Highly Commended Story - Friends Forever
“Friends Forever” by Sravya Kuchibhotla, Ekya School, ITPL, Bangalore, India, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Sravya is 13 years old and is studying in eight standard at Ekya School ITPL, Bangalore, India. She stays with her parents and younger sister. She enjoys drawing, dancing and conversing. She wants to become an entrepreneur when she grows up.
Once upon a time there lived a girl named Swathi with her parents and grandparents in India. She was a very cheerful person and a bright student. She had many friends and went to a good school. Two of her best friends were Varsha and Hasini. All three stayed in the same community and went to the same school. She loved the way her life was, dearly.
One day, during the summer vacation, her father came from office and told them that he had been promoted and was to be transferred to the U.S. Swathi was disappointed - she wanted to stay here and also all her friends had gone on vacation, which is why she wouldn’t get a chance to say goodbye. Nobody could bear to see ‘The Most Cheerful’ Swathi feeling so sad! Soon after she and her parents moved away.
Upon hearing from her grandparents, that they had moved to U.S, even her friends were very sad. She would only be back during the winter break in December.
Meanwhile Swathi too was eagerly waiting for the winter vacation, as the only thing she ever feared – loneliness - was troubling her. She didn’t have any friends in U.S. The drastic change in her life had made her reluctant to socialize.
Finally, December was here! All her friends had been waiting at her grandfather’s house to welcome her. They spoke for a long time, but Swathi didn’t mention how lonely she felt in U.S. She was also introduced to Varsha’s cousin, Pinky, who was here for the vacation. She was about a year younger to them. Swathi bought small souvenirs for each of them as mementos of their friendship but what she didn’t know was that even her friends had a present for her, which they kept in Varsha’s house.
They all had lots of fun. While the others were just delighted that she came back, Pinky noticed that Swathi was very moody and unpredictable. She even screamed at Pinky for missing the goal while playing Football. This upset Pinky very much and she would not tolerate it! That evening Pinky complained to her cousin about it. Varsha told her to forgive Swathi and forget that it ever happened but Pinky yelled, “I am not forgiving her! You can observe her for a few days and see for yourself!”
Varsha did so and with this consistent behaviour of Swathi’s, even she came to the conclusion that Swathi was behaving with them in a way she had no right to.
Soon Swathi’s one-month India trip came to an end. There were only two days left. The next morning, she asked everyone to come to the playground to give them their presents. Everyone received one brightly coloured object – some received purses, some keychains and many more- but Varsha wasn’t there. She hadn’t been visiting them the past week as she too was mad at Swathi. Of course, no one knew this as she had been making the excuse of being sick.
Hasini and the others told Swathi that they had contributed money to buy her a watch and that Varsha had it. Hasini asked her to come to the playground again in the evening so that they could give her her present. That evening she went to Varsha’s house to call her to give Swathi her gift and to also check on her health. It was only then that she understood that Varsha was not really sick. Varsha explained why she didn’t like Swathi anymore. “You guys can go on and give it to her. Neither am I interested nor do I think she deserves it”, she said tossing away the box towards Hasini.
Hasini joined the rest of them disappointed but they still gave the gift to Swathi. Upon enquiry Swathi found out how Varsha felt about her. She was very sad. “I am so sorry guys; I didn’t know I was being mean to you. I can’t receive this thank you so much.” she said holding out the gift in her palm towards them. “Varsha doesn’t want me to have it so I am not going to have it”, she added somehow managing to put on a watery smile.
“Please take it… you need something to remember us, too, don’t you?” Hasini pleaded.
“No, I have been troubling you and you are presenting me with a gift? I can’t accept it.”
“Please… it is only what Varsha thin-” Hasini started again when she was interrupted.
“But what changed you so much in the first place?” asked Sabiha, another friend of Swathi’s who had been listening to the conversation all this while.
“Maybe, it’s just that…” Swathi narrated her situation in U.S. Everyone felt sorry for her but she just wouldn’t take the gift!
The next day she bid farewell to all her friends and family and left for U.S. That very day Varsha found a letter and a parcel from Swathi at her doorstep. The letter explained why she had been so moody and how much she missed them all there. After reading the letter there were tears in Varsha’s eyes and the parcel, which contained a beautiful purse, made her realize how she had misunderstood her friend. She immediately wrote a letter to Swathi and posted a package to her.
Upon reading the letter Swathi was happier than ever! Varsha had finally forgiven her and said she was sorry for being judgemental towards her. In the package was the watch her friends had bought for her! Now Swathi was once again excited for her next India trip.
A few weeks later Swathi had her mid-term exams. She studied hard and scored good marks as usual. After knowing her marks two of her classmates, Sarah and Margaret, requested her to help them in their studies. They realised they weren’t staying very far away and could easily walk to each other’s house. They soon grew to be very close friends!!