In the Name of Friendship

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Shinta hid behind a big tree, watching Aiman’s funeral procession from afar.

Dozens of people attended the funeral, including Aiman’s sisters, Alya and Adinda, her best friend, Nina, and Prama’s sister, Rara.

Everyone at the funeral was dressed in black, and she was no exception.

Tears were trickling down Shinta’s cheeks as she saw Alya and Adinda wailing miserably when Aiman’s body was being lowered into the ground. Nina started to sob uncontrollably too. And Rara also wept over her brother’s best friend’s death.

Shinta hated to see Alya and Adinda suffering like this. And it grieved her that she could do nothing to help them, because she realized that she bore the responsibility for their suffering.

Alya and Dinda couldn’t stop crying as people began shoveling dirt into the grave hole. Meanwhile, Nina sniffed a little and dabbed at her eyes.

Once the hole had been filled in, Alya moved forward with a basket of flower petals in her hand. Then, she took a handful of the flower petals from the basket and scattered it over the freshly covered grave.

Next, Nina pushed Adinda’s wheelchair nearer to her brother’s grave and then helped her scatter the flower petals over the grave.

The minute the prayers had been said, one by one, the mourners bade farewell to Alya and Adinda and gave their condolences to them before they walked slowly away from the cemetery.

After all the mourners had gone, Alya, Adinda, Nina, and Rara stayed behind.

Alya was on her knees in front of her brother’s grave bawling her eyes out. Nina crouched by Alya and grasped her hand, mutely offering what comfort she could.

Meanwhile, Adinda sat on her wheelchair behind her sister, blubbering like a baby. Rara stood next to her, putting a consoling arm around her shoulders.

“Come on, it’s time we leave!” Nina talked to Alya.

“No, I don’t want to leave my brother,” Alya said between her sob.

“I want to stay here too,” Adinda agreed with her older sister.

“Look, Alya, Dinda! Your brother has rested in peace now. Both of you must let him go, okay?” Nina advised.

It suddenly came home to Alya and Dinda that they were never going to see their brother again and that fact saddened them terribly.

“We’d better go home now! The both of you look tired out. You need to take a rest,” Rara suggested.

“No, I don’t want to go,” Alya and Dinda said together.

“Alya, Dinda, you have to listen to us! I’m sure your brother also doesn’t want you two to wear yourselves out like this,” Nina said softly.

Reluctantly, Alya and Dinda nodded their heads in agreement.

Alya and Nina got to their feet and brushed the dirt off their dresses. At last, Alya, Adinda, Nina, and Rara left the cemetery. As soon as the four of them disappeared from view, Shinta came out of her hiding place and approached Aiman’s grave. She knelt down on the ground before the grave and placed a bouquet of flowers that she had brought on her best friend’s grave.

“Aiman,” Shinta sobbed, “I’m sorry. At that time, I let you go in the name of our friendship because I believed that you deserved a second chance to start leading a better life. I thought I have done the right thing, but apparently I’m wrong. What I have done caused you to get killed instead.”

Tears rolled down her cheeks as Shinta continued speaking, “It’s all my fault, Aiman. As a police officer, I know I shouldn’t have allowed emotions to get in the way of me doing my job. But because of my love for you, I made a rash decision to release you when I should have arrested you and sent you to prison so that you could atone for your crimes.”

Shinta paused for a moment, then said with tears still brimmed in her eyes, “Now, a lot of people are paying the price for my mistake. First, your sisters; they have to lose their beloved brother because of me. Secondly, Dinda; now, there is hardly any hope that she may be cured without getting stem cells donation from you. Next, Sandra; I have shattered her dreams of marrying you, the love of her life. And lastly, Nina; our best friend now hates me, Aiman. Even she told me that she wanted to sever her friendship with me. Thus, I have to lose my two best friends at once.”

“Now, I understand, Aiman,” Shinta went on as tears kept streaming down her face, “A true friend isn’t someone who will support whatever decision their friend makes. But a true friend is someone who will warn their friend if they make a bad decision or if their friend has done something wrong. And they would try to keep their friend on the straight and narrow.”

“I am to regret my hasty decision for the rest of my life. I wish I could turn the clock back and prevent this tragedy to strike. But I know it’s useless hoping for something impossible to happen. So I can only pray to be forgiven by you, Aiman,” said Shinta. Tears couldn’t stop pouring down her cheeks.

“I promise, Aiman,” Shinta vowed, “From this day forth, I will look after your younger sisters. Even though they’ll probably never be able to forgive me, but I am never going to leave them alone, I will always be there for Alya and Adinda. Maybe it will never be enough to redeem all my sins to you, but at least for the first time, I’ll do the right thing for you, as your best friend.”

Caressing Aiman’s gravestone, Shinta said, “Goodbye, my friend. May you rest in peace in your eternity! I will always love you and remember you as the best of friend I have ever had to my dying day.”

Rising to her feet, Shinta stroked away her tears and finally started walking away from Aiman’s grave. But she stopped short when she heard the sound of the snap of a twig behind her, like someone had trod on it. Shinta turned around and looked up and down the cemetery cautiously, but there wasn’t a soul in sight. So she just shrugged it off.

“Maybe it’s just my imagination,” she thought.

Spinning on her heel, Shinta began to walk away from the cemetery.

Little did Shinta know that there was someone, who was dressed in black from top to toe, hiding behind a line of trees, watching her like a hawk. The person’s outfit was topped off with a large black hat with the brim which hid half of that person’s face.

“Shinta,” the person said through gritted teeth.

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