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Invisible Friend

Invisible friend

By MD. RAFIQUL ISLAM MURAD Published about a month ago 4 min read
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As soon as Rusa came out of the bathroom, she heard Rehan's voice. She had been hearing it from inside the bathroom, but now it was clear. Rehan was talking. At first, Rusa was surprised to think that Rehan was awake so late. On top of that, he was talking. Quietly closing the bathroom door, Rusa stood by Rehan's room. Her intention was to hear what Rehan was saying.

Why didn’t you come to my birthday party? Rehan said.

I got many gifts. Do you want to see? Rehan said again.

Rusa still felt sleepy, her eyes heavy. Despite this, she realized that it was indeed Rehan who was speaking. She also understood that Rehan was talking to someone. Yet, she couldn’t hear the other person's voice. So, was Rehan talking to himself?

Anilav and Rusa’s only child was Rehan, who was in the fifth grade. They were very happy with Rehan except for one thing—Rehan had no friends. Neither at school nor in the society where they lived. Anilav and Rusa had tried many times to get Rehan to befriend someone, but Rehan was not interested in spending time with his peers. He stayed alone at school and didn’t want to go outside when he was home.

But Anilav and Rusa didn’t give up. So, on Rehan’s birthday, they invited all the children from his class and the society. Many children showed up, and the party went from the afternoon till night. Initially, Rehan talked to one or two kids, but later on, he became completely silent.

By the time everything was cleaned up and Anilav and Rusa went to bed, it was midnight. They were so tired that they fell asleep immediately. But around three, Rusa woke up needing to go to the bathroom. Rehan’s room was right next to the bathroom, so any noise from his room could be heard clearly from the bathroom.

Rusa stood by the door listening. The light in the room was on. Although she couldn’t remember if the light was on when she went to the bathroom, she decided to go in and see who Rehan was talking to at three in the morning.

She pushed the door open and entered the room in one swift motion. Inside, she saw Rehan sitting on the bed, staring at the wall.

Seeing his mother, Rehan was a bit surprised but said nothing.

Why are you talking to yourself? Why are you awake so late? Rusa asked.

Rehan said nothing. He remained silent.

Why aren’t you answering? Rusa asked again.

I was talking to my friend, Rehan said very slowly.

Which friend? There’s no one here but you and me, Rusa said, sitting on the bed.

No. My friend was here. He left when you came in, Rehan said, looking at his mother.

Rusa didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t sit still. She stood up and left the room. She went to her room and woke up her sleeping husband, practically dragging him to Rehan’s room.

Anilav was still rubbing his eyes. In a sleepy voice, he asked what was wrong. Rusa, who was standing nearby, sat beside Rehan and gave a detailed account of what had happened and what Rehan had said. Anilav was astonished. He asked Rehan if what his mother said was true. But Rehan said nothing. He just said, I’m sleepy. Hearing this, Rusa said, Are you really sleepy, or will you start talking to yourself again after we leave? Rehan lay down. Anilav and Rusa left the room.

It was almost dawn. Neither of them could sleep. Seeing Rehan asleep, they sat in the living room discussing what they should do as parents. They decided that Rehan needed to see a psychiatrist as soon as possible.

During the introductory session with the psychiatrist, Anilav and Rusa learned everything in detail. Rehan had a friend that only he could see. This friend visited Rehan every night.

The psychiatrist reassured Anilav and Rusa that there was nothing to fear. This was common for children of Rehan’s age. Since Rehan stayed alone at home, he had created an imaginary friend to pass the time. Rehan was so attached to this friend that he couldn’t make real friends. The doctor also said that with a few more counseling sessions, Rehan’s imaginary friend would disappear from his life. The doctor suggested that if someone could always stay with Rehan, it would be good for him, as his loneliness was the reason he had created this friend in his mind.

Both Anilav and Rusa had jobs, so neither could spend more than 3-4 hours a day with Rehan. They found themselves in a strange dilemma. Neither could afford to quit their job. Finally, Rusa decided to call her mother from Jamshedpur to stay with them in Kolkata for a while. Rusa’s main objective was to ensure someone was always with Rehan. When Rusa’s mother learned about Rehan’s situation, she agreed to come.

Even after Rusa’s mother, Rehan’s grandmother, arrived, there wasn’t much change in Rehan’s behavior. His conversations with his imaginary friend continued. Anilav and Rusa couldn’t figure out how to stop Rehan’s strange behavior.

One Sunday afternoon, after lunch, seeing everyone sitting in the living room, Rusa’s mother took out an old photo album she had brought with her. She called Rehan over as well. The four of them started looking at the old photos. Anilav, Rusa, and Rusa’s mother all noticed that Rehan was looking at the pictures with great attention. He didn’t do anything with such focus. All three were pleased with this change in Rehan. Rusa’s mother said to Rehan, Your grandfather also loved looking at pictures. He would have loved you very much if he were alive.

Really? Rehan said.

Why, do you doubt it? his grandmother asked.

Before she could finish, Rehan pointed to a person in one of the photos and asked who he was. His grandmother, delighted, said, This is your grandfather. The one I was telling you about. He would have loved you very much if he were alive. He would have told you stories.

Hearing this, Rehan looked at everyone’s faces and then said, He’s my friend. He comes to tell me stories every night.


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