Not all we assume are our dear friends some are just measuring us to eat.
Maitreyi was her parent’s only child. She had been brought up with a lot of care and affection. Her parents had named her on the name of the learned woman of ancient India, Maitreyi. Since childhood, Maitreyi had been a bright girl. She always came first in class. Her mother was a doctor and her father, a professor. After school, Maitreyi used to spend a few hours at her mother’s clinic. Her parents were her heroes. She desired to be a doctor like her mother. As Maitreyi grew up she complained to her parents that they did not have cable connection. She found this very strange. But her anger melted in no time when she would see her father bringing new books for her. She used to get lost in the world of imagination.

Maitreyi had passed her boards with flying colours. Her parents felt very proud of their daughter’s achievement. In class 11 a lot of new children had taken admission in her school. The teacher made the seat arrangements in such a way that the new students could mix with the old ones. So that none of the students feel left out.

Since second standard, Maitreyi sat beside her best friend Bandana whenever they were in the same section. This time it was not so. Maitreyi had taken up science whereas, Bandana had taken up arts. A new girl called Nitara sat beside her. At first Maitreyi felt alone. She did not want to go to school at all. Nitara was not her friend. She was rude and had a carefree attitude. She took pride in doing the forbidden. Maitreyi avoided her as much as possible.

After the first terminal examinations, the teacher assigned group projects to the students. Maitreyi and Nitara were in the same group. In that group Maitreyi was the only one from the old students. She felt pathetic. She did not want to make new friends but her old friends were assigned to different groups. All the members of Maitreyi’s science project group had decided to meet after school at Nitara’s place as it was the closest to school.

Maitreyi felt that the whole universe was conspiring against her. However, she went to Nitara’s house. She heard a music there that caused her head to ache.

She thought, was Nitara not disgusting enough that now she had to listen to such music! She went to the next room and saw Nitara, Akash and an unknown boy playing guitar and howling loudly something that could be called anything but song. When they saw Maitreyi, they stopped playing the music and started discussing the science project. Within the next fifteen minutes, Maitreyi realized that Akash and Nitara were least interested in the project and she had to do the whole work alone.

Maitreyi returned home. She was tired. At dinner table she found the song that she had heard in Nitara’s place playing inside her head. She could not stop it no matter how much she tried. She slowly focused on the lyrics as she lay on her bed looking at the red clouds in the night sky. The tune she felt had a power. Laying on her bed half awake she thought to herself that she had developed a likeness for the song.

The next morning she woke up and went to school. She saw Nitara come in and could hold her curiosity no more, she asked her about the song they were playing the last day. Nitara replied it was a composition by her brother. She also added that she had assumed that Maitreyi had not liked it. Maitreyi asserted the fact.

After two days, Maitreyi herself arranged for a second project meeting and asked Nitara if it could be done at her place. Nitara willingly agreed. They played hard rock and Maitreyi seemed to enjoy it. Slowly her friendship with Nitara and her taste for hard rock developed. She no more had the ambition to become a doctor. Instead she wanted to sing rock music. Time had flown like water. Maitreyi’s class 12 board results were not as good as expected. She decided to tell her ambition to her parents, she was sure they would understand her. One day, over dinner she told them all that was in her heart.

She had expected a positive response but her mother broke into tears. She said the root of all the problems were her new friends.

That year Maitreyi could not get into the Medical School. She was happy but kind of disheartened too. She felt trapped among her own feelings. Her parents had forbidden her to meet Nitara and asked her to devote her entire time to learning. Unlike previous years, studying now easily bored her. She disobeyed her parents and kept her friendship with Nitara alive. Nitara could not get into any good college. She along with her brother and friend had created a band and named it ‘The Last Leaf’. With training Maitreyi had become one of the singers and was also working on her guitar skills. A year had passed and again she could not get into any medical school.

‘The Last Leaf’ had decided to release an album. But unfortunately they could not find a sponsor so they had to self finance it. Nitara and her brother and Akash provided a bit of it and the rest was financed by Maitreyi’s father. He had readily agreed to finance, primarily for two reasons: firstly, Maitreyi was the apple of his eye and secondly, he was afraid that like many other teenagers she might harm herself if her wish was not fulfilled. She had grown stubborn over the last few years.

The album was a flop. Only a few copies had been sold. Maitreyi was shocked by this. She drowned in guilt. She had destroyed her loving father’s hard earned money. Maitreyi had gone into depression. To her shock Nitara had started making fun of her. The atmosphere did not seem friendly anymore. One day, while loitering on the road, they spotted a snake. Nitara dared her to pick it up. Strangely, Maitreyi accepted the dare. She picked it up. To her surprise the snake did not bite her; instead it comfortably adjusted itself on her hands. Everybody was stunned. Maitreyi carried it home. Her parents were spell bound. They were desperate to throw it away. But for the first time in quite some months they spotted their daughter smiling and talking happily to it. She thought it was her only friend, it understood her affection, her pain or else why wouldn’t it bite her.

A weak had passed. Her parents wanted to take her to a psychologist. But she had more important issues to deal with at hand. Her beloved snake had not eaten for 3 days. She decided to take it to a veterinary doctor at once. Seeing the snake the doctor asked her a few questions, ‘Do you sleep along with the snake?’ her answer was assertive.
He then asked ‘does it sleep by itself or does it hug you?’ Maitreyi replied with pride that it hugs her. The doctor replied ‘it measures you every night. Snakes have a bad memory. They forget their benefactor. Every night it wraps around you to measure you and decide whether it can eat you or not. It is not a gesture of love.’
Maitreyi was startled. She left the snake and walked back home wordless.