Dad?” asked my elder one, “what’s happened to the friend you used to be quite fond of, the one who was like a brother to you?”

 “We’ve fallen apart!” I said gruffly.

“And you never tried to repair the relationship?” she asked.

“I did,” I said, “but I don’t think he was in any mood to work things out.”

“And you didn’t try harder?”

“No,” I said a little defiantly.

“A little like our teakwood box isn’t it?”

“The box?” I asked weakly.

It lay proud and beautiful in the corner of my sitting room. Its woodwork was beautiful and the brass sides and hinges shone out like gold. Visitors who came over admired its surface and spoke about its antiquity.

But it hadn’t always been so.

I had inherited it as a dirty old cracked box from my dad. I stored whatever I needed to hide from sight; old toys, old pillows, old blankets, and the box lay in a storeroom, musty smelling, faded and falling apart. Then one day a bearded friend, an interior designer by profession saw the box. “Bob!” he shouted “you’ve got a treasure over there!”

And turning to his man, “Work on it,” he said.

The workman took out sandpaper and knife and started scraping. It had been painted and as he scraped the box, it started looking even uglier than before. “Leave it,” I told my friend wearily, “you’re just wasting time and money on something useless!”

“Carry on!” he told his man and the poor fellow continued on what seemed a useless job. I watched in agony for five full days and even joked it was the paint holding the box together and it would soon fall apart, but my friend wasn’t listening.

Five days later the box stood before me, shed off all its paint looking like a shorn chicken, even more unattractive and distasteful. I laughed at the ridiculous sight. “Okay,” said my friend to his workman, “start polishing!”

I couldn’t believe the transformation.

As each coat of polish went onto wood, as brass was shined and worked at; ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan.

That was many years ago.

I stared at the box and looked at my daughter and nodded, I knew what she meant when she felt a relationship needed the same working on, that the box had got. A broken friendship needed old hurts to be scraped away; with that would come vulnerability, before the making up and the forging of a new deeper friendship, like new coats of polish that would shine the teak and make it take centre place once again.

I picked up the phone and called long distance. I had tears as I gazed at my box and smiled at my daughter: A teakwood box was in the making..!

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