'Key' to real friendship


Janaki and her friend Janani often went about together. They shared several similar interests.

Though their ideas often coincided, they did have strong differing views on certain matters. They agreed to disagree, so there were arguments, but they were not acrimonious.

On one occasion, they shared a room at a guest house. They took longer than expected to settle in. “Unless we hurry, we won’t get any breakfast,” remarked Janaki. “As you are ready, go ahead and I will be right behind,” suggested Janani. So, Janaki went down to ensure that they would get breakfast before the service closed. The two enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and returned to the room. Both got into the lift and were so absorbed in a conversation that neither pressed the button to their floor. Outside their room door, the laughter they had suppressed in the lift, burst forth.

“Come on, open the door,” said Janani.. “You left the room later. Didn’t you pick up the key?” asked Janaki. “No, I didn’t. I thought you had the key, so I just pulled the door shut,” explained Janani. They trooped down to request the housekeeper to open the room door. “Could you give us another key?” asked Janaki. Then we will each have a key and won’t get locked out,” she added for good measure. The housekeeper obliged. “Rubbing salt in the wound?” questioned Janani. “No, just taking precautions,” Janaki responded.

Their room opened on to a big, airy balcony with comfortable cane chairs. After a long day of sight-seeing, the two moved to the balcony. They lounged in the chairs, inhaling the fresh, fragrant breeze that was soothing to the body and spirit. “We may not have a loaf of bread and a jug of wine, but a snack and a glass of lemonade would do nicely,” mused Janani. “What say you?” “Good idea,” concurred Janaki whereupon the order was duly placed. 

After some time spent in idle chatter, there was a knock at the door. “Here comes sustenance!” cried Janani, rising to open the door. She turned the knob and pulled, but the door remained shut. She tried and tried, like Robert Bruce, but the door wouldn’t open. “Undo the latch and try,” suggested Janaki. “The latch is undone,” snapped Janani. “Are you sure you are turning the knob the correct way?” Janaki asked. “Why don’t you come and give it a try instead of remote controlling?” Janani shot back.

Before Janaki could reach the door, there was another knock — an impatient one. Janaki hurried to the door and turned the knob, but the stubborn door remained closed. “The door is jammed,” Janaki stated. “Obvious,” was the terse retort from Janani.

“We are incarcerated!” declared Janaki. “Let’s be practical,” said Janani. Reaching for the telephone, she called the housekeeper and explained their dilemma. “Don’t worry, we will get the door opened,” said the reassuring voice. 

After a short while, there were some sounds of activity from the balcony. Two men from the maintenance department, armed with tool kits, climbed into the balcony. When all their efforts to open the door failed, they had to break open the lock and fix a new one. Rather a tame end to the half hour of high drama.

“Here is the key to the new lock,” said one of the saviours. “Try it.” Janaki did, and then added, “Two keys, please, just to be on the safer side.” That earned her a baleful look from Janani.

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