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The little accident Bandem got himself involved in had what you would call a ripple effect; in the sense that its repercussions were felt by not just him – which, of course, it did – but also spread out to… well, other people.

To his family, for starters, who saw a busy next two weeks ahead of them with visits to the police station and from the cops at home. But that isn’t what we are going to focus on.

And to the reluctant friend – Anpag.

Bandem kept to himself in the next week or so, partly because he was afraid of the consequences and partly because of the guilt. Such strong was the fear and the remorse in him that the fact that none of his friends reached out to him in the aftermath of the accident didn’t bother him. Even if he did take notice of it somewhere in the far recesses of his mind, the place where the sun of consciousness doesn’t shine, he must have been secretly glad he had been left alone.

Shanky was out of town, taking a trip up north to his aunt’s. He had only recently recovered from a nasty injury to his leg (from a fight he had at school). He had lied about the cause of it to his parents, and his hesitation in returning to school was conspicuous. His mother, thinking a week with his cousins would perhaps help him, travelled with the children to her sister’s.

For Mompy, it was mid-term season. He had flunked his last two exams, and another slump could mean he would need to repeat the year. So, understandably, his mother had prohibited him from going out of the house except for school.

We are not entirely certain if either Shanky or Mompy had learned about the accident or not. What we are sure of, however, is that the news did reach Anpag’s ears. His mother overheard, even though she said she wasn’t eavesdropping, Bandem’s mother talking to someone in the park outside their house. About how Bandem had accidentally (a word which Anpag’s mom said Bandem’s mother emphasised heavily on) nudged someone on to the road; and that had caused a car to run into this person.

The details were sketchy. In her own words, Anpag’s mother “could not gather a whole lot” because she was “merely passing by.”

But the reactions of Anpag and his father upon hearing this were widely different. The first question Anpag’s father – The Fat Dad, who we have met before – asked was if Bandem was okay. And rightly so. But, as Anpag noted, his dad’s concern stemmed not just from that singular isolated incident; but from his predisposed care for Bandem. Anpag knew his father cared for Bandem; maybe, if Anpag was asked, more than he should.


In reality, though, The Fat Dad found himself unsettled, perhaps even disquieted, by the news for a reason; that Bandem reminded The Fat Dad of his own difficult, if not abusive, childhood. The Fat Dad knew all about growing up with parents who weren’t just strict but inflexibly tough. And if Bandem’s father was a little too liberal with dispensing discipline in what would in today’s time be frowned upon, The Fat Dad would not be entirely surprised. He himself had a mark at the back of his head to show for it, which he sustained from his father when he was a kid.

Anpag’s reaction to the news about the accident Bandem was involved in was quite the opposite. What Anpag felt towards his supposed friend was more, for the lack of a better word, disgust than anything else. Or maybe it wasn’t as much disgust as it was… well, frustration. Anpag said under his breath, “Well what a surprise. Bandem found himself in a problem yet again,” but neither of his parents fortunately heard it. He made a mental note to keep his thoughts in his head going forward. Maybe his parents were aware of his lack of concern for his friends, or maybe they weren’t. But he didn’t want it coming out in the open and be discussed.

Some things are better left unsaid.

The Fat Dad, who didn’t miss his son’s expression, wasn’t too impressed. Maybe that should have indicated to him what Anpag felt about his favourability towards Bandem. Maybe Anpag hadn’t brought himself to admit it yet, and maybe he was even unaware of it himself, but he, Anpag, wasn’t too pleased with his father’s concern over Bandem.

We can’t say with absolute certainty if it was envy.

But – both, the accident and the ensuing fatherly care his dad was bestowing on Bandem – led Anpag to start distancing himself from the group. He went out to play cricket in the evenings less, even got himself a membership of the basketball court at a nearby school. He made an excuse when he was invited for Shanky’s birthday later that year, citing that he had “other plans” and was “so very sorry.”

By next year, his communication with the other boys had become next to non-existent. He still saw them in the neighbourhood park where he went out for his evening jog, and would see the rest of the three playing cricket by themselves, but the conversations didn’t exceed a “Hey” or a shake of the head and a smile.

The Four Boys Club did disband eventually. But there was plenty that happened in the interim that is worth exploring.

Previous episode: Like Father, Unlike Son

Next episode: The Other Shanky

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