters, one at a time.

Prince wondered why he was carrying that knife, still doesn’t have that figured. Maybe God was with him that day and made him feel the need to carry it. Anyway, when he later realized that the paw that remained stuck in the boat was bleeding out rather heavily, he couldn’t bear the thought that his beloved cat could be feeling immense pain. He immediately grabbed that paw, started treating it with the antiseptic in his saliva, and after a long ordeal, was able to stop the bleeding. He bandaged it up and carried it back with him, and has been preserving that sweet, soft paw safely under his sleeping pillow ever since. Now his little kitty is with him while simultaneously hunting fishes in the lake all day!

After the cat, Prince met his first human best friend – Arika. They were very close, Arika and Prince. But she didn’t take much time to vanish from his life either. She had many friends and he had just her. Gradually, the time she spent with him started dwindling. At the tender age of 8, Arika went missing one day. That morning Arika and Prince had gone cycling, and she never came back. Her parents still hold Prince responsible although he has never understood why.

Prince had told them the truth from the beginning. He had found a chicken hit by a car, laying injured almost in the middle of the street. It was bleeding badly from the neck. Being just eight years old, Prince often felt as helpless as the chicken did at that point and he couldn’t bear seeing it in so much pain. He dismounted the cycle to go treat it. It took him hardly a few seconds to snap that affected neck area off of its shoulder. Prince remembered what his father had taught him. When a part of the body is damaged beyond repair, it is best to amputate it, otherwise the gangrene that is certain to follow will spread to the other parts of the body. By the time he looked back, he saw Arika had dropped her cycle to the ground where he stopped chatting with her to come tend to the chicken – about 10 feet away from where he was now – and she was nowhere to be found.

She was the only female friend he had until he turned 12. On his twelfth birthday, he asked out another class outcast, Maggie, to watch a movie with him. It was an adult movie, but Prince had managed to smuggle themselves into a dilapidated movie theater for a showing of Silence of the Lambs. He thoroughly enjoyed how Maggie was terrified throughout the movie and only found comfort in his arms, where he could hold her reassuringly and fill her with the faith that he would never let her get hurt. They came out of the movie theater rather satisfied – Maggie for being treated with the care that she did and Prince for the sense of intimacy that he experienced. Just as they were waiting to cross the street, a poor little dog fell in the way of a speeding motorcycle right in front of their eyes. The dog was bleeding profusely from his left forelimb. Prince couldn’t stand there and just see the little doggy endure the torment, so he proceeded to help…

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