When my family was away last week, I thought I should do something different to pass the hours. I searched through my old books, trying to find the one that I had not really had the time to read.

While rummaging through the pile, I was surprised to realise that my taste in reading has changed over the years; I am definitely not the same person now who found Alvin Toffler interesting 20 years ago. So I quickly ditched the idea of quietly reading at home.

Then my eyes rested on the car keys. Perhaps, I could go for a drive to a new place, I thought. But then, I quickly lost interest in that particular idea.

Finally, I decided to catch up with my friends, so I decided to call one of them to make a plan to meet up. He would not answer the phone, but I had better luck with another friend. But that one politely declined my offer.

I suddenly realised that neither friends, nor an interesting pastime are ever quite available when you are bored.

By 11 in the morning, I was pretty frustrated with myself. I looked at the clock and thought of the best way to spend the next eight hours or so. I tried yet another friend’s number and luckily he obliged. He came over to my house half an hour later and we started talking about our school days.

Somewhere in the conversation, he touched a period of my life that I had rather forget. He reminded me about a bullying teacher, who had made my life miserable. Before I could change the subject, he added that the man had died last year.

Suddenly, I felt bad and guilty at the same time. My thoughts were not charitable about him while he was alive, but it was different when I found out about his death. I probed my mind for something good that I remembered about him. There were quite a few and I felt reminiscing about the more likeable aspects of his personality.

We talked some more about the past till it was time for lunch. He suggested we order in burgers, but I offered to whip something in the kitchen instead. We finally decided on eating some frozen curry lying in the fridge that my wife had made some time earlier. Soon we were busy in the kitchen, boiling some rice in the electric rice cooker while continuously chatting.

It was not until five in the afternoon that he said that he wanted to go back home. I felt guilty for keeping him away from his family for so long and so I apologised.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” he said,” I sent my wife to her parents, along with the children.”

It was amusing that we had ended up together when both our families were away. He was also having difficulty trying to pass time at his place. My phone call has actually answered his prayers. I am not sure what he told his wife on how he spent his day, but my wife had a fit when I told her about it.

“You cooked today?” she asked incredulously in front our children.

I don’t think the children quite understood my wife’s question. But I am glad I actually called my friend and tried my hand in the kitchen. Otherwise, I would have, probably, ended up doing something really stupid out of boredom.

The writer is an Oman-based freelance columnist. This article has been reproduced from the Khaleej Times.