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Funny Fiction Friendship

Tanya waved her employee ID in front of the attendance device that recorded her in and out timings in the office with a beep each day. As she waited for the elevator to reach the eleventh floor, Tanya peered at the clear blue sky and the sprawling, lush-green campus of her company, an IT organization, through the tinted glass window, and grinned in anticipation of the day ahead. Today was no ordinary day.

With a spring in her step, Tanya sauntered to the company bus stop area, where she boarded bus number 23 that would take her to the HSR Layout area of Bangalore city, where she shared a two-bedroom apartment with her best friend. Isha too worked in the same company but during a day shift, which meant that the two friends met only briefly on early mornings and late evenings on weekdays.

As the bus zoomed ahead on the relatively less-crowded roads of the early morning Bangalore traffic, Tanya wondered how Isha would take the news she’d deliver to her in less than an hour’s time.

It would have to be at the breakfast table, where they’d sit together to eat the Poha prepared by Isha — today was Tuesday, Poha-day. In the middle of complaining about how Isha had, like always, added too many curry leaves to the flattened rice, onions, spices, herbs and peanut breakfast dish, Tanya would pause as though suddenly reminded of something — something solemn and dark — retract her statement and putting on her chirpy, cheery voice, tell Isha that actually, the Poha had turned out just right.

Being the smart and observant girl that she was, Isha was bound to notice the unusual and probe. Tanya would stammer out something along the lines of what a wonderful friend and roommate Isha was and how grateful she was to have Isha in her life. That would make Isha suspicious because Tanya literally never said anything along those lines to anyone, not even to her parents or her boyfriend of two years, Adi.

After hemming and hawing for a few more minutes — yes, just a few more minutes because the clock was ticking and Isha would soon have to leave for office — Tanya would reluctantly tell Isha the conversation she overheard between two colleagues at the office.

“... and then, she said that Ravi had drawn up the list of employees being promoted in the upcoming cycle... and he said whether she got a look at the list... and she said, yes, she printed it for him... and then, he asked whether his name was on the list... and she said no, there were only two names on the list...”

At this point, Isha would be sitting on the edge of her seat and biting away her nails, hanging on to Tanya’s every word.

“He asked her who they were... those two names... but she asked for something in return... a favour... irrelevant... anyway, I overheard the two names and... and... I’m so sorry, Isha. Your name is not on the list.”

Isha would slump into the chair and hold her head in her hands. Maybe shed a few tears and curse her boss who made her work overtime and promised her a promotion this cycle.

“But, Ravi promised... he promised I’d be promoted this time,” she would cry.

Tanya would be the sympathetic friend, promising Isha she’d support her if Isha wanted to quit this crappy, unrewarding job and look for an opening in a company that really valued her great work.

And then, Isha would have to leave for work, fretting all day about the promotion she was being passed over for while Tanya would get her beauty sleep, safe in the knowledge that Isha could not talk to anyone involved in the incident as the boss, Ravi, was on leave and the two colleagues whose conversation Tanya allegedly overheard worked the night shift.

And then before leaving for her night-shift that evening, Tanya would leave a message on Isha’s bedroom mirror — Happy April Fools’ Day! — that Isha would read and fume all night over. By morning, Isha’s anger would have fizzled out and Tanya would apologize and Isha would forgive her like every other year.

Tanya disembarked at her bus stop and walked the remaining hundred meters to the apartment complex, thinking of her other prank, the one targeting her boyfriend. It would be easy-peasy because Adi was so naive and trusting. She’d tell him that her parents dropped a bomb over the phone that they’re getting her married to a family friend’s son in July. What would make it challenging was that in the late afternoon when she’d meet Adi, he would know today is April Fools’ Day — thanks to social media —and may expect a prank, given Tanya’s history of playing pranks. That was why she’d already started setting up the prank by sending him a text message that she wanted to talk to him about something very important face-to-face, with the intention of building it up throughout the day before their meeting so that he’d more readily fall for the prank.

Tanya checked her phone as she entered the lift and pressed the third-floor key. No reply from Adi even after an hour. That was strange. He usually responded to her messages right away.

As she unlocked her apartment door with the duplicate key, Tanya thought she heard a man’s voice from indoors. She opened the door to see Isha serving Poha into two plates at the dining table with Adi standing right behind her with his arms around her waist and his chin resting on her shoulder.

The bunch of keys fell from Tanya’s hand and clattered onto the floor.

The noise startled Isha, who dropped the serving spoon on the table and touched her hair self-consciously, elbowing Adi away.

Adi stepped away, but he was still standing unusually close to Isha, thought Tanya.

“What’s... what’s going on?” Tanya croaked. “What are you doing here?” she said to her boyfriend.

Adi pressed his hands together and through his crisp white shirt, Tanya could see the outlines of his biceps. “We were waiting for you,” he said calmly.

Tanya closed the door behind her, dropping her laptop bag on the floor. “Why? You haven’t answered my question. What are you doing here, Adi?”

“Sweetie, take a seat, please,” said Isha, pulling out a chair.

“Do not sweetie me!” yelled Tanya. “Just... just tell me what’s going on. Are you... are you two having an affair?”

“No!” Both Adi and Isha said in unison.

“But we are together,” said Adi, holding Isha’s hand.

Tanya fumbled through her handbag, her eyes moist with tears, and grabbed her mobile. “Then, what in the fuck’s sake is this?” she said, holding up her mobile showing messages from Adi. “I thought... I thought you loved me. You said... you said...”

Tanya collapsed on the nearby sofa, feeling light-headed and crushed under the weight of a mountain at the same time.

Isha poured a glass of water and gingerly placed it on the coffee table in front of her friend. “Listen, we didn’t want you to see what you saw. We just wanted to talk to you. It’s been so long we’ve wanted to tell you,” she said, looking at Adi. “We just couldn’t keep it a secret anymore.”

“Oh you poor things!” shrieked Tanya, sweeping the glass of water off the table. “Could not keep your cheating, back-stabbing ways to yourself anymore. Wanted the whole town to know.”

Tanya stopped abruptly as her gaze fell on her office ID card lying on the floor next to her bag. The next moment she began laughing hysterically, throwing her head back on the cushioned sofa.

“It’s a prank, isn’t it? Oh my God! You guys have outdone me this time!”

Adi and Isha exchanged a meaningful glance with each other.

“It’s not a prank,” said Adi.

“I know it’s a prank. You can’t prank the greatest prankster in the world!” cried Tanya, pacing the living room. “You knew I’d be home at this time. You planned the whole thing. And I must say you’re both acting very well. I think... I think you went too far. But,” she said, raising her hand, “if you confess now, I won’t be mad. I promise I won’t be mad. Please just tell me. Tell me it’s just a prank. Please say something.”

Isha exchanged a wordless look with Adi. “It started exactly a year ago,” she said.

“What?” said Tanya.

“Yes, last April Fools’ Day. You told me you had cancer,” said Adi.

Tanya flung her hands in the air. “It was just a prank. I apologized.”

“I cried in your lap for an hour and you still didn’t tell me! You let me believe you were dying!” roared Adi.

“And you told me that my grandmother fractured her hip,” said Isha. “I was worried sick, but you let me worry the whole day.”

“I’m sorry, okay! I’m sorry! I think I went too far...”

“You think?” said Adi.

“Okay, so how did it start last year?” said Tanya, sitting on the sofa.

“Tell me everything, please.”

Adi and Isha pulled two chairs next to each other.

“So, last year we were talking about how you pranked us at the party. I was really upset with you and so was Isha,” said Adi.

“We decided to prank you next year. We began planning for it,” said Isha.

“The idea kind of came to me first, but Isha later confessed she’d also thought of this idea and dismissed it,” said Adi.

“So, it was just a prank?” said Tanya.

“It’s not a prank, okay?” said Adi.

“As we kept talking about our plan for next year, we realized how much you’d hurt both of us with your pranks over the past years — two years for me and many more years for Isha.”

“Seven years,” said Isha. “You call me your best friend and you don’t mind hurting me. For what? Just for some laughs? At my expense?”

Tanya closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “I’m really sorry, guys. I deserve this prank. I really do.”

“You apologized last year and the year before that too. You promised no more pranks, but I’m quite sure you had something planned this year too. Didn’t you?”

Tanya couldn’t meet Adi’s gaze as she said, “No, I didn’t plan anything. I didn’t even know it was April Fools’ Day.”

“Really? Then how did you jump to the conclusion that we were pranking you?” said Isha.

Tanya closed her eyes tightly. “Tell me what happened next. Please.”

“I’m hungry,” said Isha, leaning towards the dining table and grabbing the plates and spoons. She passed a plate of Poha to Tanya, who accepted it gratefully.

“This is so good,” said Tanya. “It’s really delicious. Thank you, Isha.”

After the plates were cleared, Tanya drank a glass of water before she joined the other two in the living room. She waited patiently for them to continue.

“We met one weekend to plan, just the two of us,” said Adi. “We got talking and realized we really enjoyed each other’s company. We’ve been meeting since then in secret.”

Isha sipped her coffee. “Initially, we met on the pretext of planning a prank for you for next year, but then... we started talking about other stuff, doing other things together.”

Tanya’s cup crashed on the floor. “Sorry. It slipped through my hand,” she said.

As she swept the broken pieces of glass off the floor, Tanya still couldn’t believe that the two people who loved her the most apart from her family would hurt her in such a manner. She’d thought that Adi and Isha have nothing in common and don’t even like each other. Or maybe all that was just an act to cover up their affair. It was an affair, a sordid affair being carried on behind her back for a whole year!

“So, who else knows about your affair... I mean, your... your relationship?” said Tanya.

“Some of our friends know,” said Adi.

“Who?”

“Karan and Ria know. And Vicky knows too.”

Tanya felt the sharp twinge of betrayal as she thought about all their common friends who knew but still didn’t tell her. “You could all be in on the prank. I’ve pranked all five of you,” said Tanya.

Adi sighed. “Listen, it’s true.”

“Then why are you telling me today, on April Fools’ Day?” demanded Tanya.

Isha kept her empty cup on the table. “We just told our parents, yesterday. We thought you should also know.”

“You told your... what?” cried Tanya.

Exasperated, Adi pulled out his mobile from his pocket and gave it to Tanya. The screen showed his Whatsapp chat with his mother.

Isha looks lovely. You both will make such a handsome couple. Love you, beta.

Tanya checked the phone number. It was his mother’s number. She knew it by heart.

Tanya dashed to the bathroom and emptied the contents of her stomach. They were having an affair! Her best friend and her boyfriend! The two people she loved the most in this world apart from her family. How could they do this? Do they think this is justified just because she pranked them?

Tanya washed her face and grabbed her handbag from the floor, leaving the apartment wordlessly without looking at them.

Where would she go? She was due in the office that evening for her night shift and before that, she needed some rest. But she certainly could not return to her apartment, not with those two in it doing God-knows-what.

Making a last-minute decision, Tanya hailed an auto-rickshaw to take her to the Lalbagh Botanical Garden. Halfway through the journey, she asked the auto-rickshaw to turn to Whitefield where their friends Karan and Ria lived. The Whatsapp messages could have been fake, she thought. No, it couldn’t be true. It was just a prank. Just a prank.

To her horror, Karan and Ria confirmed they knew about Adi and Isha’s relationship but didn’t want to get involved as Adi had assured them that he and Isha would sort it out. Her world spinning out of control, Tanya apologized to Karan and Ria for pranking them last year and hailed an auto-rickshaw to the nearest Mall where she spent the day window-shopping and drinking coffee and crying in the bathroom and binge-eating burgers and buying self-improvement books and getting her eyesight tested and applying free makeup and getting a pedicure and crying in the changing rooms. At the end of the day, Tanya’s wallet and her energy were both depleted. She spent her last remaining two-hundred rupee note to hail an auto-rickshaw home.

 The electricity was out, so she dragged herself up the stairs to the third floor. In her hurry to flee the apartment, Tanya had forgotten to grab her keys. She rang the doorbell, imagining the worst possible scenes that could greet her when the door was opened by backstabber one or backstabber two.

She choked back a sob as the door was unlocked.

Nobody opened it, so Tanya pushed it open.

“Listen, I need to rest in my room. If you two stay out of my hair, I won’t make a big deal of it...”

Tanya stopped. A blue balloon had drifted across the room and ended up blocking her vision.

What was a balloon doing in her apartment?

Oh, no! Was it from the one-year anniversary celebration of backstabber one and backstabber two? Would they invite her to eat some anniversary cake just to rub it in?

All Tanya needed right now was her bed and complete silence. Tomorrow, she’d figure out what to do about the backstabbers.

An enormous shadow jumped out from behind the kitchen counter, startling Tanya. She grabbed the umbrella lying in the corner and began beating the intruder.

“Wait! It’s us, Tanya!”

A group of four or five people had now gathered around the enormous intruder asking if he was hurt.

Just then, the electricity was back on. Tanya closed her eyes to the blinding light in the room. After a few moments, when she opened her eyes slowly, she saw that there were several blue and white balloons floating mid-way in the air, hanging by threads from the ceiling.

“What the...” Tanya stopped as she looked at the people in front of her, all of them wearing silly, pointed birthday-type hats.

The enormous shadow she had hit with the umbrella was their friend, Vicky.

The rest of her friends and the two backstabbers had gathered around Vicky, asking him if he was alright.

Rubbing his head where the umbrella hit him, Vicky went to the window and drew the drapes.

Happy April Fools’ Day, Tanya! read the message on the window.

With tears streaming down her face, Tanya hugged all her friends one by one, apologizing to them repeatedly for all the pranks she played on them year after year.

She paused on seeing Adi and Isha standing next to each other.

“It was just a prank,” said Adi, smiling.

“We’re sorry, sweetie, but it had to be done,” said Isha. “So you would know how it feels.”

“We’re sorry,” said Adi.

“What about that... that Whatsapp message?” said Tanya.

“I told my mother we needed her help to prank the greatest prankster in the world,” said Adi, laughing.

Tanya went into Adi’s arms, half-crying, half-laughing, promising she would never prank anyone in her life ever again.

April 02, 2021 08:27

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12 comments

Bhaskar Kaushesh
06:26 Aug 20, 2021

Clever. Clever writing indeed. I am sure all the readers would univocaly concur that you keep them thoroughly engaged !!

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Kanika G
10:02 Sep 15, 2021

Thank you. :)

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Aishani Gupta
16:36 Apr 17, 2021

This story was so good! I almost started believing that Adi and Isha were actually together. I like how you wrote this story, and all your characters are so realistic. Cleverly written, and nice ending as well!

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Kanika G
11:50 Apr 18, 2021

Thank you so much for your feedback. I really appreciate it. :)

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This story was very fun and it actually convinced me Adi and Isha were dating! These characters were fun and kind of relatable. Good work!

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Kanika G
02:42 Apr 15, 2021

Hey, thanks Sienna. I'm glad you found the story fun and enjoyed it. :)

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Writer Maniac
13:13 Apr 11, 2021

I'm really sorry I'm late, I had a few exams that I had to take care of, but I'm here now! Your stories are always so refreshing to read, with such relatable and rich characters. I felt like these characters were my friends and I was super invested in their lives. It was a very interesting story, and I enjoyed it a lot! Well done!

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Kanika G
12:55 Apr 12, 2021

Hey, welcome back! I hope your exams went well. Thank you for your kind and helpful feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. :)

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Writer Maniac
13:02 Apr 12, 2021

Yeah, they were alright! No problem, it was my pleasure!

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Sam Ackman
15:24 Apr 12, 2021

I enjoyed this story! Hearing of this past pranks I couldn’t quite decide if I wanted their prank to be real or not. I liked how the first paragraph brought you right into the scene. I was a bit confused with the second paragraph as I thought she just went up to an 11th floor then she was at a bus stop (I assume not at an 11th floor..). Great job!

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Kanika G
16:10 Apr 12, 2021

Hey Sam, thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. :) The second paragraph- Tanya is waiting for the elevator on the 11th floor, where she works. She's leaving in the morning because she works the night shift. Hope that clarifies. Thank you again for reading the story.

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Kanika G
16:10 Apr 12, 2021

Hey Sam, thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. :) The second paragraph- Tanya is waiting for the elevator on the 11th floor, where she works. She's leaving in the morning because she works the night shift. Hope that clarifies. Thank you again for reading the story.

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