Subrata came from the relatively smaller city of Siliguri. He had secured a new job in Kolkata and was looking for a small apartment on rent, preferably to be shared with his colleagues, so as to reduce his burden of rent. However, he couldn’t find a suitable place according to his expectation. One day he found an advertisement in a newspaper regarding the availability of Paying Guest accommodation in the Salt Lake area. It was a place convenient for his daily commute to the office, so he got interested in the accommodation.
It was a villa owned by Pauls, a Bengali family, and they had room to be given as a Paying Guest accommodation. However, the family was firm on only one person staying as a paying guest. Though Subrata had liked the house, he was not very keen to shift there as it would have cost him much more than what he was prepared to spend. However, he couldn’t find any other suitable accommodation, nor did he like those chosen by his colleagues, so he finally decided to shift to the Salt Lake villa room as a paying guest.
Subrata shifted to the new room one Sunday. It was a decent room on the first floor of the villa. The room had some old furniture, but it was in good condition. There was a bed alongside one of the walls, an old but good and usable sofa, a chair and a closet large enough for a tenant to store his clothes and other belongings.
He was relaxing on the bed in the evening when someone knocked on the door. Subrata opened the door. A small boy of about five or six was standing at the door. He said, “Mom has asked me to give this to you if you don’t have watel,” and he handed a water bottle to Subrata.
“Thank you,” Subrata said with a smile, “what is your name, by the way?”
“Diego Maladona (Maradona) . . . Ha ha ha . . .,” said the boy laughing.
“Very good, Junior Maradona. Will you have a chocolate?” asked Subrata.
“Yes, yes,” said the boy and entered the room. At the same time, his mother called him, “Debu, come fast; how much time are you taking to give him the water bottle?”
“I’ve got to go, othelwise (otherwise), my Mom will scold me,” the boy said.
Subrata held his hand and said, “So, the name of this Junior Maradona is Debu?” He caressed Debu’s chin and gave him a chocolate.
“No, my name is Debashish, but evelyone (everyone) calls me Debu,” he said and ran downstairs with the chocolate.
It was very convenient for Subrata to commute to and fro his office from the newly rented accommodation. He felt the difference more than the time spent and hardship suffered in commuting from the previous room where he stayed temporarily. He availed of the service of a local food supplier who would supply him dinner in a tiffin daily as his breakfast and lunch would be taken care of in the office canteen. Thus, Subrata settled in his new accommodation and started liking it even though the rent was much more than he was ready to pay.
One day he had just finished his dinner in his room and was about to take a book to read when the door was knocked. He opened the door. Debu was standing at the door. He said, “Uncle, do you like ice-cleam? My Mom and Dad ale (are) calling you down to eat ice-cleam.”
“Ice cream? Yes, but I like you more than ice cream. Will you sit here with me and chat for an hour? I will like it very much,” Subrata said to have fun.
“Chat with you fol an houl (for an hour)? No, but I want to eat ice cleam. If I sit hele (here) with you, Mom and Dad will eat all ice-cleam, and I will not get anything. My Dad blings vely nice and tasty ice-cleam. You come down with me. You will also like it,” Debu said, and Subrata went downstairs with him.
He had a good time chatting with Debu’s parents and grandparents while having ice cream, which helped him connect with the Paul family. A few days later, he brought some snacks while returning home in the evening and had them with the Paul family.
Subrata didn’t have many acquaintances in Kolkata and preferred to stay in his room on Sundays. Once, he had just finished his lunch in the afternoon when Debu came to his room with his Dad. “Yes, little Maradona, did you have your lunch?” Subrata asked.
“He had his lunch; we’re asking him to nap, but he wants to hear a story from you. It’s me, or his Mom, who tells him stories every time before going to sleep, but he is not listening. Such a stubborn boy he’s becoming,” said his Dad.
“No problem, he’s my friend. Come Debu,” said Subrata. Debu sat on the sofa beside Subrata, who started telling him a story.
Debu liked the story told by Subrata and then went downstairs to sleep. After that, Debu didn’t insist on hearing a story from Subrata for a long time. However, Subrata was reading the Harry Potter series books (the first two books had been published by then) which were tremendously popular among children and adults alike, and Subrata couldn’t admire enough the great work by author J. K. Rowling. Subrata finished reading both the books, Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets, and he strongly felt like sharing these stories with Debu as he was sure, Debu would like them.
One Sunday afternoon, as soon as Subrata finished his lunch, he went downstairs and called Debu to hear a story. Debu happily accompanied him to his room. Both of them sat on the sofa, and Subrata started narrating to Debu about Harry Potter, right from his birth, how he received a scar on his forehead, his safekeeping with the Dursley family and so on, including Ron and Hermione, his best friends at Hogwarts. Debu listened to everything that Subrata told him with great curiosity and glitter in his eyes. The entire story could not be completed in one sitting, so it was decided between them that Subrata would complete the story as and when he had time.
The Harry Potter story stretched till a few more Sundays and then started a series of weekly storytelling sessions between Subrata and Debu. Neither Debu would sleep on Sunday afternoons without listening to Subrata’s story, nor did Subrata have solace without telling him a story.
Once Debu went to Subrata’s room wearing the new dress his parents bought for him. Subrata said, “Wow, you look handsome in this dress. But be careful after wearing this because girls will start liking you more and come after you.” Debu blushed with a smile.
“Are you wearing this for the first time now?” Subrata asked.
“No, I wole (wore) it yestelday, but you wele outside, so I am wealing (wearing) this again and showing you,” Debu replied.
“Is it? Where did you go after wearing this for the first time?” asked Subrata.
“I went to the toilet,” Debu said.
“What, toilet? After wearing new clothes?” Subrata asked.
“Yes; Mom says, befole you go outside, always go to the toilet first, so I went to the toilet,” Debu replied.
“Ha, ha . . .” Subrata laughed and said, “Okay, where did you go after that?”
“I went to my aunt’s house with Mom and Dad,” Debu replied.
“Wonderful,” said Subrata.
Author Notes: The complete story 'A Cute Little Friend' is included in the fiction book 'Beautiful Relationships' which is a collection of seven fictions, each fiction having been dedicated to a specific kind of relationship, such as parent-child, friends, lovers, teacher-students, etc. The book is available for sale on Amazon in most of the countries.
Links to buy the book:
USA - https://www.amazon.com/dp/1636408206
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1636408206
Germany - https://www.amazon.de/dp/1636408206
France - https://www.amazon.fr/dp/1636408206
Spain - https://www.amazon.es/dp/1636408206
Italy - https://www.amazon.it/dp/1636408206
Netherland - https://www.amazon.nl/dp/1636408206
Japan - https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/1636408206
Canada - https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1636408206
Australia - https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1636408206
Poland - https://www.amazon.pl/dp/1636408206
Sweden - https://www.amazon.se/dp/1636408206