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Short story

275 Taka & Half a Paisa

Published : Saturday, 26 January, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 516
Yasir Monon

From Dubai to Dhaka. Rahat looks out the window by his seat. The plane has started taxying. It is almost a five hour flight. Two hours ago he had landed on Dubai for transit. He always uses this route on his journey to Dhaka from London. This particular one is turning out to be too long for him.Today is Emran's birthday. Rahat and Emran are crib friends. They are the definition of what people call 'best friends forever'. He cannot wait to reach Dhaka and wish his pal 'Happy Birthday'.
The heat outside is scorching. The airport and surrounding area view from his window slowly dived under an endless blanket of fluffy, white clouds. He had numerous fights with Rahat regarding clouds, Rahat gets lost in own thoughts. The one that they fought most about was whether rain comes from black clouds or white? He does not remember who won those fights anymore, but he remembers Emran's love for black clouds. He adored rain.
Rahat never cared much for rain. The funny thing is, from London to Dubai and now Dubai to Dhaka, he has been jumping around from topic to topic. And smiling on his own. For example, from the airport he was on the topic of clouds, from clouds he jumped to fights and rain, and from rain, he now recalls of the Eid morning when it poured cats and dogs. Rahat went to Emran's house at dawn hoping to catch the Eid Jamaat together. Emran was in the shower at that moment. Rahat went directly to his room and saw his Pants and Punjabi lying on the bed. He called out to Emran many times. But Emran seems to be taking his sweet time with his beauty shower.
Rahat's patience was at its end. Prayer time was passing. He picked up the pants from Emran's bed and pulled out the little strip of cotton belt that holds the pants in place. Then he put the thin belt in his pocket and set out for prayer alone. As predicted, Emran could not make it to prayer in time that Eid. Emran is no lesser devil. After reaching the mosque when he saw Rahat embracing his friends after prayer according to Muslim tradition, he waited for the perfect moment and stole the former's sandals and hid them at the far slot of the shoe rack. Then he approaches Rahat as if nothing has happened and embraces him with a beaming face. Trouble happens when they start getting out of the mosque and Rahat's sandals were missing. The rainy day had brought forth layers of mud on the roads.
Reclining on his seat, Rahat was thinking about the old days and smiling. What rut had he fallen into that day! He found out the truth later, however, he never found his sandals again. His eyes open slowly at the melodious voice of an air hostess,
"Excuse me, Sir! Can I pour you a drink or something?"
"Nothing at the moment, Thanks!" replies a smiling Rahat while closing is eyes. What he really needs, he thinks, is a cigarette.
Aah, promiscuous cigarette! Emran and Rahat's early experiences of smoking took place with some rowdy kids at school and the extents of those experiences were limited to a couple of drags only. Neither of them really liked smoking much on those days. They truly picked up the habit after starting tenth grade. But they had a peculiar fear about it. They used to go to a coaching center for model tests after class. After coaching, Emran would sneakily buy two cigarettes. He always got Tripple Five, commonly known as Bangla Five. They had seen their upper-class men smoking the brand. They used to finish their smokes while coughing hard. However, the next step is to manage the odor. They used to walk from college gate in the hopes that the smell would dissipate.
At first, they would have chewing gums and then, share a glass bottle of Coke or Fanta. Then right before turning in to home, they would have some Puri or Samosas from the shop nearby. The first thing they did when they got home was to gurgle at least ten times and brush their teeth before quietly retiring to their rooms. Despite of all these precautions they still used to get caught by their mothers. One day Rahat asked Emran, "Pal, keeping smokes at home is problematic. Somehow Mom sniffs them out. Previously she used to scold me a lot every time I got caught and recently, she has stopped talking to me! Give me some ideas, buddy!"
Emran laughs a little at this. "Follow my policy. Hide them smokes like I do and you will never get caught."
"Where do you hide them?' very surprised, Rahat asks.
"Keep 'em in Aunty's spectacle container. You'll see. She'll look for your hidden smokes all over the word. But never in her own stuff!" Emran smirks in a James Bond manner.
 This one time they planned to smoke at Emran's house, as everybody was going to be out for the day. As soon as Rahat entered the house, Emran's parents said. "Sons, Stay home, keep the doors locked and don't let anybody, except us, in. These are bad days, I tell you! We will be back by sundown." They left.
"Sundown is a long way, bro!" Announces Emran and goes to his room to light up a smoke smack dab in the middle of it. At that very moment, someone knocked at Emran's door. They both get startled.
"You, Asshole!" grumbles Emran from behind his grinding teeth, "Could you not remember to lock the main door?"
"Hey, man! Your house, your door, your memory! Why would I remember anything?"
Emran takes one last drag from the cigarette in his hand before throwing it out the window. Before he could exhale, Rahat opens the bedroom door. In walks, none other than Emran's father.
"What's the matter? Did I not tell you kids to lock up well? Why was the main door open?"
"We were just about to do so, Uncle! But you came back!" replies Rahat while Emran stands behind silently with a mouthful of smoke.
"I came back for the car keys! But you kids aren't up to anything funny, right?"
"Oh, no, no, uncle, we were just about to sit down with our test studies", Chimes up Rahat while Emran is still holding a world full of smoke in his mouth.
"Eat whatever you want from the fridge if you kids get hungry. What's up with Emran? Why is his mouth so swollen?"
"No, no, Uncle, nothing happened to him.He is just being silly!" Rahat feebly attempts at damage control and Emran nods his head in agreement. He is still holding the smoke with his dear life.
Uncle turned to leave. But he stopped and turned back again. "You kids aren't up to anything, right?"
Rahat opened his mouth to answer, but before he could Emran said, "What. No, Dad!" As soon as he opened his mouth, all the smoke poured out and the rest is history.
Damn, it has been so long! And to think about this on the flight!

(To be continued )

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