Two friends walked with me side by side, night and day, holding one hand each in the hollows of their own. They were old while I was young; but as I aged, they stayed the same. The first came to me , on a September afternoon, after I had slammed the phone back into its cradle, weeping heavily into the curtains that framed my French windows.

He stood by my side. Watching me quietly. Saying nothing.


Eventually, I reached out to feel his warmth envelop me, helping me forget why I cried and why I stayed, in a relationship that made no sense. He was always there, ever ready to listen to my sobs, until one day I realised that:

He was always there.

In fact, he never left.

That’s when I started to fear him.

Fortunately, another friend came along soon after. She was sympathetic, helpful and kind. She made efforts to pull me away from him, my first friend. While she succeeded on many days, I found myself running back to him at the slightest hint of betrayal, anger or sadness. He welcomed me as always. With open arms. In no time at all, I was caught in a dangerous see-saw that swung between these two friends of mine. Both seemed necessary and yet they both seemed unhealthy.

The tragedy was I had no idea how to break it off with one without hurting the other.

Three years later, I checked myself into rehab. It was a long, painful and slow journey without my two friends, who watched me through the windows, hoping I would come back to them. Either one of them.

My counsellor said they weren’t real friends at all. They pretended to be that, so they could worm their way into my confidence.

That must have been the reason that they never aged, said my tired brain on a clear morning. They had left their mark on me, though. I still recall their names.

He was Addiction and she was Withdrawal.


39 thoughts on “False Friends

  1. Funny, just this morning I read a wonderful article on what really causes drug addiction and what the real solution might be. And now this. A wonderful narrative with an important message, Shailaja.

  2. Creative, and so real I kept having to remind myself it was fiction. I wasn’t sure who the friends were at first – I thought perhaps actual people who were users and hangers-on, then I thought it might be more symbolic. It didn’t really matter to the story as it worked either way but I loved how you worked up to their reveal, and was delighted with who they were in the end.

  3. I was guessing it till the last line and all my guesses turned out false. A true spinner , you are. Hats off to you, Shailaja

  4. That was a good post, Shailaja. All the while I kept wondering who the friends were. And, when it came to the part of the councillor, I hoped it was not a hallucination. Have seen ‘that’ a lot.

  5. I was trying to guess who they were…The post held my attention till the very last line Shailaja…Addiction and withdrawal , things that can take us away from our real friend, the one we call life

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