The door creaked when it was opened. Kannan grumbled under his breath. A usual habit in his not so assuring hectic schedule. He adjusted the laptop bag on his shoulders and removed his shoes. He saw another pair lying carelessly on the floor. 'Badri is home already', he noted.
He went straight to the bedroom and saw Badri on the bed-hair disheveled, torn socks and still in his formals. Kannan's temper aroused, but, he didn’t do anything. Badri was not in the state that he could reason out.
Kannan and Badri worked together in the same office and outside their respective hometown. Two years ago, they had rented a house near their workplace. Since then, they had been together. Kannan had been very choosy about his roommate. He was particular that the person be a vegetarian. Badri was an obvious choice.
Kannan placed his bag near the bed. He smelt alcohol. If it were two years ago, he would have complained and thrown tantrums but being with a roommate for a long time teaches you many things. He shoved away the Vishnu Sahasranamam that lay on his table into the draw. It was in Sanskrit and he couldn’t make much out of it. But he never admitted that for it might be against their principles. He wondered if Badri even knew its existence.
Kannan was not a religion fanatic but there were certain things that he could never compromise in his life-his habits and beliefs. And it was a blow when he found Badri loved Non vegetarian food and consumed alcohol. He had tried reasoning out many times, took examples from real life and the Vedas, but nothing had changed Badri. He gave it up and chose to ignore him. It is hard when it is your roommate.
"Kanna..Is it you?", Badri asked, suddenly waking up dazed.
He didn’t bother to reply."Where is the envelope that I had kept on this table?"
Badri sat on the bed and thought for some time. "Oh! The one you forgot to take with you in the morning? I posted it. You said the application closes by weekend."
Kannan looked relieved."Thanks", he replied and moved to kitchen. The place was a mess. The Maggie packets were scattered on the floor. He sighed and started cleaning the place.
"Kannaaaaaaaaaa...one coffee for me too", Badri shouted from the room.' I am not your servant', he thought. He poured coffee into two different glasses-traditional 'tumbler' for himself and into a glass for Badri.
Badri entered the kitchen. "I paid the internet bill da", he said and moved into the room again. Badri never asked for share of money. Kannan framed him as spoilt brat.
"How is your sister? Recovering from Typhoid?", Badri asked."She is fine", was his reply. Badri remembered every member of his family. He had been to his native many times and acted so well that Kannan's parents had no complains. In fact, they believed it was a blessing to have Badri as their son's roommate.
Kannan, on the contrary, had no idea about Badri’s family. He never bothered himself with these kinds of issue. Badri switched on the music system and increased its volume to the maximum. He was annoyed again. Every habit of his annoyed him. He had wanted to change his place many times but when you are in a metro city, things are tougher. Kannan had to tolerate Badri.
There was a sudden knock on the door. 'Drat!his friends again', Kannan thought. Badri had friends visiting frequently, mostly drunkards, but Badri made sure that he had his parties only outside. It was because Kannan hated them.
It wasn’t Badri's friends, but their neighbour.
"Badri!Badri!Gas leak!!The other portion caught fire. Vacate the place fast!", the neighbour screamed.
Kannan stood frozen in place. He couldn’t move. He didn’t know how to react until he felt someone pulling him outside the door. Kanan followed as a puppy behind its master. He was not of conscious of the surroundings. While climbing down the stairs, he saw the fire blazing, eating away the portion of the building and moving towards their portion.
"Stay here Kanna, I will be back. Just stay here.", Badri said calmly. Kannan just nodded like he was listening to a speech. He stood as directed and watched Badri move into the fire. It was then he came in contact with the situation.
What the hell is Badri doing?. "Badriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...Badriiiiiiiiiiii...daiiiiiiiii". Badri turned and gestured him to stay there in the place. Kannan was hit mentally. He didn’t know what he was doing there. He even forgot the way out. The heat was rising and the fire was just minutes away from him. "God save me. Do something. Just do something. Where did Badri go now?". He tried moving forward. The roof broke down. He jumped over it and jumped skipped the stairs. He could see nothing in front but he ran for his life. He jumped all over the rumbles. Everything seemed blank. He ran as far as his feet could take him.
Two days later
Kannan was aghast at what he was seeing. It was not 'what' but 'who'. The person lying on the hospital bed had skin burnt; everywhere from face to legs. But he was conscious.
"Badri, why did you go back?"
Badri smiled back. Or that is what it seemed like. "How could I leave the boy back there? He was crying. I heard him".
"Still......", Kannan could not say anything."I am sorry Badri. I was selfish then. Can I have your parent’s number? I have to inform them".
Badri smiled again. He was feeling drowsy."I have no one da".
Kannan was speechless. He just stared at Badri. He saw the sacred thread that was hung on the chair. The Bhagawad Gita ; the Vishnu Saharanamam ; the Vedas had not taught him well.