'Friends' is the second chapter of Distances, and the continuation of Preferences. make sure you read Preferences before reading 'Friends.'
Every evening I would go out jogging in the park. I would find Altan and his friends daily there, playing football. Altan was good at football, he was the best attacker on our school team. He was one of the best attackers I had ever gotten.
Once while I was there, a girl came to me rushing and said, “Asalamu Alikum!”
“I am the greatest fan of yours, can I please have a selfie with you?”
“How on earth can someone be a fan of a goal key! Well, I would be delighted myself.” I said with a smile and she took a selfie with me. saying, “I am a fan of how you lead your team to victory and you are one the most skilled players I know of.”
“Ok, that sounds honest.” I said and she left smiling and I continued my jogging.
“Hey Captain!” Basit gave a call to me and I went over to them.
“How are you doing man.” Altan said.
“Fine. How about you?”
“Fine… as usual.”
“Are you practicing today with us?” Basit asked.
“No! I am tired.”
I chatted with them for some time and then left for home. Meanwhile, I saw Aylin at the bakery shop. I went to her greeting while she was picking some bread. After paying the shopkeeper, she greeted me back and we kept moving. “So, what are your plans after graduation?”
“Don’t know. Maybe applying to Hacettepe University… what about you?”
“Istanbul Technical University.”
“That sounds great.” And so, we kept moving till she left for her home and I to mine.
I took my clothes off for a shower and kept looking at her name I had carved on my arm. The scars had healed but the name was still there. I just left myself under the shower to relieve myself from stress.
The next day, when I reached the school, I packed some of my stuff looking back at the walls of that building, looking at the memories I had craved for almost eight years.
“You are one of the best students this school has ever gotten, Tabib.” I looked and it was the principal.
“Thank you, sir, I will miss this school.”
“Well, you should be happy that you are going to graduate in some time.”
‘Happy! Am I really happy?’ I asked myself, thinking that the walls I used to consider jail, seemed like the lap of a mother. “Yeah! I am happy that all of us are going to do it.”
“Good!” he said and left. After some time, I too left to my classroom and saw Altan walking through the corridor.
“Asalamu Alikum! Tabib.”
“Walikum Asalam!… So, you should be happy, at least it is finally the time to leave the jail called school.”
“Yeah bro! leaving, just to enter another.” He said smiling.
“So, what are you planning for college?”
“Istanbul University.” He spoke and added, “My spirit lives here dude. I thought this school was my home, and my friends were my family.”
“Me too,” I said and began to move to the classroom. When I felt that he was just standing there like a statue; not moving, I turned back and, in his eyes, I saw the oceans. He was breathing heavily and in a fraction of a second, he turned back and ran away. I don’t know what was the reason for doing so, but it seemed like he was sad.
I didn’t follow him, instead I just went into my classroom.
“So how is the day going Ahmet?” I asked to.
“Not so interesting.”
“Why? What were you even doing till now?
“Dreaming of getting into a college.” He said and then proceeded, “I have heard that college life is full of entertainment.”
“I don’t know about that yet.” I replied and he smiled.
Ahmet was a good guy. He was nice and always smiling. He was the only friend of Altan outside his punk club. I might even say that he was Altan’s best friend. But he was nothing like Altan. He was sincere and disciplined. Everyone liked him, as far as I know.
At lunchtime, when we were eating our lunch, I saw Basit rushing to Ahmet. He threw away Ahmet’s lunch and holding his collar shoved him away.
“What have you done to Altan?” Basit asked him.
“What are you talking about?” Ahmet asked back.
“I warn you stay away from Altan.” Basit yelled.
“Or what?” Altan yelled from behind.
“Altan, Stay out of this matter. I have seen you crying in the washroom and I know why.”
Suddenly Altan came rushing and punched him and Basit fell down. Altan got on him and started punching him again, but Basit was way heavier than him. Basit grabbed Altan’s arms and threw him over then started punching him back.
Suddenly some teachers came rushing and held them both, to held the two friends. “Basit, from now on, don’t count me as one of your friends.”
“You never were a friend Altan,” Basit screamed back, and somehow, teachers were able to hold the fight. Basit stayed in the dining hall whereas Altan left followed by Ahmet.
After finishing my lunch, I too went to Altan. “Altan, you, OK?”
“Yeah bro! I think so.”
“When you left me upstairs, I saw tears in your eyes, is everything OK?”
“It is not any issue, just some family problems.”
“Is that true?” Ahmet asked.
“Yeah! It is. why would I just make it up.”
Then both of them smiled and seeing them smiling, I smiled too. Then I got up to go to Basit to ask him how he was doing. When I reached the veranda, I saw Aylin coming out of the building.
“How are you.”
“I am fine. How about you?”
“I am fine too.”
I stayed silent for some seconds and then asked her,“So, where are you headed?”
“Altan and Ahmet.” She replied. I don’t know why, but I just nodded my head and left when I just wanted to stay. Aylin left too. I was able to see them from the window. As far as I could remember, it was the first time, Aylin and Altan were having a talk, and it was surprising because Altan had always tried to avoid her.
Little was I aware that this conversation was going to determine my fate. Little I knew how close they were going to get in these coming days. Little I knew about everything, that was going to happen…
End of chapter 2; Friends. Read Chapter 3 Here
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Written by Waqar Farooq
Edited by Ayaan Ashraf
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