Kicking the dust, letting wind ruffle their hair, while the sun shone from between the clouds, Sridhar and Buddy enjoyed the flight of their bodies hopping on the road. Catching butterflies and in an effort to make them dance on his nose, failing every time, Sridhar never ceased to bet with Buddy, catch them and while he turned his spine the umpteenth time, the butterfly flew away with eternal glory, leaving an innocent frown on his face, much to the amusement of Buddy. As if an antidote for the hot tempered, dewy-eyed Sridhar, Buddy performed his all-time favourite Dhum-Pichak-Dhum twist shouting at the top of his voice,
"Hanse ab Hum aur Tum..Dhum Pichak Dhum..Kaahe Ko Gussa Hote Ho...Dhum Pichak Dhum...Ab to ek Step maar de yaar...Dhum Pichak Dhum!!"
Seeing Buddy with his front teeth constantly biting his lip, hands moving like a traffic police man signalling the vehicles to go, body swaying perfectly like a sine wave, Sridhar couldn't control laughter fits until he joined too. Humming their own songs, strumming the air with their hands, they ran fast till they zoomed past the house, the one where Sridhar lived with Buddy!
Located in a small colony, a house painted white, meant for four, was the Home-Sweet-Home for both of them. Mrs. and Mr. Panigrahi, Mr. Panigrahi's father, Sridhar and Buddy resided there as a happy family. Buddy had been christened by Sridhar and they were so close to each other that nothing, noone, no distance, no condition could separate them, would separate them. They roosted in the same room, went to the same school, wore similar clothes, took active participation in every mischief, in fact masterminded it, though it was Sridhar who was always caught for being naughty. It made him a little envious of Buddy but then watching Buddy in trouble was the last thing on the earth he ever wanted. Moreover, he knew the dexterous impression he had on his teachers and the armor of this impression always saved him on the Parents Meet.
When the sun soothed a bit in the evening, they went out to the nearby park to play football with their folks. The stimulus the game provided was enough to send Sridhar in a frenzy. He was passionate about it. The ball after being kicked by a fidgety lad, stopped by Sridhar, dribbled for a while, passed to Buddy, who missed it and the ball landed in the bush. Animated faces appeared from all sides, except him, who looked rather embarassed, just before Sridhar shouted, "C'mon boys! Easy!" Buddy couldn't think of playing the game, let alone mastering it. He was bad as bad could be but never would he quit trying and he did it all for Sridhar who loved to have him playing by his side. He kept trying in vain until he was totally down and out and waited for his partner to come back with clothes stained and greased with mud. They stayed there even after others had left, waiting for the stars to adorn the silhoutte of the sky, under whose cover they would explore the vast horizons of their thoughts. Sridhar always considered Buddy as his alter ego and that helped him talk candidly about the nuances and intricacies of every lesson they had learnt from their teacher, their Guru called Life! They hashed over science, disputed over sports, rolled on satire, pointed out each others flaws, high-fived on every second thought. This tête-à-tête ended when the watchman came tapping his stick and the two ran over the bushes, on the pathway, out of the gate and ran till they reached the gate of their house where they waited and laughed for five good minutes.
Such was life! Their love grew with every passing day, in fact it grew exponentially! They never knew it because there was nothing as love or hate between them, they just knew they were each others pillars of strength, they loved each others company, one understood what was on the others mind before he spoke out a word, it was all that mattered. Life couldn't be better.
On a lazy Sunday morning, while Mr. Panigrahi and his father were having a heated discussion on the policies of the government and Mrs. Panigrahi applied strawberry marmalade on the toast, Sridhar and Buddy came out of their bedroom in their night pajamas and took their seats. Knowing that mother would be scoff at him for not getting fresh before taking breakfast, Sridhar winked at Buddy followed by a boyish chuckle. His mother looked wary of him.
She finally asked, "What's with you? Why are you acting queer? Don't think I don't know what you're up to! I'm your mother and I can make out what's on your mind before you can think of it. So be careful! And if you think you're going to get to go with your friends playing football, then change your mind because we are going to the Art Academy today for a Painting Exhibition. Get ready soon! And stop chuckling now!"
"No, Mother! Can I have homemade Makkhan on my bread?" said Sridhar, controlling his laughter.
"Hmm..sure! If that's all you need!"
"Yeah..Mother! That's all."
May be he needed more. Only if she could see the little guy who had dwelled in his cupboard over the years and will continue to, that guy who was Sridhar's best Buddy!