Friend aah Figure aah?

Swami Nikhilaananda pondered:
"Friend aah Figure aah?"

I have another story to share with you guys today, but this one is not my original. In fact, it's an email that I got. First of all, it's a little long, but I am sure you will smile throughout the post. Secondly, you will definitely agree with the first part of the story which classifies a typical engineering class into four categories... see if it makes you nostalgic about your class. And the rest is a nice story with a profound question that many of you would have faced in your life at one point or the other... So, let's begin

The author of this story is Karthik Lakshmanan, and you can read the original post here
The original title of this story is "The Eternal Dilemma"
A typical class in any engineering college can be divided into various gangs. While the girls in the class are divided into 2 categories – the good looking ones and the not so good looking ones, the boys are broadly classified into the following gangs:

1. The Gethu gang – this gang easily forms the majority. Anyone and everyone (male) with good sense of humor or ‘kalaaichufying skills’ is welcome to join this gang. Usually found occupying the last rows (if they attend class i.e.). They usually don’t talk to girls or when they do, it’s always with a purpose like notes or textbooks and stuff. Even if some member wants to befriend a girl, fear of being chucked out of the gethu gang makes him control his temptation. Extracurricular activities include drinking, smoking and roaming with fellow gang mates. Language spoken – Tamil. Movies include Tamil masala films and English movies at times (with sub titles). Members of Gethu gang don’t get along well with other gangs.

2. The Dude Gang – forms the minority among boys. Language spoken and movies seen are always English. Possess the knack of impressing girls. Members of dude gang are always seen in groups of 5 or 6 which include 1 or 2 girls. Activities include Pubs, Discos etc. Also known as Peter gang.

3. The Kadala Gang – these are guys who somehow don’t fit into the above said gangs. They possess the ability to easily befriend girls. Always found occupying the middle rows in class and messaging girls two seats away. Possess enough sense of humor to make girls laugh (pretty low i.e.). Act as protectors of girls and show deep care and affection for girls and fellow gang mates.

4. The Padips Gang – as the name says it, these are the nerds who occupy the first row. Possess inhuman ability to stay awake even in post lunch sessions of the mokkayest (most boring) subjects. Usually taken advantage of by other gang members during exam time for notes, books etc. Do not indulge in smoking or drinking and watch movies only if there is no test or exam in the next 2 months, probability of which nears zero.
With the above definitions in mind, let’s get into the story. The story will largely concentrate on the cold war between the Gethu gang and the Kadala gang, as I have no knowledge about the remaining two gangs.

CSE – B of the National College of Engineering was a class with the above mentioned groups. At the beginning of the first semester, when there was no division in class, all the boys lived peacefully and the teachers who attended CSE – B were a happy lot. But with time, each guy found his own group according to his character and slowly the formation of gangs within the class started. The class somehow managed to stay united for the entire first year. But the beginning of 2nd year marked a complete change in things with the gangs becoming more and more prominent as the students got closer to each other and got to know each other better. The dudes went aloof and lived a peaceful life of their own, never bothering about the other factions in the class. The first benchers were treated like different species altogether and they formed a group (mainly to exchange notes and other materials).The guys who knew how to talk to girls or at least thought so formed the Kadala Gang. The remaining majority who created nuisance to teachers and other sincere students in class formed the Gethu gang. Each group barring the Padips gang had a ‘leader’ (you don’t expect a leader for nerds do you?).

While the guys were divided based on character, the girls were divided based on looks. But one similarity brought them together – studies. Almost all girls in the class somehow managed to do well in academics. They possessed 5 pens of different colors, each used for a different purpose (Blue for writing, black for underlining, red for circling, yellow for highlighting etc). All girls and the Padips gang of guys had the habit of submitting assignments one day earlier than scheduled. They somehow found time and motivation to draw margins and decorate their notes as well.

Raghav Sarathy, famously known as the don from Chennai headed the Gethu gang. He can be best described in one word – Porikki (rogue). The gargantuan lad from puduppetai was a terror for everyone in the class. But for his friends, he was the guy to look up to for any problem or help. He was bighearted and generous guy who was always willing to help the needy by sponsoring for sarakku(booze) and dinner. Raghav never interacted with girls and vice versa. Even if he wanted to for some reason, he would order one of his subordinate gang members to do it for him. His friendly nature with his close friends and gang mates belied his mammoth size.

The Kadala gang too had a leader – Raghu. He was a smart guy much smaller in size compared to Raghav. He was very similar in nature to Raghav, with the only difference that he helped girls while Raghav helped the guys. Raghu was the point of contact for anything and everything related to girls. Some girls looked up to him as a godfather, some as a big brother, some as a savior and some as a true friend.Raghu enjoyed all the adulation and respect he got from girls and other gang members.

For some reason, members of the Gethu gang and Kadala gang never got along well. Some experts say it was because the Gethu gang didn’t know how to talk to girls even though they wanted to, while some say it was because the Kadala gang could never have the fun the Gethu gang had. The Gethu members loved to kalaaichufy(mock) the Kadala members in public, while the Kadala gang never missed out on giving it back to the Gethu gang(which would often be followed by the Kadala gang members laughing along with the girls which infuriated the gethu members further).

The cold war between members of both the gangs was a well known fact and it was a mundane task for each member to try and come up with innovative ideas to mock each other. The Kadala members would come up with ideas to irritate the gethu members and impress the girls, while the gethu members continued to deride the kadala members and the girls to impress their leader Raghav. The usual happenings at the class happened without much participation by the don Raghav, who preferred staying silent and only involved himself if matters went out of hand. Raghu, on the other hand would participate in each and every petty issue and impressed the girls to the maximum limit possible by a human being. Thanks to Raghu, Gandhiji’s idea of freedom was possible, as girls felt safe to roam around even at 12 midnight. Why fear when Raghu is there? One call, Raghu will appear, the girls thought.

The war between the gangs became public in the third year, when the class went for an industrial visit to Bangalore. The trip started peacefully with the usual routine of music and dance in the bus. But in no time, the Gethu members got drunk completely and decided to play pranks. Sensing this, Raghu and the other guards took positions to safeguard each girl. But this time, Raghu was in for a surprise. The leader himself was in action now. Raghav, drunk but steady, came to Ranjini, a good looking, sensitive and a very well mannered girl under Raghu’s guardianship. Ranjini was the heartthrob of every member of the Kadala gang. Though friendly with everyone, she was aware of her limits and knew how to keep people at a distance. Without knowing this, many members of the kadala gang including Raghu had made futile attempts to win her heart. Raghav came next to her and asked her if he could sit near her. A confused Ranjini agreed. He took her hands and placed his huge fingers inside hers. “What the hell is he up to?” thought all the Kadala members and other girls. The kadala leader Raghu was sweating profusely inside the AC bus, but he knew he could do nothing about a drunk and huge Raghav.

“Ranjini.. people here see me as a don.. they see me as a leader..they seem to think I hate girls.. they seem to think I am a rowdy..they seem to think I am a porikki with no heart..I don’t know why I am saying this..but people usually speak the truth when they’re drunk.. I somehow want to be your friend.. don’t mistake me.. I am not hitting on you.. I just want to be your friend.. I don’t know why I chose you.. but somehow.. I feel you are a nice girl who will understand me..i feel we can be really good friends.. it wont be an artificial friendship like how you girls have with Raghu and his friends.. please think about it..” , as these words came out of Raghav’s mouth, the earth stopped rotating, the driver stopped driving, the kadala gang stopped putting kadalai and every other impossible event happened. How could Raghav of all people say this?? Raghu and other members were scared and puzzled.

“I never thought you were such a sweet guy Raghav. I would be more than glad to be your friend. I never had any grudges against you personally and I never looked up on you as a don or a porikki. I am sure we can be good friends like anyone else”, said Ranjini, smiling(blushing). At this moment, Raghu felt his heart burst. He felt numb. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t speak. He couldn’t do anything. What the hell had just happened??

Even as Ranjini continued to blush and others around her gave reactions varying from shock to disappointment, Raghav got up from his seat and went to the last row where the members of Gethu gang were seated and shouted

“Machi…. She trusted me!!!!!!!! Didn’t I tell you? It’s easy to correct girls da! All you need to do is act like a good guy..just like how I did now and how Raghu has been doing for years..hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahha”. The gethu gang members jumped up in joy and hugged their leader. The don had struck a major blow! The don had arrived.Raghu didn’t know what to do. He hung his head in shame. The kadala members were infuriated and vowed to fight back. ‘Thalaivar vaazhga…gethu thalaivan Raghav Vaazhga’ echoed across the bus, even as Ranjini sat at her place, sobbing.

Raghu, whose ego was hurt more than Ranjini’s, soon got his opportunity. Raghav and Raghu were group mates in lab, as they were adjacent roll numbers. Raghav, being the dumb guy that he is, had no clue about what was going on and left all the work to the ever sincere Raghu, who had no choice but to complete it as his grades would suffer if he didn’t. Even though the coding was taken care of by Raghu, the viva was a oral one and Raghav had to face the music. When it was their turn, the teacher shot Raghu a question. Raghu, who was very well prepared, stood up, answered and sat down, as Raghav looked in awe. Now was Raghav’s turn. Oh those vivas gave him a scare. Yes, vivas had potential to even scare huge creatures like Raghav. As he stood up, his legs were trembling, causing a minor quake underneath. “What is a Friend Function?” asked the teacher. ‘wtf?’ thought Raghav and looked down to Raghu for some help. Raghu sensed opportunity here and whispered “if a normal function doesn’t perform its function, the friend function takes over and helps out the function.. just like how friends help other friends”. For some reason, Raghav trusted his partner and reproduced the same words in a loud and confident manner. As soon as he completed the answer, everyone in class except 2 people was ROTFL. One of them was Raghav, who stood confused, and the other was the teacher who spoke some unsavory words which are best left censored before saying “GET OUT OF THE CLASS”. The Kadala members gave a thumbs up sign to their leader and exchanged smiles with girls, as the Gethu members saw their leader walk out slowly like Rajnikanth in the film Muthu.

The incident sparked off yet another round of never ending arguments and fights between the two gangs, with the gethu gang emerging winners most of the time. The gethu gang members stopped talking to girls completely, and the only time they did was when they made prank calls before exams (somehow, everything else seems interesting before an exam!). The kadala members participated in various extracurricular activities and continued to impress the girls.

In the meantime, time flew and before they knew, it was final semester. It was time for the final year project. As luck would have it, Raghav was put in a group with Raghu, Ranjini, 3 other girls and 2 other Kadala members. Worse, he had to go out of campus and finish his project in a company with his group members. It was like Sachin Tendulkar forced to play cricket for Pakistan! It was just not possible. How would he live away from his friends for 4 months? How would he live with Raghu and other members? He felt so out of place that he even considered quitting Engineering, but sense prevailed and he found himself parting with his Gethu members for a 4 month stint with Kadala members. The kadala members, understanding his situation, had a hearty laugh and used every opportunity to bring down the mountain. He was cornered, he was helpless. He tried putting up a brave face but deep within, he knew he was like the character in the movie Chennai 28 where Jai cried inside the bathroom. How will he adjust? How will he get along with the girls? How will he laugh for lame jokes to impress girls? How will he act artificial to make girls laugh? All these questions haunted him. It was too embarrassing for him to handle but he didn’t have a choice.

During the initial week, all the members were given modules and 2 of them had to share 1 system. To his dismay, Raghav had to share his system with the worst possible person in the group – not Raghu, it was Ranjini. He was a big zero when it came to programming, but there was no way he was going to ask her help after what he did to her a year back. He silently sat next to her as she did their work. It was too humiliating as she didn’t even treat him like a stranger, she completely ignored his presence. During lunch time, everyone in their gang would eat together. Raghav had no option but to eat alone. He would quickly eat and get back to his system.A week passed and they had to report their progress to their team lead. For the entire week, though he had sat next to her throughout the day, they didn’t speak even a single word. Now, the need had come for him to talk to her. With a lot of hesitation, he spoke.
”Ranjini”, he said as she turned. “I really don’t know how to talk to you after what I did the other day. No amount of apologies would suffice. But as you know, I know absolutely nothing about what’s going on in the project and what you are doing. I wont even understand it if I tried reading it myself. I would flunk the project big time if you don’t help. Frankly, it’s very embarrassing to sit idle all day. Please explain to me if you feel you should so that I can talk something during the viva...” he said, and walked away for lunch, without even waiting for a reply.

As he was eating alone in the food court, a familiar face came with a plate in hand to sit next to him. It was Ranjini. He was surprised but happy. He didn’t know how to react. He struggled to keep himself normal.

“Relax”, said Ranjini. “I know what you did to me was wrong. I felt really hurt when you did it. But I got over it soon. I have no grudges against you. But I didn’t talk to you the entire week because I too felt embarrassed, just like you. Nothing else. I realized how harsh I had been only when you came and spoke to me today. Do you remember what you said to me during the IV in the bus? I still think we can be good friends. I trust you will not hurt me again. I know you are a nice guy.”

“I would’ve cried in happiness had I been a girl. Thanks so much Ranjini. And sorry once again”, said Raghav.

“No sorrys and Thank Yous between good friends. From tomorrow, join the gang for lunch. Don’t say no. it’s an order... and oh... I will teach you the module today after lunch”, she said and walked away.

After the day, Raghav went back to his room with a multitude of thoughts. How could he have hurt such a nice girl? It felt nice to talk to a girl. He finally sympathized with Raghu. He had been a barren land for years. Now, he sensed a little bit of rain. But amongst these thoughts, he was suddenly reminded of a more important problem – how on earth was he going to have lunch with a group of guys and girls from the Kadala gang?????????

The next day, he went to his system in a happier mood. “Ranjini.. please understand.. I cant come for lunch with everyone.. you know it.. I wont get along well with them..they don’t like me’ll be embarrassing for everyone.. I feel comfortable eating alone.. or at max with you.. but its just not possible to eat with everyone..and I know it wont be nice if we ate together leaving the rest.. so please let me alone..”

“Shut up and come with us. Did you think you could ever be my friend? No right? So don’t pass judgments before knowing people. I will talk to them and they will make you feel comfortable within the group. Don’t worry. Shut up and sit now while I code.” barked Ranjini.

Raghav’s reactions can be divided into 3 parts:

Raghav’s mind : ‘wtf!! Mariyaadha rumba korayudhu?(no respect at all?). not even my best friends had spoken to me like this..not even when they were drunk!!’

Raghav’s heart : ‘ *blushes*. Feels so nice when a girl takes so much rights in you to talk in this manner’

Raghav’s mouth : “err.. okay…if you say so..”.

Soon, it was time for lunch. Raghav went along with Ranjini to join the Kadala gang. He wondered what his gang’s reaction would be if they saw this. He felt scared. He felt nervous. He dare not inform his friends about these developments. He had to put up with Raghu. He had to put up with the other Kadala members. He had to put up with girls. His only savior was Ranjini.As they started to eat, they started talking about the usual mokka(boring) stuff.

‘hey .. ivan un aalu..’ …*giggles*.
’ hey..ava un aalu..’ * giggles giggles*
‘ hey Swetha, nee modhalla saaapdu’, said one guy.
‘inga modhala elaam kidaikkumaa saapda?’, said Swetha as the whole group burst into laughter, leaving Raghav with a shocked expression which conveyed various meanings :

1. FTW?
2. how could people laugh for this?
3. how could this be classified as a joke?
4. how could a guy laugh for this?
5. why don’t girls have good sense of humor?

Ranjini, on her part tried her best to keep him involved in the conversation. After lunch, as they went back to their desks, she asked him “how was your experience with the ‘kadala gang’?”

“err.. it was ok.. except that I found the jokes to be pretty lame..frankly, I can’t get myself to be this artificial..”

“haha.. I can understand..thats exactly what I like in you... but don’t will get used to this..:P ;)”

There is something about a girl’s wink which makes you forget who you are. Raghav certainly forgot that he was head of the Gethu gang back in college. As days passed, he found himself completely attracted to Ranjini. He spent the entire day time with her at the desk and even went out with her a couple of times. He knew for sure that she didn’t have any intentions but he was pulled towards her by a strong force – you can call it love or attraction or infatuation or whatever, but he just wanted to be with her. He even got along well with the Kadala members. All this, without his friends knowing of course!

Weeks flew and the project got over. It happened so that their module was chosen as the best one in the group. All credit to Ranjini, of course. She was elated and gave him a big hug! It took him by surprise and this is exactly when he knew it. He knew that he was in love! He wished he could tell her, but there was no way she was going to accept and he didn’t want to lose a wonderful friend. More than that, he didn’t want his gang members to ever know about all this! All these thoughts made him keep it to himself. But to his surprise, that night, he received a message on his mobile:

“Next Friday, on our farewell, I want to tell you something very important. It happens to be my birthday too!! And I am sure you will be happy. Now go back to your friends and keep guessing for a week!! :D. gnite. Sweet dreams! And oh..btw.. you were a wonderful partner to work with.. though you never worked ;) lol ”

This is all he needed! He knew it! She felt the same too. With a million thoughts, he went to his house. One week felt like one year! He missed her badly. He wanted to hear from her. He messaged her a thousand times asking what it was about, but there was no way she was going to tell him! ‘Damn it. These girls make even the hardest of persons go crazy!’, he thought.

Friday came. Farewell day. The end of an era. The end of college life. So many fights, so many arguments, so many friends, so many ups, so many downs. In a way, college life was the biggest experience in life. It had everything. Friendship, love, enmity - he experienced it all! It was also the day he got back to his kadala gang after 4 months. He missed them, but he was more than happy with what he had got. There was no way his friends were going to understand if he told them about the developments. After all, he was the don of the class. He was their leader. He himself had insulted so many couples. He used to mock at the idea of falling in love. But now, he was facing it himself. How would the gang feel if he told them he loves Ranjini? He couldn’t even imagine. They would feel the way Indians would feel if Sachin was accused of Match fixing. They would probably not even give it a thought. “Mokka podaadha da” , might be their reply!

Which one was a wrong choice? Falling in love? Or being in the gethu gang? So many questions came to his mind. Then he saw his angel walking into the hall in a saree. It was her birthday as well. There was no way he was going to talk to her directly in front of his friends. So he went to the restroom for some privacy and sent her a text message:

“You look gorgeous in saree. Happy birthday. What were you going to tell me?? Cant wait. Tell me now”
5 minutes after he sent the message, he got 2 messages in his inbox.

He opened the one from Ranjini :

“ Thanks. Thanks :D. no way. Come to the coffee shop at Besant Nagar after the farewell. I would like to see your reaction when I tell you. Till then, keep guessing :P”

Blushing, he saw the next Message. It was from his friend Pandirajan :

“Dey naaye.. we are going to get sarakku for party tonight.. farewell sarakku.. last time! Come to Arvind’s terrace at the end of the mokka farewell party..varalenaa konnuduven.. some 35 guys are coming..vandhu seru..bye..”.

(dog.. we are gonna get drinks for party tonight.. farewell booze..last time! Will kill you if you don’t there.. bye.”)

………..and he was faced with the everlasting question to which no guy has found a proper answer –

“ Friend ah?? Figure ah??”

Comments from Facebook

Praveen Damodhar: Idhuku thaan ivlo buildup-aa?

Prashanth Harshangi: Wondering where i belong!!!! I was in all the gangs except the 'NERD' 'Dude' and 'Kadalai' gang..Understood the joke??.. The only NERD gang in our class was AdityaKIRAN and ADITYAPadaki (Just to burn their asses)

Ashvin Srinivasan: ‎"somewhere I belong ?" ...:P

Aditya Kiran: Haha... give or take a few things, i guess this accurately describes our class ... huh raghu? :P

Ashvin Srinivasan: AK you always lead the way boy magane :P:P:P

Prashanth Harshangi: wondering who is ranjini and raghav sastry.. but baliga fits raghu..poor fellow..jackass..always pity him..paapa


BlogUser said…
wtf? whats the ending? What did he choose?
Schezerade said…
Your best one yet!!!
@Schezerade - I didn't write this one... Told you, it's a forward I got.

@Kumble - :P haha, that's the point dude. It says that at some point of time, you will face a situation where you have to choose between friend and figure. What will YOU choose?

There's nothing else in the story
Unknown said…
too good niks.. so in life we always end up havin 2 options its upon u to decide which to choose.. from now on i'm a fan of ur blogs.. bow to u bow to u..
@Rahul - :-) thank you so much. You might also like some other stories like "Quirk", "The Medallion" and "Just let go" that are posted in this blog - you can use the search bar to find them

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