The boy's had a love-hate relationship with his best friend. A year or so ago, the two of them would walk around the school playground, cheek-to-cheek, pretending to be Siamese twin babies. They were inseparable. Other boys in their class noticed this.
"It's like you're married," they said.
Then the boy started wilting under his pal's overbearing attitude. The pal was jealous of his friendships with other kids.
"He's bossy, amma," said the boy.
Towards the end of the school year, he was trying various tricks to avoid his pal.
"Don't call him my pal," he said. "We are not pals."
He took up games sessions he knew his friend wouldn't attend. When his friend heard about them, he signed up as well. The boy was nonplussed.
"He's sticking to me all the time, amma," said the boy. "He won't let me play with anyone else."
"Why don't you tell him you will play with him and with the others as well?" said his amma.
"He pulls me away when I'm playing with the other boys," said the boy.
"So what are you going to do?" said his amma.
"I'm going to break his heart. But not just yet," said the boy.
This new school year has found him in sarcastic mood. He snaps at the pal more often than he ever did before. He is impatient with the other fellow. The pal is beginning to realise that his hold over the boy has lessened drastically.
Yesterday the boy was playing with another boy.
"Why aren't you playing with your best friend?" said the other boy.
"He's not my friend," said the boy.
"Hey, Freddie," said the other boy. "He says he's not your friend!"
The pal was indignant.
"Of course he's my friend," he said. "Look, I've written it down on my hand."